I blogged about this general concept before (read here). Mark Tranvik, friend of mine from long ago and a very sharp thinker, had a great piece printed on the featured page (that’s the righthand page for us STrib readers) in the op-ed section of today’s (1.7.2008) Minneapolis StarTribune. Read the article here.
Mark says good things that help clear up this messy intersection. I agree with him that, of course, we have to bring our faith into our politics. Why? Because our faith (Christian, but I bet every faith would agree on this) calls us to love our neighbors and care about creation. That is more than personal piety, it pulls us into the political realm whether we want to or not. But when we take a position on an issue or pick our candidate it is us picking the position or person, with our best judgment and understanding, it isn’t God. We need to acknowledge that. It is fine to say that we arrived at this because of our spiritual convictions, but we cannot pretend we are speaking for God.
The addition I’d make, or stress a little more, is that churches (local or denominational) do not have the job of rallying their forces for a particular stand on an issue or a particular candidate, as if it were a litmus test for being a ‘real Christian.’ Rather churches can say that issues are important, that elections are important, and can (should) provide opportunities to learn more and to be places that conversations can take place. That way churches help their people live out their faith; deciding for themselves what is the best way to participate in the political process – employing their best faith, intellect and intention. Let’s trust God’s Spirit to lead this! As a church we should promote and appreciate people doing what they believe is right, not conforming to the church’s stand, promoting divisiveness and exclusion. That hearkens back to my last blog…