To Be A Christian Voice

I have said before that a genuinely Christian voice is very often missing from political debate.  Christians may support this or that voice in public discussion, but most often these voices are subtly but fundamentally incompatible with Christian theology.

In a different way, many Christians allow their public voices to be defined by the positions they oppose.  Christians enter into the pro-life/pro-choice as though the issue is “when life begins,” assuming an alien notion of agonism that requires such definitions.  Christians enter into economic debate assuming they must either capitulate to Adam Smith or Karl Marx.

But as William T. Cavanaugh prefaced his own short volume on Christian economics, “It is pointless to be for or against the ‘free market’ as such.”  What Cavanaugh sought to do was provide Christian alternatives to participation in a global market that is often incompatible with Christian practice.   But he was by no means the first do so.  In his Secret Faith in the Public Square, Jonathan Malesic prefaces his discussion of Kierkegaard’s critique of capitalism thus:

Although I argue that Kierkegaard’s Christian ethic of neighbor love aimrs at resisting a capitalist paradigm’s encroachment on Christian life, Kierkegaard’s critique is not aimed at capitalism per se in the way that Marx’s contemporary critique was. Rather, as Merold Westphal points out, Kierkegaard aims his critique of capitalism primarily at the deification of society, and thus only accidentally at capitalism as an economic form with heavy influence on society.

In other words, if Malesic is right, Kierkegaard made his critique in a Christian voice.  Malesic goes on to say (and in order to be a Christian voice must say) that “Kierkegaard’s critique and mine are in a sense politically and economically neutral – if some other economic form dominated my society and threatened the integrity of Christian religious life, I would still criticize it.”

What do you think?  Must the Christian voice find a way to be “politically and economically neutral” in order to be a Christian voice?  What would that look like in concrete terms?

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2 responses to “To Be A Christian Voice

  1. “What do you think? Must the Christian voice find a way to be “politically and economically neutral” in order to be a Christian voice?”

    Neutrality may not be possible as long as we are bound to the human condition. Certainly Christ was neither politically or economically neutral. He taught the importance of caring for the needy and demonstrated that in His feeding of the 4000 and the 5000. He raised the deceased son of the widow in a great act of compassion. The widow’s welfare depended on having a male family member to provide for her.

    He also warned against the dangers of wealth. With these and other examples that could be listed I do not believe neutrality is a positive thing especially when the subject is economics.

    Even with the Roman occupation of Israel it was difficult to separate religion from politics during the time Jesus walked the earth. I do not believe as some do that Jesus was a political activist. I do believe he occasionally used political issues to teach Godly wisdom and sound ethics.

    Many Christians identify strongly with the “conservative” side of American politics. I am morally an ultra conservative. However I do not believe my conservatism justifies or qualifies me to judge those around me.

    Fiscally I am a moderate. I cannot understand the Christian voices who rise up to blame the poor for being poor, the needy for being needy, the hurting for hurting, This behavior seems common for political conservatives. I do not believe it is Christ-like in any way.

    Churches cannot meet all of the needs of America’s disadvantaged and capitalism has never concerned itself with the needy to any great degree so whether we like it or not our Federal and state governments must play a large role in assisting those in need.

    I believe this to be a higher priority than maintaining military bases all over the world or spending billions to “protect” Europe from itself. Since the government must play a role in the social welfare of its people, I also find it impossible and undesirable to be politically neutral.

    So my Republican friends detest my fiscal opinions and my Democrat friends detest my moral standings. So be it, I really just want to find where Christ would stand and stand there with Him.

    Mark Bagley

  2. To be honest the image you used, “Making a Speech” is what brought me to the site, but i ended up reading the article and must say it was enjoyable to read, and I too believe that all opinions should be heard in the political scene.
    Anyways, I was wondering where you found this image at, I would like to use it in my Blog but want to make sure the creator of the image gets credit.
    Thank you for your help in this matter and thank you for the article!
    -Robert, and please respond via e-mail

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