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Who is on the team?

April 16, 2012

Well, as the Presidential race winds down into an Obama-Romney showdown it seems as if we have an interesting situation developing.  We have two candidates, both of whom claim to be Christians, and a majority of evangelicals believing that neither of them is a Christian.  Both, Obama in particular, make faith-based references in their speeches that explain how they derive their political views from their faith, and both claim that faith is Christian.  Yet here we sit with many denying that either is, in fact, a Christian.

In reality, this is nothing new.  Evangelicals tend to identify “Christian” as having a faith conversion; as having a point in our lives where we have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  With Romney, the denial of his standing as a Christian largely comes from our convictions about Mormonism.  With Obama, if we safely ignore the “He is a Muslim” crowd, it seems to come from his political beliefs being contrary to ours.

While I believe in the evangelical definition of a Christian, a faith-conversion, I’ve always been a little uneasy with the idea that I have been appointed as something of a “salvation inspector.”  When people call themselves Christians I tend to take this at face value until something makes me doubt.  I do know that often people use the tag if they simply go to church from time to time, or even if they used to go to church.

With Obama and Romney, since I have never had a spiritual conversation with either of them and don’t expect to, this principle requires me to at least accept their statements at face value.  What surprises me is that so many evangelicals, none of whom have had such conversations either, are quite free to express their convictions.  Why is this?

Frankly, I suspect that it comes from our desire to determine who is on “our team.”  We have come to see the world as two teams.  There is “our team,” people to agree with us, and “their team,” people who do not.  Every situation, every decision, every declaration then is seen as a victory for our team and a defeat for their team or the other way around.  This reduction of the world into a zero sum game of wins and losses dominates 21st century thinking and we are not immune to it.  With this mindset we are eager to know if either Romney or Obama is on our team.  Their actual qualifications to be President are secondary to knowing which team they are on. 

This goes across all spectrums of life.  Tim Tebow is hailed as a sports star on our team and we are dismayed when the other side sees he is not on their team and attacks him.  Celebrities go through the same process.  Amy Grant was on our team until she sang “Baby, Baby” and then she was kicked off the team.  Miley Cyrus was on the team, then thrown off the team, and now some voices are thinking she may be on the team after all.  Even Christian leaders are scolded by other Christians for not being on the team.

Is it possible that we’ve taken the application of team thinking too far?   Yes, there are the sheep and the goats but perhaps, as true as that is, we are all a mixture of good and bad impulses.  Perhaps, if you and I were in the public domain, our own weaknesses would have us on and off the team in the eyes of others more than we’d like to admit.

Maybe, if we set aside the idea of which one, if either, is on our team we could have a more reasoned debate on the Presidency.  Of course, then we’d need to actually study the policies and positions of the two men in detail and make an evaluation of how we see them impacting our country and our faith.  It is a whole lot easier to decide which team they are on, isn’t it?


From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. That makes a lot of sense. In the end God knows who are his and his view may differ a lot from ours. We had best hold our peace before Him.

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