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Evangelicals and Empire

For those who are interested, I’ve just had my review of Bruce Benson and Peter Heltzel’s new book, Evangelicals and Empire published in The Other Journal. The book is a fascinating engagement with the empire theory of Hardt and Negri from the standpoint of evangelicalism. The book looks both at how Hardt and Negri’s theory might be brought to bear on evangelicalism and how evangelical theology might offer challenges to Hardt and Negri. Definitely worth a read.

3 Comments

  1. Brad A. wrote:

    Very interesting, Halden. Thanks for the link. This has been a concern of mine, too, particularly as the Christian Right has joined hands with neoconservatism from time to time. Incidentally, Fath’s essay addresses a major inconsistency I’ve pondered for some time, too (I’m a recovering dispensationalist and Christian Right member). Does he mention Tim LeHaye and the Council for National Policy?

    With my particular research area (ecclesial identity and nationalism), what is interesting in the specific context of empire is the degree to which segments of evangelicalism (the aforementioned CR) pursue nationalist agendas. As nationalism amounts to a theological construct (and parody of the church) – portraying America as an elected, covenant nation and crafting and propagating various symbols, narratives, and liturgies to that end – the Christian Right becomes within the American context a twenty-first century imperial cult. (For now, this point will be a footnote in my dissertation, but I’d like to explore it more fully later on.)

    Also, I have found in past work that empire provides an interesting area in which critiques by RO/Hauerwasians and liberationist theologians can actually find some common ground; their solutions don’t necessarily, but their assessments of empire do.)

    Monday, June 22, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  2. Chris Donato wrote:

    I was about to bemoan the lack of any clear articulation of recapturing a healthy dose of two-kingdoms theology as an antidote for the evangelical/empire debacle, but then I read the rest of the review and noticed Horton’s essay. Glad to see his thoughts on this subject were brought to bear. I wonder how many of the essayists would have anything left to say if they took his arguments seriously (assuming many of them only perpetuate the confusion of the kingdoms—only in a leftist manner)?

    Take Christian Socialism, for example. Why the qualifier? Why can’t it just be socialism, quite apart from whatever misconstruals about Christianity are heaped upon it? Moreover, why don’t “Christian” socialists argue more for a libertarian kind of socialism, once again opting instead for a statist (imperial) solution? Does Milbank, in his essay in this volume, truly avoid sleeping with the Empire?

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink
  3. dan wrote:

    As far as I can tell (and Hardt and Negri agree), Milbank is about as imperial as they come. Worst essay in the book.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

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