Monday, July 05, 2004

Christians and Politics, Take One--Separatism

Some Christians point to Paul's injunction to "not conform any longer to the pattern of this world," along with other texts, as evidence that Christians should avoid politics for fear of being infected by "worldliness." An extreme separatism characterized American fundamentalism during the last century from about the time of the Scopes Trial until the resurgence of the so-called religious right in late 1970's. As a rule, few Christians hold this view today. In fact, the case against voting and in favor of a total disengagement from politics is only made by anarchist libertarians like Wendy McElroy, and "sympathetic nonbelievers" like Fred Reed and Nicholas Strakhon.

I want to just examine briefly a few of the reasons Christians should be involved in politics. I have no illusions of going down every rabbit trail in a brief post, but hope to touch on a few highlights.

First, and most obviously--all of life is ethical. Paul writes in II Cor. 10:5 that, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Moreover, as Christians we are to do all things for God's glory (II Cor. 10:31). As believers, we are to shine the light of truth into dark corners, wherever that may take us. The Bible is given to us primarily to reveal God in His glory and to lead us to faith. But the Word also speaks to politics, economics, and culture. There is no neutrality. Jesus tells us that we are either with Him or against Him, and that applies to politics as well as every other area of life. Christ has all authority, and has a claim on our loyalty.

Secondly, whether they realize it or not, Christians who counsel cultural and political disengagement are in reality preaching a Gnostic gospel. Frequently these well-intentioned folks will create an artificial distinction between "spiritual" and "secular" realms. In arguing that the material world is essentially evil, they are closer to being neo-Platonists than Christians.

As God's people we are called to be salt and light to a dying and dark world (Matt. 5:13-16). Moreover, God affirms that the creation itself is good (Gen. 1:31) and that it is sin that causes the creation to groan. Our duty as God's stewards is to not only spread the Gospel and make disciples, but to work at the restoration of His creation. When the New Testament speaks of salvation, it is talking about an act of the Messiah. It means more than just rescuing a few blighted souls from the darkness of eternal punishment, it speaks to an ethical transformation that impacts every area of life--including politics.


Blogger Rebecca said...

I am enjoying your blog. I just had a discussion with a friend who traversed the path from extreme liberal, bra burning, marching for euathanasia, pro choice, feminism, young married woman to, God help me, I'm a mom with kids out of control and need something to believe in anything that will keep them safe from the wiles of amoralism. She has become an avid if rabid Rush speaking, bible thumping, flag waving, pro-war, anti-public education woman, who appears to have just found a new enemy to hate.
Can you comment please on listening to people like Rush. I love the Lord, but feel our job is to seek out the log in our own eyes first before we poke sticks in others. Thanks

1:58 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Hello Rebecca. Thanks for stopping by. My guess is that you will find much here that is infuriating.

I'm a homeschooling father in a very conservative, reformed, baptistic congregation.

My conservatism is generally tempered though in that I'm disgusted by the path taken by the contemporary movement.

I also do some strong writing on my blog, but I think the criticism is generally directed at those nearest to me. I generally critique Baptists, not Episcopal, Republicans, not Democrats, conservatives rather than libs.

I was an avid Limbaugh listener from about 1990 until probably about 1996. During that time I saw him traverse from being something of an anti-establishment populist to being a GOP lickspittle.

If you want to read my critiques of the "religious right," start with this...

If interested in a critique of Christian warmongering, try here....

I do fundamentally believe Christian engagement in the cultural and, yes, political spheres is necessary. However, I think we have to begin that process thoughtfully, carefully, and charitably.

5:11 PM  

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