The Role of the Church in American Politics

Ron Sanders October 24, 2023

It would be salutary for the church and its leadership to remain silent for a season until it learns how to engage in politics and even talk about politics in ways that are non-Nietzschean. [1] (James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World,(Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 186.)

James Davison Hunter (quoted above) coined the term “culture wars.” A sociologist, he is an astute observer of culture and a writer of many books reflecting on the times we live in. What, precisely, is he driving at when he claims it would be beneficial for the church and its leaders to “remain silent for a season,” or learn to engage with politics in a non-Nietzschean manner? In brief, he’s inviting the church and its leaders to engage in ways that disarm resentment and hostility. Sadly, when the church or Christians at large talk politics, the posture all too often devolves to one of hostility or indignation; the effect is to undermine the church’s invitational role, its sacred call to introduce people to Jesus, son of the Living God.

But, when so much seems at stake, is the church to remain silent on things political? If it is silent, is the church guilty of a type of complicity? These questions are also pressing.

Join us for a timely discussion with Ron Sanders, a teacher, author, and researcher who has studied the intersection of religion and public policy—especially the relationship between the Christian tradition and the Democratic tradition in America. Together we will talk about the role of the church in democratic politics. We will consider the architecture for a political theology that isn’t confined to democracy. And we will talk about why democracy needs Christians to be faithful to Jesus in order for its citizens to flourish.

Ron will address the political issues of our day in relationship to the church from a non-partisan viewpoint. Upper House is delighted to host this event in partnership with Badger Cru and Blackhawk CAM.


About our Speaker:

Ron Sanders is an Affiliate Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary. His field of research is the intersection of religion and public policy—especially the relationship between the Christian Tradition and the Democratic Tradition in America. He is the author of After the Election: Prophetic Politics in a Post-Secular Age and a chapter in Justice and the Way of Jesus.  He has also served on the staff of Cru for 32 years. He is currently a religious advisor to the football team at Stanford University and the Coordinator for Moral and Spiritual Formation for Cru.

Ron is married to Bonnie and has two adult children, Zac and Sarah. Hegraduated from Montana State University with a B.S. in Mathematics, Talbot School of Theology with an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics, and Fuller Theological Seminary with a Ph.D. in Theology with an emphasis in Christian Ethics. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Ron and his family began to to play hacky-sack during quarantine, and when his family is all together in one place, they can be found trying to recruit people for their “circle.” He wants to be an amateur chef and plays competitive pickleball in his free time.