The Rainbow Coalition

No, not the Jesse Jackson kind, the Paul Helm sort, who has a helpful post on getting involved in politics. Did he really just say, “First off, then, who’s to say that there is a God-given universal obligation to be involved in politics?” Gasp. It gets even better though:

The position should be that when you sit in church you may find yourself next to a libertarian, or a left winger, or a Kirkian conservative, or a climate change denier, or a supporter of the UK ‘s membership of the European Union, or a political cynic, or a Cameron Tory, or someone who has not an ounce of interest in politics, except for the need for the local Council to provide more child care and to keep the Library open. And so forth. A rainbow congregation. This is an obvious implication of what used to be called the ‘spirituality of the Church’. This is the idea that the church’s business has to do solely with the Gospel, with its faithful exposition, the calling of Christians to engage in public worship, and with the consequences of this good news being received as the word of God by men and women. If Christians think their social and political views should be expressed in the public square, then they should enjoy the support of the state. But that’s the extent of it. It is uncalled-for for the church to take any particular political stance, just as it was impudent and out of order for C.H. Spurgeon to advise his hearers at the Metropolitan Tabernacle to vote Liberal at a forthcoming election. What has that to do with him? As a minister of the gospel, it was none of his business. It is as offensive to think of the Liberal Party as the Metropolitan Tabernacle at prayer, as it is to think of the Tories as the Church of England at prayer.





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6 Responses to The Rainbow Coalition

  1. Wout says:

    This quotation is spot on. When I was young I voted for politicians who were conservative, but as I matured, I supported social democrat political parties as I believed them to be more Christ-like. However, I had never come across the idea that Christians were to vote and support one political party only.

    Until the last few years reading blogs, I had never heard of culture wars, YEC, the necessity of hating gays etc. Growing up in the CRC, we were obviously aware that God created the world, but no nonsense such as YEC. Having attended secular schools from Grade 1 through university, I had never even learned about that most evil doctrine-Evolution.

    I don’t understand the seemingly American attitude that one must vote for a particular political party because one is anti-abortion. I believe that abortion has been legal in the US for some decades and yet no political party has changed that legal status. In Canada no party from left to right has a policy to ban abortion.

    All the discussions on blogs about 2k seem so odd to me as I realize I have always been 2k without using that nomenclature. It just seems such a natural way of looking at things. And, while I am on a rant, the expression “Christian world view” also seems meaningless to me, as it should mean only that one believes the Gospel. My view of the world, my likes and dislikes, my political leanings etc probably match that of very few others. If one means political preferences, cultural values etc, there is no one Christian world view.

  2. Zrim says:


    When I first converted in college out of broad secularism and into broad evangelicalism I was taken aback that not only did I have to have a keen interest in politics but also reproductive politics; and not only that but that my newfound faith had something directly to do with American pro-lifery. I kept asking, “So, does Christianity imply a particular stance on the politics of American sign language? The Bible talks about deafness, and it’s a pretty hot topic on the campus of Gallaudet last time I was there (hands were a-flying in the student commons). Just like questions about ex-vitro life matter, it seems to matter to deaf people how humans communicate, so what is the Christian stance on which sort is morally superior?” I never got an answer, just more pleas to take more seriously the bleary-eyed fellow in our Bible study who had just written his 84th letter to the editor about how judgment was coming to America for certain Supreme Court decisions.

  3. Paul M. says:

    Zrim, you do realize that Helm would not at all like your views on reason, logic, apologetics and philosophy, right?

    The other thing is, and I know you’ll deny this in the abstract, but you have a serious problem with Christians voicing their views in the public square—for that’s just to be an activist in the culture wars. CDV taught you about your inconsistencies here. So even this quote you post is quite at odds with how you’ve argued over the years.

  4. Zrim says:

    Paul, I like to think I’m a little more restrained than that–I can’t say what someone would think about what I think about what he thinks. I can say that I like what Helm says here. One implication seems to be that discipling someone for having a different political view might be pretty misguided.

    I know you think I “have a serious problem with Christians voicing their views in the public square,” but I don’t. I think some have a real problem, however, with others who significantly lower the expectations (but not the dignity) of politics and just what they can yield, then brand it some kind of pacifism or world-flight, etc.

  5. Paul M. says:

    At least we agree that we wouldn’t discipline someone for their political views.

    I know you say you don’t have a problem with Christians voicing their views, but every example of it is called culture warring or showing disrespect to the king by you.

  6. Zrim says:

    Paul, instead of taking umbrage at certain things being called culture war have you ever considered just admitting that some culture war (like some social gospel) is good? You guys hear what you seem to agree to be a four-letter word, then try to explain how the target isn’t culture war or social gospel. For my part, I think culture war is bad for the civil kingdom, and social gospel is bad for the spiritual kingdom. I don’t see what is to be gained by pretending like something isn’t either just because it has a bad reputation when clearly you think some degree of either is good.

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