Posts From Bruce Ashford

3 Reasons American Evangelicals Should Care about Brexit

On June 23, the citizens of the U.K. voted, by a margin of 52% to 48%, to leave the European Union. Immediately following the vote, global markets plunged—with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by 500 points and the NASDAQ by 600—and international politicians and media scrambling to interpret Brexit and its implications for the U.K. and other nations.

Proponents of “Brexit,” as Britain’s exit has been nicknamed, were elated. Nigel Faragee, head of the U.K. Independence Party, compared Brexit to a new day dawning. Opponents were devastated. Keith Vaz of the Labour Party said, “This is a crushing decision; this is a terrible day for Britain and a terrible day for Europe. In 1,000 years, I would never have believed that the British people would vote for this.”

Although American evangelicals might think Brexit has little or no significance for them, the opposite is true: the U.K.’s decision to exit is something that affects Americans and to which we should pay close attention. Here are three reasons we should care about Brexit:
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A Christian Hope for American Politics

This past week, The Exchange released a video interview with me on the topic, “What is the Christian Hope for American Politics?” In the interview, co-host Micah Fries and I discussed the biblical support for Christian involvement in politics and public life, the criteria by which evangelicals should evaluate presidential candidates, and the way the Christian gospel stands in judgment of all modern political ideologies, including liberalism, conservatism, progressivism, libertarianism, socialism, nationalism, and fascism. For those of you interested in American politics in general, and the 2016 election cycle in specific, the video is available here.
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How Faith, Hope, and Love Can Provide Healing for American Politics

In a recent post, I argued that the gospel is not only a treasure to be valued, but also a leaven to be kneaded into the “dough” of society. But how exactly do Christian virtues affect social and cultural realities? In that article, I made two big points: first, a gospel-centered approach to politics enables us as evangelicals to reframe the significant political issues of our day; and second, a gospel-centered approach to politics liberates us from society’s perspective that evangelicals are a special-interest arm of a major political party.

In this brief article, I will show how the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love counteract society’s maladies. Sick are the depths of our civilization’s soul, but soothing and healing are the spiritual operations of faith, hope, and love.
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Shouldn’t We Just Treasure the Gospel and Forget about Politics for a While?

Let’s face it: we evangelical Christians have not exactly “won the day” in terms of our social, cultural, and political initiatives. Although we have made some incremental progress with some of our convictional initiatives, such as pro-life reform, we seem to be losing ground on nearly every other front: religious liberty, human sexuality, marriage, among others. What’s more, certain developments during the past year have caused many of our fellow citizens to view evangelicals as little more than the hypocritical and bigoted special interest arm of the Republican Party.

Not the best of times, these.

In light of the situation, therefore, shouldn’t evangelical Christians consider slowing down, taking a deep breath, and reassessing our priorities so we can treasure the gospel and forget about politics and public life for a while?

No.
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5 Tips for Determining Which Books to Read (and Which Not to Read)

There are three types of people in our great nation. There are, first of all, those who do not read. An AP-Ipsos poll recently revealed that 25% of Americans do not read books, while other polls have put the number higher, at around 50%. It is not that these Americans cannot read or that they do not accumulate knowledge. (No country’s citizens—and I mean none—bring more depth and import to subjects such as celebrity clothes, hair and makeup, and the intricacies of the Pitt-Jolie marriage than the citizens of the USA.) It is just that their knowledge is not gained from books. Second, there are those who read but do so aimlessly, choosing on a whim what to read and when to do so. Third, there are those who plan to read and who read with a plan.

If you are the third type of reader, or if you wish to become that type of reader, this post offers five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).
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The Top 25 (Or So) Books for a Young Theologian to Own (And Read)

If ever in history there were a non-event, this is it: my top 25 (or so) books for a young theologian to own (and read). A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me his list of twenty-five books and it “got me to thinkin.” So here’s my list, but before I give the list, allow me to make several comments.

First, I’ve focused this list mainly on Christian doctrine and systematic theology, and certain other types of books that relate closely to those tasks. I’ve left out numerous wonderful books that fall in other categories (pastoral theology, biblical studies, etc.).
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5 Criteria for Choosing the Next President of the United States

The 2016 election cycle has been a never-ending carnival of political wedgies. Nothing could have prepared us for the repetitive sequence of awkward and uncomfortable surprises we have experienced over the course of the past year.

At the beginning of the primary season, the two major political parties offered an unusually broad array of candidates that included liberals, conservatives, progressives, nationalists, socialists, and libertarians. In addition, they offered debates that were strikingly superficial and juvenile, more similar in character to a Saturday Night Live skit than to a serious debate about who should serve as the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. On top of that, they revealed to us the deep fissures within the major parties and within the conservative and progressive movements; neither major party has a consensus candidate.

As the primary season comes to a close and the political parties narrow in on their nominees, many of us still have not decided for whom we will cast our vote. Which of the candidates would make the best President of the United States of America? As we the People consider our answer to this question, we should take into account the following criteria, each of which will significantly affect the way our next president will govern:
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4 Essential Guidelines for Mixing Christianity and Politics

I learned more about politics during my two years in Russia than I’ve learned in the nearly two decades since. During those two years, I worked as an adjunctive professor at several universities in the city of Kazan. Most of my students were deeply skeptical about whether God existed, whether life had any meaning, and whether there were any moral absolutes. Russia’s cultural institutions—including its government, businesses, marriages, and schools—reflected this deep sense of loss.

For that reason, I felt compelled during those years to think through the relationship of Christianity and politics, and the best guide I found was a dead Dutch theologian and politician named Abraham Kuyper. Here are four of Kuyper’s essential guidelines for mixing Christianity and politics, guidelines that will help us as we navigate our own political involvement.
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Why the G.O.(W.)P. Should Reject “Colorblind” Politics

Early in the 2016 election cycle, GOP chairman Reince Priebus declared that the GOP was “likely to have the most diverse presidential primary field in history—of either party.” If diversity is considered in terms of the varied ethnic heritages of the presidential primary candidates, he was right. And yet, 90% of the voters in GOP primaries this year have been white.

Reflecting on this reality, Stanford sociologist Corey D. Fields recently argued in the New York Times that “the image of black Republicans that the G.O.P. disseminates may actually dampen enthusiasm for the party–not only among the black electorate in general, but also among black Republicans themselves.”
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