I was going to respond to Linda’s many comments about my post yesterday with my own comments but found that I had too much to say. And I believe that Linda has provided me with the opportunity to further delve into some of the issues I discussed in yesterday’s post.
Let me first say that while I would disagree with Linda’s assessement of the condition of politics and Christianity in America, nevertheless, I do not question Linda’s motives. Linda is representative of a small vocal minority that believes they are under attack. I used to feel the same way.
And I used to make the same mistakes that Linda makes in her comments. There is a verse in the Bible that talks of “speaking the truth in love”. As with many things in the Bible, it isn’t always easy to do the right thing. Unfortunately many feel that it is better to err on one side than another. I used to believe that since I couldn’t figure out how to “speak the truth in love”, that I would be better off erring on the side of truth. Of course I ignored the fact that I was intentionally erring.
One of my best friends from college recently reminded me of how I erred on “speaking the truth in love” when I made a girl cry in school during a debate on abortion. And in my desire to “speak the truth”, not only did I not show love but I ignored another truth. I ignored the truth that other people, in fact all people, are made in the image of God and should be afforded tremendous respect and graciousness.
“That is where the scriptures get bent out of shape whne those with political ambitions try to be all things to all people. No offense, Will, but I do see that in your writing. And that is why you are so well received by so many on this blog. You show me in the KJV of the Holy Bible where Jesus altered the scriptures to appease those whom he preached to. I commend you for writing a history of religion in the South, but it is not the place of a politican to change anything which the Lord commands.”
This comment from Linda pretty well illustrates this overarching desire to speak the truth while ignoring love and ironically isn’t even true. I think this also illustrates the primary bone of contention that many people have with Christians as it relates to politics. It is this co-mingling of scripture with particular political stances.
Once again, I can understand this point of view because I used to hold it. I used to believe that almost the entire plaform of the Republican party was rooted in the Bible. Sounds absurd I know. I used to believe that free-market capitalism was absolute truth. While I still believe capitalism to be the best way to help the poor, I don’t hold it as absolute truth anymore.
The interesting thing is that there are few political issues that are so cut and dry as to say with absolute certainty what the correct position is. There are some Christians who would say that it is an absolute truth that prayer should be allowed in schools or that there should be public displays of the Ten Commandments. But it isn’t. To the contrary, the Bible clearly states that Christian should expect to be persecuted. While these aren’t neccessarily example of persecution, I can’t see any justification in the Bible to say that prayer in school is an absolute right. To the contrary, the Bible speaks little if any of “rights”.
Once again, the errors that some Christians make on these issues are born out of good intention. any Christians speak much about the absolute truth of Christianity. And they should. But this focus on “absolute truth” bleeds into other areas that aren’t so absolute. Should Christians help the poor and oppressed? Absolutely. It is commanded in the Bible. But how do we do it? Private charity or through government programs. That is the million dollar question that is worth considering. Of course arguing over the means doesn’t excuse inaction.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I hope and pray that Christians in the public eye will start to show more humility. It is one thing to say that there is absolute truth. It is an entirely different thing to say that one has a complete grasp on what that absolute truth is.
I also hope and pray that politicians in Georgia and throughout the country who claim Christianity would stop using demogoguery and fear to advance their careers. Laws that enable people to say “Merry Christmas” or that allow the public display of the Ten Commandments do little if anything to advance the cause of Christ.
I apologize for the overly religious nature of this discussion but felt that it would be helpful to some to see an insider’s perspective. By and large, Christians in America are not trying to form a theocracy and take over. This ridiculous assertion needs to be defeated once and for all. Christians ARE grappling with how to live out their faith in a changing world that is challenging for all people regardless of belief.