Monday, July 31, 2006

Politics and the Church


The NY Times article on Greg Boyd’s church in Minneapolis is catching attention. Why? (Below.)

I’d like to give some reflections, and I’m keen on your response, especially as it is timed with our series on Randall Balmer’s book, Thy Kingdom Come, who happens to be quoted in the NY Times piece. I’m keen on what you think local churches should do.

Here are two central paragraphs in the article:

The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

Make that a third paragraph: “When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Here’s the core issue, and most in the Religious Right don’t get it.

In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others — by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others — “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

So, what do we do? How do we as followers of Jesus relate to politics? Frankly, I’m embarrassed at the Church: I’m embarrassed how liberal mainliners kowtow to the Democrats, equating the US Constitution on rights and freedoms as somehow equivalent to the gospel. And I’m embarrassed with the Religious Right’s whorish behavior of aligning itself with the Republicans. Jesus would say to each, “I never knew you.” Now that you know how I feel, let me offer some observations about how Christians and churches can participate in the political process. Read More.

Crosspost: RedBlueChristian.Com

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