A Senator’S Quandary

Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Mark Hatfield (Word, 1976, 224 pp., $7.95), is reviewed by Carl F. H. Henry, lecturer-at-large, World Vision, Monrovia, California.

In a forthright book that will gratify some readers, dismay others, but challenge all, Mark Hatfield, a Republican Senator from Oregon, reaches with deep evangelical concern for biblical authenticity in facing socio-political problems of our time. He bares his struggle to maintain political convictions and positions among his critics, and admits to periodic urges to vacate politics—with its cosmetic pursuit of image—in order to work to establish principles he considers imperative but threatened by the prevailing politico-economic establishment and the evangelical religious establishment. The volume is refreshingly honest, its respect for Scripture unmistakable, and its desire to stand on biblical terrain under the lordship of Christ highly commendable.

Hatfield refuses to blur Christianity into a culture-religion. Insisting on distinctions between church and state he protests any tendency to regard politico-economic structures as “almost sacred.” The United States, he avers, is not exempt from stern biblical judgment, nor is national security identical with military power.

Without professing to be a theologian, Hatfield nonetheless ventures a theological rationale for his commitments. Both his theory and program therefore deserve careful study by the Christian community. The volume does not convey—nor does it claim to convey—a comprehensive political philosophy. Some problems and their solution are confronted more fully than others; some, like predator powers and inflation, are not discussed at all. While the book is more an earnest conversation ...

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