Why not Greg Boyd?

BrianKim forwarded me this article from the NYT this morning. In short, it talks about Greg Boyd's sermon series from the last presidential election...
"...in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns."
Boyd goes on to describe being at an evangelical 4th of July observation where he sees an image of fighter jets in conjuction with the cross. He talks about his conviction that Christians should not pursue 'power over' by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars, but they should pursue 'power under' by winning peoples hearts.

While I, too, have winced at the association of Christianity and might-makes-right (the fighter jets/cross graphic would have been a perfect opportunity to sneak out and peel the fish off the bumper), I think Boyd reacts to a genuine conviction by throwing the baby out with the bathwater, distancing himself from any sort of hot button issue in an attempt to position himself as a kinder, gentler breed of Evangelical.

"More rational than your father's evangelicalism by not taking a position on anyting!"

The article goes on...
He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.

“Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”

Uh, Jesus never addressed sex? What about purity? Did Jesus need to draw a chart? Perhaps Jesus never said anything about Janet Jackson's wardrobe misfunction, but certainly he addressed self worth. Surely you've found the passages in the New Testament that speak of modesty. There are also a few in there about lust.

The article describes a Q&A time in which one of his parishoners asks a great question:

“So why NOT us? If we contain the wisdom and grace and love and creativity of Jesus, why shouldn’t we be the ones involved in politics and setting laws?”
That is the million dollar question, kids. Why not us? I'm not advocating preaching a political party or even propagandic voter guides, but neither am I ready to preach a gospel of "lay down and take it." One of the genuine critiques of the civil rights moment was that most of the church was silent. Thirty years before that, the Greg Boyds of Germany preached a gospel of power under while the Nazi's exerted power over.

"Please be seated, Reverend Bonhoeffer. Der Furer is about to speak."

Here's the kicker for me..he responds:

I don’t think there’s a particular angle we have on society that others lack. All good, decent people want good and order and justice. Just don’t slap the label ‘Christian’ on it.”

Greg, if you don't think Christ living within you gives you a particular angle on society, what are you doing every Sunday morning? Why would you stand and preach "I have no particular angle."

The very essence of preaching is to declare a reality that is counter to the spirit of the age. What Boyd seems to be advocating is to stand on the street corner holding a blank sign because we have nothing to say.


Alaska1 said...

So very good! I just listened to a sermon by Jason Upton from his trip to Alaska this past May in which he touched on the same stuff.

He tlaked about all the Regent University graduates that had the idea years ago to ascend the ranks of power positions throughout society to pull a "Pinky and the Brain" I guess. Sad fact is though, is that in reality, now that the positions have been attained, they are not standing firm in Christ. Instead, they are caving to lobbyists, capitalism and pride.

sean said...

Thank you for being real. Thank you for wielding an un-religious sword of love and truth.

Ronni said...

I personally think Jesus would do his part... vote... and spend his time at the neighborhood biker bar getting to know the people and healing them... speaking to them... loving them... and allowing God the Father to orchestrate what He needed done.

It drives my husband batty anymore that he will sit and watch fox news and go "what about this?" and I look at him and go, "well what about it? Did anyone get saved? Delivered? Where was Christ in all of this?"

Batty I tell you. The people, the individuals and their relationships are what matters in this kingdom. This kingdom is not dependent on what president or secretary of state we have.

We already have a KING!

Nathan said...

Randy - a good take on this. Took the liberty of linking to my blog. Keep it up & liked the revised homepage!

Nathan said...

Randy - a good take on this. Took the liberty of linking to my blog. Keep it up & liked the revised homepage!

eric wright said...


Do you think the NYT would give the WHOLE story? Dr. Boyd preached these sermons in April of 2004. You can find them on the church website and archive. It might be a good idea to respond to what Dr. Boyd ACTUALLY said and not what the NYT quotes him as saying. The first message is "Taking America Back for God" http://www.whchurch.org/content/page_274.htm in case you are interested.

Randy Bohlender said...

Eric - Thanks for the link. I'm downloading the audio right now. Because I am interested. I'll respond accordingly. And I'm sure everyone will hold their breath until then. Or not.

Anonymous said...

I attend Boyd's church. I'm glad that you'll be listening to the series. You'll hear Greg does address issues on abortion, homosexuality and voting! He just doesn't politisize them!