"'I don't sit around in my office thinking up controversies. But I do use controversy to shine the light on Jesus Christ,' Jeffress, the pastor of the 11,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, said Thursday (Jan. 9)." Baptist Press
Recent events of national importance prompt us to reflect on postmodern politics. While postmodern thinking has been around for a number of years, we have now in the White House America’s first postmodern president.
America was founded by people deeply engrained in the modern mindset. Individualism, with both the protection and encouragement of the individual, is at the heart of the American political system. Our country was established upon “self-evident” truths, an acknowledgement of absolutes. Because so many of our founders were Christian (and I’ll use the term rather broadly here—some were faithful to their denomination, but may not have been true believers) and others were deists who believed that Christianity was the best form of religion, we find numerous Scripture references and allusions in the founding documents and in the writings of our early patriots.
America was founded as a democratic republic. It was democratic in that each citizen (individualism) received a vote. It was a republic (absolutism) in that the democratic vote could not override established laws. The result was our system of checks and balances, which provided the citizenry with protection from any one element of government going amuck. This system worked pretty well into the mid 20th century. Now we wonder what’s gone wrong.
Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Jul/Aug 2013.
Americans have the privilege of living in a country with a great heritage and great opportunities. Our country has never been perfect, so it’s right for us to pray with the patriotic song line, “America, America, God mend thine every flaw.” But is there more that we should do about those flaws than pray? And if so, what shape should our public engagement look like? In particular, what about a Christian’s involvement in politics and social campaigning? Is there a way for us to put feet to our prayers that doesn’t put our feet on the wrong path?
This is a divisive issue among Christians. On one side are those who advocate a militant political approach to our nation’s moral ills. Frankly, I’m uncomfortable with some of today’s prominent forms of Christian political activism. There’s a real danger for the Church and Christians to become overly politicized. Sometimes Christians embroiled in public arena battles seem to lose sight of what the good fight of faith is really about. On the other hand are those who advocate a withdrawal from all engagement, seeing it as a rival to true Christian ministry. In some cases this includes prohibitions against voting of any kind. While I view my calling as an ambassador of Christ of far greater importance than my being a citizen of a great country, I believe there is such a thing as Christian citizenship, a way to meaningfully engage in the concerns of public life without getting our gospel priorities out of order.
First appeared at SI in July of 2011.
Something doesn’t add up. We refer to July 4 as Independence Day. We refer to the war that followed as the Revolutionary War. But if we viewed ourselves as independent of British rule on July 4, how could we have engaged in revolution after July 4? Revolution normally precedes independence. Either the day or the war is a misnomer.
For Christians the incongruity raises deeper questions. Given the response to government that Scripture requires, shouldn’t we oppose the whole idea of revolution, regardless of the circumstances? And if we’re opposed to revolution, can we rejoice in independence?
Genesis 9 is understood by many to represent God’s re-founding of the institution of human government. The NT emphasizes submission to that institution as our Christian duty.
And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him. (Mark 12:16–17)
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work… (Titus 3:1)
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:13–15)