We often get frustrated when other Christians disagree with us. Our position is obviously correct—if everyone else saw it all Christians could be united. This attitude is seldom more apparent than in political discussions. There are Christian Republicans, Christian liberals, Christian independents, and Christian Socialists. How? We read the same Bible; shouldn't we all vote the same?
John Eidsmoe rejoices in the variety, maintaining that as long as believers can defend their political views biblically, having them in a variety of camps simply means their collective influence will be that much more broad. At the same time, he's careful to point out that some ways of thinking about civil government are more correct than others. The central question of God and Caesar is what exactly we owe the government, and what (if anything) we can do as Christians to influence our leaders and laws.
Three parts examine the biblical views of government, our duty toward it, and the issues with which it is associated. The first part is pretty straightforward and brief—the purpose of government is to restrain sin and preserve order. The second addresses things like our duty to pray for our leaders, civil disobedience, patriotism, military service and political involvement. Eidsmoe is careful to use Scripture as his guide as he discusses the validity of Christians participating in war, the efficacy of revolution, and when and how we stop doing what the authorities command.
Part three investigates seemingly less specific issues like education, censorship, the family and humanism. Eidsmoe's specificity and attention to detail, however, makes this one of the most interesting (and possibly) most useful sections in the book. It looks at the way our present government treats such questions, the appropriate biblical understanding, and what our response as Christian citizens should be.
While Eidsmoe talks at length in other books about the need to return to our nation's Christian roots, God and Caesar avoids such discussions in favor of a practical approach to our duties toward and under any civil government. He does say that the Bible commands patriotism, using as his example several instances of Israelite nationalism—apparently ignoring the distinction most Bible scholars would make between a secular state and the people of God. But overall his remarks are biblically founded, cogent and well-reasoned, and no Christian can argue with his assertion that governments deserve our submission and support first and foremost because their authority derives not from themselves but from God Himself.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
Did you find this review helpful?