Faith and Politics

August 20, 2007

Two things have sparked this blog off: the movie “Amazing Grace” and Kevin Rudd’s “fall from grace” with the exposure of his night club adventure. Both Wilberforce and Rudd were politicians, ambitious, professing Christians, good speakers, imperfect but committed. The difference (so far; Kevin’s story isn’t finished yet) is that Wilberforce’s campaign was born out of his conversion and his membership of a group of committed Christians called the “Clapham sect”.  The key emphasis of the evangelical revival in 18th century England (spearheaded by Wesley, Whitefield and others like John Newton) was on personal conversion or the new birth.  Their political campaigns on a number of fronts were born out of a strong emphasis on personal faith in Jesus. And arguably Wilberforce gave up his ambitions of cabinet rank to follow the slave trade campaign.

Christians should be involved in politics if they feel so called. I have friends on all sides of politics whose faith moves them on: Greens, Family First, Liberal, non-party. But I think we should be wary of anyone using Christianity to promote themselves. It’s great to see Christians of varying allegiances praying with each other in parliament but too often party allegiance and ambition come first, it seems.  Yet it’s hard for us outside parliament to judge as we are not experiencing the pressure MPs face. They need our prayers.

Unfortunately the new birth has itself become a religious party slogan in many places. Many talk about being “born again” who seem to show no evidence of having experienced it.  We need to recapture the fervour and clarity expressed in Newton’s hymn.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

‘Twas grace that caused my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved, how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.”

Not belonging to the right church or believing the right things but believing in the Saviour!

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