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Christian Unity in a Politically Diverse Congregation: Why Both Sides Are Right

Baptism provides a theological framework for helping us gladly and charitably embrace each other as Christian brothers and sisters in the midst of our political diversity.

Introduction

In this two part series we are going to explore how our baptism can help us achieve Christian unity in light of our political diversity. And here, I’m thinking specifically of Calvary Memorial Church. Calvary is a politically diverse church (we have somewhere around a 50/50 split of Democrats and Republicans), and 2020 has been an especially politically fraught year. Everything has been politicized—from mask wearing, to the role of the police, to race.

I suspect that many of us just try to paper over our political differences. We know that Christian unity is important; and so in the spirit of Christian unity, we do our best to love those we disagree with. After all, Jesus calls us to love morally sinful people. And so in the same way that good Christians choose to graciously love fascists and communists and bank robbers and crooked lawyers, the Christian Democrats among us choose to love the Calvary folk who have committed the moral sin of voting Republican; and the Christian Republicans among us choose to love the Calvary people who have committed the moral sin of voting Democratic.

And I suppose that’s better than us hating each other.

But the gospel actually gives us more resources for living together in unity than merely tolerating each other’s political immorality. The goal of today’s sermon is to see how baptism provides a theological framework for helping us gladly and charitably embrace each other as Christian brothers and sisters in the midst of our political diversity.

Now I know that some of you are a bit scorched-earth when it comes to politics. For you, the other side is the embodiment of all things evil—of everything that is wrong with the world. And so you have no ...

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Gerald Hiestand is the co-founder and part-time director of the Center for Pastor Theologians. He also serves as the Senior Pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois. He is the author, with Todd Wilson, of The Pastor Theologian.

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