And perhaps it’s time to rethink politics and the church, he says.
“We can’t compromise our principles,” he says. “However, when we divide along party lines, it robs the discussion and the debate. We need to interact with others in a way that will consistently reveal the heart of God to a desperately hurting world. The moral issues of our day transcend the political debate.”
Daly faces a radio interviewer
Christians often forget there’s a larger audience out there, he says. Just preaching to the faithful isn’t changing the world. “When we’re just talking to each other and patting each other on the back, we’re not making any progress. But if we engage those on the other side of the ideological spectrum to open up the discussion, to understand each other’s concerns more straight forwardly rather than in terms of caricature, that’s a helpful thing.”
He recalls an invitation he received to participate in a debate at a local college at the invitation of a religion and philosophy professor. He said he realized it was unwise to go into the debate “thinking in terms of score cards – of something I’ve got to win – that I’ve got to win the debate, I’ve got to win, I’ve got to triumph over this person’s ideology or position.
“What Jesus models and what the New Testament teaches is influence.”
He points to the early days of Christianity – the years of terrible persecution of Christians.
“Look at the early church,” says Daly. “The message then was convincing Rome that Christianity was a good thing, such as the way that Jesus elevated women, the way that the Christian community in the early first, second and third centuries developed hospitals and charities and orphanages.
“They did the things we call orthopraxy – the doing of the word. They did those things out of their love for Christ which benefited all. It was so shocking to the culture of that day. But it was Christians’ humanity that it caught their attention.”
The Romans found themselves asking, “Well, why do these Christians love the way they do? Why do they go and care for the downtrodden. Why do they reach out to the sick and contagious of Rome with no regard for their own well being? That puzzled the pagan Romans,” says Daly.
Should Christians just withdraw from the political arena?
“No, I don’t think that’s helpful to the culture,” he responds. “There are two camps – those who would withdraw from debate and instead plan
with types of compromise or some kind of understanding.
“Then there are those who believe it’s all or nothing.
From his Colorado Springs headquarters, Daly looks to the future
“I think the healthy place is right in the center. If we withdraw we’re doing ourselves and our culture a disservice.
“But there again is the difficult balance. How do you stay engaged, yet have emotional distance? The Word is very clear that this is temporal, this is man’s kingdom and that this will all be wrapped up in at some point in time.
“God’s kingdom is the eternal kingdom. Look at Jesus talking to Pontius Pilate or Paul talking to King Agrippa. There is such a calm peace and confidence in them. The attitude is ‘Before you kill me, can I pray for you? I know where I’m going after I die, but I don’t think you know where you’re going.’
“Today, we lack that because I think we’re putting an ordinate amount of trust in the political process. It will greatly disappoint us.
“We know that all fall short – we’re all sinners. I think that’s the biggest problem that our faith plays out in the political arena. We set up really a difficult paradigm – a self perception that we’re perfect and they’re not. That’s not true. We’re all broken people. That’s clear in scripture. We are all sinners saved by grace. Like Chuck Colson used to tell me, you don’t get angry at a blind man who steps on your foot.
“It’s true about spiritual blindness, such as the person who’s involved in the abortion industry. They believe they’re doing a good thing for humanity. They don’t see that from a Christian point view, they are taking human life.
“What compels me is to share the Gospel with people – even people who would disagree with me. I welcome the opportunity to open their eyes to the possibility that there is a God and that He cares for them. All I can tell you is what God has done in my life and what he has shown me – and what I have lived and what I read in the Scriptures. My enthusiasm is to share that with you.