EDITOR’S NOTE: Gina Noe’s weekly Heart & Home column will return soon. Until then, here is a column from Dr. Curtis Christian. Christian’s columns typically appears in the Weekend edition of The Register in Inspire.
It is the general expectation among many Christians in the pews that pastors should not preach politics from the pulpit. For, the pulpit is too powerful and too sacred to be misused to advance the pastor’s own political ideology. And with the exception where political action intersects with Christ’s ethical teachings, the pulpit should never be the place to promote political partisanship.
And yet, sadly, many Christians in our country seem not to apply this same expectation to politicians and political leaders. So many of our political leaders have co-opted the person of Jesus Christ, not for the love and compassion that our Savior taught, but to cloak themselves in His holy image for their own political ends and personal gains. And perhaps the reason that we indulge, even champion, our political leaders who campaign under the banner of Jesus is that we Christians have forgotten the mission and message of our Lord. Politicians have been able to politicize and polarize the image of Christ for their own ends because we Christians have become biblically illiterate and theologically uninformed.
We are witnesses to extremely polarizing events in our country’s history: white nationalism; racism; misogyny; harassment; assault; abuse; and overt lying that no longer even pretends to be true. For this reason, many church leaders believe that the very integrity of the Christian faith is at stake. Church leaders across our country are calling for a renewed confession of faith in this time of national crisis — a confessional statement to reclaim the name of Jesus Christ. As a church leader, it is my duty in Christ to speak truth in humility and love. And when politics undermines our theology, we must examine those politics.
So, to reclaim the name of Jesus Christ, I refer to this confession of faith:
We believe each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26), and that racial bigotry is a brutal assault on the image of God. Therefore, we reject the resurgence of white nationalism and racism on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. And we reject any doctrine or political strategies that use race as a tool to divide us.
We believe how we treat the hungry, the stranger, the sick, the prisoner, is how we treat Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46). Therefore, we reject the policies that would abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees. We will not accept the neglect of low-income families and children.
We believe that truth is morally central to our lives (Exodus 20:16). Jesus promises that the truth will set us free (John 8:32). Therefore, we reject the lies that have invaded our political and civil life. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society.
We believe that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination (Matthew 20:25-26). Therefore, we reject any moves toward any autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule, both of which threaten the common good.
We believe Jesus when he calls us to go into all nations and to make disciples (Matthew 28:18). Our churches are part of an international community, and we should, in turn, love and serve all its inhabitants rather that to seek first our country’s dominance over all others. Therefore, we reject an “America First” philosophy as theological heresy. We share a patriotic love for our country, but we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places our country over others.
Two thousand years ago, claiming Jesus as Lord was a dangerous and political act. Because, if Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not. Today, we must reclaim that name of Jesus — reclaiming his holy and powerful name from those who would co-opt it and wield it to seek their own gain. Jesus is our light in the darkness. In moments of moral crisis like this, it is time for a fresh confession of faith.