I am United Methodist committed to Wesleyan theology and an Anabaptist understanding of politics. That makes me, I suppose, a high-church Wesleyan Methodist Mennonite.
David Swartz in a recent post speaks for me when it comes to Christians and politics. Frankly, it is my considered opinion that Christians on both sides of the political aisle have become too close and wrapped up in nation state politics and it has undermined our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Below I briefly offer David's points, but you can read the details here.
First, American political discourse tends to conflate the purposes of the nation with those of Christian faith. Republicans and Democrats alike entice Christians to follow a common script of nationalism. Each nurtures a strong attachment to the nation and willingness to use a strong state to press its Christian agenda: the populist Right in support of the military, sexual morality, and consumerism—and the populist Left in support of social justice, tolerance, and, again, consumerism. Each side trumpets a script of American exceptionalism. If you think the Republicans are more egregious offenders, check out this year’s Democratic National Convention.
Second, both sides practice realpolitik to accomplish their goals. Anything goes in the attempt to win. Parties enforce platforms, leaving little room for dissent, and they coerce adherents into following culture war scripts. They encourage the demonization of the enemy.
Third, both sides also support an unbridled consumerism. In his book The Unintended Reformation, Notre Dame historian Brad Gregory takes stock of the Reformation’s legacy. He concludes that it sparked Western social incoherence and secularization. What now binds the West together is money. Everyone agrees to produce and purchase as many goods as possible. Gregory writes, “We have substituted a life defined by the good with a life defined by goods.” The consumptive patterns normative in American conceptions of retirement, eating habits, leisure, and the use of time are legitimated by Christians who uncritically accept existing political and economic structures.
Finally, and there are variations here, but Anabaptists generally follow a consistent-life ethic that opposes Christian participation in war, abortion, and the death penalty. But practicing a consistent pro-life stance is nearly impossible in today’s two-party system and political climate. Perhaps it is more possible to participate electorally while not trumpeting nationalism, culture war scripts, and neo-liberal consumption. But there are very few examples of this.
...Greg Boyd notes, acquiring political power is the very temptation Jesus resisted when tempted by the devil. It would have been easy for Jesus to accept Satan’s offer to reign over all the governments of the world (Luke 4:5-7), but he declined the offer.
So welcome! It’s a good time to be free from the constraints of a two-party system grounded in realpolitik. It’s a good time to invest in a robust theology of shalom. It’s a good time to be an Anabaptist.
This high-church Wesleyan Methodist Mennonite says there's room for everyone who follows Jesus. I hope all my Christian readers will consider joining us.