Saturday, November 10, 2007

When It Comes to Politics, No One Speaks for the Church...

...And American Christians and the cause of Christ would be better off if those who think they do so speak would stop trying. From the Dallas Morning News:

Several Christian conservative leaders, troubled by the appearance the movement is divided, are moving toward Republican Mike Huckabee in hopes of making him the consensus candidate of the religious right.

The effort seeks to blunt the impact of recent high-profile endorsements for other presidential candidates, notably televangelist Pat Robertson's support of Rudy Giuliani.

The reality is that Christians are not likely to unite behind any candidate during the primaries. They can hardly be expected to unite behind a second tier flash in the pan just because James Dobson thinks they should. Unless you are a leader who stakes your identity on your ability to deliver a block of votes, that is not a bad thing. In fact, to the extent that it could distance American Christianity from the notion that it has become a political movement, it would be a good thing.

Christian belief holds political implications, but Christianity is not fundamentally a political movement. Christians hope for the transformation of culture not by the coercive power of politics, but by the life changing power of the Gospel. In engaging culture, Christians are motivated by thoughts both of God's justice and His mercy. A world lacking in justice would be anarchic. A world lacking in mercy would be dark and cold. The Christian message should remind the larger world of those truisms.

In some presidential election years over the last few decades, there have been some fairly clear choices for conservative Christians seeking to apply those truths. When that was the case, those who had taken on leadership roles could claim to speak with some level of authority for large groups of Christians. In a year when no clear candidate emerges, they can not deliver those votes, and they demean themselves and the cause of Christ when they try.

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