Healing for a Broken World: Christian Perspectives on Public Policy.

Author:Cady, Linell E.
Position:Book review

Healing for a Broken World. Christian Perspectives on Public Policy. By Steve Monsma. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008. 224pp. $16.99.

This book is written by a Christian evangelical for fellow evangelicals, a powerful force in American society who make up, in the author's estimation, between one quarter and one third of all voters. Although endorsing the evangelical return to issues of politics and policy after decades of isolation, Monsma laments much that flies under the banner of the "Christian right." In his words, "too often our voices are shrill, our grasp of the facts thin, and our vision narrow" (p. 9). Rejecting the reduction of Christianity to merely a private faith, or to partisan politics of the left or the right, Monsma takes up the perennial challenge of rethinking the appropriate relationship of Christian faith to the "world."

In the first section of the book, Monsma identifies the core biblical motifs and principles that should guide Christian thought and participation in God's redemptive work in a deeply broken world. In the second and longer section he applies these principles to a broad range of public policy issues, such as poverty, war, human rights, and the environment. He eschews offering "the" Christian answer, insisting that there is no single line between principle and policy. Carving out this analytic space is essential to his larger project of countering the excessive politicization and manipulation of evangelical Christianity by the political right. He places primary weight upon the principles of justice and the common good, solidarity, and freedom. Others freedom to live in ways that might offend Christian moral intuitions should only be countered, he persuasively argues, when it violates principles of justice and the common good. So although sharing the standard evangelical line that homosexuality is unbiblical, he insists that this in no way demands legal sanctions against it. Indeed a recurring refrain is the need for Christians to focus on the most egregious violations of injustice and the common good, and not to set themselves up as legal guardians of only one version of the moral life. The latter, Monsma argues, reflects a...

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