Politics According to the Bible–Part 3

Posted: September 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Today we continue looking at chapter 1 of Dr. Wayne Grudem’s new book “Politics According to the Gospel”  Grudem opens his new tome by outlining “Five Wrong Views about Christians and Government.”  We looked at the first three earlier, now we look at the last two “Do Evangelism, Not Politics” and “Do Politics, Not Evangelism.”

The former view is espoused by such notable figures as Dr. John MacArthur and columnist Cal Thomas.  MacAthur has written, “[Jesus] did not come to the earth to make the old creation moral through social and governmental reform but to make new creatures (His people) wholly through the saving power of the gospel and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.”

Grudem counters that MacArthur has “too narrow and understanding of the Gospel and the kingdom of God.”   Grudem argues that when Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples and teach them to observe all that He commanded (Matt. 28:19-20), that this includes all of Scripture with clear admonitions for governments and, in fact, for ALL life.  After all Jesus came not just to forgive sinners but to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) and to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Matt. 22:39) and it is not beyond the pale to argue that public policy falls within the ambit of both commands.  

Furthermore, it is important to note how many Christians have positively influenced governments throughout history.  Grudem quotes historian Alvin Schmidt who outlines the following impact Christians have had on governments: the outlawing of infanticide and abortion in the Roman Empire (AD 374); outlawing gladiatorial contests (AD 404); outlawing the brandishing of the face of criminals (AD 315); instituting prison reforms (AD 361); halting human sacrifice in several nations such as Ireland and Prussia; outlawing pedophilia in several nations and tribes; earning property rights for women; establishing the public school system; and leading the fight against slavery and institutional racism.

Moreover, directly contrary to MacArthur’s opinion, governments can and do help or hinder the spread of the Gospel by protecting or restricting religious liberty.

While it is true that Christians should expect persecution, Grudem argues that it is wrong to believe we should passively sit back and wait for it! God will do what God will do and we are to be faithful no matter what.

Yet, MacArthur and others (such as those at Xenos Church in Columbus) have argued that when churches engage in politics that it diverts money and energy from evangelism.  Grudem retorts that if God has called us to do it then we should simply obey and that there is no reason why one should hinder the other, which leads us to the “do politics, not evangelism” error, which was the view of the social gospel movement and by many emergent Christian leaders like Jim Wallis.

Jesus’ great commission remains THE mission statement for the church and should obviously be the priority.  Yet, there is still room for pastors to educate their members on what the Bible has to say about burning policy issues. 

There is no reason to engage in one and ignore the other.

So, what is Grudem’s solution? We will turn to it next week.

Until then, grace and peace.

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