Review: Revolution of Values

Revolution of Values

Revolution of Values: Reclaiming Public Faith For the Common Good, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019.

Summary: Argues that the religious right has taught its constituency to misread the Bible, portray those advocating for the marginalized as anti-biblical, and the need to listen to these communities as part of recovering a biblical commitment to the pursuit of justice for all for the common good.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove was a child of the culture wars. He grew up in a white, Southern Baptist culture that saw “biblical and traditional values” under attack from progressives concerned to advocate for the marginalized and the vulnerable. Then he met some of those people, also believers, and saw them read the same Bible very differently. As he dug deeper, he discovered a strategy of reading the Bible going back to the slavery era and the religious resistance to abolition that characterized abolitionist opponents as “anti-biblical.”

He began to recognize that the dark side of advocating for a pro-life stance, for the traditional marriage and family, and for religious liberty, was that this became associated with efforts to maintain white ascendancy, the use of “law and order” and voting procedures to limit the growing number of people of color from fully participating in society, the raising of barriers to immigration, including refugees (despite the abundance of biblical references to welcoming the stranger), the subordination of women, the exploitation of the environment, and militarism.

Wilson-Hartgrove elaborates both how the Bible has been appropriated by the religious right and in subsequent chapters both offers historical and sociological background and personal narratives showing how other communities have been marginalized. He also shows how scripture has shaped the self-understanding, resistance, and engagement of believers in these communities. Perhaps one of the most striking personal narratives was that of Alicia Wilson Baker, a pro-life evangelical Christian who was abstinent before marriage. She learned on the eve of her wedding that her insurer would not cover birth control, leaving her with a $1200 medical bill. She subsequently testified at the hearings of a supreme court nominee who indicated he would uphold such exemptions for insurers. She told the author, “I’m still for life…but my understanding of what that means has expanded. As Christians, we should work for policies that protect life from womb to the tomb.”

That spoke deeply to me. I’m tired of the rhetoric that brands me anti-biblical if I signal that I care for refugees whose lives are in danger, if I express concern for the unwise ways we are using God’s creation that may threaten all life on the planet, at very least the most vulnerable, if I express concern that life expectancy shouldn’t be a function of our zip code and our ability to afford health care. I’m tired of the partisan binaries that force me to choose between religious liberty and the liberties of all when scripture teaches me about justice, especially for those most vulnerable to be treated unjustly, of love for neighbor, no matter who my neighbor is, and, yes, for the sanctity of life from conception to death for all people.

At the same time, there were things that troubled me about this book. Foremost was the lack of acknowledgement of the rhetorical strategies used by those Wilson-Hartgrove would term “progressive.” Wilson-Hartgrove does not equally critique the rhetoric of the left that has made “intolerance” the worst form of sin, and “inclusion” the highest form of virtue, the use of public shaming for violations of speech codes, or the statist pretensions often concealed in progressive policies. He does not acknowledge the intolerance of tolerance experienced by religious people. Furthermore, I don’t see Wilson-Hartgrove disavowing culture wars, but just changing sides. This book feels partisan to me, speaking against the policies of the current administration, while mute about the previous one.

I’m troubled by the failure of this book to transcend the partisan binaries that have so divided us into progressive and conservative camps. It does helpfully deconstruct the religious right’s reading of the Bible. Years ago, Os Guinness described Christians as “third way” people. Mary Poplin called my attention to the numerous warnings in scripture to veer neither to the left nor the right. While Wilson-Hartgrove rightly calls out the white nationalism that runs as an undercurrent through our national narrative and helpfully listens to and amplifies voices often lost in our political debates, it feels like all I’m left with is a posture of progressive resistance when I had hoped for a call to reclaim our public square from the extremes of left and right, to offer a third way that doesn’t set fetuses against refugees, entrepreneurship against the environment,  ethnicities against each other, or religious liberty against liberty for all. That would be a revolution.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Choosing Barabbas


PD-US, “Give us Barabbas” from volume 9 of The Bible and its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons, edited by Charles F. Horne and Julius A. Bewer, published in 1910.

But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!”

Luke 23:18, New International Version.

We’ve just come through a weekend that began with the submission of the Mueller Report and concluded with the Barr summary. I will not be discussing this report, of which most of us still know very little. Rather I want to discuss a more basic reflex of the partisans of our national political discussion.

Those who identify with the president seem to feel that their hero has been vindicated and already are thinking about what could be done under his leadership with four more years to “Make America Great Again.”

Those who identify with the other party in our national political discussion are already in a vigorous quest to find the person who will lead them, and the nation out of what they see is a political wilderness. There are quite a cast of rivals: Amy, Andrew, Bernie, Beto, Cory, Elizabeth, Kamala, Kirsten, Jay, John D, John H., Julian, Marianne, and Tulsi. Joe Biden is still considering as are a couple of mayors and several others.

It is going to be an interesting two years.

What I want to focus on is our quest for political messiahs. I want to propose that when we pursue political messiahs, no matter the party stripe, we are choosing Barabbas.

The reference goes back to the gospel Passion narratives.  The Roman governor, Pilate, under pressure to kill an innocent man, Jesus, tries to find an out with a practice of granting the release during the Jewish Passover festival of one of the prisoners sentenced to crucifixion. As an alternative to Jesus, Pilate offers an insurrectionist, someone who had challenged Rome’s rule, perhaps a political messiah to some. Pilate obviously miscalculated the crowd’s loyalties. They ask for the insurrectionist and murderer rather than the healer and teacher whose worst act was clearing the temple and preaching of a kingdom not of this world.

Then, as now, there was a hunger for political leadership that would help a nation realize its hopes and dreams, in this case political independence from the Roman empire. Now we want leaders who will guarantee religious freedom, economic greatness, health care for all (or not), green policies (or not), welcoming immigrants and refugees and/or protecting our borders, and on and on. I don’t necessarily think it a bad thing to aspire to many of these, but I’m troubled by the messianic dreams that we require our politicians to feed that they will inevitably disappoint. They will no more bring in religious, economic or social utopias than did Barabbas bring an end to Roman rule.

When we look to political leaders to be our messiahs, we are choosing Barabbas, and Barabbas will fail us.

The other thing I want to propose is that we cannot choose Barabbas and Jesus. This is particularly addressed to those who identify as Christian–of any stripe. Essentially, the act of putting hope in any political messiah is to say, “away with Jesus!” What concerns me about the political idolatry in many of our churches, whether of figures on the right or left, is that we are giving an allegiance to others of which only Jesus is properly deserving, and neglecting the political order of which he is the leader. When we surrender the church to be in the vanguard of an earthly political order, we forsake the priorities of Jesus’s political order, one that transcends nation, economic status, age, gender, ethnic background and one that promotes, not division, but justice and healing of these fault lines, creating “a beloved community,” in the words of Dr. King.

Finally, I would have you think of this. When we seek political messiahs, we not only choose Barabbas, we “crucify” Jesus. While we cannot physically put Jesus to death, when we claim to be followers of Jesus but seek political messiahs, we often turn others away from Jesus. It is striking that “nones,” the religiously unafilliated, are now the largest single group in the US, tied with those who identify as Catholic, and greater than Evangelicals who are second according to the most recent General Social Survey.

This is not a call to give up political engagement, but rather to re-order our allegiances. Instead of viewing political leaders, particularly presidents, as messiahs, could we not return to simply viewing them as public servants serving the public good? I would suggest that at best, the public good is a proximate good. Utopias of the right or the left are dangerous, in my view, and may end up as tyrannies. Might we not, instead, look for those who might serve well and leave things a bit better than they found them?

It also strikes me that when we stop looking for messiahs, we stop looking for charismatic figures. We look at character–for measures of integrity, courage, wisdom. We look at demonstrated capability and convictions. We also remember that all human beings are at best “magnificent ruins.” We stop putting them on pedestals only to knock them down.

Whether we embrace Jesus or not, might it be time, and past time for us to stop choosing Barabbas?

The Month in Reviews: May 2016

Modern art

This was a month of listening to a number of voices outside my particular cultural context, from Depression-era migrants, to a black NFL player talking about the racial divides in our country, to a naturalized citizen of Mexican descent on the shadow existence of Mexican immigrants and the experiences of Ugandan women. I also have been reading books on faith and politics, given our upcoming election season. I read a couple delightful books now available in the public domain, a Dorothy Sayers mystery and a biography of Erasmus, an important Reformation-era figure. There was also some good theology, including a classic defense of the bodily resurrection of Christ, a helpful book on our own bodily existence, and a great forthcoming book on faith and modern art. So, here’s the list:

Did the Resurrection HappenDid the Resurrection Happen?, David Baggett ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009. A history of the debates and friendship between Gary Habermas and Antony Flew, a transcript of a 2003 conversation on the resurrection between these two, a discussion of Flew’s subsequent change from a belief in atheism to a kind of deism, and concluding discussions on the evidences and challenges to the idea of the resurrection of Jesus. Review.

what your Body KnowsWhat Your Body Knows About GodRob Moll. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014. Explores how our neurophysiology enables us to connect to God and others and how spiritual practices, liturgies, and opportunities to serve enable us to physically as well as spiritually thrive. Review.

God in the White HouseGod in the White House, Randall Balmer. New York: Harper Collins, 2008. Traces the history of the religious faith and presidential politics from the election of John Kennedy as the first Catholic president up through George W. Bush and the religious-political alliances by which he was elected to two terms as president. Review.

Under Our SkinUnder Our Skin, Benjamin Watson with Ken Petersen. Carol Stream: Tyndale Momentum, 2015. Watson posted a series of thoughts on his Facebook page after the grand jury decision in the Ferguson case. As a result of the viral response, he wrote this book to expand on his reactions as a black man to this decision. Review.

Grapes of WrathThe Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck. New York: Penguin Books, 1939 (original edition), 2002 (this edition). Steinbeck’s classic narrative of the migrations of displaced farmers from the Depression Dustbowl to a California controlled by large landowners who wanted their labor as cheaply as possible while despising the influx of people. Review.

God Dwells Among UsGod Dwells Among Us, G. K. Beale and Mitchell Kim. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014. A study of the theology of the Eden-temple of creation as an expression of God’s purpose to have a dwelling place with humanity and the development of this theme throughout scripture, under-girding the mission of the church. Review.

LuminousLuminous, T. David Beck. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2013. Explores how purpose, presence, power and peace enable us to radiate the light of Christ in our everyday lives. Review.

The Weight of ShadowsThe Weight of ShadowsJosé Orduña. Boston: Beacon Press, 2016. In this personal memoir, the author documents his own experience of naturalization, and the shadow existence of both documented and undocumented immigrants in the United States. Review.

Ask the QuestionAsk The Question, Stephen Mansfield. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2016. Contends that an in-depth understanding of the faith of political candidates and the role of religion in their lives, as well as in the world, is an important right of citizens entrusted with important decisions in the voting booth. Review.

Modern artModern Art and the Life of a Culture, Jonathan A. Anderson and William A. Dyrness. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, forthcoming June 2016. A response to the classic work Modern Art and the Death of a Culture by H. R. Rookmaker, arguing that Rookmaaker was unnecessarily pessimistic in his assessment of modern art, overlooking the religious impulses that shaped much of modern art. Review.

ErasmusErasmus and the Age of Reformation, Johan Huizinga, tr. F. Hopman. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1957 (first published in 1924). Link is to Dover Publications reprint. This book is now in the public domain and there are free versions for Kindle and other digital formats. An elegantly written biography of Desiderius Erasmus describing his life, thought and character as a scholar who hoped to awaken “good learning” and to bring about a purified Catholic church, and the tensions resulting from being caught between Reformers and Catholic hierarchy. Review.

whose bodyWhose Body? Dorothy L. Sayers. New York: Harper Collins, 1923. (Link is for trade paperback version.) A body found in Thipps bathroom, a missing financier. Two cases that Lord Peter and his valet, Bunter, are called into simultaneously, apparently disparate, ultimately connected. Review.

CrossroadsCrossroads: Women Coming of Age in Today’s Uganda, ed. Christopher Conte. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2015. Narratives of fourteen Ugandan women on various aspects of growing up in a Ugandan society in the midst of political upheaval, the intersection of traditional and modern ways, between repression and reform. Review.

Best of the Month: It is hard not to give the nod to The Grapes of Wrath but I want to highlight here the new book, Modern Art and the Life of a Culture.  This book breaks new ground toward a Christian understanding of modern art, particularly in its historical survey of both the art and the religious self-understanding of the artists. I think this book, and the series it launches, will facilitate a greater engagement of Christians in the wider art scene.

Quote of the Month: 

“Is it possible that scholars who are thinking theologically might be able to offer a more compelling history of modern art, one that can show the contemporary art world that the modern tradition of artistic practice is not a progression of stylistic innovation but a belief system, a way of understanding the self and its relationship to the world that continues to be viable and can address the present situation in the art world, and connect with them as human beings.” (from Dan Siedell’s “Afterword” in Modern Art and the Life of a Culture).

Reviewing soon: I just began An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor that has a James Herriot-type feel, only with human patients. Looks like a light, fun read. I’m also reading Ron Sider and Ben Lowe’s Future of Our Faith, an intergenerational dialogue on key questions facing the church across generations. I’ve been savoring Donald MacLeod’s wonderful book, Christ-Crucified: Understanding the Atonement. Any contemporary scholars who would critique more classic evangelical understandings of the atonement should use this book as their reference, rather than the “straw men” that are often cast up in these discussions. I’m also working my way through Kimlyn Bender’s Confessing Christ for Church and World, a great collection of essays on the theology of Karl Barth. Among my TBRs are Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution, and Dan Dupee’s It’s Not Too Late on the role parents can play during a teen’s high school years in influencing their faith.

You can find all my reviews since February 2014 by clicking on “The Month in Reviews” on the menu. You will note if you are reading this on a computer that I’ve changed the format of cover images to separate review text. This rendering is closer to the rendering on tablets and phones.

One of my summer projects if I find the time will be to create an Index of Reviews. If anyone has a suggestion of an indexing program that works with WordPress, I’d love to hear from you!

Review: God in the White House

God in the White House

God in the White House, Randall Balmer. New York: Harper Collins, 2008.

Summary: Traces the history of the religious faith and presidential politics from the election of John Kennedy as the first Catholic president up through George W. Bush and the religious-political alliances by which he was elected to two terms as president.

One of the most surprising discoveries in reading this history of religion and the White House was how the religious lives and views of the Presidents were not a significant issue, with few exceptions until the 1960 election campaign between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. In this history, written in 2008, Randall Balmer traces the changes that occurred in presidential politics where religion became a bigger issue and religious voters, particularly evangelicals, became an important factor.

Balmer begins with the fears aroused in the 1960 campaign that Kennedy, by no means a fervent Catholic, would take orders from the Vatican. On September 12, 1960, Kennedy gave a speech [The text of this and other key presidential speeches referenced in the text are included in a series of appendices] at the Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas, that helped put this issue to rest. In it he said:

“I believe in an America that is neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish, where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

What Kennedy did was preserve the understanding of the relation of religious faith and politics that had been the status quo. Yet Balmer notes, a group of evangelicals led by Norman Vincent Peale, Billy Graham, and Harold Ockenga, convened first in Switzerland and then at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., to organize opposition to Kennedy. Kennedy’s speech, and the resultant backlash against this group’s efforts may have made the difference in this closely run election.

Later Graham mended fences and called on Kennedy and thus began a history of Graham’s involvement with presidents. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were all friends with Graham, even while the role of religion in their presidencies remained subdued. Johnson’s Great Society and civil rights efforts certainly conformed to deep religious impulses even while his involvement in, and deception of the American people in Vietnam contradicted those impulses (even while being couched in language of “moral uplift”). Nixon held regular services in the White House, passed landmark environmental legislation, brought an end to the war, yet also perpetrated a great deception in the Watergate scandal, that embarrassed Graham who supported him and brought down his presidency. Gerald Ford was not a man to wear religion on his sleeve but his pardon of Richard Nixon may have reflected deep conviction and not mere politics, and that, along with the contrast between him and an openly evangelical Carter, probably cost him the election of 1976.

The Carter presidency led to the rise of the evangelicals as a political force as Carter spoke openly of his own faith. Balmer portrays Carter’s deeply principled faith combined with his ineffectual presidency. He also traces the rise of the religious right, galvanized initially, not by abortion, but by threats to the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of civil rights violations, laid at Carter’s feet even though it was during the Ford administration that these actions began. Only in 1980, as Ronald Reagan adopted a pro-life stance, did the religious right adopt this issue in alliance with Reagan against Carter, which became a litmus test for Republican Party candidates and cemented an alliance between evangelicals and the Republican Party, carrying through the administration of George H.W. Bush.

The Clinton administration simultaneously welcomed evangelical leaders to the White House, including various personal counselors like Bill Hybels and Tony Campolo during the Monica Lewinsky affair, yet pursued a decidedly non-religious agenda. The narrative then concludes with the George W. Bush presidency, marked by his open appeals to faith, his affirmation of Jesus as his favorite philosopher, his embrace of religious right culture wars issues, even while he countenanced water-boarding and other forms of torture in post 9/11 America.

In his concluding chapter, Balmer turns from the religiosity of the presidents to what it is that the American people look for, and what they overlook, in their presidents. It is clearly, at the end of the day, not moral rectitude. Jimmy Carter was probably the most morally upright of all, evidenced in his concerns for human rights, the Camp David accords and environmental efforts, yet we repudiated him after four years. We re-elected Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush despite personal flaws and deep moral issues raised by their policies. Balmer proposes that a more significant question than what a candidate’s religious faith is, is how does that faith inform their thinking on the national and international issues in which a president must lead. Is faith just a window dressing or does it provide a moral compass? This is a form of questioning that takes significant thought and attention, that cannot be summarized in a soundbite. Yet to do less, Balmer argues, is cheap grace.

Balmer exposes both the dangers of “religious bodies trying to impose their will” and becoming politically captive, and of politicians who pander to these bodies for their votes, even while pursuing their own ends. What is troubling as one reads Balmer is that it appears to me that we are even worse off today than in 2008. Religious groups are still trading support for influence even while candidates with deep moral and lifestyle inconsistencies appeal to religious groups for their support. Given the sorry history of these entanglements, I wonder when people of faith will repent of these political captivities to pursue a more thoughtful engagement with office holders and seekers. Sadly, it does not seem that 2016 is the year where we say, “enough”.

Review: The Religion of Democracy

The Religion of DemocracyThe Religion of Democracy, Amy Kittelstrom. New York: Penguin Press, 2015

Summary: This book traces the “American Reformation” of Christianity through the lives of seven key figures spanning the late eighteenth to early twentieth century, in which adherence to creed shifted to the dictates of personal judgment and the focus shifted from eternal salvation to ethical conduct reflecting a quest for moral perfection and social benefit.

It seems that part of the American story is that religion and politics have been inextricably interwoven. As I was preparing to write this review, I listened to John Kasich invoke the biblical imagery of “the city on the hill” and many more personal references to faith in his announcement of his candidacy for the President of the United States. Kasich, from what I can tell, represents the reformed/evangelical stream of Christianity in America. This book represented what might be considered the other major stream in American political life, a stream that is less interested in creed, which tolerates a plurality of belief ranging from a Unitarian view of God to a god within to some form of spiritual consciousness that drives a deep personal quest for moral excellence and ethical behavior that benefits the wider society. In some sense, this stream may incorporate any other religious or secular views as long as they are not insistent upon a particular creed. It is a stream informed by the classical liberal humanism of the Enlightenment which in the twentieth century has been transformed into a social and political liberalism.

Amy Kittelstrom describes for us the development of this stream from the time of the American Revolution down through the early twentieth century by profiling seven key individuals and their contribution to what she calls “the American Reformation” and “the religion of democracy”. This latter seems appropriate because it is the kind of public and civil religious perspective that arose out of the New England context that has shaped so many of our political and cultural institutions. The seven figures and their contributions (taken from chapter titles) are:

  • John Adams: The Protestant Moral Ethic and the Spirit of Independence (personal judgment over creed)
  • Mary Moody Emerson: The Culture of Lived Virtue and the Fight against Bigotry
  • William Ellery Channing: Universal Inner Divinity and Self-Culture (Channing was a leader of the early Unitarians)
  • William James: Practical Idealist, Man of the World and the Method of Nature
  • Thomas Davidson, Liberal Freedom, Fellowship and the Socialization of Self-Culture
  • William Mackintire Salter, New Liberal, Ethical Culture, and Social Progress
  • Jane Addams, Social Democracy, Universal Needs, and the Cooperative Road to International Peace

Each chapter explores the life and thought of the particular individual, and their intellectual circle. This latter is especially important because of the intellectual community each of these individuals sought out. But these communities were not simply about ideas, but also the personal more development of each person. Over time, this is transformed to the social and moral uplift of the poorer, working classes, most evident of course in the work of Jane Addams. A common thread throughout is a religious perspective that prioritizes “personal judgment” over external creeds. Some never embraced these. Some, like Adams, formally identified with churches that did while quietly adhering to personal judgment. And some, like Channing and Addams, moved from  Reformed and evangelical roots to embrace this broader liberal perspective.

She concludes by exploring the contribution of the liberal religion of democracy over the last century, in its extension of rights to women, racial minorities, and LGBT persons and believes this will continue to be a potent force in shaping democracy’s efforts to advance human rights.

I believe this is am important study even though I would disagree at a number of points with what I think is the implicit creed of “the religion of democracy”. It exchanges a Triune God of Holy Love for the “god within” and salvation and the obedience of faith for moralism, among other things. Yet, whatever your take on “the religion of democracy” it is important to understand the intellectual hegemony it has achieved, the intellectual community it has fostered, and the public rhetoric of equality, tolerance, pluralism, and inclusion that has captured the American imagination. Kittelstrom’s book is an important contribution to that understanding.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as an ebook via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Religion and Politics in Enlightenment Europe

Religion and Politics in Enlightenment Europe
Religion and Politics in Enlightenment Europe by James E. Bradley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It seems from the time of Constantine on that the life of the church has been inextricably bound up with politics. The unique slant of this collection of scholarly essays is that the authors explore how various religious reform movements in different national settings in 18th century Europe were tied into the political structures, and indeed political reforms, of their day.

After an introductory survey by Dale Van Kley, one of the editors of this collection, authors explore successively reform movements in France, Italy, and the Netherlands, in Bourbon Spain, and Habsburg controlled lands (all three of these are heavily concerned with the Jansenists and their struggle against the Jesuit-dominated Roman Curia). The remaining essays explore the religious origins of the radical politics of England, Scotland, and Ireland, the Deventer reforms in the Dutch republics, Pietism in Germany, and efforts to secularize the Orthodox church and diminish the control of monastics in Russia.

One major theme is the alliances formed between religious and political reformers, such as those between Jansenists and revolutionaries in France. Sadly alliances, while sometimes beneficial to the religious reformers, often end up disappointing when political power asserts its own controls, or when religious reformers form alliances with the losing side. From this a second theme emerges, that of power. Reformers, both political and religious are seeking to overthrow or diminish the power of others in religious or governmental circles and using their alliances with one another to help in that effort. A third theme is religious liberty, whether for dissenters in the English, Scottish and Irish context, or pietists in Germany or even minority Catholics in the Dutch context. Most often here, as in the American context which is noted at several points, those seeking greater liberties often turn to the political powers-that-be for relief from established church power.

Given the academic character of the book, I would think it is of primary interest to those interested in the Enlightenment period of European church history. It should also be of interest to anyone interested in the question of church-state relations and the intertwined nature of these. Lastly, particular chapters of this work may be of interest to those coming from one of the represented religious traditions, whether that be French Catholic, Pietist, Reformed, or Russian orthodox. I’m part of a Pietist church tradition and so I particularly appreciated this material. I also find church-state relations fascinating, particularly because of the follies and dangers I see of churches getting themselves entangled in political processes. Lastly, I picked up the book because one of its editors teaches at the institution where I am engaged in collegiate ministry and when I saw the book at a bargain price, I just couldn’t pass it up!

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