Thursday, October 28, 2010

Book Review - Republocrat

With election day nearing, Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative by Carl Trueman seemed to be quite a timely read.  Lately, I’ve been noticing some of Trueman’s blog entries at Reformation 21 and have appreciated both his thoughtful approach as well as the sharp wit displayed in his writing.

Trueman, the Departmental Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, fails to fulfill certain caricatures, in that he is a very conservative Christian with very liberal politics (on most issues). In fact, Trueman’s goal in this book seems to be to highlight the truth that too often the line becomes blurred between Christian conservatism and political conservatism. “The gospel,” he rightly contends, “cannot and must not be identified with partisan political posturing.”

He does spend some time in Republocrat arguing for his political perspective. In this, I imagine that many (most?) political  conservatives will find Trueman’s arguments unpersuasive, the occasional strawman sneaking into the mix. But I am quite sure he would make the point that his goal was not to argue for his view on issues, but rather to simply point out that we need to realize that whichever way we vote, there are certain trade-offs we are making. In light of this truth, Christians need to engage the political process in what is truly a counter-cultural way.

“I look forward to the day,” Trueman states, “when intelligence and civility, not tiresome clichés, charater assassinations, and Manichaean noise, are the hallmark of Christians as they engage the political process.”

In Republocrat, Trueman has succeeded in writing a very thought-provoking book which I would heartily recommend to any Christian who takes their political views seriously. I do not agree with all of his positions; one could scarcely hold to an identical combinations of views. But then again, that is pretty much the point of the book; we should critically examine all of the issues and not simply default to what a certain political party tells us is the appropriate liberal position, the appropriate conservative position, or (most especially) the appropriate Christian position.

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