Two Talents

Faith-based expressions of a Christian.

Christianity and politics

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There was much ballyhoo from the left about the religious beliefs of Bush 43, and of the bible studies that took place amongst some of his staff. The most paranoid proclaimed it dangerous and were threatened by such overt applications of faith. And a man named Ralph Reed led a Christian political operation that held hands with the GOP (sort of a modern “Moral Majority”) not all that long ago. Today we see more and more people who define themselves as fiscal conservatives, and not social conservatives, and they want no part of the bible in their politics.

It is worth asking,: as a Christian, what involvement am I to have in politics, beyond voting? Frank Turk isn’t enamored with the idea of combining the two. He calls conservative Hugh Hewitt to task for trying to do so. Of Hewitt, Turk writes:

And he comes back because he thinks that the ends of the church are the same as the ends of conservatism. It’s because he sees the church as a moral improvement society — something which only teaches the world something it couldn’t learn on its own.

This is why Hugh Hewitt gets my goat: he sees the church as a means to a political end. I find his views in that respect reprehensible.

Also at Pyromaniacs, Phil Johnson answers a question about Christians and their churches staying of politics:

Are you saying that Christians should never seek these political remedies, or that they are currently spending more time than they should seeking these remedies?

I keep saying that my main point is about how the church corporately should be spending her time and resources, not about what an individual who is vocationally (or avocationally) involved in politics should do.

To be clear:

  • I object to pastors who use their pulpits to organize voters rather than teach the Bible and proclaim the gospel.
  • I object to evangelical organizations (including certain Christian broadcasters, evangelical radio stations, the National Association of Evangelicals, various 501c3’s, and even some churches) who raise money for “ministry” and then all they ever talk about are political issues and headline news, while rarely (if ever) mentioning the gospel.
  • I object to the fact that when the average unbeliever today hears the word evangelical, he thinks of a voting bloc rather than anything spiritual.
  • I object to the fact that most evangelicals are overwhelmingly on the same page politically, but their movement is doctrinally so diverse that they can’t even agree what the gospel is.
  • I object to the fact that the average evangelical could not give a coherent, biblically sound summary of the gospel or a theologically accurate explanation of justification by faith—but they are more worried about an Obama presidency than they are about the disintegration of their own testimony.

Phil’s boss, John MacArthur, has an extensive study at his web site about Christians and government and, while I haven’t read it all, it seems to agree that it’s not a primary mission of ours to engage in politics.

As for me, I agree with what Turk and Johnson said. While I am a bit unique in that I consider myself to be a libertarian I don’t feel that my being more socially liberal than most conservative Christians is a big deal. For instance, and a large part of this is due to my career in law enforcement, I would not oppose the legalization of marijuana and/or prostitution across the land. {I wish, as a caveat, to point out that this should not be accomplished on the federal level, as it’s not the constitutional authority of the federal government to do such things, but I speak of a plurality of states doing so} Some would ask, rightly so, why a fundamental Christian would not fight against something so sinful as prostitution, and to a lesser degree the drug marijuana. Here is where I do not feel there is such a great divide between my faith and my personal politics as one might see on the surface.

I believe the chief aim of man is to glorify God, and the primary purpose by which we can do so is to share the gospel and preach the word. It is not our place to form PACs that intend to sway or force a particular political issue that happens to be a social issue for us as well. We (by that I mean conservative Christians) have expended a terrific amount of time, energy and money in fighting gay marriage. In my view we erred in so doing. Because of this, and similar endeavors, the public face of Christianity is that movement. Yes, I realize it also includes such charlatans as Benny Hinn and others who we who are orthodox don’t include in our fold, but let’s leave that issue aside for the time being. The particular issue of gay marriage evoked such a response from conservative Christians that we now “own” a share of the issue.

If Jesus returned today do you believe He would look at our efforts being there and say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servants”? I don’t believe He would. I believe He would, in fact, chastise us for going off message. You see, if we were doing our job of sharing the gospel and preaching the word the influence of the church in our society would be exponentially greater than it is. If our time, energy and money were in doing those things (let’s include charitable works in there too) the world might not agree with us, but they would have very little to complain about concerning us. Let me reverse the roles here and ask you, Christian, if you like it when that element of society that advocates gay marriage tries to get their way through governmental influence? No? Well they feel the same way when we oppose their views.

“But their views are immoral and ungodly” you will protest. Agreed. However, if we stayed on message (and following the commands of the One we claim to follow) our message would get out, and it would have influence. Not through political parties but socially and culturally. Politicians desire few things more than remaining in office, and if the societal culture is opposed to gay marriage precious few politicians are going to risk re-election by going against the majority. We have been trying to beat them in what was traditionally their arena, and the end result is that the world (who is inherently going to dislike us) sees you and me in the same way they see Fred Phelps*. And let’s face this truth: failing to believe that doing what we were told to do by our Lord would bring positive change is a lack of faith in Him.

Nowhere did Jesus ever teach that we are to take our morals into the political spectrum. With all this in mind, I do not think it’s wrong for a Christian to run for office, and I believe that as Christians we should support fellow Christians** with our votes. But as far as the church universal goes, we should remain out of politics and in the business of glorifying God and His Son and doing the work that wins souls. And that is most assuredly outside the Beltway.

* Fred Phelps is NOT a Christian. If his name ever comes up in conversation please point that out. The heart of a Christian is not filled with hate. Though we abhor sin, we love the sinner. Phelps and his brood of vipers hate it all, including the sinner, and they have even taken that beyond the bounds of Christian sensibilities, good taste and sanity. Protesting military funerals, for fallen soldiers who aren’t even gay, as a means of claiming that “God hates fags” and thus is punishing our country by smiting even straight soldiers is not only decidedly un-Christian, it’s decidedly unhinged and the ravings of lunatics.

** There are a lot of politicians who identify themselves as Christians, but their voting record and personal lives call that claim into question. The most glaring are those “Christian” politicians who are pro-abortion.

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Written by Shawn

March 15, 2010 at 4:48 am

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