A while back on Conversatio Morum I began writing on the issue of patriotism and it’s role in the church. I raised the question of what we as Christians ought to do regarding patriotism and the Church. What ought we to do when both kingdoms collide? They will collide, if they don’t, then I have to wonder if you are actually living in both kingdoms. Here in the US there are issues with this train of thinking. I’m not certain where it comes from, except that we as humans all want to believe that whatever side of any issue we’re on we want to believe that we’re right. This is part of the reason that we like to separate religion and politics. I think this might even be part of the reason that the government allows for tax exemptions if we uphold this type of separation.
Personally I have a few issues with this train of thinking. First, this essentially nuters the Church from speaking against any kind of issues that run against the truth of scripture once a politician decides to uphold those issues. ie. abortion is ok, homosexuality is ok, debt is ok, the list could go further but you get the idea. This issue of how the Church addresses politics and government is, in my estimation, the primary failure of the Church in Pre World War II Germany. This isn’t to say that all of the Church failed during that era, that just isn’t the case since out of that time you have men such as Detrich Boenhoefer and other carriers of the faith. I was reading a story earlier about an author who spoke at a prominent church in our nation; what he said was somewhat political and afterwards someone took him aside and explained to him that pulpits weren’t for politics. Now, to explain a little more about the situation, this church doesn’t have any crosses, but it does have a large flag in front of the auditorium. I have great concerns when the cross is taken out of the church before the flag.
There is a fine line between politics and spirituality. In my own life I have just never been able to separate them so easily. In fact, usually it’s kinda messy. It’s hard to tell where politics ends and my relationship with my God King begins. Especially, when my country’s money keeps reminding me that my primary allegiance is to God. The word politics comes from the word “polis”, which refers to any group of people attempting to live together. The church at the end of Acts 2 sounds very political based on the root of the word. If we took all of the language from the Roman imperial lexicon out of the bible, there would be very little of the Gospel left. The root for the word allegiance is Lord, and Christians in the first century died for treason because they gave their allegiance to another king (they pledged loyalty to another king). At that point Ceasar was considered Deity, so if you didn’t pledge allegiance to Ceasar, then you didn’t worship Ceasar. Early Christians were condemned as atheists, and that was a form of treason.
Now by all of this i’m not saying that I believe we should revolt and that the US is horrible. I’m not saying that the Government is evil. I’m not saying that the military should never fight again. What I am saying is that I, as a follower of Jesus, am torn because people aren’t perfect and not all of the decision makers in our country love Jesus or are convicted by the same values that the bible would have them be convicted by. Part of this is the beauty of the freedom that we do have, and it’s also what makes the whole thing messy. When I look through the book of Acts I like what Paul did. He used his Roman citizenship when it suited to advance the gospel, and wasn’t afraid to dive into sticky issues of politics when needed. This is the way I see those issues here. I am thankful for the way we have freedom to worship and share with others. However, I am always looking for ways that we can stay alert and be more effective as the church in an environment that allows for much that is against the gospel.
What are some ways that we as the Church, can raise up a be the Church that the bible calls us to be regarding the sticky political situations around us? Should church’s accept the tax exemption status and not speak against certain candidates for their beliefs that may be unbiblical? Is the tax exemption status a form of bribery whereby we recieve money if we don’t speak against issues as the Church, or a way to free up more funds for the advancement of the Gospel to influence people who are voting on those issues?