As followers of Christ and as citizens of the United States we are very thankful for the great privileges afforded to us to vote for the candidates and/or political parties we believe best align us with causes that Scripture encourages (affirming life, justice, equal wages, wise stewardship of natural resources, etc.). We believe that Christ’s command to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” compels us to be active and responsible citizens and that includes voting for our elected leaders.
Nonetheless, at New City Church we do not endorse political candidates or parties. This is not and will never be the practice of New City Church. There are many reasons why this is so. Here are some of the most important.
Our identity is in Christ, not in a politician or his/her party. All followers of Christ agree with this. Sadly it is rare to find a Christian who is both vocal about his or her political views and about proclaiming Christ. It is not that the two are incompatible; it is that the two are rarely observed together.
Why is this? I think it’s because the more passionate we become about tax rates or military strength or trade agreements the less passion we have left for the weightier matters. It seems that as humans we have little capacity to passionately pursue both. It is as Jesus said: no one can serve two masters. It is not impossible to hold passionate political views and be entirely committed to following Jesus and work to fulfil the Great Commission, though is quite difficult to hold the two in proper tension. It becomes easy to begin to confuse the two.
There was a time when the percentage of those in a church who identifed themselves as a Democrat or a Republican closely mirrored that of the general public. For example, if in 1970 47% of Americans identified themselves as Democrats and 44% identified themselves as Republicans, one could expect in any local church to find the church split about evenly politically. Their politics did not define who they were in Christ and so there was unity in the midst of great diversity of political opinion.
Compare that to today, when churches tend to align as predominantly Republican or predominantly Democrat. Why? What shifted? Our identify changed from being in Christ to being in a political party. No longer are we Christians first, who happen to disagree about foreign policy. Today we see great hostility, even among followers of Christ. It is not enough to disagree with a person’s political view—that person must be evil for disagreeing with my view about nationalized health care!
New City Church does not endorse candidates or parties because doing so destroys Christian unity.
Further, when a church endorses candidates and parties we believe the gospel is distorted. Our mission is to make disciples. The only way to do this is by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and building Christian community. In the context of friendship we can share the good news that Jesus saves and in the context of fellowship in the church we can help one another grow in Christ-likeness.
Our mission is not to get a certain person or political party in power. Voting for a particular candidate is not going to point someone to Christ. No one has come to faith because a certain candidate won his or her election. People believe in Jesus because the gospel is proclaimed and the Holy Spirit of God works his sovereign grace in a person’s heart so that person can repent and believe and be saved. That must remain our focus as a church.
Scripture tells us that the cross of Jesus is offensive to non-Christians, for it tells them they are not good enough for God, that Jesus had to suffer their penalty for them, that it is only because of the righteousness of Christ that they can be accepted by God. Why should we add offense to the cross, demonstrating (if not telling) others that their political views are wrong? Let’s allow the cross to be the only offense, and not we ourselves.
Vote for the candidate for president you believe can best lead this nation, but always remember that confusing politics and political issues and political parties with the gospel of Jesus Christ is deadly.