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May 6, 2008Culture, Leadership

In USAToday Talking Politics

Should Christians be involved in politics? Yes.

Are Evangelicals too identified as a partisan political bloc? Yes.

Can Christians still be involved in politics and social action and yet more clearly articulate a gospel message? I hope and believe we can.

As a matter of fact, the growing evangelical understanding of the Kingdom reminds us that we must be involved. (See Russell Moore's helpful, The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective, for a helpful analysis. Or, Carl Henry's Uneasy Conscience, for an earlier perspective.)

Today, USA Today weighs in on the subject. This story was tied to the publication of an Evangelical Manifesto, a document I am assuming I will like (based on who is endorsing and the theme). The website is here.

We had just completed some research (to be released on the LifeWay Research website today) on the involvement of Christians in politics, so we ended up in the story. I don't speak much of politics, but the research connected well, so here are a few of the comments I made to USA Today (they cited some of them):

The data tells us that a minority of Americans, and a smaller minority of Christians, are concerned that Christians are "too involved" in politics. The more liberal and secular one is, the more concerned you are--which is not surprising. But, the majority of Americans (and a large majority of Christians) do not share the concern that Christians are too involved in politics.

I am one who agrees that evangelicals need to be known for what we are for--showing and sharing the good news of Christ, not only just what we are against. But, in regards to public policy, it is a both/and, not either/or.

You cannot stand for justice and be told you cannot speak of Jesus, nor can you love God and His word and not care for unborn children, the abused, and social justice.

Christians need to speak prophetically to all parties, not be beholden to one. If evangelicals are seen as a voting bloc of the Republican Party, I am concerned. If Christians are told to leave their faith outside the public square, I am more concerned.

Religion will always be an issue in politics. However, as evangelicals we need to not try to moralize the unconverted-- our primary mission is to convert the immoral-- other sinners like us.

Simply put, you cannot have a proper view of the Kingdom of God and not care about society. And, part of caring about society involves advocating for social policy that protects those needing protection and promotes the public good. Maybe part of the problem is that we have been known for advocating polices rather than serving the hurting in the name of Jesus.

We need both.

Update: I have read the document (and talked to some of the Charter Signatories), and I am impressed.

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