*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

A Mucky Business: Why Christians should get involved in politics by Tim Farron

by
10 March 2023

Alan Billings reads a politician’s apologia

THE purpose of this book is to encourage Christians to get involved in the “mucky business” of politics. The author, Tim Farron, is well-placed to write it as a former councillor, a Member of Parliament, and a prominent Christian. Although others assisted, this is a highly personal account and in places something of an apologia pro vita sua, not least for when he was leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The book is in three parts: “Why Christians steer clear of politics”, “Why Christians should engage with politics”, and “How Christians should engage with politics”. In each section, he makes his points with a mix of personal anecdote and appeals to biblical texts. At the end of each chapter, he illustrates his argument further with a “case study”, briefly telling the story of Christians of different denominations who are involved in politics. The case studies are invariably about people whose Christianity causes them to be — as he likes to put it — “counter-cultural”; they stand against the secular Zeitgeist.

Some years ago, I was a parish priest in the Lake District, and Tim Farron became my MP. He exemplified what he writes about: a local man who, with a genuine interest in his fellow citizens and concern for their well-being, decided to get more involved. This, he believes, is the heart of politics for Christians, and it will surely resonate with others.

Although he writes for “every Christian who believes politics is worth struggling with rather than shrugging off”, his main audience will be those in his own conservative Evangelical tradition. Other Christians may not share his stance on abortion, gay relationships, or physician-assisted suicide, and will not be easily persuaded that the ethical issues at stake can be resolved by a simple appeal to biblical texts. Nor will Christians whose politics are liberal or progressive find it easy to reconcile such conservatism with the political ethos of his party — a dissonance that, causing offence as well as bewilderment when he was leader, led to his resignation.

But perhaps the most obvious example of “mucky politics” in recent years was the decision of Farron’s party to abandon key election promises — such as abolishing tuition fees — and go into a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. Years of austerity and the slow erosion of public services followed. It would have been interesting to have some extended reflection on that from a Christian perspective.
 

The Revd Dr Alan Billings is the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire and a former Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council.

 

A Mucky Business: Why Christians should get involved in politics
Tim Farron, with Josh Price, Jo Latham, Megan Hills, Micah Parmour, and Daniel Payne
Inter Varsity Press £12.99
(978-1-78974-444-6)
Church Times Bookshop £11.69

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Awards Ceremony: 6 September 2024

Read more details about the awards

 

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available

 

Inspiration: The Influences That Have Shaped My Life

September - November 2024

St Martin in the Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2024

tickets available

 

SAVE THE DATE

Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website

 

Visit our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

 

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)