Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How To Have A Christian Voice

There are no two subjects more likely to evoke controversy in social dialogue than religion and politics.  Put the two together and you have a melting pot of diverse values provoking divisive ideologies.  Express these ideas in an election campaign and everybody loses their minds!

As a Christian minister, blogger and social media junkie, I take a keen interest in the social commentary involving Christian values and how this is expressed in the current political climate. What interests me more are the polarised views from liberal and conservative Christians who seek to represent a biblical worldview.  On issues of morality and social justice the "Christian" voice is far from united and can leave you wondering whether we are reading the same Bible?!  Added to this disunity, is the lack of respect for each other that sadly all too often manifests itself in a less than godly manner!  I shudder to think of the implications to our Christian witness in a world that needs little reason to reject Christianity, let alone the impact upon our influence in the political arena.

Does this mean Christians should keep out of politics? Not at all!  To suggest that religion and politics are mutually exclusive is naive and misinformed.  Whether or not one professes a religious association, we all hold a set of beliefs that inform the way in which we engage in society.  In anthropological terms we call this a 'worldview'.  It is nonsensical to suggest a worldview has no place in the world where it is derived.  From a biblical point of view, God raised up prophets to speak to leaders of nations, took on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ to establish a new kingdom order and commissioned the church to share and integrate the values of His kingdom.  There is a clear biblical mandate for Christians to have a voice in society, but who or what informs that voice?  And just as importantly, how should that voice be expressed?  

The simplistic answer to the 'who' is Jesus Christ, the 'what' being the Bible, and the 'how' with love.  Ironically, the majority of liberal and conservative Christians alike would agree, yet the end message still remains worlds apart from each other.  As a Christian who endeavours to maintain a posture of grace and truth, I find this immensely frustrating, especially when Scripture is distorted to validate a personal, political or popular opinion. How then do we have an effective public voice?

Far from attempting to offer an authoritative or comprehensive answer to such a complex question, I think the following principles would go a long way towards reframing and reforming a Christian voice in society:

  • Foundation of Scripture:  Accept the full counsel of Scripture not just conveniently selected passages to support an idea that conforms to your own image of God.
  • Lordship of Jesus Christ:  Submit to God's pattern and design for humankind, as revealed through the character, teaching and ministry of Jesus.
  • Values of the Kingdom:  Uphold counter-cultural biblical values in a manner that fosters respectful relationships with those who have an alternative worldview.
  • Posture of Grace & Truth:  Pursue an incarnational posture of humility and holiness where grace and truth recalibrates the centre of Christian faith.

The links attached to each of the above principles provides further insight to how we can restore the integrity of our Christian voice (please take the time to read my expanded thoughts on each of these principles).  

Furthermore, Jesus earnestly prayed, "that they may be one as we are that they may be brought to complete unity" (John 17:22-23).  Holy Spirit came upon the disciples when "they were all with one accord" (Acts 2:1).  Paul exhorted the church to "equip God's that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God" (Ephesians 4:12-13) and speaks against divisions among leaders in the church, "I appeal to you...that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought" (1 Corinthians 1:10) - If ever there is a time for a unified Christian voice, it is now!

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