The Flag and the Faith

Last Friday while I was waiting on Kari and her mom to meet me for lunch, I started two books in Barnes and Noble. One of them was a book by Rob Bell and Don Golden called "Jesus Wants to Save Christians." 

I should be honest; I'm not a big fan of Rob Bell. He's a phenomenal communicator, but has (in my view) some huge theological blind spots (If you want more information on a few of those blind spots, you can listen to this talk by MarkDriscoll).  Nonetheless, he's typically more than a little thought-provoking. 

One quote jumped out at me  - it's on page 018 of his book (which is primarily a treatise on social justice and the Christian). Here's the quote:

"A Christian should get very nervous when the flag and the Bible start holding hands. This is not a romance we want to encourage."  

A week from tomorrow, the nation in which I live will be heading to the polls to elect a new leader. And it seems as though everyone has an opinion about exactly what the roll of the Church should be in that process. Some believe the Church should endorse political candidates from the pulpit. Others believe the Church should have zero influence in the political arena. 

So, what do you think? Should we encourage the flag and the faith to hold hands - or do we need to sit between them in the car? I'm going to try to go there this week. 

First, a distinction: There's a vast difference between the responsibility of the institution and the responsibility of the individual. I want to talk about both this week, but not all at the same time. A lot of times we don't make that distinction well, and it causes us problems. One of the blessings of the Protestant Reformation, which we celebrate on October 31st is a plain distinction between the Church as an institution and the Church as a collection of believing individuals. 

Why is that important to a discussion of politics? It's important because we need to not repeat the sins of the past. I'm convinced that we all have a moral responsibility in the voting booth, because freedom is a stewardship (more on that later). But I'm equally convinced that the moral responsibility is an individual issue, not an institutional issue. We need to vote according to a Biblical worldview, but it's our responsibility as individuals to interpret Scripture and determine how what the Scripture says informs how we vote as individuals.  The Church doesn't need to interpret for us, or as an application of that, tell us how to vote. 

It's a big issue, and I'm not intending to solve it in the next three posts. I'm just hoping to raise a couple of issues that I think are pertinent to the discussion. We'll see where we go from there. 

This is a huge election, and has some major implications on the local, state, and national level no matter which side you're on. And it's messy, because many of the issues in an election are moral issues - and the Church has a lot to say about moral issues. But the Church has a bigger responsibility than just taming a nation's morality... so how should we expect our church to respond? I'll try to go there this week without affecting my church's tax-exempt status. Wish me luck.


nick said...

The best way i've ever heard bell described was by Matt Chandler-"80 percent of what he says is absolutely brilliant. 20 percent of what he says would have gotten him killed 400 years ago."

jejeel said...

Have you seen this yet?