Thursday, January 19, 2012

Creating a false dicotomy. Appropriate evangelical political involvement.

Religious conservatives involvement in the public arena and in particular political elections causes great angst for some evangelicals. Certainly politics can be a messy business, yet it's no less important for Christians to be involved in the political arena as in business, education or media for example.

Here's a column by David Neff of Christianity Today voicing concern about the meeting of evangelical leaders discussing who they should endorse for president. He said their gathering was dangerous. (That word was included in the title of his article.) Dangerous? Really.

He recommends the James Davison Hunter approach which emphasizes education and persuasion not direct political involvement. I don't think it's a case of one or the other. It's both. Ultimately, changing hearts and minds is key but that doesn't, nor should it, preclude direct political involvement. Going to an extreme in either direction is counter productive.

Personally, I don't think the endorsement of evangelical leaders for a particular candidate is determinative nor necessarily persuasive. Most evangelicals will size up the candidates themselves and vote accordingly, especially when several of the candidates generally hold the same policy positions on core issues.

Is it dangerous? No. What's dangerous is urging evangelicals to withdraw from the public/political square or saying that the ultimate solutions to the problems facing us are political. Both are wrongheaded.

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