I picked this book up at a book swap at my church. It was actually written by a pastor and seminary president at one of the largest churches in town that is only about 2 miles from my current church. As a fan of history, particularly the effect of Christian on the history of the United States, I picked it up. It talks about what the Christians role in goverment should be in a very short and concise format. I really enjoyed it, here are the parts I underlined:
I will never forget my former professor Howard Hendricks saying in class on day, “In every generation, the church at large has missed the mark somewhere.” He then pointed his finger at us and asked, “Do you know where it is missing the mark today?”The separation of church and state has become the separation of state from the church; the separation of state from God.Greater than the degradation of society’s fall from grace into ever-increasing evil is the distraction of the church and the diversion of the church’s resources, manpower, and objectives.Have we forgotten that our relationship to society is not to reform it, but to redeem it – one person at a time? Have we forgotten, in our power push for moral activism, that a man with good morals will die and go to hell as quickly as a man with bad morals?The mission, energy, and investment of the church was not then, and is not now, to clean up the evils of society; the mission of the church is to evangelize society. Imagine if homosexuality was illegal; abortion was outlawed; sexual relations outside of marriage were unacceptable; prayer was back in the classroom, and the Ten Commandments were re-hung in the courtrooms. Would more people be going to heaven? Would the mission of the church be accomplished?…the church at large has forgotten the nature of our battle. We are sweating over good things, but over the wrong cause.That is the problem with the distraction of the church today. It has bought the logic that if we can just keep sodomy illegal, we will have own a victory; but that depends on how you determine victory. Victory is not changing the behavior of our culture unless we have first changes its belief about who Jesus Chris is and how He alone transforms. Spiritual transformation does not happen from the outside in, but from the inside out.We must remember that when Paul wrote to the Roman believes there was no record of any Christian on the Roman senate. There was no Christian political lobby; no watchdog committee to make sure that the interests of the Christians were being addressed. There were no courts where false accusations against Christians could be resolved. In fact, when the barbarians sacked Rome, the Romans decided that it was the Christian’s fault and persecution intensified. When Paul wrote the book of Romans, he made no reference, much less encouragement, to overthrow Nero. Instead, he wrote a text of Scripture that must have confounded them by its clear declarations.The Christian is to obey the civil laws of government, regardless of that government’s response to the gospel.A moral government or nation is not necessary to have a thriving church.It is time for the church to get back to the business of being the church. That does not mean a Christian cannot be involved in politics anymore than a Christian cannot be involved in building computers. If that is the arena God has called you into – like Daniel of old – raise your voice for the glory of God in that administration.A moral government is not necessary for the church to fulfill its mission.The root of our cultural decay is first and foremost spiritual; we must attack the root of this corrupt tree. Our greatest challenge is theological, not political and cultural.The church as a whole, and Christians as individuals were never given the charge from God to halt or even diminish the evil practices in their societies.What could we do if every Christian truly believes that they were called to their specific city, at this specific time, in this specific generation to deliver to every person the gospel of Jesus Christ?Do not misunderstand, we should vote. I believe with Daniel Webster that, “Whatever makes good Christians, makes them good citizens.”Notice the contrast between good and evil. Even when the government refuses to acknowledge God, they unintentionally represent the character of God by punishing evil and rewarding good.The only valid basis for moral law is a previously existing morality. No matter where you go in the world, stealing or damaging your neighbor’s possessions is considered wrong. God ordained government to reflect His moral law; His attributes of justice, equity, impartiality, righteousness, and honesty. That means government must be concerned with moral issues because laws are based on the moral perfection of God. However, this is not the same as saying the government can develop morality in its citizens. It can prescribe penalties. I can enforce them and perhaps, restrain evil. But it cannot change the people involved. The only thing that changes people is the power of God working through the gospel. The solution for an immoral society is not more law. Mankind has already developed thousands of laws to try and uphold ten commandments. No, the solution is not more government – it is the gospel.quoting Cal Thomas – “For Christians, the vision of worldly power [and influence] is not a calling, but a distraction. It is a temptation that Jesus Christ Himself rejected, not because it was dangerous, but because it was trivial, compared with His mission.”quoting C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity – “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought the most of the next…It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this world. Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’. Aim at earth and you will get neither. In the same way we shall never save civilisation [sic] as long as civilisation [sic] is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more.”It is a flawed belief that because America began with the acknowledgment of a Creator and a respect for the Bible, it is somehow guaranteed favored status with God. It is equally flawed to believe that to protect America is paramount to protecting God; to defend America is the same as defending Christ’s causes. And the belief that to keep America from embracing secularism, humanism, and liberalism is God’s plan. This view binds the hope of the Christian to a voting booth.The political leaders of our day may fear Christian pastors and ministry leaders, but not because we are righteous or because we are willing to speak the truth regardless of political correctness in our culture or our congregation. Christian leaders today are not fear for their prayers, they are feared because they have an ability to deliver the votes. Voting power has replaced preaching power and praying power. As a result, what the church is saying and what our world is hearing, is the message that prayer is not effective enough, the gospel is not powerful enough, discipleship is not fast enough – it might have been God’s idea in the first century, but it is out of date in the twenty-first century.The world, ever since the fall, has been in a such a state of corruption and depravity, that without the powerful obstacle presented by civil government to the selfish and malignant passions of men, it would be better to live among the beasts of the forest than in human society. As soon as its restraints are removed, man shows himself in his real character.You may think high taxes are a new problem, but the tax system of Paul’s democratic society was certainly frustrating to the first-century believer. In its final years, the Roman Empire deteriorated into a huge welfare state in which the working class supported more and more people who did not work. It was also not unusual for Roman officials to use tax revenue to support pagan religious activities throughout the empire.One of the unfortunate things in the pluralistic quagmire of our culture is the continual attempt to dampen the clear testimony of political leaders. Unfortunately, many political figures give in. Suddenly, any talk of belief in Jesus Christ becomes “faith in God.” Salvation is neutered to “my strong belief in God.” My hope is that Christians will retain their clear mission in whatever field of service they pursue. They are Christians first, and politicians, doctors, students, mechanics, secretaries, and lawyers second.If anyone had the right to encourage believers to stop paying taxes, it was the Apostle Paul; for it would be those taxes which would ultimately subsidize the games, where Christians would pay the ultimate sacrifice. Yet, knwoing full well the wickedness of the government, he commanded believers to pay their taxes.We are not called by God to curse the darkness. We are called to simply shine…and the darker our culture, the brighter our light.Do the sinners in our culture believe they are the enemy of the church? I believe so! Paul would encourage us to so live that our unbelieving world is graced by our holy lives, startled by our gracious response to injury, and mystified by our loving reproach of sin.God hasn’t abandoned America anymore than He abandoned the land of the Ninevites. At the very height of their immorality and wickedness, God has plans for them through a prophet by the name of Jonah.It’s a lot easier to pray for my congressman to make the right decision that it is to help my next door neighbor understand the claims of Christ. In fact, it’s easier to talk of national sin, than deal with personal sin.