I'm currently reading a book entitled Total Truth
by Nancy Pearcey. It's a fantastic read. In the Introduction there is a one page section which I enjoyed reading and wanted to share. She entitled it Politics Is Not Enough
. Pearcy writes,
"The reason a worldview is so compelling today is that we are still emerging from the fundamentalist era of the early twentieth century. Up until that time, evangelicals had enjoyed a position of cultural dominance in America. But after the Scopes trial and the rise of theological modernism, religious conservatives turned in on themselves: They circled the wagons, developed a fortress mentality, and championed 'separatism' as a positive strategy. Then, in the 1940s and 50s, a movement began that aimed at breaking out of the fortress. Calling themselves neo-evangelicals, this group argues that we are called not to escape the surrounding culture but to engage it. They sought to construct a redemptive vision that would embrace not only individuals but al social structures and institutions.
Yet many evangelicals lacked the conceptual tools needed for the task, which has seriously limited their success. For example, in recent decades man Christians have responded to the moral and social decline in American society by embracing political activism. Believers are running for office in growing numbers; churches are organizing voter registration; public policy groups are proliferating scored of Christian publications and radio programs offer commentary on public affairs. This heightened activism has yielded good results in many areas of public life, yet the impact remains far less than most had hoped. Why? Because evangelicals often put all their eggs in one basket: They leaped into political activism as the quickest, surest way to make a difference in the public arena - failing to realize that politics tend to reflect culture, not the other way around.
Nothing illustrates evangeicals' infatuation with politics more clearly than a story related by a Christian lawyer. Considering whether to take a job in the nation's capital, he consulted with the leader of a Washington-area ministry, who told him, 'You can either stay where you are and keep practicing law, or you can come to Washington and change the culture.' The implication was that the only way to effect cultural change was through national politics/ Today, battle-weary political warriors have grown more realistic about the limits of that strategy. We have learned that 'politics is downstream from culture, not the other way around,' says Bill Wichterman, policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. 'Real change has to start with the culture. All we can do on Capitol Hill is try to find ways government can nurture healthy cultural trends.'
On a similar note, a member of Congress once told me, 'I got involved in politics after the 1973 abortion decision because I thought that was the fastest route to moral reform. Well, we've won some legislative victories, but we've lost the culture.' The most effective work, he had come to realize, is done by ordinary Christians fulfilling God's calling to reform culture within their local spheres of influence - their families, churches, schools, neighborhoods, work-places, professional organizations, and civic institutions. In order to effect lasting change, the congressman concluded, 'we need to develop a Christian worldview.'" [emphasis mine]
That final paragraph is the best part. I agree with Pearcey and the folks she quotes in this passage. I believe the best type of transformation comes through grass roots work. Day to day, interaction by interaction. In being transformed people, made more and more into the likeness of Christ by his Spirit, we witness to Christ and introduce the world around us to the truth, the way, to Jesus by our upstanding conduct and preaching. In turn, light breaks through the darkness, unveiling injustice and sin, creating opportunity for confession, repentance, reconciliation, and prosperity.
When we depend upon the political leaders of this nation to bring about true change we end up fooling ourselves and getting less than we petitioned for. Sure, they can bring about some changes, but the type of change Christians are concerned with comes through Christ and his Holy Spirit. Through pray and humble servant love we live out the kingdom of heaven here on earth and see the will of our Father establishing itself among the various elements and beings of creation. We can be a part of the political sphere but we can not depend upon it or place our hope in it or the men and women who make the wheels of the government go round.
If we're going to put our eggs in one basket let's put it in the basket of Jesus Christ. If we're going to carry several baskets, lets make sure we view them for what they are. Let's learn the truth and embrace our reality. Let's change the world by letting God change us and work through us as living sacrifices. Side note:
If you live in the Vancouver Washington area and you want to read this book with other people and discuss it week to week then there is an avenue for that called Theology Pub. We meet at Brickhouse Bar and Grill every Monday at 7:30pm. We'd love for you to join us.