Flipping on the news on any given day can be overwhelming, and trying to form a political stance from it all can be quite daunting. How do we sort it out? Amidst multimedia bombardment, do we stop to consider where policies even derive?
Here is help!
Evangelical James Robison and Catholic Jay Richards set forth a well-reasoned and clearly articulated political guidebook that’s infused with the light of rational faith. Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late (Ignatius Press, 2012) presents strong arguments that will compel non-believers and convict believers. The reader will discover commentary on the words of Christ as well as popes, saints, and faithful Christian witnesses who are “wise as serpents” among political confusion and misdirection.
Robison and Richards lay a solid principled foundation upon which policies can be built. They examine dubious purposes and principles that lead to deadly policies by particularly challenging three popular political stances (which is why we need this book!):
“It doesn’t really matter. It’s just politics.” The leadership and policies of our country directly apply to every citizen. The ability to put bread on one’s table and the freedom to practice one’s religion must be defended (and they are being attacked). Everyone’s freedom is at stake. Closing one’s eyes does not stop the game. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, “Not to stand is to stand.” Since we all live in the polis, inaction becomes action which contributes to the outcome.
“Jesus would support our welfare program.” Perhaps more dangerously is the mindset that certain policies assume the proper Christian stance – Robison and Richards deliver the anecdote to “Christian” positions that are politically and morally dubious with clarity and faithfulness to the Gospel. They uncover motivation that drives the attitude of entitlement: “envy masquerading as moral outrage.” Too often, supposed Christian approaches are really just moral and political rot with a nice Christian wrapping. The authors peel back the camouflaged rhetoric of non-Christian and anti-Christian activists whose currency reads, “In Government we trust.”
Finally, some fiscal conservatives think “social issues” distract and divide – "if we ignore abortion and gay marriage, we can gain ground on lowering taxes.” But political freedom cannot exist without a strong moral foundation. Social and economic issues stem from the same root – separating them is always a false choice. Financial freedom requires morality because morality sustains economy.
The authors present the anecdote to bad policy by zeroing in on many important issues – the role of government, family and culture, poverty and private property, capitalism and globalization, immigration and environment. They provide an accessible and solid survey of how to apply essential principles to policy. They also repeatedly provide a pragmatic guide, “What should we do?” giving the newly motivated reader the ability to put down the book and take action. Ultimately, culture can only be restored and transformed through prayer, personal holiness and heroic virtue.
The founding fathers knew freedom and culture could only flourish if based on morality. So they described rights as ‘self-evident’ because they are universal moral truths. In Romans 1, St. Paul explains that God wrote these laws of nature on the very hearts of men. Thus, there can be no sober discussion of rights without natural law. And to deny aspects of the “laws of nature and Nature’s God” is to unravel the whole system. Hence our rights – our freedom which our country is based upon – are indivisible.
What is freedom anyway? Not just choice, not pure independence. The authors explain that true freedom is for something, namely excellence rooted in God. This freedom requires responsibility and virtue. To acknowledge this means to recognize good and evil, and therefore sin – the corruption in every man. Sin coupled with power deals a deadly blow to citizens. Thus, our founding fathers understood the need to limit government. So they built a system to avoid future tyranny by balancing powers. Power corrupts because humans run the government. Human passion unchecked by moral guidance leads to bad law and poverty, whereas discipline brings liberty and prosperity.
Robison and Richards have provided an invaluable tool to those who wish for the city of man to be more like the city of God. Indivisible provides a solid, challenging, and thought-provoking political handbook that our country clearly needs in the year of a Presidential election and every year.
Chris Gilbert received his M.A. from Franciscan University in Theology with a specialization in catechetics. He worked as a Director of Religious Education for three years and now is a Youth Minister in Charlottesville, Va. He and his wife Elizabeth have two lovely children, Stella and Jude. Chris also loves books because, for most of his life, he refused to read.