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ERLC releases guide for political engagement

NASHVILLE (BP) – The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has released a political engagement guide titled “The Nations Belong To God: A Christian Guide For Political Engagement.” The resource is meant to coincide with this year’s presidential election.

The guide is written by Andrew Walker, assistant professor of ethics and apologetics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and fellow at the ERLC Research Institute. It addresses 40 different questions covering political topics such as Christian involvement in government, the relationship between church and government, voting, morality and justice.

ERLC President Brent Leatherwood said the resource is meant to serve as a basic introduction to political engagement during an increasingly turbulent time.

“The resource before you, patterned off the ancient model of a catechism, is a starting point for Christians thinking about how to engage the political processes around them,” Leatherwood wrote in the guide’s forward.

“It is not the end of doctrine or teaching on any of these subjects, but a place to begin, a call to consider anew what it means for us to declare ‘Jesus is Lord.’ Though this political catechism was written to help Christians facing an election year, and in a time when there is a growing sense of fear, polarization, vitriol, and apathy about the current landscape of politics, it is also a guide to how life should be lived every other day besides a Tuesday in November every four years. Our political participation should not be boiled down to a vote cast on one day, important as that vote may be.

“My hope is that this document would cause us to step back and consider, like those new believers being introduced to all that is contained in the baptismal profession that Jesus is Lord and Savior, what our faith has to teach us about life in the public square.”

Miles Mullin, ERLC vice president and director of research, said the ERLC desires to “help Southern Baptists think biblically about political engagement in a way that neither elevates politics to a position of ultimate concern nor denigrates political engagement as unimportant.”

“It reminds us that although Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world, we can and should work for the good of our communities, states, and nation in a way that honors the Lord,” Mullin said in a press release.

“While the guide has been carefully crafted in an accessible question-and-answer format, author Andrew Walker does not shy away from challenging topics. He presents a thoroughly Baptist perspective regarding things like religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and ecclesiology.

“‘The Nations Belong to God’ will serve pastors and leaders this presidential election year, and continue to be an excellent guide to navigating the politics that often affect our daily lives the most–the politics of our local communities.”

Questions addressed include:

  • What is Politics?
  • What Should Motivate a Christian to Engage Politically?
  • What is Justice?
  • What is the Overall Goal of Christian Political Engagement?
  • What is the Proper Relationship Between Church and the Government?
  • What is the Relationship Between Love of Neighbor and Politics?
  • How Do We Misunderstand the Separation of Church and State?
  • Can We Legislate Morality?
  • Why is Religious Liberty an Important Principle for the Government to Uphold?
  • Do I Have an Obligation to Vote?
  • What Role Should the Local Church Play in Political Engagement?
  • What is the Christian’s True Aim and Home When it Comes to Politics and Political Engagement?

The guide’s endorsements include:

  • Katie McCoy, director of Women’s Ministry for the Baptist General Convention of Texas
  • Juan R. Sanchez, senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas
  • Paul Akin, professor and provost at Southern Seminary
  • Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer for the Kentucky Baptist Convention
  • Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church (Charlotte, N.C.,) and expected candidate for 2024 SBC President
  • Daniel Darling, director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Walker said making an impact in politics ultimately begins with recognize God’s ultimate authority.

“Politics is how we arrange ourselves in society for the sake of justice and mutual benefit,” Walker wrote in the guide’s introduction. “In this way, politics is very ordinary. It consists of the small, daily actions of citizens stewarding the parts of creation order that are meant to be honored: life, family, and engagement in society.

“Politics has real-life implications for the world we live in and the conditions of society that our neighbors encounter. If we are to love our neighbors, paying attention to and being involved in politics is just one way to do that.

“My goal in writing this resource was to move Christians to a place of strategic engagement. That begins, first and foremost, with understanding that the nations belong to God.”

The full guide can be viewed here.