Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Faith, Politics, and the Common Good

Robb Ryerse is an interesting guy, and I am pleased to introduce him and his book that was published earlier this year under the title Running for Our Lives: A Story of Faith, Politics, and the Common Good.
Meet Robb Ryerse
Some of you may have heard of Ryerse: he has had two articles published in Time magazine this year. The first (dated 1/31/20) is titled “I'm a Pastor Who Ran for Congress as a Republican. Here's Why I'm Encouraging My Fellow Evangelicals Not to Vote for Donald Trump.”
Just two weeks later, Time published his next opinion piece, “I Questioned the Sincerity of Donald Trump’s Pro-Life Stance. The Response From My Fellow Evangelicals Was Troubling.”
Time introduced both articles with these words: “Robb Ryerse is a pastor at Vintage Fellowship in Fayetteville, AR and the political director of Vote Common Good.” And they give the title of his new book, which is about his 2018 congressional campaign.
Ryerse was born in Ohio in 1975. He graduated from a conservative seminary in Pennsylvania and he was the pastor of traditional, fundamentalist churches for ten years before having a crisis of faith and then starting the new “post-denominational” church in 2006.
(Here is the link to the introduction of Robb on Vintage Fellowship’s website.)
His first book, Fundamorphosis: How I Left Fundamentalism But Didn’t Lose My Faith (2012), tells the story of his theological transformation. His new book tells how he ran in, and decisively lost, the 2018 Republican primary seeking to unseat incumbent Steve Womack for the Third House District in northwest Arkansas. 
Hear Robb Ryerse
Ryerse’s book is fairly brief and not particularly profound. But it is the intriguing story of a Republican and a former evangelical Christian running for political office—and now actively campaigning against DJT.
I encourage you to read Robb’s book—or at least to click here and read my brief summary of and quotes from his book.
As one who has had a hard time finding much to agree with in most Republican politicians since Senators Mark Hatfield and John Danforth, I found it refreshing to listen to the honest reflections of one who continues to claim he is a Republican—although he is much different from most Republicans in Congress now.
While most of the book is basically about Ryerse’s experience of deciding about, training for, and actually making a spirited run for Congress—and then losing badly—the last four chapters look toward the future and are about seeking the common good in voting.
Please listen to Robb’s 40-second YouTube statement about seeking the common good.
Heed Robb Ryerse
Ryerse is not running for another political office at this point, but he is still actively working in politics. Since the fall of 2018 he has been employed by Vote Common Good, the organization I posted a blog article about in October 2018.
In his book, Robb asserts,
Letting the common good motivate our Election Day decisions means voting for the candidates who are advocating for policies that will do the most good and have the greatest positive impact. . . .
     The common good should especially be the motivation for Christian voters (p. 131).
These are good and important words that I sincerely hope all you readers will heed.
I was sent a free copy of Ryerse’s book by Mike Morrell of Speakeasy on condition that I would post a review or blog article about it. I was happy to receive, to read, and now to post this article and to recommend the book, which was definitely a profitable read.


  1. As is often the case, the first response to this new blog post was from Thinking Friend Eric Dollard in Chicago. In part, here is what he wrote:

    "I applaud Ryerse's efforts to wake up the evangelical community to the dangers, amorality, cynicism, and hypocrisy of our president and his party. I wonder if Mr. Trump has any concept of objective truth. For him, it seems truth is whatever works to his political advantage. Sad."

    1. Yes, Ryerse takes a very gutsy position for someone who has been an evangelical and still claims to be a Republican. As I hope I adequately conveyed in my post, I too applaud his efforts.

  2. Next, I received this following brief comment from Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson in Kentucky:

    "Would that other Republicans who claim to be Christians might follow his example!"

    1. Yes, I hope that happens, but I am afraid they will be few and far between.

  3. As a progressive Democrat standing on the fringe of the Democratic Party, I can sympathize with a conservative Republican standing on the fringe of the Republican Party. I can also sympathize with his 2018 attempt to get elected as a moderate. He failed, just like Hillary Clinton did in 2016. They both got Trumped. Both parties are largely owned by Wall Street. Voters just get a choice of wedge issues. Ask Bernie Sanders what happens if you worry about the common good.

    I note with interest that the blurb for his book shown above is by Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis Schaeffer, and author of a number of books, including the cited "Crazy for God," and one I have read, the 2011 "Sex, Mom, & God." It is lonely out in the wilderness, wrestling with God, and trying to figure out how to reinvent your theology and maybe even your religion. So much of Christianity has been co-opted by money and power, down through the centuries, that it is hard to find the core. Why do the wicked prosper? People have been chewing on that one for a long time!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Craig.
      I appreciate you mentioning Frank Schaeffer. I chose that quote by him on purpose as I have read his books--those you mentioned and a couple of others--and have heard him speak & talked with him a couple of times in recent years when he was in Kansas City.

      I am not sure it is correct to compare Ryerse with Hillary, for he was running in a Republican primary. I don't know that he got Trumped so much as just got creamed by a conservative incumbent who was favored by the overwhelmingly number of conservative Republican voters in northwest Arkansas.

      As I reflected on what you wrote, I realized that I tend to be a lot more idealistic in thinking about religion than in thinking about politics. My being a pacifist because of my Christian beliefs and an advocate of the Anabaptist vision indicates something of my religious idealism, I think.

      But I am much more pragmatic when it comes to politics. I was much more idealistic until McGovern's landslide defeat in 1972. While I like the idealism portrayed by Bernie Sanders, I think that many who are not so idealistic are also deeply concerned about the common good.

  4. Since your previous blog, Leroy, I have "joined" Vote Common Good, and I look forward to the weekly prayer every Friday.

    1. Lydia, I was happy to hear that you are connected with Vote Common Good and that you participate in their Pray for the President activity on Fridays.

      I hope others will check the Pray for the President webpage at