UPDATED: God & Politics || 35 Principles that All Christians Can Agree OnBy
On Sunday, September 11, 2016, we tackled the weighty issue of religion and politics. In the morning service, I preached from 1 Peter 2:13-17, in order to help us think biblically about how Christians should relate to governing authorities and how to think about the upcoming presidential elections. If you would like to listen to that message, you can find it here: Thinking Biblically About Government and Politics (1 Peter 2:13-17).
On Sunday evening, we had the privilege of hosting a forum on God and Politics. You can find it here: High Pointe Forum on Christianity & Politics. Pastor Ben Wright’s 35 points were so helpful that I asked his permission to provide them to you in full. Here they are below. Please carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully work through each one.
9/11/16 God & Politics Forum | 35 principles Christians can agree on
Why do we need to talk about this?
- We have to because Jesus Christ reigns over all. As his ambassadors, our job is to live as his representatives and declare his message.
What’s government for?
- Government’s mission to punish evil and reward good (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
Should we be favorably inclined toward government?
- Almost any government is better than no government.
- Because we are a representative or constitutional democracy, the responsibilities delegated to government in Scripture fall ultimately to American citizens.
- We owe government prayer, taxes, respect, and honor.
- You are not in sin if you oppose elected officials or their policies. You are in sin if you do not honor them and pray for them.
- Christians should be engaged in politics and government.
- Opportunities abound at local levels to engage influentially.
- It is right to be grateful for how our government has fought evil and promoted good.
- It is easy for white middle class people to believe our government did a great job fighting evil and promoting good throughout our history.
- Whatever era of American history you look back to as the ideal certainly wasn’t ideal for everyone. In every era, people have suffered under injustice that was tolerated, if not propagated, by our government and our culture.
- It is possible to be both compassionate & treat people with the dignity of divine image-bearers, and at the same time to favor enforcing the law & supporting law enforcement.
- Government is neither the fundamental problem nor the fundamental solution.
- Politicians often identify real problems but propose terrible solutions.
- We should be grateful but realistic, knowing government officials are fallen humans, just as we are.
How might we be thinking poorly about Christianity & politics?
- Our membership in a church and our citizenship in Jesus’ Kingdom are more fundamental to our identity than our American citizenship (When we forget this, we are thinking poorly about Christianity & politics).
- It is possible, if not common, for Christians to prioritize political convictions over the Church’s mission.
- What happens in elections has zero impact on Jesus’ promise to build his Church and the Holy Spirit’s work to make that happen.
- Our political opponents are our neighbors, not our enemies. They are people we are sent on a mission to reach, not to war against.
- Religious freedom is good and desirable.
- God doesn’t need religious freedom in America to accomplish his plan.
- It is possible to possess righteous anger over government’s failure to fulfill its God-given mission.
- Other people may perceive real failures of government that are invisible to us, and we should learn from them.
- Unrighteous anger reveals how shallow is our trust in God.
- It is dangerous, if not common, to treasure American laws and freedom more than souls being set free from the penalty of sin and power of the devil.
- It is possible, if not likely, to cast a morally justifiable vote while possessing immoral motivations.
- People who argue there’s only one choice for Christians to make in this election year are placing a constraint on the Christian conscience that Scripture does not permit.
- Disagreements among Christians over how to vote often emerge less from disagreements over principles, and more from disagreements over how we weigh our principles.
- We need to figure out what principles we really stand on. Until then, we should guard our pronouncements.
- It is possible, if not likely, that in this election Satan is executing a strategy designed to divide the Church & distract it from its mission.
- From an eternal perspective, we should be far more concerned about the disunity of the Church and distraction from our mission than the disintegration of historic American political principles.
- Christians need to be people who are committed to work through these issues without allowing them to divide us.
- The normal standing of Christians is on the margins of society. We should expect opposition and suffering.
- Anger, fear, and despair over the loss of a privileged standing are not marks of people who understand what it means to follow Christ. They may be marks of people who treasure American citizenship more than citizenship in the kingdom of God.
- If this election season drives American Christians to dislodge our hope in political parties and presidential candidates and to fix our hope on the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, then this election season will be God’s grace to his Church.