upper room daily devotions

Monday, January 07, 2008

No Such Thing as "The Christian Vote"

Now that the new year has come (Happy New Year, everyone), we will be hearing even more about the presidential race. As part of that conversation, it has become clear that most of the candidates are courting "the Christian" vote. And yet, what does that mean? Christians vote across the political spectrum, influenced in a variety of ways by their faith in God as revealed in and through Jesus Christ. Even the word "Christian" is pluralistic in nature. What it means to be a Christian differs from person to person, from denomination to denomination, from culture to culture.

Christianity has always been pluralistic. When we turn to the earliest writings of our faith, we find that they exist primarily to deal with conflict arising from different understandings of what it means to be a Christian and to live inside of the Christian identity. There were Ebionites, Marcionites, gnostics of many forms and shades, adoptionists, Montanists, docetists, and others. Paul and Matthew radically disagree on what is called of one who iidentifies as a Christian. Diversity continued to be found in Christianity even after the rise of othodoxy. There are Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Anglicans, Reformationists, Wesleyans, and other church movements. Within major religious movements one can find mystics, monastics, adherents to the social gospel, proponents of liberation theology, people who emphasize the teachings of Jesus, people who emphasize the atoning death of Jesus, those who emphasize the Cosmic Christ. There are panentheists, process Christians, and evangelicals. And many of us would use an array of modifiers to explain what kind of Christian that we are. To believe that there is "the Christian vote" radically over-simplifies the diverse and wonderful nature of Christianity.

For a look at what candidates believe, check out the Christian Science Monitor's "Faith and Values" overview.

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