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Rules for Engagement

David Gushee has an excellent column at the Associated Baptist Press entitled "17 rules for Christian engagement in politics." He argues that Christians need to be more careful with their political involvement. He explains:
The fundamental principles governing the political engagement of leaders representing Christian churches or "the Christian Church" must be the lordship of Christ and the consequent political independence of the church in terms of earthly politics. The goal of those working as explicitly Christian leaders or representatives of Christian organizations is to bear faithful Christian public witness so that the Lord might be pleased. Therefore all who serve as Christian leaders must fiercely protect that mission by refusing to compromise their political independence in both their words and their actions.
Amen! Here are a few of his proposed rules:

1. Christian leaders must not officially or unofficially endorse political candidates or a political party.

8. Christian leaders must not identify the potential or actual victory of any politician as a victory for God or God's kingdom.

9. Christian leaders must limit their direct contact with politicians or staff in order to avoid even the appearance of undue loyalty or involvement.

12. Christian leaders may not sidestep these rules by drawing a distinction between their activities as a "private individual" over against their service in their public role.

15. Christian leaders must model and encourage respectful and civil discourse related to significant public issues as well as political candidates.
These are great reminders for us all. He ends by asking if there are more that should be added (so that he can get to an even twenty). I would suggest the following: Christian leaders must always express and live out God's love toward all politicians regardless of political affiliation, positions, or personal actions.


  1. Gushee has a point - a point we have all made from time to time - too many of our Christian leaders are neckdeep in partisan politics.

    But, I'm not sure it's as simple as 17 Rules.

    Should the RNC have Dobson on speed dial? No.

    But, should a small town minister be allowed to advocate in their private life like Chuck Currie does for Obama? Or Randall Balmer did at Faithful Democrats? I don't think a Gushee one-liner can adequately answer that question.

    Gushee's list would be more helpful if he detailed how pastors can be political without being partisan. Perhaps he does so in his book.

  2. You are correct that his book will probably provide a lot more detail. I look forward to see how he develops his argument in greater detail.


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