An evangelical pastor who rejects the marriage of Christianity and the Republican Party

This New York Times article covers a very brave pastor in Minnesota who dared to challenge the assumption on the part of many Christians out there that the Republicans party and Christianity should be closely intertwined.

Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword”” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,”” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.

I was especially appreciative of this quote: “He said there were Christians on both the left and the right who had turned politics and patriotism into ‘idolatry.'” If you aren’t familiar with Christian conservative churches, turning things into idols – clothes, money, popularity – is a big thing that folks are counseled against. I’m not a huge fan of the “idol” language myself, but all and all, I think it works and has a good effect in Christian churches when used responsibly – it offers language to say “Hey, you aren’t focusing on the important stuff.”

One final quote that I found to be quite wise and I really wish would pick up more steam in evangelical/fundamentalist circles across the country:

In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.

I’m not saying I’m totally in love with Pastor Boyd. But thank goodness for someone willing to remind folks that Jesus was not a freaking Republican.


3 Responses to An evangelical pastor who rejects the marriage of Christianity and the Republican Party

  1. Bill Baar says:

    Here in Chicago, we have Evangelicals who are very active in the Democratic party and hold elective office: Cong. Bobby Rush, Sen Senator Meeks, and no one ever suggest there is a marriage between the party and church… even though Rush manages to tangle the finances of both in his Church.

    Bush’s public religion, if anything, is pure American Civil Religion… right out of the civil war… read Stout’s Moral History of the Civil War.

    Agree withit or not, it’s Lincoln’s narrative Bush invokes.

  2. WFW says:

    Thanks, Bill, for the referene to Lincoln and the Civil War. Very useful. I was intrigued and read the summary at Amazon, where your link lead. But based on that and my own spotty knowledge, I would not call it “Lincoln’s narrative,” as though he created it. From what I have read and learned, the mood was national and it could be that Lincoln was the voice of reason by comparison. Certainly, his Second Inaugural does not represent the Radical Congress that outlived him. Our current president does not set so much as follow the prevailing tone, which is not Lincolnesque so much as Nixonesque.

    BTW, when I was studyung in Chicago now thirty years ago, American Civil Religion was a different thing altogether, a sort of pastuerized paganism. Robert Bellah was its strongest theorist. It mapped quasi religious symbols onto abstract political ideas such as democracy and freedom. Like ancient paganism, the sacred served the secular.

    I think we may need a different term for the militant form we have today – one where the secular power is a servant of sacred ideas. Hey, I have one, THEOCRACY! They are mirrors of each other, Civil Religion and Theocracy. It is as easy to mistake one for the other as it is to mistake your reflection for your reality. I seriousy think that is part is part of the problem today.

  3. matthew says:

    woo woo. gotta love it when one person breaks ranks.

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