Joel Hunter does a great job in "A New Kind of Conservative" in helping the conservative movement within the church to re-examine its agenda and begin to expand its focus on to other issues that are of vital importance biblically. He recognizes that there is a tremendous amount of focus in relation to the two hot-button issues of abortion and gay marriage. He even goes so far as to expose those within the conservative movement who intentionally use fear and anger to advance their agenda on those issues instead of compassion.
I personally have been a disgruntled conservative for quite a while. I have grown tired of the demonization of those who are seen as the enemy, the fear tactics that are used to scare up votes, and the way that power and control seem to trump true servant leadership within politics. I am one of those who wish that there was something different in our political system that offered more than two parties shouting down and demonizing each other.
Joel Hunter does a great job in exposing the pitfalls that the conservative movement has fallen into. But more than that, he also takes a careful look at how we as Christians need to be influenced and motivated by a much more holistic agenda that addresses many other issues that are just as important biblically as marriage and pro-life issues. He encourages his readers to be more centered rather than fully to the left or right. There are important issues that the Left seem to own and issues that the Right seem to own. As Christians we need to know which of those issues are in line with the heart of God and allow those issue to transcend partisan politics.
Joel puts into words many of the thoughts that I have been wrestling with over the past several years in looking at politics. He states that "We must focus on spiritual growth, rather than winning elections; the aim is not power, but service." (p. 94). We must grasp this truth and live into it. I honestly believe that if Christians were living out healthy marriages and investing in their own families and communities then that would have so much more impact within our culture than any political policy. We need to get back to the heart of service within our own family structure, and in our neighborhoods and communities.
Joel goes on to say that "Christians don't need to be taught what to think; Christians need to be taught how to think biblically." (p. 96). He goes on to show how Pilate and Jesus' interaction reveal many of the pitfalls to politics and what we can do as a Christian community to become more compassionate, and more involved within our political system.
Joel concludes by reminding us that "we need to know that individual maturity and God's sovereignty are, in the end unbeatable." (p. 160). We as Christians have the responsibility to approach politics with maturity instead of cynicism, apathy, or aggression. He also reminds us that God is sovereign in all of history. Knowing this helps us to trust that God is guiding and directing history towards his purposes. He is not in the business of making mistakes.
Overall, this was a great book that put many, many words to the thoughts that I have been thinking for a long while. I have been sitting on the edge of despair and looking into the valley of cynicism as I have gotten very disgusted with the party I have often voted for over the years. I am tired of feeling like I am being played by politicians who manipulate people to get votes and then do their own thing once they have power. Joel has helped to reframe a biblical view of politics that transcends partisanship and aims more at the heart of God.