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From the rhetoric used by both conservative and progressive Christians, one wouldn't know they shared a common faith. Now, two evangelical Christian thinkers from opposite ends of the political spectrum come together for a thought-provoking dialogue on polarizing issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage in the book Left, Right & Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics.
Lisa Sharon Harper, director of mobilizing at the progressive Christian justice organization Sojourners, represents the left, and D.C. Innes, associate professor of politics at The King’s College, stands in for the right. Equal opportunity forewords by conservative Marvin Olasky and progressive Jim Wallis get things off to a feisty start. Here’s a sample:
Olasky: "I’m not saying Harper is a Marxist but she does have a tendency to concentrate on material circumstances."
Wallis: "At times Innes sounds much more like Ayn Rand, the apostle of selfishness, than he does Jesus Christ."
"Both of us are Christians. And so what we have in common is greater than all our differences," Innes and Harper write. "Yet differences there are, and in this book we elaborate on our political differences. How can two people who share the same fundamental life-transforming Christian principles think so differently when it comes to politics?"
The authors tell how they arrived at their current political stances, both led by their understanding of Christian teachings. Innes, an ex-pat Canadian Tory turned American Republican, says "the Christian view of man prompted me to move toward the modern Republican view of politics as the most prudent way for fallen people to live with one another politically." Harper, whose ancestors are African, Native American, and Puerto Rican, says her evangelical faith shapes her liberal perspective on today’s issues: "We the people will be called to account for the effect of our public policies on the least of these in our society. Did we bless or did we curse?"
From their divergent perspectives, Innes and Harper explore how Christian faith shapes one’s participation in the political process. They argue their positions on issues including poverty, health care, immigration, same-sex marriage, abortion, terrorism, and the environment, in a robust yet respectful give-and-take.
They have markedly different opinions on the role of government, which color their views on the other issues up for discussion. Both find a biblical mandate for their belief, Harper in a "hands-on" government working to make life better for citizens, and Innes in a "hands-off" government that punishes evil and encourages citizens to do good, but doesn’t provide for every need.
Harper and Innes agree that the Bible emphasizes the moral responsibility of people to care for the poor among them. "Christians in America are to help make it a better place in every respect: more just, more equitable, more merciful, more wise, more beautiful, more fruitful, more flourishing in every way that God desires human communities to flourish." They differ, sometimes widely, in their understanding of how to get there.
If this isn’t a conversation starter for Christians, then nothing else will be.
Editor in Chief of World
Lisa Sharon Harper and D.C. Innes…engage in a far ranging dialogue about many issues of public policy... You will find the discussion quite stimulating --- which is clearly the purpose of the book.
President and CEO of Sojourners
New York Times bestselling author of God's Politics
Is Christianity conservative? Liberal? Or neither? Left, Right & Christ is a timely, informative, and occasionally combative discussion of those questions. Read it.
President of The King’s College
New York Times bestselling author
What's So Great About Christianity
You might take serious issue with Lisa Sharon Harper’s political ideas. You might be frustrated with D.C. Innes’ take on American exceptionalism. That’s beside the point. What’s impressive and important is that in Left, Right, & Christ these two Christians share the platform, and engage in civil dialogue with each other and their readers, in a manner too seldom seen in our public life. Let’s hope this book and all it represents are signs of a new era in which Christian faith is not confined to one end of the political spectrum, and in which the application of faith to issues does not start arguments so much as provoke thoughtful, idealistic discussion.
contributing religion-in-public-life columnist for USA TODAY
author of Onward Christian Athletes
D.C. Innes and Lisa Sharon Harper are to be commended for their efforts in Left, Right, and Christ. Harper (Left) and Innes (Right) discuss health care, abortion, same sex marriage, immigration, war and peace and the environment from their differing perspectives. Many readers will find as I did that they are often somewhere in between the two authors on many of these issues. However all readers will be informed and challenged by Left, Right & Christ."
President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
of the Southern Baptist Convention
We live in an age of partisanship and incivility where simple issues have become battlefields for fierce division. In such a moment, American Christians on the left and right must relearn the art of graceful and winsome dialogue. In Left, Right and Christ, Lisa Sharon Harper and D.C. Innes attempt to build bridges of understanding across the divides on our sharpest disagreements. Read this book, and decide for yourself!
Author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars
The vexed question of faith and politics continues to arouse strong feelings among Christians. In this context, it is a pleasure to see the publication of Left, Right & Christ by Lisa Sharon Harper and D.C. Innes. A dialogue, a polemic, and a provocative engagement over the issues by two sharp, thoughtful and informed minds from either side of the political spectrum, this book is both entertaining and timely. No one can possibly agree with all that is said here (!), but all should be challenged, provoked and informed by seeing the interchange of ideas it contains. I am grateful to both authors for making me sit up and listen.
Professor of Historical Theology and Church History,
Westminster Theological Seminary
Author of Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative
Left, Right and Christ is provocative! As one would expect, it provokes readers to think seriously about diverse issues in light of what it means to live as Christians. But I also found it provoked me to ask deeper questions of why some arguments in this book are better than others. It provoked me to pledge to express my own views on these complex subjects with greater care and humility. Finally, Left, Right and Christ prompted some great discussions with my wife and teenage daughters. I'm betting it will provoke these much-needed discussions in a variety of contexts.
Thomas Jay Oord
Professor of Theology and Philosophy
Northwest Nazarene University
Co-author of The Best News You Will Ever Hear
I highly recommend this strikingly fresh contribution to the question of how evangelicals should relate to contemporary American politics and public policy. One might have thought there was nothing new to say in or about this burnt-over district, but in their sharp yet civil dialogue, D.C. Innes and Lisa Sharon Harper offer provocative and creative new reflections. One clear takeaway: there is almost no "center" here, but instead at every turn stark clashes in theological, ethical, and political judgment that track closely with similar clashes in the broader American political landscape. I cannot say that this book gives me hope. I can say that it is a high-quality contribution to the conversation.
Dr. David P. Gushee
Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics
Director, Center for Theology and Public Life
Harper and Innes provide one the best examples of the fact that being evangelical comes with no particular political ideology. If you’re a serious Christian Left, Right and Christ will make you think deeply about why you believe what you believe about social justice.
Anthony B. Bradley, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics
The King's College
An honest and daring conversation about the toughest political issues facing Christians today. We need to replace the shallow and polarized talking points currently overrunning the public square with thoughtful and nuanced discussion. Left, Right and Christ is a step forward in that direction. This type of constructive dialog across the political spectrum is both necessary and Left, Right and Christ demonstrates that it is possible.
Author and Activist
Lisa and David take an incredibly brave step with their new book by writing honestly and openly about some of the most hot-button issues of our generation. They debunk the myth that Evangelical Christians have one political perspective and present compelling Bible-based arguments from both sides of the political aisle. Their positions, which are sure to cause some debate in the Christian community, illustrate the complex nature of faith in the public square. Left, Right & Christ breaks new ground by laying out a substantive and civil debate about our nation’s most controversial political issues. For those who seek to understand how people of faith can agree to disagree, I highly recommend this book.
Nicole Baker Fulgham
Vice President, Faith Community Relations
Teach For America
I am tired of partisanship in both church and society. It seems that we find it impossible to listen and hear one another. Harper and Innes not only represent two different views about the role of government but they represent two very different social and familial backgrounds. This makes for a welcome dialog that will surely benefit fair-minded readers of this well-conceived book.
John H. Armstrong
President, ACT 3
The National Civic Review, God’s Politics blog, The Huffington Post, Urban Faith, Prism, and Slant33 where she has written extensively on tax reform, comprehensive immigration reform, health care reform, poverty, racial justice, and transformational civic engagement.
is Director of Mobilizing at Sojourners. Ms. Harper was the founding executive director of New York Faith & Justice, an organization at the hub of a new ecumenical movement to end poverty in New York City. Her writing has been featured in
Interpretation, Worldmag.com, The Washington Times, Piety and Humanity, and Civil Religion in Political Thought. He is an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and on the Board of Directors for Evangelical Political Scholars Association.
is Associate Professor of Politics, The King’s College, New York City. He has published articles, chapters and columns in
For media inquiries or books please contact
DeChant-Hughes & Assoc Inc Public Relations
1440 N Kingsbury St
Chicago IL 60642
Book Launch Event
Moderated by Kirsten Powers, Fox News Contributor and Daily Beast columnist.
Panel includes authors Lisa Sharon Harper and D.C. Innes along with Richard Land, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Jim Wallis, CEO/President of Sojourners.
October 6th at 7:00 pm
James Chapel at Union Theological Seminary
3041 Broadway at 121st Street
New York, NY 10027
Tel: (212) 662-7100
Download our book launch brochure