Kingdoms in Conflict

Charles Colson sees the new prominence of evangelical Christians in American politics as a permanent feature of American life. His book begins with a story set in 1998, a time when a devout American president must decide how to respond to a crisis in the Middle East that epitomizes a world increasingly factionalized by religious and political strife. Bemused by biblical prophecies of the end of the world, the American chief executive ponders whether he can act upon beliefs that tell him that Armageddon is at hand.

By beginning his book with a sensational futuristic scenario, Colson hopes to capture a large audience for his central argument: that there has always been a tension between the claims of religion and the claims of the state. While he believes that the two must be separate as institutions, he vigorously argues that politicians must not exclude their religious beliefs from their decision-making. If a Christian president finds himself in conflict with the Constitution, then he must try to persuade the American people and their representatives that he is right or he must resign. Colson criticizes politicians such as John F. Kennedy and Mario Cuomo, who have contended that they must simply repress religious beliefs that contradict public policy or law.

KINGDOMS IN CONFLICT contains a wealth of historical knowledge about the place of the Church and its believers in political life. Colson has written a serious, engaging book, although he is sure to offend readers who do not regard Christianity as superior to all other religions.