Evolving PositionsI guess I have found, over the course of the past few months, my positions on the relationship between politics and Christian faith changing. I no longer simply view the Christian faith as an endorsement of certain policies and an opponent of others. I no longer view the Christian Right with disdain as heretics or misguided, benighted yahoos in need of proper theological education. I no longer see myself as part of some small, besieged vanguard of left-leaning Christians bearing the Truth to a world hungry for it.
All Christians of all political persuasions are moved by a combination of their faith and life-experiences, and none of us possess the Truth. We all have a small bit of truth with which we face a world hostile to our faith, and we attempt to live with something like integrity (for myself, I fail miserably), carrying the message of God's grace revealed in Jesus Christ to a world fallen and falling. We need to listen to one another, to learn from one another, to challenge one another, to hear the Word with fresh ears. We are all in need of renewal each day, each moment of each day, and never once claim anything like finality to our own way of being and living in the world. Exuberance, even militancy, in proclaiming the Gospel is one thing. Such in proclaiming our own interpretation of the faith as final and true is quite another.
Our world is hungry for more than simple answers. Our world is desperate for a new way of living - a way that may just save us from the brink of the abyss over which we hang, an abyss brought about not by religion, but by our own sinful insistence that our interpretation of religion has any authority over others. God is not the source of our dilemma; we are.
I seek a way that is truly humble - unaware, that is, of its own simplicity of life and humility - and truly loving. I seek a way that is unafraid, not of speaking the truth to power (as Noam Chomsky has observed, the powerful know the truth, which is why they try to suppress it), but of living the Christian life in a world that would seek to deny its very possibility. As N. T. Wright has observed, such will always have a political element, clashing with the powers that be that enforce the denial of the message of grace. This does not mean that the Christian faith is political at its core, only that, as I wrote below, there is an irreducible political element to the faith. We must live, and act, and be, never claiming finality for our lives, our beliefs, but unafraid to declare that, somehow through the miracle of grace, we are called to be the hands and feet and arms and mouth of God to a world that needs to be held and loved and spoken to in love.
I do not preach quietism. I only preach Jesus Christ, and him crucified and risen. Because the world always denies that possibility (as N. T. Wright has also observed) this may threaten our very lives. Yet, we already live in Christ, so what can the world do to us that we cannot overcome?