Anno Domini has what I think is a thoughtful and important post regarding the relationship between religion and politics.
I hesitate to do my usual excerpt and comment job, since the whole post is worth reading and considering as a whole. But, when did better judgment ever stop me from doing anything?
First, as evangelical scholar and thinker John Armstrong notes, our churches have come to see a specific set of conservative social issues as synonymous or necessary for anyone who truly believes.I'm not sure that "our churches have come to see..." is entirely accurate - as an Episcopalian, I can tell you there are most certainly churches that have not done that.
...when our hearts start believing that Christ's salvation by faith through grace is somehow dependent on a certain political perspective or certain views on social issues, we blaspheme the name of Christ and pervert his holy gospel! This should not be among the people of God.
But this is an important point: we mustn't begin to believe that salvation comes through the Republican Party.
A second great danger is that Christians start believing culture will be renewed through political action.I suspect he's right, which is why his earlier points are so important.
...Right now, I suspect many will not go to church because they associate the evangelical church with the Republican Party. This ought not be so among the people of God.
With that said, let me add a few disclaimers.We are supposed to set examples for our fellow Christians and those we hope to bring to Christianity.
First, Christianity is a not a private thing that should be divorced from politics. It is a worldview that, if taken seriously, must impact all of life, including one's political perspective.
Second, while our churches should be welcoming to all people, they should not compromise the specific teachings of the Bible...True love means speaking the truth (though true love also means speaking the truth in compassion and humility).Kinda defeats the purpose, otherwise.
And now for the understatment of the morning (at least):
This balance is a difficult one to sustain.A lot of this could be controversial, even among Christians, but it was this line that struck me as most likely to be so:
For readers who are not Christians, if you have been turned off from Christianity because you are a liberal, I apologize on behalf of the church.There's a real tendency (I know I have it) to respond: why should I apologize when I haven't done anything wrong?
However, I think this is an important thing for us to say. If swallowing a little pride, and making a sincere apology for words and actions (even if they weren't ours) helps bring somebody into the church who would not have come, otherwise, then we should be falling all over ourselves to make that apology.
I may not have done a good job of commenting, here. This topic deserves a lot more thought and consideration than I've given it so far (I smell a column coming!). Read the whole thing, and see what you think.