Welcome to the Family Room
They say that you should never talk about sex, religion and politics at a dining table conversation – ‘they’ would struggle in this house. Here we love to talk about the important things in life – and whether we like it or not, politics is one of those important things.
Of course there is a way to discuss politics that is destructive and harmful. This seems to happen especially on social media – look at the arguments about Climate change, Brexit, Sco Mo, China and Hong Kong, Trump as examples. What we want to do in this room is avoid a slanging match – and all the sloganeering that goes along with it. We hope to look, from a non-party political perspective, at some basic and vital issues that are important to all of us – whether we realise it or not.
But first some questions:
What is politics?
It is quite simply the art of government. Every society has to have rules and standards. Every community needs good ‘governance’ – whether it is your family, your football club, your school, your local council or your country.
Do religion and politics mix?
Usually badly! The trouble is when people use religion to try and gain political power. It almost inevitably ends up in tears and hypocrisy. Every politician has a religious view of philosophy and we would argue that the Christian virtues are essential qualities for any human being – but especially a leader. But that is a world of difference from religious leaders telling people how to vote, or governments what to do. It is just as bad when politicians try to control and use the Church. Perhaps better than talking about separation of Church and State – we should talk about them being good neighbours and good friends.
Are we a bunch of right wing nuts, or left wing losers…?
Sometimes religion/Christianity is used as a cover for a particular political position. If you are a political/social conservative it’s easy to assume that a conservative theology will fit your philosophy and vice versa. If you are a political/social liberal it’s easy to get the Bible to fit your particular narrative. But that’s the problem – the Bible is way more radical than either perspective – or any of the political views in between.
What is the Christian Perspective?
We don’t ally ourselves to any one political party. You will find that there are a wide variety of political views amongst Christians – but we all agree on the following:
- We participate – especially in democracies we are all citizens. And we all have a part to play in the community. We keep the laws (except when they go against conscience and the Word of God – then we never bow down to ‘Caesar’) and we seek to share in making them – being salt and light in a world that is sometimes tasteless and dark.
- We pray – For politicians (whether or not we like or agree with them), for the people and for the poor. We believe that God hears and answers prayers. He raises up rulers and brings them down.
- We prophesy - This just means that we speak the Word of God (the Bible) into the contemporary cultural context. Sometimes this will be what the world wants to hear – but often it is contrary to the values of our secular elites. There is a price to pay for being a prophet!
This room is for you to discuss, raise questions, disagree, challenge or enlighten us. It is a ‘safe space’ for us to discuss politics and society.
If you have any comments, questions, subjects you would like us to deal with – just drop me a note at david.robertson[at]thirdspace.org[dot]au
''......we would argue that the Christian virtues are essential qualities for any human being – but especially a leader. ''
History informs us that, so-called Christian virtues have often been the bane of humanity.Numerous 'leaders'' at all levels who've considered themselves to be religious have often used their religion to further questionable ideologies.
Secular humanism in a democratic society is far and away the better option.
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David Robertson is an experienced presenter and debater on the place of the Christian faith in the public sphere, a prolific blogger at The Wee Flea and he was the minister at St Peter's Free Church in Dundee, Scotland for 27 years. David joins City Bible Forum in 2019 to lead a new initiative called Third Space.