One More for the Road: More Questions Than Answers

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?

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5 thoughts on “One More for the Road: More Questions Than Answers

  1. For me, I think that the far right has damaged our cause. Squawking heads like Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Hannity have alienated some of us. I think that some of us are looking for spokesmen or women that are sensible and able to be persuasive without all the rhetoric and bravado.

    Just a few thoughts..

  2. Cameron,
    I am in agreement with you. Politics nor social action can change people’s hearts and lives, yet we must work for Christ, and that includes our participation in these matters.
    Still the only thing that will change lives for the good, and God’s glory is the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively touching hearts.
    T.A.

  3. I think you are right. Some of this is an over-reaction to the activism of the past. Part of the problem with activism is the inherent problem of organizing any group. Groups tend to get so organized (and worried about the organization) that they forget what they organized for in the first place. My hope is that the Christians rushing to get out of the shadow of Falwell, Dobson, and Robertson do not swing the pendulum too far the other way and create another shadow for my children to have to deal with.

  4. KB, I’m not sure I would consider those guys genuinely conservative. Certainly not on the social issues I care about. Still, the perception of them and others as the “voice of the Right,” is detrimental.

    Pastor Tim, Amen. Perhaps the boundary of our involvement could be marked by these works intersection with the spreading of the Gospel.

    Dave, I too fear the “swing.” In the words of one of my favorite quotes, “Blessed are the balanced.” That is true in many issues, but especially these.

    Thanks, all for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate the discussion on this topic.

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