Five Statements about Politics That Are Obviously True


I do a fair amount of reading about how Christian faith should shape a Christian’s involvement in politics. Based on my reading, I’ve come to five conclusions that I think are obviously true.

  1. God is not a Republican.
  2. Jesus is not a Democrat.
  3. The Holy Spirit is not a moderate.
  4. The church in America exists to make better Christians, not better Americans.
  5. America is not the kingdom of God.

What do you think?

26 thoughts on “Five Statements about Politics That Are Obviously True

  1. Couldnt agree more. Well said. It shouldn’t be about labels or territories but instead love and action.

  2. While I agree that the church does not exist to make better Americans, I’m not sure “making better Christians” is the best statement of the church’s purpose . . . it’s about making disciples, more and better.

  3. Very profound, George. Let me ask, in your opinion, which political stereotype, conservative or liberal, is more susceptible to the type of incorrect conclusions you have described?

  4. Conservatives are more susceptible to 1, 4, and 5; liberals to 2 and 3.

    Interestingly, however, the Social Gospel could fairly be accused of being susceptible to 4and 5 too. EdwardBellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance, was a Christian Socialist.

    At the present time, I’m noticing books like God’s Politics by Jim Wallis and Red-letter Christians by Tony Campolo, which seem to me to violate 2.

  5. Derek:

    I’m wondering whether I misread your question, so let me take another shot at an answer.

    I’m a Christian, an American, and a conservative Republican (with a significant libertarian streak, I might add).

    I am more than ready to call “foul” on my fellow Christians across the aisle who use the gospel for their political ends.

    However, I’ve always been very self-critical, tending to see the weaknesses in my own positions just as much as I see the weaknesses in others.

    I think this self-criticality is evident in my list. Items 1,4, and 5 apply more to people on the starboard side of American politics. Items 2 and 3 apply to those on the portward side.

    So, I’d have to say that my criticisms are more directed at my fellow conservatives than at liberals.

    I would only qualify this by saying that in times past, Christian progressives were just as likely to make mistakes that Christian conservatives are making now, namely, a confusion of gospel mission and politics. The examples of Francis Bellamy, Walter Rauschenbusch, and other Social Gospelers are instructive in this matter.

    Indeed, it is something of an irony that Christian conservatives, in their political activism, may be making the same mistakes as earlier generations of Christian progressives did, leading to the gospel irrelevance of so much of mainline Christianity.

    George

    1. When I look at many, if not all, of the issues we deal with in our lives, such as pro-life, gov’t size, ethics and accountability of leaders, taxes, rights vs opportunities, money, etc, I can only see God as a conservative! By today’s definitions, liberals and progressives in the church, especially in the A/G, make me very nervous – so to speak. Where I’ve seen problems in the church, it’s often where a liberal bends or breaks a rule, instead of applying the Golden Rule. Ex: Rick Warren’s letter to pastors re inquisition and/or expulsion for those who ask too many questions and cause “trouble.”

      While there’s plenty of criticism to go around, I’ll feel much safer trusting a true conservative – who (in my opinion) is more likely to be fair & truthful, and less likely to be crafty, use rules to their advantage, etc, as would a liberal or progressive. And I’ve neglected anything about doctrine!

      Jesus was a radical, shook things up, asked many questions, put His finger of truth on hypocrisy, and challenged authority. But then, of course, He was on the right side of the argument.

    1. George:

      I wish everyone was using your book . . . the reality is, there are many Christians being made in churches that are not disciples . . . at least not disciples of Jesus.

      I know I was splitting hairs re. your original post.

      Homer

  6. #3 was thrown in there just to complete the Trinity so that one doesn’t really even count. And your observations of Wallis and Campolo notwithstanding, I think the stereotype that conservatives claim that God is a Republican is much more pervasive than that of liberals claiming he is a Democrat. So just as I suspected, this was yet another dig on conservatives.

    I am kind of disappointed that you would take your self-criticality and then redirect it as some kind of caricature of fellow conservatives. That doesn’t seem fair.

    But really, this is just a small example of what I think is really going on within the broader national discourse. Those who opppose conservatism, whether politically or theologically, have succeeded in perpetuating these false portrayals of conservatives as hillbillies, bigots, homophobes, etc, etc in an effort to undermine their positions. Conservatives in too many cases have fallen for it. Those overcome by guilt or motivated by approval from the other side feel compelled to apologize for things they were never even guilty of in the first place. It’s political correctness run amok.

    Derek

    1. Derek,

      You just don’t seem to be a happy guy in these posts, which only hardens categories about conservatives. 🙂

      (Okay, please don’t ignore the smiley face or the light spirit in which that was delivered.)

      At any rate, I am a conservative who happily agrees with George’s assessment. Politically, I am a conservative far more than a liberal. I can have those conversations all day long.

      My life as a Christian has a different allegiance. My role as a pastor carries that allegiance, and not the agenda of any political party OR political ideology. For instance, I insist that my congregation vote, but I will not allow any “voter guides” in my church. I also have people in my church who are “for” the war in Iraq and those who are “against” the war in Iraq. We carry different political ideologies and we still manage to worship as believers in Christ.

      My liberal Christian friends truly need to be reminded that America is not the Kingdom of God, so quit trying to make the government provide everything! But as conservatives, we need these reminders (like from George) that Jesus isn’t a Republican or Democrat. God did not step off the throne when the judge in Wisconsin ruled against a National Day of Prayer, and my freedoms are still in tact (as a believer in Jesus Christ) even if Barack Obama is in the White House.

      1. Rest assured, I am a happy guy. George is a good sport for putting up with my diatribes. 🙂

    2. I totally agree. Thanks for the good words.

      A real conservative is uncompromising, having examined himself to see if his beliefs line up squarely with the Word, resting in the fact that he is where God wants him, and ready to stand up for what he believes.

  7. I would throw liberals into five with no hesitation. The early social gospel perhaps, but especially Niebuhr and to an extent Tillich solidified the liberal connection to America as a harbinger of peace, freedom and justice. We Episcopalians after all did build “The” National Cathedral.

  8. Derek:

    You are my most prolific commenter. I don’t “put up” with your “diatribes”; I look forward to them.

    The third statement was not thrown in to round out mention of the members of the Trinity. Instead, it was meant to counter a sentiment I often hear from politicians that religion and spirituality should be unifying, not dividing forces. I don’t know what “religion” or form of “spirituality” those people are talking about because the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and Jesus to speak in extreme terms against the injustices of their days, and even to take extreme action. Just think what a ruckus Billy Graham would’ve caused had he attempted to cleanse Riverside Church back in the 1950s!

    The reason I included “God is not a Republican” is because I cannot count the number of times I have heard fellow Christians say — without humor or hint of irony — that they don’t know how a Christian could be or vote for a Democrat. Conservative Christians routinely think this was and is a Christian nation (witness the advocacy of WallBuilders or the enduring popularity of Marshall and Manuel’s “The Light and the Glory”).

    Given these realities, statement 1 was not another dig at conservatives as much as it was a restatement of a critically important theological point. Indeed, it seems to me that the confusion of theological and political conservativism is present within your own comments here.

    My self-criticality is not a caricature, then, of other conservatives. It is a criticism based on what I have seen, heard, and read during the course of my ministry.

    As for 4 and 5, some of the most heated arguments I have seen in church centered on — I kid you not — criticism of not flying the American flag or recognizing veterans on Memorial and Veterans Day. I cannot understand why Christians would even argue over such things unless, of course, some version of 4 or 5 is operating in the background as an assumption.

    In sum, I think my five statements are needful corrections of real tendencies that I have observed, especially within my tribe of Christians who are politically conservative.

    One more thing: We speak of conservatism as if it were one thing, but in reality it is a fusion of many, often incompatible elements. Modern American conservatism — spearheaded by Buckley’s National Review — was a self-described “fusionism” of Taft-style conservatism, anti-communism, and libertarianism. Buckley rightly read John Birchers and followers of Ayn Rand out of the movement for their anti-semitism and cult or personality, respectively. Today, there are huge divides in the conservative movement between paleoconservatives (like Pat Buchanan) and neoconservatives (like Norman Podhoretz), not to mention between compassionate conservatives (Marvin Olasky) and libertarians, not to mention between social conservatives generally (Focus on the Family) and (once again) libertarians.

    The question really should be what kind of conservative are you?, not are you conservative?

    George

  9. So, George, now comment on the recent brouhaha regarding the National Day of Prayer. Which of your five does it violate (if it does, obviously)?

  10. Shawn:

    Personally, I don’t think there is any constitutional problem with calling a National Day of Prayer, unless you subscribe to a cramped, ahistorical reading of the Constitution, which is the same thing as saying a Jeffersonian reading of the Constitution.

    By the same token, I don’t think Christians necessarily “lose” if Congress drops NDOP from the US Code. Why? Because of 5: America is not the kingdom of God.

    George

    1. These changes aren’t just random, but designed by those who look for our destruction to chip away at our foundation – built with the help of dedicated Christian patriots. That’s just what the devil does to our Christian foundation. It’s “all important,” and we do lose a lot – especially if we’re that frog in the steadily warming water, too sleepy to realize what’s happening, and before we know it, we’re cooked. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty;” in the church, or in America.

  11. George,

    I really like your list; I think it speaks simply to a very complex problem. As I have said before, the whole “confusion of political and religious identity” thing scares me. I can give a hearty, Pentecostal “Amen,” to #5.

    So, even though Obama (i.e. the antichrist) didn’t orchestrate jihad against NDOP (and all the other God fearin’ republicans) like all the wacko religious righties were hoping, you are definitely right to point out that it is just as crazy for those pansy progressives to try and paint Jesus as a democrat.

    *now that I think about it, I wonder if Bush’s Patriot Act is going to flag your blog and my comments for a little good ole’ American wire tapping.

    Cheers!

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