Why I’m writing about Russia, Ukraine and NATO

The primary purpose of Faithroots is to help people think Biblically because what we believe affects how we live. I write for a general audience but I also have two specific and related audiences in mind that I particularly want to help and encourage:

  • Those involved in urban church planting, mission and discipleship whether as church leaders or church members
  • Those who would appreciate some theological teaching and training but due to constraints such as time, money, prior qualifications etc are unable to access it.

Most articles therefore will be of a Christian/Gospel/Theological nature. However, sometimes I write opinion pieces that are not overtly Christian, that look at topical issues such as COVID, economics, politics and world affairs. Currently I’ve been writing about Russia and Ukraine. Some of the articles talk about how we as believers respond in prayer and some about how we respond Biblically (see articles on end time prophecies). However, some of them offer analysis and opinion on what is happening without any reference to Gospel, theology or Bible.

I wanted to explain here why I include these articles. There are two primary reasons. The first is that everything we do and say as believers happens in the context of the world that we live in and the situations we face. This means that when I provide Bible teaching, I do so against a backdrop. If you are involved in pastoring, planting or discipleship then you too are speaking into a context, not into a vacuum. For that reason, I think it is important to think through and understand the context. It’s also helpful to be open about our particular presuppositions on those things.

My presuppositions are that

  1. There isn’t a particular political ideology that is Christian and one that is anti-Christian. It is possible to be a Conservative or a socialist and a Christian. This also affects other matters. Your Christian faith is not affected by whether or not you think NATO should have expanded Eastward and whether or not you take a pacifist or more hawkish approach to conflict resolution.
  2. In terms of my own political/economic outlook, I lean towards free-market economics, low taxes and strong military defence policies. I believe the latter to be the best deterrent against war and the former to be the best way of tackling poverty. Others disagree with me but we share the same desire to tackle poverty and keep peace.
  3. I don’t think that the West, NATO, the US or UK are perfect. Far from it. So they have got things wrong in their approach to geo-politics that has contributed to where we are now. More than that, there is much about our culture that is idolatrous, sinful and cruel. Those things need to be challenged by God’s Word.
  4. However, I believe that primary blame in the current context lies with a tyrant who has bullied and abused his own people, who seeks to threaten and intimidate and who has unleashed bloodshed and potential genocide in a brutal, unprovoked invasion of a sovereign, independent, democratic nation.
  5. Therefore, I desire peace but also justice and that in my opinion means that I wish to see Putin’s plans thwarted. I know that it is God who is ultimately sovereign and that indeed Putin’s empire like all others will fail. However, preferably I’d like that to be sooner rather than later.

My hope when I write articles that articulate these types of opinions and analysis is that it helps you to see overtly any presuppositions I have when you read my more theological pieces. This will hopefully encourage you to think through your position on these things and may even lead to you challenging me and engaging when I offer theological/Biblical insight. We can stop and check whether or not my offering comes from the Bible or from my own political outlook.

The second reason for sharing these thoughts is that theologically I believe that there is a place for General Revelation and Common Grace encouraging us to think in terms of wisdom categories. We want to think wisely about our times. I’m not claiming any infallibility here but I hope that I can encourage debate and discussion leading to wiser thinking as iron sharpens iron.

Thirdly, we often learn by analogy. So, sometimes these big national and geo-political issues help us to think through how we approach issues within our own churches, communities and leadership. Sometimes I’ll draw those lessons out explicitly but sometimes I like to leave that option with you.

I’ve got one such article coming out tomorrow which will look at some of the risks with unhelpful responses to Putin’s aggression. Whilst the links to church leadership may not be so obvious or explicit, I think that there are times when we need to be ready to confront in church life and times when confrontation is unhelpful and can make things worse.

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