Nov 16, 2009
Christians, especially evangelicals, should be concerned about Sarah Palin’s book that releases on November 17th. It’s not quite on par with the coming of the apocalypse or government-sponsored death panels, but I think we have real problem on our hands.
It doesn’t have to do with Sarah Palin the author.
I don’t begrudge Sarah Palin writing a best-selling book. Good for her. I hope it pays the college bills for her kids and helps her grandkid. I know I was really excited about the release of my book, and I’m sure Sarah Palin is too.
It doesn’t have to do with Sarah Palin the politician.
Folks who drink up politics will certainly find it an interesting read, and I have no issue with the book as a political work. Does Palin want to lambaste the McCain campaign staff? Go for it. Does she want to raise her profile before running for President in 2012? Huckabee may not be happy about that, but don’t worry about me.
Go for it Sarah. I have no qualms with that. It’s a free country made up of mavericky, real Americans who will love her book. Some don’t think she should run for public office, but I’m not going to debate that because I know as little about politics as she knows about the Sunnis and Shiites.
We should be concerned because Sarah Palin knows her only shot in an election is mobilizing the conservative evangelical base. If we think Christianity has been overly-politicized now, we should shudder at the thought of what Palin can do.
In addition, as Palin stakes her claim as a “Christian” politician, Christianity and evangelicals in particular will continue to be painted as right-wing political affinity groups. Lost in the mix is the Gospel, Jesus, and the Great Commission. Will those on the left, who need to hear the Gospel, believe that Jesus comes with a Palin 2012 bumper sticker?
Read Palin’s book. Campaign for her. Vote for her. That’s fine with me.
But we should be concerned that the effectiveness of the Gospel message will be blunted because it is being associated with the Republican party, and Palin may need to do that all the more to solidify her place. Christians may play right into this by holding her up as a model Christian, a standard bearer for evangelicals.
Let’s remember that some could hold up President Obama up as an ideal Christian as well. For those on the right, such a notion should help communicate the polarizing effect of upholding Palin as an evangelical leader.
A Suggested Way Forward
Whatever we think of Palin, Obama, and their Christian beliefs, let’s resolve to carefully select spokesmen and spokeswomen who aren’t politically polarizing and who are best known for their faithfulness to Jesus, the Messiah and Prince of Peace. We could pick those who have passed from this world or we could pick those still among us.
We could talk about Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wendell Berry, C. S. Lewis, Billy Graham, or any other model Christian who has a solid record of preaching the Gospel, serving others, and gracefully representing the cause of Christ. Christians cannot afford to let a politician represent us because politicians have to take sides. For those called to reach the whole world with the Gospel, that is a mistake we cannot afford to make.