September 28, 2009

Christian Politics and Witness

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:01 pm by Editorial Team

Determining the role of Christians within the sphere of government has been a tenuous and flawed relationship since the beginning. Throughout much of history, those who claim to follow Christ have often failed at creating a proper Christian influence on the governments of the world. So much so that one entirely questions whether Christians should even engage such a worldly system. And indeed, many of the early leaders of the religious movement I grew up in were of the opinion that Christians should have no participation beyond paying taxes.

I personally believe that as Christians, we must engage the political system, just as we are to engage and witness in every other sphere of society.  However, I have long been frustrated that people who claim the gospel of peace (of unity) fall in into the same bitter war of politics that the rest of our society has been sucked into, and I respect those Christians who abstain completely.

In order to engage the system, we first have to realize that no one political ideology has a monopoly on Christian principle.  All political ideologies have certain aspects that seem to agree with teachings of Jesus, but all ideologies also have conflicting points.  Republicans are not more “Christian” than Democrats, and neither is the opposite true.   And libertarianism, a rabid anti-government ideology, is not a more Christian solution either.  One cannot support the idea that Christians should only support any one particular political ideology.  Once we come to this understanding, we can begin to allow the gospel of peace to heal these divisions and teach us how to engage this system.

In order to determine a method of engaging this political system, we should examine the aspects that stand in stark contrast to the Christian witness.  The primary problem with our political system is the rabid demonization of those with differing viewpoints and the inability for those with differing viewpoints to occupy the same community and enter into a rational, respectful dialog about those beliefs.

This problem presents an incredible opportunity for Christian witness.  Could a Christian community be made up of a diverse group of political beliefs in which those people loved and respected each other in spite of their political opinions?  A community where these differing political ideologies were discussed and respected would be an incredible witness of a God where there is unity — neither Jew nor Greek, Democrat nor Libertarian, but only those who sought to preserve the Lord’s prayer on the night he was killed “that they may all be one.”

Our culture expects us to avoid fraternizing with those of different political persuasions and encourages us to demonize them.  Our witness is to show how the unity of Christ allows us to share and discuss how our faith impacts these views while respecting each other when we arrive at different conclusions.

However, in order to reach this vision of community and dialog, we must remember two things.  The first, is that we cannot claim a political monopoly on faith.  The second comes from the realization  that we’ve been bred and socialized with a deep-seated nationalism that affects everything about us, especially our faith.  The Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Medo-Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mayans, Chinese, British, and countless others were once powerful civilizations which are now but a speck on the timeline of history.  America has enjoyed incredible prosperity and power; however, one day, that too will come to an end.  The role of American government and politics is but a speck on the history of the world.  As the vision in Daniel suggests, there is an incredible kingdom on the horizon that will reign supreme over all worldly kingdoms.  It will last forever, and no power will be able to crush it.

America and it’s worldly political problems fade away in comparison to the eternal kingdom which we seek, in which a loving creator seeks to bring all things under his reign.  We seek a kingdom in which all of creation is groaning and yearning to be one with its creator.

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