Tuesday, June 19

A Faith of Our Own by Jonathan Merritt


Everyone seems to have an opinion on everything today.  Even it’s something that you can’t really have an opinion on, people still find a way.  As opinions grow, more and more people begin to voice their opinion hoping to gain influence with it.  Religion has always played a role in America, and now Christian leaders seek to gain more influence.  However, many seem to have moved beyond voicing their thoughts, they are seeking a culture war.  But is a culture war really what we are called to?  Can we really love our neighbors, and even our enemies, in a culture war?  Is anything even being accomplished in a culture war?  Has the church stepped too far into politics?  These are some of the things which Jonathan explores in A Faith of Our Own.

Throughout, Jonathan makes a case that Christians have become overly involved in politics.  Pastors have come to endorse specific candidates, parties, legislation, and policies.  These endorsements can silently indicate that if you disagree you must not be a fully committed Christian.  As Jonathan shows, this runs on both sides of the aisle. 


Furthermore, Jonathan believes that by politicizing the church, the church has become nothing more than a campaign stop.  “…Christians allow the church – that wild and untamable “Body of Christ” – to be reduced to a voting bloc…a constituency that must be pandered to and pleased during campaign speeches so they’ll case their votes for a particular party.  Politicians and inside the-Beltway hucksters, come one, come all.  The Christians are yours to be had” (page 32).

While this politicizing of the church has won supporters, it has also caused many to leave the church.  Instead of being a place of love, many feel bitterness and divisiveness.  It feels like churches spend more time on homosexuality, abortion, and freedom of religion quarrels than on helping the less fortunate and loving our enemies.

“Christians in America…forget that it is not what you think or how much power you have or how you vote that changes the world.  It’s your hands that do the changing.” – Helmut (142)



Everyone holds political opinions these days, and it seems that more and more churches are jumping into the fray.  Turn on the TV and you’ll find pastors and other Christian leaders speaking on topics ranging from prayer in schools to abortion to homosexuality to immigration, and much more.  Many times these Christian leaders will endorse specific candidates or policies.

However, while churches become more involved with politics there has been another wave of movement, of young Christians leaving the church.  While there are many different reasons, one common reason given is that the church has become too political.  Listening to some Christians speak you would think salvation depends on voting for a specific candidate or policy.  

Jonathan Merritt shows that many times, political movement in the church results in culture wars, in an ‘us versus them’ mentality.  Within a week of starting this book I saw a news piece about a pastor who said he believes homosexuals should be placed within an electrified fence.  Politicizing the church has not only opened the church to further criticism, but Jonathan believes that it begins to turn the church into nothing more than a set of votes, writing, “…Christians allow the church – that wild and untamable “Body of Christ” – to be reduced to a voting bloc…a constituency that must be pandered to and pleased during campaign speeches so they’ll case their votes for a particular party.  Politicians and inside the-Beltway hucksters, come one, come all.  The Christians are yours to be had”

Throughout, Jonathan strikes a careful balance between showing flaws while encouraging the church.  His hope is not to tear down faith, but to encourage people to pick it back up in a way that glorifies God.  He also does not discourage Christians from involving themselves with politics but discourages tying Christianity to a side of politic (though he does recognize there may be circumstances where it is unavoidable.  In this he gives the examples of Christians who opposed Nazi Germany and who stood in support of the civil rights movement).

He also suggests that political change may not be the best way to practice the teachings of Jesus.  He quotes his friend Helmut, who says, “Christians in America…forget that it is not what you think or how much power you have or how you vote that changes the world.  It’s your hands that do the changing.”

To me, these seem to be words we need to hear more often.  Our culture tells us power accomplishes things.  The church believes it has a great amount of political clout, and yet it seems to have advanced very little progress in the political arena.  Maybe it’s time to rethink this, and I think Jonathan Merritt’s book is a great way to start.

4.5/5 stars

I received this book free from Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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