By: Justin Giboney
Now that the election season is behind us. I have a little mental space to dive into the question of “what should Christians do with politics?”. I have not had the mental energy to go there but this book was a pleasant guide to how to wrestle with that.
I am exhausted by you people on social media. Haha
But through reading this, I realize, as a Christian, I have a part. I am not sure what that is yet but this book gave me some good exercises to figure that out.
Ch 1: Christians & Politics
“The Bible and history show us that God’s children can do great work in politics as long as they aren’t of politics.”
The author argues for Christian participation in politics, built on the “Great Commission” (Matt. 28:16–20), the “Great Commandment” (Matt. 22:37–40), and the “Great Requirement” (Micah 6:8).
Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Great Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Great Requirement: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,[b] and to walk humbly with your God?”
While Christians shouldn’t engage in politics merely to win self-interested battles, we should engage in politics in order to love our neighbors and represent Christ well.
Ch 2: Church & State
In order to be good stewards of our gifts, Christians need to have an understanding of how our government works.
We must be informed about the civic process and understand the relationship between the church and state.
“We can’t separate what we believe in the political arena from who we are in Christ and what ‘obedience to God’ demands. Jesus told Christians to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest of Jesus’ commandments, and it doesn’t leave any room for us to disregard his guidelines in politics or any other aspect of life.”
“It’s impossible to separate the values of the people from their laws. Laws are always an application of some group’s values. Ideally, everyone would agree on what these values should be — and sometimes everyone does. But when that isn’t possible, we must promote our values within the legislative process. We can do this with respect for those who disagree, understanding that not every precept in the Bible is meant to be a law of the state.”
Ch 3. Compassion & Conviction
This is the MEAT and framework of The AND Campaign: social justice and moral order.
“It’s a mistake to suggest that Christians should always come to the same political conclusions. However, all Christians should make those decisions from a biblical framework.”
Currently in the US, those on the right side of the political spectrum say they stand for individual freedom, patriotism, and moral order; the left, on the other hand, claims to stand for justice, equality, and inclusion. Conservatives say progressives are immoral because of their positions on abortion, religious liberty, and the like. Progressives say conservatives are bigoted and lack compassion when it comes to poverty, race, and gender.
“Both [the Democrats and the Republicans] have become less tolerant of differing viewpoints and often stamp out candidates and advocates who hold a more nuanced or moderate perspective.”
“Because of how the issues are presented, Christians are told to either surrender their biblical convictions or neglect their Christlike compassion.”
Aren’t you frustrated by this?
Feeling this frustration is not a bad thing.
“The bigger problem is when Christians are unaware or unbothered by the faults on the side they prefer.”
Christians must do better to avoid this kind of political and partisan indoctrination. We must be able to critique both sides using a biblical framework of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:14–16).
“Our identity shouldn’t be tied up in either progressivism or conservatism. We shouldn’t hesitate to correct either when necessary. When conservatism means preserving unjust systems and institutions, it must be opposed. When progressivism means moving from God’s truth, it too must be opposed.”
Ch 4. Partnerships & Partisanship
“It is intellectually lazy to agree with Democrats or Republicans on every single issue. That’s a clear indication that we’ve been indoctrinated, which is never an option for Christians.”
“Christians rarely go through an arduous due-diligence process in evaluating cultural and political partners before joining forces.”
As a helpful exercise in avoiding political indoctrination, the authors recommend picking at least one issue where you know many Christians disagree with you. Then commit to earnestly learning why they believe what they believe and consider it. The worst that can happen is that you will better understand your brothers and sisters who disagree with you. Perhaps you will learn something that will sharpen or even change your opinion.
“We allow ourselves to be indoctrinated by political, academic, and pop culture leaders and to surrender our convictions to avoid disassociation and criticism.”
We have to work with people who don’t believe what we believe. This is an opportunity to be a witness for Christ. Pursue that with strength and grace. If it isn’t biblical truth, you have to walk away.
“Partnering with another group or person should never be seen as an endorsement of their entire agenda.”
“Some Christians are more willing to defend their ideological tribe than the Christian faith.”
Whew baby…I felt this a lot this cycle. Lord give me wisdom. The agenda of the political parties are not scripture. We do not have to defend every piece of either. In fact, we must resist that.
Ch 5. Messaging & Rhetoric
Christians should strive to be quality communicators if we are to fulfill the great commission.
We should avoid the temptation to oversimplify debate down to buzzwords. We shouldn’t be duped by politicians who merely say what we want to hear. Don’t hear a politician quote MLK or scripture and assume the next action that follows is infallible.
“Political leaders often talk as if their side is for all that is good and true, and the other side is for death and destruction. We must be able to disagree and work against those with opposing beliefs without dehumanizing them. When we label other groups evil, stupid, or irredeemable — or deny their pain — we strip them of their human dignity and make ourselves and others less likely to show them concern and compassion.”
The guidelines for effective communication were:
- Study and be confident
- Show love and concern
- Be informed
- Have a plan
- Maintain a hopeful, positive tone
- Relate to the audience
- Be persuasive
- Don’t hide your convictions
“Choose your words wisely and remember that when you speak in the public square, you’re going about your Father’s business. Christian messaging should always be rooted in the gospel.”
That is quite the responsibility. That makes you think twice before hitting “Post”!
“Christian political engagement shouldn’t be all about what Christians have to say. We should go out of our way to make sure the voiceless are heard and respected.”
We have to get proximite to suffering as Christ did if we are to be able to bring people to him.
Ch 6. Politics & Race
The best summary of the position of the church and race was the following quotes.
“Racial reconciliation is a process that starts with the gospel and ends with the gospel. If we are unwilling to become informed and push back against our tribes when they are racially insensitive or manipulative, we will continue to fall well short of God’s intention for us.”
“Race is not an easy topic to engage, but an unwillingness to confront the issue of racism is one of the greatest roadblocks to reconciliation.”
“Colorblind ideology can cause a form of denial in which we’re unwilling to acknowledge race as the root cause of tough issues because we don’t want to admit that we still have work to do. We have to come to terms with America’s race issue by honestly examining ourselves and our institutions.”
The goal is more like Christ. Period. How can we be more like Christ?
Identity politics is deeply flawed. It is pushed on us incessantly and boxes us into mobs we “have” to completely side with.
The author give five great questions we should consider before “throwing ourselves into a group”:
- Am I clear on the objective of this group or the leader and why it’s important? Are the other people in the group also clear?
- Is the rhetoric of this group or leader based on exaggerated claims and baseless accusations against others or on a solid, proactive rationale?
- Am I allowed to ask questions?
- Is the group acting out of love for our neighbors?
- Do we listen and respond to people who disagree?
“By thinking critically and loving our neighbor, we can avoid the influence of mobs that thrive off of division.”
Ch 7. Advocacy & Protest
Protest: “publicly registering disapproval of some action or set of circumstances for the purpose of moving those with power to act.”
Advocacy: “can be private or public and can register disapproval of some action or policy, positively express support for a particular approach to a problem, or both.”
An easy way to think about it is that advocacy is the large body of work done to make sure that political decision makers make the right decisions. Protest is what is done in order to let them know when they have made the wrong decision.
“Like a hammer or a chainsaw, protest and advocacy can be welded to do tremendous good or to cause tremendous harm. But when Christians use these tools to pursue improvements in the lives of hurting people and to uphold eternal values in our society, we effectively love our neighbors and, by way of these good deeds, glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).”
Questions to answer before deciding to join in advocacy and/or protest:
- What do we want?
- Who is the decision maker?
- Who is on the team?
- What do we have?
Ch 8. Civility & Political Culture
Without backing down from the truth, Christians should cultivate civility in political discourse and hold politicians accountable to that standard.
“Civility shows itself when we acknowledge the best in our political opponents’ line of thinking and the best in our political opponents themselves. Civility is mercy and forgiveness. It is a form of public grace.”
We shouldn’t use an appeal to “civility” to escape frank conversations, but we Christians should be known for:
- giving our opponents the benefit of the doubt,
- affirming points of agreement whenever possible, and
- serving others instead of selfishly grabbing power for ourselves.
Incivility grows when there is criticism without fellowship. Social media is that exactly. It is hard to have true fellowship through a computer screen.
Humility is the cure for incivility.
“Humility helps us separate a person’s thinking from their dignity and to recognize and respect the latter even when we vehemently disagree with the former.”
“Our responsibility to one another as Christians rises above civility. Civility is the baseline for how we treat strangers, yet no Christian is a stranger to us but is, instead, our brother or sister in Christ. Christians will have political disagreements, too, but our disagreements are to be in the context of mutual love and submission to Christ.”
Guidelines for civil political engagement.
- Hold out hope for political opponents’ best possible motives.
- Affirm the true and the good in our opponents’ argument.
- Avoid deception and manipulation.
- Ground political engagement in service.
“Christian political and civic engagement is a spiritual offering. It is offering time, talent, and resources to the Lord so he can accomplish his will.”
Determine your foundation by finding out what the bible says about the following topics.
- Health Care
- Criminal Justice
- Foreign Policy
- Minimum Wage
- Gun Control
- Labor Unions
- Social Security
- Climate Change
The bible does not directly address a lot of these but determine what most fulfills the “Great Commission”, the “Great Commandment”, and the “Great Requirement”.