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David French—who writes, “I’m the guy you’re trying not to be — the guy you think is destroying our Christian witness.  Heck, I’m the guy that even I used to hate”—closes his open letter in this way:

I no longer believe the lie that there is a path for Christians through this culture that everyone will love — or even most people will love.  I no longer believe the lie that American Christians are “too political” and if we only spoke less about abortion we’d be more respected (the mainline denominations have taken that path for two generations, and they continue to lose members and cultural influence).

So, “post-partisan” Christians, please ponder this: First, as the price for your new path, are you willing to forego any effective voice at all for unborn children?  Are you willing to keep silent when the secular world demands your silence?  After all, that is the true price of non-partisanship — silence.  Second, if you believe that a more perfect imitation of Christ (more perfect than the elders you scorn) will lead to more love and regard for the Church, consider this: No one was more like Christ than Christ, and he wound up on a cross with only the tiniest handful of followers by his side.

Follow Jesus, yes, but don’t think for a moment that will improve your image, and don’t be surprised if He takes you down much the same path He took the generation before you.

You can read the whole thing here.

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17 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Young, “Post-Partisan” Evangelicals”

  1. Dan Erickson says:

    Excellent post. Often silence on a particular issue puts us on the wrong side of that issue. May God grant us both courage and wisdom to speak truth in today’s culture.

  2. Nick says:

    While I agree with this letter as far as it goes, I think it’s a mistake to call a non-partisan position a non-activist position. I, as a Christian, hold a number of views both ethical and theological that put me at odds with both major parties in my country of Australia, and at odds with the minor parties as well. That doesn’t mean that I take a hand off approach in terms of activism, or lobbying, or protesting, or whatever. I’m merely acknowledging the simple truth all sides of politics will inevitably do something that contradicts the teachings of Jesus.

    What it means is I am not going to invest myself politically in one side or another of politics because they are ‘the’ party for me, or Christians in general. It means that I will look at each parties stance on the spread of issues, and I will make a judgement on the balance of those stances. Usually, I find that neither party services my needs, and I essentially need to compromise in terms of how I vote. It also means that I am, in politicial lingo, a swinging voter.

    In my own experience, the tension between which party I vote for tends to be around whether the welfare of the poor, the rights of asylum seekers, and immigration in general are issues that I should prefer over protecting the state’s definition of marriage, the legitimisation of gay marriage, the rights of church to teach scripture in school etc, which are all ongoing political issues in Australia at the moment. Every election is essentially having to work through which of these points is more important, because inevitably no single party will accommodate my position on all of these.

    1. Marty says:

      Well said Nick.

  3. Dean P says:

    I just read the whole article, and I resonated with it also. I have slowly been turning the same corner myself but I think it has taken a little longer and a bit harder. This is mainly due to the fact that I am not a lawyer but a musician/artist who has been a post-partisan Christian in the midst of the politically left leaning arts/music community for a very long time. And the one thing I have noticed about other Christians who are artists or musicians who have either taken a post-partisan position on politics or they have been politically progressive at the root often times (not always) but often times has been that aching desire to be seen as relevant. And so gradually over time they without really noticing it begin to put their identity in either their work (art) or their arts community/culture, and their identity in Christ is bumped down a rung or two. Which means that they can become more willing to take a bullet for their art or for their need to stay hip and relevant than they are for Christ.Which in my experience was a primary motivation for being a politically post-partisan Christian. In other words because Christ wasn’t at the top rung and the idol of relevance was, I was less willing to stick my neck up for Jesus at the risk of looking totally unhip. My point is I think so much of the time this struggle is what is really going on in these young people’s hearts. And we need to be patient with them listen but not back down on our challenges to them.

  4. Bob says:

    I get the abortion thing. We shouldn’t stop talking about it, though I am not convinced that political activism is the best method of stopping such activity. The biggest problems with Christians in politics is that I question if we are on the wrong side on the majority of the issues. We seem to be on the wrong side of war, environmentalism (though many people do take this too far), privacy etc. If we continued to talk about abortion but stopped with the other areas of politics so that we could focus on the propogation of the gospel we might find ourselves better off.

  5. Rob says:

    I have to say that I agree largely with what Nick and Bob wrote. I am firmly opposed to the slaughter of the unborn. Yet, I fear that we contribute to an increase in that number when we identify with a political party that opposes common sense solutions that could lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies and, prayerfully, fewer abortions. Like Bob, I cannot identify with a political party that is so at odds with Jesus’ teaching on issues like poverty, and has sold itself to the interests of wealthy capitalists (I’m a capitalist but I’m not wealthy :D). Jesus would not be a Republican or a Democrat (and I highly doubt He would vote for either of them) and neither will I. The fight to end abortion will only be won in God’s time and in His way by converting the hearts and minds of unbelievers. To do that we cannot wage a culture war but we must preach the true gospel in our churches and let the Holy Spirit do His work. American Christianity is a mess today because we have failed in this regard.

  6. Gavin Brown says:

    I consider myself post-partisan, and it is for reasons largely contrary to Mr. French’s appeal.

    I am greatly and foremost concerned about the sanctity of life. But Republicans nor democrats (as a whole) seem to be doing anything about it. Is Romney, if elected, going to spearhead an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade? I seriously doubt it.

    I don’t see a strong argument for an appeal to partisan allegiance on the basis of having a voice on the issue of the sanctity of life. Especially when candidates do little more than state their position on the issue.

  7. Dean P says:

    Gavin: A pro-life president can appoint pro-life Supreme court judges. It’s not huge but it is a step in the right direction.

    1. Gavin Brown says:

      I plan to vote for the pro-life candidate.

  8. Marisme says:

    The problem with making anti-abortion a litmus test for Supreme Court justices is that they will most likely be conservative on all other decisions. That will lead to imbalanced decisions on other issues (poverty, racial injustice, personal privacy, civil rights, immigration, environmental issues, worker rights, etc). We should strive for a balance of wisdom between conservative and liberal justices – and, ideally, justices who who are not so predictable, but who intelligently struggle with both sides of an issue when issuing their decision. Bad decisions are most likely to come from a court weighted to one side – whether liberal or conservative.

  9. Mr French, Ray Bolger is holding on line two.

  10. luke says:

    post partisan christians = excuse for christians to look good in front of their friends and vote to the left – a christian is responsible for what they do, including what they say and who they vote for

    1. Nick says:

      Again, I disagree with this perspective. I have voted ‘left’ a number of times because I think on balance protecting the poor, the alien, the widow etc is more important than trying to get the state to agree with me on gay marriage, chaplains in schools, etc. But I don’t do it for the PR – my views on homosexuality, abortion and pre-marital sex are usually enough to put me off side with most other left-leaning secularists.

      Again, I think it’s possible to be post-partisan and yet be politically active. If we’re following Jesus on every front, I tend to think we’ll find ourselves disagreeing at many points with all parties, and will either have to compromise at the ballot box, or abstain from voting altogether (a legitimate option, though not one I personally agree with).

      Also, for the record, voting is compulsory in Australia, although there’s nothing to stop you casting an invalid vote (no fines, etc)

      1. luke says:

        I just think being partisan is part of taking a stand…which means supporting something in the real world such as abortion…to defeat it, which is the job of everyone who believes that it is in fact a crime, will require individual christians to advocate with their votes to have it removed, this voting will be partisan, and will require casting a vote for a particular candidate…also, I cannot support someone not voting, it makes a mockery of the freedom we have as well as our responsibility to do right, we cannot wash our hands of our country and say glibly that “we” didnt do it especially when we all are given the opportunity to do so

  11. John says:

    It isn’t about “parting” or not. It’s about what we part over.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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