Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stating It Clearly

Hello fellow bloggerites,

Thanks for all the feedback on my review of Colson’s God & Government. In light of some of this feedback, I feel I need to clarify my view. I am not suggesting Christians can’t or shouldn’t be involved in politics (though I can easily understand how the New Testament leads some Christians to this conclusion). And I am not at all negating the good that Christians like William Wilberforce accomplished by political means (though non-Christians have of course accomplished similar things). Rather, in my review of Colson’s book and my other writings, I am simply arguing four things:

1) Even if it's permissible for Christians to participate in politics, we certainly don’t have a duty to do so, as Colson and most Evangelicals assume. Our only duty and allegiance is to God and his Kingdom. We cannot serve two masters. Out of our duty to God we are to obey laws, pay taxes and pray for political leaders as well as peace. (These are the only four things Scripture mentions in regards to what a Christian's relationship with political power should be.) Also out of our duty to God, however, we are to break all laws and go against all social norms and cultural taboos that are inconsistent with the reign of God. The life of a Kingdom person is to be counter-cultural and subversive of power.

2) There is no distinctly “Christian” way of being involved in politics. The criteria for political discernment is decency and wisdom, not the Christian faith or Christian lifestyle. Given the ambiguity of most political issues, good and decent people can and do fundamentally disagree about proposed political solutions to various problems. Kingdom people need to always respect this ambiguity, even (especially) on issues about which they are passionate, and thus never label their particular views "Christian."

3) While some good things can at times come of political involvement, the trust and confidence of Kingdom people is never to be placed here. Our trust is to be placed exclusively in the Kingdom of God, which always looks like Jesus. Our focus, time and energy must be centered on individually and collectively replicating the self-sacrificial love of Jesus to all people at all times.

4) Finally, politics is dangerous! We must always remember that Satan -- the “god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4) who “controls the entire world” (1 Jn. 5:19) -- is the C.E.O. of all governments (Lk 4:5-7). We must always remember that political power was the thing Satan tempted Jesus with and must never forget that Jesus refused this temptation. We must always remember Church history, which abundantly testifies to how saying “yes” to Satan’s temptation turns the Church into an ugly, destructive puppet of Caesar.

That's it in a nutshell. Hope that clarifies things a bit.

In an upcoming post I'm going to tackle the problem of violence in the Old Testament. Stay tuned!