A Christian Political Party?

flat-lay photograph of black coffee pot and cup

Should we have a Christian political party? Believe it or not, C.S. Lewis wrote an essay devoted to that question by the title “Meditation on the Third Commandment.” You can read it in its entirety here.

I had a student give a presentation on this essay earlier this week and was reminded of how timeless C.S. Lewis continues to be. The principled person is timeless, because the principles are timeless. There is nothing more relevant than eternal truth and nothing less relevant than contemporary deception. I digress.

Lewis asks the question if we should hope for a Christian political party. He states that such a party could only rightfully claim to represent a part of Christianity, those Christians who agree with them on each point. Thus, calling such a party Christian would not be entirely accurate. Lewis writes:

 Why should it? Whatever it calls itself, it will represent, not Christendom, but a part of Christendom. The principle which divides it from its brethren and unites it to its political allies will not be theological. It will have no authority to speak for Christianity; it will have no more power than the political skill of its members gives it to control the behaviour of its unbelieving allies. But there will be a real, and most disastrous novelty. It will be not simply a part of Christendom, but a part claiming to be the whole. By the mere act of calling itself the Christian Party it implicitly accuses all Christians who do not join it of apostasy and betrayal.  

I found the essay helpful in that it was written in another time and place and not in response to the current political debates of our day. We need to be reminded that the Christian’s point of orbit isn’t the public square, but the local church. God’s kingdom isn’t to be established by human force, or political consensus, but through the power of the gospel. While we all have civic duties, we must remind ourselves that our citizenship is ultimately elsewhere.