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COULD CHRISTIANS HELP AMERICA AVOID DISASTER?
Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, pro-Trump or anti-Trump, we all agree on at least one thing. American democracy is threatened in a way that it has not been at least since 1860.
The facts are devastating. A significant percentage of Americans think violence (military means, violent revolution) is justified to protect their view of America. A December, 2021 national poll found that about 1/3 of all Americans think violence against the government can be justified. (Only 10% thought that in 2010.) Most Americans receive their news (information about the “facts”) from different sources that are often fundamentally contradictory. There is vast disagreement about what science shows and whether that should be important.
Basically, Americans live in two different political worlds. And there is little to no conversation and even less understanding across the huge divide. If we cannot learn how to talk and listen across this huge gulf, the future is terrifyingly bleak.
What can be done? I don’t know. I am asking for your ideas, your help, your stories of respectful bridging of this gap.
What most dismays me is that Christians are on both sides of this huge divide. I weep over the brokenness of the body of Christ.
I genuinely believe that many supporters of Donald Trump love Jesus as much as I do. They want Jesus, not politics, to be the decisive factor in what they believe and do.
All Christians believe (or should believe) that their oneness in the body of Christ is far more important than political disagreements. That should provide a foundation for new conversations. If any group of Americans can begin to truly listen to those who disagree with them politically, that ought to be Christians – – Christians who know and confess that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”(Ephesians 4:5).
Is it naïve or madness to think that American Christians of all political views could start a new movement to listen to each other across deeply held political differences? In realistic terms, that seems unlikely. Christians so often seem to be the problem, not the solution. But when one thinks theologically, it seems possible – – indeed necessary. Our oneness in the body of Christ compels us to make new efforts to new listening and dialogue.
I confess that I do not currently have an ongoing meaningful conversation with people whose political views are dramatically different from mine. But I would like to have that.
And I would like to hear stories of Christians who are doing that.
I need help! Write to me! Tell me if you think my starting point is correct – – that oneness in the body of Christ is more important than political differences. Tell me of examples of Christians genuinely listening and talking across the great political divide. Tell me about how we can make that happen in a much larger way.
Finally, it is not just the future of American democracy that is at stake. Much more important, the future of the church is at stake. If our political differences (however great) override our oneness in the body of Christ, then we have abandoned Christian faith itself. We worship an idol, not Jesus Christ the risen Lord.
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