The Christian Vote (8)
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Good Morning and Welcome to this week’s Gospel and Culture update, by Alan Vink
The Christian Vote (8)
Tuesday 19th September 2023
Christians and the World of Politics
POV. Historically, Christians have differed considerably on the issue of political involvement. The notion that church and state should be separate (and it should) has meant that some Christians reject any notion that neither Christians or the Church should have any place in the world of politics.
Some say that Christians ought to be wary of associating too closely with elected officials or political parties because it risks conflating the responsibility of the church with that of the state. They ask: If God is sovereign and controls the heart of the king (Proverbs 21:1), why risk compromising our Gospel witness by getting involved in something so divisive? Others maintain that Christians ought to be heavily involved with politicians and partisan politics. They say that because politics are so important, it is worth investing significant resources to educate and mobilize Christians for political activity.
The word itself (politiká) has a broad or general definition and a very specific meaning. Broadly it means the ‘affairs of the city’. To that end few Christians today would disagree that involvement in the affairs of the city is a good thing. We live in the city, we work in the city, we study in the city, we play in the city, therefore the affairs of the city should be important to all Christians.
On the other hand the narrower meaning of politiká is ‘the art or science of government’. This aspect of politics is far more contentious. But suffice to say for now that the Bible does support the idea of individual Christians being called into a life of ‘public service’ not to say anything about numerous stunning examples of Christians who have been hugely influential for good in the public square. [Please Note: The idea of the existence Christian political party’s is in my opinion a completely separate discussion].
The Gospel applies to all areas of life, and the Bible instructs us about government and political authority. Scripture advocates neither total withdrawal from the political process nor overinvestment in it. Thus, we need a third approach, a model in which actively engaged Christians faithfully apply Biblical principles to the current political challenges. But what does this model look like? What are the principles that can help us navigate our divisive and increasingly adversarial political landscape?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Look and read ‘behind’ the posturing especially to the run up to an election. Consider a party’s philosophy and policies carefully and try not to get caught up in partisan politics.
- Do not be enamoured by personality but rather soundness of policy.
- Give thought to the track record of the various parties and the individual politicians.
- When you vote do so carefully, prayerfully and strategically.
- Understand MMP and the so called ‘wasted vote’ issue.
- Engage with politicians on issues that really matter to you. Politicians have a lot going on. They cannot and are not experts on every issue or subject. Most politicians welcome thoughtful commentary on the issues of the day.
And finally and perhaps most importantly, Pray. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. 1Timothy 2:1-4
Note Paul’s reason for exhorting us to pray for our Government- So that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. And that just sounds really good.