There’s something inherently problematic in the term “Christian politics.”
While God’s will is stated in Scripture, good people, including Christian people, disagree on scriptural interpretation. While God’s perspective on moral issues like lying, stealing, or murdering is abundantly clear, many other contemporary issues are not directly addressed. So which position on a non-addressed issue is the Christian view, and thus, who has a corner on Christian politics?
Of course politicians use Christianity, or at least some affirmation of their fidelity, to promote their agendas and their opportunities for electoral office. These are the “Political Christians,” politicians who glom onto the faith for perceived political advantage. Perhaps some do this out of genuine commitment to the faith, but surely many others do so disingenuously. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to ascertain in which category a politician falls.
Whether or not politicians openly declare faith or how they do it varies with the political culture of the times. JFK downplayed his Catholic heritage. Jimmy Carter campaigned and won as a southern believer. Four years later, many Christians jilted Carter for Ronald Reagan, thinking he was a better man of faith because of his political views. Both George Bushes and Bill Clinton publicly affirmed their Christian faith. Barack Obama and his 2008 Republican opponent, John McCain, did so as well. For the record, I doubted the latter more than the former, but neither one makes much of a believable case.
All presidents, beginning with George Washington, publicly asked God to bless America, even LBJ and Richard Nixon, two of the most morally bankrupt men ever to hold the presidency.
Perhaps we’d generate more light if we talked about Christians in politics, rather than Christian politics. I believe my political views are consistent with my understanding of the Christian faith, but I must admit that on many issues I cannot prove this. I can only say what I believe. I am a Christian trying to live out my faith, but I cannot claim to live it perfectly. So it is with everyone else.
Seems to me Christians in politics is ideal, while Christian politics is an ideal.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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