June 11, 2009

Left Wing Christianity or Right Wing Christianity

Another engaging post over at Pragmatic-Eclectic. Mark raises the specter of Christianity's all too comfortable relationship with right-wing politics. I must agree in principle with this as I have, on several occasions, been a guest in churches in which being a Democrat would be akin to punching one's ticket to hell. Beloved, this should not be the case. I have stated on numerous occasions that our salvation will not arrive on Air-Force One or with the ascension to power of any political party. We would do well to heed James' declaration that "the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires." (James 1:20).

Mark goes on to remark that Jesus' teachings sound "left-wing" and wonders how "the message of Jesus ever become [sic] aligned with big business, military spending, gun ownership, tax cuts and disdain for the environment?" Cogent questions all.

I take issue with Mark in that he creates a false dichotomy. I do not believe it is an either/or proposition but a both/and. Just as an airplane needs a right and a left wing to fly, I likewise believe our political process, and our Christian involvement therein, needs both wings.

Mark questions the conservative penchant of preserving the status quo. Understandable, but I would posit that it is oh-so necessary. Without the "status quo" of solid theology the church would have, on many, occasions wandered into the spiritual wilderness never to return. Likewise without the left-wing radicalism of men and women like Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, William Carey or Mother Teresa, who took seriously the command to care for others we would be the inheritors of a stale and lifeless theology.

The ongoing discussion of the Christian's role in the political process is an important one for us as believers. We need to get this right. If we, as the church, desire to change our society and our culture we must do it by changing the hearts and minds of those within that culture. Yet, we also bear a responsibility to speak up for those who are without a voice, be they the unborn or the underprivileged. We must be conservative in our theology ("Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" Jude 3) and liberal in our praxis ("In as much as you've done it to the least of these my brethren, you've done it unto me." Matt. 25:40).


Mark (under construction) said...

Thankyou for your kind words on my Blog - Yep, I agree with you fully, it is not that I wanted to push the Left side so hard but often putting a case forward in a Blog kind of a way does.

For the record I am conservative in theology but am beginning to see it's outworking is a lot more radical than what I was taught.

I completed 4 years theological trainning 81-84 and pastored a middle size Church of Christ (Disciple to you I thin) for about 8 years.

Steve Hayes said...

For a long time I have thought that liberal theology leads to conservative politics and vice versa.

G.K. Chesterton said that as long as the vision of heaven is always changing (as in liberal theology) the vision of earth will always remain exactly the same.

And Jesus has not come to take sides, but to take over.

John said...

Steve, too right! Jesus has come to take over. My problem is I keep snatching control back from His hands.

Mark, glad to enter the conversation with you and look forward to more provocation of thought from you!

It is a remarkable thing that, by way of technology, threads of thought from Australia, Africa and Alabama have been brought together. What a day in which we live!