the weblog of Alan Knox

Is God red, blue, or purple?

Posted by on Jul 22, 2008 in synchroblog | 11 comments

This post is part of a monthly synchroblog. The topic for this month’s synchroblog is “The Politics of God“.

Is God red, blue, or purple? Is he a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian, or a Constitutionalist? Is God for big government or small government? More spending or less spending? More social programs or less social programs? Big military or small military? Federal control or states rights? Conservative, liberal, or moderate?

These terms seem strange and somehow out of place when used to describe God. Why? Because God is none of these things. These terms are used to describe human efforts to govern themselves, and assigning them to God immediately begins to recreate a god in our own image.

I grew up in the deep south of the United States where most people voted Democrat in local and state elections and Republican in the national elections. Why? Four main reasons: carpet baggers, abortion, military, and taxes – not necessarily in that order. Abortion was the only issue that could be considered a moral issue, and I’m not sure how people would have voted if “pro-choice” had been pushed by the “pro-tax” party. In other words, I think that “fiscal” concerns would have easily outweighed “moral” concerns.

What does this have to do with God? What does politics in general have to do with God? Besides throwing around God’s name to garner a few votes, is God’s agenda even considered among the various political agendas? (Can you tell that I’m cynical? Yes, I know that there are good, honest, authentic Christians in politics – at least, I’ve been told they are there.)

From what I’ve seen, when Christians get involved in politics, they rarely do so in a Christ-like manner. Oh, they may pick a few moral issues on which to base their campaign, but the methods, techniques, and goals of their campaigns are rarely different from nonChristians politicians. The problem, of course, is that Jesus did not call his followers into politics. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying that being a politician is mutually exclusive with being a follower of Jesus Christ. Instead, I’m saying that a follower of Jesus Christ recognizes that human politics will not solve the world’s problems.

God’s politics works differently than human politics. God reveals needs and opportunities to his people. God gives his people the means to meet those needs. God gives them his Spirit to empower them and lead them as they meet those needs. Then, God expects his people to obediently follow where the Spirit leads – in meeting the needs of the people around them – as God as revealed those needs.

God’s politics works if our government is conservative or liberal, democratic or totalitarian, pro-Christianity or against Christianity. God doesn’t change the land through protests, but through a demonstration of his love. God doesn’t change people through voting, but through the service of his people. God doesn’t honor patriotism, but obedience.

Is God red, blue, or purple? That’s the wrong question. The correct question is this: Are God’s people demonstrating God’s love by serving others in obedience to the work of God’s Spirit in their lives. That’s the kind of “political agenda” that I can support 100%!

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Here is a list of other bloggers who are tackling this month’s synchroblog topic of “The Politics of God”. Enjoy as you read!

Phil Wyman rants about The Talking Points of Presumption
Lainie Petersen considers Questioning the Citizen Diety
Jonathan Brink enters The Political Fray
Adam Gonnerman explains The Living Christ’s Present Reign
Sonja Andrews Won’t Get Fooled Again
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Steve Hayes on God’s Politics
Matthew Stone at Matt Stone Journeys in Between
Steve Hollinghurst at On Earth as in Heaven
KW Leslie tells us about God’s Politics
Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping
Dan Stone at The Tense Before
Alan Knox asks Is God Red, Blue, or Purple?
Beth Patterson writes about Learners inheriting the earth: the politics of God
Erin Word discusses Hanging Chad Theology


11 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 7-22-2008

    Your view, Allan, comes across as Anabaptist, and I think more Scriptural than not, but I’m struggling personally to find where I fit and what I believe on this.

    There are politicians that I think have done well. One case in point is Carl F. Henry’s son, Paul Hentry, who before his death served as a United States Congressman of our district here in Grand Rapids. He was known for being friends with political opponents during campaigns as they debated issues. And he voted less with President Reagan than any other Republican, only 50% of the time. Having been a professor at Calvin College he always had good, well thought out reasons for voting as he did. And by the way, he was concerned about the early formations of the religious right back at his time.

    Add to that the story of William Wilberforce, and put Daniel in the mix, and it makes me wonder if God doesn’t use us wherever we’re at in our work, a point I’m sure you’d agree with.

    I do think we Christians should be known for good works and grass roots activity. Our voices would even be valued perhaps, if we were known that way. Somehow I think the public might be interested on how we vote if we were known for good works.

    Yet politics is anything but cut and dried, and good Christians will disagree on who they vote for in the general election for president in Novemeber. Which makes me think all the more that your point in this post is at least generally true.

  2. 7-22-2008

    It is funny that Christians don’t want lower taxes so they can use their money to help the needy but only so they can continue to fund their 401K’s and other investment deals, not to mention the vacation house, and other extravagant living.

    What is funny is the fact that Christians give more? The question is if that giving is to people with tax exemption because we may give more to those issues but I don’t know who gives more. My grandmother gave her shirt off of her back and so did many of my other family members they just gave to causes that didn’t have tax benefits

  3. 7-22-2008

    Alan

    I find it sad that so many Christians act as if Republicans walk on water and Democrats are going to be the first to breech the gates of Hell. While there are probably a majority of Repubs that say they are anit-abortion and gay marriage with an equal amounts of Dem’s who are for those same issue that does not mean that Republicans walk on water. I have probably voted for more Repubs than Dems but I know that ultimately there is a potential that they are saying whatever they need to say to get elected. When all the chips are cashed in, the only hope for this country and this world is found in the gospel-not in any politician or political party.

  4. 7-22-2008

    Good post, Alan! I agree. You seem to be close to the perspective (kind of anabaptist, as Ted pointed out), promoted in Shane Claibornes excellent book Jesus for President (info on
    http://www.jesusforpresident.org/ or Yoder´s groundbreaking The Politics of Jesus. For some of us having these inclinations, it means we shouldn´t be voting.
    (http://wipfandstock.com/store/Electing_Not_to_Vote_Christian_Reflections_on_Reasons_for_Not_Voting

    Jesus (only) is the world´s true kyrios/Lord/Leader/President and our citizenship belongs to God´s kingdom.
    /Jonas Lundström
    http://blog.bahnhof.se/wb938188

  5. 7-22-2008

    Ted,

    I haven’ read much about the Anabaptists and their relationships with politics. I know that in the 16th century the state was related to the church, so it would be difficult for some radical reformers to associate with the state.

    I’m certainly not against Christians taking part in civic government. I’m glad to hear that Paul Henry is a good example.

    Lionel,

    I’ve enjoyed your posts about giving and tax deductions.

    Joe,

    I agree. God is not a card carrying Republican or a card carrying Democrat.

    Jonas,

    Thank you for the book recommendations and the links. I have not had a chance to look into them yet.

    -Alan

  6. 7-23-2008

    Hey Alan,

    With love as the politic of God you sound not only Anabaptist, but almost Christian anarchist (not too far down the road from Anabaptist perhaps).

    Your thoughts seem to take the direction I hear rising from many of us, and leave the finger pointing back at ourselves when we consider politics.

    Thanks for a great post.

  7. 7-24-2008

    Hi Alan–
    I liked your post as well.

    And referring to Phil’s comment–there’s no where else to point the finger (if one must be pointed): pointing it at ‘the other’ has gotten us more of the same–that old definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!

    Keep on keeping on, Alan–our theologies are different, but we’ve traveled similar paths. Peace on your warrior stance!

  8. 10-28-2011

    “God’s politics works differently than human politics.” AMEN, AMEN and AMEN! Our service of love to God and people is our primary defining concern any political activity ought to fit within our service and be limited by it.

  9. 1-16-2012

    As a Mennonite and, therefore, a representative of the Anabaptist stream, I affirm what others have said concerning this stance being Anabaptist in character. I would counter, though, that Anabaptists are not Christian anarchists, but they recognize that ultimately the answers to the worlds troubles are not through the echoes and shadows that are human governmental systems but only through Kingdom people acting like Kingdok people. We may vote and participate in the government as we feel led, but such as it is, the governments hold a different allegience.

    Check out the 3rd paragraph and the the second point of commentary at http://www.mennolink.org/doc/cof/art.23.html for the theologically “official” stance of the Mennonite Church in the USA

  10. 1-16-2012

    I have to say that this is a war of the soul for me. As a very passionate person, hey, God made me that way, I often get sidetracked by politics. I enjoy the politic-ing as it were, and have considered running for local offices like school boards or city council. The problem is, for me at least, is that politics become all consuming and I tend to get so wrapped up in them, I lose focus of the reasons I believe the way I do (politically) and begin to trip on the power of “being right”. That is no way to be as a servant. Politicians at heart are supposed to be servants, so until I overcome my balance issue, then I will simply watch and vote, not run and gun… great post!

  11. 1-16-2012

    Great thoughts, everyone. Thanks for continuing this discussion!