A few weeks ago, one of you emailed me the question: Does our church have room for diversity in political views? I feel like we have lots of lefties, but fewer center types and no rights. I think this diversity of political viewpoints is also part of God’s message.
Especially as we get ready for July 4th, this is one of those topics that is so important that it deserves more than an email, but I want to share with all of you what I emailed back:
“Our Reformed tradition comes down on the side of a politically engaged, but not necessarily partisan, faith. And while people of good faith may disagree, that doesn’t mean every political viewpoint is valid, although I know that you are not implying this. It is also important to for churches to learn how to be communities of faith that love each other through disagreements on issues, and those include political issues. Calvin understood civil servants to be the most important profession- including pastors – because of the ways their service could impact a community, and I see the wisdom in his position.
That being said, the current tendency in our larger culture is to segregate ourselves in groups that tend to think the way we do – whether in neighborhoods, or facebook groups, or churches. This tendency has dangerous consequences, including hurting our ability to think critically about our own positions and preventing a recognition that we humans are bound as by something much deeper than our political beliefs or culture. As a church, we find unity in Christ rather than a shared viewpoint.
The church is at our best when instead of starting with a political opinion, we take an issue and consider it together from as many angles of faith as possible: Who is Jesus, and how do/should his followers act in faith? What does the bible say? What does our tradition say? What is the experience of other people of faith? What are the voices of “peoples long silenced”? What Christian values or spiritual gifts – love, faith, hope, mercy, justice, compassion, wisdom, healing, etc. – are most salient? And then, having asked these and perhaps other questions, how are we called to respond?”
I know that Western did something like this when considering becoming a More Light church, and I hope we’ll do it some more when asking how we might become a community that better celebrates diversity. You may also have some thoughts: What kind of diversity would you like to see better represented at Western? How might God be calling you to make it possible?
Giving thanks for the journey,