couple of our readers lately have questioned whether we are really on the same page regarding political activism and the proper place of partisan punditry in Christian ministry. Since Dan has extensively written on elections and political/societal matters at his own blog, and Frank Turk writes a fair amount of social and cultural commentary at his blog, one or two of our commenters wondered if all the members of TeamPyro really do see eye to eye on these matters. Obviously, we each have different emphases and interests we like to write about. Phil likes Bach Cantatas and Dan likes Chicago. Dan collects commentaries and Frank collects comic books. Frank is an expert in marketing and Phil is an expert in editorial matters. Granted, we're an unlikely menagerie of co-authors. But on the issues that really count, we're all on the same page.
Even on the issues of civic activism and "engaging the culture" via the political process? Absolutely.
Let's see if this helps. Here are some things we all agree on from the get-go:
- Among other things, the Christian is the person who boasts only in the Cross; to whom the world has been crucified, and he to the world (Galatians 6:14).
- The sole unique possession that every Christian has, that all his neighbors most desperately need, is the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
- The Gospel is itself not actions nor outreaches nor programs; the Gospel is a message, communicated in words that express propositional truths (Romans 10:14-17).
- While what we do may at best adorn the Gospel, it must never supplant or eclipse the Gospel (cf. 1 Timothy 2:10; Titus 2:10).
- The message and aim of the gospel is redemption (Galatians 4:5; Titus 2:14) not merely reform.
- The gospel itself is the only instrument of redemption; it "is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16).
- Gospel and law are not the same, even though they agree at many key points (Luke 16:16; Galatians 3:1-19).
- "Works of the law"—and all other means of adorning the gospel—are non-redemptive (Romans 3:20, 28; Galatians 2:16); they are even damning for those who place their trust in them (Romans 10:1-3; Philippians 3:3); and therefore such things must never be made a higher priority (or given a higher profile) in any Christian ministry than the gospel itself.
- Christians, individually and corporately, are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), and like all ambassadors, they must proclaim the message they are given—not a truncated message or a different message of their own choosing.
- The message Christians are given to proclaim to unbelievers is about justification by faith, not social reform through legal means; and it culminates in a plea for sinners to be reconciled to God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).
- The primary, distinctive, defining task of the church is to enroll and train students of Christ by the emphatic ministry of the Word (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 4:1-4).
- Works of mercy and material help must grow out of that ministry of the Word, must not supplant it, and should first target Christians within the local church body (cf. Acts 2:42-47; 6:2; Galatians 6:10).
- A full-orbed pulpit ministry will eventually touch on everything the Word touches on (Acts 20:27).
- Since the Word touches on every essential area of Christian living, aspects of pulpit ministry can and will touch on every area of a Christian's public life (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
- Individual Christians must pay taxes and respect the institutions of authority in his country (Romans 13:1-7).
- Individual American Christians should take seriously the accountability-factor for their citizenship in a constitutional republic (cf. Luke 12:48).
- Individual Christians are obligated to seek and find how to be good stewards of what God has entrusted them with, in all walks of life (cf. Psalm 24:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
- Some of those possible avenues for individual Christians include careers in politics and journalism, other forms of communication, working with pro-life causes and adoption agencies, and with other charitable organizations (cf. Proverbs 10:11; 11:11; 24:11-12; Jeremiah 29:1-9; Galatians 6:10).
- Avenues such as those listed in #18 are perfectly legitimate investments of a Christian's time and energy. However—
- Avenues such as those listed in #18 are no substitute for preaching the Gospel, since only the Gospel meets man's deepest needs, and thus most truly fulfills the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.
- If offered an association that requires him to put a basket on his relationship with Jesus Christ, or on the Gospel, an individual Christian should decline (Mark 8:38).