From The Catalyst, Summer 2016
Faith and Politics Matters
Edited by John Milloy
Reviewed by Joe Gunn
Some Christians grew up believing (with Abraham Kuyper) that “not a square inch of human existence stands apart from the sovereign claims of Christ.” But in John Milloy’s Catholic upbringing, “almost everyone’s parents told them that religion and politics were topics (along with sex) that never made for polite conversation.”
Perhaps Milloy was disobedient to his parents! He worked in Jean Chrétien’s PMO, was later elected as an Ontario cabinet minister, and is now a professor at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. His provocative series of short essays makes the case that people of faith do not need to check our religious beliefs at the door in order to engage politically.
So, how we are to engage is a better question for Christians than if we are to act. Having had the experience of elected office, it is not a surprise that Milloy defends “the incremental progress that is such a part of politics today.” More challenging for him are unwavering stances encountered on issues like abortion and gay rights.
Another contributor, Lutheran pastor David Pfrimmer, directs his gaze to how faith communities can best engage faith and politics. His answer lies in what he calls “public ethics,” where “communities of moral deliberation” help each other describe, discuss, and fully understand our most profound societal concerns and sources of meaning.
This is often hard work for pastors. It is why faith-based groups like Citizens for Public Justice, independent and more agile than church bureaucracies, are so necessary today.