Thursday, January 17, 2008


Quoth Mr. Allberry: I'm increasingly convinced Christians need to reflect carefully and biblically on the world of politics.

Very true, say I. It seems to me that Christians I know fit into one of three rough categories.

Firstly, there are those who think that politics - all politics, mind - is either of the devil or is just mind-numbingly boring and irrelevant. Therefore, they have nothing to do with it. I can't go along with that on two counts. The first is that I'm sad enough to actually find politics very interesting indeed; the second is that politics is a sphere of human activity (and a hugely influential one at that) and is therefore something in God's creation, and thus is something of interest to God.

The second group are the knee-jerk-evangelical-rightists. The KJERs are primarily interested in ethics, not politics, but they see the latter as a way to enforce the former. They tend not to have a hugely thought through approach to politics. In fact, the level of their involvement tends to be protesting when legislation doesn't accord with Biblical morality (or at least their view of it). If they have thought about it at all, they probably basically assume that Britain used to be a cheerful theocracy when everyone was Christian-ish and respected Biblical norms. Therefore, the Old Testament is where they go to find out what governments should do. But, curiously, they tend to bypass all the bits of the OT about social justice, and about stewardship of creation. Certainly, they resist any application of those principles to the political sphere.

The third group are the knee-jerk-evangelical-leftists. The KJELs are mainly interested in Making Poverty History, although they are also prepared to jump on any other political bandwagon that promises greater social justice and equality. If the bandwagon also promises to save the earth from climate change or other malign effects of human occupancy, so much the better. The KJELs are no more thought through than the KJERs: they found a couple of bits in Isaiah and Amos that sounded socialist, and read the rest of Scripture as a purely devotional manual. Certainly they never stopped to ask whether Isaiah meant the same thing by "justice" as the contemporary charity movement does. Oddly, this group is also often not bothered by legislation that promotes immorality.

Against all three groups (which are, I confess, caricatures, but not without some germ of truth), I propose a quick dash over the next couple of weeks through some Christian principles for approaching politics. Just broad brush strokes, but we'll see where they take us...


  1. As well as KJEL and KJER Christians there are also WTTEL and WTTER Christians - "well-thought-through".

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts - temper the charicatures as you consider the alternatives though; Straw-men tend to be easy adversaries to defeat and pedestals from which we climb onto our high horses. :o)

  2. You're right of course - and the temptation is always to think that anyone who disagrees with you is not well thought through! So a confession: my knee-jerk reaction is in a right-ish direction, and this exercise is at least partly about becoming a bit more well thought through myself...