Spiritual formation in the public life

“Evangelicals have often been presented with a false choice about our role in public life. We either completely withdraw from trying to influence things, or we initiate ‘takeover’ programs. There is an alternative pattern, thought, one that I believe is mandated by Scripture: in the present time, where the fullness of Christ’s kingdom is not yet with us, we are called to do what we can in the political realm, given the opportunities and abilities that God has provided for us in the places where the Lord calls us to be faithful.” — Richard Mouw, Restless Faith: Holding Evangelical Beliefs in a World of Contested Labels

The current evangelical game of “gotcha”

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. (Mark 12:13, NIV)

We are creating new games of “gotcha” in the evangelical world on almost a weekly basis now. Statements issued by one group are carefully scrutinized by another. Actions of one group are carefully scrutinized for motive by another.

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day were good at this. And for good reason.

You can tweet this. (LOL. I really hate that cue!)

When we don’t have true authority all we can do is try and ‘trap’ the opponent.



Faith in the Public Square

A friend on Facebook who is on the faculty at Biola University had an article in their university’s magazine on the election.

An excerpt:

If the two-party system remains intact after this election, and evangelicals become more disenfranchised in terms of not really fitting into one or the other party, does that mean evangelicals will simply have to accept being a more muted political force going forward?

I think the church as a whole, not just here in the United States, but across the globe, is at a place where we have to make a decision about what our role in this world is. To American evangelicals, I would say this: I think our role is to stand in prophetic resistance to whatever system we’re faced with. I think every time we try to turn the church into a power broker, the destruction and change comes to the church and not to that which we are trying to influence. So I think our role is to stand in prophetic resistance. It’s not a standing against, because Jesus didn’t do that. Jesus didn’t say to topple the Roman government. Jesus didn’t say to start a revolution. In fact, he said, “Give to Caesar what’s Caesar’s,” and he submitted himself to those authorities, even when it was unjust, to his own detriment, and he suffered an execution that was in and of itself incredibly political.

I think Christians have had such a privileged place in American culture that we’ve lost sight of the fact that this is not our place. America is not the New Jerusalem, but we do have a role to play. And our role may put us outside of power but in a position where the greater message that we have is heard. Christians should vote. They should participate in the process. They should run for office and seek places of influence. But if the goal is power, it will dampen the greater message every single time.

The rest of the article is HERE.

These are times to be thoughtful. Not fearful.

Real persecution actually exists

It is my hope that the following statement offends just about everyone who regularly reads my blog, because I have something BEYOND that to which we need our attention drawn:

For evangelical Christians and gay rights folks in America, here is the stark truth: none of us know persecution. 

The current broohaha over the Arizona bill concerning businesses and serving gays or not serving gays… nothing. 

I hope I have your attention. I truly hope I have your anger in some way. Because here is the reality:

Beirut (AFP) – A jihadist group in Syria said Wednesday that Christians in the city of Raqa will have to pay taxes and hold religious rituals behind closed doors, under a set of rules.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), listed 12 rules which made up an “agreement” with Christians in the northern city to provide “protection.”

The terms, bearing the stamp of ISIL which controls Raqa, were distributed on jihadist forums.

They include a provision that Christians must pay a “jiziyeh” tax, as imposed in early Islam on non-Muslim subjects.

It said wealthy Christians must pay up the equivalent of 13 grams (half an ounce) of pure gold, that middle-class Christians pay half that sum, while the poor pay a quarter.

The agreement also demands Christians “do not put on display a cross or anything from their book, anywhere on Muslims’ path or markets” and that they should not “use megaphones to make their prayers heard.”

The jihadist group demands that Christians follow “rules imposed by ISIL, such as those relating to modesty in clothing.”

ISIL is rooted in Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which also imposed the jiziyeh tax on Christians after the US-led invasion of 2003.

When there are truly places in this world where real people are being severely limited in their freedoms… and severely isn’t a term I would give as “in the eyes of the beholder”… we in America have issues. 

Gays and evangelicals may now scream arguments about, “Well, if we keep on this road we’re on we’ll be right there.”

I disagree.

There are deep issues we have to face and need to work out. But, we get to work them out. And work them out we should… in a free country.

Call me what you want. Anti-gay. Anti-evangelical. Anti- whatever makes you feel good about not like me. Go ahead.

I am simply pleading for perspective… and prayer. Prayer for people in places like Syria that have no voice in how they are treated. In America, we all have voices… and they are so loud right now we can’t even hear each other.

Today, let us pray. Pray for brothers and sisters in parts of the world that aren’t some “slippery slope.” They are in hell. Cut off. Persecuted. And voiceless.

God help us.