Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Cross and Reaganomics: Conservative Christians Defending Ronald Reagan

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The Cross and Reaganomics: Conservative Christians Defending Ronald Reagan

Article excerpt

The Cross and Reaganomics: Conservative Christians Defending Ronald Reagan BY ERIC R. CROUSE LEXINGTON, 204 PAGES, $65

In The Cross and Reaganomics, Eric R. Crouse, professor of history at Tyndale University College in Toronto, provides a readable and sympathetic history of Christian support for the Reagan administration. Though six chapters focus on Reagan's domestic economic policy, Crouse also devotes one chapter to Reagan's foreign policy insofar as its touchstone was economic (i.e. anticommunist) and evoked praise or blame from churches.

Crouse draws almost entirely from the published writing of Christian journalists, pundits, ministers, and theologians, meticulously gleaned from Christian periodicals such as Sojourners, Christian Century, and Christianity Today, or from "movement" literature such as The Freeman. He offers no unique insight into the theological or political character of Reagan's friends or foes of faith, but he does provide a breezy and balanced examination of the period. His emphasis on economic advocacy is a welcome contrast to the attention typically paid to Christian social conservatism. Longtime First Things readers will likely feel a bit of nostalgia when Crouse recalls familiar names or debates. However, even those with no memory of the Reagan presidency will benefit from Crouse's overview.

Crouse's thorough chronicle features leaders on both sides, as well as minor figures whose political significance has been overlooked. For example, Crouse demonstrates how Larry Burkett used his organization, Christian Financial Concepts, not only to dispense advice about household budgeting but also to criticize Keynesianism and praise Ludwig von Mises. Crouse also recalls James Wall comparing Jim Bakker's PTL scandal to corporate corruption and Christianity Today wrestling with moral questions raised by a new English translation of Jacques Ellul's L'homme et l'argent. The narrative is punctuated by Jim Wallis tearing up during a Bill Moyers documentary and Christianity Today sending a writer to interview George Gilder at an airport in hopes of writing an article reconciling religious faith with supply-side economics and tying both poverty and family breakdown to the welfare state. …

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