Maybe you can’t be an Evangelical and a Liberal?
I am a bit confused by Tim Farron.
I am a proud socialist. My politics comes out of my theology, I’m a socialist because of what I read of Jesus not in spite of it. Honestly I have never known how my Conservative friends, of which I have many, sit through church services praying about the poor, give to the needy, hearing about rich people/camels and needles etc. and then go from that into a polling booth and vote the way they do.
But Tim Farron has me confused because I can perfectly see how he can go from one to the other, or indeed combine the both as he has done so well.
He had success as a political leader, witty performances on the leaders debates won him accolades, although not many political leaders kept saying ‘I agree with Tim’ like they did with his predecessor. Lib Dem MP numbers up and the Party membership growing. Yes he faced tough questions about his own stance on various moral issues. Yes there were annoyances within the Party about his personal views on issues. They happen in every political party.
As a good evangelical, I think Tim would have won more respect had he said what we all knew anyway, that he does think Same-Sex sexual relations are sin. Then robustly affirmed his commitment to free will. That would however have been political suicide had he done that, but political suicide seems to have happened anyway for him.
I have often made jokes about Liberal Democrats being that ‘lukewarm’ type of person that the book of Revelation describes as ‘God spitting them out of his mouth.’ Neither left nor right, neither here nor there, just comfortably in the middle. Of course, this is a joke. Promise.
I would describe myself as an affirming Baptist (you could say Christian – but we know Christians love a good label). I agree with the tenets of evangelical Christianity: regard for the Scriptures, personal salvation, focus on the work of Christ and active faith sharing. None of these, as far as I can see, go against liberal values – unless you interpret them in a certain way. Christianity in this vein can lead to it becoming a moral guidebook rather than a world-transforming love movement kicked off by the one who is Love.
Personally, I am far more interested in how you vote than what you think. I am far more interested in a Prime Minister who openly states her Christian Faith and then goes and votes that houses don’t ‘need to be fit for human habitation’ or votes through cuts to disability benefits that lead to the suicide of hundreds of people. Rather than an evangelical who may think some acts are sin but that the commitment to free will far outweighs that view.
Part of my/our Baptist heritage is a commitment to the freedom of religion. All people should be able to worship their god or not worship at all, without hindrance because, as the early Baptist’s put it; ‘Religion is betwixt God and man, not man and the King.’
I want to extend that to say as Baptists we need to defend freedom of choice. To debate well and disagree well. Our politics is broken because we have forgotten how to disagree well by still loving people even though you are poles apart.
How I wish Tim had said in his statement ‘I have found it hard to reconcile being a political leader and a faithful evangelical’…rather than a faithful Christian. Because Christians like me, who love Jesus and at the same time absolutely affirm LGBTI people have now another hurdle to jump, in trying to say ‘We read the scriptures differently, we affirm your humanity/sexuality/gender.’
It’s a hurdle I am willing to jump, but it’s one I wish wasn’t there.
For Tim, he must have done what he believed he should do, for that I respect him but my hope is that rather than shying away from beliefs we can robustly defend them and continue to love one another, for in doing so, they will know who’s disciples we are.