Transcending Partisan Politics

September 24, 2008

Last week there was a conference at Baylor University's Truett Theological Seminary entitled "Red-Letter Christians, An Emerging Evangelical Center, And Public Policy Issues." At the event, author and preacher Tony Campolo offered some thoughts about the role Christians should play in politics. Here are a few of his comments:

We're looking for a new way of doing politics that transcends partisanship and polarization.

... To be a biblical, red-letter Christian is to be counter-cultural.

... Sadly, the word 'evangelical' has become synonymous with the Religious Right.

... To be a Christian is to manifest a commitment to the poor.

... We can find common ground for the common good.
His talk likely covered topics in his excellent book Red Letter Christians.

Another speaker was James Dunn, former executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee. He talked about the importance of not trying to force religion on others. He also claimed that Baptists like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jimmy Carter were not naive in their approach to politics but hopeful. He called them "hope-mongers" who "brought a deep, abiding hope to politics." He added:
The message of hope--abstract, biblical, theological, heaven-sent--is clearly not the same a political optimism treated so snidely by the hopeless wretches who know everything but do little.
It is good to see discussions going on about what the proper role of Christians in politics should be. Even if we do not agree on the answer, we need to at least think deliberately about such important matters.

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