Note from Dr. Denison: While my wife and I are on vacation, our oldest son, Ryan, is writing The Daily Article. Ryan is an MDiv graduate of Truett Seminary currently completing his PhD in Church History. He has written The Daily Article in my absence in the past and was the co-author of our latest publication, How Does God See America? I am honored to share this ministry with him.
Former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III continues to dominate headlines this morning after spending more than five hours answering questions from two committees in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
After watching the entirety of both proceedings, the only conclusion I think we can reach with confidence is that getting to the unbiased truth of what actually occurred (with regards to President Trump, Russia, and a number of individuals investigated by Mueller and his team) is unlikely to happen any time soon.
After all, both the letter from the Justice Department restricting what Mueller was allowed to say, as well as his opening statements before both committees, made clear he would say little concerning particular topics each side wanted to address. The result was a series of questions in which Mueller’s favorite answer was some variation of “I’m not getting into that.”
Representatives on both sides of the aisle showed palpable frustration, which may have been shared by many of their constituents.
Ultimately, whether you want to see President Trump vindicated, impeached, or anywhere in between, it seems unlikely that meaningful progress toward that end will take place as a result of Mueller’s interviews.
The Denison Forum is a nonpartisan ministry.
I have heard from enough readers to know that our stance can prove irritating at times. To that end, I want to elaborate on that stance, and why elements of it can help all of us better understand how to engage with the culture around us with regards to politics or any number of divisive issues.
Nonpartisanship does not mean being apolitical.
Dr. Denison has frequently stated his belief that God is calling far more Christians into politics than have answered that call, and I believe he is correct. Nonpartisanship means limiting our focus to a discussion of the issues rather than which party to identify with.
Moreover, nonpartisanship means attempting—at all times—to be sure we do not speak of President Trump, for example, in language we would not have used for President Obama under similar circumstances.
Think back to the last political conversation you had with a friend or associate. It may have been as recent as yesterday or even this morning.
- Was that conversation characterized by honesty and respect or antagonism and divisiveness?
- How would you react if you heard someone address a member of your family in the same way you spoke of the political figures in your discussion?
As difficult as it may be to believe sometimes, Democrats, Republicans, and members of third parties coexist in God’s family, and he cares as deeply about the manner in which we discuss his children as any good father would.
Nonpartisanship does not mean agreement.
Such discussions do not have to end in agreement, however, and that’s not a bad thing. Rather, such disagreements offer us a unique opportunity to demonstrate that we see people as more than their political views.
Nobody wants to be defined by one aspect of their lives. Humans are complex creatures, and our identities were designed by God to be the sum total of a host of characteristics. However, when we reduce others to their beliefs on abortion, homosexuality, poverty, or even something like the Mueller report, then we do them a great disservice.
Throughout his ministry, some of Jesus’ greatest success stories were with people society had written off. When most Jews looked at Matthew, for example, they saw a traitorous tax collector and nothing more. Our Lord saw a young man with the capacity to do truly amazing things for the kingdom, and we have the first book of the New Testament as a result.
And it wasn’t just with Matthew. Christ demonstrated the value of seeing the whole of a person, rather than just the aspect that stuck out the most, in his interactions with the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, and a host of other characters who came to play an integral role in the founding of our faith.
When we define those who disagree with us politically, or on any other issue for that matter, as somehow limited to that particular aspect of their existence, then we should not be surprised when the gospel rings hollow and they have little interest in learning more about this Jesus in whose name we speak.
Nonpartisanship does not mean forgetting the gospel.
Ultimately, the Denison Forum is a nonpartisan ministry, not because we’re afraid to take a stand on issues of the day or because we don’t want to make our donors angry, but because we genuinely feel God has called us to help his people (regardless of their political persuasion) better understand the culture around them and how to reach that culture for the kingdom. There will be times when that mission leads us closer to one side or the other, but the goal is that we do so based on the guidance of Scripture rather than Fox News or CNN.
And that is how we would approach these issues whether or not we worked for this ministry. We genuinely feel that it is the best way to pursue our highest calling: making disciples in whatever circles of influence God has placed us.
So, as you reflect on the Mueller hearings and the never-ending series of political issues that are sure to follow, I ask that you first take a moment to pray for God’s help in understanding not just the news but also how to calibrate your response in light of your kingdom responsibilities.
Again, that does not mean being apolitical, but it does mean not letting our political views hinder the gospel. That can be a fine line to walk at times, but it is one we must urgently avoid crossing.
So, speak kindly and with respect for the fact that every person you meet is a unique, complex creature who is loved desperately by our heavenly Father. And have the humility to recognize that none of us are quite as right about this stuff as we might like to believe.
I genuinely believe that’s the best path for God’s people to follow.
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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Publication Date: July 25, 2019
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images/Alex Wong