Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Tis the Season for Politickin'

Question: Can Christians be elected to high-level political office without sacrificing some of their "Christianness"?

Could someone actually be elected, and still maintain the character of Jesus?

SHOULD Christians even try to make it in big-time American politics?

I'll await your answers and your discussion, but I'm starting to think the answer is, at least for the first two questions, "No." Which leads me to ask the third question.


Garry said...

question #1: Theoretically, yes. Probably not because they will not be painted as an "acceptable" candidate.
question #2: That is a matter of personal integrety, of politics.
question #3: why not?

Garry said...

p.s. that should say "not of politics."

Scott said...

I guess I've just been wondering if "the character of Jesus" would do things like:

1) Accept huge sums of money from corporations whose interests are only in convincing Jesus to make laws a certain way (which one could easily see as watered-down bribery);
2) Run campaign commercials that are misleading and insulting to other people;
3) Be for the "war on terrorism" and be willing to order people to be killed because they have been identified as enemies of America.

I can't picture someone getting elected who won't accept money, and I really don't see someone getting elected who says we should love the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and that perhaps we should give them our coats when they get cold.

Luke 6 would make a pretty lousy campaign platform! :-)

Craig said...

Well, Scott, it's not like there's something uniquely corrupt about specifically American politics. I don't imagine that French politics, or Israeli politics, or Iraqi politics, or the politics of any other place populated by fallen humans, is particularly 'cleaner'. And in a lot of ways, our politics is cleaner than most. Our elected officials leave office when their terms are over, and don't stage coups to hang onto power; they don't kill their political opponents; and so forth. . .

Politics is, by its very nature, a 'worldly' field of endeavor. It has been called 'The Art of the Possible'; which is to say, it will inevitably involve its participants in making compromises in order that at least some part of Justice/Truth can be brought to bear on the social order. As such, it will be a frustrating endeavor for anyone who can't tolerate anything less than Perfect Cosmic Justice (I mean, heck, these days, we can't even agree as to what Perfect Cosmic Justice IS, much less how to enact it in a fallen world).

Which doesn't forestall a serious Christian from involvement in politics, as far as I can see. But the Christian who pursues politics should have his eyes open as to the nature of what he's dealing with, and the sorts of temptations to which he'll be exposed, and be prepared to deal with them (and the consequences of those dealings). And he should be clear that a Just Social Order is not quite the same thing as The Kingdom of Heaven.

Your comment above touches on Lord Acton's oft-quoted aphorism that "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." And American politics deals with an awful lot of power. In that sense, it's sort-of like a high-voltage power line - be very careful how you deal with it. . .


And I would at least want it acknowledged that Christians thru the centuries have taken a wide variety of positions on questions related to pacifism. . .

Scott said...

Agreed about the global nature of politics -- I'm just speaking about American politics because it's really the only one I know and am that familiar with.

I understand that even the vast majority of Christians are most likely non-pacifists, and we all could spend hours debating just-war theory here. But I'm just going by Jesus' words in scripture. I would struggle to find a way to look at "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, give them your shirt if they take your coat" and determine that Jesus would okay a war.

Joe B said...

As Craid said, American politics may seem dirty to us, but I think it is vastly cleaner than virtually any other country's. In a way, however, that makes the point still more keenly.

In an autocratic state, any sort of leader might arise (whether by force of personality, or even by a post-ascendance conversion.) But in a democratic state, the leader is constrained by the humanity he must lead, and in fact is constrained by the frail nature of the humans his office constrains.

It may be at most times the nearest to ideal, or the farthest from awful. Nevertheless, the "Christian politician" is the rope in the unending tug-of-war between what humanity craves and what humanity hopes.

Is it possible, in a practical sense, for a political leader to maintain the character of Jesus?

I say yes, so long as we mean "maintain the character of Jesus" in the same sense we intend were we to say it of our plumber or cab driver or school teacher.

Scott said...

I think what I mean is that theoretically, of course someone could be a leader and maintain the character of Jesus. But it's not the same as a plumber or a cab driver, because as all have noted... you've got to get elected by a large-scale vote. I find it greatly improbable that someone could maintain the character of Jesus and get elected to higher office in America. I think you'd have to make a number of sacrifices and compromises, and have to "hide" your opinion on a number of the issues. And then, are you really maintaining the character of Jesus?

Keeping your job while having the character of Jesus isn't quite the same as getting into politics and getting a half-million people or so to vote for you to lead your country while having the character of Jesus.

And think of all those tables you'd have to turn over in the Capitol building once you got there! Security would remove you in no time! :-)

Joe B said...

Agreed. It seems Jesus failed in his "election bid" as well. Just when he had it in the palm of his hand, he started in with all that "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem" crap, and he managed to lose it in the home stretch.