The Politics of God: Christian Theologies and Social Justice
Author: Kathryn Tanner
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Fortress Press
Because of my interest in social justice, I read a variety of books relating to social justice. This book was selected for review for this very reason. Being somewhat familiar with the borader topic of social justice, I thought it was time for me to take my study to the next level and to dive deeper into the theological discussion of social justice. This book seemed like a logical starting point for that next step.
This book concerns the political import of Christian beliefs about God and the world. These beliefs and the political practices of the Christians holding them have taken many different forms over the last twenty centuries. This book tries to bring a little analytical clarity to the complex connections between them. Efforts at clarification are subordinate, however, to a normative concern. I hope to show how Christian beliefs about God and the world may be disentangled from a history of use in support of a status quo of injustice and reconstituted as a resource for commitment to progressive social change. (vii)
Centered around culture, belief, and action, Dr. Tanner delves into the broader topic of social justice and how to critically think theologically about our beliefs and actions in the wider context of our culture. “This book concerns how beliefs about God and the word that have figured prominently in Christian thought are connected with attitudes and actions that Christians have historically displayed in their relations with others.” (1)
I found the first chapter to be interesting as Dr. Tanner discusses the topics of beliefs, actions, and attitudes (also the name of the chapter) and the connection between beliefs, actions, and attitudes. It was mainly the discussion on how our beliefs influence our actions and attitudes that sparked my interest. On some level, we all know that this is true. Our beliefs cause us to act a certain way and our beliefs are reflected in our attitudes which in turn shape our views on the world and social issues. Dr. Tanner begins to explore this connection from two different perspectives: the sociocultural and the philosophical.
Be forewarned, this book is not a light read. At times, Dr. Tanner’s writing can be complex. There were times that I found myself reading the same sentence over and over again. That said, this is not an introductory work on the broad topic of social justice and should not be picked up by someone just entering the discussion on the role of social justice in todays society. This is a much more academic treatment of the theological issues that get down to the root of our social action (or lack thereof). Having taken my time to properly work thorough this book, I would recommend this book to others who are looking to take their understanding of social justice past the superficial and to struggle through and with some of the deeper theological issues associated with this hot button topic.
I received this book free from Fortress Press. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”