On a personal note, the integration of faith and politics is a pet peeve of mine. Once or twice in my previous life (ie, when I actually got paid for writing), I penned my own frustration with the tendency of we American Christians to marry our faith to our politics—be they liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican—which often results in defining “Christian” as those who have the same political views as we do. That frustration peaked during my years and travels as an editor of a denominational magazine (which I absolutely enjoyed, by the way), when I heard (more often than I care to count) Christians who held conservative Republican views label their brothers and sisters who voted or thought more liberally as “unsaved” or “heretics.” On the other hand, however, I heard just as many Christians who held to more liberal politics depreciatively declare it impossible for anyone who voted Republican to really be a Christian. Personally, I’ve gotten to know deeply committed and Jesus-breathing Christians in both political parties. So, I guess I agree with Boyd on at least one issue: marrying the church to one political party or set of political views is bad business. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Christians shouldn’t voice—and loudly—their views on political and social issues. I myself hold strong beliefs on many of those issues (and some of them even make it to this blog). But I’m dead set against weaving political parties into a Christian-defining checklist.
On a more analytical note regarding the article, I increasingly hear discussion about the relationship between politics and church in the evangelical world, so I’m not sure I’d agree with the Times supposition that Boyd’s sermons are “hardly typical in today’s evangelical churches.” It may not be common fare, but it certainly isn’t that unusual.
Also, I’m a bit bemused by the understated, almost passing mention of the “controversy” Boyd created a few years ago by “questioning whether God fully knew the future.” This is no little controversy, but the whole “open theism” debate, among which Boyd is apparently a leading proponent. It created quite a splash in the evangelical pond. But it seems that in the larger world of the NY Times, it’s just a ripple. Oh well.
(For text summaries of Boyd’s sermons, go here and look for sermons preached 4/18/04 – 5/30/04.)
(Image: by Mike D on flickr.com)