Thursday, December 17, 2009

CITIZEN-KINGS AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM
...by Tom Ascol

A Timely Encore Presentation


I received a call from my friend (and executive director of The Founders Ministries), Tom Ascol, this morning and in the course of that conversation I expressed to him my deep appreciation for his solid biblical insights expressed recently on the Founders Ministry website and blog concerning JS2, church and politics and political activism (a link which I feature on this blog.) Tom and I are one mind on these issues and I thank the Lord for him. In a recent blog post I believe Tom represents the balance between biblical Christianity and our duty to society (I have posted his comments below for you to read). As he and I spoke we shared a common concern for much of the misguided political direction in evangelicalism today (i.e. ECB, Justice Sunday 2).

To whet your appetite, here are a few of his razor-sharp thoughts about "church and politics" taken from his blog posted this past Monday, August 15th:

"I make a distinction (a necessary one, it seems to me) between the role and function of the church and the role and function of individual believers. A Christian can go to war in behalf of the state, but a church must never take up the physical sword as part of its mission. A Christian can be a magistrate (king, president, senator, etc.) but a church must never seek to rule a geo-political structure with political authority."

"The nature, purpose and mission of the church is to be determined by the Word of God and the Word of God alone. As a pastor I have often been lobbied by individuals and organizations who have wanted "my church" to go on record in support of (Right to Life) or protest against (public schools) various political and social causes. By and large I have declined such overtures."

"It is right and proper for Christians to be involved in every level of politics as individual citizens. But when they call for a Christian congregation to become institutionally involved in political activism they are guilty of distracting that church from its God-given mission. It is precisely because of this that the religious right's proposals are disastrous for evangelical churches."

"I find much agreement with Martyn Lloyd-Jones at this point. In an interview with Carl Henry in 1980 he said, "It amazes me that evangelicals have suddenly taken such an interest in politics." He went on to call such interest "sheer folly.... You can't reform the world. That's why I disagree entirely with the 'social and cultural mandate' teaching and its appeal to Genesis 1:28. It seems to me to forget completely the Fall. You can't Christianize the world. The end time is going to be like the time of the Flood. The condition of the modern world proves that what we must preach more than ever is 'Escape from the wrath to come!' The situation is critical. I believe the Christian people--but not the church--should get involved in politics and social affairs. The kingdom task of the church is to save men from the wrath to come by bringing them to Christ. This is what I believe and emphasize. The main function of politics, culture, and all these things is to restrain evil. They can never do an ultimately positive work. Surely the history of the world demonstrates that. You can never Christianize the world."

"It is for this resason that all the calls to "reclaim America for Christ" leave me cold. Our real need is to reclaim the church for Christ. When Christ is exalted in His church, when He is loved and revered and cherised with passion by those who bear His Name--in other words, when the church starts living like the church--then His body cannot help but make an impact on culture."

We both agree that we are to be given over to biblical cultural engagement, but not to the kind of ecumenical political practice absent of the declaration of God's Word and the gospel of sola fide that those in the ECB camp champion. I so appreciate his voice on this issue and I highly commend to you the following entry by Tom. "May his tribe increase!"

Grace and peace to you,
Steve Camp
Col. 1:9-14
Read more of Tom's articles

Tuesday August 16th
"My antipathy toward JSII and the growing evangelical political activism does not mean that I think Christians should opt out of the political process. In fact, I want to be clear in stating that I recognize the church has a prophetic role to play in relation to political powers. "Speaking truth to power" may have been sloganized by liberals but it is an apt description of the church's responsibility to civil authorities. This is a part of the church's calling as the pillar and ground of the truth.

Beyond this, I believe that American Christians actually have a responsibility to be involved in the political process to promote justice and goodness. Let me try to explain the direction of my thinking about this.

Does the Bible give directives to civil rulers and monarchs? Even the most convinced pietist would, I think, agree. Romans 13:1-7 not only calls for Christians to submit to civil authorities but it also states that civil authorities are under God's authority and are therefore accountable to Him to reward good and punish evil. The Old Testament abounds with examples of God holding rulers accountable for the way they rule. This is true not only of the kings of Judah and Israel but also the kings of pagan nations.

If we lived under a monarchy we would have not only the right but the duty to call on the monarch to govern justly, knowing (whether he acknowledged it or not) that he is God's servant and obligated to reward good and punish evil.

But we do not live in a monarchy. We live in a democratic republic. Who is our civil king? We are. The citizens. We are citizen-kings. Thus we have not only the right but the responsibility to use the political process established by the republic to promote that which is good and restrict that which is evil. Citizen-kings should advocate good laws and decry bad ones. We should hold elected officials responsible for the trust we vest in them. Citizen-kings are responsible to work for justice and goodness in society."

14 comments:

Bhedr said...

Steve I want to say i agree with you and your friend. You guys are sound on this. My only conviction is still that men are trusting in flesh and do not realize it. I've been doing a roundabout with Steve Hays and let me apologize to you as i wish to distance myself from any reasoning I once had that a forum with him was a good thing. I am gonna post this on Phil's blog when I get a chance:

Dear Phil,

My purpose for this little roundabout with Steve was not to win a debate but to draw him out of the "Black Hole" Campi so accurately described. Did he prove me to be ignorant on things? Yes. He also probably felt I was being reactionary this time around but was I? In the end I didn't need his books or his biblical interpretation to prove that his view of Theonomy(and I might add most men today) is humanistic: I needed him. I hope you can see what I am talking about. Phil please don't fall into the trap of thinking flesh and blood will win the battle, it's easy to do. Steve Hays and I are little OZ men. If his purpose was to prove me a fool then fine; but in the words of the late Obiwan Kenobi :-) Who is the more fool? The fool or the one who follows him. I say this to all men who read this blog: Get your eyes off of the wizard of Oz and put them on Yeshua.

God also told Samuel when Israel rejected His theocracy, "They have not rejected you, they have rejected me."

When John the Baptist and Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is at hand." They meant it. It is wholly and completely not of this world and any human imagination that exalts itself against it.

I still vote and pray for leaders as well as thank God for this nation he allowed me to live in. I also fought for it and would still do so today if given another chance.

By the way Steve Hays feels that broad and sweeping statements should not be used. On his site I saw an excellent example of one in bold letters. Jus referred to Campi as being Howard Stern. I don't understand in one comment he said Campi was a great Christian and wonderful singer and he hoped that more would be like him. Now he compares him with a pornographer who indulges in the most ungodly behavior. If this is not reactionary, I don't know what is. There is no shame in that "Black Hole" and its purpose is to grind.

SJ Camp said...

Thank you dear brother for this post.

You wrote: "I still vote and pray for leaders as well as thank God for this nation he allowed me to live in. I also fought for it and would still do so today if given another chance."

This is very good. Biblical engagement in and with the culture; standing for what is true and right according to Scripture; praying for our leaders and holding them accountable through the electoral process, writing them, town hall meetings, and forums is all permissable and is within the context of Scripture (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:11-17).

I have never met Steve Hays and I am sure he is likable fellow apart from his blogging. But I am also concerned for him. He sure has attacked me and not on the issues from a biblical worldview, but on slanderous hyperbole. I will pray for him.

Thank you again for your comments to me and Phil.
Grace and peace,
Campi

SJ Camp said...

One additional thought 4 U. You mentioned Jus or Steve referring to me as a "Howard Stern" type. This isn't even worth dignifying.

Jus is young; he will learn and mature--we just need to give him some time. But in the meanwhile we should pray for him that the Lord will bring into his life, through a good local church or mutual friends, some pastors that will disciple him and mentor him in the Word of God.

Until then, he needs to come at me with more than cheap shots and adolescent name calling (typical theonomist strategery)--he needs to come at me with the Word of God and keep his thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

Guarding the Trust by His grace...
SJ Camp
Phil. 3:1-11

Bhedr said...

Amen brother and Carry on. I am still learning as well. Your thoughts are good. It is easy for men like you to be misunderstood in the same way that David's brothers unfairly charged him; but to everyone I say...Is there not a cause?

Jeremy Weaver said...

Enjoyed it, Steve.
Tom's got a good blog over there, doesn't he?

rlhuckle said...

I, too, agree with your take on Evangelical Co-Beligerance and decry the unbiblical role the modern church is attempting to undertake. However, it is a fulfillment of prophecy; it is truly a delusion that has caused a great falling away to occur. My heart grieves because of the blindness God has allowed to fall upon those who encourage it.

The Lord has laid the book of James on my heart regarding the modern church--especially 4:4. It would appear that being friends with the world and adopting its methods and attitudes is the underlying cause of this apostasy. Too many churchgoers have been friends of the world in their education and training. Believer's have forgotten what biblically based education of their children is all about. We are reaping the fruit of this error today.

Many tried to warn us of the dangers of public education, but few listened. Look to your own children and their foundations if you truly desire to reclaim the church for Christ. I think it is too late, but I am in prayer constantly interceding for those of us who have been blinded.

rlhuckle said...

I, too, agree with your take on Evangelical Co-Beligerance and decry the unbiblical role the modern church is attempting to undertake. However, it is a fulfillment of prophecy; it is truly a delusion that has caused a great falling away to occur. My heart grieves because of the blindness God has allowed to fall upon those who encourage it.

The Lord has laid the book of James on my heart regarding the modern church--especially 4:4. It would appear that being friends with the world and adopting its methods and attitudes is the underlying cause of this apostasy. Too many churchgoers have been friends of the world in their education and training. Believer's have forgotten what biblically based education of their children is all about. We are reaping the fruit of this error today.

Many tried to warn us of the dangers of public education, but few listened. Look to your own children and their foundations if you truly desire to reclaim the church for Christ. I think it is too late, but I am in prayer constantly interceding for those of us who have been blinded.

littlegal_66 said...

rlhuckle said, "Believer's have forgotten what biblically based education of their children is all about," and, "Many tried to warn us of the dangers of public education, but few listened."

Although I am in agreement with you on your point of ECB possibly being a fulfillment of prophecy, (this could be a foot in the door toward the establishment of one world-wide religion) I beg to disagree with you on the two statements I have quoted you on above.

Christian parents should not expect the public schools to teach children Christian morals, nor should they shirk their responsibility of biblical instruction by putting them in Christian schools to let the Christian educators do it all. Christian parents, in conjunction with their churches, should take back the reponsibility of nurturing their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I am not saying you should always place your children in the public schools system, I'm merely saying that if you take them out of public schools, the motive shouldn't be just to insure that they recieve adaquate and sound biblical instruction; but rather, you should insure that eventuality by personally instructing and teaching them in the ways of Christ.
(Sorry, Campi, if I've hijacked your blog).

Adam Cummings said...

Wale, I mieself was homeskooled, and Ie theenk that that was the bestest theeng my parints cood ever have givin mee.

--Adam
(really... just ignore me)
God bless!

littlegal_66 said...

adam--

Just realized that I mispelled "receive" in my post above--and since I am a graduate of the public school system, now what kind of validity is there to my argument?! ; )

Adam Cummings said...

Well, you know, I was in public school until the 5th grade or so. I'm half and half. I did slack a little in my homeschooling work, but it did teach me how to be more independent in my studies. This has nothing to do with the current topic, so I'll stop now. Just remember, "i before e, except after c; or when sounded like 'ay', as in neighbor or weigh" ; ) lol!

Detoured By Travel said...

Steve - Thanks for this.

Politics has always been about the power man can have and hold. But to quote a line from Rev. James Liddell in one of my favorite movies (Chariots of Fire), "...the Lord never seeks re-election." He is sovereign. He is God Almighty.

If I remember correctly, Jesus' followers wondered in Acts 1:6 if after His resurrection He planned to restore the Kingdom back to Israel. To my mind, this was a political question to which Jesus essentially replied "none of your business." He then told them about the power of the Holy Spirit that would empower them to be witnesses.

Here's the exact quote:

Acts 1:6-8 (NIV)

6 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That is God's heart, that is God's desire, that must be our mission. Should we be about doing right in this world? Yes. But let us not forget how Jesus answered this political question. He responded with a directive to witness.

Steve, thanks again for your faithfulness. I am always blessed at challenged by this blog.

Robin said...

Hate to sound ignorant, but what is JS II?

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