Hi everyone, I recently had an encounter with a fellow brother who said that “Christian’s shouldn’t involve themselves with politics.” I was taken back by what he said. I do agree with him in certain aspects, I don’t think we should subscribe to a political party since God is not a Republican, nor Democrat. I do however believe that we need more true Christians involved within government because government makes the laws of the land and we should pray that a true Christian makes decisions regarding our laws. How can Christians share more effectively the need for more true Christian’s in politics and also share a biblical perspective on how we should view politics, especially during times when it feels like the church has been divided over these issues?
Have you heard of Summit Institute? About 3 yrs. ago, they hosted an interesting discussion on the Gospel and politics. I am attaching the link. Also, I am not endorsing everything that was said on the panel. I agree with some of the thoughts and disagree with some of the other thoughts. I’m just attaching it because it might give you some insight regarding your question.
Nick, thank you very much for your reply. I will take a look! God bless!
@CamKufner I think that this question is one every single one of us must answer for ourselves and that each new generation in each culture must answer afresh. As Lewis and Keller note below, Christianity teaches us what we ought to do - but not how. We need wisdom. We need to understand our culture and pray that the Lord give us wisdom to know how to use the talents and abilities He has given us. For some, like Daniel, that call ends up being political. For most of us, it is probably not - we must each understand our culture, our talents and be sensitive to God’s guidance.
Regarding brothers and sisters who disagree on politics, I think the key is that we engage with one another with gentleness and respect and do the same with our unbelieving friends. We must stand up for what we believe is right, but we should not let anything prevent us from extending the love of God to other people. I think if God’s grace is evident in our tone, posture and attitude, then we can pursue what we believe to be the right course of action.
I Peter 3:15-16 - But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
John Lennox’s book about Daniel may be relevant here since Daniel found himself as a politician of sorts within a pagan culture:
Please do ask follow up questions / continue the discussion. Christ be with you.
C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
The second thing to get clear is that Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political programme for applying “Do as you would be done by” to a particular society at a particular moment. It could not have. It is meant for all men at all times, and the particular programme which suited one place or time would not suit another. And, anyhow, that is not how Christianity works. When it tells you to feed the hungry it does not give you lessons in cookery. When it tells you to read the Scriptures it does not give you lessons in Hebrew and Greek, or even in English grammar. It was never intended to replace or supersede the ordinary human arts and sciences; it is rather a director which will set them all to the right jobs, and a source of energy which will give them all new life, if only they will put themselves at its disposal.
People say, “The Church ought to give us a lead.” That is true if they mean it in the right way, but false if the mean it in the wrong way. By the Church they ought to mean the whole body of practicing Christians. And when they say that the Church should give us a lead, they ought to mean that some Christians–those who happen to have the right talents – should be economists and statesmen, and that all economists and statesmen should be Christians, and that their whole efforts in politics and economics should be directed to putting “Do as you would be done by” in to action. If that happened, and if we others were really ready to take it, then we should find the Christian solution for our own social problems pretty quickly. But, of course, when they ask for a lead from the Church most people mean they want the clergy to put out a political programme. That is silly. The clergy are those particular people within the whole Church who have been specially trained and set aside to look after what concerns us as creatures who are going to live forever: and we are asking them to do a quite different job for which they have not been trained. The job is really on us, on the laymen. The application of Christian principles, say, to trade unionism and education, must come from Christian trade unionists and Christian schoolmasters; just as Christian literature comes from Christian novelists and dramatists–not from the bench of bishops getting together and trying to write plays and novels in their spare time.
Book Recommended by Tim Keller
I have not read this book, but it looks interesting. The reviews seem to indicate that the book does not go into quite as much detail as some would have liked, but rather considers the issue from a wider angle. Since Keller recommended it, I trust there are some thought provoking things contained within it at least.
What does this mean? It means that any simplistic Christian response to politics—the claim that we shouldn’t be involved in politics, or that we should “take back our country for Jesus”—is inadequate. In each society, time, and place, the form of political involvement has to be worked out differently, with the utmost faithfulness to the Scripture, but also the greatest sensitivity to culture, time, and place. This book is a great beginning.
What a great question, man. I literally was having this discussion, yesterday, with my wife. It’s a necessary one. To Sean’s point,
I would also echo Sean’s point:
I think the key is that we engage with one another with gentleness and respect and do the same with our unbelieving friends. We must stand up for what we believe is right, but we should not let anything prevent us from extending the love of God to other people.
With regard to actively engaging with the political system – at least, from the standpoint of the voter – I would think it unwise of followers of Jesus Christ to be in 100%, lockstep allegiance with any of the major political parties. While we may have our personal or political leanings, there should be the greater commitment to listen, collaborate, engage, and support the political system. We do this while also keeping in mind that the political system is not our ultimate hope or answer. Only Christ is. Politics is a process, structure and medium by which we can do much good as a society rather than much harm. Politics has its purpose and must be used accordingly and wisely. If that truth isn’t acknowledged and accepted, there is no real danger of being deceived into thinking that politics, policies, and politicians can provide the salvation for the nations. Again…only Christ can.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7
With that said, politics do matter because it informs policies which impact people. Although I ultimately trust in God’s sovereignty I also choose to engage in the political system, ie vote – not based on fear – but based on trust that ultimately, God remains in control.
Well said, Warner. Christ is where we place our hope, not in politicians, who, like us, will stand before God and will be judged. I find it disappointing as well that the church has gotten so divided over today’s political climate. It’s tough to even bring up because, like you said, everyone has their own political leanings, but we must make sure that we keep Christ at the center of our decisions, even politically. I think during times like these, and I believe wholeheartedly this is the end times, the church needs to stick together. God bless!
@CamKufner - I, like you, am a little taken aback by this idea. Did your friend mention why he thinks Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics? Would he consider himself a Christian or…?
Kathleen, thank you for your reply. Yes, my friend considers himself a Christian, and I consider him one as well because of the fruit he bears (Galatians 5:22-23). He said that we should stay away because of the controversy & arguing/debating. He did make a point that I agree with. I don’t think that Christians should pledge allegiance to any political party, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my own political leanings and I make sure Christ is at the center of that decision, but sometimes I’ll ask myself again & again if Christ would be okay with the policies I’m aligning myself with because he has changed my heart/mind before.
Good thought and post. What do you think was truly meant by the statement “Christians shouldn’t involve themselves in politics”? A better understanding of this perspective would help to respond more appropriately. However, without this understanding a short answer may be that:
By simply being in existence with others in humanity, politics cannot be escaped. If we look at the model that The Christ provided, He ascribed to the Kingdom of Heaven, adhered to the laws setup within man’s domain unless they attempted to exalt or assume power greater than God the Father, with which he quickly checked as noted in His encounter with Pilot telling Him he had the “power” to set Him free.
It was the religious “mega-church” of his day that greatly opposed Him. They wanted Him to overthrow Rome’s rule over them–which oddly enough was due to their choices to diverge from God’s instructions and covenant–based on their own politics and power to rule over the Jewish people or (congregations).
Rome simply wanted to know if He was a threat to their physical rule, or an enemy of Cesar and a threat his physical throne. If you recall by His very birth, men women and children were slaughtered in an effort to protect the current power and political structure. The largest religious organization was involved with the politics of their day in an covert operation to murder Him, legally. It could be hypothesized that the religious leaders leveraged the government to kill an innocent man, which is astounding.
Lastly, what credibility did they have to influence the government, it’s leaders, or at least their fellow citizens with which they lived among every day? Christ’s life and model had such an influence on the local government that they “found no fault” in Him in a public trial. I’m guessing your friend may be wrestling with the lack of Christian credibility amongst those so named, perhaps in the west, and the potential lack of the ability to influence the government or its leaders, resulting from behaviors seen and lives lived that may not have embodied the Christian tenants that are so frequently espoused by its practitioners. Does the indwelling of The Christ make a difference in the lives of its practitioners? In my humble opinion it offers one of the best chances in the years to come, if the Christ model is followed.
Ah, gotcha. And do you know if he would he extend that belief to voting in elections as a citizen, or does he just mean involved in the political parties/running for elected office?
I think what @Patrick_Harrell pointed out in his first point is important. As long as we live in community with other people, politics can’t be escaped. However, sadly, the political system itself can be massively corrupt, which does have the potential to ask for moral compromise on anyone looking to rise in the ranks of leadership. But I rarely ever think that that withdrawal is the way to go. What is most likely needed is MORE involvement to change the process. Are you both American, by the way? (I am assuming you are for some reason!)
Kathleen & Patrick, thank you both for your responses.
Patrick, thank you for that insight. Each point was very thought-provoking to me. God bless!
Kathleen, I’m not sure what he truly meant, but based on what I heard him say, and it may not be his true feelings, but I got the feeling that he is saying that Christians should not look into a life of public service in the political arena. I respectfully disagreed with him. I, myself, am not looking to get involved in politics. It would have to be something that God would have to tell me to go into, if it is his will/plan for my life. I think public service is an extraordinary career field and it can be rewarding if done for the right reasons/the right vision. To answer your other question, yes, I’m an American. Going back to my earlier point. I think public service is an extraordinary career field, even getting involved with ministry can be considered going into public service, in some respects. I personally believe in Christians running for public office and I would never he opposed to doing it myself, but it’s something God would have to want me to do. I believe he calls certain people into that line of work, but whatever he has planned for me is just as equally an honor to achieve his will for my life. Thank you for your insight, God bless!
Thanks so much for indulging my curiosity, @CamKufner! It shouldn’t surprise me that some people take this view, but I was intrigued and somewhat baffled… It also reminds me that I don’t pray for our elected officials near enough! It’s a tough place to be called.
I am guilty as well, I don’t pray for our elected officials as much as I should. I should probably be praying for them every day. God bless you, Kathleen!
I believe this is an important topic that needs to be addressed as it is something that we encounter nearly every day in the world. Our world has strayed from God and seems to affiliate more passionately with political parties than nearly any other group. Conversations about politics will happen in our lives and I believe these conversations can be seen as opportunities for us to share our faith.
In the United States, the Democratic Party has taken a strong stance in favor of abortion. Whenever I am brought into a conversation by my peers I point to Jeremiah 1:5, Psalms 139:13-16, Job 10:11-12, and Job 31:15 as to reasons why I generally cannot support the Democratic Party. They then assume I am a member of the Republican Party which provides an opportunity to explain Mark 12:14-17 and Romans 12:2. This has led to further conversations, interest and one baptism into the body of Christ.
I believe this approach can be replicated across the world and will bring more people to Christ. I have found that people in the US are tired of political party policy arguments because it comes down to opinions. In an amoral society, these arguments never end. However, the introduction of an absolute truth, a moral reasoning, when carefully explained has been welcomed in my experiences.
Rob, thank you for that response. I have had many people assume I’m a Republican as well because I stand so strong again the Democratic Party policies, but I’m also very critical of the Republican Party. I agree, our views should align with scripture and I believe that is a great way to share our faith, especially in a world that seems to want to discuss politics more and more. God bless you, Rob.