Is God a Republican?

Is God a Republican? 

The obvious answer is, No.  God is not a Republican, or a Democrat, or, for that matter, a flag-waving American.

But listen to the TV-evangelists, conservative talkshow hosts, or Republican candidates for President, and you’d swear that God stopped by the Supervisor of Elections office and signed up as a card-carrying member of the GOP, i.e., God’s Own Party.

On the Camp Meeting (Campaign) Trail 

I was in Iowa the weekend of the “Faith and Freedom Summit” at which Senator Ted Cruz declared that there is “no room for Christians in today’s Democratic party.” That will be a surprise to my faithful Christian friends who happen to be Democrats.

(For the record, I also have faithful Christian friends who are Republicans.)

If you want to elect a “Preacher-in-Chief,” Mike Huckabee would be hard to beat.  But it takes some real homiletical legerdemain to turn the Sermon on the Mount into “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy” and to use Jesus’ crucifixion as biblical support for capital punishment.

A very conservative and distinctively American version of Christianity has become a litmus test in the Republican primaries, in spite of Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution which says, “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

But then, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay recently announced that “God wrote the Constitution.”  That would come as a surprise to our founders who began the Constitution with no reference to God but to “We the people…”

Before my Republican friends draft fire-breathing replies, let me say:

1) I celebrate the freedom of political candidates to say any outrageous thing they want to say, though I wish all of them would be more careful about manipulating truth to serve their political rhetoric;

2) I want our leaders be people of humble faith who acknowledge their need of wisdom beyond their own, though I also want them to give the same respect to other faiths as expect others to give to theirs; and

3) I’m equally uncomfortable with politicians who deny the importance of biblical faith in the history and life of our nation, though they are a little harder to find these days than the ones who use their version of the faith as a political weapon.

Concern for the Christian Brand 

My primary concern, however, is not political but evangelistic. My concern is the damage these folks are doing to the Christian “brand” in our nation today.

I was an “evangelical” long before that became a political category.  I’ve invested my life in interpreting scripture faithfully, communicating the gospel clearly, inviting people to become disciples of Jesus Christ, and helping the church become a vibrant witness to the Kingdom of God in this world.

It’s no surprise to me that when young adults who are outside the church describe Christianity, their most common responses are “hypocritical, judgmental, and homophobic.”  When Pew Research confirmed the shocking decline in the percentage of American people who identify themselves as “Christian,” they named one possible reason as being “the politicization of religion by American conservatives.”

Frankly, if I thought the version of Christianity many of these folks represent actually represented the gospel, I might be looking for some other way to experience God, too.

Not Just What We Say But How We Say It  

My deeper problem with the loudest “evangelical” voices today is not just what they say (some of which I affirm), but the way they say it.

There is a fear-mongering, resentment-raising, us-vs-them anger in many of them.  Some of them are just plain mean, all of which is a striking contrast to Jesus clear command that his disciples are to be known by their love — not just any love, but the love defined by God’s love for all people including the righteous and the unrighteous, the evil and the good, Republicans and Democrats.  (John 13:35, Matthew 5:43-48).

What’s A Disciple To Do? 

So, how can disciples of Christ be actively engaged in a politically-charged season?

1.  Let’s have a vigorous debate. The policy differences could not be more stark on everything from foreign policy to funding for Amtrak.  We desperately need thoughtful, honest, reasonable debate about issues without the cheap, shallow, fire-brand rhetoric of personal attack and destruction. Christians who are called to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) should be the people to help make that happen.

Remember Proverbs 15:1-2:

A sensitive answer turns back wrath,
    but an offensive word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise enhances knowledge,
    but the mouth of a fool gushes with stupidity.

2.  Let’s dig deeply for the way biblical wisdom can lead us to Kingdom-shaped convictions that go beyond simplistic proof-texting which abuses scripture for our already-determined political convictions.  A simple-to-understand starting point is the “Manna and Mercy” resources.

3.  Let’s do all we can to be the living demonstration of our prayer that God’s Kingdom will come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, without ever equating God’s Kingdom with the kingdoms (political parties) of this earth.

4.  Let’s celebrate and enjoy our heritage of freedom as together we seek “to form a more perfect union” and become a place of “liberty and justice for all.”

Grace and peace,

Jim

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16 thoughts on “Is God a Republican?

  1. Great stuff…you have a way of blistering the reader into thinking more honestly, to relate more compassionately, to live more imaginatively, to love more deeply, to never lose one’s sense of humor, and to lower the threshold of high-pitched intensities that have no place in a well-order world. Well, the political pottage today appears that there is no more than ten calories in the whole fray. And if you want to read some overdrawn exaggerations, you might enjoy Elaine’s prejudices….You got to keep in mind that her credibility is sometimes unreliable.

    Six years ago, she wrote….

    *Well, it is election time, and my daughter is struggling with the whole process. So, she went to writing. And what she wrote was creative and imaginative, but her subject matter left something to be desired; and I suspect, that every girl and boy who had good relationship with their father, could write the same thing. I send this along with my apologies for its being rather subjective, yet on the other hand it is a tribute to all the dads and moms out there who have impacted their children in a positive way.*

    *The Man I’m Voting For . . . *

    If they could be like him, then I’d be feeling better about casting my vote in a couple of weeks. If President Obama and Governor Romney would spend a day with him, they would learn a lot about life, about truth, and about how to walk humbly through this world with their God. If they knew him—really took the time to stop, look, and listen to this man—then they would better understand the human condition.

    *They would know that governing the United States is a privilege, not a right. They would understand that no one person deserves to hold so much power.*

    *They would humbly and gently make their declarations, realizing that no one person has all the answers.*

    *They would find their knees every day, knowing their limitations and reaching out in prayer to the One and Only God whose boundaries are limitless.*

    *They wouldn’t be afraid to touch the unlovely. Instead they would reach their arms into the mangled mess called humanity to offer hope, to extend courage, to present faith, and to bestow love.*

    *They would worry less about their clothing, and, instead, relinquish their threads to the naked, the exposed, and to those who cry out for the covering of mercy.*

    *They would stop taking our money and, instead, buy us dinner on occasion.*

    *They would value life instead of taking it. They would give up their own lives so that the one entombed in the womb might have the chance to live and breathe and make his/her own pilgrimage of grace.*

    *They would stop lying and start confessing, knowing that what has been done in the dark has not been done in secret.*

    *They would stop patting themselves on the back. Instead, they would lend their backs to the broken road and carry the bricks and mortar of restoration.*

    *They would easily forgive, because they have been forgiven much.*

    *They would speak less and listen more.*

    *They would laugh more and smirk less.*

    *They would sit on the porch swing instead of sitting at fundraisers.*

    *They would create make-believe stories with good endings instead of creating real stories with bad endings.*

    *They would ask deeper questions and be content to live with some mystery.*

    *They would make each day count, each encounter significant, instead of planning for the next four years.*

    *They wouldn’t hide behind the Oval Office. They would run to the front lines to protect my freedom.*

    *They would give, give, and then give some more, because they would realize that all they’ve ever had was never really theirs to begin with.*

    *They would work late, play less, pray more, and God-bless.*

    Yes, if they could be like him, then I would feel better about casting my vote in a couple of weeks. If his name were on the ballot, then I would feel safe and secure when pulling the lever. Instead, I feel sad, disabled, and removed from the process. I’m no longer confident that my voice will be heard and that my vote will be tabulated. The corrosive nature of what we’ve become . . . what we’ve allowed…saddens my spirit and has me longing for a season from my yesterdays.

    A time when the greatest fears I held were based on the imaginary, mysterious creatures lurking underneath my bed. A time when the greatest peace I felt was when my daddy came through the door, checked under the bed, and prayed my fears away.

    No, I don’t suppose Mitt and Barack will ever have an occasion to spend some time with my dad, but if they could, I have no doubt they’d walk away from that encounter wanting to be more like him. I know I do.

    Chuck Killian for President! Now there’s a man deserving of my vote. Somehow, just thinking about him today brings peace to my soul.

    I love you, Daddy, and for the record, I’ll take a ride on the porch swing with you any day over a state dinner at the White House. You’re the real deal. I trust your heart, and no matter the results of the upcoming election, I will always feel safe with you in my life.

    *Jim, keep writing–it torments my soul to read such honesty, and lifts me up out of the doldrums of mediocrity; and for that I shall be forever blessed and thankful.*

  2. I agree with you. In addition to dropping “cheap, shallow, fire-brand rhetoric”, which certainly coms from the religious right, but also from those who knowingly make BIG vote-getting promises they cannot possibly keep and those who make inflammatory speeches, which unnecessarily polarize people. I would suggest adding honesty & transparency as qualities important to leadership, as well as an open mind and a willingness to support about what works, not what is the party line. And to the vigorous debate, let’s seriously discuss how we can help the economically disadvantaged acquire skills that will allow them to succeed. (A plug here for the nonprofit that is succeeding in this regard – Academy Prep Schools, in Tampa & in St Pete.)

    Dimity

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Entering into a political discourse with anyone is like swimming in quicksand. You are going down. Today’s politicians (of every party) are, in general, not worthy of our trust and remain willing to do anything for their own political gain. For the record, I do vote but I sent up a silent prayer to God as I do. I don’t pray for victory but for wisdom. I pray for love, peace and harmony. I pray.

    This is what I believe…God still sits on His throne and He weeps for us.

  4. This is a great article Jim. Thank you.

    Brett

    Brett Opalinski

    Senior Pastor

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    4845 NE 25 Ave | Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308 | 954.771.7300 x203 | http://www.echristchurch.org

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  5. This was really splendid!

    Lisa

    On May 14, 2015, at 9:18 AM, Jim Harnish wrote:

    WordPress.com jimharnish posted: “Is God a Republican? The obvious answer is, No. God is not a Republican, or a Democrat, or, for that matter, a flag-waving American. But listen to the TV-evangelists, conservative talkshow hosts, or Republican candidates for President, and you’d s”

  6. Amen, Jim! I was at the Town Council tonight standing with the native Island community as they plead for sewers in their area. A number of yards are filled with overflow from malfunctioning septic tanks. I had written a letter to the editor deploring the situation and was reassured by the direction the meeting went tonight. Stay tuned on that one. Appreciate your well reasoned piece on justice and mercy to bring us closer to the Kingdom. We need more of the same!

    Thanks and Cheers! Carmen

  7. Good Morning Jim,

    Just a quick note to say I love reading your articles. As you know I am one of your fiscally conservative friend who believes in less government. And I like you have dedicated myself to be a servant to Christ. At the same time I love your article and agree with it.

    Hope to see you soon!

    Bill Small

  8. Amen, Jim! I just finished your week in the Upper Room Disciplines devotional. Inspiring! Please keep me on all your blog and book reader lists. Sending love, Andrea

  9. Just found your blog & read this post: “Is God a Republican?” Your comment: “My deeper problem with the loudest “evangelical” voices today is not just what they say (some of which I affirm), but the way they say it.” …this could have been better balanced if you had also noted in this post that some of the loudest ‘progressive’ voices suffer from the same problem of the way that say what they say. Truth in projection runs on boths sides of the street.

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