Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Christian Way is Not a Defiant Way By Lloyd Omdahl

Grand Forks Herald
Published Monday, October 20, 2008

Here's a little something I found interesting. His final point drives it home for me.

Before Christians become too enthusiastic about defying government with political endorsements from the pulpit, they should consider the unbiblical and divisive nature of such behavior. Secularization of the pulpits through political action will certainly divide the faithful between those interested in spiritual growth and those who favor political action.

A group called the Alliance Defense Fund recently sponsored “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” to encourage pastors to endorse political candidates in defiance of the IRS rule that contributions to churches may be tax deductible only as long as the churches do not engage in partisan politics. The same rule applies to all nonprofit organizations.

The kind of confrontational defiance of government promoted by the Alliance Defense Fund, even though done in the name of religion, is secular, having no basis in Scripture. In fact, the New Testament teaches exactly the opposite kind of demeanor.

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul asserted that “authorities that exist have been established by God” and “he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.” In his letter to Timothy, he suggested respect for authorities that “we might live quiet and peaceful lives with all godliness and holiness.” To Titus, he reiterated the need to respect authority and to be “peaceable and considerate.”

Paul knew that if Christian churches became embroiled in secular issues — even slavery — two things would happen. First, the resources of the church would be diverted from the Gospel to secular politics; and second, the church witness of loving God and loving neighbors would be repudiated by the hostility inherent in secular controversy.

This defiance of government has roots in our secular culture, and many Christians have bought into the idea. Consequently, churches are now embroiled in many public issues, some based on Biblical values and some on political values. Instead of measuring their behavior against New Testament tenets, political Christians find it acceptable to practice the deceit and misrepresentation that are standard fare in contemporary politics.

If politicalization of Christianity continues, it will certainly drive wedges among Christians who have different paradigms for thinking out their political decisions. Churches will experience the same polarization that has gripped the secular society.

Eventually, those who hold minority views will leave, and churches will be left serving congregations that become more and more homogenous in their political orientation. Politics will overshadow the Gospel — as it has with the Alliance Defense Fund — and political loyalty will become the litmus test for parishioners.

It is ironic that the Christians who believe that God controls the rise and fall of governments are also the ones most intent on influencing the outcome of elections. This suggests that they either don’t really believe that God is in control, or they think God can’t do the job if left to himself.


E. Louise said...

"Even slavery"?
I can't go along with that, I'm afraid, there's a place for christians to stand up against particular issues, but I can understand him not wanting churches to support particular candidates.

Carm said...

E. I just stumbled upon this editorial this evening and was intrigued. I definitely understand what you are saying... I guess the last FOUR paragraphs really are what caught my eye... I probably should have just posted that with a link to the full article, but I was being lazy.

Polarization through politics in the pulpit is a pet peeve of mine. (How's that for alliteration!) And I believe one can simply teach the Bible and let intelligent, thoughtful folks draw conclusions.

And am I making this up but doesn't Mr. Omdahl attend our own GF NAB church? I do tend to respect his viewpoint whether its on education or in this case, a surprising glimpse into separation of church and state.

marvin said...

On the subject of slavery (at least as it unfolded in American history) I think a pretty strong argument can be made for the theory that the institution of slavery in the early days of the USA, ultimately resulted in an overall "positive" outcome for both the nation as a whole and for the specific population of African slaves and their descendants in the present USA.

For example, without slavery, it is highly unlikely that 12.4% of the current population of the USA would now be of black African descent, and there is no question that that fact has vastly enriched the nation in many ways, including culturally and artistically!

As for the population of people of black African/slave heritage currently residing in the USA, very few of those Americans seem especially eager to permanently return to any of their ancestral "home" countries in Africa, and for very good reason!

Historically, slavery, as part of an economic system prevalent in the Southern, more agricultural areas of the early USA was basically forced upon many of those areas by the efforts of the royal houses of Britain and Spain, which greatly profited, directly, from the slave trade, despite concerted efforts in some of those areas to resist or to reject slavery.

Indeed, it was primarily through the Christian belief on the part of most of the slave owners in the South that they were being called by God to introduce the heathen people of Africa to Christianity through the agency of slavery in the USA, that led to numerous actual improvements in the lives and in the the educational levels of many of the slaves.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not advocating a return to the days of slavery! I'm just pointing out that when the actual events of the history are reviewed objectively and unemotionally, the results of slavery, on the whole, as an institution in the early USA, were not quite as bad and evil as most people in our current era seem to believe.

Anonymous said...

So basically this liberal "theologian" is saying "The church should take no stand on any issue that confronts us in the real world like say gay marraige, abortion, or any other issue that would 'infuence the outcome of elections'" How do Christians influence elections? What a load of liberal crap!!!!!


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