Occasionally, an article crosses my desk that I believe merits wide and thoughtful engagement. The following profession is highly contextual, in that it emanates from the United States; however, it is easily adaptable to our own Canadian situation. It was written this past Ash Wednesday by a gathering of eminent Christians, including Bishop Michael Curry (recently of Harry and Meghan fame), Jim Wallis, Walter Brueggemann, Tony Campolo, Will Willimon, and others. They take as their starting point that Christians need to reclaim our earliest and fundamental creed, namely that Jesus (not Caesar) is Lord. And if this is the case, they state, then whenever our politics undermines our theology, we need to examine our politics. Here is what they say:
- WE BELIEVE each human being is made in God’s image and likeness. Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God in some of the children of God. THEREFORE, WE REJECT the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We reject white supremacy and commit ourselves to help dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate white preference and advantage. Any doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language must be named as public sin.
- WE BELIEVE we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class. THEREFORE, WE REJECT misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women being further revealed in our culture and politics, including in our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God.
- WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees; we won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children.
- WE BELIEVE that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives. Jesus promises, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). THEREFORE, WE REJECT the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society.
- WE BELIEVE that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. We support democracy, not because we believe in human perfection, but because we do not. THEREFORE, WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger threatening democracy and the common good—and we will resist it.
- WE BELIEVE Jesus when he tells us to go into all nations making disciples. Our churches and our nations are part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries. We in turn should love and serve the world and all its inhabitants rather than to seek first narrow nationalistic prerogatives. THEREFORE, WE REJECT
“America first” as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal.
Whether you agree or not with the conclusions of the writers, this document is a fine example of bringing our faith and theology to bear on our lived life. No matter what our political opinions, as Christians, we have an obligation to ground them in our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For more information, check out www.ReclaimingJesus.org.