The Issachar Report<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
1 Chronicles <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />12:32
Dennis A. Wright, DMin
"With the Supreme Court pick of John Roberts," notes William Kristol, "George W. Bush rose to the occasion."
"Once again, President Bush has confounded his critics by doing what he said he would do," observes Cal Thomas. "He has nominated to the Supreme Court someone he believes will not make law from the bench, but interpret laws in light of the Constitution as the Founders wrote it."
Within hours of President Bush's nomination of John G. Roberts, Jr. to the Supreme Court my Inbox filled with numerous requests for my signature upon various petitions in support of Judge Roberts. These requests came from both conservative political entities as well as conservative Christian organizations. The question arises: To what extent should Christians be involved in the political process? Now don't get me wrong, for I really like what I see in Judge Roberts.
But, this is a question that has troubled the Christian conscience for centuries. The emergence of the modern evangelical movement during the last half of the 20th century has brought a renewed concern for engagement with the culture and the political process. In his landmark book, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, the late Carl F.H. Henry presented evangelicals with a manifesto for Christian engagement. As Dr. Henry eloquently argued, disengagement from the critical issues of the day is not an option.
Albert Mohler recognizes that an evangelical theology for political participation "must be grounded in the larger context of cultural engagement. As the Christian worldview makes clear, our ultimate concern must be the glory of God. Building from that, we understand that when we are instructed by Scripture to love God and then to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are given a clear mandate for the right kind of cultural engagement. We love our neighbor because we first love God. In His sovereignty, our Creator has put us within this cultural context in order that we may display His glory by preaching the gospel, confronting persons with God's truth, and serving as agents of salt and light in a dark and fallen world. In other words, love of God leads us to love our neighbor --- and love of neighbor requires our participation in the culture and in the political process."
Augustine made this case in his monumental work, The City of God, which he wrote even as the Roman Empire was in its death throes. He explained that mankind is confronted by two cities --- the City of God and the City of Man. The City of God is eternal and takes as its sole concern the greater glory of God. In the City of God, the Word of God rules all things, and the perfect rule of God is the passion of all its citizens.
In the City of Man, however, the reality is very different. This city is filled with mixed passions, mixed allegiances, and compromised principles. Though the City of God is marked by unconditional obedience to the command of God, citizens of the City of Man demonstrate deadly patterns of disobedience, even as they celebrate and claim their moral autonomy, and then revolt against the Creator.
The City of God is eternal, even as the City of Man is passing. But this does not mean that the City of Man is ultimately unimportant, and it does not allow the church to forfeit its responsibility to love its citizens. "Love of neighbor --- grounded in our love for God --- requires us to work for good in the City of Man," says Dr. Mohler, "even as we set as our first priority the preaching of the gospel --- the only means of bringing citizens of the City of Man into citizenship in the City of God."
Christians bear important responsibilities in both cities. Therefore, we must engage in political action, not because we believe the conceit that politics is ultimate, but because we must obey our Redeemer when He commanded that we must love our neighbor. The Kingdom of God is never up for a vote in any election, and there are no polling places in the City of God.
Now is not the time for silence, or for shirking our responsibilities as Christian citizens. Ominous signs of moral collapse and cultural decay now appear on our contemporary horizon. A society ready to put the institution of marriage up for demolition and transformation is a society losing its most basic moral sense. A culture ready to treat human embryos as material for medical experimentation is a society turning its back on human dignity and the sacredness of human life.
Even so, it is by God's sovereignty that we are now confronted with these crucial issues and the decisions that are made in the political arena. Mohler affirms that trouble in the City of Man is a call to action for citizens of the City of God, and that call to action must involve political involvement as well. "Christians may well be the last citizens who know the difference between the eternal and the temporal, the ultimate and the urgent. God's truth is eternal and Christian convictions must be commitments of permanence. Political alliances and arrangements are, by definition, temporary and conditional. This is no time for America's Christians to confuse the City of Man with the City of God. At the same time, we can never be counted faithful in the City of God if we neglect our duty in the City of Man."
This is a good principle to remember as America gears up for an imperative political debate over Judge Roberts.
Dennis A. Wright, DMin is Founder and President of Understanding The Times Ministries. An accomplished writer and educator, Wright has spoken in churches and conferences all over America on spiritual counterfeits and Christian Worldview topics. He can be emailed at Dennis@UnderstandingTheTimes.org and his new website can be found at www.UnderstandingTheTimes.org.
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