Randall Balmer: "The Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America"

Well, this book ( THY KINGDOM COME: How the Religious Right Distorts Faith and Threatens America [Basic Books, 2006]) will sure rustle some feathers in the evangelical world. Can't wait to hear James Dobson take it to Randall Balmer on Focus on the Family.

Check out Zach Kincaid's interview of Randall Balmer (HT: Scot McKnight)

An excerpt from the interview:

Zach Kincaid: In simple terms, what’s wrong with the Religious Right?

Randall Balmer: It’s twofold. First, the leaders of the Religious Right have distorted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have taken something lovely and redemptive and made it ugly and punitive. Second, they’ve defaulted on the noble legacy of 19th Century activism, which invariably took the part of those on the margins of society. I find no parallel to that activism in the agenda of the Religious Right at the turn of the 21st Century.

Also, check out an excerpt from the book at npr.org (HT: Rick Bennett)

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nancy said...

Bob - thanks for mentioning this book, it just got bumped to the front of my rather long queue.

I am a political conservative. Yes, I have grew up in a conservative home but I do investigate several issues beyond the RNC talking points that are spewed on "shout TV." However, I recently conversed with a friend who expressed some dismay when her church unwisely elevated a few political issues. Though there were not any explicit 501c3 infractions, her concern prompted my to think a bit.....

I decided to engage in a thought experiment and will post on it in a few days. As of yesterday, I am now a liberal. And the foundation for my political philosophy is that all men and women are created in the image of God and preserving that inherent dignity is an imperitive in making decisions on how to organize and construct our society. It will be fun to investigate several issues independently and then see if I return to my previous stripes or remain in my new liberal home.

Balmer's book is a must read for this adventure I'm embarking upon. Thanks!

Bob Robinson said...


If there is a "must read" for a Christian in his or her evaluation of political theories, it is the book I'm now reading for my current series, "Emerging Christian Interaction with Political Ideologies."

The book: David T. Koyzis’ Political Visions & Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies.

Nancy, I hope you track with me in that series and interact with the stuff I write in it. Looking forward to your input!

Bob Robinson said...


Four more books that have been an excellent help for me in my search for clarity in political issues:

1. The Politics of Jesus, by John Howard Yoder. A must-read for anyone serious about understanding politics from a Christian perspective.

2. God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, by Jim Wallis. Wallis has come into the fray as a prophetic voice in contemporary political discourse.

3. Good News and Good Works: A Theology for the Whole Gospel, by Ronald J. Sider. Sider is the very best at providing a thorough theological understanding of what we are called to do in all aspects of society, including politics.

4. Toward An Evangelical Public Policy: Political Strategies For The Health Of The Nations, edited by Ronald J. Sider and Diane Knippers. This book has essays by leading evangelicals on many issues facing us in the political realm - it is the book that sprung out of the National Association of Evangelical's landmark statement, For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility (if you haven't read this statement yet, you definitely should!!).

Byron said...

Hey, read "Blinded by Might", while you're at it. It's a great book---and I say that as an unashamed conservative (who has little intent of changing his stripes!). :)

Bob Robinson said...

Yea, Byron's recommendation is good too. I read that a few years ago (1999). It may be a little dated, but it certainly gives the insider's critique of the Religious Right (the authors, Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson were at one time leaders in Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority").