18 July 2008

At least the comments are open ...

by Frank Turk

Dan has publicly poked me about being less that posty this week at TeamPyro, so this is what you get. Almost TWO WEEKS ago I started a series on church and government, beginning with the difference between corporate responsibility and personal responsibility, and then speaking VERY briefly (and I would suggest too briefly) to the question of what the New Testament says about the church speaking to Government.

There are other examples which I have considered to enhance the bibleliness of my case here – for example, Jeremiah who wholly-criticized the synergism of his day between the ones working in the temple and those working in the world (especially the idolaters); I considered thinking about Jesus and Pilate, with the looming phrase from Christ to the Roman governor, “My kingdom is not of this world . . . my kingdom is not from the world”.

But what I am going to consider, instead, is a question I left off with last time: given our system of government – a republic with free voting rights for citizens – don’t Christians have a different playing field than the first-century church had? Shouldn’t we do things about abortion and education and the definition of marriage because in some way we are the government and we know better?

I am going to say this in a very ponderous way, and it is not meant to talk down to anyone. But what I don’t want is to skip any of the calculus we have to employ to get the answer I would suggest.

[1] There is no question that every citizen of our country ought to vote when they have the opportunity.

[2] Among those citizens, (those who fear being yoked to Belial notwithstanding) Christians especially ought to vote – and vote conscienciously, having been informed by the Scripture about the world we live in.

This, now, is where the matter gets sticky – because we don’t want to bifurcate our lives. We don’t want to put our faith in God in a private prayer closet and our political reasoning, safely shielded from our personal preferences, in the public square. We want to live as people who are redeemed by the blood of Christ who are being sanctified by His word.


[3] We must use sound Scriptural reasoning, something robustly Trinitarian, when we step into the public square – and not merely fight as though were conventional political partisans. Because we know the truth is this: we are sojourners. Right? We ought to desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God will not be ashamed to be called our God, for he has prepared for us a city.

There’s a post in there someplace for young men who want to redeem “the world” using “the church”, but I leave it for another day, and for them to find it for now.

For us, the middle-aged people with something to lose (for good and for ill), let me say this: we have to choose whether we are more concerned about either the way unbelievers act, or the way they will be saved.

There is no question that Scripture obligates Government to punish the evil-doer – but it does so by conceding that even the unbeliever can see the broad strokes of justice (which is established by God) in the created order. But the church is established to do something greater than the civil law.

For example, one of the problems as I see it with the church in politics today is that “gay marriage” is an issue. While every culture has some form of marriage arrangement (see: Romans 2 – even the unbeliever can see some kind of ordained order in creation), the Western view of marriage is founded on the Scriptural principles that God has made man for woman and woman for man, and that when they are joined together, they must not be torn apart.

It is a Church principle which the Government has recognized.

Our problem today is 2-fold. In the first place the church has frankly abdicated its role in being the minister of this command from God – through many things, but specifically through being very care-free about divorce even though God hates divorce. We don’t raise our children to hate divorce, do we? I wonder why ...

In the second place, since the church has abdicated its role in being the standard-bearer for marriage, we have foisted that role onto the government – making the question one only of law and of voter preference and not one of transcendent order.

So when we go back to the public square with, “but God didn’t create marriage for two guys or two girls – God created marriage to be between a man and a woman and the government should enforce that,” the rightly-reasoned response from our opponents is, “this is a matter of political rights, not religion (because look at you: you people don’t take your own scriptures seriously about marriage because you divorce) – and I don’t believe in your ‘God’ anyway.”

Because the church has given the state the responsibility to administer marriage, its ability to minister the blessing of marriage is in ruins.

And in the end, we are seeking to minister a truth which is greater than merely what constitutes a family: we are seeking to minister the truth of the union of Christ and His church.

That, btw, is the Gospel – and judgment, they say, begins in the house of God. We don’t have to be perfect, but we have to be at least serious about teaching our children that love means “sacrifice” and not “emotional sugar coating” in marriage.

[4] When we are doing our job in the church, as the church, our methods of political engagement will change. It’s ironic, I think, that the church has been able to historically manage the highest rate of change and the highest value of social change when it is most willing to die for the Gospel rather than fight for political ends with political means.

“Die for the Gospel”, btw, doesn’t mean “roll over when someone says we’re mean”. It means that we would rather die than deny what is true about Christ. In 20 years, James Dobson and Pat Robertson have not defeated abortion or gay marriage, have they? And Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton haven’t defeated “racism”, have they?

Here's something to think on for a second: I have a suspicion that one group of readers are right now grossly offended that I would lump Jackson with Dobson into the same bucket -- but I'll bet that on the other side of the political fence, there are people who will be offended that I would lump Dobson with Jackson into the same political bucket. And that, in and of itself, demonstrates that these guys do not have a Gospel agenda. They have a partisan agenda apart from the Gospel.

There's where the fireworks begin, and I'll leave the comments open on this for a couple of days to see where you people want to take it, or to ask questions about where this is right now.

As they say over at my blog, be in the Lord's house on the Lord's day with the Lord's people in order to end political differences and to overcome political idolatry. You'd be surprized what the Gospel will do for you.


SKO said...

Another great post, Mr. Turk. Always balanced; always biblical. I think that your best point is when the church engages in politics, it too often surrenders its ordained responsibilities to government. We are to feed the hungry, defend life, live holy lives pleasing to God, proclaim truth, and (most importantly) preach the Gospel message by which the LORD will change the hearts and save the souls of men. The state is to restrain the evil of men, and, in our blessed case, defend her citizens' rights. The state and the church are two separate institutions ordained by God which have unique part to play: the former wields the sword and the latter holds the keys. Unfortunately, when we in the church start to reach for the sword, we too often fumble the keys. I hope that analogy made some sense!

jjiberno said...

Well said,
I believe the further we move into politics, the further we move away from the gospel. Morality is never successfully legislated. The law never saved anyone and never will.
Church, we need to concentrate on plank removal rather than platform building.

Rick Frueh said...

It is almost impossible not to become duplicitous when as Christians or the church we attempt to resolve the issue of sin with anything other than the gospel. It has a continuing tendency to give more productivity to politics than reality suggests, as well as subliminally and sometimes overtly proffer a divine agenda within that system.

Stefan said...

You've been saying a lot of this stuff for a while, but it's rarely brought together all in one post, and argued through from premise to conclusion. Thanks. There are some really good points in here.

Anonymous said...


This sounds a lot like what Jesus says to the church at Pergamum and commends Antipas for his faithfulness. One likely understanding is that Antipas wouldn't offer incense in Emperor worship, but clearly he was willing to die for Christ.

BTW, I have no problem with you lumping Pat Robertson, Dobson and Jesse Jackson together. We at least know that Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson are willing to come together for a commercial- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhmpsUMdTH8

Here in CA one interesting move is to walk around the parking lot of our churches on a Sunday Morning and simply read the bumper stickers. Very revealing from a political perspective, but it doesn't seem to consume us or affect our body life.

We unite around Christ, not the latest political candidate.

~Mark said...

"In 20 years, James Dobson and Pat Robertson have not defeated abortion or gay marriage, have they? And Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton haven’t defeated “racism”, have they?"

~Can't argue with that!

Strong Tower said...

Because the church has given the state the responsibility to administer marriage, its ability to minister the blessing of marriage is in ruins.

I think here is the crux of the dilema. It is not that we should have nothing to do with informing the state, we should. We should first being informing and governing our own, however. I would add that it it not just marriage, but a plethora of responsibilities such as the care of elderly and ones immediate family, which we have in many ways abrogated to the state or other secular ad-ministry-strations. What defines the problem is engaging the state to be the gate keeper and trustee of the churches affairs, and depending upon it for its welfare, peace and continuance. Turk is right, our best weapon and greatest balm for the society is taking our responsibility of self-government seriously.

I liked the Dobson statement, too. The point of our declaration of the Gospel (which is all that we have been instructed in Bibly) is not the defeat of political/moral enemies at all. It is our responsibility to declare the truth and let the Lord do what he wills. That does not exclude political participation. What it means is that we cannot expect to establish Christianity outside the church. Some listen, and some do not, still, ours is to inform and stand in the integrity of what we believe. Beyond that, the Kingdom is not of this world. What we do know is that a righteousness that is pursued according to law works in us all sorts of evil due to sin. To pursue then a righteousness for a nation under the dictates of law will produce the same. The excission of the flesh by the flesh is death, we must put to death the flesh by the Spirit, and the Spirit has nothing in common with the world. Much of the church today is all about pragmatism and results and we know where that leads.

Frankly speaking :) abrogation of the responsibilities of the church to administer discipline, i.e. through legislation of laws, will continue to eventuate in greater and greater control of church affairs by the state as the arbitor of truth and the prosecutor of it. Exactly the opposite of the intent of most conservative evangelicals.

Robert said...


Thanks for the thoughtful post.

When reading it I can't help but think about the whole Catholics and Evangelicals Together movement and one of the big factors that fueled it.

"Christians" have been very brave in the culture war and have seemed in some ways to be ready to die for causes like abortion and gay marriage. But in doing so they have made alliances to die together with others who do not hold to the true gospel under which we can be saved - by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone.

To make that alliance work they were willing to compromise any gospel truth necessary -- even viewing Catholics as brothers in Christ when they hold a gospel of works. How much damage to true evangelism has been done through this whole culture war?

It seems to me that most are not so willing to die for gospel truth anymore as they are for morality issues in the culture war.

Ralph M. Petersen- Always Right;Sometimes Wrong! said...

Right on, Mr. Turk. Thanks.

By the way, I love the new word you coined here (bibleliness); I don't think I've ever heard it before but I'm sure I will add it to my vocabulary.

DJP said...

Robert"Christians" have been very brave in the culture war and have seemed in some ways to be ready to die for causes like abortion and gay marriage. But in doing so they have made alliances to die together with others who do not hold to the true gospel under which we can be saved - by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone.

So, there we go. We're not going to risk our lives joining our neighbors to rescue the girl from the rape-gang, until we get letters from all the churches, and go over all the major creeds and points of doctrine with them. No sir, we're pure.

ReformedMommy said...

"...we have to choose whether we are more concerned about either the way unbelievers act, or the way they will be saved."

That'll preach. Great stuff.

DJP said...

(In what follows: I'm not meaning to be sneeringly sarcastic; I'm trying to ask questions that will get answers to what seems to me to be being overlooked. Or I'm not hearing it.)

Strong TowerThe point of our declaration of the Gospel (which is all that we have been instructed in Bibly) is not the defeat of political/moral enemies at all.

It is?

So, we haven't been instructed on whether abortion is or is not a good thing? We haven't been instructed on what is a just penalty for murder? We haven't been instructed on whether covetousness and idleness and theft should be institutionalized and backed up with the power of the sword? We haven't been instructed on whether freedom to preach the Gospel is primary? We haven't been instructed on whether national sin can bring national judgment?

Sounds like a significantly smaller Bible than I've been carrying around. It'd be quicker to teach, though!

Tell me, raising your kids: did you put off all moral instruction until they were old enough to understand the Gospel? When Suzy said that Jimmy hit her, did you tell her, "I can't really tell him not to, until he believes and is baptized"?

DJP said...

Oh, and I should have said much earlier:

FrankDan has publicly poked me about being less that posty this week at TeamPyro, so....

Moo-hoo-wah-hahahahaaaa! Mission Accomplished!

donsands said...

Deep stuff to think about. Frank can write! The man is good.

"..the rightly-reasoned response from our opponents is, “this is a matter of political rights, not religion (because look at you: you people don’t take your own scriptures seriously about marriage because you divorce) – and I don’t believe in your ‘God’ anyway.”

And I would respond back that's it's true many in the Church don't take the Scriptures seriously enough.
I'd say I take them very serious.

And the whole counsel of the Bible is that the definition of marriage is a man, who is the husband, joins together with a woman, who is the wife.

It's one of God's clearest truths.

You can not have two husbands, nor two wives. It's really, pardon the expression here, stupid.

If one doesn't believe in God, and belives he is no more than an animal with a brighter mind than dolphins and chimps, then surely this person may see anything as alright under the sun.

There's no where to go here. I have had some good debates with atheists, and hopefully the Lord will open their hearts. But that's up to the Lord.

Did I miss your point Cent? Hope this isn't a rabbit path.

Stefan said...

Strong Tower's term "ad-ministry-ation" brings something to mind.

In some countries, governments are divided into "ministries" led by "ministers," who sometimes go on fact-finding "missions."

One such country is Canada, which was called a "Dominion" (from Psalm 72:8) when it was confederated in 1867, and whose national anthem invokes, "God keep our land glorious and free."

Something tells me that this wholesale abrogation of church responsibilities to the state was largely brought about by "well-meaning" (and possibly nominal) Christians of the Kingdom-now sort, who participated in a government at a time when the Christian worldview was still the national consensus.

(At least that hypothesis works in Canada's case, since the Victorian age was the flowering of Semi-pelagian Postmillennialism.)

Strong Tower said...

Reread it...

The Gospel is all that we have been instructed in in Scripture, which would of course include all that you have negated in my statement, by reading it as you did.

Reread- we must proclaim the truth, but the truth is not to establish a saved world, is it? Note the slash... ours is not to establish political control via the Gospel, but we most surely are to pray for those in leadership that we might live in peace, and to submit, which I contend means to do what ever is necessary and good, to bring about the peace for which we pray.

Reread, my earlier responses. I fully agree that we must engage society through all available venues. I have been a candidate and vocal advocate of righteous causes and would not consider it corrupt to enter the political field again to effect change for the good. However, my political activity is not my ministry. Vocation is not ministry for most of us, primarily. A plumber who has been told to remove the clog from the grease trap is not doing the Gospel if when his boss shows up the plumbers hands have not yet plunged into the trap because he deferred to preach the Gospel. So no, when raising my kids it was not a priority that I preached the Gospel when instructing them in what is right and good. Though I never said that I would not, nor did not, nor did I ever not make the effort to, in time, explain nuts and bolts of where the idea of good and right arises. The realm of politics is not a Gospel medium, but it is a medium where what is right and good can and should be forcefully expressed. It is rare that it will allow for the expostition of Scripture to explain the origins of right and good. Simply, society is not my family, nor is it the church which is a single body of people, nor is it my neighbor, rather, society is no moral creature at all. Like business it is amoral, and takes only that form of the people that run it. So then, we have two concepts of the Gospel, that which is evangelical, and that which is vocation, the living of it which does not imply the conversion of others where the first is about nothing other.


The conversion of our political/moral conditions in this country are not the Gospel, but, in speaking what is true and good we most certainly are doing it. When asked I would not hesitate to tell from where I derive my beliefs. But let me ask you, when have you ever gone to the store and the first thing you did at the check out was to present the Gospel or even explain to the clerk that the reason you were paying and not sneaking out the back door with the produce was because of it? That was not your purpose, it was to pay for your groceries. That is what the clerk expects, and not the Gospel (evangel). Can you preach it there? Of course. Will it effect your paying of the bill, no, though miracles do happen. So neither will the preaching of the Gospel effect the passing of a bill, though it might affect it.

Tell me also, when have you ever applied for a job and at the initial interview responded to the first enquiry with a Gospel presentation instead of your resume'? But, presenting your resume' (being truthful and honest) would indeed be doing the Gospel.

So reread...

And I am not trying to be sneering or sarcastic, either. The propriety of the church is the Gospel, evangely speaking, and to that end, it is the coversion of people to Christ. The propriety of Government is to do what is right and good. It is most surely our responsibility to inform it as to what is both right and good for we have that charge as bearers of light.

Maybe that better clarifies my thoughts,

what think ye?

Robert said...

Not to hijack the main point of the post, but the reason Sharpton and Jackson haven't ended racism is that they spend every waking moment encouraging and increasing it. It's hard to think of a more racist person active in America today than those two (and that was true even before Jesse Helms died).

DJP said...

Well, Strong Tower, I think it's clear enough in itself, and well-said. But I don't think it answers all my questions, and I still don't understand what you meant when you said that the Gospel was "all that we have been instructed in Bibl[el]y." What does that mean?

And yeah, though not NEARLY as much as I should, I've found opportunities in many of those situations. Like telling the clerk why I'm giving back the money he overpaid me, or telling him why he undercharged me. But, as I said, not NEARLY as well or as often as I should; not even close.

Gilbert said...

If the Church took the Bible (and obeying God) seriously, Cent's great post would be a moot point.

CR said...

Frank: But what I am going to consider, instead, is a question I left off with last time: given our system of government – a republic with free voting rights for citizens – don’t Christians have a different playing field than the first-century church had?

Yes. Especially Christians that live in a republic like ours or a democracy. The playing field in the first century was a dictatorship whereas in our age, in many places it is a republic.

Frank: Shouldn’t we do things about abortion and education and the definition of marriage because in some way we are the government and we know better?

A Reformed "Hip-Hop" (I know that sounds impossible to many of you) artist said the best way to change Hip-hop is too change the people in Hip-Hop. Of course, what he meant was to proclaim the gospel.

That can be applied in the political arena as well. If one wants to really keep the government moving towards righteousness, you change the people in political office. And that is changed by proclaiming the gospel to the electorate. And that only happens with regular working stiffs out in the real world, one person at a time.

But I think also, that the church should be heavily involved in the culture. We should be heavily involved in music, the arts, education and in even in politics. The problem is there are not too many of us out there proclaiming the gospel. And the reason why many of us don't is because we compromise. We might have to sacrifice that job promotion or teaching tenure.

And even in good churches (which are feww in number in America) you have members who don't know how to share the gospel. It's quite a tragedy but many Christians will stand before God not having shared the gospel to anyone.

Lastly, Christians don't pray. And I think this relates to previous Arminian/Calvinism arguments in other forums. Arminians don't pray enough that's understandable because they're working too hard to change behavior and they're doing all these programs.

If anyone should understand prayer it would be Calvinists. Paul believed in the absolute sovereignty of God and yet we can see he was a man of prayer. He understood that the absolute sovereign will of God is accomplished through the prayers of His church. And yet, so many of us don't pray like we should, individually or corporately.

So, to sum, I would say problems with our culture: (1)Too many churches that have horrible teaching; (2)too many churches with saints that don't know how to share the gospel; (3)too many churches with saints that don't pray; and yes, you have the last category of (4) saints that are just ignorant about the issues and vote for the worst people.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"In 20 years, James Dobson and Pat Robertson have not defeated abortion..."

Is "defeated" the standard? I think an argument can be made that actual babies have been saved because of their voices, and the ripple effects of same. There are countless testimonies to this effect.

This is not any blanket approval of either ministry; but we ought not toss on a blanket of the other sort.

Strong Tower said...

I tried to clarify what evangel is. That would include our integrity and consistency in the rest. In part what I was reflecting on is Cent's appraisal of the church as not being itself faithful to to the scope of the good news which necessarily includes chuch discipline. The Gospel in my reckoning is all of Scripture. That portion with which we declare "Jesus Christ crucified by the Jews at the hands of evil men, dead, buried, and resurrected for salvation through repentance from sin of which God commands all men everywhere..." we normally call the Gospel. But that is the evangel, (the heralding portion of a far broader message) which is almost never heard in the public arena nor in many evangelical churches for all the PC reasons. The reality is that that is not without all that the rest of Scripture teaches, which includes practice and doctrine. In either case, we do not intend by the Biblical exposition of either to gain political/moral victory (though doing so may affect the outcome). When we do Biblical exposition of praxis or doxas, what we are targeting, is conversion (the destruction of the flesh), and not merely behavioral change. Legislation can only do the latter, though righteous law may impinge upon the conscience according to God's providence. When asserting truth in the public service arena, then, exposition of Scripture is not primary, though what is right and good, is. Rarely will we hear the evangel. Mostly we here the rest to the exclusion of the evangel while attaching the relevance of the Bible to our agenda in a "cuz the Bible says" apologetic.

This is where some say that it is a compromise of the Gospel, and others would correct it by saying no, what we do as vocation is distinct from ministry. That being said, if we neglect to demonstrate the integrity of good and right in the context of church government, what then will be the strength in the pursuit of it outside? The compromise is not in not indoctrinating the world according to the evangel when it comes to vocation, indoctrination is the propriety of the church in the context of the Great Commission, for making disciples and teaching them. That our Gospel is more than the evangel is without question. True also is that our proclamation of "cuz the Bible says so" is empty reasoning without the proclamation of the evangel. So, as we approach the world we do so from a dual perspective. On the one hand, we pursue souls with the evangel, we call that evangelism. On the other we pursue our vocation in righteousness, but not necessarily through the evangel, though in our vocation the evangel is always at work.

Sorry I muddied the waters at first if I have not again...

I find it interesting that the enemies of the evangel use Scripture to justify their political positions. Hillary adapts it at will to defend her socialist redistribution programs. Wright and Jackson, Obama and other toadies of political opportunism, also. Yes, even Republicans. They know the power of the written word as it obligates the conscience of man. They use it, also, because they know that it derails the opposition by engaging the unwary in endless debate. They then can dismiss the oppostition as just another religious opinion while simutaneously rallying those to their cause who are ego attached to personal agenda rather than the truth.

Sister Judith Hannah said...

Dear Brethren at Pyromaniacs and friends...

I have been following along the presentation(s) about Christian responsibilities regarding the government of whatever country they live in.

The issues are real for those of us who are citizens of this world.

As in all real issues, though, our example of "how to do" should come from Scriptures.

1)There is not one example of OUR EXAMPLE, The LORD JESUS CHRIST, trying to change the morality of society or its laws during His+ 30+ years on this earth.

2)There is not one instance of HIM+ telling us to do so.

3)There is not one example in the New Testament of the Apostles trying to change the morality of society or its laws. Nor, did they instruct the church to do this.

4)There is not one example found in the Ante-Nicene writings... to advocate moral legislation or movement to change "bad" society into "moral" society.

However, there WAS ONE PLACE which did so: Geneva. Specifically, John Calvin's Geneva. Many "moral" laws were passed, including mandatory church attendance.

The result: Eventually the Christian leaders were instrumental in putting to death those who opposed them. Historical records even record that they beheaded a young girl struck her parents. A banker was executed for repeated adultery. More than 20 men and women were burnt alive for witchcraft and for a conspiracy to spread the plague.

There are more: see Historian Philip Schaff, Vol. 8, History of the Christian Church. The Swiss Reformation.

All serious Christians deplore the world's ways and laws which allow such moral decadence, no matter in which era, strata, or governmental structure they live.

If we Christians would take the Scriptures to heart and:

1)love, simply love , their personal and collective enemies, praying for them which despitefully use us;

2)preach JESUS and live JESUS;

3)un-entangle themselves with the affairs of this life;

then ...we would actually BECOME THE LIGHT in this very darkened world.

The heart of man is DARK now... but it always has been so, regardless of the age man lives in.

The Scriptures are NOT locked in time, but rather have the light of Life for all ages.

What kind of judgment will we face for IGNORING Christ's Words and replacing them with a philosophy of "our nation... or our era... or our government" ? What kind of judgment will Mr. Calvin and the other leaders of Geneva face for killing their enemies instead of loving them and praying for them, crossing CHRIST'S very words ?

We Christians need to become citizens of the REAL country: that Kingdom from Above, that Heavenly City, whose Maker and Builder is GOD... don't you think?

I'm not trying to offend you, but to state the Truth of the matter, dear friends.

Yours In CHRIST,
Sister Judith Hannah

Rick Frueh said...

We should view all laws that go against God's Word as persecution and a mirror into the shallowness of the church's saltiness and light in this country. We should not view them as challenges to pick up the opposite end of that carnal rope and enter into a political tug of war.

Our spiritual battle is in the realm of the Spirit not the moral badminton of politics. The immoral climate of this nation is not because we have abandonded the voting booth, it's because we have abandoned the prayer closet.

Voting booth = the works of man.
Prayer closet = the works of God.

CD-Host said...

A good analogy that might be useful is orthodox Jews and marriage. For centuries the Jewish community has faced state laws that are inconsistent with their beliefs regarding marriage. In general their attitude is to separate the community sets standard for marriage the law sets legal responsibilities.

For example in today's America the big problem Jews have is on state divorces that are inconsistent with Jewish divorce (i.e. a woman being state divorced with having a bill of divorce or a man without having issued one). So they handle it a variety of ways:

Satmar (think right Hyles-Anderson): don't register marriages with the state at all. They don't recognize state marriage as being of any religious importance at all.

Modern Orthodox (think Bob Jones): register with the state but understand you are registering a marriage with them not being married by them. Similarly for divorce, a jewish court handles the divorce and the secular court gets a fully worked out agreement signed by both parties.

Jim said...

I have heard many times before, and see it alluded to here...If we preach the gospel to people and they get saved, they will vote properly and live properly so abortion will be outlawed. Well, the problem is that the churches are silent on this even though the Scripture says "Thou shalt not murder." So many people continue in their ignorance. I have even seen "Christians" advocating voting for Obama, who is one of the worst pro-aborts out there, because they are so uneducated. So, my point is that the church must start to do something to educate the people on basic morality and voting principles.

DJP said...

Rick Frueh

Voting booth = the works of man.
Prayer closet = the works of God.

That dichotomy =
1. World's idea of a GREAT Christian
2. God's idea of a foolish, lazy, irresponsible steward and a shameful son

pea-culiar! said...

"In 20 years, James Dobson and Pat Robertson have not defeated abortion or gay marriage, have they? And Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton haven’t defeated “racism”, have they?"

How painfully true.

Britt Britt said...

*New to your site. Found it compliments of Slice of Laodicea. Truly enjoyed the posts that I've read.
Because God's thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways are higher than mine; I refer to His Word:

Duet 7:14a- Thou shalt be blessed above all people [Israel]...
Duet 7:24- And He shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under the heaven...
Lev 18:21b,22- I am the Lord. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
Lev 18:27,28- For all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled,Lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
Duet 8:1a- All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live...
Duet 8:5- Thou shalt consider in thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.
Duet 8:6- Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to fear Him.
Malachi 3:6-For I am the Lord, I do not change.
Matt 5:17- Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.v.20-For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matt 5:13-You are the salt of the earth;but if the salt loses it flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matt 10:22- And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
John 12:42,43- Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;for they loved the praise of MEN more than the praise of GOD.
*God is Sovereign and as such He places all Kings and Rulers on their throne-whether to bless His children, or to chasten them that they may glorify His name. "We have to choose whether we are more concerned about either the way unbelievers act, or the way they will be saved": Agreed;He concerns Himself with lost souls; He has made us salt and light unto the world that they may know Him and glorify His name. If we pacify the world, though, how will they know that they are lost in darkness?
Eph 6:12- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
"We have foisted that role onto the gov't.": Well said! I add only that I fear that it is no longer a gov't by the people for the people-or man + woman = marriage would have passed by the majority(as would a ban on late-term abortions).
Closing with this:
"In Germany, the Nazis came for the communist, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me." - a poem by Reverend Martin Neimoeller, a German Lutheran Pastor.
Let us speak up while we can- for the sake of salvation for the lost, as well as for the sake of overturning those who call "evil good and good evil".

Tim Brown said...

An encouraging post. Thank you. About 4 days ago, I posted an article (including links) at my blog which kind of said the same things. I had done this because CWN had done an article opposing MacArthur on this subject.

I've long felt that we are over-reaching in an effort to gain immediate results. Yes, vote! But it's gotten to a point where those who claim to know Christ are trusting the same worldly devices that the world is using -- the old "fight for my rights" strategy.

It's not about our rights; it's about what we have been told to do by God, regardless of the circumstances.

Chris said...

I've seen the hypocrisy myself in my own church. People have been quick to condemn gay marriage, but they have not honored marriage in their own homes. People have been quick to divorce, marry unbelievers and do all other kinds of unscriptural things as "Christians." Then there are the high profile divorces like Paula White and Juanit Bynum. "For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?" (1 Corinthians 5:12)

Chris said...

I am not blindly endorsing Dobson, but isn't asking if whether Dobson has effected any change primarily a pragmatic question? Which is to suggest that one should only protest ungodliness if it will effect change otherwise what is the use?

DJP said...

Good point, Chris.

Unless you can find where Dobson promises to achieve those goals in X years, and hasn't succeeded...

...it's about as fair as saying, "______ has stressed evangelism for X years, and the world is still lost!"

Frank Turk said...

One of the huge reasons that I hate this topic -- and I really hate it, in spite of my verbosity on it -- is that somehow no one really listens to the other side here, or to those they perceive to be on the other side.

Let me say plainly that I disavow Sister Judith Hannah. If you want to pair her up with what I said, you are not actually reading what I have said. I also disavow BrittBritt's comments as they are muddled at best, and I think he needs to think a little harder about what he's talking about.

If anyone wants a deeper analysis for why I have disavowed both of these commenters, I want you to consider something: my entire premise in this series started with the necessity of personal involvement with others, both lost and found -- that we have a moral obligation to, as Dan's example expresses, cross the street to stop a mugging. But that starting place also lays down the foundation of the difference between what I must do in obedience to God and what the church must do in obedience to God.

If you can't wrap you mind around the fact that the local church has a corporate mission which is parallel to but different than all the daily tasks am individual believer has, please: think about this some more. The church was not established to govern the lost but to call out from the lost and to lead and teach the saved.

Now, that said, the only other substantive comment in this thread I have any inclination to respond to today is the comment, "isn't asking if whether Dobson has effected any change primarily a pragmatic question? Which is to suggest that one should only protest ungodliness if it will effect change otherwise what is the use?"

Listen: the problems with Dobson's activism are plentifold, not the least of which is that he claims to speak for all kinds of christians without being publicly under the authority of the church. His theology is skimpy at best, and his mantle as a mouthpiece for "Christian" anything misses the fact that his expertise is counseling and psychology, not the history or study of our faith.

In that, he is a specifically pragmatic man, and therefore should be judged specifically by pragmatic standards. You know: at my blog I specifically recommend Focus on the Family for those who need counseling advice -- their advice on family and emotional matters would be, by far, better than my amateur suggestions. That's their specialty, and I think they have a history which proves they can offer help in those situations.

However, when they try to speak "for Christian families", or for "conservative evangelicals", forget it.

And that said, the gross difference between what we do in the voting booth and what we do in (for example) worship or evangelism is the difference between our judgment and God's judgment. I think our judgment is rightly influenced by some pragmatism. But our response to God's judgment is obedience. It doesn't matter if we evangelize for 10 years and never get one convert: that is a matter of obedience and not a matter of whether we think we're making a difference.

Last thing: the most effective protest against ungodliness is the Gospel. It expresses the absolute emptiness of other pursuits and the categorical supremacy of Christ and His work over ours. When we preach only the Law, we are preaching self-help -- and when the church is caught up in that, the Gospel is simply overshadowed.

Britt Britt said...
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I found your comments on Sister Judith somewhat unclear.

But I think you are making 2 points:

her post is “off topic” [what you said does not “pair … up” with her (comments)]

you disagree with ? everything she has asserted.

At a scriptural level, I think she is suggesting

Jesus did not particularly try to directly influence the policy of Herod Antipas

Paul did not directly try to influence Roman imperial policy.

It seems to me that she is correct here. But if she is not, it would be helpful to point out the passages she has overlooked or misinterpreted.

Rick Frueh said...

Dobson and Robertson are only relevant as to examples of spending massive amounts of time and money attempting to politically leverage issues. Even if you hold to a Christian participation their template must be considered unbalanced.

The joining forces to rescue a little girl is different that viewing politics as a divine conduit for moral change. But in that we must also be careful, it is this cooperative principle that men like Rick Warren use to join forces with just about any unbeliever to affect moral change or administer humanitarian aid. It is more nuanced than just helping people.

There have been good thoughts on this thread. I still hold out the possibility that God never intended the church to mix with the Egyptians/Babylonians in deciding and making moral decisions and moral legislations. We are a peculaiar people, not ones that blend in with unbelieving conservatives.

The ark must remain wholly lifted up with staves and not periodically helped by any ox cart.

CR said...

Frank: You know: at my blog I specifically recommend Focus on the Family for those who need counseling advice -- their advice on family and emotional matters would be, by far, better than my amateur suggestions.

Wouldn't CCEF be a better recommendation?


Steve Scott said...

Frank, it's good to hear somebody frame the "gay marriage" issue as the church abdicating its authority to the state. Just because the state then held closely to the biblical idea of marriage for quite some time before deviating doesn't mean that what we see now couldn't have been easily predicted.

Marriage is a covenant between three parties; the man, the woman and God, with God as the lawgiving party. When a fourth party (the state) is added to the mix as a lawgiving party through marriage licenses, we now have the man, the woman, God [lawgiver] and State [lawgiver]. Each lawgiver has made different laws concerning marriage, and we know that no man can serve two masters. And this is why the divorce rate is so high among Christians. We have two gods. Don't like the husband/wife God gave you? Go to the state.

CR said...

Frank: I’m trying to find the pieces of evidence in the NT for completing a picture of ecclesiology regarding what the church as an entity ought to do regarding political matters – and why.

You're not going to find a NT ecclesiology, Frank, of what the church out to do regarding political matters and why because the state in biblical times was a monarchy, not a republic. So, there wouldn't be a discussion on political matters for the church to get involved in, in the Bible.

But the question becomes, is there anything in the Bible about governments that would have an implication or significance to us in our generation and in our form of government. And would there be an implication or significance not just for individual Christians, but the church? I believe so. Romans 13.

Augustine argued that government is a necessary evil, that it is necessary because of evil.

Human evil is the reason even corrupt governments are better than no government at all. The function of government is to restrain evil and to maintain, uphold and protect the sanctity of life and of property. When the government is no longer acting justly and no longer protecting life, by sanctioning abortions, for example, then the church could and should and some might argue must continue to call the government to task and voice what is right and just.

The reason why is according to Romans 13, the Lord has ordained or charged the government,not individuals to restrain these kinds of evil.

Unlike yours and Dan's example, where you can be the good Samaritan and save this lady from mugging or rape, the Lord has not charged a private citizen like me to restrain evils like abortion, which it sanctions, (our government doesn't sanction mugging and rapes) by going into an abortion clinic and using force to prevent the killing of babies. (You have wicked organizations which I won't mention that pretend to be Christian that tell people it is their duty to use deadly force to prevent an abortion). I am not charged as a private citizen to restrain the evil of others. The Lord has charged the civil magistrate to restrain evil, not its private citizens. The POTUS, Congress, SCOTUS, military, police officers and the local county dog-catcher is charged by God to enforce varying degrees of evil. I am not charged by God to do so.

And I think what some of us are saying, is that when the government fails to exercise the very reason for its existence, defending life, e.g., and sanctioning what is evil then the church can and should and must (many would say) call the government to task on this.

Many might disagree to what varying levels the church should be involved. Its chief function is of course to plant churches worldwide, proclaim the gospel and make disciples. It must equip the fellowship on how to do these things.

And I believe, when the government is failing to restrain the evil that the Lord has ordained governments to do, who else, but the church is going to call the government to task? Private individuals should do this, yes, but I believe, and I guess, some others do too, I don't know, that the church also, should be calling to task the government what it should be doing that apostle Paul writes in Romans 13.

Yes, we proclaim the gospel and make disciples and plant churches. That is what has been labeled in church history as the "Great Commission."

Is that her "only" commission?

I and some others believe that given that the Lord uses and ordains governments to restrain evil in our society and when these human governments fail in their duty that God has ordained these governments to do according to His preceptive will, I think the church could rightly and justly call to task the government on this.

In our society, in our republic government, we have a political party system. Calling the government to task on her God-ordained duty involves, I think some would argue, would require being involved in the political system at least how it applies in our generation and our form of government.

The church should not do this in lieu of the proclamation of the gospel and discipleship and planting churches and some might argue that the reason it is failing in these duties is because of her involvement in politics; to that I would disagree.

The American church is not woefully inadequate and negligent in her duties to proclaim the gospel and equip her saints to do this because of her involvement in politics. I think there are myriad of reasons why she is negligent.

Chief among them, is that the saints in the churches are not equipped on how to proclaim the gospel. They don't know how and they are afraid to do so. And church leaders are failing miserably in their obligation to equip saints on how to do this.

Another reason, maybe a lot of churches don't have actual believers in them. If churches are not teaching the word of God and instead tickling ears, what kind of people are you going to have sitting in Pews. People that don't have desire for God and therefore would not have a desire to proclaim the gospel.

But I don't believe a chief reason why the church is failing miserably in her chief function is because she is involved in too much politics. There are a myriad of other reasons and politics may be a one of several, but it is certainly not significant.

Traditions ~ 2 thess.2:15 said...
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Traditions ~ 2 thess.2:15 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.