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Why the Cross Can Do What Politics Can’t

Erwin Lutzer

Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999, 188 pages.

This is a very fine book on the centrality of the cross. The author begins by acknowledging that “it is tempting to wrap the cross of Christ in the flag, to equate the American dream with God’s dream for this nation”. He further says “we have attached a myriad of agendas to the cross of Christ, often clouding the one message that the world needs to hear with clarity and power” (pages 8-9).

Thus he feels that if you asked an average American what Christians believe, you will get a number of answers, but “few will say that the central doctrine of Christianity is that Christ came into the world to save sinners.” He asks if we have forgotten that “God’s power is more clearly seen in the message of the cross than in any political or social plan that we might devise” (pages 8-9).

Lutzer says his book is based on two fundamental premises:

    1. That the problems of America are too far gone to be remedied by a change of administrations in Washington, and

    2. That our so-called cultural war is really a spiritual war…(so that) as always, our greatest challenge is theological, not political or cultural (page 10-11).

Individual Christians should certainly be involved in our culture, working with other groups to attack the rampant evils in society, but we are not to “replace the primary mission of the church with these kinds of political or moral pursuits”, for gains brought about through legislation “will always be minimal” (page 140).

Some of the chapter titles include The Cross and Culture Clash, The Cross and the Flag, What God Thinks of the Cross, What Man Thinks of the Cross, The Cross-The Basis of Moral Sanity, and The Triumph of the Crucified. He closes the book with a quote from Peter Marshall:

It is better to fail in that which will ultimately succeed than to succeed in that which will ultimately fail (page 188).

In other words, it is better to fail while fighting for the city of God than “to succeed in promoting the city of man…we do not have to triumph in this life in order to triumph in the next”. Rather, we need to simply “be faithful in doing what God has asked us to do” (page 188).

Reviewed by:
Ron Maness

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation), Cultural Issues, Crucifixion

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