A RADICAL PROPOSAL: PRACTICING HUMILITY IN POLITICS

Wheaton College political science professor Amy Black has floated a radical idea in the latest issue of The Table, the online journal of Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought.  “Even though so many voices in contemporary politics are arrogant and angry,” Black notes, “followers of Christ don’t have to join the hateful chorus.”

Black Book CoverIf you don’t recognize her name, Black is the author of Honoring God in Red or Blue: Approaching Politics with Humility, Grace and Reason.  I highly recommend it to any believer wrestling with the question of how to think  Christianly about our current political climate.  And if you can’t make the time to add yet another book to your reading list, at least check out her short essay here.  Black draws from Phillippians 2 and I Corinthians 13 to make her case for humility and offers some practical suggestions as to what humility in the public sphere might look like.  In our current political climate we are bombarded with voices that brainwash us into demonizing political opponents, who pander to our arrogance and our insecurity by telling us that those who disagree with us are either evil or stupid (or both).  In contrats, Black exhorts us to listen carefully and lovingly to those with whom we disagree and to be willing to think charitably about their motives.  In our current political context, these are radical recommendations, indeed.

And to Christians who reply that her advice is naive and impractical, Black has a simple response: “Our call as followers of Christ is not first and foremost to win an election or policy battle.  Our fundamental calling is to love God and neighbor; its not about winning or losing in earthly politics.”

Like I said, pretty radical stuff.  Your thoughts?

3 responses to “A RADICAL PROPOSAL: PRACTICING HUMILITY IN POLITICS

  1. Paul also enjoins payment of taxes and other revenues to those whom they are due. That may be more a civic than political activity, though.

    I will have to spend some more time engaging with Professor Black’s arguments. The reservation that immediately springs to mind is that there are “political” positions advocated for out there that are genuinely evil and not merely matters over which reasonable and ethical people can disagree. While loving God and neighbor it is imperative to speak the truth in love, to be the faithful watchman who will not be guilty of the blood of his neighbor whom he failed to warn.

  2. Agreed. James chapter 3, on the fire of the tongue is also very relevant, as is Christ’s warning in the Sermon on the Mount on the punishments due to one who calls his brother a fool.

    As for the charge of impracticality, I’ve been noticing that there is an increasing lack of faith amongst believers when it comes to politics. One expects non-Christians to print headlines saying “Prayer isn’t working”; but I have seen Christians, often in comment sections, saying prayer isn’t enough. Yet prayer is the one thing Paul says to do for rulers, “so we may live and quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty” (I Timothy 2:2). In a way, prayer is the one political activity prescribed in the Bible.

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