While theologian Stanley Hauerwas warns the church to avoid all government involvement, his mentor John Howard Yoder* did not share his reservation. In For the Nations, Yoder encourages the church to be a witness to our government by advocating the gospel to our country’s leaders. He is quick to warn against what he calls the “Constantinian Temptation,” though, and suggests advocates speak from the outside rather than from the center. Martin Shupack, director of advocacy at Church World Service (Washington, D.C.), has built a career doing just this.
It’s a misty evening as I sit cuddled under a blanket with my laptop and a snoring dog, watching the presidential debate. Even as I type, President Obama and Governor Romney are debating the economy.
I feel my temperature rising, and it has nothing to do with the blanket. I grew up in a family in which “debate” sounds more like calm discussion and a slightly raised voice feels like yelling. Just watching the debate is feeding my anxiety.
And, if anyone else experiences conflict like I do, the election this coming November could be incredibly divisive for the church. And how much moreso, when you mix people like me with those who are very comfortable with debate, raised voices, and hearty conversation? How do we keep our eyes focused on our shared allegiance—to Jesus Christ—in the midst of such diversity and disagreement?