Christianity, Politics, and the Great Divide

There are many things the Church has faced throughout history that have threatened its existence. The great persecutions of the past were harsh and caused many disciples to flee. Nobody likes to face hardships, but often times persecution has the opposite effect-people are scattered, and the Gospel spreads. When we are pressed from the outside, we ban together under a common cause. People seek God.

Christianity has also had its fair share of internal threats. Squabbles on the inside often center around doctrinal issues. Many of these are small and relatively insignificant, and is why we see so many denominations today. Even though we have been divided in what we believe, we’ve still been able to overcome our personal convictions and work together. I have lots of Christian family outside of my fellowship, and wholeheartedly expect to see them when I get to heaven.

In recent years, I’ve seen a new threat wedging its way into the fibers of the Church. I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that a storm is coming and it troubles me. I’m not afraid for myself, because I know who I am in Christ, and what I must do, but I worry for those who will be shaken. I worry for those who have fastened themselves to the wrong foundation, and when the wind starts blowing they will fall. 

There is a new type of internal conflict in the Church and it’s tied to politics and connectedness. Part of it is about the left-right divide that has gripped our our planet. Politics has been around almost as long as religion, so what’s new in this generation? The internet! We’ve entered a time period like no other in humanity’s past. We are connected both instantly and constantly. Personal connection with others is a good thing, and I would even say that we were created to be connected, but the connection we experience through the internet is different. We act differently online than we would face-to-face.  It’s a bit like road rage. We post and say things without thought, or care of how it might affect others. It is not a give and take relationship we experience online — it’s about throwing out our opinion. It’s about grouping ourselves with others that have the same opinion so that we will feel good about “being right.”

Politics has always been divisive, but that in itself isn’t bad. Our political system was created to keep itself in check, so some disagreement is unavoidable. But when you take politics, and couple with it an incomplete method of communication you get a recipe for disaster.

The political divide has now begun to permeate all areas of life–even our faith. Our atmosphere of “being right” is preventing some from carrying out the true behaviors of Christianity–loving others and treating them with patience, respect, and kindness.  Both left and right are using Christianity for their own benefit. That’s nothing new; Charlemagne, Constantine, and many others mixed religion with politics to gain followers and drive them to action. There is a political force today that is trying to pull every single person to one side or the other, and it doesn’t want you to stand in the middle.

As you read this I want you to stop and think.  Set aside the talking points. Think Biblically for a moment.

How does this behavior follow the Apostle Paul’s instructions? “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others

How does it follow Jesus Golden Rule? “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

How does it follow the Apostle Peter’s words? “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

Christianity is not Republican, nor is it Democrat. Do not allow yourself to be pulled to a political side.  I can guarantee you, political motives are not biblical.

In closing, I do not think it’s wrong to be politically active. We can look at Paul’s example in the New Testament, where he spoke often about his Roman citizenship. He definitely used it to further the purpose of the Gospel. I just think, as we participate in the political process that we should always apply Biblical principles in our communication. Our biggest mandate is to spread the Truth. Stand up for what is right, and speak against issues that are immoral. Stop the name calling. Stop the spreading of half-truths and lies. Be respectful when speaking with others and about others. If we become indistinguishable from the world, then we lose, but if we hold up the values of Christ, then we win.

Why I Believe

I’ve always tried to take a balanced view of life.  I think every person, whether Christian, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, or someone of any other belief system needs these three things…. reason, emotion, and faith.

Reason is important and without it we could not live.  We need it to get up in the morning, to drive to work, to live our daily lives, to build things, to invent things, but our reason can fail.  A few years ago, I was driving to a nearby city and I heard my brakes dragging all the way there. Once I got to my destination, I decided to get out of the car and reach my finger in behind the tire and touch the brake pads. What was I thinking?  Well, I wasn’t! They were hot and it singed my fingertips—I wasn’t using much reason at that time.

How much knowledge does human society have? Do we know 50% of everything there is to know? 20%?  Of everything in the entire universe I bet we know less than .0001% of all knowledge that exists, and maybe even a lot less than that.  It is not probable that our society will ever know all there is to know.

If we take a look at black holes, the mathematics that describe them breaks down at the singularity.  How can something become infinitely dense? Some would say they aren’t, but we won’t go there. General relativity does not work well with quantum mechanics.  And just how many dimensions are there in our universe? Three? Four? Eleven? We just don’t understand how things work. Again, I’m not saying we will never understand these things, we are making great strides in formulating a theory of everything, but I am saying that logic alone is is fleeting, and not the only thing we need in life.

Let’s say you’re in a room full of people.  Some of them old, some young, but the only other person you know is your spouse.   Then someone lights a bomb in the room, and you only have a second to save one person. Who would that be?  Logic say’s you should pick a young person. You should pick someone with a longer life span because they have the most to loose, but your emotions say it should be your spouse.  Logic without emotion is a bit empty.

The second thing we need is emotion.  As mentioned above, a life without emotion means nothing.   Our emotions can help us make good decisions, and there’s nothing quite like a good intuition.  But emotions can fail you. I remember watching a TV series the other day about phobias. There was a stronger macho-looking guy that was really fearful of dogs.  It was difficult watching this full grown man being terrified of even touching a dog. His emotions were leading him in the wrong direction. He needed to use more logic and less emotion, and he knew it—it was just difficult for him to do. Emotion and logic work better when used together.

The third thing we all need is faith.  You may say the atheist needs no faith, but I would disagree.  Life makes assumptions (faith).

There are things that we don’t understand that others do, and we accept them by faith.  For example, some people may not know how electricity works. You turn the switch on the wall and the light turns on.  That’s all they need to know. They have faith that someone else has it figured out, and they can just use it. Maybe for you that might be the process of nuclear fusion, or how a combustion engine works, or what code makes a web browser work … the point being we take those things by faith they will work.  We just understand that someone else understands.

There are also other things in life that have no proof that we take by faith.  I’m going to use for an example the topic of our beginnings. When it comes to beginnings, we can narrow it down to two possibilities.  It was created or it just happened. When it comes to the science of beginnings it is all speculation, and has little or nothing to do with the scientific method.  The scientific method requires a hypothesis to be formed and then tested. We cannot create a universe nor can we know the exact conditions that existed at the beginning. We can form all the hypotheses we want, but without the test it’s not science, just a guess.

I can look at the very same data an evolutionist does and come to a different conclusion.  The evolutionist looks at rock strata and sees millions of years, and I see deposit from a grand flood. Neither can be tested by the scientific method. Check out this article from the Institute for Creation Science on how rock strata can be laid down fairly quickly. They form an opinion based upon observation of data.  It takes faith to say life began on its own because it cannot be proven.  It also takes faith to say there was a creator because it cannot be proven.  In my life, I try to employ a lot of logic, some emotion, and a little faith.  For me it’s easier to believe that a creator made what we see than it is to believe it just happened. 

So why do I believe the Bible?

Literary Consistency and Longevity.  The Bible is an incredible document.  It contains 66 books written by 40 different authors over a time span of 1600 years and in three different languages.  Despite all of these differences it holds an astounding unity within its pages. You can pick any book of the bible and after doing a solid investigation you get a feel for what it’s about. Its basic message is that God created man, man is imperfect and needs the help of a creator who has willingly offered help.  There is no other book that has been read as much as the Bible, or has had as many copies over the years as the bible. With the number of original works we can be assured that what we read today is very close to the original version. Even despite the attempts of many down through the ages to destroy it, the Bible has lasted.

Its claims.  The bible makes bold claims that it is the only inspired Word of God.   2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is inspired by God.” Jesus quoted the Old Testament, and approved of the writers of the New Testament.  Jesus claimed to be the one and only way to God. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Historically accurate document.  The bible has never been proven wrong through archaeology.  They’ve discovered a number of things mentioned in the bible: Jericho and its walls that were actually fallen.  The five cities of the plain mentioned in Genesis were thought to have been nonexistent, but they were recently found.  We also see the histories of the bible matching up with other historians comments and historical documents. The first century historian Josephus speaks about Jesus in some of his writings.

Prophetically accurate document.  There were many prophecies made in the Old Testament that have already been fulfilled.  Daniel chapter 2 predicts the next three world kingdoms very accurately…the Medo-Persian, the Greek, and the Roman empires.  The prophet Isaiah predicted in Isaiah 44:28 that a king by the name of Cyrus would come and help in the restoration of the Jewish people.  He made this prediction about 150 years before it happened. 700 years before it happened the prophet Micah predicted the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  Zechariah predicted about 400 years in advance that the Messiah would be betrayed with 30 pieces of silver. He also predicted that none of His bones would be broken and He would be pierced in His side.  There are many more prophecies that have been fulfilled. I challenge you to look them up, but to keep this article short I’ll stop here. These Messianic prophesies are not ones that Jesus could have fulfilled by choice.

It works.  My last reason is that I can see that the principles laid forth in the Bible really work.  Millions of lives have been changed by the words in this book. I’ve applied many of the principles to my own life and I’ve never been disappointed.  Can the Bible be proven to be the Word of God or to be absolute truth? No, but for me it is a reasonable option. It does take faith to believe in God, but it is not blind faith.  It is faith built upon good observations.

The alternative for me seems less probable, and beyond that has little hope.  When I think of a world without God, I find no hope. There’s none in politics.  All I see there is bickering and fighting, and a group of people just jockeying for power.  I’m reminded of the statement that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I find little hope in fame;  I see little hope in money. A little money is needed, but beyond our basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing, money does not give you happiness. I supposed there’s some hope in family, friends, and society. But honestly, society changes.  In Africa, we see the morals of the head-hunter society that are pretty different from ours; in our prisons we see an entirely different set of values, and the values of today are vastly different than they were in the 1920s. I don’t think society is the foundation we can put our hope in.  And in the end, we die and everything we’ve learned, valued, and loved disappears. Maybe we’ve impacted others in this life and have passed on things of value, but eventually they pass on too and all we’ve done, valued, loved is gone. And maybe we’re one of the very lucky ones who has impacted society in a way that we get our name in some book and it lasts generations.  Eventually that disappears too, and in the end life has passed and nothing we have done remains.

I choose God because it’s a logically plausible choice that I feel with my emotions and believe with my faith.  I do not chose my faith in God because it gives me hope…but I can say there is an amazing hope in my faith in God and the Bible.  I believe there is life after death, and what I do in this life affects the next. I have a hope that in the next life, I will see some of those I knew in this life. I have a hope that by passing on this hope to others that they too will enter the next life.  With my faith in God I feel that I have a purpose. And that purpose is to help others find this hope. And that purpose will affect the lives of others for eternity.

The implications of this choice are huge.  Because without God life is all about me and what makes me happy.  Whether that means a life of hedonism seeking all the pleasures possible to man, or a life dedicated to working my way up in society and becoming popular and important–really it’s all about me. But if God is real, then His Word is truth and I should do my best to live by it and up hold it.  Suddenly, my life is no longer about me, but about God. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be; I’m just trying to do my best.

Many think the Bible is just a book of rules, but really you can narrow its heart to just two.  The first says this: Love the Lord God with all your heart, body, mind and soul. And the second says: Love your neighbor as yourself.