Political Involvement (Mennonite Brethren Church, 1978)
Political Involvement (MB, 1978)
The Christian church has been given a mandate to bring Christian concerns to bear in all situations; we have been instructed to bring the Gospel to "all the world" (Mark 16:15) and that directive allows for no exceptions in terms of either geography or society. No people or structures escape God' s concern or judgment. For faithful Christians an acknowledgement of this mandate probably requires cautious, selective involvement in the political realm. In contemporary North America this means that we accept the opportunities and challenges we face, realizing that opportunity plus ability creates accountability, but we also remember that for the Christian the church is always primary and the state, at best, secondary.
The Biblical commandment that we pray for those in positions of political authority implies that we should become informed about the political situation in which we find ourselves. That is the very least that is required of us. But most Christians believe that simply being informed is not enough. They believe that Christians should also vote, thereby both expressing a concern about what happens and seeking to influence the outcome. We agree with the view that in most situations voting can be seen as an expression of responsible Christian citizenship.
While realizing that there are differences of opinion on the matter, we also believe that in general it is proper to communicate our individual and collective views to government officials. Informed Christian citizens contribute in a positive way when they express support, concern, or insight as the occasion warrants. However, in any advocacy both ends and means must always be consistent with Christian standards.
Concerning standing for elective office we realize that the arguments are not all on one side and that here, again, there are important differences of opinion on the matter. We also realize that there is no "one to one" correlation between Anabaptist Christianity and any political creed or ideology. Accordingly, we suggest that local, non-partisan levels of office-holding may present important opportunities for service but that the situation becomes more complicated and difficult where party ideologies and party loyalties are important. Members of the brotherhood who contemplate campaigning for political offices should be aware of the probable tensions and difficulties involved and should discuss their situation with fellow Christians before making commitments.
To those of our number who, nonetheless, do feel called to political service we say: "Be salt and light; promote human dignity and decency, and do not compromise on essentials. Additionally, always retain a stance of Christian criticality and avoid slipping into a conscience-easing 'chaplaincy' role of rationalizing whatever any party or government undertakes. Also, since the masses of Christians hold various political views, be doubly careful not to create bad publicity for God's church."
In general we affirm the belief that the church, not the state or government, is God's primary medium of communication, vehicle of action, and bearer of the meaning of history. Whether in politics or in any other pursuit, we seek to serve in those situations and offices which enable us to practice Christian servanthood and do well to shun those in which our Christian servanthood and discipleship is compromised or weakened
Yearbook, 54th session, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, August 3-6, 1978. Winnipeg? : Kindred Press?, 1978: 6-8.