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Christianity & the State

We want to be clear at the outset: we don't believe political action is going to change the world. The only thing that can change the world is bringing sinners to Jesus Christ, and no amount of legislation can make that happen. That does not mean we think Christians should just sit back and watch the world go its own way, unconcerned with civil governments, initiatives, or elections.

Government and politics, though often conflated, are not the same thing. Politics and civic action are to government what coaches and referees are to football—they infuence and even directly impact the game, but the players are ultimately responsible for the outcome. Government is the system in place for ruling a nation; politics the methods governors and citizens use to manipulate and shape the government.

In the United States it's easy to blur the distinction. There's frequent talk about the people as the government, that the mob is the final authority, the face senators and presidents must look into when they make bad decisions. If our nation was a democracy, that would be true; but the U.S. is a republic first, with secondary democratic elements allowing the people to take a limited hand in their own governance. The Founders knew that any people given too much power over themselves would slip quickly into anarchy or tyranny.

Yet the Founders also harbored notions of a responsible citizenry able to interact in the public sphere, and they preserved the rights of the voting constituency as a way to promote such involvement. It was the exclusionary tactics of the British Parliament that had led the Colonies to win their independence in the first place, and they weren't about to relinquish the rights they'd secured through their own mismanagement.

Unfortunately, not every succeeding generation of Americans has felt the same way, and we've collectively handed to the Federal government liberties which were once our own.We have not, however, lost ourpublic voice,and in many ways it's our duty to exercise both our right to free speech and our votingprivileges.

The Bible makes it plain—for success and blessing a nation must follow God's Law. As far as Christians are able toguide their government in that direction, they should; not necessarily in the hope of constructing a "Christian nation," but in the hope of promoting righteousness and subjecting wickedness to genuine justice. In a country where righteousness is the ideal, the winning of souls will be that much easier, and real regeneration will prevail.

Americans are far from this ideal. We obscure evil with "politically correct" language and faux concern for "human rights," ignoring the fact that real care means clearly delineating right from wrong and holding people to a higher standard. It is our privilege and our burden to bring this perspective to the realm of American civics, not in an obnoxious or moralizing way, but as bearers of God's truth.

Our hope is that the books we offer will help equip Christians for this task. We hear a lot of people talk about raising up future generations, but we believe God calls every generation of bellievers, even each individual follower of Jesus Christ, to proclaim the message of justice and salvation to a lost and rebellious world. What better venue than the American political sphere, where we can be seen and heard without fear of sanctioned retaliation?

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

 

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