This week I attended the annual Jonathan Edwards Institute conference in Annapolis. One of the speakers was Ron Sider, author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience and Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. In one of his sessions, Dr. Sider addressed the question of how Christians can best interact with things political. He suggested the need to develop an "evangelical approach" to politics, which for him, consisted of four elements. (The following are my attempts at summarizing his thoughts, not his actual words.)
1) Put together a "normative framework" based upon biblical paradigms to guide thinking. For him, such a framework would include as basic: the Sanctity of Life; Freedom of Religious Thought; Necessity of Strong Families; Justice--fair courts and fair economic systems; Necessity of Work; Peacemaking; and Importance of both Individuality and Community.
2) Conduct a broad study of the world's systems and peoples in order to understand it's economy, environment and interactions.
3) Develop a guiding political philosophy in that it is impossible to formulate an immediate novel response to every new issue or candidate for office.
4) Perform a detailed social analysis of cardinal issues.
He noted the complexity of each component, but believed an attempt to be necessary if evangelicals are to influence the political realm for gospel purposes.