Political Engagement as Biblical Mandate

By Paul Hanson

An imaginative and challenging examination of how Christians can engage in constructive political participation in a religiously and culturally diverse society.

ISBN: 9780227172698


How does the Bible shapes the perspective from which Christians view politics, the manner in which they engage in public debate, and the strategies they adopt when they translate faith into action? In this book, Paul Hanson suggests that many believers give insufficient thought to the basic principles that biblical study contributes to the lives of those who simultaneously seek to live in obedience to the central confessions of the Christian faith and to engage constructively in the life of the nation.

Political Engagement as Biblical Mandate looks at the intersection of public debate and religious arguments with a particular focus on the American public forum. In the current climate of argument over the maturing of Western culture into a post-Christian secularism and the increase in religious and ideological diversity, the free expression of religious ideas in public debate often exacerbates civic tension and undermines a society’s ability to solve its most urgent problems. Conversely, despite the global nature of religious and political engagement, many people of faith are still confined to within their own congregation, denomination or locality. This book seeks to make the case that religiously informed thought has played and can continue to play a constructive role in the public forum over domestic and international issues that are weighted with moral content.

The reader is invited to take a step back from specific strategies to ask some foundational questions: What makes a political position Christian? What does a faith perspective contribute that is not replicated by secular parties, agencies, and causes? What are some steps involved in moving from confessional community to world? Readers may find some surprising assertions: “Worship is the most political action a Christian can take”, or, “Covenant is not only a religious concept, but one that a society must rediscover if it is to regain its moral footing”. Hanson emphasises that there is but one regime to which the Christian surrenders in complete obedience – the reign of God. Out of this a paradox arises that is jeopardised by snug alliances between church and state: the patriotism of the Christian comes to expression specifically in withholding ultimate allegiance for God.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Paul Hanson is Florence Corliss Lamont Professor of Divinity at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1971. After completing his PhD in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilisations in 1970, he spent a year doing archaelogical research in Israel, and spent sabbatical years in Israel, Germany and most recently at Princeton. His research interest is Hebrew prophecy, biblical theology, Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period and the religion of the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Among his many publications are The Dawn of Apocalyptic, Dynamic Transcendence, The Diversity of Scripture and The People Called.



1. In Search of a Biblically Based Political Theology
2. Worship Touchstone of Christian Political Action
3. Covenant and Politics
4. Jesus Christ, Savior and the Human Condition: The Biblical Background
5. Old Problems, New Opportunities

Scripture Index
Author Index


Endorsements and Reviews

A genuine manifesto! But one charged with and rooted in the words of Scripture, calling the church to a renewed faithfulness in its commitment to the well-being of the human community. Hanson’s passionate convictions are matched by his openness to other views. Like the prophets of old, he sets forth a strong critique of our inattention to the sociopolitical world, but that critique is on the way to an imaginative and biblical vision of the way it should and can be. Some readers may find themselves uncomfortable at times, but that is the reason they should keep reading.
Patrick D. Miller, Princeton Theological Seminary