Pentecostalism, though not officially embraced as mainstream religious denomination, is growing rapidly. Having grown up in the Pentecostal church, I have mixed emotions about this. Core Pentecostal beliefs—not including the domionist, charismatic or prosperity gospel reductionist ideologies —can be argued as being closer to the model New Testament church as presented in the Book of Acts. One can further argue that true Christianity is 180 degrees away from politics. To pursue high political office in the United States means one must make the following five choices:
a.) Selective interpretation of facts
b.) Accepting that truth is whatever the polls say
c.) Winning is the altar on which you pray
d.) To every politician; Politics is god.
e.) The only sin worthy of punishment is failing to attack when your opponents hits first—the truth be damned: Strike back.
Americans accept this because it’s all we know. It’s analogous to: why are touchdowns worth six points…we don’t know.. it’s just the way it’s always been. It is a part of our landscape. Our paradigm, if you will.
This cannot, however, be a part of the Christian view of the world. At Christianity’s core—not the ‘religion as business’ ideal practiced in the United States—is the message of inclusion.
What’s separated Christianity from the other two major religions is this teaching: there’s a place for everyone. Here is what the guy for whom it’s named had to say:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord."
The N.T. church, and the early 20th century Pentecostal movement sought to make Christ’s stated mission a reality in how Christianity was practiced.
But most Christians are so far from this ideal; there is no finding a way back. As I’ve said: “Most Christians wouldn’t recognize Christ if they ran into him in a Denny’s parking lot—they’d probably draw their purses to the chest and run the other way.”
Real Christianity assumes the following:
“You, the individual need God. God, however, does not need you. You are selfish and lost..a a veritable, verifiable ‘wretch.’ God, through expressions of mercy and grace, provides a way for you to know Him. It’s through Christ. That’s the only way.”
Today’s ‘lukewarm’ Christianity makes the following assumption:
“You should be happy. And God is like…so concerned about your happiness. In fact, He is your bellhop. He wants you to have a Hummer, and a newer house in Southlake. He, like, really, wants you to be happy.”
The simple adjustment in making yourself the center of the relationship—instead of God-- treads dangerously close to idolatry: The worship of self. And, is there another group in America more inclined to self-worship than politicians seeking office? The majority of whom subscribe to the philosophic construct of the ‘thundering herd.. a bunch of empty and lost citizens who’ll accept anything if you say it loud enough and often enough.”
These ideals, fundamentally and categorically, are opposed to Christianity.
Enter Governor Palin: a self-proclaimed Christian who didn’t seek the office of Vice-President, but instead became a political pawn selected to enliven a failing, desperate campaign. Knowing this, and actively selecting to be a part of this campaign, means she chose politics over the faith.
Reconciling ‘attack dog’ politics—dishonest and manipulative at the core—cannot, in any way, be reconciled with the true tenets of the faith.
Governor Palin’s willingness to play ‘fast and loose’ with verifiable facts (though necessary for political gain) brings shame and disgrace on the faith. The agenda she supports is in direct and complete confrontation with O.T. Biblical principles of demonstrating care and concern for the elderly, needy, poor and oppressed. To support—and even champion such ideals that are at odds with the Bible means she either hasn’t read it or doesn’t believe it.
Either slope is slippery for one who says they are a follower of Christ and, by proxy, a defender of the faith.
The question is simple: “What faith are you defending?” If one desires a high, political office, then pursue it. Just don’t bring the high ideals—precious and sacred—of true Christianity into the mud and sewer where you are now are a resident.