The Church, the Powers and Politics: Epilogue, A Simple Question

Having finished my series on the church and politics, I wanted to say just one more thing. An epilogue to the series to ask a simple question.

We can debate all sorts of things about political theology. Maybe you liked the way I connected the dots in this series, maybe you didn't. But reflecting back over the series, I think I can make my point more directly and simply by asking you a question.

Imagine, for the sake of the question, if Christians of all political persuasions stepped away from public political engagement for the next ten years. We just stopped, across the board, vocal and visible involvement and participation. Christians stopped talking about politics on social media. Pastors stopped preaching about political armageddon and boosting candidates. Christian think tanks, foundations, pundits, public intellectuals stopped talking about the culture wars. Complete radio silence from Christians, for ten years. We take a collective time out. And if you want to keep voting, great, but you keep radio silence about what you do in the voting booth.

But during this season we don't shut up about our faith. We keep talking about Jesus, the gospel, and the kingdom of God. Nor are we absent in our communities. We take all the energy we had previously devoted to politics and pour it to serving people in our cities and towns. So Christians remain vocal and visible for these ten years. We just don't ever say anything about candidates, elections, culture war issues, or the fate of the nation. 

I can now ask my question. Do you think this ten year season would improve the church? Would this season improve the church internally, helping us conform more fully to the image of Jesus and more deeply into the kingdom of God, and externally, in how the world might perceive us?

If your answer is yes, that the church would be helped and healed if it took a ten year political timeout, then you've arrived at the point I've been trying to make in this series. Simply, political engagement twists and distorts the church. In Augustinian terms, politics disorders the desires of the church. Political engagement is a type of spiritual formation that leads to spiritual malformation. Politics is addictive and the church needs to detox.   

This, then, is my overall point. I believe the church is healthier when it disengages from politics, and becomes increasingly diseased, deranged, and addicted the deeper its political engagement.  

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