Let me turn my attention, for a brief moment, to those who most often resonate with my words here on my blog, or in the books that I’ve written, or even on the podcast that I co-host.
I understand, and very much appreciate, that you agree with me when I point out the hypocrisy of the Conservative Christian community I once belonged to. I am very grateful for the private messages of encouragement, and the supportive “Amen, brother!” comments on my posts, and all the many “likes” and “shares” I’ve received from all of you on social media.
Seriously. Thank you.
But, I need to talk about us for a second.
I mean, maybe I’ve not been very clear about critique of Politically-Entangled Evangelicalism. See, I used to be one of those, for many, many years. So, when I talk about entanglement between faith and politics, I often use examples from my past, or even point to current examples of it in those groups I once belonged to.
But, (and this is the hard part), I’m afraid that Liberal, Progressive Christians are just as likely to develop their very own brand of toxic political entanglement.
In other words, we can so clearly see where Evangelical Christians today are blind to their own hypocrisy as they squirm to justify the moral failures of their political leaders, and how they compromise the integrity of their faith in Christ to maintain the illusion that their political side is still the last, best hope for our nation, etc.
And we can also clearly see how those same Evangelical Christians seem to be in denial about their own blind spots in these areas.
What we don’t realize is, this isn’t a problem unique to Evangelical Conservatives. This is a human problem. And that means, it is more than possible – if not totally inevitable – that one day very, very soon, Progressive Christians will become equally entangled with Liberal Democratic politics and develop their own blind spots and justify their own betrayal of Christ’s Kingdom in the process.
And, here’s the real kicker: What if it’s already happened?
I mean, if we can clearly see how blind and unaware our Conservative Evangelical Christians are when it comes to the allure of political power, what makes us think that we aren’t also blinded at this very moment?
How would we know?
The nature of blind spots is that you are the only one who cannot see them.
But they are still there.
Right in front of you.
Now, imagine if, somehow, we could listen to those who CAN see our blind spots. What if we even took the time to admit, up front, that we probably already do have a great need for improvement in many areas of our Christian life? How refreshing would that be? Wouldn’t we welcome that sort of honesty and transparency if it were coming out of the mouths of our Conservative Evangelical brothers and sisters?
Yeah. That would be kinda cool, wouldn’t it?
So, just imagine how great that would be if we could be the ones who go first. You know, sort of as a show of good faith.
Why am I saying this? Because, I just spent the last four days at a pretty big Progressive Christian event where I heard plenty of people griping about those Conservative Evangelicals on the other side who have such massive specks in their eyes, and I couldn’t help but wonder why we just automatically assume that we are immune to the same phenomenon.
Also, I had numerous conversations with other Progressive Christians who seemed to feel like the best way to fight against those politically-entangled Evangelical Conservatives was to become even better than they are at political entanglement.
“We need more Progressive Christians in Congress!”, some said. “We need to be as organized as the Evangelicals are at getting people out to vote for our causes,” others proclaimed.
But, this escalation agenda is a losing game, my friends. Just because they have a machine gun, it doesn’t mean the solution is for us to get a bazooka. Just because they have a helicopter, it doesn’t mean we need a fighter jet.
That sort of thinking only leads to one thing: All-out warfare.
This is where I remind all of us that these are our brothers and our sisters in Christ.[I only say this because I think some of us have actually forgotten this fact].
These are members of the same Body of Christ that we are also members of.
Now, I get it, we’ve forgotten this because our identity is probably wrapped up in our political tribalism. As long as you primarily think of yourself as a “Progressive” or a “Liberal” or a “Democrat”, or a “Conservative” or a “Republican”, etc., then you fail to see your true identity in the Body of Christ which transcends all of those other, smaller, man-made divisions we’ve allowed ourselves to become enamored with.
So, maybe that’s part of the solution: We need to get back to seeing one another as beloved members of Christ’s Body.
Warning: We can never do that as long as we primarily view ourselves as members of a tribalistic political party.
Repeat after me: “I am a member of the Body of Christ. I am an ambassador of the Kingdom of God. Everyone who is in Christ is my brother and my sister.”
I often remind Christians that Paul wouldn’t tolerate the Christians in Corinth dividing over which Apostle was their favorite. So, why do we think it’s ok to divide the Body of Christ over which political ideology is our favorite?
Answer: It’s not ok.
So, my sincere hope in writing this is that you, my new-found friends on the Progressive Christian end of the spectrum, might first of all recognize that you are also susceptible to the very same moral and ethical failures as you see reflected on the Evangelical Conservative side.
This is your chance to avoid the same fate, and to possibly even do some self-reflection to ensure that you don’t get caught in the very same trap.
And what trap is that? It’s the trap of entangling your faith with a political ideology. Plain and simple.
If you don’t want to become the Liberal Progressive version of what the Conservative Christians are today, it starts right here, right now, by renouncing your identity as a member of a political party and pledging your full and total allegiance to Christ and His Kingdom.
Failure to do this will inevitably result in becoming what you are currently so desperate to fight against.
I say this in love and with great hope that we may not only avoid the same fate, but possibly even help our brothers and sisters on the other side to escape as well.
That’s what love does. It brings us together. It seeks healing. It reaches across the aisle, and the pew, to reestablish connection and unity.
The only reason we might not do this is if we’re already so blinded by our own tribalism that we can’t possibly imagine doing such a thing.
I’m ready when you are.
Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.
*Woodstock, GA – July 27-28 “Unleashing the Word of God” [With Richard Murray] – FREE!