Os Guinness On Evangelical Political Engagement
A couple of weeks ago Evangelical author and speaker Os Guinness was on Let My People Think, the radio ministry of Ravi Zacharias. In the broadcast (listen here), Guinness detailed three stages of Evangelical political engagement in the last century. The first he called privatized. In this phase, roughly from the Scopes Monkey Trial until 1973, Evangelicals and their Fundamentalist cousins remained largely detached from the political process. The problem here is obviously that by not engaging there is no possibility of reforming, or of speaking out on issues of justice. The second stage Guinness described as politicized. This was brought about in 1973 by Roe v. Wade and other societal factors that jolted Evangelicals into an awareness of the importance of politics. Unfortunately, in the process of being awakened to the importance of politics, Evangelicals were also enticed by the world’s methods of doing politics. Guinness decried the method in which Christians have been “culture warring” against their perceived antagonists, stating that the way that they often demonize their opponents is not just wrong, it is anti-Christian. Finally, Guinness argued for a new third phase of Evangelical political engagement: the prophetic. Here he asserted that Evangelicals need not succumb to the power grabs that entangle much of contemporary politics, but should rather speak truth to power in a manner that reflects the love of Christ. Unfortunately all too many Evangelicals are still mired in the politicized stage, but as more and more leaders reflect Guinness’ sentiments, maybe there is yet hope that the Church will indeed fulfill its prophetic role in society.