I was asked to comment on this post and decided to do it here because I think my answer to the post will be of benefit to other visiting Christians. The author of the post, Livingsword has been visiting Christian blogs and trying to figure out why they are blogging about politics, don't they think that will confuse people from other countries about what the gospel means?
Recently I have been visiting a lot of Christian blogs and some supposedly “Christian” blogs that to varying degrees are intertwining Christianity with politics. Some are outright supporters of particular parties, and/or political candidates, some simply espouse particular positions on social issues, etc. These pages have been across the political spectrum, far left to far right, most are from the United States (keep in mind I am Canadian).He then goes on to quote Scripture about the kingdom of God and how Christ views the kingdom:
I have been asking questions about how they see their political stance affecting their gospel delivery, since the vast majority of these blogs are in the US I asked how they think this affects the rest of the world, and other questions.
The Scriptures have a lot to say on this topic, and I would never say that one section of Scripture “nails it” but I find this part of Scripture is “screaming into my life” at this time.To respond to this post, I have to first address the presuppositions in it:
36"My kingdom," said Jesus, "doesn't consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn't be handed over to the Jews. But I'm not that kind of king, not the world's kind of king."
37Then Pilate said, "So, are you a king or not?"
Jesus answered, "You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice."
38-39Pilate said, "What is truth?"
Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, "I find nothing wrong in this man. It's your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the 'King of the Jews'?"
40They shouted back, "Not this one, but Barabbas!" Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter. - - John 18:36-40 (The Message)
There are a plethora of comments that could be written about this treasure of Scripture. I am not going to give answers but ask questions, I will let you struggle with it perhaps note your thoughts in the comments section.
How best can we make manifest God’s Kingdom here on earth, thru political affiliation and/or direct political and financial support, social programs? Declaring the freedom of the gospel? Can all of these be interwoven together and still work? What effect will the politics have upon the gospel and vise versa?
What kind of Kingdom is Jesus Kingdom, what does He say? What is His core message?
What is truth? Who is Truth? If politics and religion are going to be blurred together will people be able to find and see the truth; and the Truth by watching and listening to you?
If Jesus primary mission was political why is it that He did not command Pilot and Rome to go back to Rome (after all He was going to die anyways)? Why did He not do the same to the Roman soldiers He interacted with? Why did He submit to Roman authority? If Jesus primary mission was political why did the mob want Him crucified and wanted to free Barabbas who was a freedom fighter?
1. What is blogging? More specifically, what is Christian blogging? Is it only blogging about the Bible? Or can you blog about other things? Blogs are personal weblogs where the blogger usually shares his/her passion or interests with the ethernet (or reader if there are any). My passion has always been current events, I'm an information junkie and love to find out what's going on in the world. When I was a teenager I would watch the evening news and the local nightly news before I went to bed. When I got married and we moved into our own apartment, I would watch CNN for hours. I loved it.
Politics, to me is just one more current event. I blog about it because I find it interesting. I generally don't blog about all aspects of politics, I almost never mention local politics or the mechanics of politics. I don't blog about all the candidates, I barely mention the Democrats (unless they do something dumb). So, you can't even call this a true political blog. The main areas of politics that I'm interested in are: the war, Fred Thompson :-), and abortion. I've only started to blog about illegal immigration since Bush ticked me off by dissing his base. If you check our archives, you will see that I might have blogged once or twice before then (out of over 2,000 posts).
When I decided to finally start a blog after years of reading other blogs and thinking, "I can do this, why don't I start a blog?" I knew that I wanted it to be a current events blog because that was my interest, I wanted to share with others what I found on the Internet and what I thought of it. But I didn't just want it to be a normal current events blog, I wanted to reflect my love of the Lord and my reformed Christian worldview. I believe that it would seep through my posts and that it wasn't necessary to be explicit about it. I believed that the name of the blog warned the reader that they weren't in for the views of a typical "evangelical," conservative, religious right Christian. Maybe I expected more of my reader than they were able to comprehend but I've been trying to remedy that with links in the sidebar and trying to publish posts about the distinctives of Reformed Theology (this being the first of many, I hope :-)
But since my interests go beyond current events to the indepth study of the word of God, I decided to also blog on a second blog (Life Under the Sun) where I post my Bible studies (when I get around to writing them :-), digests and share what I've been learning at seminary (when I'm able to put it into my own words, which doesn't appear to be very often).
I suspect that Livingsword's problem is that he comes here with a presupposition that because we blog about politics and we are conservative and Republican then we must be part of the "religious right" and therefore we are just one more wing of the Republican party -- that we are trying to create some kind of Christianized nation -- a theocracy. That we are looking for government to fix the social ills of America. But we are not that stupid, we understand that true change comes from the spread of the gospel not the making of many laws.
Though I'm a Republican (and so are Ang and Susan) and blog about politics, I'm not confusing Christianity with civil religion. I understand the difference, that is one of the reasons I put up the quote from William Inboden in our sidebar, I wanted to warn the reader that we aren't what they expected:
"...civil religion is the misidentification of the nation of the United States with the covenant people of God. It is the casual assumption that America enjoys a special role in redemptive history. It is the confusion of the office of the political leader with the office of the spiritual leader. It is the frequent presumption of divine blessings without submission to divine judgment. It is the sublimation of Christian distinctives to a generic amalgam that conflates many faiths into a common national identity. It is as old as America itself. And it is not biblical Christianity."I understand that there is no such thing as a political messiah, that no party is the party of God. I believe in the separation of church and state and that the state's job is to govern and the church's job is to share the gospel with a lost and dying world.
One final point about blogging. I think that visitors to this blog might want to look at it in a similar way to a Christian mommy blog or a Christian fishing blog, or Christian crafting blog, where the blogger shares their passion for their hobby or their vocation as well as their love of the Lord. Would you go to a mommy blog and complain that they aren't blogging enough about the kingdom of God if they are blogging about their children? Maybe not because motherhood is kingdom work, which leads me to my next point -- for the reformed all of life is about the kingdom. You can't really separate the kingdom from the believer. There is no such think as a secular anything for the Christian. It's all been sanctified by God and should be viewed from the perspective of his kingdom. But what is the nature of the kingdom of God?
2. How does the Bible view the kingdom of God?
I suspect that Livingsword and I may view the kingdom of God from different perspectives. I believe that it's clear from Scripture that Jesus wasn't a political savior, that was one of the reasons why he was condemned by the Jewish establishment and the Jewish people. They were looking to be freed from the bonds of the foreign rule of the Romans and usher in the kingdom of God where righteousness will dwell but he did not usher in the messianic kingdom as they expected and they turned on him. Even up to the point of his ascension, his disciples still believed he would usher in the kingdom of Israel:
Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"But they did not understand the nature of the kingdom and neither do many Christians who expect a future kingdom and do not realize that they are in the kingdom of God now. We are already in the kingdom but it has yet to be consummated. This is the already/not yet nature of the kingdom. The Scriptures speak of a kingdom that is to come:
Mattew 8:11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."And has come:
Matthew 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
Matthew 13:10 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" 11 And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: "' You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.' 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.The disciples did not realize that Christ was about to ascend to heaven to be inaugurated king and his Spirit was going to be sent to claim his kingdom here on earth (Acts 2). A down payment for the future consummation of the kingdom. Those who believe in Christ are united with him in his death, resurrection and ascension, we are seated at the right hand of God the Father in Christ (Ephesians 1-2).
Matthew 11:11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John
Matthew 12:28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
So, what does this mean for believers? It means that we are to seek the kingdom of God:
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.But though the kingdom is here, it is not yet consummated. We still live in a fallen world and though we are growing in our knowledge and love of the Lord, we still struggle and are tempted to think our interests are the Lord's will. We may want to create a kingdom of God in which righteousness will dwell but that can never be the USA or any other nation. We should not try to create a theocracy. But that does not mean we abandon government because it is a blessing from God:
Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.We are to be in the world but not of it (John 17:15-16). Though Christ's kingdom is not of this world, it is in a very real sense in our midst (Luke 17:21) and we are a part of it.
Now, it is up to the believer to decide what that will look like in their life because there is no mandate against Christians becoming involved in politics, therefore it doesn't matter one way or the other. You can do it or not it's up to you as a Christian. But if you tell me that I can't blog about politics because it's wrong or a sin and yet your can't point to where that's clearly mandated in the Scriptures, then you are a pharisee.
Now, having dwelt with these two presuppositions, let's turn to the questions.
How best can we make manifest God’s Kingdom here on earth, thru political affiliation and/or direct political and financial support, social programs? Declaring the freedom of the gospel? Can all of these be interwoven together and still work? What effect will the politics have upon the gospel and vise versa?As I've stated America is not a theocracy and we should not make it one. A Christianized America is not a Christian nation and civil religion is not the gospel. We manifest the kingdom in the church. The real question is: can a believer be a citizen of the church and the state? I think the answer is clear in light of the passages above. We are Christian citizens of the state, our Christianity shapes our state citizenship.
I think that we can strive for justice at the state level but not forgetting what the church is called to do. In a democracy we owe it to our fellow citizens to be responsible in the choice of candidates we support for political office. We should support those we think will do the best job, knowing that they are minsters of God, not because of who they are but because of who God is.
What kind of Kingdom is Jesus Kingdom, what does He say? What is His core message?The kingdom of Jesus is the kingdom of God. It was the gospel he preached (Matthew 4:23; Matthew 4:23) and the subject of his parables.
What is truth? Who is Truth? If politics and religion are going to be blurred together will people be able to find and see the truth; and the Truth by watching and listening to you?I think that this is an apple and orange comparison. Any Christian knows that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6 ). I think that if anyone reads this blog for awhile, they would understand that there is no blurring the line between Christianity and politics. I don't look to the government to change the lives of the people for good or make them obedient to the will of God. I look to the government to do their job and govern. I look to the church to do it's job and proclaim the gospel and if you go here, you will see that we do it too :-) Maybe not as often as some would like but this is our blog and we will blog about whatever we feel like.
If Jesus primary mission was political why is it that He did not command Pilot and Rome to go back to Rome (after all He was going to die anyways)? Why did He not do the same to the Roman soldiers He interacted with? Why did He submit to Roman authority? If Jesus primary mission was political why did the mob want Him crucified and wanted to free Barabbas who was a freedom fighter?These questions were answered above. Christ's mission was not political and that is why he was crucified. I think the point of these questions might be if Christ wasn't political, then why should we be political? But I think that's silly if that's the case. We are called to be good citizens and submit to our civil magistrates. We are in a unique position because we participate in choosing our leaders. I would think that we would be much more diligent to select leaders that reflect the values we believe that a leader should have so that they could govern the people in a way that was just and right.
Christ's obedience to the will of the Father is our model in how we view the state (submitting to the commandments of God), not his role as the Messiah.
As to people from other countries not getting what we are doing, we run that risk no matter what we post. People from other countries think that they understand us but they usually don't. Though I would be surprised if someone came here and thought we were advocating a Republican salvation message. I never advocate moralism on this blog. I have two things that I want the next president to do for us: protect us from another attack and to install justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade (lowering taxes would be a plus as would controlling spending :-) but I would defy anyone to demonstrate how that is advocating Christ's kingdom on earth through the federal government. I look at it as justice.
But now if anyone from another country doesn't understand our blog, they can always click on the link in the sidebar to this post and they can read for themselves why we blog about politics :-)