Christians…Politics…Uncertainty

21Feb08

I thought this would be a valuable thing to read if you were a part of our political discussions a couple of weeks ago. I think this article is well written and thought through. Here is a qoute,

“When I see the religous right and religious left lining up with the political right and political left, it makes me wonder where our faith really is–in the transforming power of Christ, or in 21st century American politics?”

Read the rest here…

“Why I Feel so Ambivalent about Politics”

Let me know what you think.

HT: Samuel Febres

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39 Responses to “Christians…Politics…Uncertainty”

  1. Agree that it is very well thought out. His thoughts are very well framed . I think that we want things to line up just right(no pun intended) . We want to have our ideas , theology be nice and tidy and fit with in the bounds of a certain party, church or group. The problem is it doesn’t ever seem to work out that way.

    Having said that , politics does play a role in our lives and as a follower of Christ it is only natural that I would want my view of how the world works to be projected in the elected officials that I vote for.

  2. Hey Billy, welcome.

    I think we would probably see pretty eye to eye on this. I do agree that my world view is how I will vote and what I would hope for in elected officials.

    The difference in what I think is being said in Ed’s post is that politics is the result, not the driving force. I think Christians find too much faith in politics as if it will cure all of the America’s ills. It won’t only God can. Those kinds of things can be legislated to some point, but they are not going to be fruitful without the intent and desires that can only come from our relationship with Jesus.

    So, politically I will be voting my faith. But I am not looking for my vote to take the place of the churches impact and influence on the Us or the world.

    Thanks for coming by and getting involved. Don’t be a stranger.

  3. “.But do not align yourself as though you are in either of these camps: You are an ally of neither. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is different from either–totally different.”

    This quote in the article reminded me of how often I’ve heard that we have to be on one side or the other. I’ve heard, been told rather patronizingly, that because I’m a Christian I think I am above either side.

    Who said I have to be on one side or the other in the first place? Who said ANY of us do? As Christians we often hear how we’re little puppets on Gods string. I can say the same about Political camps too…and those who follow.

    I want to vote MY conscience, not THEIR conscience. I do not have to conform to a side because that’s what I’m being expected to do.

    When I go to a restaurant and they serve me the most popular dish that “everyone” loves to eat and there are bell peppers and chili’s in it, I take them out. i customize it to my liking. I’m free to do that. I don’t force myself to consume it because that’s what they serve me and tell me I should like just because everyone else does.

    I find it hard to believe that every supporter of either side is totally sold on that persons convictions and policies. So why do we play along?

    Sorry B, this is scattered…

    Need. Coffee.

    hint-hint!

  4. Yea, I agree . It is much easier to let the government take care of “things”. It is easier to talk about it, cast a vote and then become angry about how it is turning out. It is much different to actually be involved in the “mess”.

    Thanks for the invite!

  5. Ya Billy, and we see how well the government has done πŸ™‚ A part from that, we end up putting faith into and organization that may have nothing to so with our “Faith”.

    How’s your coffee Tam…

  6. 1st, before I read it: I love the title. It is so me, after dropping the opening word “Why” of course.

  7. Haha!

    Anxious to hear your thoughts Ric.

  8. His quote from Kellar book helps to put words to my frustration: “The North American ‘idol’–radical individualism–lies beneath both ideologies.”

    I think we rely too too much on the government to solve the problems with our society. We vote, pay taxes and then we do not become involved in social issues. To me that does not sound like the church… it sounds like the empire.

    I have not voted for some time now. My wife disagrees (kinda strongly πŸ˜‰ ) with me as do many others. When asked about this I have an opportunity to discuss some of these very issues.

  9. I have too often in the past been guilty of voting for, or against, someone because of the label they wore, left-wing, right-wing, conservative, liberal. What I should have been looking at is their record on the issues.

    It is wrong to vote for, or against someone, because of they believe, or don’t believe in God. What counts is does their record show that they agree with you on issues that are important to you.

    The public always gets a President who reflects, overall, the attitudes of the voters. If our politicians seem uncertain, it because so is the public.

    A democracy works best when citizens get involved in politics, even if that only means being an informed voter. Any disappointment with our elected leaders would be better directed at the public itself.

    It’s how citizens act in their daily lives that I think has more to do with shaping society than government legislation.

  10. “I think we rely too too much on the government to solve the problems with our society.”

    You are so right Ric. I think people(and more importantly Christians) see the election of the president as THE answer.

    “It’s how citizens act in their daily lives that I think has more to do with shaping society than government legislation.”

    Absolutely Ed. I think this is key. It isn’t the elected officials that should be doing the work, they are just the spokesperson. The reality to is that if Christians want to see our communities changed, this is the way to do it. Not politics.

    One thing though regarding this,

    “The public always gets a President who reflects, overall, the attitudes of the voters.”

    This is only happens if the public is as you say, “Informed”. When they just choose sides and vote that way, they don’t vote anything but hype. People need to get informed and vote according to what lines up with their ideals and morals…not according to their party.

  11. Piggybacking on Ed’s comments, I think we can do the most good by living as citizens of Christ’s kingdom (which is where our first loyalty should be, anyway). In practice, this means:

    Promoting social justice by being socially just (not discriminating against people on any basis)

    Promoting mercy by being merciful

    Promoting morality by being moral

    No politician of any party who wants to win will ever have an agenda that Jesus himself would endorse. As such, we must continue to think of ourselves as strangers in this world.

    Sorry Brent…i’m rambling again. πŸ™‚

    Regards,
    Odgie

  12. Odgie, if that’s rambling, please ramble more πŸ™‚

    Let’s not just speak the Words of Jesus, let’s live the words of Jesus!

    Tam, I know you were concerned that i passed you over πŸ™‚

    “I find it hard to believe that every supporter of either side is totally sold on that persons convictions and policies. So why do we play along?”

    That’s what scares me in the way we now do politics. We get all hyped up over a candidate or party and we are no longer concerned of the issues. I just want leaders that aren’t going to destroy our country whether fiscally or morally. I will vote for that and I will do my part in taking care of the people of the country. That’s not the governments job. They are there to facilitate us in caring for those around us. More importantly, the church is there to do this and until we step up, the government will continue to try and do our job…poorly I might add.

  13. (my brother ric booth said I should stop by here…)

    Odgie – You may have heard of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

    “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
    where there is injury, pardon;
    where there is doubt, faith;
    where there is despair, hope;
    where there is darkness, light;
    where there is sadness, joy;

    O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood as to understand;
    to be loved as to love.

    For it is in giving that we receive;
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

    As for me, I haven’t voted in 16 years. As a believer, I intentionally do not vote – for many of the reasons/frustrations that have been expressed by the responders here.

    I’ve recently become acquainted with the idea of the “Christian Anarchist” – based on the writings of the French Theologian, Jacques Ellul. Here’s a quote from Ellul:

    “What seems to be one of the disasters of our time is that we all appear to agree that the nation-state is the norm. […] Whether the state be Marxist or capitalist, it makes no difference. The dominant ideology is that of sovereignty.”

    To oversimplify – as Believers we do not really need government to tell us what to do, we have a much higher authority. Nor should we rely on government to do the work which we are called to do.

    That said – I’m REALLY excited that Barack Obama is turning the political world upside down. (I last voted for Ross Perot…). I am amazed that our country is moving toward electing a black man as president.

    Fortunately, I never let my voter registration lapse…

    – Badguy

  14. One more thing – I was more than mildly bemused when Nancy Reagan came out in support of stem cell research. The irony was profound…

    B

  15. It seems to me that the people of this country do depend too much on the government to correct the wrongs they have self inflicted…my take on this is –

    While I pray for mercy and wisdom for our leaders, and for this country and for my vote to be what HE wants it to be…I am also aware of how much God has been taken out of our country (or at least they think they can make HIM leave), and all the talk about no need for God, yet It appears to me that people treat the governement like they are selecting a god to deliver them, and to right the wrongs…if it doesn’t move on my heart soon, I will probably have a write in ballot, vote for God!

  16. b4dguy, welcome! anyone with any relation to Ric, is always welcome here πŸ™‚

    I haven’t heard of this Christian Anarchist idea. Interesting. I’d be curious what you think of evangelical churches teachings to pray and support leaders, as God has placed them there. This is a belief and one that is Biblically based, but obviously doctrines ebb and flow on that idea.

    “I was more than mildly bemused when Nancy Reagan came out in support of stem cell research. The irony was profound…”

    I think if conservatives looked back at Ronald as well, they would be pretty surprised to see who they hold in high regard. The one thing I do like about this statement, is that there seems to be a move towards parties adjusting their stance. In other words, there is evidence that the parties stance will be less and less an issue compared to the actual candidates. I would like that. Seems to take the emphasis off the party and back on to the candidate.

    Darla, I agree with you. Too much dependence on others takes us and our beliefs out of the picture.

    Also, God doesn’t force himself on us, we either display His glory here, or not. Seems to me we have a chance to display His glory and welcome Him in anytime we decide. we’ve got some work to do.

  17. The Bible does speak of praying for Kings and those in authority (I Tim. 2:1-2) and that we are submit to the governing authorities (Roms 13:1). Apart from that, I see no Biblical basis for supporting our system of government – including voting – or otherwise participating in the process.

    I stopped attending a church many years ago after the pastor said from the pulpit, “I can’t tell you who to vote for…but you know who I am voting for.” (It was 1984). Aside from that, I’m not really sure what Evangelical churches are teaching these days.

    I don’t really see how a Christian can be a member of either major party these days. Neither party represents the values that Jesus spoke about. As an American – sure, no problem. As a Christian…it’s not all that clear.

    I think you commented in another post about your belief that founders of the country were God fearing men. I have to disagree with this assertion. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence was a slave owner – except one. They were all wealthy landowners that wanted to control taxation, but more importantly wanted to erase huge debts they owed to British investors.

    I ask you, as a Christian, when would you take up arms and start killing people because you’re paying too many taxes? I hope that would be pretty far down the list of ‘just’ causes for taking a human life.

    I’m just throwing this out for thoughts/comments. I’ve lived my entire life within a stones throw of Washington, D.C. so I’m pretty jaded about the whole political scene.

    (I’m still excited about Obama, though – I don’t know why – but he seems to be turning the political machine upside down).

    B

  18. I’m not really a party (politically speaking) guy myself. I agree that neither truly represents what Jesus spoke of, but people can and I am placing my support in those I think model this to the best of their ability.

    As to my comments on Godly men involved in starting our country. i still believe that, but I am not a history scholar. I have a friend who is and he has some pretty profound knowledge on that history in our country.

    I don’t claim to understand slavery and what it was or wasn’t but I do know that some were more hired help than slave. it would be interesting to understand that aspect of it. This does not imply my agreement with anything regarding that aspect of history.

    I live about as far as we can in our country from Washington and I tend to have a jaded opinion as well, so no worries there πŸ™‚

    I haven’t seen what people are saying about Obama. I understand that many are really excited about who he is and who he may become, but I am a little indifferent about it. I am sure he could be a great leader. I don’t really see a “turning upside down” as you do though, but time will tell. Right now, I see a lot of candidating and I tend to be a little more pessimistic and realist when it comes to all the “words” i hear during this time.

  19. I’m not trying to be the one to burst your bubble, but the founding fathers were anything but Godly (some were, but not all). I’m curious, does your friend believe they were? (I couldn’t tell from your statement)

    I can understand living on the west coast how one might not be familiar with the workings of slavery in this country. I live on land that was bought and sold with barrels of tobacco and slaves (read: human beings) as payment.
    Slavery existed in this country from the beginning as well as indentured servitude. Basically this meant that someone would pay your way over to the new country, and in exchange you worked for them for 5-7 years to pay them back. Slaves were out and out property. Here’s an interesting historical tidbit: originally the law determined whether someone was born free or not based on who was the father. They changed that law because too many slaveholders ended up fathering children of slave women (now how did that happen???). From then on, the status of the mother was the deciding factor.

    I’m sure you’ve heard of the emancipation proclamation. Did you know that this legislation ONLY freed the slaves in the southern states? (trivia – which state was not included?)

    I’m sure you don’t agree with slavery in this country; my goal is merely to enlighten.

    When I said, “turning upside down” I meant more from the perspective that we might actually have a black man running the country – not whether he’ll do a really great job or not. I’m extremely skeptical that any one person can turn this ship around. I’m also giddy that he’s got Clinton on the ropes – that’s just fun to watch for the pure entertainment value. I am amazed that this country is actually voting for him – north, south, midwest, and west – it’s truly amazing.

    Maybe I’ll blog about slavery – it is, after all, black history month…

  20. 20 Jason

    It seems as though once we begin saying who is godly and who is not based on their deeds, the bible is sufficiently clear that we are all on outer darkness avenue.

    There is no mortal sin in Protestantism apart from the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit, whatever that means.

    we don’t need more rules or different varieties of legalism.

  21. Jason, so you’re saying that the founding fathers were Christians – even though they committed heinous sins against mankind?

    I guess the real question is does godly equate to saved?

  22. I am not going to answer for Jason, but I agree that we can’t say whether one was or wasn’t. The reality is that out salvation is not based on anything we can or could do, only on the blood of Jesus. So it is possible even in the midst of sin, that all of these men were Godly Christians.

    I however never meant to say they “all” were, only that there were Godly men involved. I still believe that based on the morals and principles they st forward. Although I disagree with many of the practices they held.

    And you are right b4dguy. Living on the west coast, we are a bit sheltered to the “racism” thing. Of course I lived in Oakland for a while, so I heard about it, but never truly experienced true racism. To go farther, my life in general has been sheltered from it, because of the loving household I grew up in. I don’t understand racism from any angle. It is very selfish and confusing to me.

    I for one would be interested in reading post on slavery. would be enlightening.

  23. 23 Jason

    I am not saying that they were or weren’t. You are.

  24. I (ahem) agree with Jason. We can’t always precisely determine where a person is with God based upon there actions. There is all that talk about the ‘fruit’ but who among displays nothing but good fruit?

    But slavery was a heinous institution that in no way can be rationalized away as being in keeping with the Gospel. Looking at the founders as individuals, with concerns, fears and struggles that we may never know about, we should refrain from passing judgment. But I think it is safe to say that the establishment that they created, although brilliant and enduring, missed more than a few “Christian” marks.

    BTW – I just heard sad news (for me, anyway). William F. Buckley just died.

  25. NO, I’m not saying that at all.

    I said they were “anything but godly.” I agree that based on their actions alone we can’t tell whether they were saved or not.

    I also said that we should probably agree on what the term ‘godly’ means before proceeding. Sorry if that wasn’t explicit enough.

    So, before proceeding any further can someone throw out a definition of the term ‘godly’ (ugh – that’s probably a rabbit hole unto itself). inWorship suggested it has something to do with “morals and principles”. My question was (and is) does it equate [in anybody’s mind] to being saved?

    If godly == [good] morals and principles then I would continue to disagree that a slave-owner could be construed as being godly.

    If godly == saved then I agree with all that slave-ownership (or any sin behavior) is not an indicator of whether one is godly or not.

  26. Don’t ask me. Personally, whenever I hear someone described as being ‘godly’ by another I get chills. Maybe this isn’t fair, but to me it seems in making this assessment some to consider themselves ‘godly’ as well.

    So, I would have to agree with Bad – in many ways these men were ‘godly’ but in many others they were ‘devils’. The criteria is so firmly bedded in our own personal world views. Some look for piety and study, others look for sacrifice, others place chastity high on the list. Can a person who exhibits all those characteristics, yet still is enmeshed in less ‘visible’ sins such as usery or envy or pride safely be called godly? Why bother at making this distinction at all?

  27. I guess I should rephrase πŸ™‚

    My point was to not classify them to some degree, but instead to point out that some men that helped build our country would be considered practicing Christians…

  28. True – but what were they practicing? Religion? Or were they following Christ? And if they were following Christ (and likely some were) where is that scandalous behavior that we would expect to see, in regards to justice? As William Wilberforce across the pond so ably demonstrated.

  29. I think it was both. Look at what happened in our country. People sought slavery and fought against it. People sought justice and imprisoned. I think it was both.

    As to who was what…I will never claim to know.

  30. Ah, but that fruit. What kind of fruit is that which is represented by a commitment to slavery? I know many of the founders, while still owning slaves, regretted the fact. Some were even outspokenly against it. It was not a simple issue.

    But what of those who placed commerce, wealth and profit above the freedoms of their fellow men and women?

  31. Like I said, I think both “kinds” were there. Many good and bad decisions (in my opinion) were made.

    By the way, I think there were those who made “Wilberforce” style stands. Slavery was ended and their were many that could not continue to live as you say, “in regret”.

    I don’t think it was much different than now. A machine, designed for one purpose. To protect itself. That inherently leaves out the options of justice…although it is in there…

    Kind of maddening, isn’t it.

  32. Just to clarify, I am no trying to compare others with Wilberforce, I am just saying that I believe there are those with his ability and thinking and some have done something about it.

  33. True, true. But I’m not talking about whether someone is ‘saved’ or ‘unsaved’. Undoubtedly some of these men had the right idea concerning this issue, the idea that it was in complete opposition to Jesus command to ‘do unto others…’.

    But slavery did not end, for another 75 years, and that was after the wartime deaths of over 600,000 soldiers and who knows how many slaves. Would you say that these men, who prolonged this heinous institution, were disciples of Christ?

    I’m not saying that we can ever earn salvation, but once we realize our salvation in Christ we should at least attempt to follow his teachings. Especially those that he said were the most important.

  34. I hear you Christian. Your last paragraph is well said,

    “I’m not saying that we can ever earn salvation, but once we realize our salvation in Christ we should at least attempt to follow his teachings. Especially those that he said were the most important.”

    Perspective…me saying, that some men who helped start this country would consider themselves Christian is no different than me saying, there are some in the government today they consider themselves Christians.

    I think all kinds of beliefs and levels of living out those beliefs were present, but it seems we missed an opportunity, to truly display Jesus to the world, in the forming of this country.

    Of course, we as individuals right now can make a mark and so I will do my best. As I am sure you will as well.

  35. Gotcha. Agreed.

  36. I’m glad you guys have that all figured out!

    The ironic thing about Wilberforce is that in making the importation of slaves illegal there was created a new cash ‘crop’ in the United States. Namely, growing slaves to sell/trade became the norm. This made a bad situation worse for the majority of enslaved peoples in America.

    The Civil War was not primarily fought over slavery. Remember, the emancipation proclamation didn’t free all of the slaves – just those in southern states. It was certainly a factor, but the war was more about culture clashes between an industrial north and an agricultural south.

    Stay tuned for a blog on slavery….

  37. I think you are somewhat correct, Bad. The war was essentially fought over the right of states to secede, (which they actually have/had). The desire for secession came about because of those differences you mention, one of which is slavery.

    That being said, if those differences had not existed this excellent governmental system that we enjoy would not have come about. It was an accident of compromise.

    I await your blog.

  38. In the year 3535
    blogin’ bout my brother Clive
    lookin’ back at Rome II day
    called the great US of A
    who lived like… well like its all about US
    made laws and fences protecting their lusts
    they threw out food every day
    watching Ethiopia rot and decay
    Nero just fiddled in the land of the brave
    do you suppose I blogged, any were saved?

  39. Ric, I am glad your making us compare. We need to stop being so arrogant as a country and look at what we can do to help and not what we can do to hoard. We are in such a protect us mode, that we’ve lost site that there are others human beings around the world that deserve as much as we already have and waste. Not just goods, but time and ability as well.



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