It’s almost impossible to avoid the forthcoming presidential election, what with it dominating the news incessantly, with the episodes of political cowardice it the debates in Washington (along with a few heartening episodes of political courage). For me, I’ve just applied for an absentee ballot due to age and infirmity, and the reality of it all came home. Right away the application required that I identify myself as either a Republican or a Democrat (or whatever). But that doesn’t determine who I think is the most qualified to lead this nation in these turbulent times.

There’s always the escape option, like the guy who humorously declared that there were three things they never discussed in his church: sex, politics, and religion. The truth is that the Bible engages these three areas of our human sojourn from beginning to end. The church of Jesus Christ is the community/polis of God’s new humanity. The sermon on the mount (and especially the beatitudes) is political to the core, and it is by one’s faithfulness to this mandate that people will know we are Jesus’ disciples. Look at it! Woe to the rich, but blessed are the poor. Blessed are the merciful, the peacemakers, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are willing to suffer for righteousness sake, those who mourn, the meek, …

In the eighth and seventh centuries before the coming of Jesus, the Christ, the prophets were always chastising God’s people for ignoring the humanitarian requirements of God’s law: What does the Lord require of thee, O Israel, but to love justice and to do mercy. … Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. The love of neighbor. Economic provision for the helpless poor, sanctuary for the stranger and the homeless, … Now, if these requirements of God’s design are not taught and discussed in the church community, and if they are not held up as some kind of guideline for evaluating national leaders, … then somehow we’ve missed our calling to be salt and light in this present context of darkness, greed, human suffering, immorality, and deception.

So, that, in these coming weeks and months, it’s not whether we are Democrats or Republicans (Socialists or Independents) … but rather, which of the candidates is potentially must likely to exhibit and implement policies that are just and humane, peaceable and sensitive to the ethics of God’s new creation in Christ? “To him who knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:11). We cannot be the light of the world if we succumb passively to the political darkness that has been the context of this present scene. Stay tuned.

I always appreciate your responses.

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Carolyn Christ says:

    I agree with you that we should weigh political candidates based on whether their policies favor justice and mercy and other kingdom values. Included is how well he/she can tell the difference between truth and falsehood. BUT in any event, no matter what government we live under, it is the role of the church as the body of Christ not to rely on the government to serve the poor but to do it ourselves. Yes we vote and lobby for laws that are fair and just. We need to do more for moms with babies that were not aborted, to aid refugees and the mentally ill, to right injustices, etc. Now I just need to get off my duff and do that myself.

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