Scot McKnight on Politics Corrupting Christians

Image: Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

In his broadsheet posted for all to read, Lee Camp pins to the board penetrating criticisms of what the politicization of the church – into partisanship – has done to the church and its witness. All this in his manifesto, Scandalous Witness.

Four, yea five, observations today.

First, we must eschew speaking of Christian values as a form of congenial public discourse and avoid decorating our politics with congenial Bible verses.

The Bible is itself a potential weapon of mass destruction, prone to use, abuse, and misuse. The idolatrous and blasphemous use of the Bible in contemporary politics is immensely destructive to Christianity. Hiding behind “the Bible says it:’ those who employ simplistic citations from the Bible in public discourse are often wrong and disingenuous. The notion of Christian values often works in a sinilar fashion: a loss of the overarching Christian narrative leads to a corruption of Christian witness.

Second, empires fall. We need to resurrect images like Babylon. Not of the opposing party and its leaders, which progressives are doing minute by minute in the media and which the Republicans did every day of President Obama’s presidency, but we must learn to see a Babylon with moral depth and discernment.

Historical observation makes plain that all empires fall. Moreover, throughout the biblical text there runs an anti-imperialist strand, pushing against the hubris and conceit of pharaoh, Babylon, Herod, and Rome. All their conceit finally fails them, and the systems of power of which they are both agents and pawns also fall, because no lord or authority or imperial might will stand against the triumph of the reign of God, in which all authority is handed over to the God and Creator of all things.

And to make such an observation is not a mere instance of Schadenfreude, an adolescent celebration at the misfortune of others. To take seriously the manner in which empires fall allows would-be Christians to configure the correct target for their labors: that the brilliance of our young need not be sacrificed to the strife of partisanship or to the military-industrial-congressional complex or to the dominance of global capitalism. To make such historical observations provides a more fruitful, nimble, and constructive ground from which to contribute to the good of the world.

Third, our hostility toward one another deserves to be seen for what it is.

If this is true, then the hostile and belligerent partisanship among American Christians might be compared to a fistfight over table manners on the sinking Titanic.

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Source: Christianity Today