I said it before, I used to have a deep and broad interest in politics, and there isn’t anything wrong with that at all. I have lost that interest for the time being, but will probably engage political issues again at some point in the future. I do have some sophomoric, peripheral and perhaps overly simplistic thoughts, though, on politics…and Christianity.
Though I do lean a bit to the right side of the political spectrum in most hot-button issues, I think, in my gift for stating the obvious, that neither the Democratic nor Republican party clearly reflect the Kingdom. In simplest terms, the right affirms that people need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and be self-sufficient and responsible for their destiny. True in the realm, to great degree, of human affairs and governance, but Kingdom thinking states that I cannot pull myself up by my on bootstraps. I have nothing to bring to the table, I have nothing to offer, there is nothing I can do by my efforts to improve my status before the triune God. I cannot climb the ladder to glory. I am utterly helpless and completely dependent on a ‘handout’ that I do not deserve. I am not a spiritual victim, a pawn of circumstance beyond my control who just needs a bailout to get back on my feet because I was done wrong by the man, by the power brokers. I am and we are, in our natural, unregenerate state, in rebellion against God and deserve nothing better than hell. I am alone responsible for my sin, my guilt is real and judicial, and I cannot pay off that debt to God. Thanks be to God that I am redeemed by faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. Without regard to the rhetoric of the old Moral Majority, maybe the politics of the conservative Christian Right do not align with the politics of the Kingdom in the substantive fashion that some would seem to infer. Could it be, too, that the Christian Right seemed to confuse moralism with the Gospel?
The left, on the other hand, and I am painting with very broad and quite crude brush strokes, sees everyone as entitled to the ‘good life.’ Without regard to earning ability, everyone deserves equal access to education, health care, good housing, and it is the role of a benevolent state to provide those things for every one. I want all of that. Who doesn’t? But at what cost? Who pays? Ideally, we all pay collectively, some more than others. Perhaps such an ideal state could say that each ‘gives’ according to one’s ability and each receives according to one’s need, if you know what i mean.
I think the problem here, in terms of Kingdom thinking, is one of aforementioned perceived entitlement, especially in identity politics. That being said, and quite frankly, I am recently quite attracted to the social awareness of much of the left and think that it is in some ways more reflective of the Kingdom than the rugged, self-focused individualism of the right. What happens on the left, though, is a devaluing of the individual for the sake of the collective, especially when some groups within the overarching collective are more equal than others. No original thought here, I know. That being said, the evidence of this devaluing of life by an ideology that wants to provide a good life to all plays itself out in the specter of abortion on demand, in the specter of forced euthanasia, in the specter of rationed health care. Remember Terri Shiavo?
Also, can true altruism be birthed by the forced redistribution of wealth? In the end, the state becomes god from which good gifts flow, and the state will exact a price from all who fall under its watch. In the Kingdom, though, from Who was the price exacted? Where, too, is that Kingdom? Do we expect our best life here and now, or do we defer to something much better later?
I guess what I am trying to say is this: the Christian left, the new evangelical left, is ultimately no more reflective of Kingdom principles than the Christian right. You see, I do not deserve the good that I receive in the Kingdom, that is the nature of grace. I receive because I am adopted by my Father. My recent disenchantment with the political realm is merely descriptive and by no means intended to be prescriptive for anyone. As a bookend for this post, I just have X amount of time and energy and would rather direct those personal resources elsewhere, a place where politics are just on the edge of my radar screen.
That all being said, here are some things in a similar vein I have been thinking about recently and may put to word….
- What does it mean to ‘take America back for Christ?’
- Was America ever really a Christian nation?
- Why is it important to you that it was (or was not)?
- Do believers in other nations want to blend Christian and national identities? (Let’s take England back for Christianity!…..wish it would happen, too. Is Europe turning Islamic?)
- Is there a danger of a diluting synergism in blending even appropriate patriotism and Christianity?
- Are the founding documents of America Christian or more Enlightenment deism in there origin? To put it another way, are there Gospel implications to found in those documents?
- Is the validity of the claims of Christ diminished if America was historically not as Christian as we want its history to be?
- Do Christians in other countries wonder or fret about their nations role in end time scenarios to the degree the many American Christians do? (I used to really wonder about that issue, of America’s role in certain eschatological perspectives. Is that not narcissism on a national scale?)
- Here is the kicker….Christians, Reformed or not, affirm (I hope) God’s absolute sovereignty over the affairs of nations. How much nervous hand wringing do Christian’s need engage as we interact with the political world…and I think we do need to engage it to be salt and light… while reminding ourselves that we are on a journey to the Celestial City.