Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Faith, Voting, and our Ultimate Loyalty

Dear Parish Faithful,

Tomorrow is Election Day 2012.  By late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning, the American people, within the democratic process, will have either re-elected President Barack Obama, or replaced him with Gov. Mitt Romney as the new president.  It has been a brutal campaign in many ways, and potentially divisive as party allegiances have been sharply drawn and fiercely defended.  This evening, in our Fall Adult Education Class, we read and discussed together a fine article entitled “The Kingdom of God:  the Apostle Paul’s Perilous Proclamation.”  The final section of the article is further entitled “Application of Paul’s Proclamation for Orthodox Christians Today.”  The author, John Fotopoulos, offers an excellent paragraph in this section that makes essential reading before voting tomorrow, at least in my opinion.  This, because he places this election and “politics” in general, within a much wider context that is about our ultimate loyalty.  Here is that challenging paragraph as we conclude the eve of the election and prepare to exercise our right to vote tomorrow:

“Paul’s proclamation declares in no uncertain terms that Christian identity is to be found primarily in the Lord Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. Paul did not ask the Roman Christians that he converted to renounce their Roman citizenship, but he did remind them that their true citizenship was in heaven from where they were expecting their savior to return.  Today in the contemporary American political scene, many politicians and televangelists have framed Christian faith and identity as loyalty to a particular political party.  Some Americans cannot even imagine the possibility of being a Christian without loyalty and support of some political party.  But what light do Paul’s writings shed on these ideas?  For Paul it would seem that political affiliations are permissible, but this should not be the source of one’s views or identity, nor should it be the chief focus of one’s loyalty.  Rather, the Lord Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God are to inform an Orthodox Christian’s identity, and this is to be the source of an Orthodox Christian’s thought and ideals.  One or another social or political issue must not define the views and political affiliations of Orthodox Christians, but rather these views and affiliations should b shaped by the totality of the gospel message.  In short, Orthodox Christians are not to pick and choose what they find appealing and what they do not in the gospel.  Paul the Apostle challenges Orthodox Christians to bring their beliefs, affiliations, concerns, and behavior into union with the Lord Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, something for which no human leader, political party, social group, or nation can serve as substitute.” (. 39-40)

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