Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Bible and 2012 American Politics

While I try to be generally non-political, I acknowledge that there are some moral values, which cannot be held apart from what occurs in current politics. Abortion is without question an institution that we should seek to abolish, using all of our means; this must include a large political element. That said, the Bible does not explicitly endorse or encourage strong political involvement. Our allegiance, trust, fervor and zeal should be in the kingdom of God. As Jim Cymbala once stated in his life-changing sermon The Anointing of God, Paul lived in far worse political conditions under Nero and Caligula who were far worse than we could reasonably imagine in the current American political scene, and he felt no need to mention politics beyond encouraging us to live peaceably in submission and prayer for our leaders.




This perspective does not seem to be common in the body of Christ, however. The current race for the Republican nomination seems filled with endorsements of candidates from the church on one side and speculation of conspiracy on the other. When I saw The 2012 Biblical Guide to Voting, I couldn't help but wonder if Christian publishers were beginning to use the Bible to create propaganda. I can imagine a publication that presented a balanced articulation of all sides of the major issues within a biblical context (The ESV Study Bible briefly attempts this in its the Ethics articles), but in the fervor of the current race, these kinds of publications strike me as treading a thin line, but this may be because I do not fit into an easy political mold.



On the other side of the issue I find the conspiracy theories related to Dominionism equally dangerous. The Daily Beast published an article that encourages speculation that Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann were involved in a Christian plot for national domination. When examining the Christian leaders in question on this specific issue, I find them innocent of attempting to establish a theocracy and many of them stated as much clearly. For those concerned about Dominionism I highly recommend the following posts from Gentle Wisdom:

 Dominionismism: A Conspiracy Theory Unmasked

Francis Schaeffer was Not a Dominionist

Peter Wagner Isn't a Dominionist Either

The result unfortunately is that Christianity is made to look like a political chip, a source of fear-mongering, a power hungry religion, a violent war-mongering religion. The image of the Bible and Christianity that gets projected into the political realm is often closer to fundamental Islam than to a revelation of Jesus Christ.

All of us who read the Bible as Holy Scripture cannot help but have our politics affected. My beliefs on some political issues have turned a 180 over the last few years as a result of the study of scripture, but we must be careful to distinguish between the sacred and the secular, the holy and the profane. In addition, we should not allow our political agendas be ruled by fear. The Bible does not provide for a fearful, frenzied response to political issues or losses. We can trust God to care for us and be faithful to us regardless of the atmosphere. Our lives in Christ can be just as rich under either party.

 Let us seek to spark a spiritual and moral revolution in every aspect of society, but don't let us cheapen the values we hold dear to add divine authority to political opinions, candidates or causes. Let the fruit of the Spirit control us as we represent Christ in our political convictions. Let us present them as we find them motivated by love, always rejoicing in the blessings God has given us regarding our political situation. Let us suffer long for a noble and Christlike pursuit of societal change. Let us endure wrong. Let us emphasize the kindness and goodness of God in His desire to change our politics. Let us be faithful to His character in our own desire to change it. Let us be gentle with people in spite of the moral depravity around us. Let us be in control. The Word and the Spirit agree on these things and the fact that we are to represent God's character here on the earth is far clearer than a mandate to represent God's interests in the political sphere. Let us tread carefully.

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