Apolitical Christians?

By Dave Henning / September 4, 2023

“Since no human society reflects God’s justice and righteousness perfectly, supposedly apolitical Christians are supporting many things that displease God.  So not to be involved politically, is to be political. . . .  Individual Christians can and should be involved politically, as a way of loving our neighbors.”- Timothy Keller

“For not with swords loud clashing, / Nor roll of stirring drums; / With deeds of love and mercy / The heavenly kingdom comes.”- Ernest W. Shurtleff, Lead On, O King Eternal

As Timothy Keller moves on in Chapter 11 of The Prodigal Prophet, he underscores the need for individual Christians to be involved politically.  However, he counsels, they should not identify (a) the church itself with one set of public policies or (b) one political party as the Christian one.

Therefore, Pastor Keller explains his position.  One reason against such a stance centers on giving listeners the strong impression that they must do more than believe in Jesus.  That they must also align with a specific party.

Furthermore, most political positions, the author asserts, are matters of practical wisdom.  Rather than matters of biblical prescription.  Certainly, times exist when the church needs to respond to social, economic, and political realities.  Most significantly, Pastor Keller observes, the biblical command to lift up the poor and defend the rights of the oppressed is a moral imperative.

As a result, Christians feel pushed toward one of two main options:

  • give up and withdraw, trying to be apolitical.
  • swallow hard, assimilate, and fully adapt one party’s whole package — in order to gain admission to the table.

Consequently, Pastor Keller exhorts:

“In fact, if we are only offensive or only attractive and not both, we can be sure we are failing to live as we ought.  The gospel gives us the ability and the resources to love people who reject our beliefs and us personally.  Think of how God won you over.  Not by taking power but by coming and losing power and serving you (emphasis author’s).”

Today’s question: Do you believe it’s possible to live as apolitical Christians?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Christian identity — received”

About the author

Dave Henning

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