I admit it. I almost blew a gasket when I read this over at Locusts & Honey: Learning from the Street Prophets
Steyn observed that Leftist efforts to co-opt the Christian faith seem artificial and pretended, despite the uphill battles that some liberal Christians are fighting to make their political activity a reflection of their sincere Christian faith.* Or to be more blunt: they’re faking it, and we know it. (emphasis mine)
I was about half way through composing the email response when it occurred to me that I was probably mis-reading it, and John wasn’t really suggesting that Richard, Beth and Dean were ‘faking it’. So I calmed down and binned the email. It justs shows that we all need to be careful what we write and not be too hasty in our responses to others. Every preacher knows that there are often gaps between what is said and what is heard, and this was one such occasion. I hope.
But there are still things that need to be said. The first is about this “uphill battle” that apparently I’m facing. John is quite wrong about this. The battle is not to make my ‘political activity’ a reflection of sincere faith. I have no difficulty whatsoever in reconciling my political commitments to my faith. Quite the reverse. I’d say that my politics flows from my faith and my understanding of the gospel. The uphill battle comes in conversation with those of a more conservative political persuasion, usually but not exclusively citizens of the USA, who continue to deny the validity of the faith of those who differ from them politically. Every time I’ve had this out with one of my US friends they have agreed with me that, of course, it is possible for Christians to be in places on the political spectrum other than the Republican Right. But their agreement has always something of the patronising about it, rather like when I hear Baptists say that there are some genuine Christians within the Roman Catholic Church. And it never stops them continuing to use “liberal” and “Christian” as terms which exist in opposition to one another. That battle is uphill, and quite frankly I’m growing ttired of it.
The fact is that what many American Christians dismiss as “liberal” or, worse still, “socialist” has deep roots within the Christian faith. It is, for example, no coincidence that the local units of some trade unions are called “chapels”. My own father was a shop steward of his union and he was able to remember when his meetings were begun with prayer. The progressive voices of Christians have almost always been opposed by the more conservative, but history is on the side of the progressives. Who would argue for the reintroduction of slavery, racial segregation or limited suffrage?