the church in a post-trust era

I think post-truth, or post-factual is not off the mark when it comes to our society nowadays, at least politically. But some say it’s more like post-trust that marks the United States as a nation. And sad to say pastors or clergeypeople and churches are not on the high end of institutions in which people trust.

I think the church, and all of us who are part of it would do well to repent of our presumption that we know what is best. There is a church somewhere named, “Jesus Knows Best Church,” and indeed Jesus does. But we don’t. Not to say we shouldn’t lend a discerning heart and mind to society, because indeed we should. And that may be especially critical right now. But we also need to make sure we’re above the fray of the normal partisan politics which mark the political landscape. For the ways we’ve been taken into the fray into whatever side that’s on, we need to repent of defending or promoting this or that American political scheme. It’s one thing to speak out on issues. It’s another to be known as a Democrat or Republican, when we ought to be known as followers of Jesus. In all of this, we should be marked with both humility and love.

Christian, including evangelical should never connote, much less denote any particular kind of politics of this world. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have our own political positions, of course we do. It means that we take pains to make it clear that we serve one King and kingdom, and are of one politic only: God’s grace and kingdom come in King Jesus. That is the one Good News/Gospel we live and if need be die for. Not to diminish the service of Christians in the government of the nation, including the military.

I have American political leangings, but I believe they’re very issue driven, so that for me, it’s a case of considering separate issues, and making judgments from there. One might not agree with everything in the book (I don’t think I do), but Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity, by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz is an excellent example of trying to do this responsibily across basic issues, and in-depth. I am a registered Independent who might in the eyes of the world be considered a moderate leaning left (though I’m not sure about that, myself), yet I preferred one particular Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 election. I think we would do better not to be seen as either left, right, Democratic or Republican, or whatever else. A big reason being the sharp partisan divide in our nation. Perhaps it would be better for us to remain silent, and in some cases I think that should very much be so. How can we win people to Christ through the gospel if we’re so marked by the politics of this world, that we alienate many?

That said, we shouldn’t despair since after all the gospel is no less than the power of God for salvation to all who believe. It is quite alright to have our own positions, and maybe even argue for them some (like with reference to abortion, or human trafficking), and perhaps take some controverisal stands which might be seen as political partisanship, even if we don’t believe for a second that they are. But one thing is to mark us out for sure: Our allegiance to, and practice from the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Our witness of that.

This is actually a splendid opportunity for us to speak a word of truth concerning the Truth himself, Jesus, into a society increasingly skeptical of truth. And the faith that comes from that good news in Jesus, which addresses the deficit of trust. Something, and specifically Someone in whom people can completely commit themselves to, in faith. So as to learn to trust the one God who not only won’t let us down, but helps us live for something so much bigger not only than ourselves, but anything else in this world, including the provisional things such as government and politics, which indeed are important in their place. We need to be known as those who have one faith and loyalty through the gift of the Father in the Son by the Holy Spirit. In the one who is full of grace and truth: Jesus himself.