John Piper, who pastored Bethlehem Baptist Church for over thirty years, talks about two groups within the church who feel tension with one another. One group is passionate about evangelism and global missions, while the other is passionate about social action such as ministries to the poor, recovering addicts, women with crisis pregnancies, or marginalized minorities. Piper loves both groups. He has tried to breathe oxygen on their fires. And he has attempted to bring them together by reminding them that Christians should care about relieving suffering—all of it—especially eternal suffering.
Fault Lines in Our Churches
Today many evangelical churches in America feel a similar tension in approaching politics. All Christians care about justice, but they differ—sometimes passionately—about how to identify injustice and how to right those wrongs. Some churches even feel they are at an impasse over such issues and that the result is quiet fractures.
We don’t want to overly complicate that political tension, nor do we want to cover it with a band-aid. We recommend a way forward in this article by answering three questions: (1) Why do Christians passionately disagree with one another over politics? (2) Why must Christians agree to disagree over jagged-line political issues? (3) How must Christians who disagree over jagged-line political issues agree to disagree?
Agreeing to Disagree
We have our own opinions on politics, but our goal in this article is not to convince you that our political judgments are right on issues such as immigration, tax policy, healthcare, welfare, global warming, gun control, or free speech. Nor is our goal to persuade you to vote for a particular political party. Our goal is to help Christians understand why, when, and how they must agree to disagree in political matters. Politics has a reputation for being divisive, dirty, disagreeable. Yet Christians (of all people!) should be able to both hold firm opinions about politics and discuss politics with one another generously—in a way that is kind, considerate, friendly, pleasant, humble, and respectful. Basically, in a way that prioritizes loving others.