Without being “preachy” I offer a brief passage from Philip Yaney on a concern of his regarding the politicization of the church. As a disclosure (and the quote will support this), I believe that we should vote, be concerned with the direction of our nation, and in general, care. It has become far too popular to line up on either the sandwich board, bull-horn, street corner protest side of the issue, or on the nihilistic, never voting, try-to-get-out-of-bed-before-noon side. The truth for us as Christians must be somewhere in the middle.
I was compelled to write about this and offer what I believe to be Yancey’s sage advice after a certain, unnamed Mormon presidential candidate went to visit with a certain, unnamed Southern Baptist evangelist and shortly thereafter the ministry website for the evangelist removed the an explanation of why Mormonism is a cult from their website. The explanation: they didn’t want to be in the middle of the fray of an issue that had become so political, so they removed their historic stance on the Mormon church. If I can point out the obvious, if avoiding politicization was the goal then having a major party candidate sit down with the grand poobah of your ministry a mere four weeks before the presidential election makes no sense. In my humble opinion what took place was not a removal from the political melieu, but a fear that “their candidate” might not win if the truth of his religious background continued to be passively promoted. The truth of matter is that our nation doesn’t require a Christian to be the president, so his/her doctrine means less in our system than his policy. That being said, the fear that the “wrong” person will be president for four years, for those who are praying and asking for God’s hand upon our country, is not a founded lapse of faith but a temptation to sacrifice and compromise some things that are actually very important, perspective not being the least of these.
So with that rant-esq introduction, I offer this to you friends:
For this reason, I must say in an aside, I worry about the recent surge of power among US Christians, who seem to be focusing more and more on political means. Once Christians were ignored or scorned; now they are courted by every savvy politician. Evangelicals especially are identified with a certain political stance, so much so that the news media use the terms “evangelical” and “religious right” interchangeably. When I ask a stranger, “What is an evangelical Christian?” I get an answer something like this: “Someone who supports family values and opposes homosexual rights and abortion.”
This trend troubles me because the gospel of Jesus was not primarily a political platform. The issues that confront Christians in a secular society must be faced and addressed and legislated, and a democracy gives Christians every right to express themselves. But we dare not invest so much in the kingdom of this world that we neglect our main task of introducing people to a different kind of kingdom, one based solely on God’s grace and forgiveness. Passing laws to enforce morality serves a necessary function, to dam up evil, but it never solves human problems. If a century from now all that historians can say about evangelicals…is that they stood for family values, then we will have failed the mission Jesus gave us to accomplish: to communicate God’s reconciling love to sinners.
– Philip Yancey, “The Jesus I Never New”