Monday, June 26, 2006

Needed: Christians For Cultural Engagement

Months ago, I posted a question to my blog readers. I wondered whether or not I should keep just one blog or divide my time between discussing the Gospel of Christ and the Bible in a separate blog, while discussing the culture and politics of the day in another blog. For several reasons, I decided that it would be best to maintain just one blog. Others have been successful at keeping several blogs going, but for me, one blog was certainly enough to keep me busy.

At the GodBlog Conference of 2005 which was held at Biola University, the important question of whether or not evangelical Christians should be involved in and/or engaged in politics or just be salt and light in this dark world came up and was debated extensively. Many Godbloggers were steadfast in their choices. Some just knew that they were "meant to share the Gospel and biblical principles alone" without getting into tiresome political debates. Others were convinced that it was their calling to draw attention to the political battles that are currently raging in our culture. It is certainly an interesting and valid question. Several prominent Christian leaders (and blog panelists) had different opinions on it and backed their views up with Bible verses.

1 Corinthians 12:18-31 (NKJV) -


18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?

20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the *best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.


Yes. The body of Christ contains many different members with different gifts. One person may be better at teaching children. Another, better at writing poetry or songs that honor the Lord. We all have certain gifts that maybe others don't have. Some, genuinely may believe that they shouldn't be involved in volatile political debates.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that evangelical Christians MUST BE ENGAGED IN THIS BATTLE FOR MORAL PURPOSES. Whether their contribution in such an effort means actually working in the political field or just assisting (and/or financial support) in the efforts of certain organizations (e.g. Concerned Women for America; Alliance Defense Fund...to name two) that promote Christian morals, values and ethics; it has always been my opinion that we must not let the secular humanistic crowd overtake what we hold dear as American Christians who love God, Jesus Christ, and His Word, the Bible.

I read the following article early this morning and thought that it spoke directly to my thoughts, concerns, and beliefs of why I think that evangelical Christians must become motivated and involved in combating the moral decay that is currently raging in our culture.

Albert Mohler shares many good talking points throughout the piece, but the ones that are especially important desperately need more Christians who are willing to not only read and pay attention to the details, but are also willing to act upon them. Mohler sums it up quite well at the end of his article:




We are concerned for the culture not because we believe that the culture is ultimate, but because we know that our neighbors must hear the gospel, even as we hope and strive for their good, peace, security, and well-being.

This is no time for silence, and no time 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.

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. That's a good principle to remember as America gears up for a crucial political debate. (bold mine)

No matter what you think your particular calling in this life is, as a born-again, Bible believing Christian it is also your duty to at least do something to help turn the tide of moral decay. This needs to be a top priority not only for ourselves and the 'here and now,' but even more importantly, for the sakes of our children and grandchildren and their future lives on this earth.

Christine

*******

Mohler article:

Engaging the City of Man: Christian Faith and Politics

by Albert Mohler
June 15, 2006


Over the last 20 years, evangelical Christians have been politically mobilized in an outpouring of moral concern and political engagement unprecedented since the crusade against slavery in the 19th century. Is this a good development? With at least one Supreme Court nomination now on the horizon, the issue of political involvement emerges anew with urgency.

To what extent should Christians be involved in the political process?

This question has troubled the Christian conscience for centuries. The emergence of the modern evangelical movement in the post World War II era brought a renewed concern for engagement with the culture and the political process. The late Carl F. H. Henry addressed evangelicals with a manifesto for Christian engagement in his landmark book The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. As Dr. Henry eloquently argued, disengagement from the critical issues of the day is not an option.

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.

Writing even as the Romans Empire fell, Augustine, the great bishop and theologian of the early church, made this case in his monumental work, The City of God. As Augustine explained, humanity 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, all things are ruled by God's Word, 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.

Of course, we know that 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, 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.

Thus, Christians bear important responsibilities in both cities. Even as we know that our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, and even as we set our sights on the glory of the City of God, we must work for good, justice, and righteousness in the City of Man. We do so, not merely because we are commanded to love its citizens, but because we know that they are loved by the very God we serve.

From generation to generation, Christians often swing between two extremes, either ignoring the City of Man or considering it to be our main concern. A biblical balance establishes the fact that the City of Man is indeed passing, and chastens us from believing that the City of Man and its realities can ever be of ultimate importance. Yet, we also know that each of us is, by God's own design, a citizen--though temporarily--of the City of Man. When Jesus instructed that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, He pointed His followers to the City of Man and gave us a clear assignment. The only alternatives that remain are obedience and disobedience to this call.

Love of neighbor for the sake of loving God is a profound political philosophy that strikes a balance between the disobedience of political disengagement and the idolatry of politics as our main priority. As evangelical Christians, 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.

We are concerned for the culture not because we believe that the culture is ultimate, but because we know that our neighbors must hear the gospel, even as we hope and strive for their good, peace, security, and well-being.

The Kingdom of God is never up for a vote in any election, and there are no polling places in the City of God. Nevertheless, it is by God's sovereignty that we are now confronted with these times, our current crucial issues of debate, and the decisions that are made in the political process.

This is no time for silence, and no time 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.

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. That's a good principle to remember as America gears up for a crucial political debate.


Click here to contact Dr. Mohler, or visit his website at http://www.albertmohler.com/.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Widely sought as a columnist and commentator, Dr. Mohler has been quoted in the nation's leading newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal/Constitution and The Dallas Morning News. He has also appeared on such national news programs as CNN's "Larry King Live," NBC's "Today Show" and "Dateline NBC," ABC's "Good Morning America," "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS, MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" and Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor."

© Copyright 2006 Business Reform. "All Rights Reserved." Reproduction of any portion of the Business Reform magazine is limited to bulletins/newsletters published by local churches, businesses, or individuals at no-cost distribution. All other uses require written permission from The Business Reform Foundation, unless noted otherwise (some authors hold copyrights on certain articles, in which event written permission to reprint should be directed to their attention). Each copy must include the following statement: "Reprinted with permission from the Business Reform magazine, a bimonthly magazine published by The Business Reform Foundation (http://www.businessreform.com/), Ashland, Ohio." Articles must be reprinted in their entirety, without changes or other editing, and the author should be given an appropriate byline. Please direct permission requests to one of the addresses below.

For more information, contact us by mail: Business Reform, 400 Orange St., Ashland, Ohio 44805; phone: 1-866-6Reform (1-866-673-3676); or email: info@businessreform.com. We sincerely appreciate any comments and critiques, as we try to effectively transform our business culture. We are also thankful for your support and encourage you to reform our business culture.

22 comments:

pugwash said...

I would like to be able to believe in the existence of an all powerful and all seeing form, but I cannot.

I am afraid I am profoundly afflicted by the same rhetorical question that confronts Bob Dylan:

"I was born here and I will die here
....AGAINST MY WILL".

Whilst reading your Godblogg I can feel the mojo that you feel toward your belief and I sort of envy you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not unhappy with my lot. In fact I am very privileged to be able to offer love (and be loved) by my family and close circle of friends, but sometimes I feel as though there is something missing.

It is not something that is tangible (certainly not materialistic), and not something that is unwittingly taken for granted.

Thank you for the insight into your world.

Dani said...

Hi - GREAT SITE!

I found you through Mark at Chester Street.

It's encouraging to know there are likeminded believers out there.

Keep up the good work! I'm adding you to my blogroll!

Anna said...

Hi Christine -

Great article! Jesus talked about us being salt and light. In the natural salt is a preservative and light dispells darkness.

We are blessed to live in a nation, which empowers its citizens to participate in the process. Early settlers came here so they could serve God freely. It is up to us as citizens to see that freedom and our platform for spreading the message of the Gospel is preserved for us and future generations.

Blessings,
Anna

GMpilot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GMpilot said...

Hello, Christine.

Some people believe it is their duty to only spread the gospel on their blogs, and eschew politics completely; they have Bible quotes to support this. Other people believe that they must become politically active while spreading the gospel on their blogs; they have Bible quotes to support this.

A couple of centuries ago, the Bible came down squarely on both sides on the question of slavery. There is good advice to be had in that book, but it’s much too ambiguous to be a reliable guide in some matters.

Freethinker Robert Ingersoll forecast this dichotomy more than 120 years ago:

“It probably will not be long until the churches will divide as sharply upon political, as upon theological questions; and when that day comes, if there are not liberals enough to hold the balance of power, this Government will be destroyed. The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church. Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave.”

Christinewjc said...

Hello pugwash,

Welcome to my blog! You stated:

"I would like to be able to believe in the existence of an all powerful and all seeing form, but I cannot."

I hope you will stick around and continue to read the posts here. There are many Christian commenters who post here, and through their comments you will see how they have established a loving, uplifting and eternal relationship with our Living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Well...even though Bob Dylan writes lyrics that claim he was "born here and will die here against his will," I wonder if he really thinks that it would have been better to not have been born in the first place?

Does Dylan know that we were originally meant to live for all eternity? But when sin entered the world, so did death. God had a plan to rescue us; not from physical death, but from eternal, spiritual death. This was accomplished through His Son, Jesus Christ.

No need to envy me. You can have the very same thing. That "something missing" you are experiencing is very real, my friend. The love of family and friends is an extension of God's love for us. And I agree with you that the love of family and friends is one of the best experiences on this earth. However, such love cannot fulfill the longing that we have for knowing, being loved by, and loving our Creator. There is a God-shaped vacuum in each of our hearts which can only be filled by Him. We are incomplete without Him in our lives.

I once felt, "alone again, naturally" as you summed up in your "about me" profile at your blog link.

You stated: "I base my life on three song title's: - Don't think twice it's alright - It's not dark yet - Alone again, naturally."

With Jesus in my life, I know that I will never be alone ever again. How can I claim such a thing and know it for certain? Because of Jesus' words during his earthly ministry and God's promises written throughout Scripture.

Jesus Christ asks each and every one of us the same question that he asked of Peter: "Who do you say that I am?" That question is vividly answered through the pages of Scripture.

Have you ever read the Bible? I suggest you start with the book of John. The Person of Jesus Christ, his reason, purpose and mission for becoming Incarnate Man, his sacrificial death on the cross for our sins, his resurrection from death to life eternal, his place as mediator between sinful man and Holy God, was to establish a bridge for man to be forgiven for sin and reconciled unto God.

You are welcome for the "insight into my world." I realize that we currently come from totally different worldviews. However, if you give the Bible a chance, you won't have to take my word for it. You can discover what God's Word says through your own reading and study.

You have stated that you have been profoundly afflicted by some of Bob Dylan's lyrics. Would you be willing to consider Jesus Christ and His Word? You can be profoundly affected in a most positive and eternal way!

God bless,
Christine

Christinewjc said...

Hi Dani!

I have visited your blogsite, read a few posts, and I am totally impressed with much of what you have written and shared there!

There are many likeminded believers out there...we just need to find each other in the blogosphere and continue to fight the good fight!

I need to start a blogroll! When I do, you will be on mine! Keep in touch!

In Christ,
Christine

Christinewjc said...

Hi Anna!

I love how you worded this:

"In the natural salt is a preservative and light dispells darkness."

How can we "preserve" our nation and it's original heritage and "dispel the darkness" if we do nothing to combat those who would work against us?

Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 - Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

And in Matthew 5:14 - Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

As Christians, we don't want to be "good for nothing" and thus ineffective and end up "trodden under foot of men."

Christinewjc said...

Well...if it isn't my ole' nemesis GMpilot! Finally wandered over from my message board to the blogophere!

Ingersoll is entitled to his opinion, but personally, I think he was wrong about this:

"Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave."

Slavery was dealt with much differently in ancient times. Many were considered "employees" rather than being forced into unwanted slavery. However, there were times where evil men forced others into horrendous slavery conditions. Keep in mind that the Bible doesn't approve of everything it records...for it is an honest book that also records the deeds of sinful beings.

Jesus did talk about the importance of being a servant, however, and how man will either serve God or mammon:

Mark 9:35 - And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Mat 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.


Luk 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Guess we know which "master" Ingersoll chose to serve...

Collin Brendemuehl said...

Sorry, but I must disagree.
The message of the gospel is redemptive to people, not to culture. It is a matter of repentence, not reconstruction.
It's right hears, not right social structures.

To expect unbelievers to live as believers is to impose the message Law in place of Grace, to tell them that Christianity is about a system and not about a Relationship and a Body.

Neither Dominion, nor Reconstruction, nor Theocracy has a clearly-stated place in NT theology. Everything is by implication, not by command.

http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

GMpilot said...

Yes, there were times when ”evil men forced others into horrendous slavery conditions”.
That would include Moses, of course.

In any case, you miss the point. The point is that the Bible is not an “honest book”—not the way you mean. It records the deeds of sinful beings and paints many of those deeds as virtues. It records some things that are patently untrue. It can be, and has been, used to argue both sides of a debate; instead of providing a clear and reasoned answer, it makes ambiguous pronouncements. It says whatever the speaker wants it to say.

Scripture (of any religion) is simply a mirror of the culture that created it. People have used scripture to “prove” that it’s okay to kill people; that it’s not okay to kill people; that slavery is divinely ordained; that slavery is not divinely ordained; that all humans are equal in the sight of god; that some people are unworthy in the sight of god.
So why should it be surprising that Godbloggers (and others) cannot agree on this topic?

You’re quite right: no man can serve two masters. Better to have no masters, then.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Collin,

Welcome to my blog! Let me see if I understand you correctly. Since the gospel message is redemptive to "only people" (do you mean individuals?) in your view, then the culture (meaning those who reject Christ and the gospel?)should just be allowed to sink into the moral decay abyss?

Why should laws deemed to be wrong not be challenged by Christian believers who want to maintain and/or go back to the strict constructionist view of our Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence; all of which clearly acknowledges that our democratic republic was created with God in mind as the lifesource of our being, laws, morals, ethics, and freedoms? Do you really think that we should all just sit back as the deluge of secular humanistic ideas attempts to take away our freedom of religion and speech through the anarchical type of radical left judges that occupy the benches in the courtrooms throughout our country?

You, of course, are entitled to your own opinion(s) on this, but is this what you truly believe or am I misunderstanding something?

Christinewjc said...

GM,

You said, "You’re quite right: no man can serve two masters. Better to have no masters, then."

Ah! But you do have a master...yourself! And what's more, oftentimes it turns out that you can be your own worst enemy!

GMpilot said...

Then I shall attempt to master myself...and since that's considered a lifelong job, I shall be too busy trying to become master over others, unlike SOME people I could mention.

Christinewjc said...

GMpilot:"...unlike SOME people I could mention."

Oh yeah? Like who?

The Real Deal said...

Hi Christine, I learned about your site from Dani--great stuff. I will be stopping by often. Thanks for being out here doing what you are doing.

Saltnlight said...

Hi Christine:

Just wanted to tell you how much I have missed posting but have been so busy with health issues that I haven't had the strength or the time.
Saltnlight

Saltnlight said...

Christine:
Re-read what Pilot wrote, he inadvertently created a great slip in your favor. Do you see this??

saltnlight

Christinewjc said...

Hi Saltnlight,

Good to hear from you! Sorry to hear that you are having health problems. I do think of you and have you in my prayers...

Yes. "The pilot" (as you called him...lol) seems to have a lot in common with Pontius Pilate. When he asked the poignant question, "What is truth?" he never even realized that The Man of Truth, Jesus, was standing right in front of him!

Saltnlight said...

Pugwash:

You said, "I would like to be able to believe in the existence of an all powerful and all seeing form, but I cannot."

This is short changing you Pugwash. You would be able but faith is an act of the will. Should you truly "like to" you could. Come to Him by faith alone and not out of your need to feel see or hear with your earth bound ears.

When and if you come to Him stating that you will to do so out of faith and not any other way He will meet you more than half way. Begin by opening His word, the bible and invite Him to be in your heart.

What Bob Dylan says there is not at all true. He was indeed born here. And, he will die here but NOT against his will. Our will to know God is what saves us and though our bodies will be decaying when we leave this earth, and if we have been born again, we will be absent from the body but present with the Lord.

Not unhappy with your lot? You have not yet seen the lot of them who do not accept the Christ who came for one purpose, to die for us and our sins. You cannot accept Him until by faith you allow Him into your heart. If your heart is so hardened as to be unable to humble yourself before Him asking Him into your heart then you will never know the joy that we who once were blind can have.

In no way am I saying this out of anger, in fact my heart soeeows for where you are at this time. Since we do not know the time or hour of our departure from this life, it is imperative that you have the truth.

Love to you in His name, saltnlight

Saltnlight said...

The word is "Sorrows" in the last paragraph Pugwash, sorry

Saltnlight said...

Anna:
We need remember that salt applied to an open wound also stings. This is often passed over while all else that you have said is always mentioned and is true.

This is where the saying, "truth hurts" got it's beginning maybe. Actually it doesn't always hurt but that depends on what the truth treads on.

When a heart is willing to hear the truth, it tends to hurt less especially if that person willingly wants to deal with the facts.

Love in Christ, Saltnlight