The Spirit of Our Politics
When Michael Wear was a young staffer in The White House, he was sent a book that would change his life. That book was The Divine Conspiracy, and reading that book led Michael to delve deeper into Dallas’s work which significantly shaped his life and career. Today, Michael is the founder and President of the Center for Christianity and Public Life, a nonprofit with the mission to contend for the credibility of Christian resources in public life, for the public good. January 2024 marks the publication of his new book, The Spirit of Our Politics: Spiritual Formation and the Renovation of Public Life, a timely book which applies Dallas’s ideas to politics and public life to argue that “the kind of people we are has much to do with the kind of politics and public life we will have.”
This paradigm-shifting book provides a new language and way of thinking about politics as Christians. Michael masterfully unpacks what some of Dallas’s leading frameworks—such as the disappearance of moral knowledge, gospels of sin management, VIM and others—have to do with our politics. Importantly, Michael’s book takes spiritual formation seriously, and contends that spiritual formation is central to civic renewal. For those who appreciate Dallas, Michael applies his work in fresh, faithful ways that will only deepen your appreciation for Dallas’s ideas and teaching.
Michael has three key hopes for this book:
Some of the core insights of the book are found, in their early form, in this 10-minute talk Michael was asked to present at the 2018 THINQ conference. What you will hear does not affirm a partisan position, and does not use Washington and politicians as a scapegoat for the problems we all share in creating and all share responsibility for solving.
The Spirit of Our Politics gets to the heart of our current divided politics. Michael Wear has written a powerful call that affirms the agency each citizen has to contribute to a healthier and more just politics and society. As a Christian, I found here an inspiring path to return to the heart of our faith and build a culture of engaged, faithful service. Our politics would be dramatically healthier if The Spirit of Our Politics was our guide, and I encourage my colleagues, and all readers who seek a positive future for our politics, to read it.
The Spirit of Our Politics is one of the most important books of our time. In this brilliant text, Michael Wear draws on Dallas Willard’s insights to argue that our personal character deeply influences our political landscape. While Wear delves into the complexities of how our politics reached its current state, this book isn’t merely an analysis of the past; it radiates with a visionary outlook for the future. Instead of merely lamenting what has been, Wear offers a thoughtful and constructive path forward. Every reader, regardless of their political inclination, should take up the invitation contained in this essential reading. Through it, we are prompted to reflect, What kind of person would I like to be—and how can my conclusion shape a better political tomorrow?
The Spirit of Our Politics is the most urgently needed and clearly articulated discussion of faith and politics I have ever read. If a large number of people were to read and embody the moral and political knowledge available here, it would immeasurably enhance our country--not to mention the church.
It’s rare to find a book so wise and helpful that I want to put it in the hands of every pastor, parent, and future leader I know. The Spirit of Our Politics is such a book. Michael Wear weaves together his expertise on American politics and Dallas Willard’s vision for the centrality of discipleship in the Christian life. In doing so, he accomplishes the rare feat of merging political theology and spiritual formation in ways that are profoundly necessary yet virtually absent in the current political discourse both in the church and in broader society. This book opens a window, letting a new, hopeful breeze blow into the dark, airless room of American politics.
No matter where you are on the political spectrum, this book will help you move away from being discipled by your political party and toward being discipled by Jesus.
In The Spirit of Our Politics, Michael Wear not only diagnoses the root of the problem that has led us here but also offers a compelling way forward. This book is essential reading for anyone who takes seriously the commission of Jesus to go out and be the salt and light we are called to be.
This book shows a smart, bold, hopeful way forward, paying attention to what Dallas Willard would tell us is the real conspiracy--the inbreaking kingdom of God. If you have never thought spirituality and politics belong in the same sentence, this is the book you must read.
The Spirit of Our Politics won’t try to drum up your enthusiasm for our broken political system; it will draw your attention to a greater and truer story--and the way that story should then shape our common life together. Michael Wear has given us the gift of diagnosing the deeper spiritual problems underneath our divisions and disagreements--and proposing a better path forward.
Liberal democracy depends on virtuous citizens who are committed to its survival, yet it often fails to inculcate these virtues. Michael Wear outlines the role of Christianity in helping to lay the foundations for virtuous civic engagement in an era when the faith is arguably in jeopardy of becoming a victim of vituperative culture wars. Based on a sensitive reading of Scripture and deep experience working in contemporary politics, Wear offers a vision of Christian politics rooted in service and compassion, not conquest or domination. This is a crucial book for thinking about the future of American Christianity.
Michael Wear has clarified and focused our attention on the gaping divide between the beliefs that so many of us profess and the contemptuous politics that so many of us practice. People of faith have a long way to go to align the calling to love one another with the actions to create a politics grounded in that love. Wear offers countless selections from Scripture and scholars alike to help us in that urgent path of discipleship.
Most books we read force us to explore either society and culture or a personal interior journey. Both are good, but they really belong together. The Spirit of Our Politics gets right to the heart of what it takes to be effective, loving, and joyful in public life. It’s the book I wish I had written myself as a practical, informed, realistic, visionary, and wise guide to spiritual formation for civic renewal in our generation.
The work of self-government is challenging when the world makes partisanship a religion. We might have important disagreements on public policy, but as brothers in Christ, Michael Wear and I share the same calling--to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. As Christians work to build something more constructive, Michael gives us worthy reflections on a complicated topic.
Michael Wear is a trusted voice to a generation of Christ followers looking to express their faith in every area of culture, including politics. The Spirit of Our Politics is the book that is needed today, to help us to separate what needs to be separate and integrate that which will make us whole--individually and as a nation.
Zondervan Publishing Company (January 23, 2024) 256 pp, Paperpack. ISBN: 0310367190. ISBN-13: 978-0310367192.