Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Politics, Ron Paul, Israel and Division In the Church

Politics is said to make strange bedfellows. It also causes division like nothing else save perhaps religion (and sports depending on where you live). That is especially true in this day and age as we approach the Iowa caucuses and it is bleeding over into the church to a far greater extent that normal. Nowhere is this more apparent than in how Christians, especially Christians we would call conservative, evangelical Christians, react to one candidate in particular: Ron Paul.

It is no secret that I am supporting Dr. Paul but that is not why I am writing this. If you are interested in the reasons for my support for Ron Paul, check out The Arsenal of Liberty where I blog about politics and do so intentionally apart from my main blog. My concern here and why I am writing is my concern over how the candidacy of Dr. Paul is dividing the church, a division that is not caused by him but by the hyper-political nature of American evangelicalism coupled with the strong current of dispensationalism that exists in much of the church in America.

There is a segment of the church that sees support for Ron Paul, who is fairly unique among Republicans in his lukewarm support for the nation of Israel at least compared to any other nation, as somehow being anti-Semitic and therefore anti-God's covenant people. These brothers and sisters see a vote for Paul as an act of rebellion against God. There are also a lot of Christians who are, putting it mildly, rabid supporters of Ron Paul who get angry at any suggestion that someone else might be a better nominee. Over the last week or so I have seen an incredible amount of angry rhetoric on both sides, and I am afraid I have engaged in some of it, between people who are supposed to be on the same side (see for example this post from the Gospel Coalition Evangelicals, Race, and Politics that generated over 100 fairly strident comments on both sides of the RP Divide). Brothers this must not be so.

We cannot draw dividing lines in the church over secular American politics. 

Who wins the U.S. Presidential election in 2012 is not going to make or break the Kingdom of God. If you are my brother or sister in Christ, that trumps your political allegiance and mine. A political liberal who votes for Barack Obama and is a Christian is my brother. A staunch conservative who supports Ron Paul or Sarah Palin or heaven forbid Newt Gingrich but is not a Christian is not my brother and is instead someone I need to tell about Jesus.When Paul warned us about not being unequally yoked he wasn't talking about staying clear of lib'rals! We must be more concerned with our witness to the unbelieving world than we are about electoral victory and right now we are not comporting ourselves very well.

That does not of course mean that we must avoid civic involvement entirely. Just that we need to keep in mind that who we support politically has absolutely zero impact on who we will spend eternity with.

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