A Theology of Political Vocation
Christian Life and Public Office
234 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: September 2015
Power, money, endless competition. A zero-sum game. Politics as usual. Only the hearty or craven need apply. The political actors have lost sight of the politics of a common good.
A Theology of Political Vocation takes up the question of public life precisely where most discussions end. Proving that moral ambiguity does not exclude moral possibility, author John Senior crafts a theology of political vocation not satisfied simply by theologies of sin and grace and philosophical theories of power. For Senior, political theology moves beyond merely staking a claim within a public conversation, a move that prizes discursive skills and aims at consensus concerning shared norms and values. Political theology must offer an account of a political vocation.
Senior connects political deliberation to moral judgment, explores use and consequence of power, analyzes political conflict and competition, and limns the ethics of negotiation and compromise. In light of this richer understanding of political vocation, Senior develops theological resources appropriate to a variety of ecologies—ordinary citizens, political activists, and elected officials. A Theology of Political Vocation shows how Christian politicians can work faithfully within the moral ambiguity of political life to orient their work—and indeed, their very selves—toward the common good.
Introduction: Statecraft in a Machiavellian Age
1. What Is a Political Vocation?
2. Responsibility and Representation
3. Vocation and Formation in Political Space
4. The Moral Ambiguity of Political Space
5. The Journey of Political Vocation
6. The Project of Political Vocation
7. Irony as a Political Virtue
8. Good Political Competition
Conclusion: The Possibility of Political Vocation
As someone currently called into a political role, I am grateful for the insight that John Senior brings. Given today's political climate, Senior's thesis is an important one: Christians should not shy away from political service, but should engage with a spirit of being about God's work rather than the passionate pursuit of our own political success.~Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee
Christians involved in many kinds of politics will find a vision within that can guide and sustain them in their work. Learned, charitable, hopeful, and firmly grounded in the world, Senior’s book gives a model of the virtues to which it calls us.~Ted A. Smith, Associate Professor of Preaching and Ethics, Emory University
During a time when the doctrine of vocation is looked upon with suspicion and politics with cynicism, John Senior has crafted a wonderful book that is a thoughtful exploration of vocation and a compelling view of politics. In a lucid and disciplined way, he brings vocation and politics together, not by elevating them beyond belief, but by crafting a theological defense of the unavoidable moral ambiguity of both. He thereby shapes an argument for the operational benefits and moral significance of treating politics as vocation.~Mark Douglas, Professor of Christian Ethics, Columbia Theological Seminary
Drawing upon a vast array of ancient to contemporary authors, Senior constructs a foundational theological perspective on politics as a vocation. Systematically moving through every facet of political life, he offers great insight into what it might mean to be a politician who is at the same time Christian.~Robert Benne, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion Emeritus at Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia and founder of its Benne Center for Religion and Society
A timely and needed book.~Choice
This book is quite original, with numerous interesting, even profound, insights... Senior’s analysis is a helpful one and indeed could beemployed in the service of a more radical politics than his approach seems to imply. This book is well worth reading.~Murray Jardine, Auburn University, Journal of Church and State