Politics and the Gospel - Part 2 

After the election, in my own thinking, I have been working through how we as believers are to approach the preaching of the Gospel and politics. Particularly from the Reformed camp, I keep seeing two answers to this (broadly speaking, knowing there are probably more).

One answer is that we can do both Gospel-preaching and be politically active on issues such as abortion or feeding the homeless or whatever your pet issue may be, so long as the political activism does not eclipse the Gospel message. One example of this would be someone like William Wilberforce (mp3 audio biography) who fought to abolish slavery through legislation (something I am extremely grateful for).

But the other camp says we should not be politically vocal at all really for the sake of the Gospel, stating that all we need in culture is pure Gospel-preaching and living and the culture will change as the Lord uses that preaching and living as He sees fit to save people and move in the core of their being on these issues. At this point, I'm leaning toward this second response, though I sway back and forth.

During the election, I leaned toward the first answer, that we can do both Gospel preaching and at the same time be publicly involved in the political process on various issues, attempting to convince others, as best we can, of the rightness of it. However, in hind sight, and after having read a blog post by Phil Johnson, as well as this one, I'm second guessing my original stance now. I just have to think to myself, "Did others, especially unbelievers, remember what my political stance was or how great Christ is?" I feel like maybe to my shame it is the former answer.

Now of course, I know that the Gospel should take priority above politics; that is a given. But I'm still navigating through this issue and swaying back and forth on what I should do next time around or even before then. I'll confess to everyone that sometimes, I got a little bit too excited about the whole thing. I saw through the political nonsense at times, and at other points, I got caught up in the nonsense. At times it distracted me from my pursuit of Christ in prayer, the Word and studying of theology. For this, I was clearly in error.

So how involved should we be in politics as believers, if at all? I pose this question to get ideas from others. I think about Tim Keller (along with Phil Johnson's comments) and see the amazing fruit of not going after political issues. Through pure Gospel-preaching and living, he has transformed an area of Manhattan that would not otherwise have been possible (i.e., I highly doubt anyone in Manhattan would listen to a rant about abortion, knowing of course at the same time that it is indeed morally wrong, abhorrent and murderous, that regardless, a lot of walls would go up instantly with these hearers).

But then I think about John Piper as one of my heroes of the faith and his vocal stance from the pulpit in clearly proclaiming the evils of abortion. I also think about John the Baptist in telling Herod he was in the wrong and as a result having his head cut off. Standing up for morality can be costly, but the question is, why are you doing it? So I'm really wrestling through this issue at the moment. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Administrator (David Westerfield) 

Thanks for your comments and the article man!
Bill Alexy 

There are other stories too of people who enforced justice through political means, like Esther, Nehemiah, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Lincoln to name a few. As Americans we have a specific duty to involve ourselves in politics, but we have to draw a line. The so called Christian Coalition is an example of politics and Christianity gone askew. The church, tempted by political power for millennia, has hopefully learned a few lessons along the way. Christian shouldn't be tempted by political power. With that said, we should fight for justice by appealing to men's good-will knowing that God, natural law, reason and the constitution are on our side.

Great essay by C.S. Lewis might help you here called First and Second Things. The basic message is seek God's kingdom first. If you don't have the greater thing, you can't have the lesser either. Give it a read, it's relevant, paints a vivid reality of a Christian challenging the Nazi party, and witty.
Administrator (David Westerfield) 

I thought this quote helped crystallize my leaning toward merely preaching the Gospel instead of being involved in politics ... however, I still have Wilberforce on the mind. Wilberforce didn't believe government was the answer, yet he used the instrument of government to change inherently unjust laws. Should we be doing the same? I know it's not everyone's calling, but some? I don't know ... confused.

"For Christians, our hope is not in politics but in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Politics does not change men fundamentally, though we do have a name for political systems that believe they can change men: totalitarianisms. Marxist regimes believed they could inculcate virtue, creating "the new man." The aims of Christian democracies founded on Christian truths are more modest, chiefly protecting life, liberty, and property (in the view of the United States' Founders). Because our ultimate hope is not in politics, we should lower our political expectations and heighten our cultural expectations. We should work for cultural change by means of preaching the Gospel and applying God's truth in all areas of life; a Christianized political order will come incrementally, over time." - Andrew Sandlin


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