If you’ve followed me for any length of time then you know that there are two things I am quite passionate about:
- Jesus, and
- Political discourse/activism
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy many other things as well. I love to spend time with my family, I like writing, I’m currently enjoying the shows Chuck and The Man in the High Castle. Life is about more than election seasons and party rhetoric, a fact that can often be overlooked by poli-geeks and news junkies such as myself.
For Christian’s in particular, politics can be difficult. If you live in the south or are a part of a more conservative congregation you are likely to meet many people who are frustrated by the corruption in America. “The sins of the Left are leading America to judgement!” and thus we must elect a Republican to lead our nation to restoration.
On the other hand, Christians in New England or the pacific northwest are likely to rub shoulders with folks who think that notions of national judgement are little more than fearful attacks on progressive policies and doctrines that are bringing restitution to minorities and outcasts who have been overlooked and beaten down. Therefore, it’s important to stand against the bigots and misogynistic agendas and elect a Democrat.
Of course, both of these are gross generalizations. There are progressive movements in the south just the same as there are conservative movements in the north. But what do they all have in common? When politicized they are both seeking, as Mark Driscoll once said, a functional savior. A savior to take us from what we may perceive as hell (or a form of hell) and bring us to heaven (or a form thereof). The problem is, as Christian’s we only have one Savior and he doesn’t share His glory (Isaiah 42:8; John 10:30).
The Problem of the Importance of Faith in Politics
There are many Christians who feel like there should be a separation of Church and state. I get that, and they have a point. The arguments of whether that Jeffersonian expression has to do with keeping the Church out of the government or the government out of the Church are ultimately irrelevant these days. There is already a broad division in America between clerks and clerics. What we must wrestle with is the level of importance of allowing our faith to be acted out in the political sphere.
According to Gallup, most American’s give little thought or interests to elections. Often times we’re guided less by ideology or principle and more on how we “feel” or “think” about a particular issue. Terrorism, national security, the economy, social issues, race issues, abortion, etc. We all have opinions on these things, but what shapes those opinions? Is it our upbringing or education? Are they shaped by conversations we have with friends and colleagues, or are they more impacted by a personal philosophy or ideological view? I think if we’re honest we can, to some degree, answer yes to all of these. But what about faith? As Christians, if Jesus is the center of our lives, then are we seeking Him out on these issues? Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us from the very words that He inspired to be written (2 Peter 1:20-21)? As followers of the One who faithfully followed God the Father everyday of His earthly life while performing his civic duties (Mark 12:17), are we not called to do the same (1 John 2:6)?
But the problem is that it is an unpopular way to go about things. If your friends (Christian or not) are “Feeling the Bern” or are “Ready for Hillary”, it’s probably not going to be very popular to question the wisdom of their proposed policies on issues such as abortion, immigration, or other social welfare issues. Likewise, if your friends are all in for Donald Trump it probably won’t go over well to introduce them to James 1:19-21… or chapter 3… or any of it for that matter…
The Point of the Matter
To be frank, it’s important; no, vital for Christians to interact with the political system through the lens of biblical faith and sound doctrine. A good theology is more than a Christian ideology, it is a way of life and one that shines on every aspect of our lives.
With that being said, it is my goal (amid another move, a new semester of school, and trying to make ends meet) to dive into the new year with primary and general election analysis to help you get a good handle on who the candidates are, what they stand for, and what God has to say about it.
There are a lot of books out there on “God’s politics”, but none that I have found touch on the active role of faithful Christian living in the political arena. I hope that we can discover how to get there together.
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