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Politics? Yes, It’s “Spiritual” Too


Extreme pietism might sound heavenly-minded, but in truth, it’s a form of spiritual impotence — especially at a time when pagan barbarians are metaphorically ransacking our society.

Join me in this thought experiment: Imagine there’s a notorious politician in Charlotte, North Carolina, championing every left-wing cause you can think of — from taxpayer-funded abortion to gender ideology in classrooms, all the way to pushing for the so-called Equality Act, which threatens to criminalize Christian nonprofits and businesses that operate according to biblical convictions.

Next, imagine this politician hears the Good News, repents of his sins, and embraces Christ’s gift of salvation. What’s more, as a new believer, he finds a local church and gets baptized publicly to signify his transformation. A cause for celebration, right?

Shortly thereafter, however, he starts wrestling with how his “born again” nature should influence his professional life, especially the policies he endorses. Sure, his soul is redeemed, but what about his mind? How should his faith reshape his worldview?

Thus, inspired by Francis Schaeffer’s age-old question, “How Should We Then Live?” he arranges a meeting with his pastor, seeking guidance on integrating his Christian journey into the arena of politics.

To his astonishment, the meeting ended almost as soon as it began. The pastor’s only advice was: “Politics isn’t spiritual. It’s of the world. Now, go love the Lord.”

Believe it or not, this scenario isn’t as fictional as it might seem if you frequent Central Church in the Charlotte region. A video of Senior Pastor Loran Livingston denouncing political engagement as a Christian responsibility has, as the kids say, gone viral on social media.

“Pastor Loran Livingston tore the church up with this one,” one person on X commented, while another user said, “Pastor Loran Livingston knows what’s up and as a Christian this spoke to me.” The clip has racked up hundreds of thousands of views and even received praise from far-left media outlets like MSNBC.

So, how did Pastor Livingston stir up such a storm and become a hit in progressive circles?

By suggesting that Christ’s lordship ends where the line of politics begins.

“Some of you bring politics into the church, thinking that politics is spiritual stuff. Politics is of this world,” Livingston emphatically declared. “You believe it’s your duty to be political about this, that, and the other. No, your duty is to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, body, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

He continued, “Don’t talk to me about my spiritual responsibility to vote. I don’t have a spiritual responsibility to vote; I have a civic privilege. Don’t tell me that voting is spiritual.”

Pastor Livingston proceeded to criticize the “God Bless the USA Bible” as “disgusting” and said that “the Gospel is not an American gospel,” although it’s unclear who is making such a claim — that the Gospel is only for Americans.

In any event, Livingston downplayed civic participation because “this world is not my home…We’ve been put here as strangers and pilgrims, and we are passing through…in a strange and foreign land. My real citizenship is in Heaven.”

Where do we start?

Sure, our ultimate citizenship is in Heaven, but does that mean we should renounce our earthly citizenship or dismiss it as insignificant, as the sermonizing hinted?

Absolutely not.

Take the Apostle Paul as an example. He consistently leveraged his Roman citizenship when faced with unjust treatment, demanding meetings with local magistrates or commanders (Acts 16:37, 22:25-29), and even appealed to Caesar himself (Acts 25:10) as a defense strategy against false accusations.

Paul didn’t just shrug and say, “Well, my citizenship is in heaven, so bring on the beatings!” Rather, he used the political tools at his disposal to address his persecution and establish churches throughout the Roman Empire.

This isn’t complicated.

Christians are essentially “dual citizens” — we belong to a holy nation, dedicated to God as His chosen people (1 Peter 2:9). Yet we are also citizens of the countries wherein we reside. It is our Kingdom citizenship (Philippians 3:20) that empowers us through the Holy Spirit to disciple entire people groups according to God’s Word. (Matthew 28:18-20). And when earthly laws conflict with heavenly decrees, we know whom to obey: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

To quote author Gary DeMar, “Christians are citizens of both heaven and earth because Jesus is Lord of both heaven and earth.”

What about politicking and elections, though? Can we dismiss them as “of the world” and not “spiritual” as Pastor Livingston does?


To frame the issue in that manner is to separate God from His creation. It implies that the Christian life isn’t about influencing our temporal reality, suggesting that true spirituality pertains only to one’s personal salvation.

This perspective creates a “sacred/secular” dichotomy, insinuating that there’s something inherently unspiritual about any activity beyond reading the Bible, praying, or evangelism.

Pastor Livingston further maintains that anyone in his congregation who views voting through a “spiritual” lens simply doesn’t read the Bible or pray.

Here, as on the topic of “citizenship,” the Apostle Paul would like to have a word.

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul teaches that everything we do, even mundane things like eating and drinking, should be done unto the Lord. This broad directive of what is considered “spiritual” encompasses basically everything and, moreover, offers a standard by which we can measure the integrity of our actions: Can we confidently say we are doing it for the glory of God?

For instance, can voting for a candidate who pledges to protect the sanctity of life be done unto the Lord? What about supporting a candidate who intends to double the number of Drag Queen Story Hours in libraries — can that be done unto the Lord, or nah? What about voting to repeal public discrimination laws that forcibly segregate people by skin color?

To categorically exclude politics from spiritual matters obscures the correct answers to these questions. Under Livingston’s interpretation, none of those questions holds much spiritual weight. Who cares, really, about the outcome? Go pray on a mountain and await Christ’s return!

This perspective is profoundly unbiblical.

As the late David Chilton articulated,

“To be Spiritual is to be guided and motivated by the Holy Spirit. It means obeying His commands as recorded in the Scriptures. The Spiritual man is not someone who floats in midair and hears eerie voices. The Spiritual man is the man who does what the Bible says (Romans 8:4-8). This means, therefore, that we are supposed to get involved in life. God wants us to apply Christian standards everywhere, in every area. Spirituality does not mean retreat and withdrawal from life.”

Loran Livingston’s extreme pietism might sound heavenly-minded, but in truth, it’s a form of spiritual impotence — especially at a time when pagan barbarians are metaphorically ransacking our society.

Instead, church leaders should be fostering men and women in the pews who can discern the times and understand the role they can play in remedying the cultural rot in our midst.

If you like this article and other content that helps you apply a biblical worldview to today’s politics and culture, consider making a donation here.

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