Last night's discussion at The Gospel and This World Group surfaced some important points about our involvement in talking about the political issues of the day. I thought I might try to summarize the conversation and challenge us all to think about becoming more consistently involved in political speech as a fundamental duty of our role as "we the people."
The biggest issue we explored was the fact that so often, when we're talking about political issues, we don't take the time to explore the foundational views, the political assumptions, that underlie people's positions on various matters. So often we're standing on one platform and they're standing on another, and we simply talk past one another. We need to give more attention - using questions such as "Why do you believe that?" "How did you come to this view?" "Why are you so persuaded that your beliefs are reliable?" to help us - and the people with whom we're talking - understand the most basic assumptions undergirding our views.
We also talked about the importance of being well-informed, clear, winsome and respectful, good listeners, persuasive conversationalists, and thoroughly Biblical in all we believe and how we talk with others. Defining these various ideas was a rich conversation, and we all agreed we need to work harder and more consistently at each point.
And we agreed that we need to have clear in our own minds the basic principles of our own political views - justice, impartiality, goodness, truth, moral decency, and so forth. Without a firm foundation under our own feet, we'll have a hard time helping others evaluate - and perhaps adjust - their own.
The contexts and opportunities for political speech are many and will continue in the days ahead. Either we'll be ready and able to participate responsibly and effectively, or we'll chalk up one more missed opportunity when the Body of Christ might have begun to make a real difference. Let's take seriously this part of our calling as followers of Christ, so that we can render to Caesar the truth he is due in all matters of political moment.
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