Editor’s Note: Pastor Roger Barrier’s “Ask Roger” column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I receive a number of letters regarding Christians and politics. I hope my answers to several of them are helpful.
First, Is God a Republican or a Democrat?
Hi Pastor Barrier,
Many of my Christian friends are convinced that God is a Republican. They think that the liberal leanings of the Democrats are contrary to the teachings of the Bible and that we should use the political system to ensure that God’s teachings are the law of the land. What do you think?
Is God a Conservative Republican? No. Is He a Liberal Democrat? Certainly not. Is God a third party Libertarian? I think not.
Every society struggles with the conflict of liberals versus conservatives. These two political viewpoints seem to be built into the very essence of human nature.
I love what Winston Churchill said about this issue, “If you are not a liberal when you are young then you have no heart. If you are not a conservative when you are old then you have no brains.”
Of course, many others despise the essential values of both.
Israeli politics of the first century closely match what we see in America today:
The Pharisees (Republicans) were the religious and the more fiscal conservative party. They were deeply entrenched in money making and profiteering as evidenced from their business adventures in the Temple. They were for big business—especially when it lined their pockets. They were not particularly known as the party which championed the “down and outs” of society.
The Sadducees (Democrats) tended to be the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. They were viewed as the more liberal party who were against big business and for more governmental involvement in public affairs. While they were often viewed as the less religious party, they embodied more humanistic leanings in contrast to religious ones. Their “big tent” included the “sinners and prostitutes”.
The Essenes (minor-third parties like the Libertine, Green Parties and Independents) were a party of desert dwelling separatists who had their own personal agendas and who seldom agreed with anyone.
Do you see the parallels with today? In broad sweeping terms the Republican Party looks a lot like the Pharisees and the Democrats look a lot like the Sadducees.
Of course, God is not a member of any party. As a Christian I am not so concerned with whether I am on the Republican or Democratic side. I am really concerned with whether or not I am on God’s side.
In Joshua 5:13-15 as he moved through the battle lines near Jericho, Joshua encountered a mighty soldier with a drawn sword. Joshua asked whether the soldier was on the side of Israel or on the side of Israel’s enemies. The soldier responded, “Neither. I am on the Lord’s side, on whose side are you?” Joshua fell on face and worshipped. May we never forget the God who transcends all human politics.