C.S Lewis on Politics and His Ministry

We are in the middle of a political season, and I already feel sick to my stomach.

When I went to the polls to vote in the primary a few weeks ago, I was so disappointed with the choices I was given I jokingly told my wife I felt disenfranchised. In reality, I was just sick of politics, I didn’t like being drawn into it, even for the ostensibly virtuous act of voting.

The current rancor though in politics is nothing new. I recently read biographies on Cato and Cicero and was shocked at how vitriolic the political debate of first century B.C. Roman politics had been. Personal attacks on one’s political opponent and the demonizing of an opponent’s policies was all par for the course.

When I recently read Aristotle’s Rhetoric, I should not have been surprised to find he advocated ad hominem arguments in politics; apparently, anything to win was justified when it came to political argument.

What disappoints me is that we are nearly two thousand years into the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth, and the rancor and demonization of one’s opponents so popular amongst pagan Romans seems to be alive and well amongst Christian Americans.

I can only conclude that too many Evangelicals believe political power is more important than the gospel and that their ideology is more important than their influence with non-Christians. Amidst my frustration with all of this, I offer the following from the life of C.S. Lewis.

The popularity and importance of C.S. Lewis’s radio talks about Christianity over the British airwaves during the darkest days of WWII caught the attention of Winston Churchill. As a result, Churchill wanted to convey the Order of the Companions of Honour award to Lewis.

Lewis was an admirer of Churchill and was honored to have been offered the award. However, Lewis decided to decline because he didn’t want perceived alignment with the conservative party to limit his audience for the gospel. Lewis’s decision is even more remarkable when one realizes Lewis was not a minister but a writer.

The wisdom in Lewis’s choice is fully supported by the example of Jesus. The religious leaders asked Jesus to declare politically by answering a question about whether Jews should pay taxes to the Roman Empire. A direct answer on such a volatile political issue stood the risk of alienating the very people Jesus was trying to reach, which was what the religious leaders wanted.

Jesus didn’t take the bait. Instead, He answered by declaring the importance of God’s call on a man’s soul over a government’s call on a man’s wallet. In short, Jesus answered by making a man’s politics subordinate to a man’s relationship with God. We should all take note. GS

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