Acton Institute Powerblog

How religious right, left can work together

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The Detroit News included a statement from me, along with two of their Faith and Policy columnists, reacting to a Washington Post story by Alan Cooperman about cooperation between religious leaders from the political left and right. Here’s my bit:

The Washington Post’s article about the prospects for rapprochement between religious conservatives and liberals gets to the heart of the “cold war” that has existed between these groups for so long. The historic intractability of both sides has led to gridlock, polemic and communication breakdown.

On any number of issues, partisan politicking and loyalty has trumped theological and ecclesiastical unity. And with the increasing politicization of churches, oftentimes prudential policy issues become a new “shibboleth.” Demonization of the religious opposition obscures the agreement of intent that often exists, overemphasizing the discord over how that good intention is to be actualized.

What both sides need to realize is that the political process inherently involves dialogue, debate, give-and-take and compromise. A religious perspective that views the perfect society only as an end-time reality ought to understand and embrace this. For conservatives and liberals, this means recognizing that in politics the perfect is the enemy of the good.

The common ground between religious liberals and conservatives is just that: religion. Religious and theological commitments must remain more important than politics if there is to ever be a measure of accord. This will also ensure religious dialogue in the public square is authentic, prophetic and relevant.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, where he also serves as executive editor the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has authored articles in academic publications such as The Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, and Journal of Scholarly Publishing, and has written popular pieces for newspapers including the Detroit News, Orange County Register, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 2006, Jordan was profiled in the book, The Relevant Nation: 50 Activists, Artists And Innovators Who Are Changing The World Through Faith. Jordan's scholarly interests include Reformation studies, church-state relations, theological anthropology, social ethics, theology and economics, and research methodology. Jordan is a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and he resides in Jenison, Michigan with his wife and three children.

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