February 21, 2018

Should Christians Discuss Politics on Facebook and on Social Media in General?



This question of social media etiquette and discussing politics on social media was born out of a comment on my blog by Josh Lee implying that Christians should avoid all such discussions. If public school children are now freely discussing gun politics after the Parkland school shooting, then it seems adult Christians should probably also feel at liberty to discuss their political views on the Internet and on social media. Christians are often the "silent majority" regarding important rights. One of the reasons for this is that a tact of the radical left is to bully and mock conservatives in the public forum and to try to intimidate us into silence.

My opinion is that God desires to guide each Christian personally on this type of question and that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, the one-size-fits-all answer is, unfortunately, the default that many Christians embrace and promote. The general opposition to becoming 'too involved' in politics was based on the following points that seem to be common:

“I personally don’t get involved into politics, because I feel getting into such an environment immediately puts people at odds (and even make enemies of one another), which I think is counter to what God teaches us to do.”

This is a common approach by many Christians, including many pastors. But I'd offer that there are underlying misconceptions in this statement that need to be fleshed out.

A) Political discussion (allegedly) puts people immediately at odds and makes enemies.

First: I'd offer that while there is a strong possibility that tension can be experienced in political discussions, this is not necessarily the case. Some people prefer photos of kittens and other people gravitate towards online discussions and debates. We have an opportunity to learn and grow through discussions and debates if we are open-minded and interested. If not, there is no harm done and no compulsion to be involved.



Second: Resistance and tension are often signs of helpful change and this is actually to be expected when serious injustices and entrenched corruption in society are being challenged. This tension in and of itself does not necessarily mean that the change is bad or that the discussion is not helpful.

B) Engaging in political discussion and activity is counter to what Jesus taught us to do.

First: The idea that Jesus personally was not involved in any political activity is a misconception in and of itself.  I wrote a separate article that explains how the Sanhedrin that Christ publicly denounced consisted of those that were both political and religious ruling authorities governing over their own legal court system that was sanctioned by Rome. By confronting these Jewish leaders and their corrupt systems Jesus was engaging in political activism.

Second: Matthew 22:21 implies broader application than simply paying taxes as a citizen. Jesus stated: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." And John Adams stated: “The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks." The words of both Christ and Adams clearly imply that we are called to participate as responsible citizens. This includes the defense of our freedoms, not the least of which is the freedom to share the gospel. Unless for some reason God calls us personally to avoid this, we have been given a basic responsibility as citizens to be engaged for the good of society. In accordance with the U.S. representational government, "We the People" are ultimately the "governing authorities" that civil servants are subject to by constitutional law. Government bodies typically do not return freedoms, whether economic or religious, once they are taken away.

Third: Since the time of Christ and the early church, God has worked through many Christians engaged in political activity so as to bring about positive changes in society, through well-known figures as William Wilberforce and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and unknown ones as well. For example, former atheist blogger Leah Libresco was converted with the help of Internet debates with Christians on the subject of ethics, a subject that forms a basis of political theory.

Fourth: It's important to understand that there is not a one size fits all path in life for all Christians. Henry Blackaby's book Experiencing God is a good read for understanding how God can guide any person into any type of path, all depending on what God desires to do. This may or may not involve politics on any given level of involvement. Be careful when leaders try to make absolute statements about what a Christian should and should not do with regard to politics.

Fifth: Jesus demonstrated that asking questions and challenging presumptions are important aspects of learning important truths. Engaging in interactive discussions and debates on such topics as ethics and politics helps to reveal underlying false assumptions about life. Socrates is famous for this approach of asking questions that later was referred to as "the Socratic method." Discussion helps us to fulfill a biblical principle to "test all things" in terms of politics, spirituality, or any subject.  We should be concerned about any Bible teachers that are not open to addressing questions about their teachings and ideas.

Sixth: Jesus called us to be "salt and light" in society and a part of this is sharing important ideas about life and moral truth. Also, many full-time professional journalists are not only failing to do their jobs in providing important news stories, they are often promoting fake news and outright lies. Many sense a conviction to share the truth about what is going on and social media is a logical platform for addressing the fake news.

Seventh: There's actually a very subtle type of political oppression in the U.S. that many are not aware of that may cause many pastors to avoid politics altogether. The Johnson Amendment has been used for all intents and purposes to blackmail the “official” U.S. Church by claiming that a church organization cannot receive tax-exempt gifts if they offer any political opinion or engage in any political activity. For this reason alone, many pastors will not so much as offer a single political comment on facebook. Unfortunately, RINO Republicans and neocons have not supported President Trump's efforts to modify and roll-back the Johnson Amendment.

The fact is, there has been an all-out war against the right to freedom of religious conscience in the U.S. that has come by way of LGBT legal attacks. Michael Brown relates the silence of Christian leaders on this subject to the silence of Christians during Kristallnacht and he references a powerful rebuke by Basilea Schlink regarding the guilt and consequences of silence. Instead of voicing objection to assaults against religious freedom today, amazingly, many Christian leaders are attacking the current president that has been trying to protect the right to religious freedom of conscience.

One of the most remarkable political articles I've seen in a while was one posted at the Gospel Coalition website referring to Donald Trump as Hitler and "unpredictable evil" along with this caveat: "Let me say from the onset that I’m not looking for a debate with anyone...I’ll delete anything I think comes close to violating an Ephesians 4:29 approach to communication."



Well, with no place for a comment at the GC blog, there's not much opportunity to try to explain that referring to Donald Trump as Hitler and as "unpredictable evil" based on some private comments made a decade ago is not actually in keeping with Ephesians 4:29.

Likewise, the fact that John Piper has no place for discussion at his blog and does not engage in any debate anywhere did not keep him from labeling President Trump as a "wannabe dictator" in a group along with Putin and Kim Jong-un. This comment does not make any sense considering that Trump's record of accomplishments within one year is much more desirable in terms of protecting constitutional rights and freedoms than anything Obama, Clinton, or the Bush family has accomplished. To slander people in this manner and then to refuse to engage in defending the opinion is both reckless and cowardly. If a Christian is not willing to defend and discuss his false and offensive political opinion, then he probably should not post it online.

I bring up these examples because Josh seems to be content with Timothy Keller's political comments in his New Yorker article that was discussed earlier and I'm not sure if Josh or very many other Christians understand how the Marxist premises that Keller embraces and the underlying socialistic idealism seems to have turned Keller's Gospel Coalition into a group of rabid Trump bashers. I find Keller's political foundation to be dangerous in that he seems to embrace Marxist principles that encourage the idea that society owes support to all individuals that pursue their vocational calling as opposed to the idea that work is also something necessary that is born of the curse and that one is required to perform on a prime level in order to eat and support themselves and their families before the question of vocation is considered. While the food was free for the picking in the Garden of Eden, after the world became cursed food was based mainly on work and this is why Paul advised: "...if any would not work, neither should he eat." ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10b KJV).

Keller's exalted view of work and vocation is highlighted in his book Every Good Endeavor. One of the ironies is that Keller has left his vocation as pastor to become a full-time author and traveling speaker which are not essential roles described in the New Testament. Such is the case with John Piper as well. Unfortunately, both Piper and Keller have increasingly taken on the mantle of political pundit when they do not seem to have a sound scriptural basis for their political views.

To subtly support ever-increasing political correctness and progressive political hegemony while advocating for socialist principles and ideals in government is harmful in the long run and tends towards a type of totalitarianism that is opposed to the gospel due to overt and oppressive secular ethics. Tim Keller's Marxist views of work have been outlined in more detail by Timothy F. Kauffman in three articles, beginning with this one: "Workers of the Church, Unite!: The Radical Marxist Foundation of Tim Keller's Social Gospel, Part 1".

Conclusion

The discussion of important threats to liberty and how to deal with them can help to allow the continued freedom to share the gospel. If a Christian believes that God is leading him or her to discuss or debate politics on facebook, then there is no biblical reason to avoid this. However, a person should research the subject well, should fact-check news sources, and should be able to use logic to back up points. For example, pretending that a Marxist social gospel is helpful without allowing for a discussion on this is harmful.

It is, in fact, helpful and important to interact and discuss ideas as both Socrates and Jesus showed because asking direct questions is the only way that some people will ever be able to understand their errors and become shaken from a state of false self-assurance and denial. The Gospel Coalition website referring to Trump as Hitler without any substantial explanation and without an opportunity to discuss this in a comment thread is simply an ad hominem attack. If anyone involved with the Gospel Coalition would be interested in discussing the rationale behind their incessant Trump bashing and the serious problems with Marxist-socialist politics that they seem to embrace, this could be helpful.

Tags: Christians on social media, should Christians discuss politics on social media? why Christians avoid politics, Christian silent majority, Tim Keller politics, John Piper politics, quotes of founding fathers on political discussions, quote by Jesus on political involvement, socialism and the social gospel, Trump Hitler at Gospel Coalition, Basilea Schlink quote warned consequences of silence

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1 comment:

  1. I left Facebook for a myriad of reasons. Not the least was the vitriol and political debates displayed daily on my wall. Nor do I trust Mark Zuckerberg with anything anymore.

    Answer one question: Would you want a child to grow up emulating Donald Trump?

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