Welcome to this instalment of the series, The Church and Politics. If you’ve not been following the series, please go to www.myilluminare.com/the-church-and-politics/ to read the last seven instalments. In this instalment, we’re going to be looking at the question of choice of candidate in a democracy.
If you ask the average Christian that given a certain level of resources and finance which would he rather set up, CNN or TBN? Chances are he’ll say TBN. (TBN is Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian channel noted for preachers’ sermons). That’s because the average Christian talks about expanding God’s kingdom, the need for the Word to be preached and broadcast to all the corners of the earth in fulfilment of the Great Commission. Christians talk about edification of the saints, the saturation of the earth with the glory of God and so on. TBN and the like play a very important role in this regard.
The faith of many Christians is anchored to stations like TBN. People have found succour in church TV broadcasts, and some have received miraculous healing watching a televangelist. The tremendous things TBN and the like have accomplished are clearly evident. It’s how we get to access many foreign pastors. It’s how the word of God is democratised. So many people get born again through broadcast ministries, and that’s okay. But with regard to political context, the role of these TV platforms is limited. They hardly reach the other half – those who have not received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. TV stations like TBN are essentially Christians talking to Christians in a language only Christians understand. And so we hear Christian technical jargon on these stations – “anointing,” “crusade,” “revelation,” “falling under the power,” “kingdom principles,” “move of the Spirit,” “faith that moves mountains”… The world can’t relate to these verbiage. If politics is a game of numbers, Christians talking only to themselves in a pluralistic society hardly qualifies as sound strategy.
But again let me reiterate that within their defined parameters TBN and similar stations are doing a great work, but they’re severely limited within a political context. A CNN will do a better job in a political context. The truth however is that Christians conceptually gravitate towards these specialty themed stations because we have a predilection for “alternative universe.” We want to create a “safe world” to exist in as safeguard against secular virus. It’s pervasive thinking. Christians have to rethink their media proprietorship strategy if they want to influence public opinion for political ends.
Note that every media house pushes an agenda. Every story has a slant. Every reporter has a bias. There’s something he’s pushing – an ideology he subscribes to. Sometimes, it’s as stark as left or right but the bottom line is political.
If Christians want to influence the world they must own mass media, or have leverage over mass media. Niche religious media won’t give Christians political heft. The news is not always the news; it is someone’s agenda. Consider how many news outlets have been caught out in outright lies, under-reporting or black-outs. In other words, someone’s interest is being protected or pushed. There’s a reason “fake news” got incorporated into human vocabulary. Media influences people. The end of media is power.
In pursuit of alternative realities, Christian culture became counter-culture. In the early days of evangelical Christianity, that alternative reality was defined by fashion style. When the world wore bell bottoms Christians wore the straight and narrow. Those trousers were sometimes narrower than the road that leads to life. Then the concept moved to marriage and dating. Christians chose to opt out of the notion of dating just to be different from the world. Dating for them connoted sampling. And so Christians received “prophetic revelations” about marital partners and got “engaged” without so much as a ring. Because young men on university campuses couldn’t have girlfriends, they got “engaged” instead. Of course these engagements created huge distortions. How could 16- and 17-year olds get engaged? And how do you get out of a mistaken “engagement” after claiming to have heard from God? To solve the distortions, an administrative layer was super-imposed to vet “engagements” and marital intentions.
The alternative reality concept soon spilled into other cultural areas. The culture of alternative reality mandated artistes who are Christians to only do gospel music. There’s of course the underlying assumption all non-gospel songs are bawdy and lewd. But how do you propose to your wife with the sound track of “Jesus is my salvation”? How do you discern the Christian content in jazz and instrumentals? We’ve turned ourselves into Essenes yet we want to influence the world! Essenes don’t influence the world, they run from it. We forget that even though we’re not of this world we’re still in this world.
It was a matter of time before the alternative reality concept swung into politics. Because of this, Christians refused to join existing political parties. Instead, they sought to found “Christian” political parties. But in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society whose divisions are populated by huge numbers, that “Christian” party has already lost the election before the race has begun. If a country is 50% Christian and 50% Moslem and the constitution requires a US Electoral College type of system to win, how’s that “Christian” party going to win the national election? And how about local diversities, affiliations and interests? If Christians in such a nation cannot negotiate with other constituents, they’re not going to smell power at the centre. And interests and agenda should control affiliation. What is the Christian agenda?
Of course the challenge of the alternative reality concept spilled into candidature. Who do we pick as candidate in an election? Who do we support as a voting block (if such a block even exists)? What should be the basis of the choice of candidate? This is a question many men of God have tripped over. Do we vote for a man because he’s “Christian”?
And yet there’s guidance in the word of God on the choice of candidate; only that our preconceived notions obfuscate what is plain: “He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants – God’s own people, Israel. He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skilful hands.” (Psalm 78:71-72) This is a guide to picking a candidate. We should look for someone with antecedence, with good intentions, and who is competent and skilful. Training also matters. There must be balance of heart and skill. An incompetent leader with good intentions is a harbinger of disaster. You will soon hear things like, “He himself is okay, it’s just the people surrounding him.” Antecedence, good intention, skill, competence, training… These are parameters of choice of a candidate in a democracy.
We continue the series next week. We’ll be looking at how Christians can “salt” the earth. To read the full version of The Church and Politics Part 8: How do we pick a candidate? please go to www.myilluminare.com/the-church-and-politics/
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
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#Illuminare © Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.orgIf Christians want to influence the world they must own mass media, or have leverage over mass media. Niche religious media won’t give Christians political heft. Click To Tweet