Thanks, Preach. I always appreciate your comments. They keep my thinking stirred up and force me to keep on thinking.
I especially appreciated your analogy about the plane. A similar one that I heard and have used myself is, “If you keep falling off the ______ side of the horse, your tendency is to lean the other way. But be careful; if you lean too far, you can fall off the ______ side!” (Usually the words “right” and “left” are inserted, but I deliberately left them out.)
I am personally uncomfortable with contrasting categories like “right/left” or “conservative/liberal.” They’re political! Of course, we have many other political categories, but they almost all tend to divide us. Some are those we use of ourselves, while others are those we use on those who disagree with us. What bothers me as a follower of Christ is that we who claim His name use them to divide ourselves.
We are already divided theologically (Calvinist/Arminian, charismatic/cessationist) and denominationally (Baptist/Methodist/Catholic); why must we be divided politically as well? And from what I have observed, politics is where we are most divided.
Divisions between God’s people, of course, are nothing new. Probably the most notorious are the schisms in the church at Corinth, mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. They were divided into at least four different parties. And they apparently weren’t divided over doctrine or politics or ethics or anything of importance. They were divided over preachers!
Note what Paul says in verse 12: “Now I say this, that each of you is saying, ‘I’m of Paul!’ – ‘but ‘I’m of Apollos!’ – ‘but I’m of Cephas!’ – ‘but I’m of Christ!!’”
We can feel his indignation as he barrages them with rhetorical questions: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
I would love to just stay in the plane, or not have to be in danger of falling off the horse, and I would like to believe that’s where I am. I suspect that’s where the party in Corinth who said, “I’m of Christ” thought they were! But when I see the direction that much of the church is going, I have to lean in the other direction. Perhaps “tug” would be a better word than “lean.”
Much of the evangelical wing of the church is totally identified with the Republican Party. Republican “values” are seen as the same as “Christian values” or “family values.” Republican candidates must identify themselves as “Christian.” And they adopt stances and make speeches that sound an awful lot like fire-and-brimstone preachers.
As I said in my previous post, I agree with many moral positions taken by my literalist/conservative friends. But I have to say that I do not agree with most of them. And I must say that those positions that I agree with are not held consistently by them. For instance:
Their “pro-life” stance. I agree that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life. But how can one oppose this taking of life and be pro-war, pro-death penalty? How can one see a need for government to prevent the death of the unborn, but oppose government care for the born?
Their stance on homosexuality. I agree that the Bible teaches that homosexual sex is sin and I question whether there actually can be such a thing as “gay marriage.” But how can one be so vehemently opposed to this one type of sexual sin and ignore the others – many of which are part of the lifestyle of many favored political leaders. And the hatred expressed toward homosexuals. Didn’t Christ die for all our sins? Isn’t His grace available for all sinners? Do we need government regulation of our sexual behavior but not our economic behavior?
And then, of course, there are those political positions taken by the right that are completely unbiblical, especially the favoring of the rich over the poor. Whether it’s called “trickle-down economics” or we refer to the rich as “job creators,” it seems totally contrary to the teachings of Jesus, Paul and James, as well as the Old Testament prophets.
I recognize that the left has its faults and there are plenty. I don’t want to fall off that side of the horse either. I believe that we who follow Jesus Christ must build our ethical systems and moral codes on the Scriptures. We must seek to live our lives by them. And we need to be careful not to identify too closely with any political system. Rather we should bring all political systems under the scrutiny of the Word.
I realize that the last paragraph of my previous post should have begun, “So my challenge to my conservative and liberal friends …”
Thanks again, Preach!