It seems to have happened again — an “emergent” professing Christian on his Facebook profile posts a note making imbalanced claims, and I start offering responses. Others then add responses, too, and they seem not to get anywhere with the post-writer or others like him.

They tend to say things like “Christians seek both religious and political power and prestige,” without qualifier, as if seeking religious and political power is the only problem in the church. Others like me say back that the Church has many problems, resulting from worse lack of belief in the Gospel. We get ignored in favor of more trendy slams against the Church, and on and on it goes, the great circle of internet time-wasting life. It’s quite a kick.

But I’m glad I recently re-read a little book by Randy Alcorn called The Grace and Truth Paradox. It’s the best summary I’ve seen so far by a popular yet Biblically based Christian author, about how Jesus is both grace and truth — and therefore, His people should be too.

Grace without truth is no longer grace, Alcorn writes in this little 90-page hardback. Without truth, “grace” turns into harmful, dangerous “tolerance,” a pathetic substitute.

And truth without grace ceases to be truth, he adds. “Truth” alone becomes self-righteousness.

That could summarize the entire book, which a trained reader could likely start and finish inside one afternoon. Thus a lengthy review might be half the length of the actual book! Yet I thought I’d post this brief excerpt, specifically addressing how the Christian grace/truth living affects how we perceive modern political platforms. Christians cannot claim a single party or cause without qualification, Alcorn says — something I wish “emergents” and others would remember.

Political Grace and Truth

Often, conservatives emphasize truth (morals), and liberals emphasize grace (compassion). Conservatives want to conserve what’s right; liberals want to liberate from what’s wrong.

Liberals’ commitment to fighting racism in the sixties was commendable. But sometimes liberals fight against true standards, life the beliefs that abortion, fornication, adultery, and homosexual behavior are wrong. They embrace tolerance as a grace substitute. Liberal Christians often end up being liberals first, Christians second.

Conservatives want to restore lost values. They want to go back to the days when prayer was allowed in schools. But they forget that the same schools that allowed prayer didn’t allow black children! By trying to conserve so many things—even things that were clearly wrong—conservative Christians have sometimes been conservatives first, Christians second.

Why should we have to choose between conservatism’s emphasis on truth and liberalism’s emphasis on grace? Why can’t we oppose injustice to minorities and to the unborn? Why can’t we oppose greedy ruination of the environment and anti-industry New Age environmentalism? Why can’t we affirm the biblical right to the ownership of property and emphasize God’s call to voluntarily share wealth with the needy? Why can’t we uphold God’s condemnation of sexual immorality, including homosexual practices, and reach out in love and compassion to those trapped in destructive lifestyles and dying from AIDS?

We cannot do these things if we are first and foremost either liberals or conservatives. We can do these things only if we are first and foremost follower of Christ, who is full of grace and truth.