Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Problem of Christian Politics

I am starting this blog in hopes of starting a conversation within the Christian community.

The issue that I want to explore in this blog and particularly during this election cycle is this: What is the role of the Christian in American politics and more specifically in American political parties?

We should establish up front what this blog will be:
This blog is my 100% best effort to produce well researched, true information to add to our discussion.
This blog is meant to be a conversation between Christians of all backgrounds, but everyone is welcome to participate regardless of faith, opinion, or background.

We should also talk about what this blog will not be:
This blog will never endorse a political party or candidate.
This blog will never allow the questioning of someone’s faith based on a political belief.
This blog will never exclude anyone who is genuinely interested of the subject at hand.

Why this topic?

One thing that I see in churches and in Christian relationships is how political beliefs and political party affiliation are driving wedges between Christians around our country. This is not something that is unique to a specific political party or to a specific church, but is an all-encompassing issue that I feel is not being addressed in the Christian community out of fear of backlash.

The colloquial wisdom says that polite conversation should never include religion or politics, and while we certainly have a dearth of social civility when we discuss these matters, I still feel that we need to examine these ideas as a Christian community. The church should be the safest place to bring issues of politics and religion under examination but we can’t because political ideology, affiliation, and identity have become a religion.

People are not able to separate their religious values from their political ones, because politics has become a false idol within the hearts, minds, and churches of many Christians. I have seen too many Christians try to fit their religious beliefs into their political beliefs, instead of forcing their politics to reflect their faith. I have seen too many Christian say that they are willing to support the lesser of two evils as long as it keeps the greater evil from winning. I have seen too many Christians tear down politicians who the bible says that they should be praying for (1 Timothy 2:2), respecting (Romans 13:7), and submitting to (Romans 13:1). I have seen too many Christians, within the same denomination, professing the same beliefs, have relationships damaged because their political conclusions were different. (see Matthew 18:6 and 1Corinthians 10:32-33)

Different political conclusions are not the issue, different political conclusions within a body of believers shows the strength and health of the group, instead it is the damage to faith and relationships that comes  from people choosing to value their political convictions above the convictions of their faith.

People put politics before faith for a very simple reason, our brains cannot differentiate between religious and political thought without training. If we look at studies on political participation, we find that the same areas of the brain light up during both political and religious discussion. Furthermore, there are studies that show correlations between different braincompositions and political party affiliation

The meanings of these two pieces of evidence are this: 1. our brains do not automatically distinguish between political and religious thought, and 2. our brains are designed for political diversity within an otherwise homogeneous group. If we accept both of these ideas as true then we must consciously train our minds to understand the differences between political and religious thought and discard any political leaning that does not match our faith. If we do not, our brains and our human nature will push us toward a political Christianity that is both a false religion and inherently exclusive to those who’s brain compositions correlate most strongly to our own.

This is where the danger comes. If we look at 1st Corinthians 12 the idea is very clear:

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.
15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another.26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.
27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

Yes, this even includes political beliefs.

My next post will be on the roles of God and Government in the Christian Life.


  1. I agree with your belief in theory. Unfortunately, I see too many unapologetic foundational violations of the Christian belief on one side of the political isle whose party members that are also Christian say, "Well I do not support that party stance" but will vote for one of that party's leaders who uphold that party stance. How does one justify that position from a Christian perspective? And I am guessing those on the other side of the isle will say the same about my stances. How does one reconcile being a Christian and voting for leaders who advocate for abortion or gay marriage?

    In regards to wedges being driven, I would not allow another person's beliefs to be the reason why I unfriend or break fellowship with another believer. Likewise, I would hope that other believers would feel the same towards me, my beliefs and our fellowship. In cases where fellowship has been broken, it was another Christian's derogatory words and name calling that was the cause. I believe you are correct. The body of Christ can not and should not act in this manner.

    I believe one important question to rise from this topic is that if you hear of or observe a Christian act unChristlike toward another Christian, are you willing to confront the abuser, even if that person is a friend of yours or someone with a similar belief system as yours? I believe the answer to that question represents the true strength of a particular church.

    1. Great questions! I intend to answer all of this in future posts so please keep with me.

      Thank you for your support on the idea about wedges being driven in the congregation, and while I believe that this issue is widespread, it's by no means universal. I am glad that you are standing beside those who hold to different views than you have.

      I love your last point. The only way that we can change is by being an active part of the solution

  2. Andy,

    Great topic! Some reading I have found helpful is that of Oss Guinness. His book, "The Call", while almost twenty years old, still addresses these topics. In one chapter, he discusses the politicization of Christianity in direct conflict with the necessary tension in one's faith. Quoting Guinness, "Called to be 'in' the world but 'not of it,' Christian engagement in politics should always be marked by tension between allegiance to Christ and identification with any party, movement, platform, or agenda. If that tension is ever lacking, if Christian identification with a political movement is so close that there is not any clear remainder, then the church has fallen for a particularly deadly captivity."

    Further on, "Christians have every right to be in the public square and every right to take the positions they have. That is not the problem. But to the degree that Christian activism in public life becomes a politicization of the church-an identification with political movements on either right or left WITHOUT CRITICAL TENSION-to that degree Christian activism will betray Christ and stoke the fires of its own and the church's rejection."

    Simply put, our allegiance and trust can never be put in earthly forms and kingdoms. No utopia will be achieved from any one nation, party, or establishment. There is only one Prince of Peace, and until His return, zealous hope in man is futile.

    Richard F.

    1. Great thoughts Richard. Love your input. I have not read Oss Guinness's book but I will definitely check it out.