Thursday, January 11, 2007

measuring politics, politicians and political events

I got to the couch in time, under the blanket, to hear President Bush's speech on Iraq. Soon after it began I was sound asleep. I did tape it, and may go back and catch some, at least the analysis perhaps, since we'll all have the text to read today.

It's interesting how we Christians differ in how we interpret an event like last night. Our worldview largely shapes how we see it. That is shaped by our theology. Which is shaped by the teaching we've received and accepted. Also we are all people of our times and places. So philosophy does influence us. All of us, more than we think. It is good to be aware of that. I heard a good professor once say that Augustine was more Biblically oriented, and less neo-Platonic, at the end of his life.

The end result? Well, on my team alone, at work, we find ourselves at polar opposites on the war. And different ones of us have different takes on a number of issues.

I think we have to approach all these things with humility, first of all. God does give insight along the way. But we also know God's ways are higher than ours. That we really cannot comprehend his works. We can begin to understand his ways. And see his works. But an important part in understanding his ways is to acknowledge a sense of mystery and awe. As Paul said, "How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" (Romans 11:33) Though he is speaking here of God's work in the world in regard to creation, the fall and redemption, as well as the difficult issues in regard to Israel in chapters 9 through 11, I believe this also applies to all of his work in the world.

I have my own belief about Iraq, the war, and politics and politicians. And I believe it's important to seek to see all in light of the kingdom of God revealed in Jesus. Better understanding our times, so that we as God's people, may better know what to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). But at the same time, let's keep reading, praying, listening, engaging- and keep doing that. So that the end result may be, not to always be right on every issue, but to better see the hand of God in everything. So that we can better recognize and better live in, along with others, God's great salvation in Jesus, at work in this world.

What thoughts might you add here?


Dan Brennan said...

Good thoughts Ted,

We really do need to hear and respect those who have different political views. We can all pray for justice and peace even if we have different ideas of how political philosophy gets us there.

Ted Gossard said...

Amen, Dan. I so much agree. And we just have to agree to disagree at times. Though I do think the more we discuss matters in a loving spirit, the more we can find common ground. I think another important key for me is to realize just how fallible I can be on this.

Mark Goodyear said...

I don't know, Ted. I just don't know. Mixing politics and religion makes me so nervous.

On the one hand, I think we need Christians who are comfortable being salt and light in the profession of politics. And in the voting booth for that matter.

But I just get nervous when any group talks as if God has sanctioned their platform or their candidate. And both sides do this.

Notice I haven't said a word about the speech. I just can't. What would be the point in choosing a side?

Still, I'm glad to hear Christians tentatively talking about it as you are doing here.

Ted Gossard said...

Mark, Thanks. It is a tall order. And I think it's wise to keep a lid on it in churches and homegroups, as far as what party you're registered to, and political philosophy.

However one cannot escape, in the kingdom of God coming in Jesus, a prophetic stance, in bringing that vision to bear on everything. Nothing should escape that prophetic critique. We must not be taken in by the kingdoms of this world. Though at the same time, I believe a certain kind of engagement is in keeping with our calling. As those who are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world.

We need Christians here in this country in both the Democratic and Republican party. And we can thank God for good politicians who may not be Christian, in both, I believe. And we must also hold all to the standard of God's kingdom vision. We won't agree on what that standard is, always. And I think dialogue in a conversational tone, done in love, is need here. But I so much agree with you, that we must not rubberstamp any party or politician.

L.L. Barkat said...

I do believe there's a measuring line in the Christian way... "by their fruits you shall know them." And this is where the prophetic voice comes in... if fruit is bad, then the tree is questionable... and somebody needs to say this wherever they are in the orchard, and whatever orchard they've been gifted to work in.

Charity Singleton said...

Ted -- Perhaps yesterday's discussion of dualism is connected to today's discussion of politics? Yet another place we often mislabel one side "good" and one side "bad."

This dualism is just assumed in most of the circles I travel, so I find it hard to discuss my real views about political issues because I have so many assumptions to climb over.

I do know that I far too often criticize politicians for their policy failures in terms of justice and fairness, and then do nothing about these two issues in my own community. It's easy to criticize the guy on television, not so easy to direct the same criticism toward the mirror.

The speech last night . . . ugghhh. Generally, I'm with Mark in the futility of taking sides, at this poing. I think one thing most people agree on is that we have a great big mess on our hands.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Yes. We need people who can and will do that.

To judge politicians by their fruit seems to me to look at their character, their policies, the results of their policies. I think of scandals and failed policies. But, of course, success does not determine good fruit. Nor does saying good things, while accomplishing little or nothing in regard to them.

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, So true. In so many Christian places you either have to side with the religious right or the religious left, or you're wrong. And what's missing is the thoughtful Christian critique we need to bring to every issue. With room for disagreement. And refusing to demonize others, but trying to understand their positions.

Good point about our own personal responsibility.

I just listened to the speech, as best I could after getting home from work. The consensus is certainly that it is a mess! I feel bad for the troops there, for those who have been there, and will go. And for those who did not make it back.

Mark Goodyear said...

Charity said, "I find it hard to discuss my real views about political issues because I have so many assumptions to climb over."

Amen to that. It's what I was trying to say.

Ted Gossard said...

Mark, So true. It would be nice if we could lovingly talk over our differences. Sometimes you can. I appreciate blogging in this. Sometimes I've been corrected or given a better or fuller view.