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On October 31, many homes doled out candy. But 14th Street Christian Reformed Church (Holland, Mich.) offered heartier fare—food for thought. Days before the presidential election, roughly 80 people attended the Reformation Day Forum to ruminate on the intersection of politics and faith.

Hope College professor Fred Johnson (left) and Holland mayor Kurt Dykstra

Kurt Dykstra, Holland mayor and a member of Pillar Church, delivered the main address, “Reformational Principles for Politics,” followed by responses from two Hope College professors.

Dykstra noted that when it comes to politics and the church, people need to recognize that there is not necessarily “the Christian view” on any given issue and that a Christian worldview should be seen not as a packaged set of answers but as “an active engaging in ‘worldviewing.’”

Dykstra also emphasized the challenging balancing act of “distinguishing the sacred interests and secular obligations” in our pluralistic society, implicitly asking when we are imposing our beliefs on others and when our religious freedoms are being squeezed by a push toward secularization.

History professor Fred Johnson agreed that it’s a difficult question to answer, and has been throughout American history. “Was Martin Luther King, Jr., imposing his religious viewpoints?” Johnson asked. “Where is the line? If there’s a good test, I’d like to hear it.”

David Ryden, a political science professor and member of Faith CRC (Holland), echoed Dykstra’s calls for grace and humility in our politics. He called on Christians to be “extenders of grace to those who disagree with us and maybe even demonize us.”

He warned, “It’s too easy to take on an oppositional dynamic with the broader culture. Then we yield to this negativism, to something oftentimes bordering on despair, and fail to reflect the hope required of the church.”

"God is ultimately in control,” he said, "and regardless of political outcomes, God is sovereign."

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