A Third-Way

There has to be a third-way for Christians to engage in our political system.

That’s what I have been thinking about lately. But what is that third-way? I don’t have any idea, and so this blog is only me thinking out-loud.

One thing I do know is our present political system is not working, or at least not working efficiently.  Our country is more divided than ever, and these divisions are creeping into the Church.

Right now, among a lot of my friends, there seems to be only two-ways: You are either a Republican or a Democrat; you are either conservative or liberal; you are either Evangelical or Mainstream; you are either one or the other. There seems to be no room for a combination of the two. If you are not one or the other, you have compromised. If you are one and I am the other, there is a 50/50 chance I am the one who is wrong.

I like this article by Jim Wallis, http://blog.sojo.net/2011/09/29/defining-“evangelicals”-in-an-election-year/ but I know by referencing this article, some of my more conservative friends will think I am liberal. But I am neither liberal nor conservative. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, trying to find my way in a difficult world.

There has to be a third-way.

Some how or another, I believe, as a disciple of Jesus, I must engage in politics by staying above politics, not aligning myself too closely with any single group or ideology. My first allegiance is to Christ, which means, at times, I will be at odds with Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Conservatives, Liberals, Evangelicals, and Fundamentalists. Part of my purpose, as a follower of Jesus, is to live my life in such a way as to give glimpses into what life is like, and will be like, in God’s Kingdom. I know I will not get it right all the time, maybe even most of the time, but that is what I am to be doing. When a disciple of Jesus boxes himself or herself into one ideology or another, they lose their ability to be salt and light in this dark and decaying world.

Maybe the third-way is based on truth and hope. Listen to these words from a book first published in the 1980s:

“We want to assert, for the church, politics that is both truthful and hopeful. Out politics is hopeful because we really believe that, as Christians, we are given the resources to speak the truth to one another. Fortunately, hope is not limited to the programs of the right or the left. Hope is described as the church—a place, a polis, a new people who are given the means to live without the fear that inevitably leads us to violence.

 Our politics is truthful because it refuses to base itself on the false gods that make us so prone to violence. Here is power politics, not as the world usually defines it, but power derived from ordinary people who are trying to base their lives on what is true. As the story of the gospel becomes our story, we are given the means to be a people without cynicism or lies.

 What we want to say is, We are neither liberal nor conservative. We are hopeful…we mean to indicate that the challenge facing the church is political, social, ecclesial—the formation of a visible body of people who know the cost of discipleship and are willing to pay. As far as we can tell, both liberal and conservative Christians have abandoned that task, though they both will speak wistfully of the hope for ‘community.’ We doubt that such hope will be fulfilled through theologies intent on maintaining individual prerogatives and autonomy, ecclesiologies that mirror and are supported by political visions other than those which are biblical.

 By ‘truthful’ we meant that the church could become a people capable of facing the hard realities about ourselves without flinching…The world regards as an incredible moral hero anyone who can be honest about himself or herself without flinching. The Christian claim is that such an ability is given to ordinary people through the gift of the gospel. Failing to be truthful, about the best we can expect of ourselves is to live by the least hurtful in our lies…The times are too challenging to be wasting time pressing one another into boxes called liberal or conservative. The choice is between truth and lies” (Resident Aliens, Location 2052-2105).

The third-way, whatever it looks like, has to be both truthful and hopeful. To put it another way: Only God’s truth will get us out of our mess and sustain us. When we stand on God’s truth (and not promises made my parties and politicians) there is hope. (Of course this opens the questions, What are God’s truth? How do we know God’s truth? How do I know my interpretation of Scripture is God’s truth? But those are questions for another post.)

There has to be a third-way. A way that says…

…all men (and women) are sinners, which is why power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

…abortion is murder.

…it is wrong to allow people to die on the streets (or in their homes) for lack of basic healthcare.

…an unjust war doesn’t become just by sacrificing more lives.

…right-to-life includes criminals on death row who have been placed there by a corrupt and inconsistent justice system.

…greed is sin, materialism a disease, laziness is wrong, and capitalism is not utopia (neither is socialism or theocracy-ism).

…standing up for justice is as important as standing up for tax-breaks.

…only God has a monopoly on truth, and only God offers hope.

…unless you are Native American, you are a product of immigration, legal or otherwise. It’s all a matter of perspective.

…separation of church and state applies just as much to the church as it does to the state.

…the government does not have the answers.

…the government doesn’t even know the questions.

…the place to look for answers is the church.

There has to be a third-way; a better way; the Only Way.

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5 thoughts on “A Third-Way

  1. Kevin, Kevin. I applaud your honesty. There will be no just Government until the Messiah sits on the throne of David, and that will not be a lax Government. Still, you need to make your voice heard, that is imperative. My thoughts: points 1&2, dead on accurate.
    Point 3, sickness used to be an opportunity for the church to minister. Healthcare was a way to reach the lost. In the 20th Century it became a point for politicians to demagogue, and for Governments to control, to the point of enslaving, effectively, doctors and nurses. Is this a Christlike development? And if not, whose idea does that make it?
    Point 4 is accurate. But who is the judge of whether a war is just or not? The Media? Politicians? They only stir the pot. And in the present case, Christians and Muslims are doomed to war. would you rather it be fought in a Middle Eastern desert or the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky? There are those who wish you, Kevin, converted to Islam or dead. They don’t really care which. They are willing to sacrifice their lives to achieve your demise. Are they being just?
    Point 5 is true. So we should be striving to point out and eliminate the corruption and inconsistencies. BY striving to place people of strong faith in high office. I care not whether there is a death penalty or not, corruption should be eliminated if possible, but being human we then are using our limited discernment as to who we place in those positions, so we will err. So don’t kill anyone. Place murderers in prison for life. So we are still taking their ‘life’ from them, and creating jobs to boot.
    I like point 6. Utopia, on Earth, was ended when Eve took the serpents advice. We are struggling along as best as we can until the Messianic reign comes. His instructions were to be the best citizens we can, regardless.
    Point 7, is very true. If you regard our system of taxation just.
    Point 8 is too open. it should be Truth,and Hope, in caps. I can tell the truth and offer hope, but I cannot author them. I understand what you are saying though.
    Point 9, when Jamestown and Plymouth, and St Augustine, and others were established the Native Americans did not have a requirement for presenting Passports for Visas. We do. That makes a difference. They probably wish they had one at that time, in retrospect.
    Point 10. This concept is not constitutional. The intent of the establishment clause is to keep the government out of the church’s business. Not to keep The Church out of the Government’s.

    I must go to work now, we will continue later

    Tim

  2. To conclude my side of the coin.

    No, Government has no answers, nor the proper questions. Here is a hitch, though. Ours is a government ” of the people, by the people, and for the people.” I am reminded of the period of Israel’s transition into kingdom. The Lord specifically gave Israel what they asked for, and warned them that it would not turn out well. In fact, one of the translations of the name Saul is ‘asked for.
    The kings of Israel were largely corrupt, with a periodic flash of righteousness. Our elected leaders, which are also what the majority asked for, are also largely corrupt, and our media holds the righteous lawmakers in disdain.
    Is the church the right place to look? There are congregations that never proclaim the blood of Christ, nor condemn sinful behavior. There are pastors who believe the Koran to be as inspired as the Bible. There are pulpits from which The words of Mohammed are proclaimed to be as true as the words of Christ. I think this is a problem. Are these the wolves going about in sheep’s clothing that we were warned about? (Matthew 7:15)
    Beyond the church, we must cling to the words of Christ,”Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) The Word of God, The Holy Spirit of God, the Holy Father Himself, These are what should be the governors of our behavior. It seems to me that we are near the point of forming a society of Christ within, but separate from the society of the world. I think that is also something our Savior said we should do.
    Is this the Third Way? Am I even close?

    Tim

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