Christ salvation

Salvation will not arrive on Air Force One

The critique of “identity politics”, the idea that tribal loyalties supersede everything else (including universal moral truths) is primarily (and rightly) directed at the political and cultural left, those who most often do appeal to race, class, gender and sexuality rather than arguments. Recently, the authors of an article in infinite time online magazine hurl the same criticism at those on the political and cultural right, especially those who have embraced religion as an ethnic and political identity, rather than because they believe it to be true about God.

Obvious cynicism about religion aside, there is no doubt that more and more people are voting (and then announcing their vote) more as an expression of their political identity, rather than after careful consideration The problems. Or, as Robert P. George recently notedwe tend to choose our policies based on our labels rather than the other way around.

This transition to politics as identity is the result of a deeper cultural change. A few decades ago, a group of left-wing political activists announced that “the personal is political.” Today, “politics is personal” for too many people, where we locate our purpose and value (not to mention the value of others) in our political loyalties.

Something as imminent and pragmatic as politics should never be made transcendent. He just can’t handle that weight. Human beings need something greater and beyond to ground meaning, purpose and value. For most of human history, faith in God or at least something transcendent has provided this higher order for life. But, as religion, especially Christianity, is pushed further to the margins of society and further into the private recesses of individuals, politics has moved into the void left behind. It’s a poor imitation, and its loudly trumpeted emphasis on justice and identity is a fragile reflection of transcendent truth. Partisan leaders make bad priests and pets cause bad doctrines.

As tempting as it may be to completely disavow politics, we cannot. As citizens of a democracy, especially in the United States, we live in a historic moment when commitment is more complicated than for Christians in the past. After all, for most Christians in most political contexts throughout history, there was not much that could be done. In some cases, living out your faith in the public square might come down to “Don’t feed the lions.”

Christians in America enjoy many more opportunities and face unique temptations. Even candidates who reject the tenets of Christianity often enlist Jesus in their cause. Or, as my colleague Timothy Padgett saidwe can say that God is neither a republican nor a democrat, but it is difficult to see him voting anyway other than like us.

Thus, Christians in politics must, above all, be clear about what we already believe. Most of our needs for government after the fall are to restrain our worst impulses, but also involve enlisting in government those who are as fallen as we are. This means that until the curse of Eden is completely lifted at Christ’s return, politics can only offer contingent goods. There will be no utopia in this world and, as history attests, any attempt to create one ends in disaster. Even if our motives are pure and some politicians and politicians are worse than others, voting for any political party will mean making common cause with unsavory characters and flawed policies.

One last thing we need to keep in mind is that some things about our Christian lives have not changed over time. Our brothers and sisters from different times or places might not have been able to express their faith in the public square as much as we could, but that did not stop them from affecting this place in their way of life. , in part because they realized that life is greater than politics and society is greater than the state.

First-Century Believers Facing the Hostility of the Roman State in the Twentiethefrom century Christians living under the terror of Communism to Christians living everywhere else in between, the Church has found influence through “small platoons” of loyalty in local communities and thanks to the great efforts of statesmen and heroes. Salvation will not come on Air Force One, and a perfect world will not go through the ballot box. But a better world is possible if all our actions, political or otherwise, stem from our Christian convictions, and not the other way around.

Image credit: ©Getty Images / Choreographer

The opinions expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.


Breakpoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint comments offer incisive content that people can’t find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio show, BreakPoint offers a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends. Today, you can get it in written form and in a variety of audio formats: on the web, on the radio, or in your favorite podcast app on the go.

John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and radio host of Breakpoint, a daily national radio program offering thought-provoking commentary on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.