It is interesting to observe how the Conservative party during this election campaign has brought forth policies which were an essential a part of the manifesto of the Labour party at the 2015 election. I heard this policy on worker’s rights, for example, being referred to as an Ed Milliband policy. This also applies to the cap on energy bills which Mrs May announced.
So what is going on here? The Labour party has, no doubt, moved to the left in terms of ideology and policy. The Conservatives are therefore seeking to fill the vacuum. This is an observation on where the parties are at.
This manoeuvring of the Conservative party is symptomatic of how political parties operate on the basis of expediency now. The historic predisposition to adopt policies that were based on principle has been substantially diminished. A prevailing ideology in a political party is not totally lost, but it holds less sway than it used to. Pragmatism now predominates.
A slightly different slant on this issue is that populism now trumps over principle. In the recent local election on May 4th it was interesting to hear those who had been victorious declaring how “they had listened to the people”. It is, of course, good to listen to people and understand where they are at. But I just got the sense that populism prevailed over any thought of acting upon principle.
All this leads me on to a niggling worry that it is no longer what is right and wrong which drives how we act as Christians individually and in church. So easily it can be what makes us popular which determines the course of action we take. This type of thinking can insidiously seep into the church from the world around. Truly, it is vital that we talk to people and seek to understand where they are but it must be principle always which drives us.
So Wayne Grudem has had to withdraw his support for Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential Election. The detail is here. A question I would raise is: why declare support for him in the first place? Accordingly, flowing on from Wayne Grudem’s example, in this piece I want to consider the issue of the endorsing of political parties and politicians by church Leaders. I mention the following:-
- For a church leader to indicate who to vote for can be divisive in a church. There are likely those who hold views which are politically diverse in the church. Church leaders are to be leaders in keeping the unity in Christ and advancing political causes can take away from this.
- Church leaders should be leading people to think and make decisions for themselves. Wise elders guide the church members in how to think through political issues. The danger with declaring allegiances is that you end up with church members who just do what their leaders do. Far better simply to present biblical reasoning and lead the people in thinking biblically about issues.
- Church leaders have to be ever vigilant in portraying what really matters to the people. Are we a people set to pleasing the Lord and living for His kingdom? Or are we primarily focused on the systems of this world? Are we godly or worldly? We need to remember that we belong to a kingdom which is not of this world. As our Saviour, Jesus, said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place’ (John 18:36)
- Big declarations like that which Wayne Grudem originally made on the Presidential Campaign can come back to haunt you. Skeletons can come out of cupboards. I feel the stature of Wayne Grudem has been diminished in many ways through this sorry episode.
- Our primary responsibility to the authorities is to be subject to them (see Romans 13:1) and to pray for them (see 1 Tim. 2:1-2). It is not to establish them.