“…while believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.”
This article has popped up for me a few times now. I think Keller is a wise and thoughtful pastor/theologian whose life exemplifies faithful Christian leadership.
While I would personally (of course) nuance some of Tim Keller’s thoughts on politics (and maybe even the quote above), it seems to me that we can’t be reminded enough as Christians that our ultimate loyalties are to Christ and his church.
From my vantage point, I see things thoroughly anti-Christ in each major party’s culture and platform. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with identifying the positive or prudential in either, or even to carefully consider which is “least-bad” when it comes to how to exercise your civic duties.
Nevertheless to find in those parties any part of my identity at all is, I think, asking for trouble, given the morally corrupt and divisive nature of the two-party system, and the trans-national character of the Church. I can only participate at a distance, commending the good and condemning the evil in each as best I understand them.
Nevertheless I must say as a long time CT reader and current subscriber, and as someone who listens to Galli’s podcast (without always agreeing with him, I might add)—I trust this is a considered, thoughtful opinion.
Yes, it is a relatively strong statement on an important matter, yet it is also well within the bounds of topics on which Christians may disagree and still love and support each other…and even worship together each Sunday! The brigade of mean, divisive, and ignorant comments by those that disagree is profoundly discouraging.
St. Paul says he wants harmony in the Body of Christ so “that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:6, ESV)
This harmony with one another, where we treat each other as Christ has treated us, allows us to—even as we disagree—call attention to the goodness of God in Christ. This is the purpose of peace. If we love each other through disagreements, we show that world how salvation works. It is pure, self-sacrificial love, not simply being right, that makes things right.
When we are at peace with each other because of Jesus even when we disagree about important things, we directly confront the original lie of Satan in the Garden of Eden: “if only you knew what God knew, then you’d be like God, and God doesn’t want that!”
No! First of all, Adam and Eve were already like God, having been made in his image! It has never been about what you know.
If only we love as God loves, then we will be like God. And God absolutely wants that…for everyone!
When we live in light of the Cross, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, God restores his image in us. He unifies his church and manifests true peace. This is real spiritual warfare against that ancient serpent, and our worship and fellowship is part of that!
…it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.” (Isaiah 2:2–5, ESV)
Our hope is for a future that has already begun.
You see, Jesus Christ came in history. And while he is completely human, he is also completely divine. He is nothing less than the renewed Temple of the New Creation, the way that God dwells forever with his people.
He loves us so much that he died for our sins on a cross, an act of love so powerful that death could not stand before it. He was raised from the grave in victory so we know that our sins have been dealt with. The forgiveness of sins is possible.
Eternal life is possible because of Jesus Christ! That’s the thrill of hope!
We were dead in our trespasses with no hope, but because Jesus came in history, the possibilities for abundant life give us a jolt of rejoicing in a weary world.
But there’s more! The future presence that Isaiah saw has in fact come in history, in Jesus, and comes now in mystery. Yes, Jesus has come and indeed comes in mystery in the present through the church.
This is what the sacramental life, begun in baptism and sustained in Holy Eucharist is all about. These are holy mysteries of the presence of Christ. As we order our lives around confessing and professing Jesus as Lord, our very bodies become temples of the Holy Spirit, and we are built up together into Body of Christ on earth!
The very hope that Isaiah saw, divine, dwelling, and teaching presence of God has—in Jesus—come in history and indeed comes to us in the present in mystery…and one day, we will experience it in majesty when our Lord returns to establish his kingdom in all its fullness.
What does this good news mean for you today? It means the church is the place where hope is—or at least where God desires to put it on display for the world. Isaiah urged the people of God to respond to his holy vision by walking in the light of the Lord.
Just like ancient Israel, the Church has been entrusted with the law of God to teach, and the word of the Gospel to preach.
In practical terms this means that when we are faithful to the biblical witness, the church is the place where we do not war with each other or anyone else. The church is the place people can come to see what it looks like when people let God settle disputes by his word, and get on with the hard labor of making peace instead of war (it’s tough work to beat a sword into a plowshare).
The church is the place people can come to learn to be at peace with God by trusting his judgment—carried out on a cross and recorded in the Bible—that one man has died for the sins of all, and it is enough.
It is not too bold to say the church is the hope of the world, because Jesus is the head of the church! This doesn’t mean we’re perfect! But he is. So, it does mean we have the most precious treasure imaginable to share.
We have the truth and hope of the Gospel. The truth that peace was won at the cross and the hope that peace will be the way of all the nations. The truth that heaven came to earth in Christ and the hope that it will one day fill the earth with God’s glory. The truth of God’s unrelenting love for each person and the hope of resurrection.
We witness to this most faithfully when we live in light of it. When we trust the grace of God deeply, Isaiah’s divine vision breaks into our daily, common life and becomes our reality.
Eugene Peterson said, “The Christian life is the practice of living in what God has done and is doing” (see his intro to the book, God with us). If I might be so bold as to add something to such a wonderful turn of phrase, I would also say: “The Christian life is the practice of living in the hope of what God will do.”
This is nothing less than the hope of reconciliation of all people to him, and to each other, all because of what God has done in Jesus and what Jesus is doing in the Church by the Holy Spirit.
Clouds coming in over the mountains lend an ethereal beauty to the concrete landscape of Phoenix today. I love where I live and work, and am always grateful for the refreshment of rain. Yet, sirens testify that storms bring pain, too. Prayers for all to be safe and well.
Anglican liturgical living, following the curriculum of prayer and Scripture found in the Book of Common Prayer, brings us straight to the point. Activities and crafts are fun and can be helpful, but they are not essential. The living words of Scripture, from which flows the living prayers of the saints — that is what is essential.
God is indeed a God of righteous order, not only organization in itself.
God does not stand for any law for law’s sake, even laws that are just.
For instance, it is just (and thus necessary) that I should die for my sin. My sin naturally leads me to death and necessarily condemns me to die. Nevertheless God finds a way through that law in Christ to bring a deeper justice, and deeper righteousness, in making me right.
The just law stands–my sinful self will die–but somehow something else mysterious and profound also happens because of Jesus: I nevertheless live on, a new creation no longer tainted by sin, healed and whole.
God will always pursue the highest good, and people getting what they deserve is–according to God’s work in Christ–not the highest good. Rather, reconciliation, and restoration are what he is after.
This is Love, and Love is the highest and deepest law!
Any law that stands in the way of that deep justice, that deep righteousness, that deep love that makes me right–God has no problem nailing it to a cross.
I find that the way to right-ness, true righteousness, is not so much a matter of what I do but who I love. The only way to overcome the indulgences of the sinful nature is cultivate a desire than runs deeper, a desire for Christ, a willingness to let go of all other things and take hold of nothing but him.
More and more I am finding that believing in Christ and his healing work of mercy in me is the only way to rest.
I do not have to fight to have Christ.
He has already been blessed, broken, given. His Spirit has been poured out in me. I already have him, and he’s all there is to life.
I’ve always dreaded the repetitiveness of Psalm 119, and recently the daily lectionary readings I follow brought me to it again. I braced myself for the slog: but then I remembered when a seminary professor counseled us to substitute “Christ” or “way of Christ” for every reference to the law/testimonies/statutes etc, since Christ is the fulfillment of the law that the psalmist was praising. So I tried it.
New favorite psalm.
What a wonderful insight. It strikes me this could be useful throughout the Old Testament.