Friday, June 12, 2009

The Christian and Politics

The myths are widespread: Politics is not a proper topic for civil Christian discussion. It is beneath Christians to get their hands dirty in politics. There is to be separation between....

I disagree with the myths. On the contrary, I believe that the Bible teaches principles that not only allow the Christian to participate in the political process, but encourage him to participate in order that God be glorified and that civil government functions in the best manner possible.

Disclaimer: I am a Baptist. Proud of it. These principles, however, are appropriate for anyone who believes that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and who wishes that government would function well in doing things like "insuring domestic tranquility," "providing for the common defense," and "securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

Entire books and debates by minds far superior to mine have already been recorded. Let me give a trio of the most important reasons.

I. God frequently called His children to participate in politics.

The list of Bible characters who played a role in politics—often without taking the initiative to do so—is quite lengthy. Joseph became second in command to Pharoah (Gen. 41). Moses was placed in the ruling house as a child and appeared to have some level of authority at the age of forty (Ex. 2); forty years later (Ex. 3), he is called to lead the entire people of Israel. Saul was called from obscurity to be the first king of Israel (1 Sam. 9-10); David, a shepherd, was called to replace him (1 Sam. 16).

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is Daniel. Taken from his home when Jerusalem was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, he became part of a "class" of young Jewish men who were trained for positions in the kingdom (Dan. 1). With God's help he translates a dream for Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2), beginning a career spanning at least seventy years serving in high positions under Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar (Dan. 5—a brief period of leadership, to be sure), and Darius (Dan. 6).

I find it interesting also that in the New Testament, Jesus never condemns tax collectors (such as Matthew, one of the Twelve) for being tax collectors. Only their corruption is addressed.

II. God calls His children to influence the world.

Matthew 5:13-16 sums up this principle:

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The passage clearly has a spiritual component regarding the spread of the Gospel message, but it is also one of a host of passages that emphasize the Christian's responsibility to impact his world. I want others to learn about the Gospel message through me, of course; but I also want to impact my community, state, and country by what I do.

And if that involves politics, whether as officeholder, candidate, activist, or blogger, so be it. I would be wrong to avoid an opportunity God wants me to seize.

III. Good government gives opportunity to glorify God.

The entire "separation of church and state" discussion is grossly misunderstood by most people. God certainly never commanded the government (a God-ordained institution) to dictate to the church (a God-ordained institution); nor did He command the church to run the government. Each has its own sphere of authority, and when properly supervised by man, each complements the other.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism's first Question and Answer sum up one of the great truths of all Scripture: The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. In heaven, we who have placed our faith in God for salvation will indeed glorify Him and will indeed enjoy Him forever. In the meantime, on this earth, we are all responsible to glorify God.

Governments such as we see in many nations both today and throughout history have demonstrated that the ability to openly glorify God—in worship, culture, economy, and law—can be taken from people. In America we were bequeathed the most free and blessed country on this earth. Without Christian influence—the "salt" and "light" described in Matthew 5:13-16—the day will come when those hostile to God and Scripture will use the government to impair our ability to glorify God in all areas of our lives.

We see this today in various manifestations, both political and private. A careful reading of the news yields this and that from here or there about government encroachment on our freedoms. Various political candidates and officials have hinted or said that they favor such encroachments, as well as additional ones.

If I can bring glory to God by involving myself in the political arena when He wants me to do so, than I am wrong not to do so.

1 comment:

michelles2cents said...

Ken I am one of the many that is benefiting from your involvement. I follow the info from your blog and it keeps me on my toes concerning current events. I am grateful for your interest and concern in the political arena and may the Lord annoint you to pursue every opportunity that comes into your path. God bless you!