Politics and Spirituality

Charles Kiser —  July 14, 2008 — 4 Comments

The Kiser family vacation was awesome. If you missed the story on vacation, see the previous post below.

This weekend in our house church gatherings we’re starting a new series of conversations centered on the intersection of politics and spirituality. The topic is particularly appropriate given the election year and the inevitable changes that are coming as a result.

This conversation on politics is a growth point for me. For years I have not cared much about politics. I’m turned off by partisan bickering. I’ve always been quite confused as to what part I should play given that my primary citizenship is in the kingdom of God.

To tell you the truth, American politics has had very little to do with my personal spiritual formation. I didn’t grow up listening to many sermons on the matter. If anything, the underlying rhetoric at (some) churches and schools I attended was that if you were a Christian, you were also a Republican.

I’m no longer comfortable with such rhetoric.

The purpose of our conversations is to help us to think reflectively and critically about what it might look like for us to participate (or not) in the political process as followers of Jesus. I really have no idea where we’ll come out. I doubt that our conversation will end up in support of one particular party or another (because both miss the mark), but rather with a new orientation toward how Christians might relate to the system as a whole.

Part of my interest in this subject is fueled by the recent realization that politics is a religion of sorts for many of my non-Christian friends in Dallas.

At a recent World Affairs Council event, I talked with one guy who had worked with a senator in Washington, D.C. for several years and is currently working for a congressman in Arlington.

When I asked him why he got into politics he said, “Because I’m excited about the way politics can change the way things are.”

His answer is strikingly similar to the reason I got into ministry and church starting — I want to help change the world, too.

Here are a few of the books I’ll be reading throughout the course of our conversations in the next several weeks:

  • Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises and a Revolution of Hope, Brian McLaren (2007)
  • God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, Jim Wallis (2005)
  • Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals, Shane Claiborne [2008]
  • The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder (2d ed., 1994)

What books have you read that have been helpful to you on this subject? How have you learned to integrate faith and politics? Please chime in.

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

4 responses to Politics and Spirituality


    David Lipscomb, Civil Government


    The ones you mentioned are all good ones to check out.

    Lee Camp’s “Mere Christianity” is another one that touches on the church-state issue (Camp basically modernizes Yoder’s work in MC).

    In terms of books that establish the political nature of Jesus, Brian McLaren’s “The Secret Message of Jesus” is good. JFP does similar work.

    Charles, please report back here on how the discussions go. In the meantime, we’re having a quite lively and interesting discussion about Christians & politics over at HarvestBoston.


    Jim Wallis is great! I also found a LOT to wrestle with reading through The Left Hand of God by Michael Lerner and Prophetic Fragments by Cornel West.


    The Wallis book and Claborne book are two that I’ve read. Both were tough reads in terms of swallowing what they were saying, but I loved every moment of it.

    Love YOU man.

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