A Gentle Word to the Church on Politics

Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, “Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.” And therefore the wise men of the one city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God “glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise”— that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride—“ they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, “and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.”  But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, “that God may be all in all.”

St. Augustine, The City of God

If you own a television or have access to the internet, you understand that the last year or so in politics has been brutal. Both sides of the ideological aisle have acted savagely to each other and themselves. It is very easy for us as Christians who live in the city of man to get caught up in the savageness of our day. We value self-expression at the expense of self-reflection. Don’t believe me go on Facebook for five seconds. My argument today is not in support of a cause, party or politician.

Augustine writing his brilliant work city of God in the ruins of the mighty Roman Empire had the perfect political and eschatological perspective. Augustine was getting at some things that as followers of Christ we must not ignore. He was arguing against an over-identification with the temporal aspects of even the greatest city of man. The political problem in the church is not an Obama or Trump issue. It isn’t a red state blue state issue. The problem with the church and politics is those in the church are too quick to identify as Republican or Democrats. It was from the ruins of perhaps the greatest city ever that Augustine pleads with us to find our identity in the city of God rather than the city of man.

The Forgotten Promise Of American Liberty

It is during election years that the precarious nature of our republic is most evident to even the politically disengaged. Eric Metaxas newest book that releases today does a great service to our Republic by publishing a book that addresses the fault lines in our political system yet at the same time offer hope for the future by examining the foundations of the past.

A year ago I read A Free People’s Suicide by Os Guinness a fantastic read. Guinness builds the case that the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom. That the biggest danger to our republic is not from an external army but internal vice. Arnold Toynbee famously observed that

“History shows that all great nations commit suicide.”

Lincon said of this

“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Metaxas address the precarious nature of liberty in the famous exchange between Mrs. Powell and Benjamin Franklin. At the conclusion of the constitutional congress, Mrs. Powell approached Franklin and asked “Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin famously responded: “A republic, madam- if you can keep it.”

Both Guinness and Metaxas build their case for sustainable freedom around Guinness’ “Golden Triangle of Freedom.” The Golden triangle of freedom states that for us as a country to maintain her freedoms we need three interdependent things, freedom, virtue, and faith. If you lose any of those there ingredients, our republic will decline and eventually commit suicide. Guinness uses a more philosophical approach to the idea of the Golden Triangle. Metaxas uses a more historical approach. Because of the similarities and the difference of each they compliment each other very well.

In light of the horrific terror attack in Orlando, I was deeply saddened by the loss of so many innocent lives. I found it interesting and disheartening that politicians on both sides of the aisle want to diminish or suspend our 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments. When we the people don’t do what our duty is the government will gladly step in as we hand over our freedom for the false sense of security they provide. We make the deadly mistake of thinking that gun laws or surveillance laws will save us. Metaxas says

“Some problems cannot be cured through legislation. But they must be attended to nonetheless. And here is the problem: The less the culture attends to these things, the more the government will attend to them and the less freedom there will be.”

Reading Eric’s book, I was deeply impacted by not only the tenuous nature of freedom but the responsibility I have to keep Ameria free. It is very easy to get cynical when our voting options are a potential tyrant and a potential inmate. As a Christian and a parent, we must do the follow to be faithful “keepers” of the freedoms we have been given.

  1. We must read biographies of great men and women who lived lives of faith and virtue. We must do more than just read them we must pass on the stories of their lives to our kids.

    “The proper role of the heroic, to call us higher than ourselves. To call us to fight not merely for what is ours but for what should belong to everyone – for what is right.” – Eric Metaxas

  2. We must live lives of virtue empowered by the grace that only the Spirit of God can provide. My desire as a Christ follower is that every person to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. I want to live a life that reflects the love of Christ and demonstrates the transformation the gospel provides.
  3. We must make goodness fashionable – If we as a country continue to be ruled by our vices rather than by virtues I fear for the world, we leave our grandkids.
  4. We must pray for personal and national revival. One of the things I never realized was how much the Great Awakening affected the birth of our nation.

The events in the news daily, the posture of our culture reveal that we are a country that has largely abandoned virtue and has so personalized and segmented faith that our freedom that was bought at such a high price is hanging by a thread. There is time to reverse the damage but to do so we must fight, we must love, and we must trust.

I completely enjoyed “If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty.” In the next few months before you cast your vote for our next President do yourself a favor turn off CNN and Fox and read “If You Can Keep It” and “A Free People’s Suicide.” They will give you a new sense of gratitude for the blessings we have received and perhaps a fresh perspective to see past the craziness of our time to what has always made America so unique and so exceptional, flawed yes but still exceptional. The shining city on a hill that Reagan always said it could be.

[*I was provided a free copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review for you on my blog.]

Signs of Political Idolatry by Tim Keller

cropped-tim-keller-preaching

I’ve wanted to do a post on how we put far to much trust in politics as Christians. We go far beyond of civic duty as a citizen and end up in political idolatry. Tim Keller is half genius half man. Love how he put it so much better than I ever could. Here is a quote from the post he wrote.

Another sign of idolatry in our politics is that opponents are not considered to be simply mistaken but to be evil. After the last presidential election, my eighty-four-year-old mother observed, ‘It used to be that whoever was elected as your president, even if he wasn’t the one you voted for, he was still your president. That doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.’

It was so convicting for me personally and is something every christian should read no matter what color your state is.

Here is a link to the complete blog post.

My reading list for 2012

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business

Silos, Politics and Turf Wars

Unleashing the power of rubberbands

The Circle Maker

Creating Community: Five Keys to Building a Small Group Culture

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

The Effective Executive

Inovation and Entrepreneurship

Tell to Win

The Mesh: Why the future of business is sharing

Strengths Finder 2.0

Writing Fiction for All You’re Worth.

Thinking like your editor

Steve Jobs

The Secret of Teams

Age of Opportunity

The Slow Fade

The Importance of Being Foolish

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

9 Things You Simply Must Do