Justin Steckbauer: When Political Activism Takes Over Your Church

Parishioners sitting on church pews as seen from above. | Runner1928?Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever noticed how ministries can become politicized over time? It’s a real concern in our day and age, where political ideology has the country polarized, that same political activism can push its way into the church.

I’ve noticed this particularly in inner-city churches, where political ideology begins to take over as the driving force behind the church, and the Christian faith begins to take a back seat to the latest political cause or social theory that is going around.

It’s ironic that churches in the heart of major cities, where hundreds of thousands of people don’t know Jesus lose their way in this manner. It’s a sad irony that churches positioned so perfectly for ministry to so many lost souls would instead focus their attention on identity politics, dividing people up by skin color, presidential politics, perceived wealth inequality, war of the sexes, racism, sexism, and all the various isms of secular-progressive political discourse. With so many millions without the light of Christ, shouldn’t evangelism, discipleship, and worship be front and center for these inner city churches?

Unfortunately, it seems that political activists often work their way into churches, organizations, and institutions. Indeed, in the area of social work, many social justice and socio-political activists get involved to distribute social services, and advocate for victim groups and so on.

Oddly enough, over time we find that many people in key leadership positions will use those positions to advocate not for the proclamation of the gospel, but for the proclamation of their political beliefs.

With evangelical Christians there is always the danger of moving too far conservative on the political wheel. So it becomes more about patriotism, presidential elections, campaigning for candidates, or worse: The gospel can be drowned out over time.

With mainline Protestants, it’s moving in the other direction, toward secular progressive ideology. Soon ministry becomes more about political ideology. Instead of the gospel it becomes social justice, racial identity politics, liberal feminism, wealth redistribution, attacking traditional culture, gay pride, and fighting perceived power structures. The gospel gets drowned out, it’s a secondary concern to the political ideology.

I just want to raise a warning flag for people out there who may have noticed this activism begin to take place in their church, or in their church headquarters. I want to indicate some warning flags to watch for, and I want to indicate some ways to push back against it.

Let’s look at three warning flags:

1. Buzz words like “intersectionality, multiculturalism, micro aggressions and trigger warnings.”

These sort of social theory buzz phrases are appearing more and more in church movements. These ideas are a mixed bag, there are some good points to them certainly, but also some negatives.

Overall diversity is a good thing. But enforced diversity is something different all together. When quotas are being instituted, and when the language becomes more and more about politics, power structures, and “white privilege” then it’s fair to recognize that secular social theory/ideology has begun to infiltrate the church.

In the Bible, in the New Testament, do we ever see God dividing people up in this way? No. God’s body is a unity in diversity of different peoples and nations all coming together to form one unique body, the body of Christ. One of the strengths of the body of Christ is diversity.

Multiculturalism, once again, not an inherently negative concept, churches are very often self-segregated, and multiculturalism is the idea of bringing various cultures together, and different ethnicities together in a single church, to worship together. That’s biblical! It’s definitely a good thing. But once again, there are excesses to multiculturalism, like the idea of rejecting any assimilation to American culture, or the idea of blending disparate cultures together on a political level through mass immigration, has been in some cases disastrous for different parts of the world.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Justin Steckbauer