Review | Just Politics by Ronald J.Sider
Justice Politics by Ronald J. Sider
A Guide for Christian Engagement
“The failures of recent evangelical political engagement flow, at least to a significant degree, from the fact that we failed to develop a biblically grounded, systematic approach to the complicated task of politics.” Ronald Sider asks: “How do we acquire the wisdom to act in politics in a way that truly reflects Christ? How do we move from a commitment to Jesus Christ and biblical authority to concentrate political decisions that lead us to support or oppose specific laws and candidates? Is there an approach, a method, a frame work that will help us do that?”
Ronald Sider’s Just Politics: A Guide for Christian Engagement discusses today’s pertinent political issues such as abortion, marriage, human rights and war; his book is unique because it isn’t polemical. Instead, he responds by creating a balanced methodology rooted in biblical foundations. His systematic approach raises volume to a voice that is rarely heard when discussing these difficult topics— the voice of an impartial christian.
Christians are passionately opinionated—as they should be— when opposing biblical sins. Snider applauds this passion; however, he explains that biblical language (verses and commandments) is unrecognizable to secular ears. It’s like advising a newly converted christian through the language of heavenly tongues. Snider teaches us how to speak political language implicit with biblical morals, this is the language of the impartial christian.
Ignorance can be a consequence of excessive piety; ignorance can endanger people’s rights and freedom. Snider reminds us that the state’s responsibility (Canada’s government) is to enforce freedom and to prevent infringements. As a society, it’s our responsibility to reinforce morals through our families, church and other institutions. Snider encourages us to respect other religions since they have moral similarities that can guide the state in creating moral laws. We must imitate God’s love by respecting people’s freedom of choice. This respect isn’t a refusal to oppose positions that affect our morality, but a movement towards a Christ-like behaviour— compassion.
Snider advocates neighbourly love. His love for the oppressed evokes the teaching of liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez; Gutierrez focuses his theology from the perspective of the oppressed. Snider urges us — the blessed first world and oblivious oppressor— to consider both local and international neighbours when we politically act. We have the habit of selectively opposing issues like abortion, but choose to ignore global inequality: “If christian political engagement focuses on just one or two issues, it is misguided, unfaithful and unbiblical”.
Political choices affect our lives. Politics is not restricted to government offices and angry campaign debates; politics is the quality of the food we eat, the heat in our showers, and the education of our children. Politics is voting responsibly. Politics is saying Amen without being incarcerated. Just Politics means a just life.
“If even a quarter of the world’s Christian truly followed biblical norms in their politics, we would fundamentally change history.”