Fifth and final article in the amazing series “Electing to Follow Jesus” by Randy Harris you will want to read and share

After hearing Randy Harris speak at the 2016 Pepperdine Lectures, I wanted to share the message of the lectures in print form, got his permission, transcribed, then re-worked the material into five articles, with deft editing help from Karissa Herchenroeder.

We published the five articles about the church and politics in a series called, “Electing to Follow Jesus,” and we ran these articles at Charis Magazine during the run up to the election and shortly after.

We kept the principle names of candidates out of these articles. Why? We want these articles to be more timeless and serve a generation as a primer for understanding our own baggage, how we can take a prophetic stand but still be wrong, and how some Christians have chosen to engage or not engage politics.

We believe the articles will have a long-term impact. Thank you to Karissa Herchenroeder and Charis, the Center for Heritage and Renewal in Spirituality (CHARIS) at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX, USA).

Here are the links to the articles on Charis Magazine.

Claiming Our Baggage

The Gospel of Jesus vs. The Gospel of Peter

How to Be a Loser

Strangers in a Strange Land

Prophets of Justice and Mercy

This series represents a collaboration between Randy Harris and Greg Taylor, co-authors of Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.

Randy Harris is spiritual director for the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry and College of Biblical Studies. He also teaches theology, ethics, preaching, and biblical text courses in the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry at Abilene Christian University. Randy speaks at numerous conferences and churches throughout the year and has authored and co-authored several books, including the newest, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.

Greg Taylor is preaching minister for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greg is author of several books including “Lay Down Your Guns: One Doctor’s Battle for Hope and Healing in Honduras” and “High Places: A Novel,” and has co-authored several books.

Emmanuel Katongole

Location map of Burkina Faso Equirectangular p...

Location map of Burkina Faso Equirectangular projection. Strechted by 102%. Geographic limits of the map: * N: 15.5° N * S: 9° N * W: 6° W * E: 3° E Made with Natural Earth. Free vector and raster map data @ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m reading a book by African ethicist Emmanuel Katongole in which he says this about Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of the country he named Burkina Faso, “land of incorruptible.”

In the five years of Sankara’s leadership, through agricultural reforms and mobilization of the population, his country achieved food self-sufficiency, which shows that Sankara’s ‘madness’ was quite sane indeed. Inventing the future requires the audacity to live in the present with energy and visions drawn from the future.

To get a better sense for what this is saying, watch the below video. Food itself becomes a symbol of imperialism in Africa that Sankara and people like him have tried to overcome.

Katongole’s overall point is not specifically about Sankara but about the role of the church as a proclaimer of God’s story that gives imagination and vision and courage to change the terrible heinous narratives that have been lived out in places like Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Upper Volta (later named Burkina Faso). Katongole speaks of the need for lament, memory, story, community of memory, anticipation of a new creation as elements of what the church can do to make a difference in the climate of a country where poverty and oppression exists.

Lenore Skenazy: "Mommy path to power: PTA"

The best article of the week goes to Lenore Skenazy on the PTA and Governor Palin. I read it to Jill and couldn’t get through it without her saying, “I’ve been to those meetings! They, yes–” OK, just let me read the article. I’ve actually been to a few of those meetings as well. Makes it even funnier. Great line at the end. This is political satire at its best.

Ralph Reed & Straw men

Jim Wallis and Ralph Reed are talking . . .

Ralph Reed to Jim Wallis: Rejecting the Liberal “Straw Man”

Now we’re into debate . . . when people say “straw man” and “begs the question” we’re debating! Wahoo!

Reed is articulate to point out that conservative Republicans agree that gay marriage and abortion are not the only moral issues, that Republicans have championed other moral issues such as home ownership for those in poverty. This is needed justice for the poor, but Reed “begs the question” by naming one current example of a Republican moral issue (other than prayer in schools, gay marriage, abortion) then moving on to talk history and philosophical and media issues.

That the Right has so focused on 2-3 issues to the neglect of others, is pointed out by several who comment and by Wallis in his lastest post. Reed, like many political activitists, doesn’t acknowledge that some Republicans have co-opted a few “moral issues” for political gain. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen on the Democratic side. It in fact does. And yes, I don’t get why Democrats can’t bring themselves to acknowledge and address the 92 percent of the country that believes in God and talk about faith more.

Read the dialogue between the Reed and Wallis. I found it useful and interesting.

Followers of Christ, are you willing to acknowledge that our allegiance is not to party, and it’s not even to country when either party or country advances agendas, policies, or philosophies that run counter to the moral teaching of Christ?

*Note: Lots of bloggers or commenters misuse phrases like “begs the question,” thinking it means something like, “it really leads me to this vital question” when it’s a rhetorical term meaning when someone takes as a premise something that’s supposed to be proved then concluded by that evidence. See grammar note.

Stephen Colbert – “His kingdom is not of this earth”

“I love my church, and I’m a Catholic who was raised by intellectuals who were very devout. I was raised to believe that you could question the church and still be a Catholic. What is worthy of satire is the misuse of religion for destructive or political gains. That’s totally different from the Word, the blood, the body, and the Christ. His kingdom is not of this earth.”

Stephen Colbert, of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

Source: Sojourners, who quoted from interview in Time Out

Jesus and Politics (Part 2):Granola Republicans and Conservative Democrats

In the last calendar year I’ve read two books that have injected me with new hope in the political debate in the United States–at least where Christian participation in politics is concerned.

I had become thoroughly soured to the way the Republican party had co-opted Christian faith for sake of a political agenda. And millions of Christians are again, thanks to books such as these and increasing dialogue, learning to critique and properly differentiate between political party, nation, and Christian faith. When we assume God, country, and political party are all one in the same, we ought to take a close look at which one of those is really driving the Humvee. I’m not a pacifist, so you’ll not see me quoting Yoder and Hauerwas and the like often, and I have great respect for our military and friends in conflicts past and present, but I don’t have to agree that the current administration has made good decisions in foreign policy and use of military might. I voted against George W. Bush precisely because his foreign policy likely has past presidents rolling in their graves: pre-emptive strikes, which has never been U.S. foreign policy before now, forced democratization of countries, unilateral action in the world without building significant base of allies.

So when people like my friend I spoke about in the last post speaks of the prophets as necessarily predicting recent events in Israel/Lebanon and then speaks glowingly of our foreign policy, I believe this allows politics to co-opt our faith and misuses prophecies in Scripture. Prophets spoke truth to the powers: Israel, Egypt, Babylon (Iraq), Assyria, Persia (Iran), Tyre (Lebanon), Sidon (Syria) and so forth . . . and if they spoke today, do you think the prophets would be standing by the violence or pronouncing judgment upon the United States? We ought not assume that our position is one that is immune to the prophets speaking against us.

Let me list the two books I mentioned (and one more) that have given me hope that Christians can be pro-life and not have to be pro-war or pro-capital punishment, that Republicans can care about the environment and want to slow consumerism. We can embrace a whole ethic of life, we can search Scripture and our own faith, and we don’t have to choose between blue and red options that have been crammed down our throats by political ambitions of both Republican and Democratic parties.

God’s Politics by Jim Wallis is about taking back the Christian faith from political powers that have co-opted a constituency for its own political ends and brings back the biblical prophetic call to the powers that be to change and see morality as standing against poverty, war, capital punishment, unjust treatment, in addition to pro-life and pro-marriage, which have become the only moral issues some seem to engage with but much because that’s what has been used to polarize the political debate.

Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher is a refreshing book that gives me hope that converatives can truly be conservative of the earth, family, and our cities and natural resources. The title suggests–by crunchy–that a Republican can be, in the mocking words of one of my former co-workers in Houston, “tree huggers.” Well, I happen to be a tree hugger. I don’t sit in them much but my friend Mark Moore and I once bought a tree from Moses Kirya, my good Ugandan friend, so he wouldn’t cut it down. I planted thirty trees on my thirtieth birthday. That was a few years ago! Need to get ready for forty!

Jesus and Politics by Alan Storkey “examines the politics of Jesus, reading out from the life and work of Jesus instead of reading into the New Testament with a preconceived agenda. With this work, Storkey presents a thorough narrative reading of the Gospels, moving into issues of political philosophy, principle, and practice. Unlike other authors who focus on political themes, Storkey provides a significant, unique contribution by focusing on politics itself.”–from book description