Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics

Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics, by Peter Goodwin Heltzel.  ($25.67)

Amazon sez: This timely book investigates the increasing visibility and influence of evangelical Christians in recent American politics with a focus on racial justice. Peter Goodwin Heltzel considers four evangelical social movements: Focus on the Family, the National Association of Evangelicals, Christian Community Development Association, and Sojourners.

The political motives and actions of evangelical groups are founded upon their conceptions of Jesus Christ, Heltzel contends. He traces the roots of contemporary evangelical politics to the prophetic black Christianity tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the socially engaged evangelical tradition of Carl F. H. Henry. Heltzel shows that the basic tenets of King’s and Henry’s theologies have led their evangelical heirs toward a prophetic evangelicalism in a shade of blue green—blue symbolizing the tragedy of black suffering in the Americas, and green symbolizing the hope of a prophetic evangelical engagement with poverty, AIDS, and the environment. This fresh theological understanding of evangelical political groups shines new light on the ways evangelicals shape and are shaped by broader American culture.

“Heltzel offers a genealogy of American evangelicalism that casts important light on its complicated relationship to American politics and America”s painful history of race relations. American evangelicalism is positioned inside of, and not apart from, such matters. This alone merits a serious consideration of Heltzel”s work.” —J. Kameron Carter, Duke University Divinity School and author of Race: A Theological Account

“With this head-turning first book, Peter Heltzel emerges as the most provocative new interpreter of American evangelicalism.  Offering much more than fresh insights on a widely discussed subject, Heltzel illuminates a way beyond the culture wars.  Jesus and Justice will change the way we think about Christianity and politics.”—Charles Marsh, author of The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, From the Civil Rights Movement to Today

(Charles Marsh )

“In Jesus and Justice, Peter Heltzel offers an informed, passionate critique of evangelical political involvement. This important book will very likely alter the terms of the debate over evangelicalism and politics.”—Randall Balmer, author of The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond

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