First, let's face it, most emerging church folk are more progressive in their politics. No secret there. Many of us have been turned off by the rhetoric, policies, and tactics of the Religious Right and have openly reacted against that. Many of us probably do even vote for more Democrats than Republicans these days (though I'd also bet that many of us vote for third parties too whenever we're given the option). However, I would argue that this does not make us simply "Democrats" or even "liberals" in the "old-fashioned" sense of that word. Such an accusation seems trapped in the old one dimensional dichotomy of "Left vs. Right". The critics I have observed making this accusation seem to think that there are only two options, so that if one rejects the Right one necessarily must be "Left". If one does not support the Republicans that automatically makes one a "Democrat".
This is a false dichotomy in my opinion. In the first place, many of us are finding that neither side defines our beliefs very well. On issues of social justice and economic policies I find myself too liberal even for the Democrats these days, while on some social issues I'm too libertarian even for the Republicans (except maybe Ron Paul). I believe in balanced budgets and electoral reform, which used to be conservative positions, but I also believe that we need to slash the Defense Budget, promote Fair Trade, and adopt completely open immigration, which are things even the Democrats aren't willing to do. On abortion I consider myself both pro-life and pro-choice. So where exactly do I fit on the political spectrum? How can I be categorized into a narrow polarity between Left or Right?
But even more significantly than just the complexity of my opinions is the source from which they derive. My opinions, and I think the opinions of many emerging folk, are not based on devotion to a particular political ideology, but are instead based first and foremost on a commitment to the Kingdom of God. Our political opinions are driven by our theology, and not vice versa. We resist easy categorization because this theology itself is something that doesn't easily fit into the traditional Left-Right dichotomies. And even if a commitment to the Kingdom often leads us to positions that appear "progressive" or "liberal", this is merely incidental. We are not trying to be "liberal". We are trying to be consistent followers of Jesus, and that might just happen to occasionally make us appear "liberal" according to the world's categories. But so what? If we genuinely don't care about the labels, as I believe most emerging folk genuinely don't, then why should we care if our pursuit of the Kingdom occasionally brings us in line with other ideologies as well? And isn't that what we should expect if we actually believe in the doctrine of common grace, this idea that God is at work in the world, even outside of the borders of the "church"?
And the appropriate response to these points of overlap, in my opinion, is to join with these others and work together for common goals. This is part of my response to those who fault us for supporting particular candidates or particular legislation. Voting for a Democratic (or Republican) candidate doesn't necessarily make one a Democrat (or Republican) across the board. It might just be that we are pragmatically supporting those who are closest to our ideals and who share some points of overlap without naively believing that we will ever find the "perfect" candidate or any partisan agenda that ever completely aligns with the values of the Kingdom of God. I don't think there is anything wrong with pragmatically working within the existing system for proximate goals, just so long as we are careful not to be co-opted by the system or forget where our ultimate loyalties lie.
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