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The Scandal of Evangelical Politics…

February 20, 2008

4172pl0uvil__bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpgRon Sider has a new book (see excerpt here) that looks like an important read.  I also found this endorsement by Scot McKnight for the upcoming conference at Eastern University

After observing the divisiveness of the 2004 election season, even within Mennonite congregations, John Roth proposed that Mennonites take a 5-year sabbatical from political engagement.  I was a delegate to the general assembly in Charlotte 2005 when Roth and J. Darryl Byler shared differing perspectives on this topic.

This discussion has not diminished in importance.  Now, in The Scandal of Evangelical Politics, Sider makes a compelling case for why Christians should be engaged in politics.

The theological reason for political engagement is even more compelling. The central Christian confession is that Jesus is now Lord—Lord of the entire universe. The New Testament explicitly teaches that he is now “ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5). “All authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to the Risen Jesus (Matthew 28:18). Christians who know that must submit every corner of their lives to their wonderful Lord.

Since we live in democratic societies where we have the freedom to vote, our votes—or even our failure to vote—shape what happens in important areas of politics. If Christ is my Lord, if Christ desires the well-being of all, and if my vote has the potential to encourage political decisions that will promote the well-being of my neighbors, then the obligation to vote responsibly follows necessarily from my confession that Christ my Lord calls me to love my neighbor. One way Christ­ians must live out our belief that Christ is Lord, even of political life, is to think and pray for wisdom to act politically in ways that best reflect Christ our Lord.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2008 12:23 pm

    I have heard it said that when you mix religion and politics you get politics. I think sometimes Christians are more vocal about politics than they are about sharing their faith in Jesus Christ.
    Thank you for this post.
    I enjoy your blog.
    I hope you have a great week.

  2. just an apprentice permalink
    February 21, 2008 12:32 pm

    Thanks for stopping by. I think Christians who claim you can keep religion and politics separate, have not truly understood what it means to confess Jesus as Lord.

    To confess Jesus as Lord is to make declare allegiance to someone other than Caesar. This is an inherently political statement. It means I am choosing to follow Jesus and his way.

    When I say that Jesus is Lord of my life, that is not just some statement regarding the private realm of my personal life. I am saying that I recognize Jesus as Lord of all creation.

    How can we keep the implications of this confession out of the political arena. To attempt to do this is to make the Lordship of Jesus a private matter.

    Have a good week.

  3. pistolpete permalink
    February 22, 2008 4:07 pm

    Sounds like a great read. I’ll have to check it out.

  4. Chaplain Dale permalink
    July 3, 2010 1:58 pm

    Hello my brother in Christ,

    I have to do a reactionary report on your book. What concerns me about some of the religious right and people who claim to be Christians in the TEA PARTY is that these political views become racist and isolated only to a certain group of people with a selfish agenda and status. I have seem many men hide behind the viel of the Holiness of our Lord to get a political point across. Men did this doing slavery time. In fact men gave many reasons politically and even use Gods word out of context why slavery of African Americans was valid and should be suported. Like everything we must be very careful with the way we approach politics. For if it becomes more then the saving gospel of Christ then it is becoming a litle god to us. As stated in your book Jerry Falwell did not want preachers supporting the cilvil rights movement. But latter on he wanted people to get on the band wagon to get Reagan elected. Sometimes I do not think that these men are lights in the world and salt for they are fighting spiritual things with political carnal means. My view.
    So my conclusion as we are led by the Spirit of the living God just like the many men in the bible we should handle politics and political people as such.Daniel respected the government Babylon and its laws but did not bow down and pray to its gods fo rhe continue to pray to his true God of Isarael. Jesus said render to Ceasor what belongs to Ceasor. But give to God what is owe to God.
    For this is the only way we will be victorious in a dark world with its selfish political agendas to obey God and that is with an humble and pure heart in Christ Jesus and not a political one. We must be wise as serpent and gentle as doves. Ready to stand in the faith in season and out. Love never fails. Blessings and Peace

  5. Elizabeth permalink
    August 19, 2010 10:14 pm

    I have to agree with Apprentice to some existent. Our Lord is GOD of all creation. Get over it. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto GOD what is GOD’s.

    I have a personal saying that covers this argument very nicely, “I answer to no law of men or beasts, for the Law of GOD is written on my heart and I am HIS alone.”
    By this I mean that as Christians we are called to live to a higher standard, that is GOD’s standard. We are all weak and sinful, but with GOD’s help we get better at it.

    Yet I must also agree with the Chaplin who said, “For this is the only way we will be victorious in a dark world with its selfish political agendas to obey God and that is with an humble and pure heart in Christ Jesus and not a political one. We must be wise as serpent and gentle as doves. Ready to stand in the faith, in season and out. Love never fails. ”

    We should never use the word of Our LORD to oppress. We must indeed be; “We must be wise as serpent and gentle as doves.”

    To this I must add something I found, Luke 12:49-51:

    49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

    50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!

    51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!

    I honestly believe the fire HE speaks of here is the fire of Judgment. We must remember that Judgment is GOD’s and HIS alone. However we must be willing to stand up and defend Our faith, with the weapons HE gave us, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of GOD and Faith as our shield.
    To quote my one of my prayer cards “Father we take up Faith as a shield which is able to put out all the fiery darts of the enemy and the sword of the Spirit which is your word O’Lord.”
    Yet to this I must add a warning in the word’s of St. Thomas Aquines, “The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the (unbelievers) if any (Christian), not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.” Do note I have changed some words this being necessary to update the meaning of the quote.

    The same thing happens when one who professes the name of Our Lord is (him/her) self a fool, or worse a Sophomore, this word actually means wise fool. Because (he/she) is wise in (his/her) own eyes for having just learn something and fails to see that (he/she) has not yet learned enough to be an expert in their studies.

    (please note this is the right place for this comment I had to many windows open and accidently posted this comment on another article as well.)

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