Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

[Seriously] Talking Politics

Posted by Lex Fear on May 19, 2006

Those who spurn politics may as well
live apart from society, not work and not dial the emergency services
when there is a problem.

My church is mainly made up of pentecostals and a lot of them don’t like to discuss politics, social justice or reform. When someone brings up a political issue they roll their eyes, joke or try to change the subject.

Most of these very same people are the ones who like to quote many great and inspirational politicians and social activists and reformers from the past when speaking and preaching. People like Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Spurgeon, Nelson Mandella, Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, Steve Chalke, Franklin D Roosevelt and Charles Colson. Winston Churchill is a favourite, a source of much inspiration, and he wasn’t even a confessing Christian! He described himself as an “optimistic agnostic”.

So what is politics? Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1 a : the art or science of government b : the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy c : the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government
2 : political actions, practices, or policies
3 a : political affairs or business; especially : competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government) b : political life especially as a principal activity or profession c : political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices
4 : the political opinions or sympathies of a person
5 a : the total complex of relations between people living in society b : relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view

My interpretation is that is about managing a large tribe, region or nation of people. It is trying to make decisions that will benefit all or most, to the well-being of all or most. Those who spurn politics may as well live apart from society, not work and not dial the emergency services when there is a problem.

The next question is: Are you someone who is not interested in politics but have quoted at least one of the politicians or reformers above? Then you may be interested an excellent summary of the history of Democracy in the Western world written by Prof. Prabhu Guptara on his blog – “What does it mean to be a democracy?“.

It is interesting to note that many of the founders of Western democracy were all Christian believers of one denomination or another. It was their faith that inspired them to take up politics and to campaign or introduce social justice, change and reform.

I don’t doubt at all that Churchill was a great leader, but I try to think why it is that most present day Christians I know will show lack of interest or dismiss political and social issues today, yet draw so much inspiration from these past politicians and activists. I have a few theories which I am willing to share:

1) It is easier to look back in history and separate the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’. It requires much more insight and thought to look at present day leaders and determine their character and intent.

2) It is much easier to quote something inspirational from a great leader who had done something for ordinary people, than it is to stand with ordinary people and do something great for them.

3) We have a general apathy towards the causes of fellow man or are cynical that politics can achieve anything useful or good.

Finally, this is not a general criticism of those who have difficulty understanding politics, or of those who are already committed to social or missionary causes and do not have the time to engage in political debate. I know a number of people who do not have the time or understanding but do show interest in and/or concern for political and social issues, as well as involve themselves in social causes.

In the end, we will be judged not by the knowledge we didn’t have, but by what we did with knowledge we had.


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