Covenant Church, Theology, and Politics

As you wrestle with how best to respond to the election, to race issues, to Covid, and so many other challenges in our society, you may have some questions about whether or not our theology speaks to these issues, or whether or not it even should.

 

Some of you have also wondered if our theology and our commitment to biblical truth is shifting as our culture around us changes.

 

In this video Pastor David discusses the biblical truths we continue to affirm as we think about faith and societal issues, and how those may inform the way we think about politics, economics, and social theory.

In response to the discussion in our Facebook Group, David posted the following:


Beloved Covenant Family,


This is challenging new territory for us as a church, but this is also a great opportunity for us to grow and learn together.


There’s a lot of emotion connected to these conversations. Let’s take a breath, slow down, and invite the Lord into these challenging conversations. I’m not interested in convincing you of my own personal views. But I am deeply interested in how we as a church learn to navigate this challenging moment for our nation and the churches that are part of it. Here are four questions I am asking. I hope you’ll ask them with me:

1. How do we continue to honor Jesus as Lord?

Our ultimate allegiance is to him, not to any cause or candidate or party or system of thought. Covenant is the church of Jesus Christ. We are, and we will remain, the church where Jesus has the last word. How do we let his living, loving presence not only shape our thinking but shape the way we relate with one another?


2. How do we continue to place ourselves under the authority of the Bible and let it have the last word?

The Bible is so clear about basic moral truths, such as:

  •  the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and the conviction that the unjust taking of human life is sin
  • the sanctity of every single human being as a bearer of God’s image, deserving to be treated with honor and dignity and respect, and the conviction that withholding that honor and dignity is a sin
  • the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and the conviction that sexual involvement outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is counter to God’s intended design and a sin


As a church committed to Biblical truth, those are not negotiable things, and we don’t let the world determine our beliefs in these areas. As II Corinthians 10.3 says, we are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.


3. How do we continue to wrestle through the best ways to apply Biblical truth to complex societal issues today?

This is not nearly as simply as it seems. Applying universal Biblical truth to public policy in a secular democratic society is incredibly complex, and there are almost no policy issues about which every follower of Christ will agree.  

We ought to be able to have humble and open-hearted conversations in which we wrestle together with how the teaching of Scripture can best inform our politics, our economics, our understanding of societal rights and responsibilities, race and privilege, of law and public policy, of engagement in the public square. 


Nothing is sacrosanct except the Lordship of Christ and the authority of his Word, right? As Paul writes in I Corinthians 8.5, “There is no god but one. Even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth . . . yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and from whom we live, and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”

The work of applying authoritative Biblical truth to a secular democratic society that is structured radically different from anything in the biblical world is incredibly difficult, complex, with few obvious and no easy answers. If we think it is easy, we’re mistaken.

Let me give you an example in an area that might seem black and white: abortion. The Bible is so clear that life begins at conception and that abortion takes the life of a child. I once met with a woman who had a rare illness and who was told by her doctors that she needed to choose between her life and the life of the child she was carrying. A mom of two other kids, she was in agony with the decision. So, what should our policy on abortion be? The truth doesn’t change, but how the truth is applied is incredibly complex. And that’s on something we would think would be a clear issue. What about areas like gun control and immigration policy and health care and race relations?

“How could a Christian . . .?” is not a way to start a conversation, it is a way to end one. What if we put on a heart of humility, pulled up a chair with our brother or sister, approached the conversation prayerfully, and said, “Wow! This is so challenging, trying to figure out which Biblical principles should have the last word on this issue. How are you wrestling this through? Here’s how I’m struggling to make sense of this.”


4. How do we work hard to preserve the unity of the body in the middle of these complex conversations?

Both for the sake of our life together and for the sake of our witness to this world, our unity is crucial and something we need to work hard to protect and preserve. Ephesians 4.3 says, “Make every effort to keep [guard, protect] the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” How do we do that? We’re told in the previous verse: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4.2)


Let’s stop responding out of fear. Let’s trust each other. Let’s be humble. Let’s be teachable, open to the possibility that we are missing something. Let’s stop labeling. Let’s stop trying to argue over social media. Let’s stop deciding we know where the other person is coming from. Let’s sit down with our brothers and sisters in the church family and do the hard work of actually asking each other questions and listening.

These are incredibly challenging and complex times. As a church family, let’s stand together in love, not letting our differences drive us apart. And let’s not let the Evil One drive a wedge between us. As we learn how to be a church known more for its love than for anything else, there is nothing he would love more. We don’t all need to think the same way. But for the sake of both the health of our body and our witness in this world, God calls us to work hard together to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Love you all.