A few days ago Shane Claiborne posted a tribute to Chuck Colson who died on April 21st (we will miss you Chuck!). At the end of this tribute, Shane posted a video of a panel he was on with Chuck Colson and Greg Boyd (2008 NPR Speaking of Faith production with Krista Tippett moderating)
As I watched this video I was struck close but far away all three of these men were in their views on the interactions of Christians with politics. All three were/are passionate about Jesus and living one’s faith in a way that tackled social injustices head on. However, each one of them at a slightly different take on HOW Jesus followers were to interact with the geopolitical structures and political parties.
Disclaimer: Of the three panelist, Chuck is the only one that I know the most about as I have read multiple of his books and found them full of Jesus. Shane I have heard of there and there…and Greg…well, to be honest, I don’t know much about him except that he is a huge Christus Victor atonement guy, which I like… I mention this because I’m sure there are other things at play behind the scenes of this video… I just don’t know them. 😕
Chuck Colson was by-far the oldest of the three panelists (who were chosen BTW to represented three different generations of Christians in politics) and had a more favorable view on political parties and how Believers could work with them. Most likely part of this worldview I think came from Chuck’s time as a politician but more likely I think it came about because of his experience running a parachurch organization.
Greg Boyd, on the other hand, was and is a pastor and, as such, approached the issue differently than Chuck or Shane. In fact, I think this difference was one of the reason why everything Greg said seemed to slide right past Chuck without him ‘getting’ the heart or the message behind the words. For example, Greg mentioned several times that he has problems with church leaders who promote USA nationalism side-by-side with the Bible and the message of Jesus. For him, as a pastor, this is a BIG deal as he primary heart is for people to learn to walk with Jesus and become citizens of heaven and not any one geopolitical nation (a view that I applause wholeheartedly, BTW). Unfortunately Chuck never seemed to get this as he kept talking about how a Believer was to be involved politically and how it is good to support one’s military troops – views, that while good on a personal level, can have devastating results if coupled a belief that the USA is a THE God ordinated nation in the world (a belief that has sadly taken over much of Evangelical Christianity in the USA). In other words, being a parachurch leader, Chuck can get away with some things that Greg as a pastor cannot, creating a disconnect that was oblivious in the video (granted, there are most likely other factors behind this disconnect…but this is just the big one that jumped out at me).
The third voice in the conversation was Shane who was also the youngest member of the group. To me he sounded a lot more moderate and practical then either Chuck or Greg. I don’t know if this was a generational thing between the speakers (i.e. Greg’s Baby Boomer generation is known for reacting to those before them, which in this case is Chuck’s Silent Generation; whereas Shane’s Gen X group had the ability to learn from both of the previous generations) or if it just because Shane is closer in age to me (he is five years older). Either way, I do have to say that I really enjoyed the comments made by Shane as I think they cut to the root of things while maintaining the tension that all Believers have in living between the Ages (i.e. being a citizen of both Heaven and the geopolitical nation one lives in).
All things aside though, this video is well worth the time invested as it does bring out the need for Christians to think through their political dealings whether that be voting, running for office or promoting social reform. As I’ve mentioned before, to be Biblical consistent we have to be political inconsistent.