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Jim Wallis's The Call to Conversion features an apocalyptic theological imagination with an ecclesiological focus. The church is entrusted with the communal mission of making visible the intrusion of the reign of God in Jesus Christ. The thesis of this essay is that The Call to Conversion is a better resource for Christian political engagement than Wallis's more recent book, God's Politics, which is characterized by a turn toward a "public church" social ethic. The accent has shifted to the formation of a larger political movement seeking social change primarily through congressional lobbying. Wallis's error is the extent to which he has pinned his hopes on the institutions of American democracy. The Call to Conversion helps us recover an account of political engagement flowing from local ecclesial witness. Sheldon Wolin, Romand Coles, and other political theorists, provide support for approaches to political engagement that begin with local struggles for justice.


Originally published as:

Crane, Richard Dean. “Ecclesial Faithfulness, Christian Political Engagement, and the Recovery of the Apocalyptic Theological Imagination of Jim Wallis’s the Call to Conversion.” Political Theology 12, no. 2 (April 2011): 237–74.