by H. David Baer
In an essay written perhaps in the 1960’s, the German Lutheran theologian Helmut Thielicke considers the possibility of a Christian political party. While not ruling the idea completely, he clearly has some reservations. By its nature, a political party must compromise and make strategic decisions that are far removed from Christian teaching. And many of the things a political party takes a position on have no clear cut Christian answer.
Thielicke concludes that Christian political action should focus on specific issues, issues on which there is a Christian position. One cannot say this or that political party is Christian, but one can say, for example, that this is the Christian position on abortion, euthanasia, marriage, and so on. There may be Christian positions on specific political questions, but a political party with a comprehensive Christian platform is not really possible.
There might, of course, be rare exceptions in especially extreme circumstances. This was the argument made about Hitler in the German confessing church movement. Karl Barth made the argument famously, claiming, essentially, that to oppose Hitler was a status confessionis (to use Lutheran terminology).
As far as the political situation in Hungary is concerned, one would be hard pressed to claim things have reached that point. The only political event in Hungary that crossed the line theologically was Prime minister Orbán’s speech about the “bird from Turul,” delivered in the town of Ópusztaszer. If this sort of Hungarian paganism were to become an integral part of Fidesz politics, or the politics of another political party or government in Hungary, then Christians would have a duty to oppose such political paganism. But the “speech at Ópusztaszer” was one crazy speech, and it would be rash to generalize from it at this point.
David Baer writes more about the Lutheran perspective on politics in the first issue of Principium.