The Liturgy of Politics: Spiritual Formation for the Sake of Our Neighbor, By Kaitlyn Schiess
The Liturgy of Politics
  • Length: 216 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: September 08, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 4830
  • ISBN: 9780830848300

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A generation of young Christians are weary of the political legacy they've inherited and hungry for a better approach.

They're tired of seeing their faith tied to political battles they didn't start, and they're frustrated by the failures of leaders they thought they could trust. Kaitlyn Schiess grew up in this landscape, and understands it from the inside.

Spiritual formation, and particularly a focus on formative practices, are experiencing a renaissance in Christian thinking—but these ideas are not often applied to the political sphere. In The Liturgy of Politics, Schiess shows that the church's politics are shaped by its habits and practices even when it's unaware of them. Schiess insists that the way out of our political morass is first to recognize the formative power of the political forces all around us, and then to recover historic Christian practices that shape us according to the truth of the gospel.

"This is a clear-eyed look at the forces of spiritual formation inside and outside of church—and the political discipleship that American Christians too often accept without thinking about it. Schiess offers a powerful call to examine hidden assumptions and false idols, and to explore the whole two thousand years of Christian tradition in order to breathe new life into twenty-first-century evangelicalism."

Molly Worthen, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of Apostles of Reason

"This is a powerful challenge from a young heart and a mature mind. Schiess seems to touch every unexamined habit of Christian thought, work, leisure, and worship. With a wide sweep of life's liturgies and church liturgies, of spiritual formation and political responsibility, of Bible reading and communication with others, Schiess goes straight for the heart in relaxed conversation that packs a prophetic punch about our complacency, ignorance of Scripture, cultural conformity, and more. Her urgent message is for communities of Christian faith to repent and turn ourselves over entirely to God, as disciples of Jesus Christ have always been called to do. It is hard to imagine how this young woman has been able to read so widely and think so profoundly about so much of life. Here you'll find fresh insight and compelling hope that will renew your labors for the coming of God's kingdom. Young people, old folks like me, and everyone in between, read this book now!"

James W. Skillen, author of The Good of Politics, former president of the Center for Public Justice

"Liturgy is about worship and inner life. Kaitlyn Schiess takes a careful, hard look at how we do our politics and how we should do our politics, viewed from the inside not the outside. The difference is significant, and seeing it may give us a better heart for others. As a result, our politics may change us for the better as we seek to engage a world that needs to see what the gospel looks like in real-life practice."

Darrell L. Bock, senior research professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, author of commentaries on Luke and Ephesians

"If all of us are formed by our practices, and politics is a kind of practice, how then are we as disciples of Jesus Christ being ordered through our political participation to the love of neighbor? That is the important question Kaitlyn Schiess has posed in The Liturgy of Politics. I won't spoil the book by giving you the answers here, but let's just say they're likely to catch you off guard a time or two. And if you take her cross-shaped account to heart, you might even find yourself confronted with a need both for repentance and a vision of hope. I think Schiess's book will be widely read and just as widely appreciated."

Matthew Arbo, associate professor of theological studies and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life, Oklahoma Baptist University

"How should Christians vote? In the last several years, this question has become a dividing line in the church, polarizing the people of God into opposing camps and fracturing the Christian community along worldly fault lines. With wisdom beyond her years, Kaitlyn Schiess recognizes the folly of centering on this question and instead focuses on a better one: What sort of people are we being formed into? With biblical grounding, theological depth, and the spiritual urgency of a next-generation leader, Kaitlyn lays the groundwork for a better, more faithful approach to political engagement. After finishing this book, here is the one thing I know for sure: we have not seen the last of Kaitlyn."

Sharon Hodde Miller, author of Nice: Why We Love to Be Liked And How God Calls Us to More

"What hath the upper room to do with the Oval Office? What does the Spirit have to do with the Senate? In The Liturgy of Politics, Kaitlyn Schiess offers an insightful framework for thinking about these two at-first-glance antagonists. Many evangelicals nowadays seem to be suffering from worldview dissonance—shunning political engagement altogether because it's 'dirty work' or shirking genuine and careful participation because dogmatism and bumper-sticker responses roll off the tongue more easily. Schiess offers a careful and sustained via media that emphasizes the movement, timing, and practices of the church, which instill a vision for gathering community and reforming political participation. With fluent brilliance, Schiess does this by looking to ancient and contemporary voices such as Augustine, Karl Barth, and Jamie Smith. She reminds us that every time we enter that dusty, smelly building with well-worn pews, we throw ourselves at the right way to move and live and have our being—in shared spaces with our neighbor in the world!"

Kyle David Bennett, associate professor of philosophy and chair of the theology and philosophy department at Caldwell University

"The Liturgy of Politics is a much-needed discourse on effective leadership in politics and caring for our culture. I have been following Kaitlyn's important voice for some time now, and I am delighted to have her contribution for our journey toward the New."

Makoto Fujimura, artist, author of Culture Care and Silence and Beauty

"Many young evangelicals—weary of politics and the culture wars—have begun to disengage from political life. Tired of the narrow-minded politics of the right and left, these evangelicals long for something more—something beyond ideology and sound bites. Kaitlyn Schiess has answered her generation's call. Drawing on Scripture, history, and contemporary political theology, she offers a robust and accessible political ethic that avoids the old pitfalls of the Christian right and left. She deftly explores how worship and spiritual disciplines can not only liberate evangelicals from destructive political ideologies but actively move them into God's alternative political mission of public justice and shalom."

Matthew Kaemingk, assistant professor of Christian ethics and associate dean, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Is the church today forming our political landscape or being formed by it? There is world of difference between the two. The Liturgy of Politics shows us how the modern church has come to get this relationship backward—and how we might set it right again. Well-founded, big-hearted, and wise, this is a book that could make a world of difference."

Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well and Fierce Convictions

"This is the book I have been waiting for! There could hardly be a more important topic for our cultural moment than the connection between Christian formation and politics. Kaitlyn Schiess persuasively and powerfully argues that Christians are being deeply formed by the political currents in which we swim, although we don't often realize it. She then casts a beautiful biblical and theological vision for intentional Christian formation that, by God's grace, shapes us into disciples who love God as we attend to the life of the world. While giving detailed attention to how and why we practice prayer, Bible reading, worship, Sabbath, and the sacraments, Schiess casts a sweeping and winsome vision of the Christian life, including political engagement and so much more. This book will itself be deeply formative for all who read it. It needs to be read by pastors, youth ministers, worship leaders, small groups, college and seminary students, and all who care about faithful discipleship and formation today."

Kristen Deede Johnson, dean and professor of theology and Christian formation at Western Theological Seminary

"Neighborliness is a skill one must learn. We do not enter the world fully equipped to be faithful citizens or fruitful members of our local communities. Rather, we learn the skills, virtues, and habits that are required for faithful participation in common life over time. Or, too often, we don't learn any of those things, and we set out on the quest to live honorable lives in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, states, and nation radically unprepared for the challenges laid before us. Kaitlyn Schiess's The Liturgy of Politics is a worthy reflection on where mature community members come from and how our churches, schools, and neighborhoods can be shaping such people now. I am happy to commend this fine study to you."

Jake Meador, editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy and author of In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World

Read an Excerpt


Foreword by Michael Wear
1. Apolitical or Unexamined: What Spiritual Formation Has to Do with Politics
2. The Liturgy of Politics: Loves and Loyalties
3. Of This World: The Gospels of Prosperity, Patriotism, Security, and Supremacy
4. For the Life of the World: Spiritual Formation and Public Life
5. A Story to Live Into: Scripture and Political Formation
6. Ekklēsia: The Church as a Training Ground for Political Engagement
7. The Rhythm of Our Lives: Time, Music, Confession
8. Bent on the Coming Kingdom of God: Spiritual Disciplines and Political Formation
9. A Confessing City: Reading Politics with Augustine
10. Creation Redeemed: Eschatology and Political Formation
Epilogue: Shalom



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Kaitlyn Schiess

Kaitlyn Schiess is a writer and speaker serving as the host for seasons 5 and 6 of The Disrupters podcast. She is also a regular cohost for the Holy Post Podcast. Her books include The Liturgy of Politics and The Ballot and the Bible and her writing has appeared at Christianity Today, the New York TimesChrist and Pop CultureRelevant, and Sojourners. Schiess has a ThM in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and is currently a doctoral student in political theology at Duke Divinity School.