Is the Church Failing Politically?

I posed this question to a fellow believer this weekend: If the American government is not restored religiously does this mean the Church has failed? Let me explain.

We were having a conversation about religion and politics. It was stated that America was founded on Christian principals and by Christian leaders. I agree. It was also stated that America needs to repent and to be restored to a Godly nation. I agree. So I clarified, I asked what the role of Christianity (or Christ) is in someone’s personal life? And we agreed to restore that individual to God-So that they can enter into a relationship with Christ.

What if that never happens in our American government? What if Christian leaders don’t make it into elected/appointed government leadership roles? The response I got was that then America would be worse off and stand in judgment! AGREED! At least in the spiritually. The response I got was that God would raise up Godly leaders. And once again it was re-stated that individuals need to reconcile to Christ and be saved. What if Godly leaders are not raised? Is that failure on God’s part? On the church’s? I think not. My friends thought differently.

Although I agree that individuals need to be reconciled, need to be saved, need to have the transformation that can only occur through Christ Jesus, what if that change never comes to fruition within American politics and leaderships? What if Christians constantly become the minority and pushed underground? The truth is that America is becoming secular and “turning away from God” I only put it in quotes because I am not so sure America was ever that Godly.

So I posed the question: If the American government is not restored religiously does this mean the Church has failed? Keep in mind that it is the role of the Christian to follow Christ-to help introduce individuals to Christ. It is the church’s role to change individuals! Not the government. Do I believe that Christians should not have a role in politics? NO! But I also do not believe that by not converting Congress that that somehow means failure on the part of the church.

Because take America out of the equation. What if we were Chinese or Middle Eastern or Russian? Would the calling that Christians have be any different? No. The culture would be different, the location would be different, our methods would be different-things would look different. But not the calling, not the Gospel message, not the task, not Christ.

And what happens over and over again to the church when it is given a taste of power? When Christianity was first legalized? When it gathered a military to fight against Jews and Muslims? When the Religious Right pulled the political puppet strings? Things were bad. People got hurt. People got lazy. Grace was cheapened. Religion was fashionable.

I think the day is coming when the American church will be restored to its “rightful” place: a position of humility. A position of persecution. A position of servanthood. Where Christianity is not popular, not worn like a badge of honor, not respected and where it is difficult to be a Christian. That day is already a reality for Christians in the Middle East, Russia, China, Muslim cultures, etc. And where is the church victorious? The church is growing in China and Russia. The Middle East is making martyrs out of Christians-heroes of the Christian faith. The blood of the saints is the seed of the church people! Lives are being transformed in the Middle East and in Muslim countries.

What say you?

-Durk-

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7 responses to “Is the Church Failing Politically?

  1. The way I see it, the best of the Church´s Political roles is no role at all.

    The Church may be right-wing, centrist, or even leftist in any country of the world, depending on your viewpoint, but through history, it has never come out looking very good when barging into politics.

    Derin says: Thanks for stopping by, reading and responding. I appreciate your thoughts. And quite frankly, I can’t disagree. I think that the church should not be silent on political issues. But the damage is often times considerable. THANKS!

  2. I have struggled with this very topic because I’m not sure how we are to handle certain injustices. I don’t think that we can legislate morality, so I don’t think that getting christina men and women into political offices can solve issues that are people’s personal choices. I read somewhere that we can make laws to encourage people not to murder, but we can’t make them love, we can make it illegal to cohabitate, but this will not make people lust less. And I agree with this.

    But what about injustices done to people who have no way to protect themselves. Many countres are hurting because of high tariffs, how can we deal with that? Many people are starving in countries because their corrupt governments will not allow aid to come in for them. What do we do about that? The easy way would be to do it through politics, with power, but is that the best way. We need to be about mercy and justice-meaning we need to help the people who are trampled on, but we also need to deal with the sytsems that do the trampling. So if the ones who are doing the trampling are the US governmetn, or the Congo government, or big corporations, how do we deal with this without using power. Power seems to be the best choice, but that’s not they choice that Jesus made, and power has historically corrupted the church.

    As far as “going back to the basics” of America, I don’t know how much our country was founded on Christian principles. A lot of the founding fathers were deists, and most of them were slave owners. I think there is some truth to the statement that our country was started through the conqueringn (is genocide or ethnic cleansing to strong of a statment) of Native Americans and through the enslavement of Africans. So I don’t know that we can say, lets go back to the ways of our founding fathers-because it gives the impression that they should be our moral teachers.

  3. In a true news account I recently heard about a town in which no men were allowed to have a hair below the collar of their shirt, a clean cut face with sideburns above the ear lobe, and no goatees. If they didn’t confirm they were threatened with recourse.

    Quiz

    Was this town in:
    A. Iran
    B. Burma
    C. Texas

    Answer C Texas. Now doesn’t that sound like a fun ‘Christian’ place to live? Dominant religious political power of any religion has only ever led to; human rights abuses, war mongering, the abandonment of the poor and needy to name a few.

    As a Christian what do I do with that?

    To be counter cultural in our response we:

    Endure silently and subversively, doing what’s right regardless of civil mandate.

    We build bridges where we can, knowing that often the bridge ends up getting burned from both ends.

    We embrace radical hope, hospitality, servant-hood, and radical justice.

    Focus on the hearts of those in our community that are broken, trampled, and abused regardless of government programs.

    Exercise our right to vote through the eyes of those that follow the ‘Golden Rule’.

    Derin says: Excellent thoughts David!

  4. Copy of a post on Jesus Creed, which is a copy of a posy by Greg Boyd.

    I’m doing something today I don’t recall ever having done; but enough do it to this site that I’m quite happy to bring a conversation over to this site. I’m copying this whole piece by Greg Boyd: I agree with many of his points (not all) and have been urging a similar idea that many are arguing for a “biblical” justice but they mean “US Constitution” by it — and then to make matters worse, they equate “kingdom” work with that sense of justice. Don’t get me wrong — I’m for rights and freedom but that is not what the Bible means by “justice/righteousness” (same word). Get out your concordance, look up the words and chart the meaning of this most vital of biblical words. I’ll get to kingdom in another series. Now to Boyd’s post.

    Here are my thoughts for the day on the topic of JUSTICE. People so often say things like: “The Bible calls us to stand for justice” and “We need to live out the biblical mandate to live out justice.” We will all nod our heads in agreement — including me. Justice. Yes and Amen!!!

    But here’s what I’m wondering:

    a) Do we need the Bible to tell us this in order to stand for justice? Don’t non-Christians also stand for justice? Don’t all decent people stand for justice? What’s uniquely biblical about this?

    b) What political mileage can you really get out of the Bible’s call to stand for justice? For example, the main criteria for justice today centers on political freedom and personal rights. But where in the Bible do we find any interest in these concerns? Yes, everyone is made in the image of God. But nowhere does the Bible talk about people having “inalienable rights” because of this. (This was an Enlightenment concept, not a Biblical one). In fact, when the idea of political freedom and personal rights first began to be seriously considered in the Enlightenment period, it was mainly Christians who opposed the idea! How can anyone support the idea that people should have a say in who governs them when the Bible clearly says that GOD ordains the authorities that be (Rom.13). It’s also interesting to realize that the same Bible that tells us God calls us to stand for justice is the Bible that endorses male domination, construes women to be property and encourages (in the OT) and allows for (in the NT) slavery!

    So honestly, can you really base a modern ethic of justice on the Bible?

    Now don’t get me wrong, I BELIEVE people have inalienable rights. I believe justice includes supporting equal rights for all and personal and political freedom. But I believe this because I’m an American, not because I’m a Christian.

    c) And third, what political disputes are solved by appealing to the biblical call to stand for justice? What’s the point of appealing to “biblical justice:”? Are there political opponents out there that stand AGAINST biblical justice? Is there an “Anti-Biblical Justice Party” out there? No. EVERYBODY stands for “justice,” they just define it and apply it differently. So everyone can appeal to the “biblical call for justice” for support, if they wanted to. Which means that appealing to the Bible’s call for justice may make us feel like our views have more authority, but it actually gets us nowhere.

    For example, I’ve recently gotten several mailings from left-wing Christian organizations asking me to stand with them for “biblical justice” and “peacemaking” by opposing the war in Iraq and calling on our government to pull our troops out now. Sounds righteous enough. Let’s march!!! But, on the other hand, one could argue that this move might prove to be the most unjust and war-encouraging thing we could possibly do! Sure, it would save U.S. lives, but why think U.S. lives count more than Iraqi lives — or even the lives of terrorists? So, in the name of standing for “biblical justice,” one could argue that our troops should stay as long as needed to ensure stability.

    Now, we could debate the merits of pulling out verses staying endlessly — as with most other political matters. Fine. But my point is that appealing to “biblical justice” to support our views won’t help the matter. To the contrary, it just invites the typical divisiveness of the world’s politics into the Church.

    So, it seems to me that trying to root your position in the “biblical call to stand for justice” is:

    a) somewhat disingenuous, since you would have stood for the “justice” position you believe in anyways;

    b) somewhat disingenuous, since the freedom and rights you’re standing for aren’t in the Bible; and

    c) very unhelpful, since everyone on all sides of the debate can make the exact same claim.

    I say let’s just come clean and let common decency define “justice” and govern politics. And in the meantime, how about we followers of Jesus get around to doing the one thing we’re supposed to be doing: imitating Jesus’ self-sacrificial love to all people and at all times.

    Whatever “justice” means, we’ll certain get it covered if we are aiming at replicating Calvary.

    Peace out

    Greg

  5. DB,
    The sooner you give up the dream that America is or ever was a “Christian nation” the sooner your life becomes much easier. It’s all a lie. I realized this during a history class at NTS where we actually studied history, rather than listening to revisionist history of the Religious Right. When were we ever a Christian nation? When were founded by a bunch of diests who conviently ignored the “self-evident” truth of liberty toward black slaves?
    I’m reading the book “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd, whom Brush referenced above. Boyd confirms a bunch of stuff I’d already been thinking. Great book.

  6. To Donnie’s comment I’d add an encouragement to read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Zinn writes of the people who were run over in the process of building America as we know it. It’s a sobering story, but one of those that leaves you thinking, “Oh, that’s why …” And you realize that the books designed to sell to school districts in all 50 states as history texts are going necessarily be non-controversial. They tell a feel-good story (The Rise of the American Nation) that omits most of the dark side of our history.

    But truth still sets us free, and opens the door to truly redemptive behavior.

    To David: Might be worth it to read Ron Sider’s comments on justice in the opening chapters of his book Just Generosity. Biblical justice is indeed something unique (much in the same way that Biblical shalom is living and active and different from our “peace.”) And a recovery of that view could be pretty wholesome as a corrective to our modern concept (which tends more toward punishment) and not disingenuous at all. It’s an uplifting read, and full of hope.

  7. The tragedy that comes to mind when I see this question is not what the church is doing to the nation, but what the church is doing to the church because of the nation.

    The church is mis-lead top to bottom because the passion of our leaders (not all, but many and certainly those with the loudest voices) is for politics and culture and not for encouraging true spiritual growth in their laity.

    I would expect my faith to inform my politics, but I now walk out when I hear politics from behind the pulpit.

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