With each election cycle, my frustration with my Christian brothers and sisters who put their hope in politics, American-Democracy, and Laws above personal responsibility to Christ continues to grow. In thinking about the place of religion in politics, I am reminded of the Pharisees with whom Jesus regularly contended.
The Pharisees put hope in their interpretation of the Torah (Law) of Moses. They sought to purify Israel through obedience to the Law. Religious-Republicans have their share of “Pharisees” who are trying to make America righteousness through political activism. And before the Religious Left gets too excited, you Obama supporters are not any better. Do you really think that passing Laws to force Social Justice somehow makes your politicized-faith superior?
Both Republican and Democratic brands of religious zealots present two sides of the same Pharisaical coin. But today, there is a third group that I fear is responding to this plight in exactly the wrong way. In this press release from the Christian Newswire, Bishop Janice Fountaine and Dr. Ralph Martino have vowed to create a new “Christian” political party that will, in their words,
illuminate the Christian voice and bring clarity to the Christian agenda to influence America, impact the world and increase the kingdom.
Their press release goes on to outline their agenda as follows:
The misrepresentation of the biblical teachings and principles to which we profess as Christians, prevent us from continuing to support either the Democratic or the Republican Party candidates.
As the Party of No Compromise, the New Independent Christian Party intends to influence the outcome of American elections and uphold the Godly principles by which America was built and by which Christians believe, live and exist.
My concern is that the effort to create a “Christian” political party demonstrates a gross ignorance of why Government exists. No political party represents 100% the Kingdom of God and the minute someone tries to turn the Christian Faith into another political party, they demolish the foundation for our Faith.
Now please hear me on this; I am not saying that we Christians should remove ourselves from participation in the political system. As I said in last weeks column, “We, as Christians, should be active in voting our faith, but politics should not be our passion.” So, yes, we must vote. BUT… regardless of who you and I vote for, we must remember that politics will never usher in the Kingdom of God because that is the mission of the Church empowered by the Spirit.
Maybe a revised version of Jesus’ warnings to the Pharisees will break though the confusion. Here is the “More Than Cake” Translation of Matthew 23:12–28—Paraphrased for Politics in America.
“Woe to you, Religious-Zealots, hypocrites! For you have used politics to shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”
“Woe to you, Religious-Zealots, hypocrites! For you send your military across sea and land to convert others to your brand of American Democracy, and when someone becomes a disciple of democracy, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears to follow Jesus, it is not enough, but if anyone swears to pass laws to enforce your morality, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the laws of the United States of America or the God who has promised to transform our hearts?”
“Woe to you, Religious-Zealots, hypocrites! For you pay your taxes and pass laws to force others to do good, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the Gospel of Jesus: justice and mercy and faithfulness.”
“Woe to you, Religious-Zealots, hypocrites! For you form Political Action Committees, Third party movements, and spend your money to pass Referendums, but this will only clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but on the inside the people of America are still guilty of greed, lust, and self-indulgence. You blind Religious-Zealots! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate by presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and raised to new life—only then can the outside be made clean.”
“Woe to you, Religious-Zealots, hypocrites! For you are like the Washington monument, which outwardly appears beautiful, but in truth it only pays tribute to a dead man. You are like the Constitution itself, whose words are beautiful, but in truth it is but the words of Men written on dead trees. These cannot raise the lost to life eternal. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Out of respect to the authorities over us, Christians must participate in the political process by voting our conscience, but to put our energy into creating a political “alternative” is folly. Jesus did not die on the cross so that we could create the “New Independent Christian Party.” Jesus died and established his Church so that we could make disciples.. not political converts. The Gospel is demonstrated not by flexing our political muscle, but by opening hearts to God’s salvation through Jesus Christ.