Friday, November 28, 2008

Book Review - A New Kind of Conservative by Dr Joel C Hunter

My first thought when I picked up Dr. Hunter's book, A New Kind of Conservative, was, Here we go again; another ultra-right wing, evangelical preacher on his soap box, ranting and railing against the sins of our society and the failures of our secular government. But I soon realized that he is nothing of the sort. Instead, in this thoughtful and extremely well written book, he challenges the status quo among conservative Christians by asking such questions as: can a Christian/biblical world view effectively mesh with postmodern society and secular government? and; should Christians be involved in political action and if so, how?

The role of Christian conservatives, or the Religious Right, in the political process surfaces regularly in the public consciousness, especially when such hot button issues as abortion and gay rights are debated. How effective are they in promoting their cause within government and society? According to Dr. Hunter, not as effective as they could be. To make his case, he provides a list of five myths and three truths all imbedded in their efforts. Christian conservatives who continue to promulgate the former become less effective over time, while those that ignore the latter miss valuable opportunities to influence the political process in a more productive way.

Dr. Hunter is eminently qualified to address Christian conservative issues. He is the pastor of a church that administers to approximately 12,000 people who worship together in real time at multiple distribution sites throughout Central Florida and at hundreds of smaller sites throughout the world via the internet; he is an internationally known spokesman for compassion issues outlined in scripture; and he serves on the board of six organizations, including the National Association of Evangelicals. And while he speaks to, rather than for, Christian conservatives his ideas merit close attention; for what he is proposing is a shift away from the extreme right of the political spectrum, to a place less confrontational and more conducive to productive dialogue with other players in the political arena.

So, where is this place Doctor Hunter suggests Christian conservatives go and how do they get there? It's all spelled out in the chapters describing the Pilate Process, so named because the goal of this process is to learn from the mistakes Pontius Pilate made when judging Jesus. What could today's Christian conservative possibly learn from the Pontius Pilate of biblical times? As it turns out, quite a lot. After describing the process in precise and very understandable detail, Doctor Hunter summarizes by listing six easy to remember principles that will make us good at politics when we follow them. It all made good sense to me, and my gut feeling is that he is on to something profound.

The bible says "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's (Matthew 22:21). For Christian conservatives who are struggling to find their political voice in these trying times while heeding that admonition, A New Kind of Conservative is mandatory reading,

And now, for an admonition of my own. If you do decide to read "A New Kind of Christian," be sure to fully engage your brain before beginning and read it with slow deliberation letting the full weight of its logic sink in. If you do, you will be rewarded many times over.

Ron Standerfer is a freelance writer and photographer who is a frequent contributor to Ezine Articles as well as numerous other online news sites. His latest novel, The Eagle's Last Flight chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during the Cold War and Vietnam years. Details of his book can be found at