Wayne Grudem – Does ‘political’ involvement distract from the gospel?

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

photo credit

photo credit waynegrudem.com

Wayne says there are 5 wrong views of Christian influence on politics, and one right view. Here are 4 videos from the lecture delivered in KingsGate, Petersborough, United Kingdom. VIDEO by christianorguk Photo on left via www.boomerinthepew.com

In the first video, he explores the first ‘wrong’ view; – Government should compel religion.

Part 1

It is a great privilege for me to speak to you and to be here in this nation(United Kingdom), my second most favored nation on the face of the earth, after, of course, my own nation. This is the nation that through its heritage has given me  the English Bible, through the courageous work of Wycliffe and Tyndale, and the translators of the authorized or King James Version. This is the nation that gave to me the rich heritage of English common law, and the rich heritage of rule of law, with the idea that even those in governmental authority  must be subject to the laws of a nation. This is the nation that also gave me the pilgrim fathers that founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony  in 1620 and wrote the Mayflower Compact, with its rich biblical concepts of government by the consent of the governed. This is the nation from which Erasmus in 1615, in Cambridge, just a few miles form here, published the first Greek New Testament, and that became the basis for a more full understanding of the New Testament that led to much of the accurate teaching that came out in the reformation, so that the truths of the justification by faith alone, in Christ alone, could be proclaimed in Germany, and in the rest of Europe and here in England and in the United Kingdom as well. This is the nation that gave to the rest of the world and to me, the rich theology found in the Puritan writers and in the Westminster confession of faith. And this is the nation that a few years ago, gave me a phD. And I’m thankful for that; and a nation where our oldest son was born in 1974. This is the nation in which, also, a number of courageous leaders in the church, stood firm, even giving their lives, even willing to be burned at the stake for the sake of preserving the truth of the Gospel. Again, that we are justified by faith alone, in Christ alone.

A day earlier, just a few days ago, we went through the Cabinet War Rooms in London, and I was reminded once again that this is the nation that stood firm against the demonic tyranny of Adolf Hitler, and would not yield. And gave 449,000 lives of its precious citizens to preserve freedom in Europe and for the rest of the world. There have been heroic times, again and again, in the history of Britain. And, again and again, Britain answered God’s call. And heroes stood up and stood firm, and brought good to this nation and to the rest of this world.

I wonder, if in these days, we are once again seeing a time in chick God is calling His british sons and daughters to rise up and stand against evil, to stand against threats that would silence the church and would silence the Gospel, to stand against threats that would destroy marriages, and threats that would destroy our children’s sexuality. To stand against the horrific murder of tens or hundreds of thousands of unborn children. For, a nation that yields to the tyrannies of laws that promote immorality, can be destroyed as surely as a nation that is overrun by military conquerors.

How then should Christians seek to influence laws and government? A number of mistakes have been made in the past. And so, before I explain what I think is the right solution to the question: How should Christians influence government- I want to explain, what I think to be 5 wrong views of Christian influence on politics. Transcript from the first 4 1/2 minutes, with 8 minutes remaining to cover the topic:

Wrong view #1 – Government should compel religion

Part 2

Wrong view # 2 – Exclude religion from government

Wrong view # 3 – All government is demonic

Part 3

Wrong view # 4 – Do evangelism, not politics

Part 4

Wrong view # 5 – Do politics, not evangelism

The 5th wrong view is: Do politics, not evangelism. This view says, „If we just pass good laws, we’ll have a great nation, we’ll have a great society. All we need is good laws.” What that forgets is: You need changed hearts. You need hearts changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You need  transformed people and transformed lives.

I don’t know anybody saying that today, but there was a movement in the 19th and early 20th centuries, both in Britain and in the US, there was a movement called the Social Gospel movement that said, „Well, let’s just put all our effort as Christians into transforming society.” And they neglected to mention, „You must repent of your sins and trust in Jesus as your Lord as your personal Savior. Well, that view is certainly wrong, and certainly contrary to Scripture, as well. So, where does that leave us? 5 wrong views:

  1. The government should compel religion – That’s wrong.
  2. The government should exclude religion – That’s wrong.
  3. All government is evil and demonic – That’s wrong.
  4. Do evangelism, not politics – That’s wrong.
  5. Do politics, not evangelism – That’s wrong.

Is there any right view?

I think so. I’m going to suggest:

  • point # 6 – The right view – Significant Christian Influence.

Significant Christian Influence on government. That’s not compulsion, but it’s also not excluding religion. It’s trying to bring influence. And now, I’m going to give you more verses that support this idea that there should be significant influence of God’s people, both in Old and New Testament on civil government. I mentioned Daniel 4:27, Daniel bearing witness about moral standards to King Nebuchadnezzar. Here’s another one Jeremiah 29:7. Jeremiah is speaking to the Jewish people who were in exile  in a secular pagan nation. They were in exile in Babylon. And Jeremiah 29:7 says „Seek the welfare of the city where I’ve sent you into exile.” Seek the welfare , seek the well being, seek the good of this pagan nation Babylon where I’ve sent you into exile. „and pray to the Lord on its behalf, where in its welfare, you will find your welfare.” Nehemiah 1:11, Nehemiah says, „Now, I was cup bearer to the King. Nehemiah.” As being cup bearer of high office, he had access to King Artaxerxes, King of Persia, himself the most powerful man on the earth, at that point in history. And look at Esther. Margaret, my wife, was saying to me, just the other day when we were driving the car. She was reading how Esther had immense influence on King Ahashuerus, influence on government, as a believer in the true and living God.

And then, if you sometime look through the Old testament prophets, just page through the section headings on the chapters, you will see in a number of sections, that these are prophecies not just to Israel. They’re prophecies to the unbelieving nations around Israel. Prophecy to Babylon, prophecy to Egypt, prophecy to Syria, prophecy to Moab, prophecy to Edom. I’ll give you some examples and you can look at them later. Isaiah chapters 13-23 – to foreign nations. Jeremiah 46-51 – prophecies to foreign nations. Ezekiel 25-32 – to other nations. Amos 1-2. Obadiah prophesied to Edom. Jonah was sent to Niniveh. Nahum was sent to Niniveh, to prophesy to Niniveh. Habakuk and Zephaniah 2. And then, we go from the Old Testament to the New Testament, we see John the Baptist rebuking Herod for all the evil things that he had done. And we see Paul reasoning with Felix, the Roman governor. And then we see, in the New Testament, Romans 13 , that teaches us in some detail, about the responsibility of civil government. We see 1 Peter 2:13-14 that teaches us about civil government. The Bible gives us a lot of teaching, and it gives u steaching about the action of the good and evil kings in the Old Testament. And, we have some of the prophets speaking about what kings should do and shouldn’t do.

So, there’s a lot of material in the Bible that can speak on the responsibility of government. But, a caution: Significant Christian Influence must never spill over into abolishing freedom of religion. Now, Christians, you would say, probably don’t have a huge influence  in government or in politics right now. Perhaps, some. But, what if God sends revival and 30% of the members of parliament, 40%, 50%, what if 70% of the members of parliament (this lecture took place in England) or 70% of a local city council are born again Christians? You know what the temptation will be? The temptation will be to abuse that power and to seek to compel religion. The temptation will be: Let’s prohibit the publishing of these atheist books that attack Christianity, or something like that. And then we begin to deny essential freedoms and make the mistake of trying to compel religions. If we have immense influence in government, we must always protect freedom of religion, and protect the freedom of jewish synagogues and moslem mosques and hindu temples to be built and publications to be published and people to speak in the public square, just as we want freedom for Christians, so we must protect freedom for others.

Essential freedoms:

  1. Freedom of religion must be protected
  2. Freedom of speech must be protected
  3. Freedom of the press must be protected
  4. Freedom of assembly must be protected, so that people can get together according to different views.

So we protect that. But, I still think we should seek for significant Christian influence on government. I’ll tell you, if we don’t seek for Christian influence on government, if Christians withdraw from the public square, and say, „You know, I’m just gonna be silent on the major  moral and ethical issues that we face as a nation, then you know what will happen? It will leave a moral vacuum. And who is going to rush into that vacuum? It won’t be long until the ultimate adversaries of the Gospel, Satan and his demons rush in to influence every decision, in a way contrary to biblical standards. And if that happens, then, it will be very difficult times, indeed. For, governments around the world will increasingly use their tremendous power to silence the church.

Governments will, in effect, say something like this, to Christians and to churches: Keep your homophobic, misogynist, oppressive, fear inducing, intolerant, militarist, hate mongering Christianity out of our lives and out of our schools, and off of our university campuses, and off of our radio and TV stations, and out of any part of government, and out of our quiet residential areas, where you’re never again going to get any permission to build anymore churches; and keep your hate mongering Christian religion locked up in the privacy of your own home. I read that sentence, too, which I wrote, I read that sentence to a graduate school classroom and a student raised his hand and said, „Surely, that’s alarmist. Peoplea rent going to speak that way to Christians.” As soon as he said that, someone else in the class, who was working for an organization like the Christian Institute, but in the United States, she raised her hand and she said, „That sounds exactly like the emails that I get now, on a regular basis.”

So, if Christians abandon the public square, I think a disastrously negative impact will come form other kinds of moral standards that will suppress the church. Is there a responsibility of pastors to teach on these issues and I know you come from many different churches, and so I just wanna say a word to pastors. My first answer is: I think, yes, you have some responsibility to preach on these issues, just as I think pastors have a responsibility to speak about slavery from the pulpit, in the United States, while slavery still existed as a moral evil. I don’t know, and I cannot decide  which issues you should preach on. Only you, in the counsel of your Elders, or the governing board of your church, you must pray and seek God’s wisdom, for when to speak and on what issues. But, I think you have a responsibility, at least to speak on some.

And I want to tell you, in my own life, there is a passage in Acts, that has encouraged me not to shrink back from speaking on unpopular subjects. It’s Acts 20:26- 27 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Paul stood blameless before God because, he said, he didn’t shrink back from declaring unpopular things. He didn’t shrink back to declare the whole counsel of God. When I teach theology courses, I come to the unit on hell- that’s not easy to teach on. I come to the unit on Jesus being the only way to salvation- that’s not easy to teach on. Because it’s unpopular in today’s culture. But I have a responsibility before God to teach even on unpopular subjects, because I have to teach the whole counsel of God faithfully. And that’s what I would say to any of you as pastors: You have a responsibility before God to teach on the whole counsel of God. Now, someone might say, „But, if I preach on some of these unpopular subjects, it will drive people away and it will hinder evangelism. My answer to that is, „The greatest evangelist in the history of the church, the apostle Paul, was the one who said, ‘I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God’.” He taught on even unpopular things. And he trusted God to bring the results an during the advancement of God’s kingdom, and to bring the fruit that He would give.

I could only say one other thing. If you think God is calling you to greater influence on politics, I don’t ever want you to try and make your church  into an arm of a political party, because that transforms the church into something that shouldn’t be. But, parachurch organizations, like The Christian Institute (UK), and there are others, parachurch organizations can take much more explicit and repeated focus on political issues, because God calls them to that special task. And so, perhaps, God would call you to work in a parachurch organization as well. It can do a lot more than a church, on its own can do. 

So, in conclusion,
are these days, once again, days which God is calling heroes
to arise and take a stand,
lest darkness take a stand and overshadow the earth.
Might God be calling you to pray, to volunteer some time,
to perhaps contribute some money to a candidate,
or to some other means of helping the political process?
Perhaps, God is calling some of you to serve in political office, on a city council, or perhaps to even serve in parliament.
These are troubled times, but they might also become heroic times,
even for some of you here, tonight.

VIDEOS by christianorguk

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