Personal discipleship and spiritual formation are hardly irrelevant to the rough-and-tumble of public debate.
As another election year begins and Americans brace for what will undoubtedly be another contentious presidential race, Michael Wear’s new book, The Spirit of Our Politics: Spiritual Formation and the Renovation of Public Life, has an important message for us: If politics is causing you to stumble, care less about it.
It’s an intriguing message from a political consultant who now runs The Center for Christianity and Public Life, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing more robust Christian presence and resources to political life in America. After all, politics has defined Wear’s career, beginning when he somehow managed to finish his undergraduate degree while working for President Barack Obama (first as an intern on his presidential campaign, then in the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships).
You might expect, in an election year, to hear calls to whip ourselves into a greater fervor because the stakes are so high. But Wear has written a book that urges the exact opposite. If there’s ever a conflict between political victory and moral faithfulness, he argues, we ought to choose faithfulness every time.
Rejecting silence and subservience
Indeed, the central contention of The Spirit of Our Politics is that undisciplined political fervor and a desire to defeat our political enemies is poisonous for our spiritual health. We must first seek the kingdom of God before aspiring to participate in political action.
Wear is deeply concerned that the toxicity and rancor of American politics are seeping into American churches, leading to the use and abuse of Christianity as a blunt instrument in political discourse and furthering a mass epidemic of shallow faith defined less by trust in God and …