I don’t want to run this topic into the ground, but I would like to think through it thoroughly. In my thinking, I’m coming up with more questions than answers. It helps to write my thoughts out, and respond to yours.
My main question is about social activism and politics in general. I don’t have a problem with Christians being involved in either or both (read William Wilberforce as involved in both) as a result of their faith. In fact, I think our faith should initiate AND influence our involvement.
It just seems to me in our recent American culture there are evangelicals who are jumping on the activist band-wagon as a reaction to the perceived “failure” of political involvement. Some (not all) seem to desperately want to be perceived as “hip” and “green.” For others, the massive conglomerate shadow of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson looms over their shoulder, and they can’t get out of the shade fast enough. Still others perceive a serious oversight by the evangelical church at large on issues such as poverty, social justice, and mercy.
1. Has Political Activism been such a failure that we must desert it altogether?
No. It would only seem a failure if your expectations for it were too high (and I know there are many whose were).
2. Have we neglected important social issues?
I think there is some merit to this, but there is a tendency to overlook much good that HAS been done.
3. If PA has failed, is it because Christians had no business getting involved, or because some expected too much from it?
Christians have accomplished much good in politics, both in recent and remote history. As noted above, some expected too much and they are understandably disappointed. This is no reason for a full exodus from the political arena. There is still much good to be done.
4. If PA HAS been a failure, how can they be so sure social activism won’t fail just as miserably?
It will, if it grows to overwhelm our true mission, or becomes (as politics has or some) an end unto itself. The Church’s primary mission is not a social agenda, but it is wrong to try to separate our work from the “good works” we are “created unto” (Eph. 2:10). It would be a shame for believers to fail in this area.
5. What can be done to prevent this potential failure?
Balance. Fight the fight on all fronts. Don’t retreat from either flank. Also, don’t expect either Social or Political activism to do what only the Gospel can. Resist letting either become the priority of our existence.
Those are my questions and my simple answers. What are your thoughts?