Published on April 6th, 2014 | by Jaycen Saab
On the Spot: Should churches/pastors be involved in politics?
The “On the Spot” question of the month is posed to the WV4G writers. The questions are ones that raise eyebrows and something not everyone is comfortable talking about. Hence the name. It’s a place for us to discuss difficult things that most folks don’t have the courage to ask openly.
(Want to put the WV4G writers “On the Spot”? Drop us a line here with your question! -> Submit Question)
This month’s question On The Spot question:
To what extent, if any, should churches/pastors be involved in politics (local, state, national, global)?
Josiah Batten writes:
Abraham Kuyper is noted for saying “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” In this spirit, to the extent we believe Christ is Lord over politics we will attempt to see Him honored as Lord in politics (local, state, national, and global). There is no neutrality. We submit to Christ as Lord, or we stand opposed to Him (Matthew 12:30). If Christ is Lord, Christian activity in politics is merely the extension of His Lordship into yet another area of human existence.
We need to be careful here, though. In the past, especially in America, we as Christians have made political activity an idol and the federal government a god. Political activity based on the idea “politics affects everything” is starting on the wrong foundation, and an idolatrous one at that. Political activity based on the idea “Christ affects everything” is building on the only sure foundation. Every political system, as Douglas Wilson has noted, is a theocracy. The only question is “which theos [which God/god]?” As Christians, we of course want to advocate the one true Triune God.
Thus, God has established boundaries for the civil government (Romans 13:1-7). These boundaries are to promote the good, to discourage evil, and to protect its citizens. This raises the question “what is the good?” And it is here that we as Christians must answer most firmly and most persuasively in accordance with the Scriptures for the glory of God. To not be involved in politics would be to deny the Lordship of Christ in a fundamental area of human endeavor.
Seth Campbell writes:
While recognizing that Christ is Lord of all, including politics, all Christians (especially pastors) must not attempt to utilize their role in government, however small or big, to politicize Christianity to death. Politicizing a religion will only lead to it’s demise. Look no further than Europe for a poignant example. God gave us government to help rule and set limits and boundaries for our sinful hearts. God gave us the Gospel to change our sinful hearts. Regardless of how involved we as Christians get in politics, the more we look for a savior on Capitol Hill, the more we will overlook the one on Calvary’s Hill. And he is the only one who can make a real difference.
All that being said, Christians should be the biggest champions and proponents of both liberty and peace. Christ set us free because he loves freedom and liberty (Galatians 5:1). We are also told countless times in Scripture that the essence of the message of Christ was one of peace and we are to be people of peace (Romans 12:18, 14:19; 1 Timothy 2:1-3; Ephesians 2:17; Psalm 120:6, 7; et al.). Therefore, in desiring to be like Jesus, we should love and defend the freedom, liberty, and peace of all people as well.
Dave Bitler writes:
There are several ways to answer this question and several angles to come at it. In this limited space, I’m only going to address one common misconception that exists in some areas of the public discourse. When some people address the concept of “Freedom of Religion”, the believe that this means that people should be free to worship privately, but public expressions are not always granted the same level of freedom. This idea expands to declare that Christians are free to believe whatever they want, but they may need to silence or forego those beliefs when dealing in the public arena. There is nothing in scripture that suggests that a Christian’s behavior or beliefs should be compromised in one area of life over another. That being said, living in a pluralistic society does require tolerance and Christians should be daily rubbing shoulders with people who disagree and believe differently from us. We are to be about the business of showing the love of Christ and being in the world but not of the world. We are to love sinners but not become party to sin. We are to be influenced by the Holy Spirit and not by popular culture. Our politics must begin with repentance, proceed with love and understanding, and strive for holiness.