This piece in USA Today addresses one of the pressing issues for Christians in our current cultural climate – the relationship between the faith and the cut-and-thrust of politics. The author is concerned with how it seems that the involvement of religion in politics hasn’t lifted political life, but seems to have soiled religion. In a lot of ways, I think he is right. We have probably tied ourselves too much to political figures and victories (to the left and the right) instead of speaking and living the truths of the Christian faith in our world.
Politics are important and have serious real-world consequences, but Christians need to remember their first and deepest allegiance to Christ.
The article is hit and miss. He is concerned with the loss of civility in our public discourse, and I think we can agree on that. He, however, cites Jim Wallis of Sojourners as a seriously civil voice. That’s a joke. As long as you are willing to avoid any principled or absolute stands on faith or morals, Wallis is civil. Wallis is a cut-and-paste religious relativist and if you are to the right of him, politically and theologically speaking, you are a target for ad hominem attacks. Just ask Olansky of World Magazine.
Even in his conclusion, Krattenmaker gets some things right, and others wrong:
The wise course is not withdrawal from public life. The task is to find and hold an appropriate distance, a place from which faith can exert principled influence and inspire the body politic's best instincts and intentions.
Especially these days, politics as usual seems to drag all who play right into the gutter. That's no place for religion.
The Christian needs to recognize that faith should inform and influence politics, not the other way around – we should not withdraw from public life. But the Christian should never accept the position that faith belongs as an “appropriate distance” from public life. Our public life needs a core that only the Christian faith can provide.
Christians are called to do something that I’m not sure anyone else is doing: contend for the truths handed down to us while leading the way in civility and reasoned discourse. Do that now, and you will stick out like a sore thumb – in a good way.