Commissions

TC ERT Apr 2008 Vol 32 No 2

04.01.08

Contents:

  • The Philadelphia Statement, August 2007
  • Developing an Evangelical Political Framework: Moving Toward Consensus by Ronald J. Sider
  • On Political Ethics as the Basis of a Global Evangelical Consensus by Claus Schwambach
  • Religion and Politics in Ancient Israel and Modern India: Issues and Inter-Actions by Jesudason Baskar Jeyaraj
  • Providence and Power Structures in Mission and Development by Jim Harries
  • Christian Responsibility to Reform Society: the example of William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect by John White
  • Matthew 17:24-27: A Religio-Political Reading by Rob Haskell
  • Book Reviews
    • Ken Eldred, God is at Work: Transforming People and Nations Through Business. ISBN: 0-8307-3806-1 (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2005) Reviewed by Mark L. Russell.
    • Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation. ISBN: 0-8254-3578-1 Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2006 Reviewed by Walter McConnell, Singapore Bible College and Director, Ichthus Research Centre.
    • J. Scott Horrell From the Ground Up: New Testament Foundations for the 21st Century Church. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004 ISBN 0-8254-2891-2 Reviewed by Steve Chang, Torch Trinity Graduate School of Theology, Seoul, Korea.
    • Calvin’s Preaching on the Prophet Micah. The 1550-51 Sermons in Geneva. Michael Parsons Lampeter, Wales: Edwin Mullen Press, 2006. ISBN 0-7734-5804-2 Reviewed by Ken R Manley, Whitley College, Melbourne, Australia.
    • Joseph Cardamone, Moving your Church into Global Ministry: A study of the evangelistic missionary preaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2006 ISBN 978-1-4241-5797-6 Reviewed by David Parker, Editor.
    • Kent A. Van Til, Less Than Two Dollars a Day: A Christian View of World Poverty and the Free Market. Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2006 ISBN 978-0-8028-1767-9 Reviewed by David Parker, Editor. Mark Wilson, Charts on the Book of Revelation: literary, historical and theological perspectives, Grand Rapids: Kregel , 2007 Reviewed by David Parker, Editor.

Editorial: Evangelical Political Engagement

Evangelical political engagement, a vital subject for today’s world, was the theme of the WEA Theological Commission mini-consultation held at Palmer Seminary, Philadelphia, USA on July 31, 2007. The key speakers were former TC member, Ronald Sider, and current member, Claus Schwambach, Principal of Faculdade Luterana de Teologia, Brazil. A statement summing up the discussions of the thirty participants has been widely circulated, with good responses from different parts of the world. In this issue we take pleasure in presenting material from the consultation.

First of all, we encourage readers to use the ‘Philadelphia Statement’ in their own contexts and to distribute it to others (for translations, visit www.worldevangelicals.org/tcstatements/). This is followed by the keynote addresses. Sider’s, a wide ranging overview of issues evangelicals face in becoming politically active, canvasses a four point analysis of effective action and offers some biblical guidelines for involvement. Schwambach tackles ethical issues in a comprehensive way, arguing that developing an international evangelical outlook on the topic is an urgent necessity. Despite the obvious pitfalls, he is confident that ‘a global evangelical consensus in political ethics’ is possible.

We also present several supporting papers. Dr J. B. Jeyaraj works with Old Testament material and relates key features from that world to his own modern Indian situation, touching on topics such as human rights and international relations. Since ‘interaction between religion and politics in a society is unavoidable’ it is wise to seek positive guidance from Scripture rather than allowing other forces to take control.

Taking a rather different angle Jim Harries, writing from the African context, raises the question of how aid and development programs are administered in non-western countries. He argues that there are great differences in these areas compared with the west which often leave the way open for systemic injustice and abuse, and calls for ‘a conscious depowerment on the part of the west and westerners’ to deal with the problem. Referring to the recent anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, John White (working in the Ukraine) focuses on ‘Christian responsibility to reform society’. He emphasises that Wilberforce’s experience ‘shows that Christianity can be a powerful and guiding force in politics’ when tacked in the right way, especially accepting ‘responsibility for both the good and the bad’ of the particular situation, and giving ‘Christian principle [priority] over party.’

Finally, we have a paper by Rob Haskell, who also has close links with Latin America, which looks at a well known biblical incident of the temple tax and draws the conclusion that it has political, not just religious, implications; but above all, God’s children are under his gracious sovereignty although they are to make sure they also obedient to those set over them. Yet this is not an absolute—for we are first of all under God’s lordship, which raises interesting questions for those believers who also rule in this world.

David Parker, Editor.