I received in the mail last night a new book by Dr. Wayne Grudem, research professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. Politics – According to the Bible is Grudem’s latest offering, published by Zondervan. It’s a thick book—weighing in at more than 600 pages.

What I find fascinating in this book is that it is—that it exists. Conservative theologians don’t usually dive into politics with the fervor of their left-wing opponents (think seminary-trained, Jesse Jackson, Al Gore, Jim Wallis). To be sure, there are plenty of conservative Christians who speak and write about political life from the right—Chuck Colson, Marvin Olasky, Ann Coulter, Britt Hume, Cal Thomas, Kerby Anderson, to name a few. But these folks are not theologically trained; Mike Huckabee is (one year at Southwestern Baptist Seminary), but he’s the exception to the rule. But to have a full-fledged conservative theologian offer a serious volume on American politics is exceptional.

Grudem has been for a long time an outspoken defender of conservative thought—both theologically and politically. He has impeccable credentials—Harvard BA, Westminster MDiv, Cambridge PhD. Many readers of this blogsite will recognize his name from his well-known and justly-revered Systematic Theology. Whatever else one wants to say about Grudem’s take on politics, he or she must wrestle with the fact that Grudem is a serious theologian who desires to ground his views in scripture at every turn. In other words, this is a book not to be taken lightly, not to be dismissed, not to be rejected as though it comes from a Fox News pundit.

Grudem takes on the theological right-political left capably (for example, Jim Wallis is discussed or cited on 24 pages). Characteristic of his writing style, he is clear, forthright, and biblical. Grudem has been a lightning rod on numerous issues—the role of women in the church, the continuation of the gifts, and now conservative politics. I am interested in seeing the responses to this book. It no doubt will engender much heated debate. In the end, I hope that evangelical Christians will measure it against the Bible as our ultimate authority.

From what I’ve read so far, I can tell you that this will be a fascinating read. It’s a book I would recommend to any Christian concerned about the state of American politics today, regardless of where he or she stands on the political continuum.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    43 replies to "Politics According to the Bible (Dan Wallace)"

    • Dave Z

      Xulon, I see this as the key phrase “But these folks are not theologically trained…” Your example of Fallwell is a good observation, but maybe still an exception. I don’t know the theological training of the guy that took the MM over from Falwell. Reed, was it?

      I find it interesting that those on the left are typically not identified primarily as Christians, but more often as civil rights spokesmen, e.g. Jackson and Sharpton. IOW, they seem to be defined by their cause. That’s true on the right as well, but it seems to me that the causes are actively and intentionally linked to faith.

      I think the causes held dear by the right are more controversial these days. People who are strongly opposed to civil rights are harder to find than they were in the 1960’s, so there’s more room for vitriol on the current issues.

    • xulon

      Sorry, but whatever justification or reason the article has for pretending the religious right (or the last 35 years of anointing conservatives as Christians and liberals as not) was not Christians diving into politics is false to a very large degree. Even the claim that they are not trained is false. Didn’t Kirby Anderson graduate from DTS? At least he taught there.

      As one who has watched the Church fawning over the political right for 35+ years, I am curious to what end this revision of church history is leading.

    • Dave Z

      I don’t even know who Kirby Anderson is.

      OK, wait…(google, google, google) ah…got it, it’s Kerby – second bio down.

      His degrees are in science and government. Kinda supports the OP.

    • Vinny

      Isn’t Pat Robertson theologically trained?

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Xulon, you make a decent point about the Moral Majority (although not explicitly named). But I’m speaking more about the current climate, not past history. What Jerry Falwell did was to start a popular movement, but there was no theologically-trained voice as head of that movement. And it officially died over 25 years ago. Falwell only had a college degree; his doctorates were honorary, not earned. Kerby Anderson is not a Dallas Seminary graduate, nor does he teach theology at the seminary. He has an advanced degree from Georgetown and one from Oregon State (one in political science and the other in environmental studies, if I recall).

      Further, you seem to miss the real point that I’m raising: Grudem is a serious theologian who is speaking about politics, and he’s trying to integrate his political views with his biblical position. Who else has written a full-length book on this subject? The closest parallel that I know of is Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners. Some of the books he’s written come close to this. And he’s on the left side of the political aisle.

      I would ask you not to get off topic here. I think that Grudem’s book is something that evangelicals and even non-evangelicals and non-Christians who are interested in politics need to grapple with.

    • Dave Z

      Not sure of Robertson’s education, but I do know his political background includes the fact that his father, a Democrat, served first as a congressional representative, then as a senator, from Virginia, and in his early life his home hosted many political luminaries. So his early exposure to an elite level of politics may put him in a different league than some of the other prominent RR people.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Robertson is another like Mike Huckabee, except that he finished his seminary degree. He also has a law degree from Yale, though he did not pass the bar exam. I did not include him because he’s hardly a frontrunner on the political scene these days.

    • Hodge


      I think I would define “theologically trained” for our more liberal and atheist friends. I would argue that it does not refer to anyone who has ever studied some theology, but someone who has gained competence in the area through rigorous study of the discipline. I would exclude Robertson, Falwell, Huckabee, etc., and I would second that there is simply no major spokesperson within evangelicalism that tackles the issue. There are plenty of theologians and Bible scholars who discuss it, but no one who fits the bill that I can think of on the forefront. I’m not so sure that those theologically trained within liberal circles, who have adopted various liberation theologies, however, are at the fore on the liberal side of things either. It seems that the media wants charisma and command of quick “soudbyting” rather than scholarship and accuracy. If you’re only talking about popular books that drive the two movements, however, I would agree with you.

    • Hodge

      D. A. Carson may be the exception, but the media doesn’t have him on as much as it used to.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Hodge, that’s correct. At the same time, I’m thinking about those (evangelicals on both sides of the political aisle) who have consciously tried to speak about politics from a thoroughly biblical viewpoint. They have done what they can to integrate their faith into their worldview, including their political worldview. They have consciously and explicitly addressed how their view fits in with biblical revelation.

      Thus, when it comes to (a) theologically trained individuals, who (b) integrate their biblical views with their political views consciously and explicitly, and (c) write major works in this regard, the numbers on either side are very few. I would love to see an array of names that come to mind on this blogsite.

    • mbaker


      Gotta wonder, no matter how good the source is, are we Christians going to live in faith or in fear? I think we have lost our balance between wondering what is going on and understanding that this sort of thing has always been an issue. I, for one, think it either over paralyzes us more or mobilizes us to be vigilant in preaching the gospel, instead of the gospel according to politics.

      Yes we should be militant in speaking against abortion and same sex marriage because the Bible does, but the rest of it, I don’t know. Tha’;s an individual decision,where the vote should come in.

    • Dave Z

      How about Dobson? He’s not as prominent these days, but used to show up on Larry King pretty regularly, and still has a lot of clout with some folks. His education isn’t specifically theological, but I expect he would say he has tried to “speak about politics from a thoroughly biblical viewpoint.”

      Franklin Graham is getting a lot of press these days. Wikipedia says he holds a B.A. but it doesn’t mention the field of study.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Dave Z, I think you answered your own question. Come to think of it, I don’t recall any time a heavy-weight evangelical theologian weighed in on politics. I’m sure I’m missing something though.

    • Dave Z

      Come to think of it, I don’t recall any time a heavy-weight evangelical theologian weighed in on politics.

      Dr. Wallace, that’s a very interesting point, considering how many pastors do so on a regular basis. 🙂

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Pastors are on one level, and I have nothing against them (after all, I’ve spent my adult life training them!). But except for rare individuals like John Piper, few of them are theological heavy weights.

    • Ron G

      While not professionally trained as a theologian, Frank Beckwith (post grad work in philosophy and the law) has just published a new book on the Christian worldview and public policy in May of this year… http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Christians-Statecraft-Soulcraft-Integration/dp/0830828141/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1284254435&sr=1-5 … Dr Beckwith certainly has a well established track record of writings on cultural issues and the evangelical perspective.

    • Michael T.

      Dr. Wallace,

      I studied politics in undergrad and went on to study law so wrestling with how Christians integrate themselves with government and politics has been a hobby of mine. I think you are correct that at least in recent history no Evangelical theological heavyweight has weighed in on the issue. Jim Wallis and Chuck Colson have, but they hardly classify as theological heavyweights (Jim Wallis has training, but he is no scholar). One could argue that if one consider Greg Boyd a Evangelical, his book, “The Myth of a Christian Nation” addresses politics, but I’m not sure how to classify him politically or theologically for reasons that are likely well known by any one who is familiar with his writings. (his church belongs to the same denomination as John Piper’s church oddly enough)

      Even when one looks outside of Evangelicalism one finds very few theologians who weigh in from the right side of the political spectrum. About the closest one I can think of off the top of my head was 50-60 years ago with Reinhold Niebuhr’s Christian Realism and he started off heavily left and then became a more eclectic moderate (politically at least – theologically he was neo-orthodox) as the years went by. Other than that most have been on the left or separationist side of things such as John H. Yoder, and Stanley Hauerwas.

      I’ll have to pick Grudem’s book

    • Vinny

      Dr. Wallace,

      Jesse Jackson is hardly a frontrunner on the political scene any more either. I think you are really straining to fit the data into a predetermined conclusion.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Yes, but Jim Wallis very much is, Vinny. I suppose I could have mentioned Al Sharpton instead of Jesse Jackson.

      But one question I have for you: What predetermined conclusion am I trying to get to?

      Ron G., I didn’t know about Frank Beckwith’s latest. He would certainly qualify as a theologian in my book. And Greg Boyd, Michael T., would fit within evangelicalism from my perspective, which is the same perspective that the Evangelical Theological Society has.

    • Michael T.

      Dr. Wallace,

      Just to be clear I wasn’t trying to slam Greg Boyd. I have a lot of respect for him in fact in a number of areas. I just strongly disagree with some of his theological positions (as I do Piper as well – I grew up in a GBC church and attended Bethel for undergrad so I was kinda close to the debate). Ultimately I just find him really hard to put a finger on whether it be theologically or politically. That being said he probably is the only first rate theologically trained Evangelical (M.Div Yale, Ph.d Princeton) to weigh in on the issue outside of Grudem’s new book and he comes down as a moderate separationist which is again hard to classify on the left – right spectrum.

    • Susan

      Just for fun I thought I’d make a little public announcement here:

      Dan Wallace is now a grandpa! First grandchild born tonight (9-11).
      It’s a girl!!!

      Is this a politically correct day for your first grandchild to be born?
      (….a weak attempt at tying in with the thread topic).

      Well, it’s a great birthday for a little girl with a busy, and possibly forgetful, grandpa. 9-11 works(!)

    • Frank!

      Surprised no one has mentioned Francis Schaeffer yet. And I might add, D.A. Carson has dealt with some of these issues in his book Christ and Culture Revisited.

    • Greg

      I’ll have to pick up this book soon and check it out.

      I read every page of Grudem’s “Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth” even though it took me forever, and I’m a big fan of Greg Boyd’s political writings too, so I’m even more interested to hear Grudem’s take on this subject.

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention Dr. Wallace!

    • cherylu

      I know no way to tie this in with the thread, but I can’t resist saying, “Congratulations, new Grandpa!”

      Grandkids are a real blessing–I hope you enjoy her thoroughly!

    • Dave Z

      Congratulations! May your grand-quiver continue to fill.

      Back to the topic – any ideas as to why theologians are generally not speaking up in the political arena? Or maybe some are but do not have prominence in the media?

    • Vinny

      Dr. Wallace,

      You seem to be drawing some distinction between the political involvement of liberal and conservative theologians although the exact point of this distinction is not entirely clear to me. However, you do want your readers to think that there is something novel about what Dr. Grudem is doing with his book.

      I am reminded of a post you wrote last spring concerning developments in the charismatic movement which began with an observation about the recent proliferation of “psychic hotline” infomercials on television. I did not comment on that post because I didn’t have an opinion on the topic, however, I was struck by the fact that I recalled Dionne Warwick shilling for the Psychic Friends Network in the early 1990’s and I didn’t really think the phenomenon had been nearly as prevalent in recent years.

      I am always wary of pundits who either decry or celebrate some phenomenon as a recent development when, to the best of my recollection, it has been around for years and years. I suppose I notice it most when conservatives do it, but I suspect that liberals are just as guilty. Whichever side does it, I think it obscures the historical context which is necessary to put things in perspective.

      BTW, congratulations.

    • Michael T.


      I think the point that might be trying to be made has nothing to do with whether or not pastors, theologians, or lay people are politically active. Evangelical Christians have most certainly been involved, and in many cases heavily involved in politics since the 1970’s. I think the uniqueness of Grudem’s book (which I haven’t read as indicated earlier but will get ahold of ASAP) would likely be that it is a scholarly treatment of the issue by a first rate Evangelical theologian. All the other treatments of the issue that I can think of are either 1) written by individuals who at most have a pastoral type education rather than a scholarly education, 2) written on the popular level rather than the scholarly level, or 3) not written by a Evangelical theologian.

      On another note (and maybe this is addressed in Grudem’s book) one thing I would really like to see is a well done history of the interaction between Evangelicals and Politics. As far as I can tell the Evangelical view on politics was quite different pre-Moral Majority era as opposed to after it. Famously Billy Graham was and still is registered as a Democrat. If memory serves the first editor of Christianity Today was also heavily involved in the labor movement.

    • Vinny


      That sounds very interesting, but what’s the point in trying to contrast what Grudem is doing with what liberals have done? Unless you consider Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton to be first rate liberal theologians, I don’t really see much of a comparison.

      The political stance of Evangelicals has changed much over the years. William Jennings Bryant was a progressive Democrat. It wasn’t until the Internal Revenue Service revoked Bob Jones University’s tax-exempt status that Evangelical leaders got on board with conservative Republicans in a big way.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, Vinny?

    • xulon

      Um .. it was more the Civil Rights legislation in the 60s (Nixon’s “Southern strategy” based on hatred for the legislation is still very much in play today) that pulled the conservative south, who up to that time had never forgiven the Republicans for reconstruction (hence the conservative Christians who were “registered Democrat”), from the Democrats.

      On the other hand, I knew an 80-something gentleman in Dallas in the 90s who said he thought FDR was the anti-christ. So the use of that term by politically conservative Christians for political gain pre-dated the 60s and was not just invented for Obama.

    • Vinny

      You tell me Dr. Wallace. Conservative activist Paul Weyrich said that he tried to get Evangelical leaders stirred up for conservative causes after Roe v. Wade in 1973, but that it wasn’t until 1976 that Jerry Falwell decided that it was time to get involved politically. Maybe it was pure coincidence.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      I wouldn’t call it pure coincidence, but I also wouldn’t call the Bob Jones thing a major catalyst. At least, not from my vantage point. Growing up in southern California, I learned to abhor racism of any kind. One of the most influential books I read in high school was *Black Like Me*. And I was not alone in my views. When I moved to Dallas in 1975, I was shocked at the incredible racism I saw. It’s significantly better now, but the prejudice against African Americans that I saw then disgusted me. We moved into an all-black neighborhood the next year, in one of the worst slums of the city, and lived there for 3 & 1/2 years.

      All this to say that my own political views, which were and are shared by many, involved fiscal conservatism and social reform. And although I didn’t care for the IRS meddling in the affairs of a private university, I also thought that Bob Jones’ policies on interracial marriage were terribly wrong and out of sync with scripture. In other words, for many of us not from the South, the Bob Jones ruling would hardly have been any kind of catalyst since we were torn about the whole situation. But then again, I didn’t grow up in the South.

    • Vinny

      I am about five years younger than you and I read Black Like Me in seventh or eighth grade. It wasn’t assigned reading for me, but it was sitting around the house because one of my older siblings had to read it in high school. I think you and I might agree that the whole thing is extremely frigging complicated and that neither of us will be sure what role racism played until we reach the hereafter.

    • Daniel B. Wallace

      Fascinating, Vinny. Thanks.

    • Jay

      Excellent!!!! I have ordered this book and it should be here in a couple of days.

      Another good book is Preaching Politics, Jerome Mahafey. It is about the rhetoric of George Whitefield. Many of Whitefield’s ideas of individual personal relationship with God, the spritiual change, and indivdual rights were quite radical for the time. Mahafery also traces many of Whietfield’s ideas and phrases directly to the writings of our founding fathers.

    • nazaroo

      TC Politics:


      If you can keep your text when all about you
      others are bracketing theirs and blaming it on you;
      If you can trust your charts when all men doubt you,
      And make more charts to show their doubting skewed;
      If you can wait and not die awaiting publication,
      Or, being lied about, don’t ad hominem in return,
      Or, being baited, don’t give way to baiting,
      And yet not look to sarcasm, nor talk too wry;

      If you can dream – and not make dreams your thesis;
      If you can think – not making mere thoughts your claim;
      If you encounter interpolation and omission,
      And treat those two imposters just the same;
      If you can bear to hear the crap you’ve spoken
      Twisted by profs to make a course for schools,
      Or watch the theory you spent your life on broken,
      turned inside out and remade by wornout fools;

      If you can make one heap of all your status
      And risk it all on one claim of scribal gloss,
      And lose, and start again at your beginnings
      And never breath a word about your dross;
      If you can force your heart and hand and eyesight
      To serve their turn long after they are spent,
      And so hold on when there is nothing in you
      Except the tenure which says to them: “Get bent!”;

      If you can talk with crowds and keep your temper,
      and whine about colleagues – never losing touch;
      If neither media nor spying friends can catch you;
      If all your peers will haply quote you, but none too much;
      If you can fill the naughty intern minute
      With sixty seconds’ worth of disgraceful fun –
      Yours is the college and everything that’s in it,
      And – which is more – you’ll be a real textual critic my son!

      Rudyard Nazaroo

    • Susan

      Kipling manuscript corruption. That’s how it happens.

    • Diane

      Dan – thank you for the book suggestion.
      Jay – thanks for mentioning our founding fathers, some of whom were the original defenders of conservative thought in America – theologically and politically. An interesting study would be to research who, among our founding fathers, was seriously theologically trained and how that shaped their political lives.

    • Hodge

      I was unaware that this post was about TC. Maybe some homeoarchy occurred between this and the old post while Naz was posting.

    • nazaroo

      Looks like its now morphed into homoioteleoton, – a case of similar endings.

      nyuk nyuk nyuk.

    • Preston

      He doesn’t say much about unions. Seem like lecture notes with no depth.

    • Jon

      Ann Coulter a Christian? Huh…have you ever heard that vile, guile filled mouth of a woman ever speak in the manner the Lord’s brother demands of true believer’s?

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