If Politics Undermines Theology, Why Is Your Theological Affirmation So Political?

The church has one purpose, the state another. And if you mix the two, politics could well undermine theology.

When “political leadership” undermines the government, then the church must intervene and become the state’s conscience. There goes separation of church and government. And to avoid the call to keep politics and theology distinct, the authors invoke not the Bible but Martin Luther King, Jr. 

 

Yet another evangelical statement is seeking signatures. Reclaiming Jesus is a “Confession in a Time of Crisis.” I suppose that means this affirmation is neither a declaration (like Manhattan) nor a statement (like Nashville). Reclaiming Jesus has no attachment to place, but the fingerprints of the United States are not hard to detect.

In the introduction, the authors make this admission:

When politics undermines our theology, we must examine that politics. The church’s role is to change the world through the life and love of Jesus Christ. The government’s role is to serve the common good by protecting justice and peace, rewarding good behavior while restraining bad behavior (Romans 13). When that role is undermined by political leadership, faith leaders must stand up and speak out. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”

For those who would like to keep politics and theology separate, that’s not a bad way of doing it. The church has one purpose, the state another. And if you mix the two, politics could well undermine theology.

But then it starts to go wrong. When “political leadership” undermines the government, then the church must intervene and become the state’s conscience. There goes separation of church and government. And to avoid the call to keep politics and theology distinct, the authors invoke not the Bible but Martin Luther King, Jr. (That appeal should resonate with the New Calvinists who recently held a conference to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. But so far Charlie Dates, Matt Chandler, Jackie Hill Perry, Eric Mason, Russell Moore, Trip Lee, John Piper, and Benjamin Watson — all speakers at the Gospel Coalition Conference — have not added their signatures to Reclaiming Jesus.)

The reason could be that the new statement is very political (and it would be hard to imagine anyone using it after Donald Trump leaves office). For example:

I. WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). That image and likeness confers a divinely decreed dignity, worth, and God-given equality to all of us as children of the one God who is the Creator of all things. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God. . .

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