A couple of months back we commented on the simplistic short term theological focuses that dominated New Zealand churches. Since writing this we have had more opportunity to reflect upon where we believe Christians should be most focused in the political spectrum in New Zealand. It’s relevant to have a look at where parties focused on Christian beliefs have previously aligned themselves in the past. Within the last 30 years there have been a number of such parties in NZ. Some have been or are focused towards the right wing such as Christian Heritage and Conservatives / New Conservatives. However the political alignment of Destiny and the Family Party isn’t completely clear, whilst Christian Democrats, Future New Zealand and United Future have been more into the centre. The fact that there are parties that are aligned to the right wing is due in part to the significant influence of the Christian Right in the United States.
However, we believe that the most appropriate alignment for Christians is towards the centre of politics which is the most inclusive of a wider range of moderate political viewpoints. This also corresponds to a wider range of moderate theological viewpoints. So in general, theological and political alignment for Christians, or perhaps for any group, tend to run in parallel. Therefore, when we look more closely at those who in the Church are espousing a narrow sectarian political viewpoint, it is apparent that they also tend to have the same approach to theological matters. In a nutshell, this tends to be a narrow black-and-white type of view on many issues in day to day life that also extends to the spiritual outlook.
In general it is common to find that these types of people tend to support very simplistic theologies such as dispensationalism (which is widely shunned by the majority of theological communities worldwide) and dominionism. They also tend to be key supporters of the American Christian Right and therefore they are generally supporters of Republican presidents in the US. We also find that there are a number of sites on the Internet that attack various churches and ministries on very narrow theological differences. A considerable proportion of sites such as these are also aligned to dispensational or dominionist viewpoints and appear to assert that these viewpoints are the only valid ones. We consider that adopting these very narrow theological viewpoints and attacking other evangelical churches for having different perspectives is definitely proscribed in various places in the New Testament, such as in Romans 14 and 16. It is of concern also that ministries of this type are established and operational in New Zealand.
A whole lot of the controversy is naturally aligned with the tie-up between the Christian Right and the Republican Party in the US and the unwavering support for the current US president. This is neatly illustrated by the controversial editorial published in a leading Christian magazine in the US in mid-December calling for the US President to be removed as being unfit from office. There was a very hostile response to this article from a number of ministries and individuals and numerous misleading claims were made implying that the magazine was publishing an anti-Christian viewpoint and receiving funding from similar sources. It would seem obvious that the quest for political power by those associated with the Right wing of politics who are also Christians is so overwhelming that they have made many questionable statements supporting the US President and attacking anyone who criticises the basis of church and ministry support for him.
We can also see many of these narrow and questionable theological perspectives being expressed on Christian media networks such as TBN. The overwhelming theological viewpoint being expressed there is in favour of the dispensationalist-dominionist theme which is a very American viewpoint of the church and the world. However it is not widely supported elsewhere and that is a key issue that these churches and ministries need to acknowledge. For these reasons we ourselves support only US churches that are not tied into the Republican Party or these particular types of theologies, but instead are focused on working with people who are all the way across the political spectrum. As we have seen, there are ministries that are tied to narrow theological perspectives whose role is to attack people with different views of theology than what they hold. Christian believers need to take a broader view of the world,. theology and politics in order to be most useful to achieving the purposes of the Gospel, which clearly transcend these differences.