Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stirring up the Pot

A friend of mine referred me to a talk that Kate Lynch gave from a church in Orlando. He said it made some people walk out, so my interest was piqued.

She definitely threw some instigating statements out there. I'll need to do a bit more research myself, but I'm afraid that she succumbs to quite a few historical glosses, and the entire message is rife with generalizations. However, if you are a Christian who is involved in politics in any way at all (e.g., voting), you need to listen to this podcast and weigh her words carefully. It gets pretty incendiary, not because she is bombastic in her presentation, but because she, like many in our day, is calling for a radical reformation of the Christian's interaction with the broader culture.

Once again I will cite D. A. Carson's book Christ and Culture Revisited, a gift given to me by Mr. Brian Metz, which I just now finished, because Carson is able to deal with these issues with much more precision than Lynch was in her short talk.

I wouldn't say I'd agree with all of her conclusions, but here are some points she makes that bear some consideration...

She points out that while Rome was not foreign to such atrocities as slavery and child molestation, you never find Paul writing letters to the editor about these rank injustices. In fact, she quotes 1 Cor. 5:12, which gives a quite different perspective on a Christian's role in confronting culture.

She also has some pretty pointed objections towards our stance on abortion: why should we be saying anything about it UNLESS we are willing to adopt the baby? While even this argument might not stand to reason, the real question is, does it stand to Scripture? This is where Carson's assessment comes in real handy. If, as Christians, individually, we want to fight abortion politically, and we have a rational, moral and reasonable reason for doing so, then great. The problem comes when the Church as Church starts heralding from the mountaintops and radio waves that this is the Biblical way to deal with abortion. The Church as Church needs to be sure that ALL we do is lining up with a biblical approach. If God so wills, I will be starting a whole debate and dialogue on this very subject, but for now, suffice it to say, we Christians must let the Bible inform this hot-button issue, and while I believe we are right to question abortion as a fundamental human right, we may be wrong in some of our attempts to fight it.

That being said, I find it ironic that Lynch does not seem to recognize that in her hastening to distance Christianity from politics, she makes the oh-so-trendy oversight that the lack of politics she espouses sometimes sounds quite a bit like liberal politics. Remember when she pointed out that Paul never questioned Rome's treatment of slavery? In her critique of the Church's handling of the gay marriage issue (while I agree with her to some degree), she says that while she can't see Christ picketing gay marriage, she states (this may be a word or two off-I was scribbling on a receipt in my car-don't drive near me when I'm listening to controversial topics while driving), "I can see Christ saying, 'Why is the government telling you what marriage is?" I can see Christ fighting for the basic rights of people as human beings-to visit someone in the hospital or to get health care coverage."

So Christ and Paul aren't political enough to fight for the fundamental freedom of slaves or the human rights of children being raped, but Jesus would have no problem fighting for the rights of gays to get married? I'm afraid you'd be pretty hard-pressed to make that point scripturally. Sure we have the story of Jesus letting the woman caught adultery get away with her life, but that's a far cry for fighting for someone-anyone-gay, straight, hermaphroditic, or abused-who is not getting visitation rights or health care. It's not that Jesus doesn't care; it's that He knew that this world's systems would always devolve into gross inequalities, no matter how good the initial intent was. He stated quite explicitly that His kingdom was not of this world. Now, allow me to clarify that I do not think this means that Christians should refuse to engage in confronting social injustices, but we do so out of a love for the people that is informed by God's Spirit, not out of the belief that we can form a utopia here-whether that be a liberal utopia (Brave New World) or a conservative one (1984). So I agree with Lynch when she says that Jesus refused political power, but that refusal cuts both ways (for a more in-depth understanding of my thoughts of Jesus' relationship to politics check here).

If you are interested in dialoguing on any of the above, I would love to hear your thoughts...provided you take the time to listen to the podcast below. I'm kind of tired of people, even smart people, commenting without having dealt with the source material. So please refrain from commenting until you've listened. If any of the above debate seems important than carve out a few minutes of your morning drive from music or talk radio and get back to me. I would like to hear your informed thoughts.

The talk can be heard here(The message is the Kate Lynch podcast from 11/30/08)

Also available at Itunes-just search Status Podcast, and look for message 8 by Kate Lynch from 11/30/08.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

I have to admit that I found it hard to follow her speech. It seemed a little sporadic to me. Her ideas were a 'new' way of thinking, but I've heard similar things many times before.

I'll just comment on a couple of things. First, I agree that I can't see Jesus ever be political about anything; I see His focus on people-loving people-not on this world's governments. If he wanted to fix this world's government He had plenty of chances between Satan offering it to Him to His own ability to do it with His own powers and His followers. His concern was with the other world's government.

I never give an utopia of this world a second thought. I believe it will NEVER happen. Those who are not in the light are not able to live and believe like those of us who are. Christians shouldn't expect unbelievers to follow what we follow, to believe what we believe. If Christians have time to point fingers, we should be pointing them at ourselves. Looking from the outside, there isn't much of a difference between American Christians and non-Christians; divorce rate being a perfect example. If American Christians put only a fraction of attention, money, time, passion into the Great Commandment as they do into politics... *sigh*, but that's for a another time and discussion.

This has always been an underlying reason that I've never been that into politics; ultimately what can it accomplish for the glory of God? Yet I must say that I believe God can use politics for His good. And I'm happy that there are people who are into it and are able to be used by God in this particular field of life. I always have to remind myself that just because I don't see the worth in something doesn't mean there isn't any. I believe that God has made us all different. And that as a baker, politician , teacher, father, mechanic, violinist, or whatever, we should use those things for the glory of God because God's glory is able to shine through them.

I believe that my entire comment is full of digressions, so forgive me. But I'd love to respond to further comments and your own Ford.

I can recommend some books that deal with this topic that I read for a Christain Worldview class at DBU: The Fabric of Faithfulness by Steven Garber, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds by Os Guinness, Christ and Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr, and Creation Regained by Albert Wolters.