A More Excellent Way?

How should Christians engage in the political process here in the United States?

Last night Rich Mouw gave a talk through the Newbigin House of Studies in San Francisco. He talked about engaging culture, and specifically of the life and work of Abraham Kuyper.

Kuyper was born in the 1830s, was a minister who moved from a liberal theology toward a more evangelical theology, but never gave up on the idea of a world-engaging Christian vocation, even as he began to understand it differently. Eventually, he would become a member of the Netherlands’ parliament and serve a term as prime minister.

When Kuyper was elected to parliament, he demitted his ordination. He didn’t want there to be any sense that the church was controlling his office. And yet, he was faithfully Christian and actively engaged in both faith and politics.

This raised the question for me afresh: what does faithful participation in the American political process look like?

Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mostly, what I really want to know is, “What is the question we are not asking?” And by “we,” I mean, “most of us,” as I hope that maybe one of you has some light to shed here.

The assumption behind my question is this: most of us, including myself, are not engaging our political process very well. Examples of “not very well” include partisanship on both sides.

We vote for Obama because we like his commitments to a more just international policy, and then sit silently by while Guantanamo’s prison isn’t closed and extraordinary rendition is continued.


We vote for Republicans because they officially oppose abortion even though eight years of Republican presidency and control of congress didn’t result in any meaningful legislative change on that front.

We have to be able to do better than selling our votes for false promises. We have to be able to do better than coaxing candidates into appeasing our particular version of Christianity’s aspirations for a Christian nation.

Is it better to not vote? Or is that a complete ceding of the privilege of influence we have at our unique time and place?

Is it better to cast what is widely deemed a throwaway, cast-off, protest vote for a third party?

How do we meaningfully participate in the presidential election cycle as followers of Jesus? Please channel your inner Kuyper and tell me what you think.

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