On Friday night we hosted a Culture & Theology event titled, "Politics and the Gospel." It was an interesting night full of robust dialogue. The majority of the feedback I received has been positive, but there have been a few who shared their concerns. Honestly, I appreciate and desire to hear both. Below is a response I wrote to an e-mail from a Covenant Member. I wanted to publish the response in hopes that this would clarify any lingering questions or concerns.
Thank you for taking the time to write this email and share your concerns. I believe I understand your heart and concern in this matter. Allow me to address your points in the order you made them:
- Unity is to be a central mark of believer's in the church, and we want to contend for it with great diligence. The nature of our unity is the cross of Christ and the recognition of who we are in light of Him. There is certainly room for a diversity of thought and belief in various areas of life. For example, there is plenty of divergent advice and views on parenting styles in the church. I hope that your home group could have healthy and robust discussion about issues AND remain unified in the central tenants of the faith. Oftentimes politics is a lightning rod that becomes primary over the cross of Jesus, and I would contend that this type of thinking has to be exposed. If we are experiencing unity simply because we don't talk about the issue, then it is likely that we have latent and dormant issues that need to be sanctified. This can be a painful process.
- Dr. Bock is both anti-abortion and anti-genocide. I hope his point wasn't lost on the room...politics is complex and neither party has the biblical perspective cornered. God is concerned with an embryo, the elderly and everything in between. Because we are image-bearers we have inherit dignity, thus all of life is sacred. His point was that oftentimes Christians only vocalize their concern about the two extremes of life (birth and death) and become less vocal about the issues in between. The factors of greed, exploitation, poverty and injustice must be addressed as well. My fear is that when he simply raised certain issues that some might think he was minimizing others. Quite the contrary, he wants Christians to think "Christianly" about more than just a few issues. In saying this, he was trying to get Christians to have a balanced view of life and concern for image-bearers...not choose between abortion and genocide.
- I do not believe Dr. Bock was the wrong person for this event. He is a committed believer who is concerned with evangelism and sound doctrine. This has been the pattern of his life from YoungLife in college to president of the Evangelical Theological Society to serving as an elder in his church. At dinner he shared with me that his energy and efforts are geared toward thinking how to engage the culture for the sake of the gospel. This is very much in line with the heart of The Village. Please know that we (pastors and elders at TVC) feel the weight of protecting the flock and would do nothing to jeopardize this body. In no way did we want to inject controversy into the church for the sake of attendance, sparks or any other reason. We have never been an event-driven church focused on drawing a crowd. The intent of this Culture & Theology was to get us to think biblically about politics. We understood that there are some people who think through the lens of a political party first rather than the scriptures. This is an immaturity that needs to be exposed and graciously grown in. Bock made the point several times that the church cannot be aligned with political party; rather, she needs to be an "equal opportunity critic." We need to be a voice that redeems both parties.
Let me say that Friday night did not "solve it" for anyone. This is where the night left me hanging so to speakthere was more deconstruction than construction. I think my heart longs for a resolution here that my mind knows will not come until the return of Christ. In the meantime, we will continue to live in a broken world with broken systems governed by broken people. I hope that I learn to live both passionately and winsomely in the midst of it...for the glory of Christ.