Will Another Ralph Reed Emerge in Evangelical Circles?

I received some interesting feedback from last Friday’s post.  Some wondered about my thoughts about Ralph Reed and the future of Christians in politics.  I am not prescient, and I am not in politics, but here are a few sketchy ideas.

I would not claim allegiance to everything the Christian Coalition stood for or promoted.  I’m not a God-and-country Christian, straight up.  I do personally love when I see Christians attempting to be salt and light in the broader culture, including the political realm (Matthew 5:14-16).  Reed was an unusually promising figure in evangelical circles before he compromised himself morally through ties with Jack Abramoff.  I do not know Reed’s heart, and I do not believe that the promotion of conservative ideals equals the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, but I am jealous for the rising generation to plug into their society and make a difference in the name of their Lord.

Sometimes you hear that what transpires in Washington, DC doesn’t really matter–it’s what happens in Hollywood, Miami or New York.  Not so.  Most of us are not called to ministry, and politics matter.  They affect our everyday lives.  The outworking of policy touches every single one of us, shaping our day-to-day realities–the roads we travel, the rules to which we conform, the forms we fill out, the babies we save or kill, the taxes we pay.  Politics matter.  They matter big.  It is a noble thing to serve one’s fellow citizens, particularly when one does so from a robustly biblical worldview that recognizes the fact that our God holds all realms in his hand and controls the heart of kings (Proverbs 21:1).

All the more reason, then, for the rising generation to enter the political realm, albeit with chastened ambition borne of awareness of the failings of figures like the once-luminous Ralph Reed.  Such an entree will require great care and will necessitate close involvement and staunch accountability to a strong local church.  The spate of moral failures related to Doug Coe’s Fellowship reinforces this point, though we scarcely need more proof of the ability of politics and power to seduce and then tear apart a leader.  If we would be Samsons, we must be aware of Beltway Delilahs acting on behalf of principalities and powers who would explode our witness and compromise the evangelical cause.

We would not want to make the mistake of equating any particular party or political ideology with the gospel; we would, however, hope for more Christians to work hard and shrewdly in public in order to be evangelistic, to grab glory for their Lord by fruitful labor, and to enable the flourishing of all men.  We prioritize the preaching of the gospel, yes, but we also remain aware that for as long as Christ tarries, the affairs of this world matter. Is there another Ralph Reed out there?  Are there several?  Do these developing leaders have theological training, outstanding character, and a deep love for the local church?  Will they enter the political realm to serve, not to grow powerful and famous?  Can they look temptation in the face–and the temptations of being a Washington power-broker are nearly beyond imagining–and through the power of the Spirit emerge unscathed?

One can only hope.

And, by the way, if any of those bright-eyed evangelicals wanted to work on trimming taxes, that would be no bad thing.

(Image: 1995 Time cover from wrightandleftreport.com)

  • Christianes

    ‘Bout time some Christian people started working for the Common Good, for the rights of the middle class, and out of concern for the poor.

    I think we have seen enough of involvement with ‘special interests’ among Christian ‘leaders’.

  • owenstrachan

    I hear you. The point of political involvement is not first personal enrichment. It is public service. If that service is powered by the gospel and a concern for the promotion of the Christian worldview, fantastic.

    • Christianes

      I like the phrase ‘public service’ as long as it implies working for the common good.

      • owenstrachan

        Definitely. No problem whatsoever with that implication. I love the phrase “common good.” My college had that at the center of its mission, and that has stuck with me. Good point.

  • Andrew

    Thanks, Owen. That’s a good and helpful analysis.


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