Christians, Politics, and Culture

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With the amount of sleep I've been getting and the amount of work I should be doing in real life, I'm not really in condition to write much of substance, at least nothing extended. There are lots of things I would write about if circumstances were otherwise. I can plug Jollyblogger, though, flaggng some good stuff he's been writing tirelessly, perhaps even passing off some of my own thoughts as his in the process. (Hint: you have to read his posts if you want to see how much of this is an extension and not just a regurgitation of what he's been saying.)

He just keeps pounding out the posts on politics and Christianity. His last two posts are particularly noteworthy. First he argues against the dominant political motif Christians seem to want to use, seeing Christians as at war with the culture surrounding us. Christianity does involve a war, but it's not against flesh and blood. Those Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson see as the enemies are often just the victims of the enemy and would better be seen as the objects of Christian love. We don't judge, avoid, or go to war against unbelievers. We represent God to them as ambassadors, engaging with the world but with the goal of being the fragrance of Christ.

The most recent post continues the argument, diagnosing the problem facing Christians today as we try to interact politically.
the early church communicated the gospel to an unbelieving world through serving them and living out their faith in the context of real life. Christians tended to abandon the political sphere in the last century and withdraw from pretty much everything that would lead them to interact with nonbelievers. They only began to get interested again in the last couple decades. The kind of contact most nonbelievers had with them wasn't like the days of the early church, though. Instead of seeing believers living out their faith and serving those who were in need, Americans saw those who thought they could speak in the political and intellectual sphere without first winning the right to be heard by demonstrating with their lives that they really did have moral authority and by doing the hard work to establish themselves as serious intelectuals who were interested in contributing to the pursuit of deeper understanding for its own sake. They were instead seen as high-and-mighty bullies, expecting that others would care what these outsiders would have to say.

The consequence is fairly clear. Instead of speaking to a culture we're not in fact part of, we need to work ourselves into the world without becoming of it. As things stand, Christians have no voice but think they should talk anyway. I can think of more productive ways of interacting with nonbelievers to regain the foundation of influence that Christians need to have before they can try to influence the country for good. Pursuing a gay marriage amendment when the votes aren't there just marginalizes the Christian message even more than it already is. So much Christian political action is therefore just damaging to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It ignores our primary responsibility and even undermines it for the sake of something that is a good thing if the other stuff is already there.

2 Comments

Jeremy - I haven't self-consciously passed off any of your thoughts as my own in my posts, but I have read enough of your stuff and am in such agreement with you that I think we are walking in lock step on these things.

No, I was talking about my summary of your post. Some of it was your ideas in your post, and some of it was my expansion of it as I went. I was letting myself off the hook in case what I said didn't quite match up to what you said.

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