Christianity and Politics


 

Well the elections season is moving into full swing.  We have the candidates for president of United States lined up on both sides.  The usual political process will ensue and someone will be elected.  Folks will vote for the candidates who to them seem to fit their views best.  This year more than ever candidate’s religious views seem to be at the forefront. You have candidates professing to believe in Jesus as Messiah but coming from all different perspectives.  Is the espousing the belief in Jesus as Messiah truth, or a way to try and garner votes.  The balance of truth is somehow in the middle.  However, it does point to the fact that in the United States, those professing to be Christian do make of a good portion of the electorate.

      In viewing the political scene, it has been easy to develop a cynical view of how things operate in this country.  When one really analyzes both political parties, truth and error can be found in both.  Sometimes it seems like where the parties ultimately compromise is some position at the expense of the truth.  On the side of the Democratic Party, the truth they hold to is the looking out for the poor and disadvantaged. They hold to the importance of reaching out to those who cannot do so on their own.  One of the negatives of the party is that they emphasize individual choice and press toward accommodation and tolerance in the name of treating everyone fairly.  In terms of the Republican Party, there is a solid stand for building strong social morality.  The negative side is there is an emphasis on looking out for self over others.  Now, granted those characterizations are generalizations and the actual dynamics are far more complicated. It does break down to both sides standing for things that are true and that should be things a Christian values.  On the negative, they both present ways that self is elevated over others. No political party stands for the whole truth.

                So given this mix, what are Christian’s called to do regarding politics and the running of a country?  Christians are called to be salt and light to a culture.  However, as salt and light not just to be pointing out morality issues but ultimately be pointing the way to Jesus.  We are to stand for truth with the truth being found in Jesus.  We are to have the mindset of Colossians 3:1-2: Since then you have been raised with Christ set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  This is what God desires as well as Romans 13:1:  Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  We are consistently directed to submit to authority, however not at the expense of preaching the gospel.

                Now, that is not to say the Christians should not enter the political realm or be concerned with our government.  We are called to be salt and light, but we need to always be submitting to the King of Kings.  The Bible does show of people God put in positions of authority and called them to a specific task.  People like David, Daniel, Joseph, and Esther for example.  The Bible however, is also full of examples of people in power that become corrupted (Saul, Solomon) or are corrupt (Jeroboam, Ahab, Jezebel) but they always meet their judgment.  In this political process we don’t really know the true hearts of the men and women seeking office. Outward appearances can be deceiving, but regardless we can rest in knowing that those in authority are those God allows, to ultimately serve His purposes.

                However, the church in the United States of America currently seems obsessed with politics.  Part of the response to the cultural shifts in the sixties and seventies and essentially starting with the Ronald Reagan presidency was the formation of the “Christian Right” and a focus on Christians being involved with politics.   There are members and elements of the church that became obsessed with social morals and changing the society by passing what would be considered morally right laws. 

                This mindset came from the shifts that happened in the United States. Many Christians see the secularization of schools, the legalization of abortion and other societal ills as being a sign of the failure of the church to be salt and light.  Many out there even profess upcoming judgment on United States of America do to the lack of changing of moral laws.  The perspective is lost that change in laws will not change the hearts of people. We live in a day an age, that regardless of party, the focus on elevating the individual is emphasized.   The church in America has lost sight of the fact that true change comes not from political change through the establishment of law, but by changing hearts and minds of men and drawing others unto the Gospel.  We are always going to be looking after  our own interests.

                The most dangerous thing about politics is that it is about the acquisition of power.  As John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902), once said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” It is possible for people to start out with honorable intents and falter, much like Saul.  Even David, a man after God’s own heart, abused his power, committing murder.   Power is alluring.   Jesus was tempted with all power of all the kingdoms of the world, to turn his back on God’s plan.  So the problem with Christians entering into the political scene is the enticement of power to even do what would be considered “right” things, yet doing so as building own kingdom and not kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not political change or change in the laws of man.  The kingdom of God is people living in surrender to Jesus.

                In terms of how we view this political process, the expectations, the fears, and the hopes in regards to the candidates for office we need to surrender our will the Jesus.  God is in control. There may be no righteous candidate; all may head things in the direction of evil. If this is so, God is still in control.  Now there are many other aspects one can explore and there will be other articles examining elements of Christianity and politics.  In essence we need to submit to God and keep our thoughts not on this life, but on things of God.  We need to ask ourselves what do we care most about, political change or the true change of hearts and minds that comes through the Gospel. 

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4 Responses

  1. Hello Timothy. This is a very thought provoking article. I have some thoughts about this presidential race also.

    I think that a large number of Christians who wouldn’t have otherwise cast a vote in the upcoming election, will do so now because Sarah Palin has been added to the republican ticket. I think that many of them are secretly hoping that McCain will die while in office, and voila! We have an actual Christian president who is also a tongues speaking charismatic. I pray I am wrong about this, but from what I am seeing and hearing from other Christians, they are already talking about Mrs. Palin as though she were president.

    A vice president DOES NOT dictate policy. They are a figure-head unless the president dies. What can Sarah Palin do for the country as vice president that she cannot do as a private citizen or even as governor of Alaska? Pray for the president? But if Mr. McCain dies (if he is elected) while in office….

    I am reminded of the Israeli’s demand of Samuel that he petition God for a king over Israel, so they could be like other nations. God told Samuel that they had rejected Him as King, and to tell the people what life would be like under an earthly king. The people didn’t care. Their minds were on the things of this world. And so God ordained a pattern of “earthly kings” for His people.

    Yes, I will pray for whomever is elected president. But a Christian in the White House won’t matter one whit if the great majority of the country are practicing wickedness, and rejecting the Lord Jesus.

  2. Yes, I find your comments to be sound and what you describe is happening. At some point I am going to look further into and write about King Saul. I think there is parrallels going on, perhaps to Palin and may as a whole to Christians views of politics. Given McCain’s age, many see a real possibility in Palin having to step in at some point. Personally praying over her being picked as VP nominee I prayed about it and felt a sense from God that she “only looks good.” I am not going to get into anything else, but am not found of some of spiritual influences, but this blog is not a place for those speculations.

  3. I feel Sarah Palin is today’s Esther. “The Old Testament tale of Esther is one of a courageous, spiritual woman who, with the help of her cousin and the king of Persia himself, outwitted an evil man and saved her people.” You don’t have to wear your faith on your sleeve to be an infuence.

    In reading the articles..nothing was mentioned of John McCain’s faith. He is a born again Christian. Attends the North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona. His age? We need his maturity in government and That shouldn’t be an issue. God will sustain his health. This is a time when people of “Christian Faith” are needed in the leadership in our country. If we go back and read about the fore-fathers of this country, they relied on God’s guidence and showed their faith in God.

  4. The article had essentially to do with the whole of body politic. My comments, just my thougts on the matter. And yes I didn’t comment on mcCains faith.

    The more concerning question is the background of these individuals, George Bush professed Christianity and has helped push globalization, and push Isreal to a split Jerusalem plan.

    The point of the article, is there is no one “party” that centers on the truth of God and that ultimately we are all citizens of heaven. Please read the Myth of Christian nation for more thoughts on Christians and politics. Folks look for a political messiah when we needed the true Gospel, not political answers.

    I have heard the Esther comments several times. If she is a true woman of God called to serve in politics, then she is a Sarah and not a Esther, Debra or any other prior story.

    I am concerned ultimately about the religious backgrounds of both McCain and Palin as much as I am Obama. The have both been around those of the dominionist/third wave teachings. Now I cannot process to know their hearts, but the teaching been around is deceptive at a minimum.

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