Christian Missionary: The Evangelical Pursuit of Political Power is Hurting the Witness of the Gospel in the World

Believe Me 3dJeff Christopherson is the Chief Missiologist of the North American Mission Board.  In a recent piece at a Christianity Today blog, Christopherson argues that political partisanship is hurting evangelicalism and the spread of the Gospel in the world.  Here is a taste of his piece:

Here is a question. What happens to the mission field when partisan evangelicals collectively turn their missionary platforms into ideological troll farms? What happens to the mission field when our highest calling is to leverage a profound cultural angst into a vitriolic nationalism? What happens to the mission field when those with whom we disagree become cultural enemies to vanquish rather than friends and neighbors to love? What happens to the mission field when an aberrant version of Jesus is formed in our own image and weaponized online as a parochial wrecking ball? What happens to the mission field when evangelicalism’s good news has nothing to do with the gospel?

This happens:

The trajectory of the religiously unaffiliated continues to climb at unprecedented rates, while the great evangelical prize—political significance—will continue to erode.[1] Our preferred weapon of cultural engagement, politics, will, as Jesus taught, be turned and used against us in full measure.[2] The mission field has been torched by our own hand, and the utility of evangelical voting bloc will no longer be desired.

It’s a lose-lose scenario by any measure.

Read the entire piece here.

Christopherson’s piece supports my argument in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

8 thoughts on “Christian Missionary: The Evangelical Pursuit of Political Power is Hurting the Witness of the Gospel in the World

  1. Tony,
    Have you read John’s book yet? Not ALL, but a significant number of white evangelicals voted for Trump as a way to “reclaim” America as a “Christian Nation”. That’s not true of anyone who voted for Hillary.
    John, please correct me if I misrepresented your books.

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  2. Paul,

    Surprise of surprises——-I wholly agree with your point in the first three paragraphs. There was probably a past time in our history when it was more reasonable for a person of faith to compartmentalize belief from public policy. Those days are gone if ever there was validity to the practice.

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  3. I don’t think that would be the first time. Didn’t Southern Baptist missionaries back in the 1950’s claim that the denomination’s public image as being pretty much the religion of Jim Crow hinder their work?

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  4. Tony:

    It’s not about voting. Our political system gives us three choices: A Democrat, A Republican, or a blank ballot. I believe that Evangelical Christians demonstrate their quest for political power when they condemn the moral failing of one party’s president and give the other party’s president a pass. Evangelical Christians demonstrate their quest for political power when they fail to condemn cruel and inhumane policies that are clearly offensive to their faith when they are perpetrated by a president who also happens to appoint judges they think will interpret the Constitution and statutes favorably, and write regulations that advance their political beliefs.

    I believe that the church should speak to the culture and the political class about its beliefs and the manifestation of those beliefs in the form of public policy. And even though the political campaigns create religious outreach teams, I agree with Mr. Christopherson is right when he says that the church should not be wedded to either political party.

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  5. “The Evangelical Pursuit of Political Power” turns Jesus Christ into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the GOP and/or Trump Tower.

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  6. Conservative Evangelical who voted for Donald Trump (and his agenda): pursuing political power.
    Progressive Evangelical who voted for Hillary Clinton (and her agenda): not pursuing political power.

    I agree that Christians should not be about the pursuit, acquisition and wielding of political power. But we should be active and engaged (and, I believe John would say “available”), including participation in the political process consistent with the dictates of our faith. But I’m trying and failing to understand how the above distinction — which, while obviously not capturing all the nuances of John’s argument, I think fairly summarizes his view of the last election — is drawn.

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  7. Your point, unfortunately, is being expressed more and more in-country based on the comments i read on the many different FB sites i follow…and too many evangelicals don’t seem to care.

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  8. This is weird because the underlying concept is that the way people act and their political aims are somehow a separate thing from their religion.

    As in: If only people would shut up about politics, it would make their religion that much more palatable.

    But religion and politics are just ways that people express their culture.

    BTW, I wrote a piece about immigration that was published yesterday:

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/7/18/1872579/-We-Dishonor-Our-Forebears-When-We-Perpetuate-the-Prejudice-They-Faced-When-They-Immigrated

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