By John Mark Hicks
If the kingdom of God demands exclusive allegiance, how do followers of Jesus engage with a world shaped by political power?
After the trauma of the Civil War, David Lipscomb, a Nashville farmer and church leader, advocated for allegiance solely in the kingdom of God rather than in human governments. Resisting Babel tells the story of Lipscomb’s compelling, coherent, and eschatologically grounded vision, which fostered deep and significant religious reform in the United States and led to missionary zeal across the globe. That vision articulated a way forward for Christianity amidst the world powers, though it was later subverted by those powers, both by its own implicit assumptions from within and the overwhelming forces of Babel without. What happened among Churches of Christ during that time serves as a case study and parable of both possibility and warning for the modern church.
In this new book, Hicks has assembled the leading voices on David Lipscomb. Contributors include:
• Richard T. Hughes, Scholar in Residence at Lipscomb University, is the leading historian of Churches of Christ and has authored the standard work on its history.
• Richard Goode, professor of history at Lipscomb University, has written about and practiced Pilgrim political theology, which is indebted in part to David Lipscomb.
• Lee C. Camp, professor of theology at Lipscomb University, is a leading ethicist among Churches of Christ.
• Joshua Ward Jeffery, AP History teacher at the Orme School in Mayer, AZ, is a leading historian of the relationship between pacifism, the church, and World War I.
John Mark Hicks is a professor of theology at Lipscomb University and has taught in higher education among Churches of Christ for over thirty-five years. He has published several works on Stone-Campbell history and theology, especially the theology of Churches of Christ, including Kingdom Come: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding.
“In an era in which Libertarians have discovered David Lipscomb, it is critical that those who entertain Lipscomb’s religious commitments probe in detail and in-depth the nuances of his ‘political’ theology. Hicks, Hughes, Goode, Jeffery, and Camp in this book have done just that in an exemplary fashion. They have copiously documented Lipscomb’s outlooks on the kingdom of God, government, and race and their relationships, situating them in their twentieth century milieu. They have likewise meticulously surveyed the appropriate scholarship of the past fifty years. Their book provides much food for thought in our current environment. These scholars challenge us to work out how Christians should relate to the government and live in community.” —Thomas H. Olbricht, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion, Pepperdine University
“Though little known outside the Stone-Campbell churches of North America, David Lipscomb has exerted profound influence on millions of Christians around the world. This set of essays by a first-rate assemblage of scholars seeks to help us understand an underappreciated aspect of his life, thought, and writings—his political theology, which was prophetic and profound—and apply it critically to our own day and age. It deserves a wide reading, and Lipscomb himself deserves far more attention from students of American religion and public life.” —Douglas A. Sweeney, dean and professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
“Resisting Babel provides a concise introduction to Lipscomb’s social and political legacy that is both sympathetic and critical. In so doing, it provides valuable resources for all disciples aspiring to bear faithful witness to the inescapably political gospel of Jesus Christ. Campbellites of all stripes have forgotten why and how to resist the Babels of our day, and if we don’t snap out of such amnesia, we’ll have little resources for resisting the declining relevance of our churches.” —John C. Nugent, author of Endangered Gospel and The Politics of Yahweh, and cohost of the After Class Podcast
“This scrupulously honest book demonstrates in the life of David Lipscomb both the revolutionary social vision of the gospel combined with the example of the early church—and the power of American culture to subvert this vision. Don’t just read it and weep. Read it and take stock, then take heed.” —Shirley Showalter, author, speaker, and former professor of English and president of Goshen College
“At a time when many American Christians unquestioningly affirm patriotism, nationalism, and partisan politics as spiritual values, David Lipscomb’s voice rings out as one crying in the desert. His radical views on the relationship between Christians and civic government find renewed relevance in today’s society. These writers have done a great service to the modern church, better preparing her to engage the current American political system.” —Timothy Archer, director of International Ministry, Herald of Truth, Abilene, Texas
“David Lipscomb was radical before radical was cool. His life shows us that one can be deeply political without being partisan, that one can work for liberation and abhor violence. Lipscomb stood for and with the poor against their rich oppressors, and demanded of Christians that they not kill one another. The writers here show that rather than move with the confusing whims of Babel, Lipscomb stood firm on the Rock of Ages, not building a tower to heaven but bearing witness to the reign of heaven on earth.” —Justin Bronson Barringer, editor of A Faith Not Worth Fighting For
“This timely book offers an unprecedented historical and theological exploration of the ‘apocalyptic’ tradition in Churches of Christ—its origins in Barton Stone, its contours in David Lipscomb's thought, its influence on Lipscomb's race relations, its comparison to competing political theologies, its waning in the twentieth century among Churches of Christ, and its usefulness for Christian thought and practice today. We are indebted to these authors for illuminating how Christians might critically appropriate David Lipscomb’s rich political theology in 2020 to bear faithful witness to the kingdom of God.” —James L. Gorman, associate professor of History, Johnson University
Dimensions (inches) 5.5 x 8.25