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Wayward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity [Hardcover]

By Charles Marsh (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.26" Width: 6.33" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.93 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2007
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195307208  
EAN  9780195307207  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
Overview
In Wayward Christian Soldiers , leading evangelical theologian Charles Marsh offers a powerful indictment of the political activism of evangelical Christian leaders and churches in the United States. With emphasis on repentence and renewal, this important work advises Christians how to understand past mistakes and to avoid making them in the future. Over the past several years, Marsh observes, American evangelicals have achieved more political power than at any time in their history. But access and influence have come at a cost to their witness in the world and the integrity of their message. The author offers a sobering contrast between the contemporary evangelical elite, which forms the core of the Republican Party, and the historic Christian tradition of respect for the mystery of God and appreciation for human fallibility. The author shows that the most prominent voices in American evangelicalism have arrogantly redefined Christianity on the basis of partisan politics rather than scripture and tradition. The role of politics in distorting the Christian message can be seen most dramatically in the invasion of Iraq, he argues: Some 87% of American evangelicals supported going to war, while every single evangelical church outside the United States opposed it. The Jesus who storms into Baghdad behind the wheel of a Humvee, Marsh points out, is not the Jesus of the Gospel. Indeed, not since the nazification of the German church under Hitler has the political misuse of Christianity led to such catastrophic global consequences. Is there an alternative? This book proposes that the renewal of American churches requires a season of concentrated attention to faith's essential affirmations--a time of hospitality, peacemaking, and contemplative prayer. Offering an authentic Christian alternative to the narcissistic piety of popular evangelicalism, Wayward Christian Soldiers represents a unique entry into the increasingly pivotal debate over the role of faith in American politics.

Publishers Description
In Wayward Christian Soldiers, leading evangelical theologian Charles Marsh offers a powerful indictment of the political activism of evangelical Christian leaders and churches in the United States. With emphasis on repentance and renewal, this important work advises Christians how to understand past mistakes and to avoid making them in the future.
Over the past several years, Marsh observes, American evangelicals have achieved more political power than at any time in their history. But access and influence have come at a cost to their witness in the world and the integrity of their message. The author offers a sobering contrast between the contemporary evangelical elite, which forms the core of the Republican Party, and the historic Christian tradition of respect for the mystery of God and appreciation for human fallibility. The author shows that the most prominent voices in American evangelicalism have arrogantly redefined Christianity on the basis of partisan politics rather than scripture and tradition. The role of politics in distorting the Christian message can be seen most dramatically in the invasion of Iraq, he argues: Some 87% of American evangelicals supported going to war, while every single evangelical church outside the United States opposed it. The Jesus who storms into Baghdad behind the wheel of a Humvee, Marsh points out, is not the Jesus of the Gospel. Indeed, not since the nazification of the German church under Hitler has the political misuse of Christianity led to such catastrophic global consequences.
Is there an alternative? This book proposes that the renewal of American churches requires a season of concentrated attention to faith's essential affirmations--a time of hospitality, peacemaking, and contemplative prayer. Offering an authentic Christian alternative to the narcissistic piety of popular evangelicalism, Wayward Christian Soldiers represents a unique entry into the increasingly pivotal debate over the role of faith in American politics.
"With Wayward Christian Soldiers, Charles Marsh again shows that he is one of the most astute observers of evangelicalism today."
--Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics

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More About Charles Marsh

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Charles Marsh is a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and director of the Project on Lived Theology. He is the author of seven previous books, including God's Long Summer: Stories of Faith and Civil Rights, which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Of Marsh s earlier volumes Reclaiming Bonhoeffer, the late Eberhand Bethge, Bonhoeffer s closest friend and first biographer, wrote: This book is a theological sensation an exciting event. Nobody who attempts to define Bonhoeffer s legacy today will able to ignore Marsh s book. Marsh was a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in 2009 and the 2010 Ellen Maria Gorrissen Berlin Prize fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

From the Hardcover edition."

Charles Marsh currently resides in the state of Virginia. Charles Marsh has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Kansas University of Kansas, US. University of Kansas, U.

Charles Marsh has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Resources for Reconciliation


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Reviews - What do our customers think?
speaking the truth  Dec 28, 2007
Please don't let this book get away. It's not another attack on the Christian Right. It's the best book I've seen for understanding how the Christians can keep their sights set on the things that matter most. Marsh helps us rescue Jesus from the Christians, and for that I say thank you.
 
urgent meditations on true christianity  Dec 27, 2007

This book, like any good book, challenges the reader to think. Marsh makes us examine our concepts of "just war," and urges us to move past cultural preconditions, take the teachings of Jesus seriously, and dare to apply them to the issues of contemporary society. He makes clear to us that he writes as an "evangelical," but not as one who is willing to lay aside the Sermon on the Mount for political expediency. Not everyone will agree with Marsh's perspective of the war in Iraq, but everyone will be forced to answer the disturbing question: "how does this pre-emptive war, which includes the ignoring of most Christian's opposition to the war, enhance the church's mission in the world?" Assuming that Christians understand that the mission is one of representing the living Christ in the world, the question becomes more than an academic exercise; it embraces the Christian community and nudges it back to the fundamentals of the faith, and points emphatically to the Sermon on the Mount. Furthermore, some will object to naming some "Christian celebrities" who became significant proponents of a pre-emptive war. However, honesty states that when a "Christian celebrity" move outside his/her original ministry, and moves into the political arena, affirming such a war and justifying the president's decision, that celebrity cannot plead immunity from reasonable criticism. Marsh does not write a philippic, but his analysis of "war preachers" is candid and well documented. It is imperative to note that the thrust of the book is very positive, calling on the Christian community to be freed from captivity to ideologues that would use the community for political aggrandizement. Marsh takes the reader through a litany of theological concepts and Scriptural principles, and encourages the church to focus on the wonder of worship, the discipline of discipleship, and the mission of the church to be the body of Christ in the world. The writer is essentially crying out for the "church to be the church," the church has defined by the New Testament and not by a thirst for political power.














 
Finding Our Way Back  Nov 30, 2007
White, middle-class evangelicals in America have in recent years so confused the gospel with a particular brand of neo-conservative political ideology, that they have exalted patriotism to the level of idolatry, and seriously complicated the life and work of the ecumenical church worldwide, i.e., the Body of Christ. Charles Marsh offers a very readable analysis of the danger inherent in baptizing a political agenda. At the same time, he offers a Bible-based alternative lifestyle for thinking Christians who are seeking to remain faithful to their first love in a evermore confusing, potmodern world. This brief narrative by a much respected Christian scholar is highly recommended.
 
Interesting, if a bit heavy on the theology  Nov 25, 2007
"But if I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, do I also have to support George W. Bush?"

That was an honest, non-sarcastic question asked by a German woman to the author's father, a pastor who had just finished a service in Berlin.

Why would anyone ask a question like that? Could it be that the right-wing in the United States has so co-opted Christianity that the basic message of the religion has been distorted?

Indeed, American evangelical Christianity has become indistinguishable from American right-wing politics in the minds of many people around the world. It's also not in line with other forms of the religion practiced around the world. The author spends a lot of time talking about the rest of the world's (and his own) opposition to the Iraq War, and comparing the goals of Global Christianity with those of American evangelicalism.
How does supporting the Iraq War reconcile with "loving one's enemies" and "turning the other cheek"? American Christianity, after decades of noisy politics, needs to learn to "be still and know", and listen to the rest of the world.

Marsh does discuss President George W. Bush's religious conversions and attitudes, although he does warn that "The president doesn't owe the American public a word about his private spiritual life". The book is occasionaly slow-going; familiarity with the ideas of theologians such as Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Fredrich Schleiermacher would be helpful.

Randall Balmer's _Thy Kingdom Come_ is similar in theme to this book, but of a somewhat different political bent (more left-leaning) and more specific as to what he (Ballmer) thinks the American Evangelical movement should pay attention to.
 
Wayward writing  Nov 6, 2007
I just read through this book and I must say that aside from being hideously bored, all I am left with is the unpleasant feeling that I am not any better off now than I was before picking it up.

Marsh writes a lengthy diatribe against the simplicity of the Christian Right, with a very ironic intellectual simplicity. Some of his observations are helpful as they concern public evangelical political engagement, but this book only has about 20 pages worth reading. I use "worth" loosely here. Honestly, there are much better books out there about the Christian Left. I actually cannot make that assertion with any degree of confidence, but I certainly hope there are. Someone has to be willing to actually take a stand for something rather than simply complain about false pietism and call for the recovery of dove lapel pins.

Marsh fails to clearly elucidate a proper model of evangelical political engagement and rather seems content on skating around the edges with flowery generalizations, picking at those he disagrees with and quoting Bible verses dealing with love. The vast majority of the book is about how wrong the Christian Right is, but he doesn't really care to define who it is he's attacking here; an indication that suggests he is preaching to the converted.

Marsh admits his book is the child of an opinion piece of the same name written for the New York Times in 2006. If you read that piece, you've read everything you need to know about this book. This is nothing more than a glorified op-ed that runs on for far too long, going nowhere.

I didn't find it helpful in understanding anything about the "Christian Right" or the "Christian Left" (except that maybe books written on the subject are pop-corn). There are many books and precious little time to read all that one should. Have confidence that you can skip this one and not be missing out on anything.
 

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