Christians and Politics: four approaches

In Christians and Politics: its complicated I said that I think Christian responsibility within government is a complicated issue and needs to be approached with understanding and gentleness from everyone involved.

There are a few main approaches for Conservative Evangelical Christians when it comes to political views and actions. There may be more, but based on my observations these are the major ones that I see:

  • The Conservative Right – This is probably the biggest group, and easily the most politically powerful on a national scale. This group generally holds that America is founded on Christian morality and principles. Generally it tries to promote Christian morality through the government. It works to elect leaders who oppose abortion and homosexual marriage. It encourages Christian activity and symbols within government institutions (i.e. ten commandments in courthouses, prayer in schools). It generally feels that welfare is a bad system which supports laziness and that war is useful in defending freedom, spreading democracy, and opposing the spread of Islam.
  • The Welfare Advocates – This group sees that Christians are called to care for those in need and believes that the government should be used to do that. They generally support redistribution of wealth, government aid programs for the lower-class and impoverished – programs like food stamps, government health care, housing assistance, higher-education assistance, and so on – , providing shelter and basic needs for refugees, and becoming involved, as a nation, in supporting those living in third-world countries and natural disaster zones. They generally take issue with programs that help the wealthy such as government bail-outs and cutting taxes for the wealthy.
  • The Politically Disinterested or Apathetic – This group generally believes that from a Christian perspective politics are unimportant. Things having to do with the governments of this world are irrelevant to those destined to the New Kingdom where The Father sits on the throne and Christ at His right hand. They believe that the government has no real lasting value and that they have no responsibility or need to be involved with it. They may vote, and when they do it tends to be along similar lines as the above mentioned Conservative Right (i.e. against abortion and gay marriage, supporting prayer in schools). They usually believe it is important for The Church to care for those in need, and have little to no expectation that the government should/will do anything about it.
  • The Limited Government Proponents – This group embraces freedom, both morally and economically. They generally feel that people should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as it does not infringe on the rights (to life, liberty, and property) of others. The basic premise behind this is that forcing people to act moral will not make them Christians; it will not affect lasting change in their hearts, but at the same time people should not be allowed to hurt others and Christians should defend the defenseless, thus there is a limited role and responsibility for the government to protect but not impose morality. This group generally believes in economic freedom as well, feeling that welfare systems do not demonstrate love and promote Christ since they are forced giving through taxation. This, again, would go back to the moral issue, people should give not by compulsion but out of love for their neighbor, government run welfare does not offer that opportunity and limits what can be given willingly due to increased taxation.

What is important to see in the best scenario of all these views is that there is a desire to follow the Bible. The angles are all different but the desire is the same. You may want to encourage Biblical morality, you may want to encourage the Biblical call to care for those in need, you may want to have your attention on the Heavenly Kingdom, or you may feel that it is important to know where people’s hearts really are, thus allowing them the opportunity to act morally depraved. With this understanding, that we all want to be Biblical, hopefully we can deal with this topic a little more friendly. I think we all have opinions about each of these ideologies, but I tried to give a fair and impartial explanation of what I understand the core beliefs of each approach to be.

Like I said, there may be other approaches, but these are what I thought of. Can you think of other Conservative Evangelical approaches to Christian involvement in government?

Advertisements

About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

8 responses to “Christians and Politics: four approaches

  • Mark

    Dan,

    I will restate here what I stated in response to your first post in this series, with some minor expounding.

    I find myself at a place where I will cast my vote in favor of what I think is morally and ethically right, and what is practically a good idea for our nation. Beyond that I choose to not get involved. The government will do as it will, and nothing I do is realistically going to change that. Even if I, and other Christians, had a feasible chance of influencing government to enact “biblical” laws I would not want to do so. I was reading in “Myth of a Christian Nation”, by Greg Boyd, about a study conducted by the Barna Group rating different groups according to their perceived expression of love for others. Evangelical Christians scored second to bottom of the list, and no surprise! We have spent so much time fighting for “right morals” in our nation that we’ve alienated the very people we are to be loving! We can’t love homosexuals as Christ did, and fight against them politically at the same time! As you pointed out earlier, Dan, Christ never, by word or example, advocated for political change. He advocated for change of the heart, which, when given full sway, will result in the ultimate expression of the Kingdom of God, and the fulfillment of the victory over the powers of this world that Christ won at Calvary. Of course, those powers are spiritual powers, not worldly, governmental powers.

    I guess, ironically enough, that I find myself not far off from the beliefs of the Anabaptists in this regard. I say ironic not because of any opinions on the Anabaptists, a group with a tragic but inspiring history, but because I was the most nationalistic Christian I knew back in the day.

    Mark

  • Steve Scott

    Dan,

    I can think of some. There are the groups which want to establish Mosaic law as the law of the land. All the same groups that would be stoned to death, for instance, in the OT would apply to America (and every other nation) today. There are various forms of theonomists which differ to varying degrees from my first example. They would have God’s moral law to some degree established by the civil governments. There are also relatively small numbers of anarchists (strict definition, not to be confused with punk rockers breaking windows at WTO meetings. LOL) within conservative evangelical groups.

    These groups are smaller than the larger ones you mentioned.

  • Steve Scott

    Oops, I forgot libertarians.

    • Dan Allen

      Steve

      Thanks for describing these other, generally more extreme, groups.

      I would say that the different version of theonomy that you described in your first comment would loosely fall under the Conservative Right camp that I described. I would say that Anarchists (extreme libertarians) and libertarians in General would fall under the Limited Government group (with anarchists limiting government to non-existence)

      But I think the value of what you are saying is that there is a large variety of political views with all of them, at least in their best expression, attempting to follow the Bible in one way or another.

      Thanks for your continued dialogue on this subject!

      Dan

  • tommyab

    more and more I realize that a very big proportion of christians are submitted to many “lords” in regard to politic

    why were the first christians persecuted? Because they proclaimed there was another Lord who was not Ceasar.
    why the Chinese believers are persecuted? Because they basically say that there is a Lord who is above the government, and that is a treat to a government who ask total allegiance

    in our western democracy, we submit ourselves, without questions, to de democratic process. We become an interest group among other.

    so we get:
    the gay lobby
    feminist lobby
    muslim’s lobby
    businessmen’s lobby
    union’s lobby
    ecologic lobby
    the right wing lobby
    the anything else lobby

    … and the christian lobby

    just another one, among other, legally equivalent, using the exact same method (political treaties, hypocrisy, crowd manipulations, marketing, half-truths, money, money, power, etc)

    our claim is that our Lord is above all other lords, but we act as if our Lord ought to submit to the democratic process, as all the lords out there.

    we are stranger in this world

    many christians also use the word “rights”
    “this is our rights to do this or that”

    what if our Lord would have decided that it was his right to not be crucified?

    • Dan Allen

      Tommy

      you make some great points. First, that participation in, and by extension submission to, earthly government seems at odds with the fact that we follow the true God, Lord of all Creation. The other point you make that I have thought a lot about is the concept of “rights.” I tend to hold to the “three inalienable rights” of life, liberty, and property, but honestly, can they be considered rights when we are asked to give them up to follow Christ? Thanks for the comment!

      Dan

  • Alan Knox

    I fit perfectly within one of those categories, but I don’t care enough to figure out which one. 🙂

    -Alan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: