Archive for category politics
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On November 6, 2012, Election Day, we will exercise our right to choose.
Some of us will choose to vote for Barack Obama.
Some of us will choose to vote for Mitt Romney.
Some of us will choose to vote for another candidate.
Some of us will choose not to vote.
During the day of November 6, 2012, we will make different choices for different reasons, hoping for different results. But that evening while our nation turns its attention to the outcome of the presidential election, let’s again choose differently. But this time, let’s do it together.
Let’s meet at the same table, with the same host, to remember the same things. We’ll remember that real power in this world — the power to save, to transform, to change — ultimately rests not in political parties or presidents or protests but in the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. We’ll remember that, through the Holy Spirit, this power dwells within otherwise ordinary people who as one body continue the mission of Jesus: preaching good news to the poor, freeing the captives, giving sight to the blind, releasing the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:16-21).
We’ll remember that freedom — true freedom — is given by God and is indeed not free. It comes with a cost and it looks like a cross. We’ll remember our sin and our need to repent. We’ll remember that the only Christian nation in this world is the Church, a holy nation that crosses all human-made boundaries and borders. We’ll remember that our passions are best placed within the passion of Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). We’ll remember that we do not conform to the patterns of this world, but we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We’ll remember that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.
And we’ll re-member the body of Christ as the body of Christ, confessing the ways in which partisan politics has separated us from one another and from God. On Tuesday evening, November 6, make a choice to remember. Let’s meet at the Lord’s Table. Let’s remember together. Please join us for communion on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
What do you think of this idea?
One divine melody permeates the grand narrative of redemptive history. In this series, Jeremy is guiding us through the biblical narrative–from Genesis to Revelation–with “ears to hear” the penetrating God-beat keeping everything in sync.
The winner of the second season of the ancient Near Eastern version of American Idol was the electrifying, rags-to-riches shepherd boy from Bethlehem named David. (Though the word “idol” probably wouldn’t be used so loosely among the people of Israel!) David’s first brush with stardom came after his defeat of the the giant Goliath. This would be only the first in a long string of award-winning victories on the battlefield. David became a mighty warrior-king and violent battle imagery would be a prominent theme in many of his future hit singles. When he wasn’t in battle, he managed to have a productive musical career as well as “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Sam. 23:1).
Yet, let’s stop for a moment to examine the great shift in mood that is taking place in this ongoing soundtrack to The Father’s Song. If something like Handel’s Messiah captures the majestic mood of the Triune God providentially at work in a world, moving history towards its goal of everlasting justice and universal “shalom”; then the background music to the violent, military sagas of David and his victories over national enemies in the early years of the monarchy sounds more like the abrasive, tension-filled score to the movie Gladiator. Read the rest of this entry »
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph. 1:18-23)
We’re moving closer and closer to another general election season. As I write this, our community is in heated debate over the school referendum vote only a couple days away. I’m amazed to see the passion people have toward both national and local political parties and their agendas.
The local paper is glad to fill their pages with impassioned letters to the editor, urging citizens to make their vote count, and stand up for what’s best for our community and schools. There are signs in every yard as I drive through town. People are glad to go door to door, leaving a pamphlets and doorknob hangers. Thousands of dollars are spent on mass mailings. Websites are created to champion their agenda, and chain emails are spread widely. Rhetorically savvy YouTube videos are circulated to rally support.
The bottom line is this: people care and are committed to championing their cause — especially when their kids’ education and/or property taxes are at stake!
I’m grateful to live in a democratic state. I encourage people to exercise their civic right and go vote. But as a Christian trying to “seek first the Kingdom” and a church planting pastor trying to rally a community around a far greater cause than a school levy, I keep asking myself the question: What if we were as passionate about pushing God’s agenda forward in our community as we are about passing a referendum vote or electing our favorite school board candidate?
- What if Christians were so passion about the gospel message that we created special websites, spent thousands of dollars on mailings, sent mass email appeals and and made Christ’s cause known through YouTube testimonials, etc?
- What if we organized special rallies and found more creative ways to spread our message across our local network?
- What if the local newspaper was flooded weekly with letters to the editor from Christians urging fellow citizens to get more involved in their local church, to love their neighbors more selflessly, to join a local mission project, or give more generously to the food shelf and other charities?
- What if we were willing to fill our lawns with signs and banners promoting Jesus Christ and his message and cause?
- What if we Christians believed in our cause enough to go door to door inviting people to church on Sunday and leaving doorknob hangers?
- What if we were just as committed to getting our neighbors to worship as others are about getting their neighbors to the polls? Read the rest of this entry »
On 9/11 I thought, For the most powerful, militarized nation in the world also to think of itself as an innocent victim is deadly. It was a rare prophetic moment for me, considering Presidents Bush and Obama have spent billions asking the military to rectify the crime of a small band of lawless individuals, destroying a couple of nations who had little to do with it, in the costliest, longest series of wars in the history of the United States.
The silence of most Christians and the giddy enthusiasm of a few, as well as the ubiquity of flags and patriotic extravaganzas in allegedly evangelical churches, says to me that American Christians may look back upon our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat. It was shattering to admit that we had lost the theological means to distinguish between the United States and the kingdom of God. The criminals who perpetrated 9/11 and the flag-waving boosters of our almost exclusively martial response were of one mind: that the nonviolent way of Jesus is stupid. All of us preachers share the shame; when our people felt very vulnerable, they reached for the flag, not the Cross.
September 11 has changed me. I’m going to preach as never before about Christ crucified as the answer to the question of what’s wrong with the world. I have also resolved to relentlessly reiterate from the pulpit that the worst day in history was not a Tuesday in New York, but a Friday in Jerusalem when a consortium of clergy and politicians colluded to run the world on our own terms by crucifying God’s own Son.
“I find an increasing number of young Christians are willing to say “enough is enough” when it comes to militarism, to military budgets, and to embracing a peace orientation toward how Christians are to live in a world of international conflicts. Ronald Sider (Christ and Violence) and John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus ) have been powerful witnesses to pushing more Christians to ask not what is best for our power but how did Jesus embody the way of God — he did so through a cross that led to resurrection, not through a sword that led to a throne.”
What do you think of Dr. Scot McKnight’s perspective on the place of politics in the pulpit from Jesus Creed?
It is commonly asserted that we should keep politics out of the pulpit, but what most people mean by that is that we shouldn’t endorse a specific candidate — and who’s kidding whom on that one? Or that we shouldn’t endorse a party from the pulpit — and who’s kidding whom on that one?
But “politics” is precisely what the pulpit does, and here’s why:
1. The Bible, which is the Book of the pulpit, is a profoundly political book. The entire Old Testament is about a nation and its politics – how that nation is to live as a political body.
2. The New Testament is profoundly political — it is how the “political body” of Christ is to live in this world, and it is often at odds with the politics of Israel’s/Judah’s leaders and Rome’s leaders and Greece’s leaders.
3. The very gathering of the Body of Christ is called a “church” (ekklesia), which was a political term in the first century. Our gatherings are political gatherings because we form a kingdom body that is designed to witness to Christ and engage the world in a politics of love and grace and holiness and justice and peace.
4. We confess Jesus is Lord, and that means we are confessing no one else is Lord — Caesar or anyone else. Our confession is the most profoundly political action we can possibly do.
5. We strive to live an entirely different ethic, an ethic shaped by the Jesus Creed, and that is in essence a political move: we seek to be a different kind of living over against a world shaped by power and violence.
So, let me put it this way, when others tell us not to participate in politics, they are expressing a fear of what kind of politic the church could be; when they say we should construct a wall of separation, they are expressing a fear of what would happen if the church took its politic seriously.
The single-most powerful political action Christians “do” is baptism and Eucharist, for in those actions we enter into an alien politics.
As I type this, I’m listening to nationally syndicated conservative talk show host Dennis Prager. I’ve been a regular listener of his for about 10 years. He’s one of my favorite conservatives, and I’ve always enjoyed his show for it’s focus on clarifying the Left-Right political divide, and the character he shows in his interactions with dissenting views.
However, the more Jesus-shaped my thinking, my politics, my worldview, my faith has become over the past decade, the more I have tended to disagree with him on various issues. This is particularly true when he tackles faith-related topics on his show — which he does weekly on “The Ultimate Issues Hour”. Prager is a devout Jew, and is one of the best representatives of the Americanized Judeo-Christian moralistic religion that many conservatives in America hold.
On his show today, he talked about Ben Franklin’s God. He proudly championed Ben Franklin’s religion as his own faith, and believes our country was founded on this kind of religion. I agree that America was founded on the beliefs/convictions of Ben Franklin’s God — too bad this God has little to do with Jesus and his upside-down Kingdom teachings!
Ben Franklin’s faith is governed by five core beliefs:
1. God is the Creator
2. God governs the world by his providence
3. The soul is immortal
4. God rewards good and punishes evil — either in the here or the hereafter
5. Doing good to one’s fellow man is the essence of true religion
Many have debated whether or not our Founding Father’s were Deists or Christians. Just google that topic to come to your own conclusion. What concerns me is that far too many of those who denounce the Founding Fathers for their unbiblical Deistic views, and claim to defend biblical Christianity, actually themselves hold to a kind of pseudo-Christianity that still leaves Jesus’ subversive teachings off the table. Instead, they uphold an Americanized form of faith that is shaped more by the values of the political right and the principles of our Founding Fathers than the kingdom teachings of Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »
Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed is raising that touchy but crucial issue of national idolatry. I love America, democracy and the freedoms we enjoy in this great nation. I listen to my share of political talk and love keeping up on the latest debates. BUT….I also see many Christians who are far more interested and devoted to the political conversation than the things of God — Jesus, the gospel, the Kingdom of God, the ministry of the church, etc.
Here’s Scot’s challenge to us all today. Let us look within and pray that our hopes are not in the state but in Christ and the church as his chosen agent for real change in the world.
Christians become idolatrous when they believe more in the State than the Church (not to mention Christ), when their focus for change is on what the State can accomplish instead of the church locally embodying that change, when their energies are spent electing one candidate vs. another instead of on the ministries at their church, and when they find their time spent at their local church less than time spent reading news about the State/election/parties or working for political change.
Patriotism is idolatrous when our hope is in the State and when our “agent” of change is the State, or the election and a specific candidate. Patriotism becomes idolatrous when our politic becomes State and not Church. For the follower of Jesus, the hope of the world is Jesus Christ and his embodiment in the Church, the People of Jesus.
Thoughts or feedback? If your answer is ‘both’ then keep reading Scot’s post because he addresses that common response as well.
Scot McKnight has a great post and challenge to the American church — especially conservative Evangelicals — to avoid the politicization of the church. He makes the claim that the most influential voice upon Evangelicals today is not Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham or James Dobson, as in past decades, but FoxNews. Specifically he names Shawn Hannity.
His point is not to criticize or take issue with Hannity or any other individual. Rather, he beckons the church to be shaped by the Kingdom vision and teachings of Jesus, and not contemporary conservative rhetoric. He’s not even taking sides in the political debate; rather warning us to be sure Jesus’ teachings shape our political views, rather than letting our political views shape our understanding of Jesus and Christianity.
Read his post entitled The Most Influential Evangelical Voice in America HERE.
Again, I believe every Evangelical Christian needs to read Greg Boyd’s The Myth of a Christian Nation for understanding how Christians should approach politics without compromising our call to be “citizens of Heaven” first.
“Seek first the Kingdom….”