Meeting the Need for Faith in Challenging Political Times

Meeting the Need for Faith in Challenging Political Times

Spring 2024

Dr. Amanda Staggenborg

As the election season rapidly approaches, conflicting emotions surround upcoming political conversations, both publicly and privately, and the cultural and social implications of them. As the political temperature increases, we at the CCCU encourage you to lean into challenging conversations with faith and purposeful unity. Inspiring and engaging in pluralism is the goal of a civilized society, both in and outside of higher education. The CCCU regularly advocates for the commitment to pluralism, the idea that those with varying opinions can respect each other and live together in a just society, as a faithful guide to diverse discussions and viewpoints.

While we may not agree on policy outcomes, we agree on common elements that call us to this conversation. As Gordon T. Smith states in Courage and Calling, “We are called to live in submission within Christian community. We cannot effectively function within an organization if we do not acknowledge and live out the reality that someone has to have authority and will probably make decisions we will not always agree with.” Smith also suggests that Christian submission and human compliance are quite different, with “prompts of the Holy Spirit” in one hand and “the voice of human authorities” in the other.

We agree that grace should always lead a discussion, with respect for an opposing viewpoint preventing disagreement from casting a dark cloud that obscures our ability to listen. We agree that our faithful roots lay a foundation for institutional mission, highlighting those who serve each generation with integrity. In 1976, the same year that the CCCU was founded, President Gerald Ford visited Warner Pacific College, now Warner Pacific University. During challenging political times, he delivered the commencement address, stating that we have no less a need for faith than “pioneers in the American wilderness, American colonists who challenged a powerful empire and fathers who found no atheists in their foxholes.” The need for faith is always present.

Throughout this issue, you’ll see that civility is not only possible, but realistically achievable. We are reminded of President Ford’s words at WPU to encourage “moral and spiritual growth” during divisive times. Professor Kermit Roosevelt offers historical context, reassuring us that this time in political history is not necessarily unique. He reminds us that previous elections, such as those in the 1800s, were challenging. He writes that, “In both 1800 and 1876, as elections came down to the wire, states mobilized their militias in anticipation of violence. In 1800, state legislatures took the choice of electors away from the people — they replaced the popular vote with selection by state legislatures in Georgia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. And in 1860, eleven states seceded rather than accept Abraham Lincoln as their leader.”

We have been through challenging times and we will again. But our faithful devotion is unwavering. We know to turn to Jesus and the Lord for all of our strength and true guidance.


Mark Twain once wrote that “history doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” This may be frightening or exciting depending on the context. But history can be a comfort as well, knowing that what what we are experiencing in this modern political and cultural climate is not unique to history. We have been through challenging times and we will again. But our faithful devotion is unwavering. We know to turn to Jesus and the Lord for all of our strength and true guidance. “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). As Christian leaders, we not only are rooted in faith but serve as pillars of guidance to the next generation at CCCU campuses. President Ford emphasized that “each generation brings a new spirit of competition, new reservoirs of enthusiasm, new responsiveness to the humanitarian needs of others, and regenerated pride in personal independence.” The words of nearly 50 years ago ring true today, just as they always have.

Christians have found faith, not only in spiritual guidance, but in humanity. The core of a democratic society is the celebration of valuable differences of opinion. As you read this issue, I hope it brings inspiration and hope to all on your campus as we lean into a new conversation.

DR. AMANDA STAGGENBORG is the chief communications officer for the CCCU.