Politics

Why Christians Must Be to Loyal to Truth, Not Political Party or Brand

My thoughts below predate COVID-19, masks, hydroxychloroquine, or churches defying public health emergency orders. Last fall, different controversies were exposing problems in how believers evaluate conflicting claims and decide what to believe.

But those problems are still with us, and the current raft of controversies is exposing them even more painfully.

Many Christians who claim to revere the Bible lack biblical habits for evaluating truth claims and consequently lack skill in judging the ethics of situations in a biblical way. It seems almost ubiquitous now—the habit of putting the political/culture-war lenses on first, and embracing or rejecting claims based solely on source classification (friend or foe). The result is that ideas are accepted uncritically if they’re perceived to be from “our people” and rejected reflexively if they’re seen as from “the other side.”

What’s missing is weighing ideas and claims on their own merits—on things like evidence and sound reasoning. Increasingly, what’s completely missing is any nonpolitical consideration of what Scripture teaches and what sound application requires of us.

More than ever, believers need to meditate on a genuinely Christian view of truth and on a genuinely Christian approach to evaluating truth claims. At least five principles are are fundamental that effort.

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“Is it too much to ask Christians to be honest in their political activity?”

"I really can’t support Christian friends passing on lies and half-truths in support of Trump or any other candidate. So many of the 'internet memes' tell less than half the story, it would be better for us to not say anything at all, rather than passing on lies because we like to 'stick it' to our opponents." - Don Johnson

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“Extreme Middle” – Christianity Today's new editor on the magazine's political posture

"Politics and theology both exist on broad continuums. By virtue of Mark Galli’s editorial and CT president Tim Dalrymple’s follow-up, we’ve situated ourselves on these continuums in a kind of extreme middle—in censorial critique of the president and yet open to conversation as well as critique." - Daniel Harrell

457 reads

New from Pew: “45% of people who attend services at least a few times a year are ‘unsure’ of their clergy’s partisan leanings”

"When politics does come up from the pulpit, a majority of those in the pews (62%) say they agree with their leaders. The political overlap is particularly strong among evangelical Protestants, three-quarters of whom (76%) say they agree with their pastor’s political opinions, the survey found." - Christianity Today

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Christians—Our Loyalty Is to Truth, Not Political Party or Brand

Main points:

  1. Only Scripture is infallible.
  2. Truth is more powerful than human leadership.
  3. “Our” sources aren’t always right.
  4. “Their” sources aren’t always wrong.
  5. We should seek genuine understanding, even of what we reject.

In the midst of controversy, it’s often hard to tell what problems have been created and what problems have merely been revealed. Whatever we might say about problems the election and impeachment of Donald Trump has created, it has certainly revealed some!

One of the most serious Trump-revealed problems is that many Christians who claim to revere the Bible lack truly biblical habits for evaluating truth claims. As a result, they also aren’t very good at judging the ethics of situations that aren’t directly addressed in Scripture. This is important, not only from the perspective of citizenship and voting, but for Christian living in general: we face conflicting truth claims about all sorts of things every day.

Those of us who are involved in preaching and teaching ministries have an opportunity to help with this problem. We should teach a genuinely Christian (biblical) view of truth and how to evaluate truth claims. That view includes five principles.

Principle 1: Only Scripture is infallible.

Christians understand that God is completely reliable on the subject of reality, which is what I mean here by “truth”—what actually is.

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