Bruce Ashford Tackles Christian Involvement in the Public Sphere With New Book ‘Letters to an American Christian’

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) — As an observer of Christianity and public life, Bruce Ashford sees the good, the bad and the ugly of American political engagement. In a new book, “Letters to an American Christian,” he is seeking to change it for the better.

In a whimsical yet informative series of letters between Ashford, provost at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a fictional character named Christian, the book seeks to address hot-button issues and ideologies in today’s American culture and how believers can speak thoughtfully and persuasively into them.

“I’m trying to show Christian conservatives how we can be our better selves, and I’m trying to appeal to progressives to show them why more conservative principles would be better for our nation,” Ashford said.

The recipient of the letters, Christian, is a university student among professors who are secular progressives and from a family of secular conservatives. In this context, Ashford seeks to help Christian consider how to address such topics as transgenderism, Black Lives Matter, nationalism and the relationship between church and state.

Whether a political junkie or a political novice, Ashford seeks to speak candidly to Christians seeking to better understand the nation in which they live.

“I wanted to write it for everyday Americans to try to reason from Christian premises and give Christian reasons for why I believe what I believe,” said Ashford, noting that the character Christian represents numerous questions he has fielded from believers who want to know how to interact with today’s issues.

The question is not whether American Christians should involve themselves in political discourse, Ashford said, but how they should do so. He encourages believers to insert their voices into their daily conversations in a loving manner, acknowledging that it can be especially difficult in social media conversations.

“It’s a strong Christian who, in the face of mocking and insulting, can stand there and give strong arguments with a gracious disposition,” Ashford said, stating that he seeks to find common ground with those who oppose his views and then make his argument. Through this approach, particularly on social media, he has found that half of the responses turn out to be positive.

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Source: Baptist Press