Over at Books and Culture, Christopher Benson reviews Darryl Hart’s latest: From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism. (Eerdmans, 2011).
Here is a taste of Benson’s review:
Nevertheless, Hart awakens evangelicals to five factors that put them at odds with conservatism: (1) habitual appeal to the Bible as the prescriptive standard for national affairs, which abuses the Reformation principle of sola scriptura; (2) failure to differentiate the norms and tasks of the “little platoons” in society (e.g., family, work, church, neighborhood association, political party); (3) conflation of ultimate and proximate realities, thus neglecting “an older Augustinian view of the relationship between the City of God and the City of Man”; (4) naïveté about human depravity, beholden to a perfectionist model of sanctification; and (5) an anti-formalist attitude, which regards “the American political tradition’s conventions of federalism, republicanism, and constitutionalism [as] merely formal arrangements that may be discarded if a better option surfaces.”
I hope to get a chance to read Hart’s book. From what I have seen so far his thesis is on the mark. Benson closes his review by stating:
With an Augustinian emphasis on the limits of politics, a Lutheran sensibility for the paradox of Christ and culture, and a Burkean wariness about revolutionary change, Hart’s iconoclastic thesis arrives just in time as a presidential contest heats up, tempting many evangelicals with statist ambitions and utopian fantasies.