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God-talk Miscellany XIII

Hat tip to my friend Lenore who shot me a link to the NY Times article, Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock, which looks at pastor Gregory Boyd (of mega-church Woodland Hills in St. Paul) and a series of sermons he preached on how “the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a ‘Christian nation’ and stop glorifying American military campaigns.” A very interesting read.

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


Mirtika said…
Yeah, I was gonna post on this and changed my mind (for now). I have a couple of Boyd's books, and I disagree with him on Open Theism. I believe God is omniscient and that this is the original and prevalent teaching from the beginning.

I also disagree that we should stop moralizing on sexual matters. Jesus and Paul "moralized" on sexual matters, and it has been a big sin since human history began and has gotten a lot of people into a sin trap. When a culture is screwed up on it's sexual morality, it's is the church's job to be salt and light in that EVERy arena in which the church has something to say.

I agree with him on the icky-factor of making church services into patriotic displays. That makes me very uncomfortable. And I agree with him that we aren't a party, but a Body. However, I think church members should be free to discuss and band together to support a political agenda--as long as it's not something tied to church loyalty or membership or "who's cool." We have to discuss the issues that affect life and religious liberty and godliness, but we shouldn't expect everyone to lockstep, left, center, or right.

I'm Republican because I believe that there are too many positions in the Democratic party that make me wanna puke. And I used to be a Democrat, registered and voting as such. But as the Democratic party seemed to stand more with things that literally revolted me, I disassociated myself. Not to say I'm all that happy with all that Republicans stand for, but for now, it's where my loyalties lie politically. If someone comes along as an Independent or Reform Party candidate who will have more of my positions, my vote will go there.

I think we all should examine ourselves to see if we're voting for a party out of self-centered reasons (what can the party give me, do for me, let me do that others find repulsive) or if we're voting because we want to uphold as much godliness as we can in what is always going to be a corrupt arena--government.