I believe the following comments on Tim Keller’s NYT op-ed on Christian politics, are warranted:
(1) Keller is right to point out that “[t]he historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments”. Consider issues relating to human life. Genesis 1:28 reveals that fertility within marriage is a divine command. Many natural lawyers of the early modern era stated that mankind “has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession . . .
“Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.”
John Finnis has shown in many places that the unborn has a right to life. Now, when a major American political party promotes late-term abortion, can we say that the political position of a Christian on this issue is not a matter “of biblical command but of practical wisdom”? (See the lengthy quote above in regards to the examples Keller does mention in his article.)
(2) Keller is right that “there are many possible ways to help the poor”. However, it is not clear what he means when he writes ‘[t]he Bible does not give exact answers to these questions for every time, place and culture”. Keller’s example of the Misssisssipian reminds me of a quote from the late Francis Schaeffer, in which Schaeffer ended a question on a political matter with something to the tune of “However, I can see how someone might be a Democrat and a faithful Christian”.
Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore. A good man was recently accused of being a serial rapist on charges which a member of the US Senate’s investigative council found to be worse than the usual “he said, she said” case. Republican representatives demanded that the claims of the accuser be corroborated; Democrat representatives did not. Who do you think is bound by the dictates of justice.
I agree with Keller that “Christians should be involved politically as a way of loving our neighbors” and that we can turn to the Bible for “the resources to love people who reject both our beliefs and us personally”. However, I worry Keller is implicitly allowing Christians to idolize the god that failed.