Jesus and Our Politics

Richard Bauckham, The Bible in Politics (2011), 150:

The risen Jesus is our future. He beckons us forward to the goal of creation and gives all Christian activity the character of hopeful movement into the future which God has promised. Not that we ourselves can achieve that future. Resurrection makes that clear: we who ourselves end in death cannot achieve the new creation out of death.

The Kingdom in its final glory lies beyond the reach of our history, in the hands of the God who interrupted our history by raising Jesus from death. This transcendence of the Kingdom beyond our achievement must be remembered. But in Jesus God has given us the Kingdom not only as hope for the final future but also to anticipate in the present. As the vision of God’s perfect will for his creation it is the inspiration of all Christian efforts to change the world for the better.

In relation to our political activity, it is a double-edged sword, cutting through both our pretensions and our excuses. On the one hand, as the goal we do not reach, it passes judgement on all our political projects and achievements, forbids us the dangerous Utopian illusion of having paradise within our grasp, keeps us human, realistic, humble and dissatisfied. On the other hand, as the goal we must anticipate, it lures us on beyond all our political achievements, forbids us disillusioned resignation to the status quo, keeps us dissatisfied, hopeful, imaginative, and open to new possibilities.

Thank you, John Wilson!


The November/December issue of Books & Culture will be its last.

The loss is symptomatic of a decline in serious reading by Christians, and that’s worth a lot of time and thought. But today I’m thinking happy thoughts, being reminded again of my gratitude for the world-class editor behind it all, John Wilson.

In 2011 Wilson invited me into a blog conversation with Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, the Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages at Liberty University. It was the first time we met.

As a first-time author the invitation was immediately intimidating because, first, it’s Books & Culture(!), and second, I was certain then, as I am certain today, that Karen can intellectually roundhouse kick me back and forth across the literary mat without breaking a sweat, if she wanted to. I was assured she didn’t want to, this was no debate, and I would be left unharmed, so I agreed. It turned out to be a brief but very enjoyable dialogue about books and reading.

Karen quickly became, and remains, a friend.

I’m certain others will have more profound stories to tell, but I wanted to tell mine, and to say it in public: Thank you, John Wilson, for your decades of service to book readers and authors and for networking us all together like you have!

And in case you want to read it for yourself, the four-part conversation is online:

Puritan Hilarity

J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, page 14:

Few of us, I think live daily on the edge of eternity in the conscious way that the Puritans did, and we lose out as a result. For the extraordinary vivacity, even hilarity (yes, hilarity), with which the Puritans lived stemmed directly, I believe, from the unflinching matter-of-fact realism with which they prepared themselves for death, so as always to be found, as it we’re, packed up and ready to go.

Best Books of 2016 (The Contenders)


It’s time to finalize my preliminary list of books to consider for best of 2016 (xian, mostly evangelical, nf, in english). Once again, this is going to be a tough decision. The list, as I have it so far, is below. So what books have I missed? (* = newly added suggestion.)