Theology Pub: The Church and Politics


Theology Pub: The Church and Politics


Thursday night we will be meeting in the Saskatoon Inn at 7pm.  Tomorrow’s topic is the church and politics.  This is a difficult issue for me to sort out.  Some discussion questions:

  • How should the church respond to governments who adopt or legalize practices the church finds morally suspect?
  • Should Christians involve themselves in the political process even though there are aspects of each political party which are inconsistent with their values?
  • How should the church respond to shifts in the moral fabric of society?
  • Should Canadians support Jordon Cooper as leader of the new Style over Substance party?
  1. #1 by Marc Vandersluys on April 21, 2004 - 12:47 pm

    I wish I could come. This is a subject I am keenly interested in.

    Can we discuss it here?

  2. #2 by Leighton Tebay on April 21, 2004 - 1:10 pm

    Sure

  3. #3 by Karl Thienes on April 21, 2004 - 2:40 pm

    “How should the church respond to governments who adopt or legalize practices the church finds morally suspect?”

    Oh dear. I see a problem: who gets to define what “the church” believes about a particular subject….say, the war with Iraq for instance?

  4. #4 by Leighton Tebay on April 21, 2004 - 2:41 pm

    Karl:

    I think we’d have to assume our own local/denominational contact.

  5. #5 by Marc Vandersluys on April 21, 2004 - 3:49 pm

    “How should the church respond to governments who adopt or legalize practices the church finds morally suspect?”

    I’d say that should be a case-by-case decision. When it comes to issues relating to one’s sexual preference, for instance, I would say do nothing, because legislation is not going to greatly effect people’s moral behaviour. An issue like abortion, on the other hand, is a little different, because it directly affects the lives of others, and we should therefore speak out…

  6. #6 by Jordon Cooper on April 21, 2004 - 4:04 pm

    I don’t think you really have any choice but to support me as when since Brian Mulroney left power has there been a leader with so much style and so little substance?

    Yeah that’s right, I have scandals up my sleeves that the Liberals haven’t even thought up yet!

    Nice post…

  7. #7 by George on April 21, 2004 - 8:58 pm

    Hey Leighton do you guys actually get into the brown pops at this Theology pub. I can imagine where that could go. I used to be real good at having copious quantities of brown pops and then get into great theological discussions. I guess its different if you have all responsible people who limit themselves. Do you have limits for people at this.

    Anyways what a great discussion that could turn out to be. You indicate that it is a difficult issue for you to sort out.

    If I could encourage you in any way I would say the the WWJD principle would be great for this issue, don’t you think?

    I’m thinking Christ wouldn’t be helping out some politician who believes in a woman’s right to choose abortion. Yea its that issue and I know how you responded in that other post, but I gotta tell you for me that would definitely be an issue I would be raising and discussing.

    I would think through that there would definitely be a discussion about God and a tremendous opportunity to witness.

    Personally I can’t wait to get ino it with the guy or girl that comes knocking on my door.

    There was an interesting article in Tuesday’s National Post about the abortion issue back in the news in England because of a show that will be aired where actual abortions are filmed. Check it out.

    Its not an issue of yesterday, it will always be an issue for the followers of Christ. Don’t you think?

  8. #8 by Jordon Cooper on April 21, 2004 - 9:04 pm

    George, actually I don’t think anyone who comes drinks but if they wanted too, I suppose they could.

  9. #9 by Leighton Tebay on April 22, 2004 - 10:16 am

    George:

    I’ve been “Pro-Life” for all of my life. Even the first half before I ever darkened the door of a church. At the time my reasoning was simple. How can anyone be so arrogant to assume that they could decide whether a human being is alive or not. In absence of sure proof, one must be cautious given the consquences.

    Is the church’s role to change society through political means or through the gospel? I think the fight against abortion on the political front has been a dismal failure. I wonder if our preoccupation with political change has kept us away from areas where we can make real change. If one feels the majority opinion in a democracy is unjust is that person better off trying the change the elected or electorate?

    WWJD? What did Jesus do about any political issues involving Israel and the Roman Empire. When oppressive Roman solidiers slapped Jews Jesus told them to turn the other cheek. When they were told to carry a pack, Jesus told them to carry it twice as long. Jesus called people to live for a different kingdom, not change the kingdom they were in.

  10. #10 by Mike Morrell on April 22, 2004 - 2:08 pm

    Why do we assume that Jesus would support _any_ politician? Did Jesus plan for governments to extend, in perpetuity, ad infinitum, or does He have a higher goal for humanity?

    If you’ve never heard of it before you’re going to think I’m nuts, but these days I’m leaning more and more toward Christian anarchy. This is a way of looking at Christ and Culture that’s informed by Quaker, Anabaptist, and Catholic Worker spirituality.

    I won’t overwhelm you with links, but I _have_ to give you three:

    http://www.kingdomnow.org Kingdom Now

    http://www.jesusradicals.com Jesus Radicals

    http://www.Resist2004.com this last one, Resist 2004, is specifically for aiding Christians _not_ to vote in upcoming national elections…American OR Canadian. : )

    I think Jesus Radical’s FAQ is a good place to start: http://anarchism.jesusradicals.com/FAQ.php as well as their PDF classic books by the saints through the ages who were Christian anarchists.

  11. #11 by Leighton Tebay on April 22, 2004 - 4:42 pm

    As an Anabaptist I can say that their “Two Kingdom” theology made a little more sense in their context than it does now. They believed that there was two kingdoms. One was God’s kingdom and the other was the human kingdom including RC and Protestant churches. They were primarily concerned with building God’s kingdom and left the other kingdom to itself. At the time they were being persecuted by the state and the national churches of the time. Hard not to see them as bad guys.

  12. #12 by Beck on April 23, 2004 - 2:33 am

    Fine, I can turn the other cheek when a government policy hurts me, but is it okay for me to turn the other way when I believe someone who is helpless is being hurt?

    And here’s the other thing… I could maybe go with the idea that we can/should stop trying to change our government’s policies regarding abortion if I didn’t know that some of my tax dollars (I don’t care if it is a hundred dollars or a penny) are used to abort babies. If I try really hard I can stay out of whether or not abortion is legal, but I can’t make myself believe that God would want me to allow my government to use my money for a purpose that repulses me on every level.

    Recently, I bought a crib mattress for the baby I am expecting, how much of the sales tax that I payed is going to help end the life of another baby somewhere? Admittedly only a teeny, tiny amount, but it still makes me sick.

  13. #13 by Leighton Tebay on April 23, 2004 - 8:12 am

    Beck:

    You are demonstrating how radical Jesus is. The Jews paid taxes to an empire that oppressed them. He told them to keep paying the taxes.

    I certainly don’t have everything sorted out in my mind on this issue. I am trying to grapple with it honestly. As I read Jesus I see him calling us to live for a different kingdom.

  14. #14 by Chris P. on April 24, 2004 - 9:24 am

    As believers it is perfectly good to utilize our voting power to put in office those who could possibly change laws that are killing the unborn and promoting sexual deviancy and promiscuity etc. However the passing of laws does nothing in the area of changing hearts. Leighton is right,the Kingdom of GOD has nothing to do with politics on either the right or left side of things. Liberal believers think creating a law makes the problem vanish.(i.e. just say it is illegal to hate and there is no more hate?)The conservative side wants laws that enforce a righteous agenda that they can’t even keep.( Acts 15:4-11). Romans 13 instructs us in the ways of submission to governmental authorities. In essence it says that when we submit to earthly authorities, we are in actuality submitting to the LORD, who allows these authorities to even exist. JESUS said give Ceasar his due and the LORD what is due Him. JESUS was not a social activist nor a religious reformer. If that was His mission then he was a complete failure. HE came that many sons would come to glory and that men could enter the Kingdom of GOD. He came to die and live again!!(Isaiah 53 especially verse 10; Acts 4:24-28; John 10:17-18)

    One thought for Mike M. The websites he mentioned, especially Jesus Radicals, are just a bunch of Marxists masquerading as the Church. I have studied their content for some time and their “biblical” teaching which denies the blood atonement among other things, is close to heretical. One more comment on Karl’s statement;

    “Oh dear. I see a problem: who gets to define what “the church” believes about a particular subject….say, the war with Iraq for instance? ”

    That is why scripture is authority and not men. Something neither the Roman nor Greek sects have grasped yet.

  15. #15 by caro on April 25, 2004 - 9:56 am

    Do you do these pubs at random or is there a schedule (like every week, every other week . . .?) I keep reading about it after the fact and wouldn’t mind sitting in for one or two of them, if that’s okay.

  16. #16 by Beck on April 26, 2004 - 12:23 am

    The Jews had no choices when it came to what their taxes went to paying for, they did not live in a democracy. We do. We get to choose who we want to represent us and our tax dollars. That means I have a right and (I believe) an OBLIGATION to vote for a candidate who best represents what I believe.

    I long to see the world come to know God and His love. I would like nothing better than to see our country transformed through people’s acceptance of Jesus as their savior. However, until that happens, I don’t see anything wrong with having and enforcing laws that protect innocent people from being harmed by those whose hearts are presently corrupted by sin. (We have laws against stealing, murder, and rape for this purpose.) I believe that those laws should extend to protect the lives of unborn people as well.

    As a citizen of a democratic country, one of my jobs is to vote for what I believe. As a Christian “living for a different kingdom”, one of my jobs is to feel the heart of God for the lost and to be willing to answer yes when He calls. I don’t think those jobs need to be mutually exclusive.

  17. #17 by Chris P. on April 26, 2004 - 7:54 am

    Beck said;

    “I don’t see anything wrong with having and enforcing laws that protect innocent people from being harmed by those whose hearts are presently corrupted by sin. (We have laws against stealing, murder, and rape for this purpose.) I believe that those laws should extend to protect the lives of unborn people as well.”

    While laws serve as a deterrent to keep most folks in line, they mainly prescribe the penalty for lawbreakers. The police rarely prevent crime. They are usually there post facto. As Paul said, the law is good, but it doesn’t save. I don’t believe anyone is saying that the governmental process is unimportant. The kingdoms of men are allowed to exist by grace. However they are not the Kingdom that Christ JESUS will establish in its fullness at His return.

  18. #18 by Leighton Tebay on April 26, 2004 - 9:37 am

    Caro:

    So far we have had them every two weeks on Thursday night at 7pm at the Botanica Lounge in the Saskatoon Inn. The next one will be a week from this this Thursday.

  19. #19 by Leighton Tebay on April 26, 2004 - 10:03 am

    Becky:

    Canada could elect 10 conservative governments in a row and it would make very little difference on abortion. As long as the majority of Canadians support abortion there will be abortion. The Conservatives know this and because they are a political party they will happily quietly position themselves against abortion and collect the votes it gets them even though it would be incredibly difficult to change the law.

    What it all comes down to is, what is the best way to influence society as a whole for the positive? If I had the choice to outlaw abortion against the will of the majority of Canadians I wouldn’t. A) It would be short lived. B) Where does it stop? When a Chistian minority imposes their values on the majority the church loses its life and vision. It gets sucked in to political power. In essence it is the “Ring of Power” for the church. It might seem attractive but in the end it would destroy us.

    I might launch zillion dollar programs designed to educate people about the real scientific and psychological consequences of abortion. I would promote and provide attractive alternatives to abortion. I’d do everything I could with honesty, transperancy and integrity in the democratic framework to create positive change in society.

    Paul calls us to respect our national government and its authorities. He did that even though the government was repressive and brutal. In a democractic society should we not respect the ideals of a democracy which is government for the people by the people? I’m not saying that we accept and embrace the will of the people in all things, but I do believe we need to respect and work within the democratic framework.

  20. #20 by Beck on April 26, 2004 - 2:39 pm

    Leighton,

    Maybe you misunderstood me, even re-reading what I wrote I can’t find the part where I disrespect our government. I totally respect our country’s government and political processes. I thought that was my whole point. We can vote for what we believe in, and so we should vote. I educate myself about what the platforms of each party are, and then I pick someone who I think most closely represents what I believe. (I also believe it is important to pray for that person and for all the people who have been entrusted with the task of governing our country.) Isn’t that working within the framework?

    I realize laws don’t change hearts, but they are still a deterrant. I know they don’t work even close to 100%. To me, that is still better than nothing. I guess I’m settling.

    I am totally with the idea of education and providing positive alternatives when it comes to an issue like abortion. I have been involved in this process personally, (Did you know I taught sex-ed for Teen-Aid for a year? Picture me in a room of grade nine boys talking about erections. Can I say erection on this site? I know I can say election…) and will continue to be involved in it. I actually would be quite happy if the government would just stop FUNDING abortions.

    However, after saying all that I have to make a confession. You’ve found me out. I guess at heart I am a dictator. I would outlaw abortion in a second if I had the choice. Don’t bother trying to convince me that it would be the wrong thing to do. My head is convinced. My heart isn’t.

  21. #21 by Beck on April 26, 2004 - 2:42 pm

    P.S. It doesn’t help that I am nine months pregnant as I write this. Maybe I will be more reasonable later…

    …Although in the past I have been known to be mind-numbingly stupid…

  22. #22 by George on April 26, 2004 - 6:58 pm

    Right on, Beck

  23. #23 by Leighton Tebay on April 27, 2004 - 1:24 pm

    Becky:

    I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that you disrespect the government. I was attempting to say that if I were in charge and I imposed my will on the country it would contradict democractic values.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong for voting for the candidate that best reflects your views. That is certainly democracy in action.

    I don’t make abortion a major factor because I don’t believe there would be a significant difference regardless of who we elected. The amount of energy the church expends fighting the political arena is often just a futile waste.

    Gay marriage for example. It is only when the laws change does the church realize something has shifted in society. All of the sudden there are thousands of Christians up in arms about what they perceive is a small minority dictating the values of the country. In reality society has shifted dramatically in the last 10 years and the church just didn’t notice it. We only start fighting when the battle is almost lost. Not that I care much about gay marriage. I really don’t think it makes that much difference that gay people get certain legal status in the eyes of the government. I think the liberalization of divorce laws about 30 years ago signified a much more dramatic shift. Divorce is something we’ve accepted in society even though the government is out of step with biblical values.

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