The battle over a proposed sale of American evangelism’s ‘Missions Pentagon’ raises questions of missionary strategy and nonprofit accountability. What responsibility do ministries have to their founder’s vision—and to those who sacrificed to fund it?
Journals Whirled Views
The complicated relief after an acrimonious political race ends—whether you’re pleased or grieved at the results—is a temporary luxury in our year-round campaign seasons.
The bitter battle in Alabama between Roy Moore and Doug Jones seems over (unless Moore contests the results), but another round beckons: campaigning for mid-term elections starts, well, now.
You’ll hear plenty in 2018 about a civil war in the Republican Party over the kind of candidates the party should support and the kind of policies the GOP should promote. These are important arguments.
But there’s another civil war I’d like to see us avoid: the battle between evangelical Christians over political figures.
It happened last year: Christians lined up on opposite sides of the presidential conundrum and went as far as questioning each other’s salvation over whether a person supported, tolerated, or opposed then-candidate Donald Trump.
Sadly, it’s still happening. Raising reasonable questions about Roy Moore in the wake of troubling reports about his past raised the ire of some who equated supporting a Christian candidate with passing a Christian litmus test.
One angry Moore supporter told WORLD: “If you are truly born again, you would support him as well.”
On Thursday, The New York Times quoted Stephen Strang, the founder of the Christian publishing company Charisma Media, as saying those who worry Trump has tarnished the evangelical brand “are not really believers—they’re not with us, anyway.”
If that’s an accurate quote in an accurate context, it’s an alarming claim.
Christianity is about repentance and faith and Christ—not belief in political candidates or agendas. Let’s be clear about the Biblical teaching on salvation, especially for the sake of many unbelievers unclear on the subject: Salvation is a spiritual condition, not a political proposition.
Christianity is about repentance and faith and Christ—not belief in political candidates or agendas.
Political beliefs and other personal convictions flow downstream from a clear commitment to Christ who saves us from our sins by grace alone through faith alone to the glory of God alone.
Yes, true faith bears fruit, and it has implications for how we order our lives, even in the political realm. We should take this seriously.
But support for certain principles is different than support for specific people. Holding fast to pro-life, pro-marriage beliefs might not automatically equal supporting every person who might agree with those principles, no matter what.
Christians often disagree about how this should play out. There is room for differences about political pragmatism versus political purism and whatever might be in between. We can hold our ground vigorously and debate charitably.
But what unites us as believers is the teaching of the Scriptures about believing in Christ and proclaiming Him before the world. This is what informs our creeds and our confessions that cross millennia and transcend the momentary political powers of successive ages.
The Jews living in Jesus’ day longed for a Messiah who would deliver them from the political oppression they endured in that moment. But when an unnerved Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if He was the king of the Jews, Jesus told him plainly: “My kingdom is not of this world.”
That didn’t mean his teachings had nothing to say about how we should conduct ourselves in the world, but it did mean His primary concern wasn’t securing the Israelites’ best life now by setting up a political reign in that moment.
His plan was much larger and it transcended every political era and extended to every race of man.
The plan didn’t unfold as anyone expected. But it was much better than anyone could have imagined. That’s what we celebrate this month as we contemplate the incarnation of Christ. And with a rough-and-tumble political season ahead in 2018, it’s worth carrying the celebration into the New Year.
Consider cranking up Handel’s Messiah in January: “The kingdom of this world; is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”