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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Politics and Christianity

Cody Thomas recently posted this question:

Is it the responsibility of the Church to transform governments to follow our values (i.e. school prayer, abortion, the definition of marriage)? Or is it our responsibility to introduce people to Jesus who is the only one who can transform hearts?

I'm pretty sure that Cody has an answer in mind, and that it's the latter, but I decided that my response was worth a post of my own. So here's my response:

I think syndicated columnist (and conservative, and Christian) Cal Thomas [No relation to Cody, as far as I know.] put it well, in his column, “Religious Right, RIP,” which may be found here. He said that trying to influence culture through politics has been a failure for 30 years or more, and that what Christians ought to be doing is “introduce people to Jesus who is the only one who can transform hearts,” as you put it. He put it very much like that.

I also think that conservative Christians have been much too much entwined with Republican politics. Besides making it more difficult to reach those who are Democrats with the gospel of Christ, history tells us, over and over, that when the church is too close to the state, the church is the partner that loses its true identity in the partnership. This is not to say that Christians can’t vote Republican, of course, but that they should do so (or vote Democratic) carefully, prayerfully, and without expecting too much.

Thanks for reading.


Keetha said...

I'm so glad you posted this. All this flurry of Christians protesting has been bothering me for a long time.

It appears to me that when Christians go down the road of protest they look angry, harsh, and unloving.

I hear and see things that make me fear we are praying "at" our leaders instead of "for" them.

I think we forgot that God is supreme. It appears to me that we would be far better off to keep our hearts and lives pure before Him and put the course of history firmly in His all powerful and very capable hands.

Martin LaBar said...


I'm afraid "we" are too much influenced by Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, and too little by Jesus Christ and the Bible.

B Nettles said...

And yet we should not forget that God does use His people to influence politics to be favorable to His people and to work for the general welfare of all and for the protection of His people. Primary examples are Esther, Joseph, Daniel, Mishael, Azariah, and Hannaniah.

A Christian who is involved in politics should not dismantle his foundation of moral principle just because someone disagrees and accuses him of "trying to impose religion." Politics without principle is anarchy.

Martin LaBar said...

True, B. Nettles. Thanks for your balancing comment. We don't need to give up on influence through politics, but we shouldn't put our main efforts there, as some seem to have done.

One difference between the biblical characters you list, and some of the Religious Right (RR), is that all of these people were somehow commanded to do what they did by God. All of them were slaves, or at least members of a captive minority community. They knew that there were great dangers in what they did, at least at first -- probably not, after they achieved prominence, although Daniel visited the lions after he was quite prominent.

I'm sure that some of the RR has been led by God, and some have even put themselves in danger, but a lot of RR activity has been people merely following their own prejudices, and/or following right-wing "talking heads" or political leaders, more than it was obeying God's commands because they were God's commands.

Thanks again.