Compasssion & Conviction is written by the AND Campaign, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to educate and organize Christians for civic and cultural engagement.” Their name derives from their belief that Christians too often fall prey to false dichotomies that our culture and political environment present to us. The authors argue that as Christians, we are often called to embrace both sides of these false dichotomies.
America’s current political system separates love from truth, compassion from conviction, and social justice from moral order as if they’re somehow at odds with one another. … Those on the right side of the political spectrum say they stand for individual freedom, patriotism, and moral order; the left, on the other hand, claims to stand for justice, equality, and inclusion. … Many Christians are conflicted because they believe in freedom, moral order, justice, equality, and inclusion. We want to protect the unborn and treat the poor and racial minorities with love and compassion.One of the main themes of the book is that a Christian’s primary purpose in life must be to profess the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations, and that politics must play a subordinate role.
For Christians, there may well be practical reasons to affiliate with a political party or a tribe, but we run into trouble when we allow that entity to have undue influence on our values and opinions. Some Christians are more willing to defend their ideological tribe than the Christian faith. It’s imperative that Christians are deliberate about avoiding partisan and ideological indoctrination. We also compromise our faith when we look to political tribes for validation simply because we want to belong. Our partisan and ideological affiliations should never become religious in nature.Much of what the authors emphasize is simply good common sense—which unfortunately is all too often lacking in the political sphere nowadays. For example, in Chapter 5, they give an example where simply doing their homework paid off handsomely.
In the early stages of creating what would become the AND Campaign,
we sought opportunities to engage the political arena in clever ways.
In June of 2014, the US Supreme Court ruled on the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
case, which focused on whether or not closely held corporations could be forced
to pay for certain types of contraception that some consider to be the
equivalent of abortion. Based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
the court ruled that Hobby Lobby and similar corporations could not be
forced to do so. Many progressives argued that women’s health had
been disregarded and that as a result of this decision women all over the
country would be left without contraception.
A few days later the Young Democrats of America hosted a forum to discuss this subject. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to speak into the public square with love and truth. Justin Giboney and a few other attorneys reviewed the decision and legal expert commentaries and created a summary in layman’s terms for the rest of the AND Campaign team. The team studied the summary and went to the forum prepared for the discussion. The panel included people from Planned Parenthood and other far-left groups, and as we suspected, there was a lot of emotion and conjecture, though no one on the panel seemed to have read the actual legal opinion. After allowing the panelists to have their say, our team began to ask questions and break down the true implications of the ruling for the audience. We even quoted some progressive legal scholars who predicted that the effect of the ruling wouldn’t be as drastic as many of their peers suggested. By the end of the forum more people were directing their questions toward us than the actual panel. A local judge in the audience emailed us the next day, saying that she was impressed by our knowledge of the subject matter and that she had learned more about the case from us. We made a lasting impression on behalf of the body of Christ in what could have been a hostile environment.
The colorblind ideology that says “I don’t see race”
should not be embraced by Christians. When we choose to look past race,
we also choose to avert our eyes from the many ways that even well-meaning
people and institutions engage in practices that reproduce and reinforce
negative outcomes such as segregation, disadvantages for minorities in
the job market, and the portrayal of whiteness as superior in public
communications and entertainment. The simple fact is that if we can’t
see and discuss the issue of race, we cannot solve the problems that racism
causes. When we see that black American preschoolers are 3.6 times more
likely to be suspended from school than their white counterparts, colorblindness
asks us to search for some rational explanation other than racial discrimination.
Colorblind ideology can cause a form of denial in which we’re unwilling
to acknowledge race as the root cause of tough issues because we don’t
want to admit that we still have work to do. We have to come to terms with
America’s race issue by honestly examining ourselves and our
But the greater danger in the colorblind ideology is that it misses the heart of God where race is concerned. Even in John’s vision of the redeemed in heaven, he was able to perceive racial and cultural distinctions (Revelation 7:9–10). Race is not just the color of our skin—as 1 John 3:2 says, we do not yet know what we will be—but according to John, whatever we will be, we will still bear these glorious distinctions. Jesus Christ has opened a way for believers to bring all of our brokenness—even our racial brokenness—before the throne of God and there find help (Hebrews 4:16). We must confront racism in a way that keeps racial diversity intact. In Christ, racial diversity can be redeemed.