Back in the 1990s Donald Dayton and Robert K. Johnston edited a book entitled The Variety of American Evangelicalism. It was a good collection of essays on the religious traditions–Reformed, Wesleyan/Holiness, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, etc…–that have informed the contemporary evangelical movement. “Variety” was a big theme in evangelical historiography back then and everyone seemed to have their own catch-phrase to describe the diversity of American evangelicalism. Whether it was Timothy Smith’s “kaleidoscope” or Randall Balmer’s “patchwork quilt,” it was clear that evangelicalism was a loose confederation (think Articles of Confederation rather than Constitution) of Protestant groups united only be a few core doctrinal issues such as the authority of Scripture, the importance of conversion, and the evangelistic impulse.
It is now time to talk about the diversity of evangelical politics. John Stackhouse, the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College in Vancouver (not to be confused with Pat Robertson’s Regent University in Virginia Beach), has a nice review at the Christianity Today site on some recent evangelical approaches to politics. His article, “A Variety of Evangelical Politics,” reviews books by Greg Boyd, David Gushee, Steve Monsma, Ronald Sider, D. James Kennedy, Richard Land, and Henry Jackson.
These books span the political and ideological spectrum and offer a nice slice of how evangelicals are thinking about politics in this election season.
By the way, if you are an evangelical and have time to read one book on how to apply your faith to political life, I would go with Sider’s The Scandal of Evangelical Politics.