Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Religion and Politics

I see there is a poll running in the NZ Herald which asks readers to vote on whether churches or other religious organisations have a legitimate part to play in elections. As I write the poll is running 74% against this.

My initial reaction is to say, get lost! Who says that religious groups don't have a part to play? The principle of democracy is that anyone in the nation can have a part to play. Any group or organisation can participate in the political system. Whether we like it or not, politics is open to all the people and we should, like all people, be in!

It shows that NZ is beset with a dualistic mindset. Religion and politics must be separated! This is a hoax of course. Authentic faith affects all of life and is not just a private vertical spiritual matter. True faith is about all of life and so true Christians will be deeply involved with involvement in the politcal sphere to see it reflecting the glory of God.

This is a stunning result really and shows that we have to work from the inside out to change this nation with its false understandings.

For us Christians, the question is not whether we should be involved in the political process, but how. What is the best way to get involved? How should we act within the political system? What principles and values do we uphold and what policies should flow from these?

I can't blame NZers for voting like this when one considers the confused manner in which NZ Christians have worked in the political system. Christian parties have been beset with inconsistencies, division, naivety and have presented a poor witness to this nation in recent times. They have been narrow in their focus worried about moral issues and not giving a serious view of economics and all of life.

We Christians rather need to enter the political system with great integrity and intelligence. We need to have an understanding of the political system and have holistic policies for all of life. We need to work from the inside out rather than with a separatist 'Christian party' approach. We need to realise that to work for God's ideals in his world we will have to be clever and while not compromising the gospel or principles, working progressively to see the world changed. This means winning some battles and losing some; it means moving towards goals with part victories sometimes despite our concerns as such. It means working with others outside the faith who have similar ideals to see this nation transformed.

We need to raise up a generation of Christian politicians who show the world that Christianity and politics should not be separated and that it is good for this nation if they are intertwined. However, if this is to happen there is going to have to be a change in the way we go about it!

1 comment:

Nichthus said...

Hi Mark,

I've blogged on this as well - http://nichthus.blogspot.com/2008/02/myth-of-christian-nation-christians.html. Boyd's book is excellent, and worth reflecting on. I like the distinction between Christians in politics and Christian party politics... the latter for me has always been problematic!