Tag Archives: ideology

From Disappointment to Determination: Christian Mission Liberated from Political Ideology

As the Biden presidency and a Democratic-led Congress assumes power, it is right that we reflect on not only the new policies, but the deeper issues affecting Christian believers in the USA. The awfulness and immorality of the violent protests of January 6, 2021 forever stained what little legacy the Trump Administration may have had. There was some progress on important issues in the past four years, especially economic policies, pro-life initiatives, diplomatic successes in the Middle East, and some first steps in ending mass incarceration. At present, these forward steps are lost in the political and public reactions.

In the next six to twelve months, thoughtful Christians that voted for a Biden Presidency will be encouraged by the new tone and a few of the policy changes, especially climate change, immigration, and perhaps pandemic policies. But many of these voters will discover that voting against the previous administration or taking a “Never Trump” posture will backfire as more radical policies and continued polarization afflict our nation. The hostility of the new administration toward traditional morality, abortion, affordable energy, and people of religious faith will take its toll on many.

Here is the good news: these deep disappointments with political leaders, parties, and ideologies are a divine opportunity for Christians to engage the public square in wiser, more effective ways. For almost fifty years, there has been a split between conservative and progressive factions of Christianity, with both groups believing that the Gospel and Scripture support their perspectives. The divides have grown greater over time and the anger between the two groups is palpable: “You cannot be a Christian and vote for _____ [fill in Democrat or Republican; Biden or Trump, etc.]!” Conservatives focus on abortion, marriage, individual responsibility, and respect for America’s heritage of freedom. Progressives advocate systemic changes for gender and racial equity, compassion for the poor, and expose the serious injustices of our history. How can these groups do more than tolerate each other? Where is the common ground?  (I am speaking of serious followers of Christianity that believe in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, the inspiration of the Bible, and importance of the local church, not folks that deny cardinal doctrines or want to “remake” Christianity.)

There are four keys that can unlock a new unity among believers, with enormous impact for the common good of society:

  • First, all Christians must recognize that “ideology is the enemy of theology” (Donald Bloesch) and carefully examine whether they are cherry-picking their favorite Bible passages to fit their political beliefs.
  • Second, all Christians and church communities must stay engaged in the political arena with prophetic distance (encouraging and critiquing both friends and opponents) without capitulating to the lust for power. 
  • Third, churches and Christians from all traditions can unite for the common good, affirming the integration of spiritual and social vitality, compassion for the vulnerable, ethical free enterprise, support for families, and peacemaking, one zip code at a time.
  • Fourth, Christians want for all neighbors the liberties they desire for themselves. Living peaceably with those that have a different view of the universe is the genius of a free and virtuous society.  One can desire the conversion of a friend while working together for the community. Our faith was born in the midst of pluralistic empires, and it thrives when its institutions are not coercive, but persuasive.

We can begin a new chapter of unity without uniformity, of community with a conscience, and a Table where very different people are welcome. Our nation needs voices free of rancor and filled with wisdom.

Some Reflections As We Go About Our Days

Pause. Breathe. Pray. Love your neighbor through your good work and acts of kindness. Read history. Stay alert to opportunities to serve. Foster justice. Turn off the media for a day and discover normal blood pressure.

Freedom of conscience is the first freedom.

Yes, I do want all around me to place their faith in Jesus Christ. This is an invitation, not intolerance, a voluntary act welcoming a believer into a new identity and sociology, not a political party or enslaving ideology.

And I affirm the liberty of those of other philosophies and religious to debate, share and digress from me. While we dialogue and evangelize, let’s make our neighborhoods flourish and be friends even with our deep differences.

Breaking free of generational oppression (cultural, economic, racial, social, spiritual) is a work of divine power…most often expressed through healthy relationships. As people of faith, hope and love, we have huge social capital – and when we intentionally make friends, the world changes. Every transformational story includes at least once inspiring relationship. Perhaps we are that person for someone.

2 challenges for today:
Libertarians: will you consider the common good and advocate for ethics and unselfishness as part of true liberty? You cannot unite Ayn Rand and Judeo-Christian values.

Socialists: your compassion must be united with economic sense. Removal of incentives chases creativity and innovation away and a large government class is no substitute for entrepreneurship.
There are better paths than these extremes.

Challenging the Clichés with Facts: Insights for our Future, Part 2

Global lovers of liberty face an implacable enemy that believes that they are destined to subjugate the world in the name of Islam. Yes, most of our Muslim neighbors reject this intolerant and violent ideology, but their religion has no reforming stream powerful enough to counter the dedication of both Shi’ite and Sunni radicals.

It is up to people of conscience – of all faiths or none – to rally wisely with the future of freedom at stake.

In the USA, the Left and Right are both failing is their responses. Here are some reflections to create a different kind of dialogue:

Compassion and strength are not opposites.
Resisting ISIS, Hamas, Al-Qaeda will require both.
Without losing our values, we can devise military and political resistance that is more than an occasional foray.

I challenge the Left to realize that there are millions of folks – not economically deprived and oppressed – that want our destruction. “Love and peace” banners are not enough. Wishing away the hatred of those dedicated to our demise will not make it so.

I challenge the Right to end jingoism and offer strategic ideas for alliances and long-term effective action. We must not descend to the level of the enemies we face. It is possible to love our enemies even as we resist their hatred and violence.

I challenge oil-rich Islamic nations to welcome millions of refugees in the name of their hospitable religion. A Silicon Valley Imam recently agreed with me that given the wealth of many Islamic nations, there should not be a single Muslim living in poverty.

“Can’t we all just get along?” 
Sometimes the answer is a tragic, “No.”
But Christ offers a divine, “Yes!” to all who repent…and that is our greatest “weapon” – gospel love and truth that transcends culture, ideology and national interests.