From the pulpit to politics
Categories: Shuzia Magazine,
By Akande Oluwatobiloba
One of the key mistakes Christians make is to think that the politicians hold the key and power to national transformation. Going through the history of the Christian faith and some Western countries such as America, the United Kingdom, Scotland, France, etc., it is clear that the national transformations and developments experienced in these respective countries were indeed influenced by the involvement of respectable men of God and religious leaders such as John Newton, William and Catherine Booth, John Wycliffe, and many others.
John Wycliffe, a respected Theologian, reputed as one of Oxford's brightest Scholar of his contemporary society in 1374 was actively involved in political issues and discussions between the then English government (constituting the monarchy and parliament) and the Roman Catholic Church, who hitherto had been involved in the civil and political matters of the European world. Being consulted by the English monarchy to intervene and help the Crown engage the representatives of the Papacy in England, the role Wycliffe helped the English government to understand the boundary of the church in civil and political affairs and later laid the foundation for the breakaway of the Crown from the influence of the Catholic Papacy.
John Newton, the man who composed the hymn Amazing Grace held a powerful influence on a former member of the English Parliament, William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was instrumental in influencing prominent politicians of the parliament and other respected members of the society to stand against the slave trade of the then world. Their active engagement in the discourse of the trade at the parliament led to its eventual abolition with the establishment of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.
William and Catherine Booth’s social and religious movement, The Salvation Army, championed many socio-political activities and campaigns that led to the reformation of many laws of England in the House of Commons and Lords.
This shows the powerful impact religious leaders can make in political discourse when they take active participation in it; seeing themselves not just as men of the pulpit but also as agents of societal transformation. Through their influence as respected men of God in the society, they play a key role in influencing the mind of their congregation on political matters of their society towards an end which in effect leads to the establishment of laws and creation of social policies that promote justice, freedom and positive development in the society.
Furthermore, as reputable thought leaders, religious leaders can influence their congregation to get involved in political matters of national interest and be more politically responsible. This can influence congregants to challenge the corrupt practices and actions of political officeholders.
A case study is the famous Orange Revolution movement in Ukraine in the year 2004, where Apostle Sunday Adelaja, his congregation, and the respective denominations of the Ukrainian Church played an active role in ensuring non-violent resistance to the corrupted electoral process and its outcome. They provided shelter to thousands who came to the Independence Square at Kyiv for the protest. The result of this gave birth to the true democratization of the country; breaking free from the old communist and corrupted democratic regime.
In the Bible, Ezra the Jewish Scribe was mandated by King Artaxerxes in Ezra 7:25 to: “…after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.” This is in agreement with the final instructions Jesus gave to the Apostles in Matthew 28:19 “to teach all nations…”
The role of church ministers is not just to bring men to Church and make them loyal members of their denominations; they are to teach the nations of the earth what leadership in Jesus’ perspective is to shape the discourse towards producing godly political leaders. This would ensure Christian principles are being applied to the creation of laws that bring positive developments to all members of the society.
Conclusively, Christians need to understand that they hold in their hands the key to national development and their religious leaders need to take active participation in political discourse, preaching visionary leadership as exemplified by Christ Jesus; to objectively influence a Nation’s political ministry towards an end that glorifies Christ and brings about real national transformation.
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