Christian author and American Theologian Timothy Keller argued in a New York Times op-ed that Christians cannot and should not assign the church a political party in an effort to combat modern social issues.
Keller wrote on Saturday that the Christian approach to social concerns could be argued from both the left and the right.
“For example, following both the Bible and the early church, Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family,” he wrote.
“One of those views seems liberal and the other looks oppressively conservative. The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.”
Keller asserted that he is not saying that Christians should avoid making stands on important issues, in fact, he counters that idea pointing to the churches in the 19th century that did not speak out against slavery. Keller said, “American churches in the early 19th century that did not speak out against slavery because that was what we would now call ‘getting political’ were actually supporting slavery by doing so.”
The founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church continued, “The Bible shows believers as holding important posts in pagan governments — think of Joseph and Daniel in the Old Testament.” “Christians should be involved politically as a way of loving our neighbors, whether they believe as we do or not,” he positioned.
“To work for better public schools or for a justice system not weighted against the poor or to end racial segregation requires political engagement. Christians have done these things in the past and should continue to do so.”
Keller argued that believers can and perhaps should be active in politics, but they “should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.”
The preacher said that by assigning the church a political party one runs the risk of legitimizing the arguments of skeptics that say that religion is just another political machine.
“Another reason not to align the Christian faith with one party is that most political positions are not matters of biblical command but of practical wisdom. This does not mean that the church can never speak on social, economic and political realities, because the Bible often does,” he wrote.
“Racism is a sin, violating the second of the two great commandments of Jesus, to ‘love your neighbor.’ The biblical commands to lift up the poor and to defend the rights of the oppressed are moral imperatives for believers. For individual Christians to speak out against egregious violations of these moral requirements is not optional.”
Keller argued that it is not valid to ignore politics but noted that one ought not “assimilate and fully adopt one party’s whole package” either.
“The Gospel gives us the resources to love people who reject both our beliefs and us personally. Christians should think of how God rescued them. He did it not by taking power but by coming to earth, losing glory and power, serving and dying on a cross. How did Jesus save? Not with a sword but with nails in his hands,” he concluded.
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