An Open Notebook

Nine Priorities for a Christian Politic

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As follows are my abbreviated comments on Littejohn’s original post, for Christians who live in a world where we are merely pilgrims, awaiting a new home one day–yet with responsibilities to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth.

  • Limited aims and aspirations: Christians hopefully have realized the limits of politics over our interactions with the world in the last 2,000 years. That being said, let’s not give up on the world, avoid the system, and let it run to ruin. We are supposed to be salt and light.
  • Mindfulness about human sin and frailty: Remember, at all times, the depth of sin and the fragility of human beings.
  • Subsidiarity: The Roman Catholics came up with this one (though it’s not a completely new concept, just the way they phrased it.) It is the principle that “matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority.”
  • Ordered Liberty: “If you think about it for long, you realize that the principle of subsidiarity entails also a strong commitment to individual liberty. After all, the lowest level of all is that of the individual. If a problem can be competently handled or a decision competently made by an individual, and it concerns only the individual, there is no need to bring the family in, much less the federal government.”
  • Charity and Forbearance: “It is beyond the ability of politics to make everyone believe rightly, and the attempt to do so usually brings more harm than good to the cause of truth. A Christian politics, then, while reserving the right to openly name and oppose error, and indeed to restrain certain forms of error from being carried out in action, seeks to exercise as much charity and forbearance as possible to those of other creeds, putting its trust in patient witness and persuasion rather than legal force.”
  • Respect for Human Life: “This means an urgent concern for the lives of the unborn, an issue on which Christians have been particularly vocal in recent politics, but we must remember that it should translate into a concern for life across the board. Christians should be the first to confess that black lives matter (and that white lives matter), and to insist that not just American lives matter, but the lives of those abroad as well, who are often the victims of our callous pursuit of national interest.”
  • Respect and Concern for the Poor: “Mindful as [Christians] are of the limitations of politics and of human sin and frailty, [we as] citizens should not operate under a utopian delusion that they can bring about anything close to perfect material equality, but they do not have to let grotesque inequalities run unchecked either. Moreover, they must be committed not merely to alleviating the poor’s material needs, but to restoring their dignity, which poverty robs from them. “
  • Respect and concern for the non-human creation order: “Obviously human life is most valuable of all, far more so than any other creature, and so the Christian cannot accept those forms of environmentalism that seek to put humans on the same level as the non-human creation.”
  • Respect and concern for the human creation order: “We have referenced this a few times already in relation to the social and community structures that define human life, but the most fundamental of these is the family, and at the heart of the family is God’s call for us to embrace our two-fold vocation as male and female, a sexual difference that we share with the animals but that for us also images the marriage of Christ and the Church. It is a pity that those in modern America most committed to protecting the non-human creation order seem often intent on destroying the human creation order in matters of sexuality especially, while those intent on preserving this human creation order are frequently oblivious to the needs of the non-human creation.”

Addendum: Ways We Announce the Kingdom of God, (N.T. Wright)

  • Worship: Through the normal activites of the church.
  • Evangelizing: open proclamation of the message.
  • Communities as a sign of God’s design.
  • Art: Which opens our eyes to signs of hope.
  • Justice: By pursuing justice in the world.
  • Reminding the Powerful: Christian politics reminds our leaders of the truth of God’s greater rule.

Brad Littlejohn posted his thoughts on politics a long while back. And, I  synthesized his statements a long while ago, but decided to re-post it now. The original list can be found here.

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By Ryan
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