Monday, November 06, 2006

Missionaries or preservers of order?

My inboxes often open to both useful and annoying updates from anything and everything I have ever had anything to do with in my life... Today one such email was something that was meant to inform me on the necessity for voting this year. It's from a local Christian/conservative activist group but that's beside the point. Quotes from leading evangelical/conservative leaders were the bulk of this letter. Although all of them seemed to tend toward the same point--go out and vote--the careful eye can discern some conflicting perspectives.

Exhibit one - Tony Perkins, Family Research Council:
"If we want godly government — how do you think we get godly government? …By putting godly people in government. Making that happen begins with getting past the excuses for nonparticipation and voting for candidates who hold to biblical values. But it doesn't end there. It also involves Christians seeking elective office themselves — and fellow Christians supporting those efforts with their money and time.

So often as Christians we want to disengage from politics. We need to see this as a mission field and send missionaries into government. If we had Christians inside our congregations pursuing it as a calling of God, as a ministry, it'd be a lot easier for churches to support them. And that's where the church needs to go."
This is the most problematic and misguided quote I noticed. I won't say it is without truth--there is nothing wrong with Christians seeking high office and fellow Christians supporting them. However the problem is this: Perkins seems to put his faith in government and wants the church to help society, not by preaching the gospel and being a light like it is called to do, but by treating homegrown politicians like missionaries--thereby distorting the mission of the church--also it might encourage the failure of good candidates by scaring nonchristian voting blocs with what might sound like theocratic language.

In summary: No, you don't get godly government just "by putting godly people in government." The church must first stop abrogating their responsibility to be salt and light--for instance, by taking back from government the responsibility of charity. Time to stop expecting the government to fix all of our Katrinas.

Exhibit two - Kay Arthur, Precept Ministries:

“How important is it that Christians take advantage of the privilege given us to vote? Or, as children of God, are we not to concern ourselves with politics? Wouldn't you think that if God urges us to pray for those in authority and if we have the opportunity and privilege of electing our leaders that He would expect us to exercise our governmental rights? Wouldn't it be our God-given responsibility as God-fearing people to uphold the biblical tenets upon which this nation was founded?

These are very turbulent days – and personally, I believe that we are where we are because the Church has been apathetic about the Word of God and righteousness. Although we are meant to affect our society as salt and light – first and foremost in our own lives – have we instead infected our nation by giving it a distorted image of what it means to be a child of a holy God?

‘Righteousness exalts a nation; sin is a reproach to any people’. We are a nation under great reproach, and consequently we are living in turbulent times. If we do not cast our vote for righteousness in our own lives first and then in our nation, I fear what will happen to us.”
This comes a lot closer to the truth in my humble opinion.

Exhibit three - Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship:
“Voting is not an option for Christians. It's a biblical duty, because by voting we carry out God's agency; we are His instruments for appointing leaders. Just like Samuel in the Old Testament, we are commissioned to find the very best people we can who are best able to lead us. Not to vote, or to turn down candidates because they're not perfect on a biblical score sheet, is a dereliction of biblical responsibility.

Remember that the first job of a leader biblically is to preserve order, out of which freedom flows, and then to restrain evil. Every thinking Christian has to look at candidates this year and decide for himself or herself which one can best keep and preserve order and restrain evil. And remember also Jethro's advice to Moses: ‘Choose men who love God and are able’. And you have to look at other things with candidates—their character and their stand on moral issues. And then once they're elected, we need to keep pressing them on those moral issues, lobbying for what is right. I am convinced of the need for more, not less, political involvement from Christians. And it all begins with voting.”
Colson hits close as well--as opposed to thinking of political leaders as missionaries, he views them as the bible speaks of them: as preservers of order.

If you haven't voted, please vote. If you need a recommendation, vote Republican...
<< Home 5 Comments:
Blogger Rebekah said...

This post was extremely helpful Mark--I have been rather confused of late about the Christian's role in politics. In fact, politics has become very low priority for me because I find it difficult to distinguish the difference between reconstructionism and plain, simple, Biblical involvement in our countries government.

10:56 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Kristi said...

Thanks for that...I had to read it very carefully though and pay attention to the quotation marks. At first I thought you were very disappointed with Kay Arthur's perspective--and I was going to challenge you on it...but rereading, I think I absorbed the commentator's opinion more accurately. :P
Wow, to equate politicians with missionaries...that's just slightly off (in the sense that Perkins meant it at least).

11:23 PM, November 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your republicans got a beating handed too them on Tuesday night.

8:02 AM, November 08, 2006  
Blogger Mark R said...

You mean I could have avoided one pointless comment by just eliminating the last line of the post?

Note to self: try to be more implicit next time around.

9:01 PM, November 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just pointing out an observation. You said vote republican and I pointed out they got a beating:)

11:11 AM, November 10, 2006  

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