Monday, September 25, 2006

Christian Political Priorities

Joe Carter:

As a matter of political liberty I believe it is important that we support such issues as prayer in schools and public displays of religious symbols. But I can’t imagine that on the Day of Judgment I’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant…you have faithfully fought to keep the Ten Commandments in the courthouse.” More likely we’ll all be asked why we didn’t spend more time concerned about our neighbors in Darfur or fighting the pandemic of AIDS. Perhaps we should rethink our priorities and put the first things first.

17 comments:

Allan R. Bevere said...

Joe makes a great point. If fact, one could reasonably argue that in fighting the things he suggests, more people might be open to prayer in schools and the ten commandments on display in courthouses.

Dan Trabue said...

Speaking of priorities: What say the Methodists about the Methodist call to the President to withdraw troops?

John said...

I say nay. You?

John said...

Specifically, I say nay to the calling, not the actual withdraw of troops. The Church has no business dividing itself over political issues that Christians can legitimately disagree on.

Michael said...

James would certainly agree with these sentiments. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 NIV

Michael said...

James would certainly agree with Joe's sentiments. "Religion that God our Father accpets as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep onself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 NIV

Joel Thomas said...

John,

Many Christians said the same thing about segregation and slavery, that those were political issues on which there was great disagreement and thus the church should keep out.

The church should be careful about getting involved in partisan politics, but consider that the issue of abortion is also an issue about which many UM's disagree. If the UMC bishops or a signifcant segment of the UMC leadership said we ought to tighten our position against abortion, would you really contend that such is a political issue to avoid? I don't see that war is any more or less a political versus moral issue than abortion.

What makes an issue political to you rather than moral?

John said...

Hmm. Good point. I wouldn't want the UMC to shift its position on abortion. And it's a good thing that we stood up against slavery and racial discrimination (eventually).

I don't have a good formula.

Dan Trabue said...

I'd at least hope that we could agree that the local church has the freedom/responsibility to speak prophetically against oppression as we see evidenced frequently in scripture.

Other churches may disagree, but I'd hope we would recognize that each church has the obligation to speak that revelation of God that has been given to them.

Dan Trabue said...

Provided it has, of course, a sound biblical basis. I'd have to join my brothers and sisters in rebuking any church that called for the bombing of an orphanage, for instance, and called it "prophetic" when it is a clear departure from New Testament Christianity.

John said...

Dan, by your statement, do you mean to convey that the Old Testament is not an authoritative text for Christianity?

Dan Trabue said...

No, I love the OT. I'd love it if our gov't would even begin to live just by OT standards. As it stands, we're a far cry from OT standards and not even in the same universe as NT standards.

Still, as a Christian, I'm interpreting the OT based on the further revelation of God as revealed in the NT. You are too.

For example, in the OT, we were told to not eat shrimp or pork. In the NT, we received a new and improved teaching: Pork and shrimp are permissible! That's a direct conflict with the OT, if you choose to look at it that way. But we have had a more complete revelation of God through Jesus and the NT teachings.

Similarly, in the OT, we were told to take an eye for an eye (which was itself a decrease in violence from the traditions of the time - where someone losing an eye might result in an attack and destruction of a whole village - not unlike our attack on Iraq in response to the 3000 lives lost here). In the NT, we are given a better, more complete revelation of God. No longer are we to think in terms of an eye for an eye, but rather we are to turn the other cheek. Love our enemy. Overcome evil with good.

A long answer to a short question. The short answer is Yes, the OT is authoritative. BUT it's not the final word.

Now to my question: DO we agree that local churches ought to speak prophetically when called to do so? Even if doing such may cause division within the greater church body?

John said...

They have a right to speak prophetically, but God must be behind the words, not a person's own desire to express public policy views. Far too often, I see people abusing the historic office of prophet to claim that their political views are God's own. God deserves better than to be a prop.

John said...

Oh, example: Pat Robertson and his claims of "seeing" a Republican majority in 2008 and his vaguely menacing prayers for vacancies on the Supreme Court.

This guy has predicted disasters befalling America, yet they never happen, time and time again. Yet people still listen to him! With his fantastic record of bogus prophecies, he's as bad as an environmentalist.

Dan Trabue said...

Well, aren't we all generally hoping to speak truly prophetically and not merely voicing our politics and co-opting God to be our spokesperson?

I hear this complaint lobbed at perceived "liberals" often - that they're just making the bible fit their liberal ideals. Yet, I don't know of any "liberal" christians who didn't get to where we are except by way of the Word.

Most of my christian friends, myself included, were conservatives until we read the Bible and opened our hearts to God.

John said...

Sure, we'd all love to speak prophetically. But God alone decides if we are. We can't simply decide on our own to become a prophet; God must direct us to become one.

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, but it's not up to you to tell me or my church that we're not called.