I just finished an insightful book entitled Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz. This volume is a companion piece to Volf’s 2011 work A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good. In A Public Faith, Volf examines “the place and the role of followers of Christ in pluralistic societies” by arguing “against both exclusion of religions from public space and saturation of public space by a single religion,” (Public Faith in Action, p. ix). This companion piece is intended to spark critical civic-minded (and civil!) conversation among Christians, particularly in light of the looming election.
Although some of the positions Volf and McAnnally-Linz lay out here are bound to be understood tendentiously by those who disagree, I appreciate the theological consistency with which the authors approach these “hot button” topics. The text is laid out in three parts: an introductory section entitled “Commitments” that provides out a Christo-centric lens through which the ensuing dialogue is framed; a lengthier section called “Convictions” which provides the bulk of the text, focusing on a variety of public issues such as education, marriage, borrowing and lending, war, torture, and immigration; and a concluding section on “Character” which provides a brief treatment of five core virtues (courage, humility, justice, respect, compassion) for Christian engagement in the public sphere.
Volf and McAnnally-Linz provide theological and biblical underpinnings for their engagement with each of these topics. And although they do not shy away from drawing their own conclusions on these subjects, I believe they fairly recognize potential areas for continued dialogue as well. Each chapter concludes with a “Room for Debate” section for more nuanced engagement on the given topic.
I benefitted from reading this book and I believe most discerning Christians would as well. I would highly recommend this as a text to be read in community, either in a small group setting or with a few trusted friends. The conversation this text sparks will be a blessing.