Recently a friend of mine who video blogs at The Divine Science conducted an interview with a Baptist pastor of a small Christian church. The topic centered on the division of Christians specifically over the issue of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. If you are interested in hearing the interview, you can find it HERE. I thought the interview brought up some interesting points, but I would like to offer my perspective on the division among Christians in general and then address the division of Christians on political issues.
There is no question that there is division among Christians. There are numerous reasons for this fact and there are many different forms of division. Unfortunately, there will always be division among Christians because Christians are human beings. The differences between different Christian denominations often center on theological beliefs. However, differences also exist between Christians who profess the same creed and these differences can be deep and vast. Although there will always be some division, I believe that we as Christians can and need to be much more united. In this post I hope to first address some of the causes of division and also offer some possible solutions.
In order for Christians to effectively address this issue of division in the Church, we must first acknowledge there is a problem, identify the problem, understand the causes and roots of the problem, and then search for solutions. We know that there is a problem with division among Christians. The question is how did this division occur and why does it continue to occur? For several centuries there was only one Christian Church; the Catholic Church. Undoubtedly, the Catholic Church has always been made up of many different individuals who have unique perspectives and thoughts. However, there was one Christian theology and one Church structure in place to help unite the faithful. After the Protestant Reformation, the Church split and new Churches were formed with new beliefs and new theologies. Then it split again, and again, and again. Individuals who disagreed with any of the teachings of the Church simply created their own Church which better reflected their own personal beliefs. This has led to the very dangerous idea of moral relativism which is pervasive today. Today, thousands of new Churches are formed each year and in the United States alone there are over 200 different Christian denominations. Within those 200+ different Christian denominations there are individuals who don’t even agree with some of the beliefs of the Church in which they are a member.
If we are to unite, we must have universal areas of agreement. The following are issues in which Christians cannot disagree. Let’s start at the very beginning. There is a God. If you do not believe that there is a God, you are not a Christian. Secondly, God is the creator of all things. If you do not believe this, you are not a Christian. If we wish to be called Christian, we must acknowledge that there is a natural moral law or truth. If you do not believe that Jesus was both God and man, and that he is our savior who died for our sins so that we might have eternal life, then you are not a Christian. If you do not believe that The Bible is the eternal word of God, you are not a Christian. I would also argue that if you do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, a description of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then you are not Christian. If you do not believe in Heaven and Hell, then you are not Christian. These beliefs must form the foundation of all people to claim to be Christian. Without a foundation of beliefs, there is no possibility of unity.
I could write so much more on the division of Christians, but in attempt to keep this post somewhat short let me jump to the issue of division among Christians in politics. The reason that there is division among Christians in political issues such as the role of government and the best way to serve the poor is because Jesus never endorsed specific political policy or form of government. Jesus was not a socialist as many liberal Christians would like you to believe. Jesus was also not a capitalist despite what many conservative Christians would like you to believe. Jesus was not political. When asked specific political policy issues such as taxes, Jesus remained vague in his response, “give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.” It is perfectly acceptable for Christians to disagree on certain political issues so long as that the goal and intent remains the same; to better society. Certain issues which have become political such as abortion, which is clearly against moral law, there can be no disagreement among Christians. However, how best to serve the poor or what is the best tax policy are areas in politics where Christians in good conscience may disagree.
In regards to the recent protests against Wall Street and millionaires, how should Christians respond? Should Christians support these protests or reject them? I think that question is too broad. Should Christian pastors encourage their faithful to take to the streets and support the political objectives of these protests? I don’t think so, but I think Christians can support certain aspects of these protests without supporting the protests as a whole. I also think Christians can speak out against much of what is going on at these protests and the problems they are causing. In my opinion, these “Occupy Wall Street” protests are causing much more problems than they are good. I personally don’t support most of the political objectives that these protests seek, but I don’t necessarily have a problem with some of the intentions of the protests, if these are genuine intentions, such as a concern for the poor. I certainly support the people’s right to protest so long as they are lawful and peaceful which has not always been the case. I just happen to disagree with these protestors on the solutions they are proposing to the problems facing our country.
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