A Real 'Values' Agenda

As we enter the 2008 election year, it’s time to start talking about Christian faithfulness and responsibility when it comes to exercising our voting rights. As Christians who seek to both live and vote by our values, we should all remind ourselves of what those values are and how they should affect our political engagement.

In October, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and I held a dialogue at a summit focused on the “values” for values voters, a gathering put on by an arm of the Family Research Council. In that dialogue, we found areas of real agreement and also healthy disagreement—and that is good. And there were lessons for all Christians that we discussed.

We agreed that the issue is not whether faith should help to shape our public life, but how.

I said I believed that Christians across the political spectrum might have more common concerns than people think—and potential common ground—on some critical issues. There are principles and policy directions that could bridge and even transcend our bitter partisan divides and move us forward.

First, there are biblical principles of the kingdom of God on which we can agree. Our faith-inspired vision of a “beloved community” should ground all of our efforts to transform our society.

Second, there are prudential judgments on policies where there is room for disagreement and deeper dialogue.

Third, we must make sure our faith trumps ideology.

For me, I told the FRC, that often means making sure that my faith challenges the Left. I suggested they probably don’t have that problem! But I encouraged them to make sure that their faith challenges the Right.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2008
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