Culture At Large

Politics vs. social transformation


Now that a particularly crazy and negative campaign season, full of rampant media speculation on the evangelical voting bloc, is coming to a close, it's helpful to put politics in perspective. While political engagement is an important role for Christians living in a democracy, our work is so much bigger than the narrow range of political solutions to the world's problems. Social transformation will not come about through the political process alone. After Election Day, with all our political battles lost or won, we still need to keep our eyes on God's kingdom.

RedBlueChristian asks if the church has become just another special interest group and discusses the real potential of working to change society in ways beyond politics:

Has the church become just one more special interest group? Is that the logical result of the church’s mode of operation over the past thirty years as one more group that seeks to have its way by lobbying politicians and working to change laws? Has the church’s primary mission in the United States been focused on changing society through the law instead of embodying the change we would like to see in society? I am not suggesting that Chistians should not work to change laws or express their views to politicians, but have we accommodated ourselves to the American political mechanism in such a way that we no longer understand that the most powerful polity the church can offer the nation, in Karl Barth’s words, is for the church to be the church, for it to be the alternative to the world?

Pastor Greg Boyd (blogged about previously at TC here and here) has his own blog and writes about how there is more to social activism than lobbying politicians and getting out the vote:

Now, of course political involvement is one way of being socially active, but why should Christians think this is the way of being socially active that is unique to our calling as followers of Christ? As I argue in my book, social transformation was at the center of Jesus’ life and ministry, and yet he never so much as commented on the politics of his day. Jesus lived in politically hot times, and people were constantly trying to get him to throw his weight behind this or that political issue, but Jesus consistently refused.... The fact is that Jesus was a radical social activist, but he simply refused to let politics define the terms of his social activism. As those who are called in imitate Jesus (Eph.5:1-2), I contend that we should do the same.

We who pledge ultimate allegiance to Christ should individually and collective engage in social activism in a unique, Christ-like, kind of way. Our focus as Christians shouldn’t be on trying to run society through political means, but on individually and collectively transforming society by humbly serving it in every way possible. And our focus should be on modeling to the world a community in which the ills that plague humanity are being overcome through the love and power of God. We are to manifest and expand the unique, beautiful Kingdom of God.

Be sure to cast your vote today, and remember that, for Christians, tomorrow is another day; there is still more work to be done.

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, News & Politics, Social Trends