Moral Contradictions

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A growing trend?

Don Byrd over at the Baptist Joint Committee's Blog from the Capital wonders if the stories emerging about evangelical churches steering away from politics is a media phenomenon or an accurate barometer of backlash against the Religious Right.

He pointed me to an article about three pastors in Ohio who encourage members to pursue politics individually, but discourage using the pulpit as a party platform.

[Rich] Nathan, 50, pastor of the Vineyard since 1987, said, "We think the Gospel has political implications, but it’s not partisan. And we don’t think that either the Republicans or the Democrats have the sole possession of the implications of the Gospel."


"We never want to communicate to somebody that comes here that they’ve got to go through two conversions in order to come to Christ," he said. "We don’t want to have somebody believe that first I must be converted politically from wherever I’m coming from politically, in order to then come through that to Christ."


Leffel said he isn’t afraid to challenge church members who go too far.

"Sometimes, there’s the smirky kind of language used against the other side. And when I hear that, I feel constrained to say, ‘That doesn’t really have a place here.’


All three pastors say they agree with the "pro-life" and "pro-marriage" message of many politically involved churches. But they also see a mandate for other, broader issues that should be dealt with in the public square.

"I think it’s a mistake to have a political perspective that’s reduced to two issues: abortion and homosexuality," Nathan said.

"You know the Bible goes so far beyond those two issues. I think those are two very significant issues, but in terms of number of verses in the Bible or concerns that we find in the Sermon on the Mount, there’re just so many other concerns. And that also needs to shape the way that evangelicals engage politics."

These guys get it - politics are important, but A. the church is not an extension of a political party and B. the Bible speaks to more issues than homosexuality and abortion. In fact, the Bible speaks to issues in which we have to deal with in a direct way, not in abstract. Perhaps that's why so many issues like poverty, justice, etc get pushed to side?

We are to be more than Christians - we are to be followers of Christ. Following Christ means walking through his footsteps, only he wasn't on top of the mountain during his ministry. He was rejected, He lost a friend, He felt distant from God, and He was defamed and libeled.

Believing in Christ is easy - following Him is not.


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