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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource - long overdue., 8 Feb 2010
This review is from: God and Government (Paperback)
God and Government is an excellent review of the different perspectives of the Christian purposes of government - and something that we could have done with being published twenty years ago.

Although it's widely acknowledged that Christianity is a huge influence on the nature of government, this publication provides a great insight into this important subject area. With some important distinctions made between politics, government and the state, the recurring biblical principles explored in the book are for the development of `political wisdom' (a term that needs urgent revitalisation in our public discourse). Four general principles emerge. First, the government is accountable to God: second, that governments role is limited; third, that government exists for the common good; and fourth, that the task of government is just judgement. Great stuff.

Spencer and Chaplin have produced a seminal text for Christians interested in understanding and influencing the shape and nature government - which should be all Christians!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really stimulating, 9 Jan 2010
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This review is from: God and Government (Paperback)
A really thought provoking essay by some body who understands and writes well. I recommend it to anybody who wants to think about Government and God, whether they are a believer in God or not. As usual Theos have done a brilliant job. Go on, but it and read it and then lend it to somebody!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Christian political wisdom, 24 Mar 2012
Anthony Smith (UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God and Government (Paperback)
"God and Government" is an accessible, recent (2009) multi-author book, aimed at stimulating Christian thinking about political issues within the UK context. Recognizing that there are no simple answers, the book's aim is to put forward a set of principles, which can help to form political wisdom in the context of political practice.

There are eight chapters, framed by an introduction and conclusion by the editors (Nick Spencer and Jonathan Chaplin). The brief for each chapter was to respond to the same question: "what, according to Christian theology, is the proper function of government? What, in other words, should those Christians engaged with politics, in whatever capacity, be aiming to achieve through their engagement?" (p.3). The first four chapters focus more on principles, while the last four attempt to spell out the implications more concretely. Here's a summary of the chapters:

1. Nigel Wright, a baptist theologian, sets the ball rolling with his chapter on "Government as an ambiguous power". Government is ambiguous: both good and bad, being simultaneously created, fallen, and open to redemption. It has important functions, "to maintain order and to punish wrongdoers" (p.27).

2. Julian Rivers, professor of law, then explores "The nature and role of government in the Bible". Government has legitimate authority from God, but it is limited, both "by the existence of other human authorities, in particular, church, family and individual" (p.47) and "by the means at its disposal" (p.48), its power to coerce. Government should itself be under law, diffuse and accountable.

3. The chapter by Tom Wright, former bishop of Durham, is entitled "Neither anarchy nor tyranny: Government and the New Testament". It is a call for believers to embrace God's alternative empire, recognizing that the Christian confession that "Jesus is Lord" is in direct opposition to the Roman confession that "Caesar is Lord". Jesus' lordship is the proclamation not just of a new lord, but of a new kind of lordship, shaped by Jesus' crucifixion.

4. "The role of government in classical Christian political thought" is the subject of the chapter by David McIlroy, a practising barrister. Government, according to this rich tradition, should be accountable, and it should be limited, having the twin aims of promoting the common good and executing just judgment.

5. Nicholas Townsend, lecturer in Christian ethics, then begins to flesh out these principles, in a chapter on "Government and social infrastructure". Government should not attempt to implement the common good in its entirety, but should limit itself to providing that social infrastructure which is a prerequisite for the common good. In pursuing this, the role of government is both corrective (remedial) and directive (coordinating).

6. "Government, solidarity and subsidiarity" is the next chapter, by economist Philip Booth. The principles of solidarity and subsidiarity (as well as the common good) feature prominently in Catholic Social Teaching. Solidarity should characterise our communities, but subsidiarity is taken to mean that government intervention should be a last resort in achieving this.

7. Social commentator Clifford Longley then looks at "Government and the common good". The central principle underlying all policies should be a commitment to the common good, which is not the sum of each person's individual goods, but which is the good of society as a whole.

8. "Government and equality" is the theme for the final chapter by Andrew Bradstock, a professor in faith and politics. The Bible is committed to equality between all people, and this stands against the large and growing inequality in British society. Government has a role to play in narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

A few words from Jonathan Chaplin's conclusion will serve well as a summary:

"[T]he book's ... hope is that it will spur Christian [political] practitioners on as they seek to forge new, closer and more critical linkages between their theological convictions and their policy commitments--and so to manifest practical Christian political wisdom in ways that promote justice and the common good for a contemporary Britain crying out for much more of both" (p.234).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Election Essential, 17 Mar 2010
Mr. M. L. Taylor "white fox" (Faversham Kent England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God and Government (Paperback)
This book is essential reading for Christians of all stripes,and,indeed,for serious non-Christian readers.The thoughts of the many contributors,one of whom is Tom Wright,the Bishop of Durham,will be useful guides to us all as we approach a General Election.We may recall that the political life ought to be a high calling.We should examine the credentials of our candidates for office in accordance with the criteria outlined by the authors of these essays.
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God and Government
God and Government by Nick Spencer (Paperback - 10 Nov 2009)
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