Evangelism vs Politics?

If some of you don’t know it, I am involved with the American Heritage Party. The Heritage Party is an explicitly and unapologetically Christian Political party. I believe that as a Christian living in a “democracy” governed by “we the people” I have a certain responsibilities before God and my neighbor, a responsibility to bring the gospel’s influence to the political realm. As the Great Christan Statesman Daniel Webster said:

If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”

If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity.

As a result of being involved with the AHP I have become more and more frustrated with conservative evangelicals who minimize our responsibility to be involved in politics. One of my biggest frustrations is with conservitive evangelical Pastors who are passive or indifferent to what they consider “political issues”. They basically espouse that our only responsibility is to preach the gospel and make converts and disciple them, in doing this we will solve many of our societal/social and political problems. While I believe this is basically true, I also believe it is, and can be an excuse to avoid many of the crosses that God calls us to carry in this generation. (BTW I also believe it can work the other way around as well, politics can be seen by some as the primary answer to resolving our societal issues)

Politics and law are inevitably tied to ethics, therefore the Christian must be involved, especially prophetically. If Christians do not make a stand politically for righteousness who will? We are called to be salt and light in a culture of evil and wickedness. Jesus our Lord preached the gospel and engaged the political leadership of his day, so did John the Baptist. We too, should do both.

The fundamental problem is we tend to elevate one of our responsibilities at the expense of the others. This is exactly what I see going on more and more among “conservitive” Christians and Pastors today. There is a form of pietism or dualism in the evangelical church today that retreats to dealing with “spiritual” issues because these are what “really matter”. This dealing with things that “really matter” has created a secular/sacred dualism in the believer. Preaching the Gospel and evangelism are seen as “spiritual” issues and elevated, engaging the political is seen as “secular” which inevitably devalues anything that might be categorized as such.

If we continue to distance ourselves from the political issues of the day, I fear the Conservative Church in America will end up like the German Church of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

On the east coast a Pastor delivered a sermon on abortion, after he was done an elderly German man who lived in Nazi Germany told of his experience:

I always considered myself a Christian. I attended a church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews; but like most people in America today, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?

A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we heard cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews.

Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. If some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more.

Years have passed, and no one talks about it much any more; but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.

Will it have to come to this for the Church in America? Will our indifference and apathy to the political leave us with similar regrets?

Lar

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One Response

  1. Lar,

    I just read your comment on my blog and I have responded.

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