The All Our Minds project | On Today's America

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The All Our Minds project | On Today's America

I’ve started to notice a pattern. Every time I see a new question come through for this project, the first two words that usually pop into my mind are “oh boy.” Oh boy, that’s a great question. Oh boy, where do I start? Oh boy, I’ve got some work to do.

Today’s question revolves around another “oh boy” moment. The one that many of us shared on the morning of November 8, 2016. Oh boy, how did we get here? Oh boy, how can I vote for either of them? Oh boy, we’ve got some work to do.

Here’s today’s question...

Many Christian leaders are embracing a president who is surrounded by scandal. How do you as a Christian reconcile your beliefs, the Christian church and the current state of American politics?

Oh boy.

So the implication of this question is that it simply doesn’t make sense for Christians—who worship a pure God and proclaim a desire to live like Jesus—to also endorse a scandalous leader. There’s a tension. A fundamental inconsistency that’s hard to deny.

Sarah Schwartz, a Master of Theology who was featured in an earlier post, said something during her interview that I believe also applies to this question. “In this political moment in our country,” she explained, “there's a lot of confusion about what is partisan and what is actually the Gospel.” And I couldn’t agree more.

Ever since Trump came into office, many Christian friends of mine have talked about having somewhat of a crisis of faith. People like Jerry Falwell Jr., who claim “evangelicals have found their dream president” have left us with some big fat question marks (Falwell Jr., 2017).

“American politics have always been volatile,” says Dr. Jamie Campbell, founder of Living & Leading. “So that part for me is not new or necessarily alarming. I think there's just an element of tension, particularly for those of us who are younger, in navigating the way that that platform has been utilized to articulate a version of Christianity that we’re finding ourselves less and less in alignment with.”

This misalignment has created somewhat of a refining fire—a crucible moment—for many young American Christians who are looking intently at both their deeply-rooted faith and their president’s Twitter feed and trying to make sense of it all.

The dilemma that got us here

I’ve heard many people say that Christians who voted for Trump are hypocrites. I’ve also heard many people say that that Christians who voted for Hilary are hypocrites. I’m not here to cast stones or to side with one group over the other. In fact, the whole point of my last post was that not all Christians make the same political decisions and that that’s okay. But let’s take a step back from the finger pointing and remember the dilemma that many of us were faced with this time two years ago—almost to the day.

The months leading up to the 2016 presidential election were marked by confusion, discord and tension within the Christian community. With a God-fearing, servant-hearted candidate nowhere in sight and a civic duty to exercise our right to vote, many felt as though they were caught in a catch-22—that there was really no winning. Even long-standing conservative Christian leaders like Wayne Grudem and John Macarthur struggled publicly with this decision.

But if we’re defining hypocrisy as claiming to have beliefs that don’t match your behavior, then this election really left Christians in a position to be accused of hypocrisy regardless of how they voted. Vote for Trump and you’re a hypocrite for backing a candidate whose behavior is in direct opposition to the faith you profess. Vote for Hillary and you’re a hypocrite for backing a candidate whose behavior is in direct opposition to the faith you profess. Vote for a third party candidate and you’re “throwing away your vote.” Don’t vote at all and you’re squandering a right that people before you died for.

So there it is. The decision that we were all faced with. The decision that we each made based on the influences, circumstances and information that surrounded us. I remember sitting in the frustration and anxiety of choosing how to act in light of such unappealing options. I remember praying for wisdom, doing my research, watching interviews and talking to friends. We could make light of the tension by joking about moving to Canada or saying our heads hurt from thinking about it too much. At the end of the day, we all made this impossible decision the best way we knew how.

If it’s rooted in hatred, it’s not from God

“Eight-in-ten self-identified white, born-again/evangelical Christians say they voted for Trump” (Pew Research Center, 2016). Ever since this stat first came out, the media has been using it in some interesting—and dare-I-say, sneaky—ways.

“You can always use data to say the thing that you're trying to emphasize,” explains Campbell. “I found myself being less worried about whether 80% of evangelicals actually voted for Trump, and more worried about what that label of evangelical means from a social perspective.”

This statistic could be used to tell many different stories about American Evangelicals, but the most popular one seems to be that we’re all just a bunch of hypocrites. That 80% figure is frequently leveraged in articles about extremists who identify themselves as Evangelicals or who worship Trump as “White Jesus.” When these two isolated pieces of data are communicated in the same context, they tell the deeply flawed story that all Christians in America are violent extremists who believe that Trump is God’s gift to our nation.

As I step back from that narrative—the one that seems to be gaining traction at every corner—I’m forced to return to what I know is true about the God I worship. “If we hold Christ as the center of our faith commitment,” says Campbell, “then becoming students of the Gospels again is actually really important. We have to go back to how we saw Christ operate within what's presented to us in the Gospel.”

And what’s presented to us in the Gospel is the God of love, sacrifice, Truth, compassion, mercy, humility, miracles and hope. 1 John 2:9 tells me that, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” Any act of hatred that’s committed in the name of God is inconsistent with the very character of God and therefore cannot be of Him.

When I see news articles about Christians beating up LGBTQ people or making racist comments, it doesn’t make me doubt my God. I know that those things are not from Him. It honestly just makes me sad that He is being so wildly misrepresented as the God of hate rather than of love.

At the end of 2 Timothy, Paul warns Timothy of this: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (4:3-4).

This passage comes to mind when I hear about hate rallies and violence against minorities committed under the guise of the Christian faith. They point to a fundamental misunderstanding of who God is and who He calls us to be. They point to itching ears that suit their own passions. In the verse that follows, Paul reminds Timothy to be “sober-minded” when faced with these myths. To keep his eyes fixed on who God is and on the work He has called him to. If we are doing that, our faith won’t be shaken.

A shifting generation of faith

I truly hope we can all agree that the current relationship between American politics and the Christian church isn’t a particularly healthy one. That neither side of the coin is looking particularly shiny these days. But alas, there is a way forward.

“We have been handed a version of Christianity,” says Campbell, “and we can either choose to accept it and accept the inconsistencies that we're seeing and pass that down, or we can generationally decide to turn to God and to ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate us and to help us move forward well.”

As a faith community that’s dedicated to honoring God, it’s important for us to maintain a posture of humility that allows us to put our beliefs under the microscope and identify the dark spots. We need to open our eyes to see the ways that we, as people who are actively seeking to know and understand Him better, can realign ourselves with His Word. “We actually have the opportunity to become more unified as this generation of leaders really wrestles with understanding the core beliefs of Christianity and passing them down to the next generation,” says Campbell.

In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes, “We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God that we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past” (Tozer 4). As we strip away the distractions that currently face the Christian church in America, we will see God’s Truth more clearly—and then we’ll pass it on to the generations to come.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever

This response took me a few months to formulate. I kept on stepping away from it and coming back to it. Discovering new information and hearing new perspectives. Ultimately, this is where I landed. This is why my faith does not feel threatened by the current state of American politics. Because the core beliefs that keep me rooted in my faith have not been touched by our political climate.

Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:11). His sacrifice atones for the sins of anybody who believes in Him (John 3:16). We’re fully justified before God by faith, not works (Philippians 3:9). And His grace-filled forgiveness is the source of every truly good thing in life (Romans 8:28). These things are true no matter who is president.

So now what?

I came across the below passage in C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. As I was thinking about this question and remembering the acts of cruelty that have been committed by both Christians and non-Christians in our country these past few years, I was humbled by this challenge to seek mercy for others like we would seek it for ourselves:

Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again (Lewis, pg. 117).

Perhaps we can embrace this challenge in our own lives. In doing so, we just might create the climate of humility that is so absent in our country right now.


Lewis, C. S. (1952). Mere Christianity

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The All Our Minds project | On Partisan Politics


The All Our Minds project | On Partisan Politics

There’s one thing that we can all agree on when it comes to the current state of American politics: THEY. ARE. MESSY.

Whether it’s through the radio, our social media feeds, or late night television, we’re constantly being invited into the state of outrage that is ruling our country right now. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, you wake up most days to a decadent buffet of things to be mad about. Things that you feel have gone horribly wrong in this land of the free.

That outrage pushes us into corners. It pushes us into a militant mindset that urges us to point to the person across the table and say “Whose side are you on?” With everybody feeling angry and threatened, it becomes a classic game of us versus them.

But what if you’re not an “us” and you’re not a “them”? What if you don’t fit into the shirt that either side is throwing at you? Where does that leave you? Here’s today’s question...

How do I reconcile my faith with my political views? What is the balance of being a Christian with more liberal leanings?

When I started receiving questions related to politics—there’s one more after this—I reached out to Dr. Jamie Campbell, an undergrad professor of mine, for expert insights. Dr. Campbell joined the Biola faculty shortly after earning her J.D. at Georgetown. Her career at Biola culminated in a 3-year stint as the Interim Dean of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences. This summer, Campbell launched her own mentoring, coaching, and consulting practice called Living & Leading, which is dedicated to cultivating leadership capacities among emerging leaders.

Campbell is firmly committed to speaking truth and challenging Believers to understand and embrace their call to community, justice, presence, and love. After our conversation, a few key questions around today’s topic rose to surface. Ones that each of us need to answer honestly for ourselves as we consider the relationship between faith and politics.

Am I loving God & loving others?

I’ll just come right out and say it: there is an undeniable shortage of love when it comes to the conversations and actions surrounding politics in our country right now. And when love is lacking, hatred becomes a vicious cycle. You said this hateful thing so now I’m going to say a hateful thing in response—and round and round we go.

“There are questions in the political realm that I always answer with, ‘Am I loving God, and loving others if I align myself with this?’ And how or how not?” says Campbell. “My culture and my faith linked together require that frame.”

Next time you are making a political decision, I challenge you to do your part in breaking the cycle of hatred by asking yourself this same question. Ask it with humility. Don’t ask it with a heart that screams Well this is obviously what God would want or How could a real Christian ever think otherwise? Instead, come to the table with a sober mind and a heart that says This is how God calls me to show love.

Where do I fit within this two-party system?

If I tell somebody in America that I’m a Christian, it’s likely that they’ll assume that I’m also a Republican. Somewhere along the way, these two terms were deemed synonymous and all God’s people said “Amen.”

But this strict correlation has never made sense to me—and it makes even less sense in Trump’s America, where so many people feel “politically homeless.” Since when is every Christian the same one thing other than sinful?

In a recent sermon titled “Jesus and Politics,” Pastor Jeremy Treat from Reality LA put it this way: “If you think that a follower of Jesus has to be a Republican or a Democrat to be a Christian, than you have confused a political party with the kingdom of Christ and you are in great danger of being a puppet and not a disciple” (40:20-32). Jesus didn’t fit neatly into the political categories of His time, and neither do we. No single political party is going to get it all right.

Tim Keller recently wrote an article for The New York Times on this very topic. In it, he broke down the faulty logic that has created a largely unresolved tension between the Christian faith and partisan politics. He writes about James Mumford’s concept of “package-deal ethics” and the notion that “you cannot work on one issue with [a political party] if you don’t embrace all of their approved positions” (Keller, par. 8). Many of us as Christians are often left wandering in this middle ground.

Campbell shared a personal example that paints a helpful picture of this dissonance. “I've reconciled myself to the fact that my political decisions are going to be inconsistent with party delineation,” she said. “If I'm pro-life with babies, then I'm also pro-life with the death penalty. And those are different positions politically, but that just means that my key commitment is to life, because I don't think I can love God and love others if I don't value the life that God gave us.”

That term “key commitment” stands out to me. By identifying your key commitment in each political decision you make, you’ll force yourself to think beyond party lines and value biblical wisdom over the status quo. This is how Jesus operated. His key commitment was to remaining faithful to God the Father by exemplifying perfect love for sinful mankind. He made every decision, including political ones, in service to this key commitment.

What is motivating me to participate in politics?

Later in that same sermon, Pastor Treat said, “The church’s goal is not to make a Christian nation, but to make disciples of all nations” (46:45-52).

Many American Christians have become fixated on this idea of establishing America as a Christian nation. Some seem to be convinced that this is the supreme task that God has put before us as citizens of this world. If we could only pass this law or change this policy or get this person into office, we would be one step closer to achieving God’s plan for our country.

But the Great Commission is bigger than that. The Great Commission tells us that it’s actually not about forming our Christian bubble and protecting it at all costs. It’s about bringing the Gospel message of love, hope and sacrifice to every corner of the earth.

Campbell offered a thoughtful perspective on this connection between the Great Commission and our involvement in American politics:

“If you see the Great Commission as undergirding what it is to be a believer, then activity within the political sphere has to be driven by how you see and understand Christ.

“What Christ brought when He came to earth was this transition away from power and social structure to people and love. Jesus came to earth and said ‘I understand that you want me to do this in the political sphere, but I am actually here to tell you to be free from the law. And oh, by the way, love each other and love God.’ That's it.

“As American Christians, if we're really paying attention to what Christ did and we’re drawing parallels between His context and our own, then I think we're called to do something very similar in the political sphere which is to say, ‘Look, I know you guys think this political stuff is the most important stuff in the world, but it's not.’

“Yes, participate in politics. As an American citizen, you have that responsibility. Be responsible, be intentional, utilize your understanding of culture and faith to act—but understand that this political time is not the most important element. It's turning people back to Christ. It’s really getting down in faith to love God and to love others.”

When our participation in politics is motivated by a desire to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God,” we’re a lot more likely to engage with fellow citizens in a way that is honoring to Him (Micah 6:8). We’re a lot more likely to approach differences of opinion with curiosity instead of condemnation. And we’re a lot more likely to mirror the heart of Jesus to the people around us.

So now what?

The original question was about reconciling liberal political leanings with the Christian faith, but I hope this response is evidence that the conversation is so much bigger than conservative versus liberal.

“It’s really important that we have the wisdom to understand a gap between the principles of Scripture and policies as they play out in government,” says Treat (38:04-13). The Bible gives us a framework of principles to live by—love the immigrant, give generously, value human life—but it does not prescribe political policies that correspond with each principle. We need to use biblical wisdom to apply these principles in our own hearts and contexts when making political decisions.

I know strong Christians on both sides of most hot button political issues, and I truly believe that there’s no need to feel threatened or defensive when we disagree.

“At the end of the day, it's not going to be, ‘Am I a Republican or Democrat?’” says Campbell. “It's not going to be, ‘Do I agree with this leading generation or do I listen to my pastor?’ It's going to be, ‘What does my faith look like as a servant of Christ and how do I understand my role in the church?’"

These are the two core questions that we need to ask when making decisions about any aspect of our lives. Political decisions are no exception.


Campbell, Dr. Jamie (2018, October 11). Phone interview.


The All Our Minds project | On Unity and Denominations


The All Our Minds project | On Unity and Denominations

The night before Jesus was crucified, He gathered His disciples and prayed for them. For their strength and sanctification amidst the hardships that they were sure to face. As He prayed for them, He also prayed for us, the future generations of His church:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23).

Unity. It’s something that Jesus values. Actually, that’s an understatement. It’s something that He lived for, prayed for and died for. In His mission to restore perfect unity between God and His people, Jesus prayed that that same unity would exist among believers. That we would be one as He is one with the Father. That future generations would follow His example of reconciliation and unity.

Fast-forward 2018 years to the present day and suffice it to say we’re not quite there yet. The church has certainly grown in numbers since Jesus said this prayer all those years ago, but it has also grown in fragments. With a variety of theological stances that divide us on pretty much any topic worth discussing, we’re left with today’s question:

How can there be so many people throughout history and the world who have hearts that love God, and yet there are so many drastically different beliefs, convictions and practices between them? Where is the Spirit in that?

I love this question. The way it’s worded makes it feel as though the person who wrote it is panting for an answer, wearied by the constant squabbles and eager to get to the heart of the matter. In order to do that, we need to get a sense for how these divisions came into existence in the first place.

The formation of Christian denominations

Within the Christian tradition, there are three main branches: Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Here in the states, the two latter ones are considered the most common. In Roman Catholicism, the traditions, rituals and beliefs are the same across the board. Protestantism on the other hand has been broken down into a variety of smaller groupings, including but not limited to Evangelical, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian and so on.

So the question stands: How did we end up with so many different divisions of Protestant Christian thought when Christ very clearly calls us to unity in Him?

I do want to note that all of the primary denominations of Protestantism are united in their core belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior who died for our sins and, in doing so, restored our relationship with God the Father. That primary, fundamental theology is at the root of all Protestant subgroups. It’s when we get to the second, third and fourth tier issues that the dividing differences emerge.

All schools of theological thought are shaped by their leader’s interpretation of God’s Word. Lutheranism, Calvinism and Wesleyanism are all named after the men who created the lens through which their followers interpret Scripture. It’s as though they’ve each developed their own prescription for the curious Christian to wear while they read God’s Word. With these glasses, they say, you will see God more clearly.

And they’re not wrong. We owe a lot to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John & Charles Wesley and many others like them. People who have searched God’s Word with a desire to not only grow in their own understanding of it, but to help others do the same. Their collective thinking has aided generations of believers in making sense of Scripture.

But as they and others have fervently studied the Word of God, they’ve come to a variety of different theological conclusions. Calvinist theology, for instance, affirms predestination while Wesleyan theology denies it. Pentecostal churches place far greater emphasis on experiencing the Holy Spirit than Evangelical or Non-denominational churches. Over the years, different thought leaders—each with a deep love for God and a hunger for His Truth—have found themselves in different camps on many issues. In following their teachings, we’ve done the same.

The intersection of God’s mystery & the Holy Spirit’s promptings

In his book “The Knowledge of the Holy,” A.W. Tozer shares an interesting observation about our human desire to make sense of God:

“Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need Him. We want a God we can in some measure control. We need the feeling of security that comes from knowing what God is like, and what He is like is of course a composite of all the religious pictures we have seen, all the best people we have known or heard about, and all the sublime ideas we have entertained” (Tozer 8).

We all want the safety and comfort of knowing that our understanding of God is the “right” understanding of God. That we’ve successfully interpreted and uncovered every attribute and every commandment. That our church or denomination has somehow cracked the code on knowing God in all His fullness.

There are a couple of problems with this. For starters, it creates hostility within the body. A sort of theological battle of us vs. them. From there, we’re tempted by pride and finger-pointing. This is when we hear things like “You can’t possibly be a Christian if you believe THAT.” Before we know it, we’re spending more time judging other people’s theology than living our own.

But the biggest problem with “reducing God to manageable terms” is that it leaves no room for the mystery of God. Tozer actually hits on this too a little earlier in this same chapter. He writes about Ezekiel’s description of God’s glory. “When the prophet Ezekiel saw heaven opened and beheld visions of God, he found himself looking at that which he had no language to describe,” explains Tozer. “What he was seeing was something wholly different from anything he had ever known before, so he fell back on language of resemblance.”

Throughout that first chapter of Ezekiel, we see him using phrases like “the likeness of four living creatures,” “they had a human likeness,” “sparkled like burnished bronze,” “like the appearance of,” and so forth. It’s clear that Ezekiel is grasping for words to describe what he’s seeing while in the presence of God’s glory. When I finish reading this passage, I like to imagine him saying, “You really just have to see it for yourself.”

Ezekiel 1 is a testament to the mystery of God. It tells us that even our language falls short in attempting to capture the fullness and majesty of His kingdom. And if our language falls short, our minds are even farther behind. Even so, we know from the New Testament that the Holy Spirit “intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). In that sense, as we wrestle through the formation of our theology, we must simultaneously remain humbled by the mystery of God and be attentive to the promptings of His Holy Spirit.

Same Spirit, different beliefs?

But if the same Spirit was and is working in Calvin and Wesley and every other theologian to walk the earth, how is it that there are so many dissenting conclusions about the things of God?

Thinking about this throws me back to my years as an English major. Every once in a while, a professor would set an assignment to apply a certain philosophical lens to a work of literature: A Marxist reading of “Jane Eyre,” A Feminist reading of “The Great Gatsby.” These papers are evidence that 1) your background impacts how you interpret a text, and 2) a person can read almost anything into even the most thoughtful combination of words—the Bible included.

Our ability to perceive and act on the Holy Spirit’s promptings in our lives is greatly impacted by our view of the Holy Spirit. While certain denominations, such at Pentecostals, encourage a constant sensitivity to the workings of the Holy Spirit, others seem to ignore His relevance altogether and rely solely on Scripture. Depending on what tradition you come from, you will experience the Holy Spirit differently and therefore interpret His promptings differently.

Perhaps that’s part of the beauty of it. Perhaps, in our human desire to confirm black and white truths about who God is and how His Holy Spirit works, we’re ignoring all the ways that this tapestry of opinions on secondary biblical issues—formed within the unique minds of God’s children—actually mobilizes His kingdom to truly reach every corner of the earth.

The Wesleyans use the image of a river and its many tributaries. Within this metaphor, the main river represents the heart of God and the various different streams that flow from it represent the many channels through which the heart of God is shared with a hurting world. Those who follow this tradition worship an unchanging God who fills His people with His Gospel of love and then sends them out to every crevice of this world to share it with others.

A Wesleyan would say that the various different denominations are represented in the many tributaries that flow from the heart of God. Because each denomination of Christianity shares the core belief of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, they would say that one is not better than the other. Rather, each one reaches a different group of people with different spiritual needs created by their cultural contexts. That the Spirit is working differently among each group so as the minister to them in the way that they need to be ministered to.

I’m reminded of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in which he writes, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (9:22). Earlier in this passage, Paul acknowledges the many different groups of people he has encountered in his ministry—”the Jews,” “the weak,” “those under the Law” (9:20-22). Rather than applying a one-size-fits-all for every tradition, Paul carries the Truth of the Gospel in his heart and delivers it in ways that acknowledge each unique context so as to minister more effectively.

The same Spirit is at work in every believer’s heart, but that doesn’t mean that He is working the same way in every believer’s heart. Take the example of a parent-child relationship. Most parents have a set of core values that they want to pass on to their children, but if you have four children with four very different personalities and temperaments, you may need to find four different ways to cultivate the same value in all of them. The core value remains the same, but the vehicle by which it is communicated can vary.

The Holy Spirit is a source of spiritual strength, wisdom and conviction (Romans 8:26; Isaiah 11:2, John 14:26). He may work differently in each person’s heart, but He reveals the same life-giving Truth to all who will listen.

So now what?

When I first started writing this response, I was pretty convinced that sin was the cause of denominational divisions. While I still believe that everybody would have a perfectly holy and united view of God if not for the sin that lives in the heart of man, I also believe that God is rendering miracles from that sin by using our diversity of thought on non-salvation issues to truly reach all cultures and nations.

What do you think?