October 10 – Our Elections: Unity of Faith

When We Disagree

Vital Sign Religious Freedom

“America is a nation in crisis,” Christian researcher and author George Barna told an audience recently. The crisis, he said, is the predominant worldview in America—syncretism. 

“As we look at America today, we know that there are a number of competing worldviews competing for the heart and the soul of the nation,” Barna said. “Each has a different understanding of everything that takes place in the world, a different explanation for why things are happening, a different concept of how you might best live your life.” 

Barna cited research conducted by the Cultural Research Center showing that there are seven major worldviews that Americans are most influenced by: Biblical theism, Eastern mysticism, Marxism, moralistic therapeutic deism, nihilism, postmodernism, and secular humanism.

The most common worldview is not any of the eight main adopted ones, according to Barna. He noted that the primary worldview dominating America is “syncretism,” or varying combinations of all eight worldviews into one belief system.

Barna called syncretism one of “the brilliant strategies of the evil one,” because “when you have a nation of 255 million adults and another 80 million children who are choosing bits and pieces from many different worldviews, and they come up with their own personalized, customized way of thinking and living, that’s much more difficult to combat because every person, in essence, requires a different strategy.” 

Christians are also putting together their own views on how to live the Christian life. With each person following his or her own path, finding unity in thought, much less in action, becomes increasingly difficult. Elections are a reflecting the results of that.

While many who claim to be Christians say that “religion and politics don’t mix,” how can a follower of Christ hold political views outside the parameters of faith?

According to a January 2022 blog by Got Questions Ministry, the Bible gives two truths regarding a believer’s stance toward politics and government. First, the will of God permeates and supersedes every aspect of life; and His will takes precedence over everything and everyone. To know the will of God, you must continually immerse yourself in Scripture. Second is the fact that government cannot save—only God can.

Yet, even among strong Bible-believing Christians, there is inconsistency… often born on the shoulders of the individual’s adopted worldview. While it is important to listen and truly hear a fellow believer with opposing views, “Our inability to understand the rationality of an opposing viewpoint is more often a failure of imagination on our part than a failure of rationality on theirs. The difference between the camps cannot be that one side is truly Christian while the other is not, or that either side possesses a monopoly on good ideas and good intentions. Countless men and women striving with every bone and tendon to follow Jesus stand on both sides,” says Timothy Dalyrumple, president and CEO of Christianity Today.

Politics involves questions of justice, an October 2020 article in Crossways says. People who are justified, care about justice; they just do not always agree on how best to get it, but each is convinced that his way is the right one. Two Christians might agree on a biblical or theological principle but disagree on which policies, methods, tactics, or timing best uphold that principle. The Crossways article suggests that when political disagreements are difficult, it is because we lack wisdom—”a capacity of mind that combines the fear of the Lord with the skill of living in God’s created but fallen world in a way that yields justice, peace, and flourishing. It looks to God’s word, yes, but it also takes stock of circumstances, people, and all the knowledge available to all people through common grace.” 

Two men, leading minds in their knowledge of Scripture and fully committed to the Savior, disagreed over the implications of the 2020 election. These influential, evangelical, popular theologians, John Piper and Wayne Grudem wrote an article on their votes, igniting a firestorm of discussion on social media. They were succinct, clear, and passionate, but clearly in disagreement.

“And yet,” according to Southern Evangelical Seminary & Bible College, “they were respectful and well-mannered. They did not allow their substantive disagreements to escalate to rancor and to degenerate into personal attacks.” At the conclusion, Dr. Piper and Dr. Grudem provided “such an inspiring model of how Christian brothers can disagree in a way that honors our Savior and His Kingdom.”

God is still on His throne, the church will continue, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

Disagreements will be inevitable but, as the apostle Paul admonished the church in Ephesus, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Colossians 1:18 reminds you that Jesus “is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent”

How then should we pray? 

  • That Americans would seek the guidance of the Lord’s Spirit through which to view the world, including political candidates.
  • For God to provide clarity regarding His Word and how it should guide your worldview and your ballot choices.
  • For Christian leaders, ministers, and pastors to focus on the truth of the Scriptures and avoid syncretism.
  • That believers would seek God’s heart in discussing political and voting-related topics, in interactions with people of faith and those without.
  • For followers of Christ to keep God’s priorities of loving Him and loving others at the forefront of their speech and behavior, despite the temptations of divisive elections.

See previous Pray 7 daily featured readings.

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