I started reading God’s Politics by Jim Wallis, and thought that I would post a few thoughts about the Introduction chapter: “Why Can’t We Talk about Religion and Politics?”
One of his first statements that caught my eye was:
“sometimes the most strident and narrow voices are the loudest, while more progressive, prophetic , and healing faith often gets missed,” (pg. xv)
Some questions that I have about that:
- Who exactly is he calling narrow? The religious right? Secular left? Both?
- What “faith” is he talking about? That word tends to get through around a lot. If it isn’t biblical faith it is meaningless.
Wallis says that there are two ways that religion has been brought into public life historically:
- The view that “God is on our side” which he says leads to “triumphalism, self-righteousness, bad theology and often dangerous foreign policy.”
- Asking of we are on God’s side (Abraham Lincoln) which leads to much healthier things – penitence and even repentance and humility, reflection and even accountability.
I don’t disagree with his summary of the history of religion in the public life. I may not concur with the conclusions that he draws.
“God is not partisan; God is not a Republican or a Democrat. When either party tries to politicize God or to co-opt religious communities for their political agendas, they make a terrible mistake. The best contribution of religion is precisely not to be ideologically predictable nor loyally partisan. Both parties, and the nation, must let the prophetic voice of religion be heard. Faith must be free to challenge both right and left from a consistent moral ground,” (pg. xvi)
This is true, Christians should not be lackeys of any political party. I am curious about why he talks of “religion”, why not specifically the Church? I’m not sure that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. – really have a prophetic voice. I know that isn’t a P.C. point of view, but I think it is true.
He summarizes what God’s Politics is about:
- It reminds us of the people our politics always neglects – such as the poor, the vulnerable, the left behind (no mention of the lost – hmm – interesting).
- Wallis says that it “challenges narrow national, ethnic, economic, or cultural self-interest reminds us of a much wider world and the creative human diversity of all those made in God’s image.”
- It reminds us of creation of which we are to be stewards.
- It “pleads with us to resolve the inevitable conflicts among us, as much as is possible, without the terrible cost and consequences of war.”
- It always “reminds us of the ancient prophetic prescription to ‘choose life, so that you and your children may live.'”
- And also challenges all selective moralities that would choose one set of lives and issues over another.