Latest welcome from Christians in Political Science Newsletter (PDF of full letter is available elsewhere on this site)
As a young academic I regularly skipped CPS’s biennial convention. I thought it was more important for my career to attend major professional conventions. In retrospect, I’m not so sure.
Without dismissing the importance of other meetings, I know several young and mid-career academics who formed relationships at a CPS convention that eventually led to job offers. And I am aware of dozens of cases of CPS members who have collaborated on writing projects, many of which were facilitated by our conventions.
Without a doubt I enjoy CPS conventions far more than I do the APSA meetings.
I hope you will join me for our next conference, which will be held at Azusa Pacif-ic University from May 29 to May 31, 2014. It should cost less than $200, and we are able to waive this fee for at least eight graduate students.
Paper and panel proposals are due by January 15, 2014 and may be submitted at http://goo.gl/9Frk1s. We will have several panels on the integration of faith and scholarship, undoubtedly a few on religion, but we strongly encourage panels on traditional political science research that is not overtly Christian or concerning faith.
Conference proposals are peer-reviewed, but I have it on good authority that all reasona-ble paper and panel proposals will be accepted. Please plan to join the fun in sunny L.A. this May.
Mark David Hall
George Fox University
My favorite events at APSA each year are CPS’s annual
“reception” and “business meeting.” If
you have joined us before, you know that our gathering is not really either of
these things. Instead, it is a wonderful
time of worship, encouragement, and fellowship.
me on Friday at 6:15 in the Palmer House Burnham 1, 7th floor. We’ll start with introductions and
announcements, Brent Nelsen will lead us in worship, I’ll give a brief report,
and then we’ll hear from Ted Olson, managing editor of Christianity Today.
Ted oversees and coordinates all news reporting for CT magazine and the web content for CT online. In addition to writing hundreds of articles, he has authored or edited several books, including 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. He is a graduate of Wheaton College, where he majored in Political Science.
Ted will talk about how Christian academics (particularly Political Scientists) can be most helpful to journalists, and how Christian journalists and academics can work together to help people in the pews understand the world around them. In addition, Ted will share his thoughts about integrating his faith with his work and the importance of religion journalism in understanding contemporary politics.
After Ted’s talk, those who are interested will adjourn for dinner and more fellowship. It should be a great time.
As well, I
hope you will be able to attend our annual panel on Friday at 4:15 Palmer House Burnham 1, 7th
floor. This year we have
recruited Gregg Frazer of the Master’s College, Glenn Moots of Northwood
University, Eric Patterson of Regent University, and Rouven Steeves of the
United States Air Force Academy to address the intriguing question of whether
the American Revolution was a just war. I
am familiar with some of their positions, and I can assure you that they do not
all agree on the answer. It should be a exciting
I hope you will make every effort to join us for these events. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.______________________________________________________________________________________________________
The CPS Executive Leadership Team is pleased to announce that we have selected the time and location of our next conference. We will meet at Azusa Pacific University in sunny Los Angeles from May 29 to May 31, 2014. I know it is a
ways away, but please mark your calendar now.
Our conference, “Freedom and Responsibility in the Modern World,” will feature at least four plenary speakers and numerous panels and workshops. We have it on good authority that all reasonable paper and panel proposals will be accepted.
We are very pleased that the Center for Public Justice has agreed to hold its annual Kuyper lecture in conjunction with our conference. We are open to partnering with other organizations to help enrich the meeting. If you have any ideas or would like additional information, please contact a member of the conference planning committee: Jennifer Walsh and Dan Palm of Azusa Pacific University or Mark David Hall of George Fox University.
On a slightly different note, we are still looking for someone to be coordinator of
our mentorship program. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please contact me at email@example.com.
Mark David Hall
President, Christians in Political Science
“Power and Justice—Perspectives on Political Order”
Gordon College hosted CPS’s biannual conference from May 31 to June 3. It was a rich, refreshing, and encouraging time. But don’t take my word for it; here are a few notes to our conference planning team (Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, Paul Brink, David Lumsdaine, and Timothy Sherratt):
“Thanks to you, your colleagues, and Gordon students for putting on such a strong conference this past weekend! The panels, speakers, food, and all else was of a high caliber.”
“Thanks for putting on a great conference – well done!”
“Thanks go to you, and probably many assistants whom I don't know, for a really wonderful CPS conference. Good location, good food and housing, great people, speakers, panels, etc. I know it took a lot of work--and probably far more than I realize. I deeply appreciate it--it is a great, supportive, and energizing group in a lot of ways and all your work made it much more so.”
“Thanks for a fantastic conference! It was truly the best yet. [And I organized two of the past conferences, so that is hard for me to admit!!] Your hard work really paid off. The plenary speakers were great and the panels were just plain better than usual. Your student workers were wonderful; the Gordon campus staff was so nice; your department really pitch in well. Everything was great. So, thanks again for a marvelous weekend.”
It really was an excellent conference. Plenary speakers included Peter Feaver: Professor of Political Science, Director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and Director of the Program in American Grand Strategy, Duke University; Amy Black: Associate Professor of Political Science, Wheaton College; Michael Lindsay: President of Gordon College and author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite; Anthony Gill: Professor of Political Science, University of Washington and host of the Research on Religion Podcasts; and Miroslav Volf: Founder and Director of Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale University Divinity School. Four of these addresses may be views here: http://www.gordon.edu/cps
As well, more than seventy CPS members participated in an wonderful array of panels, roundtables, and workshops. Thanks to a donation from Stephen Monsma and the generosity of dues-paying members, we were able to waive all fees for thirteen graduate students (including one from China). And of course there was the wonderful fellowship.
If your institution is interested in hosting the next conference (Summer 2014), please contact me by October 1, 2012 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timothy Barnett. America’s False Recovery: The Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis and Rise of Democratic Plutocracy. (Merit and Justice Press, 2011).
Before becoming a professor, Timothy Barnett worked first on Wall Street, and then in pastoral work. His America’s False Recovery: The Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis and Rise of Democratic Plutocracy offers a collection of “political sermons” intended to demonstrate how ancient theological ideas relate to sound government today. Following the organizational style of The Federalist Papers, Barnett’s individual commentaries provide a set of biblically informed values that connect sustainable ecological and economic systems with wisdom, justice and truth.
He takes on both the political right and left, and notes that for the left “the luxury of using economic growth to mitigate the consequences of debt-funded redistributive programs will dry up” and for the right efforts to promote full-scale economic liberty will lose its viability because of natural constraints and the widening gap between “the haves and have-nots.”
In the “Introduction,” Barnett predicts that America’s full recovery will not begin until after 2030; until then, recoveries will be pseudo-recoveries and short-lived. Based on current events and recent trends, he projects that democratic republicanism will be replaced by “democratic plutocracy – a system where monied elites rule society from behind the veil of democratic appearances.” The federal government’s reluctance to vigorously implement new financial regulations allows the “too-big too-fail” banks to grow even bigger and create unacceptable moral hazard. As the burden of debt and entitlements expand, the ability to service debt and support entitlements diminishes with outsourcing of manufacturing and support jobs. “A day of reckoning comes for democracies worldwide, ignorant voters having allowed their governments to run up big debts so that economic growth could be stimulated for the disproportionate near term benefit of those with leveraged capital.”
Barnett’s 85 political sermons were previously published on the Internet from September 2008 to August 2010. Each one is linked to at least one news report, article, or editorial during the economic crash and aftermath. For example, in the first few papers, he warns that “it is imperative that Americans organize to block the Paulson plan, for it carries a terrible price tag and lasting harm to the public interest.” While “the plan reinvigorates Wall Street, it means hard times ahead for most Americans.” The body of the papers argues that decades of economic irresponsibility led to the current crisis and turned investment markets into speculative betting pools. Under today’s ideology, “private rights” have become little more than an ethos of self-gratification. His day-to-day assessment of economic crises illustrates that the Ponzi-finance capitalism is deeply flawed, and that the problems we are experiencing with the leveraged-growth model of capitalism suggests that we should move toward an aggregated dividend model instead. The moral hazard embedded in the current system rewards irresponsibility and could mean the eventual death of the system. Throughout the work, Barnett identifies problems and offers solutions, and is often critical of specific Democratic and Republican politicians.
Macro-level changes are necessary, not merely an avalanche of micro-management rules. “Reformers will never fix what ails us until they understand that the Wall Street culture is beyond repair. Fast money becomes an addiction that changes men’s soul.” Markets work best when there is a level playing field with constructive rules and sound regulative oversight. While rules create some predictability and facilitate efficiency, excessive and foolish rules can undercut the market’s ability to drive out inefficiency. Markets need structural rules and guidelines; nevertheless, regulations can also be either too lax or too suffocating. Barnett observes that President Obama’s financial regulatory reforms will bring some positive change to Wall Street; however, the reforms fail to do enough, increasing the odds that Wall Street’s grip over America will continue. Economic growth only matters when there are enough jobs.
The strength of the book is the immediate, thoughtful reaction to specific events that weighs in the long-term consequences of problems and solutions. Barnett is focusing on the future. For Christians, a helpful appendix contains specific biblical verses relating to the content of each essay in order to facilitate discussions relating to faith.
Barnett recognizes that all political ideology falls short of the Christian ideal and that while individual ideologies might contain partial biblical truth, they also contain inherent contradictions and flaws: “Even so, the free market mantra has become a devotional religion to some. Likewise, the ‘government-as god’ secular dogma has become religion to others. These ‘faith as politics’ outcomes are consonant with the spirit of the age where temperance is broadly discounted while performance on extreme measures is lauded.”
Tim Luther, Professor of Political Science, California Baptist University.
Mark David Hall. Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic. (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Three themes emerge in Mark Hall’s very interesting political biography of Roger Sherman: a) Sherman’s participation in all of the significant political bodies and in creating all of the founding documents; b) Sherman’s approach to religious liberty and church-state relations; and c) the influence of Calvinist – or at least Reformed – political thought on the American Revolution and on many of the founders. Hall makes a very informative and convincing case in relation to the first two themes – and arguably the best case that can be made for the third.
Hall shows that whenever Connecticut was asked to send a representative to an important gathering or to craft an important document, she sent Sherman. He served on the Declaration of Independence drafting committee, the Articles of Confederation drafting committee, and was a prominent delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Furthermore, Sherman was no wallflower; he was an active and influential participant who was, in particular, “the driving force behind the Connecticut Compromise.”
In his brief time in the first Congress, Sherman played an important role in the debates over the Bill of Rights and several foundational policy questions. In short, Hall effectively and persuasively places Roger Sherman in the pantheon of American founders – even as he suggests that it may be inappropriate to elevate any particular founders above the rest Sherman’s career was not limited to politics; he was an influential jurist, as well. In light of that fact and Sherman’s role in creating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and his authorship of a state law concerning religious liberty, Hall suggests that judges today should include Sherman’s views on religious liberty and church-state relations when appealing to the founders.
Hall convincingly demonstrates that Sherman’s credentials in this area far exceed those of Thomas Jefferson in particular (despite the fact that James Madison is the only founder cited more often than Jefferson with regard to religious liberty). Hall rightly observes that the founders did not intend to establish a wall of separation between church and state and he is undoubtedly correct in attributing much of the reason for the Court’s error to its overemphasis on Jefferson at the expense of people such as Sherman.
These sections of the book are convincingly and persuasively argued with a wealth of supportive evidence. The result is an interesting and important case for Sherman’s prominence and for resurrecting his thoughts on church and state. Also very interesting is Hall’s narrative tracing Sherman’s political career in general. As William Casto has remarked: “Why can’t more histories be this enjoyable to read?” I found one quote from Sherman (that is employed by Hall for a different purpose) to be particularly intriguing. Responding to the effort by some towns to leave New Hampshire to join the new republic of Vermont, Sherman wrote: “to separate without the consent of the State to which they belong appears to me a very unjustifiable violation of the social compact.” I cannot help but wonder how a supporter of the American Revolution could make such an argument–especially just one year after he helped to draft the Declaration of Independence.
Similarly interesting, but not as persuasive, is Hall’s argument for the influence of Reformed political thought on the American Revolution and on many of the founders. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I disagree with him on this point, so while I tried to read with an unbiased eye, he and I begin with differing assumptions and approaches to the evidence. Without belaboring the issue, as I see it, the primary problem is overemphasis on mere affiliation rather than actual belief. Does everyone associated or affiliated with a Reformed church or an institution with a Reformed origin automatically hold to Reformed theology and political thought? Does the fact that schools such as Harvard and Yale were originally founded in the 1600s to produce Reformed ministers outweigh the fact that they were engulfed in Enlightenment thought by the 1700s? Should ministers and politicians affiliated with Reformed churches be identified as “Reformed” even though they have rejected Reformed theology? Should we assume that they accepted Reformed political theory and, if so, why?
In short, Hall’s claim may be true, but convincing proof would require a more detailed examination of individuals, churches, and schools and what they actually believed and taught. Affiliation labels can be misleading and making generalizations based on a (perhaps) singularly devout person such as Sherman may be problematic. That said, Hall makes as good a case as can be made for this view and those interested in the subject from either side are well-advised to read and consider his argument.
One other brief critical observation: in his efforts to downplay the admittedly frequently exaggerated claims of the influence of John Locke, Hall at times does not quite give Locke his due. Whether or not preachers were dominated by Lockean thought, they did cite Locke by name in their sermons as a source and accepted authority. Jefferson may have said that he drew from various sources for the Declaration, but Locke was one of four sources that he listed – and none of the four sources was a Reformer. Locke may have accounted for only 2.9% of the citations in a study of patriot references, but that put him 3rd on the list and there are no Reformed writers even on the list of 36 frequently cited thinkers.
Overall, I found Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic to be very interesting and very informative. If Hall’s purpose is to promote Sherman awareness and to admonish scholars and jurists for largely ignoring him, he certainly achieves that. I highly recommend this book to scholars interested in religion and the American Founding and to general readers seeking an interesting political biography of a largely forgotten but important figure.
Gregg Frazer, Professor of History and Political Studies, The Master’s College.
J. Daryl Charles and Timothy Demy. War, Peace, and Christianity: Questions and Answers from a Just-War Perspective (Crossway, 2010).
In War, Peace, and Christianity: Questions and Answers from a Just-War Perspective, J. Daryl Charles and Timothy Demy offer great insight into classical and contemporary debates on the moral value of just-war reasoning versus pacifism as these relate to the imperative of establishing true justice. Their Q&A format and the division of the text into six sections (Just War Tradition or JWT and the philosophers, historians, statesmen, theologians, combatants, and individuals) capture the full philosophical/ethical range of the divide between those who see peace and those who see just war as the most appropriate route to justice, protection of life and liberty, and the advance of humanity towards law and order.
In each section, the authors pose many basic questions related to (1) the relevance of natural law as the source of “universal moral norms” that guide human values formation, (2) the moral and political nature and purpose of just-war thinking, (3) the value and dangers of the JWT, (3) the likelihood of peaceful (or pacifist) versus use-of-force resolution of crises or evil deeds, and (4) the moral/ethical codes involved, or at risk, in the use of JWT justification for violent state action.
In the first section on the JWT and the philosopher, the authors mine the classical and modern literature on natural law, the divide between proponents of the JWT and Christian Pacifism, and a mix of Christian and secular contributions to international law creation. While philosophers hypothesize about norms and laws designed to limit state use of force, statesmen must pursue national interest and security, as well as the establishment of law and justice, with the understanding that coercive force may be necessary. The authors are especially strong in covering the “pursuit of justice” moral paradigm versus a pacifist view that hopes cheekturning or peace-in-and-of-itself will produce a just peace. They aptly quote Reinhold Niebuhr as follows: “It is not possible to disavow war absolutely without disavowing the task of establishing justice.” The authors conclude in like manner (on page 62) “Peace and stability themselves are the fruit of justice. For this reason,
peace is incompatible with a tolerance of evil.”
The authors continue their Q&A on the morality and relevance of just-war reasoning in sections 2, 3, and 4 where they highlight the moral/ethical versus Realpolitik versus pacifist reasoning of Western (mostly) historians, political leaders, and Christian (mostly) theologians. The thorough coverage here provides philosophically grounded insight into classical and contemporary debates over views on war, just-war propositions, political expediency versus humanitarian intervention, and the relevance of the Christian JWT for non-Christian traditions.
In section five on the JWT and the combatant, the authors raise several unique questions like: (1) is the nuclear strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction, which threatens the annihilation of civilians in order to deter – actually a deterrent and is it just? (2) To what extent do the ends (deterrence of war) justify the means (threats of disproportionate retaliation against the innocent and vulnerable)? (3) Aren’t all wars “just” to the victor?
In the sixth and final section on the JWT and the individual, the authors revisit the disagreements among religious leaders from Augustine and Aquinas to C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoffer and to the U.S. Catholic Bishops and President Jimmy Carter over the “rightness” of just-war moral reasoning versus pacifism, the legitimacy of self-defense and defense of others, and the meaning of Jesus’ teachings on peacemaking and a personal non-retaliatory ethic.
This book is not for scholars of philosophy or international relations. However, it may be perfect for college students, preachers, and political leaders needing exposure to the great moral debates over the use of force as an instrument of justice and defense of nation and principle. The authors chose their philosophical spokespeople (on both sides of the JWT) well. The Q&A format and the smooth unveiling of contending views will intrigue students and prepare them for their own analysis and argument. The only downsides are (1) the overuse of the domestic law-enforcement analogy and (2) the repetition that accompanies asking similar questions in the six sections of the book. However, repetition of strong arguments in different contexts may be invaluable for student audiences.
Sue Hulett, Richard P. and Sophia D. Henke Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Knox College.
The Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics
The Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College announces its biennial Symposium on Religion and Politics to be held April 25 to April 27, 2013 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In addition to the usual array of panels, the 7th Biennial Symposium will feature special panels and events to honor recently retired long-time Henry Institute Director Corwin Smidt, as well as a show of student-generated visualizations of faith in the public sphere. Additionally, the Center for Public Justice’s annual Kuyper Lecture will be given by Stanley Carlson-Thies (President of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance) on Thursday evening (April 25) and the annual Paul Henry Lecture will be given by Corwin Smidt on Friday evening (April 26).
The Symposium is open to all who are interested in the field of study surrounding religion and public life, regardless of discipline and religious tradition. Further details about the 2013 Symposium (and past events), as well as registration
information are available at:
Special Offer for Members of Christians in Political Science
The Institute for Global Engagement has agreed to let CPS members subscribe to The Review of Faith and International Affairs for $30 per year (as compared to the regular rate of $43). CPS members can contact Taylor and Francis to subscribe by any of the following means and simply reference ‘RFIA Privilege Rate’ to get the discount:
Call (800) 354-1420, extension 4 (toll free from within the United States) or (215) 354-1420, extension 4, or
email email@example.com to subscribe, quoting the reference ‘RFIA Privilege Rate.’
Subscriptions are on a calendar year basis and can be taken out at any time within a year, which means CPS
members can subscribe now and still receive the spring and summer 2012 issues.
All Christians in Political Science newsletters are also available to download from our Newsletter Archive.