Political Thoughts

November 3, 2010 — 2 Comments

I usually don’t touch politics. I don’t comment about it on Facebook/Twitter. I don’t talk about it when I speak to college students at Cru. It’s just not worth it. I don’t want to erect any unnecessary barriers to the gospel.
A few years ago, I threw out a pejorative remark about liberals in a Cru meeting talk and had a thoughtful student approach me after the meeting. He was investigating what it meant to follow Christ, is a life-long Democrat, and was very turned off (to me, and God) by my thoughtless comment.

So I’ll tread lightly . . . but for those in college ministry (helping students become mature influencers for Christ) and for anyone hoping to change the world, I think it’s important to talk through all areas of life – including politics.

A couple thoughts:

“For a long time now I’ve been convinced that what happens in New York (finance), Hollywood (entertainment), Silicon Valley (technology), and Miami (fashion) has a far greater impact on how our culture thinks about reality than what happens in Washington, DC (politics). It’s super important for us to understand that politics are reflective, not directive. That is, the political arena is the place where policies are made which reflect the values of our culture—the habits of heart and mind—that are being shaped by these other, more strategic arenas. As the Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher said, ‘Let me write the songs of a nation; I don’t care who writes its laws.'”

  • Is it just me or is it A LOT easier to talk to college students about God when the Religious Right is not in power? I felt like from 2004-2008 there was an overwhelming amount of W backlash and that spilled over into students’ views of Christianity.  I think the book unChristian is a product of that era.  Since Obama was elected it’s like that tension and antagonism toward Christians has dissipated.  I’m glad to see that the Tea Party is exerting more influence because it’s diverting attention away from the Religious Right (though some would say there is quite a bit of overlap in their constituents).

photo courtesy of vgm8383 via flickr


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  • Beats me about the correlation between the party in power / students’ receptivity/perceptions of Christianity.

    The comment about politics being a reflection of culture though, is I think a key insight. This is reflected in our Ethics class taught by Dr. Russell Moore. We think through ethical decisions through the following grid sorted by importance:

    1) Christic (how does it relate to the gospel, to God’s design for the world, etc..)
    2) Kingdom (how does it relate to what God is trying to accomplish; his goal for the world)
    3) Ecclesial (how does it relate to the community of believers as Christ’s bride and witness to the world)
    4) Personal (how does it relate to personal decision-making)
    5) Societal (how it relates to how people see the world around them)
    6) Political (how it is reflected in the power of the state, which has the power of coercion)

    When thinking through issues like abortion, for instance, we start by building a biblical framework of God’s design and desire in marriage/sexuality/children. We then move from that to how the church lives that out (preaching both the sin of abortion and the offer of forgiveness in Christ), then how it affects individual decision making (do I or do I not get an abortion?). The next concern is the social environment: how does an ethic of the sanctity of life cause us to counter-culturally? And THEN we come to the political dimension, where we talk about its implications for government (should there be laws against it, etc..).

    All of that to say that political decisions are definitely shaped by the prevailing social climate, and not usually the other way around.

  • timcasteel

    Great grid to think through Andrew – I think that’s very helpful.