by Chet Hardin
Summit Ministries over in Manitou Springs believes that there just isn't enough Christ in politics.
And while that might strike you as an utterly ridiculous, dangerous claim, or one heck of an understatement, Dr. Jeff Myers, the ministry's president, sees it as a rallying cry.
From a press release:
“Misrepresentations about religion and politics, coupled with the increased complexity of the political, economic and social reality in 21st century America, almost certainly explain why many in the rising generation slink away from conservative positions and take up the rhetoric of the religious left,” Myers said. “At Summit, we start with scriptural principles to form a biblical worldview of politics. This critical task is one we undertake in all our programs, and it is all the more important as we approach both state primaries and the November elections. If the biblical worldview correctly depicts how the world works, then Christians should consider it entirely valid to study the Bible to discern the proper role of the state, the government’s relationship to other spheres of culture, and the nature of true justice.”
Starting this May, Summit will be holding "intensive two-week experiences designed to spark life purpose and leadership by helping students understand the times in which they live."
So what will these seminars be teaching the faithful about the modern political paradigm? Judging from the
"four myths" that Christians believe about politics, as according to Dr. Myers, I'm guessing that they'll learn a lot about how the national Republican platform is basically divinely inspired.
Myth 1: Politics is evil. Politics is simply the management of the affairs of the state. From a biblical viewpoint, politics is part of the cultural mandate to steward and exercise dominion over the created order. If creation made political culture prudent, the fall made it necessary; humans needed a system by which sin could be restrained. James Robison and Jay Richards explain in their new book, Indivisble, that government was also meant to foster a society with ordered liberty, pushing us toward a “freedom for excellence” and “rules that allow us to become what we’re supposed to become—to do what we’re supposed to do.”
Myth 2: Jesus didn’t deal with politics. As the creator of all things, Jesus has a lot to say when it comes to our own governance. Christ established distinctions as to where our allegiances should fall. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s,” is unarguably an instructive political statement, as well as a general framework for life—everything is God’s and God cares about everything. Three present-day issues with which Jesus would certainly be concerned are: the protection of life, the biblical view of marriage and religious liberty.
Myth 3: It is easy to discern a biblical view of politics. Some biblical positions, such as the value of human life, are easy to discern. Others aren’t quite so clear. Some say that the term biblical has been applied to some policies too broadly. For example, determining what Jesus would cut from the budget over-simplifies complex quandaries and extracts from Scripture what is not there. Religious conservatives can be tempted to do that as well. True, there is no tax policy spelled out in the Bible, but there are scriptural ideals that we should follow when creating policies—and in defending them.
Myth 4: Government is the primary way to exercise biblical compassion. Some of our problems are so big that many assume only a big government could adequately solve them. Take poverty elimination, for example. Scripture does advocate compassion toward the impoverished, yet it delineates no strict public policy mandate for governments. Christians must carefully discern which policies are most grounded in truth revealed in Scripture. Regarding the poverty debate in particular, political parties often argue over which entitlements get increased budget allotments and how to shrink the growing gap between the richest U.S. citizens and the poorest. If God designed us to order and create culture, shouldn’t our public policy reflect that? Do policies geared toward helping the poor affirm the imago Dei and encourage citizens to be producers of culture, not mere consumers waiting for a handout? And what policies will propel a society toward the prosperity and culture creation alluded to in Scripture? The fact is virtually all federal and state poverty programs treat the problem as merely financial, they regard humans simply as consumers. Poverty in the U.S. , where access to necessities is rarely the root problem, is typically caused by broken relational and vocational habits — not merely financial.