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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Should Christians back away from politics?

I just found this poll on Cal Thomas's website.
Is it time for Christians to redirect their efforts from politics mainly to the greater power inherent in the Kingdom of God?

To my shock and awe, 83% of the respondents said yes. Cal Thomas is a bit of an anomaly in the conservative Christian world. On the one hand, Thomas espouses political conservativism in his widely syndicated column, on the other hand he's been one of the leading voices decrying the political tactics of the religious right. Formerly a spokesman for Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, Cal Thomas wrote a book a while back called Blinded By Might: Why the Religious Right Can't Save America.

In the book Thomas tackles the most prominent issues on the Religious Right's agenda and shows how they can not be won through political action. Here's what the official Amazon review says:
For example, by making the Pro-Life movement a political issue, he claims the Christian right has lost sight of more supportive antiabortion tactics, such as focusing on offering homes and finding jobs for destitute single mothers. Ultimately, the duo calls for a change in strategy--hoping to create followers of the Christian agenda through positive example, consistent living, and devout faith rather than brute political force.

That a conservative Christian columnist would take this position, and that such a high percentage of his readers would agree, is truly extraordinary. Another thing I appreciate about Thomas is that he hasn't succumbed to the mindless take-the-opposite-position-of-Obama-no-matter-what-the-position-is approach of men like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck. In Thomas's latest column, he even had the gumption to say that President Obama has been right in his careful-not-to-appear-to-be-meddling- approach to the post-election situation in Iran. Rare indeed.

Although I have some substantial differences with Thomas--like for example his idea of transferring the Palestinian population to the surrounding Arab nations (tell me again Mr. Thomas why that isn't ethnic cleansing?)-- it's good to know that Thomas is at least willing to dialogue about some of his extreme views, as his ongoing dialogue with liberal Bob Beckel shows and the book Common Ground that they wrote together.

Which brings me to the point I'm fumbling around trying to make. Perhaps the question isn't should Christians be involved in politics, but how should Christians be involved in politics? However we as Christians decide to engage the political sphere, we should always be keenly aware of the corrupting influence of political power. No matter what side of the political aisle we find ourselves on, we should approach the issues with an attitude of humility and willingness to learn from others. Most importantly, our trust should be in the power of the gospel, not the power of Caesar. Cal Thomas seems to understand this. Let's hope that the rest of the Body of Christ in America catches on soon.

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