Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Faith and Politics Part I

We just started a series of talks on Faith and Politics at Kairos, where we are trying to stir up a Theopolical imagination, words used from William Cavanaugh’s book by that title. (Which is a great read.)  I’ve been reading a number of interesting books on this topic recently, but decided to kick off our series by looking by looking at three current perspectives represented by Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne.

We showed a couple of clips that I really enjoyed from Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett, which is a weekly conversation on public radio that grapples with themes of civic life – asking how perspectives of faith might distinctively inform and illuminate our public reflection.

Check out these brief videos on the topic and let me know which of the people best represent where your current perspective, if you get the chance.  I’m just kind of curious.

This first video is 5:25 minutes where we are introduced to the perspectives of Chuck, Greg and Shane.

The second video is 8:41 minutes where they continue to discuss they’re varios views.

The third video is 7:54 talking about homosexuality and faith.

So which one of these guys did you identify with most? Or what book or person has been most informative in shaping your view of faith and politics?

9 Responses to Faith and Politics Part I

  1. bobby says:

    Man, that is seriously a tough one. They all have some great points, and it seems like depending on the issue I identify more with one or another.

    However, I definitely would say from those videos that overall I like Shane the most. Like I said, wouldn’t agree with 100% of his thoughts, but a lot of it, and he’s by far the one I would pick to have coffee with. Or even to represent me if I had to choose 1 of the 3.

  2. I do not think that anyone person really represented a political ideology. If you know who these men (three pasty white dudes) are then you can guess how they will be voting even before hitting the play button. But I tried to not let that sway my opinion.

    Not knowing or ever hearing Greg before, my first impression was not good. His delivery clouded what he was saying even though I may be attentive to what he was trying to communicate = “I’m going to fight cause Bush told me to.” Please… I’m worn out on Bush lied, people died.

    The political narrative is so much deeper than Iraq and 8 years of George Bush. (Today we are cleaning up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.)

    Poor Chuck, he really didn’t get to play. He was clearly the old conservative republican stereotype but I really appreciated what he had to say (I was surprised by his response to the homosexual question). He isn’t going to resonate with the same people as Shane and Greg (who wants what looks like their high school principal representing their political views? At least he wasn’t wearing white socks!) But that’s okay…

    It seems like all three are passionate about the kingdom of God. They are going to vote for different people because their fundamental idea of the role of government is different.

    One thing that I am curious about is that Greg and Shane seem to make a clear distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. To what extent does this carry into the voting booth. Chuck talked about the duality of God and Caesar. This was the most interesting part for me. I wish there was more elaboration. (One thing that gets me a little upset is that God only asked for 10% and the is government is taking a whole lot more.)

    In closing I feel like many Christians are so passionate about using the government to advance the kingdom that they forget that it should really be the church’s responsibility.

    When are you going to post the audio to the Sunday talks? I am anxiously awaiting!

  3. trapped says:

    What would you say to someone who has been a Christian since childhood, but can’t get rid of his homosexual desires?

    A virgin until he was 26, encouraged by his church not to date because it is viewed as sinful, he proposed to a young lady, only to be turned down. In his despair he ended up acting out the desires he had abstained from for decades. Since then he has had 9 sexual encounters with men in the last 3 years, always returning to the church, but hopeless as far as becoming a heterosexual.

    Help! 🙂

  4. Just found your blog. We write about a lot of the same stuff! Happy blogging. I’ll be checking back with you.

    Ron Edmondson

  5. JR Woodward says:


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Shane seems to embody what he says. I appreciate his ministry a lot, a deep thinker and practioner.


    It’s great to hear your thoughts on all of this. I’m guessing they are going to put my talk up soon. You are right when you say they all put the kingdom first, and your point about the government taking more is interesting, for it seems that some are more caught up in nationalism than the kingdom of God.

    Dear Trapped,

    Thank you for sharing your life and heart. I think I would do a disservice to you to simply respond with text, please feel free to call me at 323.251.3503 if you want. Depending on your desire where you live I may be able to connect you with some helpful people.


    I will check out your blog. I always enjoy keeping up with church planters. Peace.

  6. willi stewart says:

    In relation to the third video.I really felt that Chuck was towing the highly conservative line,.Focus on the family people for all their great work are not the folks that will ever be able to converse with those in the Church who struggle with their homosexuality never mind the wider gay community.I thought Shane in particular expressed the strong message of Grace. However ther is still a silence of understanding in regards to those passionate Christians who are also having serched the scriptures with much pain,are beginning to embrace homoseuality within their
    Christian.They read Romans one very differently. Interesting!

  7. Curtis Woodward says:

    I really like Gregs statement of “we have put the political cart before the Kingdom horse.” What a great reflection on the modern Christian Church. We must establish our Kingdom values such as seeking peace and social justice. These values are disscussed way more in scripture than homosexuality and abortion. It has become so clear to me that the Christians of today have become like the disciples of Christ before thier transformation at Pentecost. They have taken up the sword to defend Jesus cutting off the ears of other people and Jesus has to go around and clean up our messes. And yet we forget the message behind the story “those who live by the sword die by sword” Something I found funny when I was talking to a “moral voter” friend of mine is that she was willing to put her trust in God on Economical issues, but not when it came to wether we should go to war in Iraq. I recently heard a Canadian Minister speak about his reactions to the 9/11 events which he so inaccuratly tied to Al-Quiada in Iraq and he said he was “Just jumping up and down with anticipation because he wanted to join the military and go fight for it was the Lords will we be in Iraq” Why do the servants of God forget that if this world were His Kingdom then wouldnt His servants surely fight? Also it is absured to think that God would care about innocent fetus’ and not the innocent Iraqi children being massacred by our troops or the life of an innocent man on death row. God puts only one price on a human soul and it is more than the the gains of the whole world. I asked a friend of mine about judgement day and wether God would judge our nation just as much for killing innocent civillians in our acts of war as He would for aborting “babies”? and the reply? You guessed it God would judge us more for killing “babies.” oh well. Last quote that I really like also came from Greg. talking about the putting sin on our scale instead of on a equal plane and he goes on to talk about why the outcasts of society were attracted to Jesus and they are not attracted to the church he states, “Jesus never made a public policy trying to pass laws against them.” I am so glad that there is someone out there that holds the same viewpoint as me. Last comment. I come from a very conservative congregation that is post-trib and has a literal reading of the text. When discussing politics with a fellow member of my church he described his dilema this way- If I vote for John McCain, then I cast a vote for the coming “Mark of the Beast” and if I vote for Barack Obama I vote to let homosexuals and abortionist run free (a sure fire way to bring judgement to america.) Thinking carfully in the context of my organizations theological ideas and support my own prefrence for president, I responded “Id rather vote for Obama because at least we can still save the abortionist and homosexuals but I cant say the same for those who take the “Mark of the Beast.” Anyways, I am so glad to watch Greg and Shane they are apart of the awaking Christian Conscience and those who are starting to be real with the message of Jesus. JR, Thanks for this Blog it was encouraging.

  8. Beth Kobes says:

    Hi JR,
    I really appreciate you posting these.

    We pray for you and your ministry,
    Beth and Jeff Kobes

  9. Rob Schneider says:

    I know this is far after the fact… or 2008 election cycle for that matter, but I just caught up on this.

    Greg’s suggestion in the 2nd clip to “Love God, but vote as you please” is interesting. When I vote I try to seek the person that, when entrusted with the power of managing within the government, who will be most ethical and also do the most to either further the Kingdom or to provide an environment that is more friendly to the Kingdom of God and the teachings of the Bible.

    After this comment, Chuck notes that he “can’t vote against a conviction” and surprisingly, Greg is saying “of course” in the background. I guess Greg’s point is that individuals might value different elements of furthering God’s Kingdom differently and therefore belive that different political candidates would have better success in advancing the Kingdom.

    Many government institutions also seem to focus on the here and now, and rarely a plausible and favorable exit strategy exists. This seems to still exist in the War in Iraq, but also US domestic policy is beginning to see more and more of that risk. War is truly an ugly thing, but a war that brings freedom of religion, democracy, improved standards of living, improved jobs and educations, better health benefits, and less fear — I have to say that if a war is able to yield those things in the end by God’s grace, then perhaps justice is served in a way. I’m not suggesting every war is like that, but for those reasons, I cannot dismiss that war may yield good things. Certainly bringing the Holocaust to end was noble.

    For public policy, I will seek to vote for maximum freedom and minimum government in most cases. The church being a leader in the social sphere would be a much preferred mechanism, that would also allow spiritual renewal to take place better than a government mandated program. I’ve seen the government give too much money to a welfare receipient (disabled earning <$10k/year) and then taking it back! The government does not give, expecting nothing in return… the church should.

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