IRVING, Texas (August 12, 2020)—B.H. Carroll Theological Institute is offering a special course, Christianity and Politics, this October.
The course will meet on four consecutive Tuesday evenings—beginning October 6—from 7-8:30 p.m. via Zoom and is open to the public. It is being offered at the discounted rate of $40. An optional Q&A session will be held after each session, from 8:30-9 p.m.
The course will be taught by Dr. Gregory Tomlin, Carroll Fellow and Associate Professor of Christian Heritage. Tomlin said the timing of the course is ideal considering the upcoming election.
“Many Christians are uncomfortable with the idea of discussing politics in this climate, but our presence in this world makes our contribution to it of extreme importance,” Tomlin said. “We don’t place our hope in politics, but it really is an unavoidable discipline for the Christian.”
Tomlin added that the United States has been regarded by many surveys as “Christian”—whether those findings imply deep conviction, a widespread nominal faith, or the acceptance of a deeply-rooted, Judeo-Christian ethic. At the same time, it is equally regarded as thoroughly secular. Tension between these two postures—religious and secular—since the colonial era has resulted in both conflict and cooperation (particularly with respect to religious liberty, economics, and human rights), he said.
“Christian influence in politics continues to shape debate on a multitude of topics, such as abortion, free speech, church-state separation, and war. However, Christian political action carries with it certain dangers, namely the blurring of the church-state divide and the confusion of Christ’s kingdom with the kingdoms of this world,” Tomlin said. “Despite those dangers, religion—specifically Christianity—and politics will likely always be intertwined in America.”
The course, he said, will address the biblical witness on citizenship and the development of Christian political thought from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas (who relied heavily on Greek philosophy), papal power, the Puritans and John Locke, and, finally, American thinkers.
“This overview will, I believe, help Christians better understand long-held beliefs and traditions in American politics as we uncover the roots of Christian thinking on politics. Those roots go back to the earliest days of the faith when Jesus said, ‘Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God’s what is God’s, and when Paul said, “Be subject to those in authority,’” Tomlin said.
In spite of the fact that the course is on Christianity and Politics, Tomlin added that what the course will do is as important as what it will not do. The course will not cover current personalities in politics and will not directly address the presidential election in November.
“The goal is to illustrate the good of meeting up a mature faith with mature political thought which transcends a specific point in history where so much of what we see tends to be personality driven and tailored toward the 30-second campaign commercial,” Tomlin said. “I think Scripture has much more to say about active, participatory citizenship, as does our history as the body of Christ.”
For more information on the course, go to https://bhcarroll.net/s/bhc501e20