Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Day-Star Should Take its Own Advice

The recent issue of the "Day-Star Journal" is out. For those who don't know about this group, they are a forum of voices from the "left wing" of the Missouri Synod. I don't often find much to agree with in their articles, but I do like to read what they say anyway.

This month's "Reformation" issue
had little to do with the Reformation, but contains three articles relating to Christian citizenship. One of my pet areas of theology too, if you haven't noticed. (See my recent post on the "Gay Marriage Amendment")

I was surprised to find myself agreeing (in principle) with Art Simon's article, "Thoughts for Pastors regarding the Elections" (click for the entire article).

Simon articulates three different approaches to the intersection of faith and politics, and advocates the third:

1. "Faith is a private affair and has nothing to do with political matters."

2. "Politics should be based on God’s will, and we can identify that will in specific legislation and candidates."

3. "Although the will of God should inform our political thinking, God does not give specific instructions on legislation or candidates."
The first approach seems that of the typical ACLU/Secularist crowd, and the second that of the Fundamentalist Evangelicals from the right wing of American politics. I agree with Simon that the third approach is the only thoroughly Lutheran (and thus, biblical) way for Christians to think about faith and politics.

However, per the title of this post, I have these criticisms of Day-Star:

1. Simon's explanation of his points shows his own political bias. While he clearly has a heart for the widow and orphan, and goes to great lengths to speak of our responsibility to feed the hungry, he does not mention Abortion as a politcal issue in ANY capacity - and this "political issue" is surely one that is informed by our faith. Other important moral issues, typically emphasized by Republicans and Conservatives are simply not mentioned. But his criticism of the war in Iraq and his nod to environmentalism all betray a sympathy for Democrat and Liberal politics. He should have been more careful to follow his own advice.

2. The other two articles included in this issue similarly violate the principles Simon has articulated:

In "The Call to Good Citizenship", Robert Schmidt calls out an article written in a recent issue of our professional church workers' newspaper, "The Reporter". In that article, Uwe Siemon-Netto clearly espouses a position on the Iraq war which is supportive of the Republican administration. But rather than simply point out Siemon-Netto's bias, Schmidt goes further by putting forth the typical anti-Bush case.

"This War", a piece by Chaplain J. L. Precup, similarly criticizes the Bush administration regarding Iraq. As a chaplain, I am sure Precup has hard-won experience on which to base his opinions, but he should, as a pastor, more clearly delineate his personal opinions on the handling of the war from the clear Word of God.

Now, I am not saying that either of these pieces is off the mark, or on the mark for that matter regarding the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's policies. What I do suggest is that Day-Star follow the advice of Art Simon's third principle, and check its political argumentation and concentrate on issues in which God DOES speak clearly. Instead, we have here a barely-veiled endorsement of the Democratic Party's positions.

I suppose a para-church group like Day-Star isn't the same thing as a parish pastor like me endorsing or criticizing a particular political issue or candidate. They do, however, speak primarily as churchmen, and should, in my opinion, exercise their politics in a different venue.

Each is always entitled to his own opinion, but those of us who speak publicly in the Right Hand Kingdom must exercise extreme caution lest we muddy the waters, and present the opinions of man as the will of God.

After all, as Simon says in the closing of his article, "We are talking about civic righteousness and competence, not saving faith" and "Good people will disagree."

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