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Political missionaries

Politics

"If you can't beat them, join them!"

This old adage comes to mind when I hear the apocalyptic whining coming from many evangelicals about the Democratic Party's control of the White House and Congress. It would seem that Christians, embracing Jesus teaching of being "salt and light" (Matthew 5:13-16), would consider joining the Democratic Party-as missionaries-to influence its direction instead of simply complaining about where things are headed.

Jesus' teaching of salt (used in the first century as a fertilizing agent for barren soil and manure) and light (used in lamps to illumine dark spaces) should be sufficient motivation for many of the 65 million or so evangelicals to take on a missionary role and become the Democrat's leaders, change the platform, and redirect the party's agenda.

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Over the next few years the Republican Party will likely ditch evangelicals altogether in favor of focusing on themes like limited government and free markets because running an election, in today's America, on morally conservative values is the best way to lose. The era of the "moral majority" is now officially over.

Nationwide, there are about 42 million registered Democrats and around 31 million Republicans, according to data compiled by The Associated Press. Perfect! If 42 million evangelicals became missionaries to the Democratic Party, those mores would take over the party's entire platform.

Instead of being salt and light and "shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16), we whine, throw rocks, disengage, retreat, run away, and hide from a suffering-oriented mission. It is easier to be reactive and throw rocks than to strategically and proactively engage. At the core, however, Christians have forgotten that the "culture war" is actually spiritual and what needs to be employed are the methods and devices of the Kingdom. People need to be persuaded and changed from the inside out.

Daniel provides another forgotten example of being salt and light in a challenging context. Daniel remained faithful to God while being salt and light among the Babylonians. Now Democrats are far from Babylonians, but it seems like a workable strategy. Like Daniel, we are called to be in the world and not of it (John 17:4-6), so there are many organizations that Christians simply cannot join and influence for good reasons (James 4).

It seems that Kingdom-oriented, culture-redeeming, culture-transforming Christians would not only join agreeable organizations but would also join organizations to endure hardship and suffering in order to influence, change, and lead the culture. If Christians would begin influencing the moral ethos of both major political parties, where will this leave those opposed to Judeo-Christian values? Either in third parties or on the sidelines.

I grant that change would not be immediate, but it's worth it in the long run. Is it not odd that Christians are willing to be missionaries among the world's religions but shy away from being missionaries to the nation's culture forming institutions? No political party will ever share Judeo-Christian values unless Kingdom-oriented, missionary-minded Christians put down the rocks and take up their cross and "go."

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of theology and ethics at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of Liberating Black Theology. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.

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