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10 Reasons Why the Church Must be Involved in Politics (5)

In this blog series, I am responding point by point to a column written by Greg Stier, the President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries entitled, “Ten Reasons Why Pastors Should Focus More on the Gospel Than on Politics.” Here’s Greg’s fifth point and my response.

#5. It’s what the early church focused on (Acts 4:23-31)

If Greg is suggesting that the gospel the early church preached was simply the message of personal salvation, history would suggest otherwise. The gospel of the kingdom was the declaration that Jesus Christ was Lord. It was exactly at this point where church and state collided. Rome demanded absolute devotion and loyalty to Caesar. The Christians rightly understood that place as one that was reserved for Christ alone. Had they practiced the “isolationist” and “compartmentalized” gospel which so many pastors advocate today, they could have avoided all the conflict and hassle by keeping their faith private and personal. Instead, they drew the line, rendering to Caesar what was Caesar’s and rendering to God what belonged to Him alone. They didn’t withdraw from politics; rather, they established the proper boundaries of government. They lived as faithful, loving citizens of Rome while they proclaimed Jesus Christ as Lord of all.

The results were dramatic. In his amazing book, The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark asks, “How did a tiny and obscure messianic movement from the edge of the Roman Empire dislodge classical paganism and become the dominant faith of Western civilization?” In only six decades, Christians were so numerous and their influence so powerful that Constantine found it expedient to embrace Christianity. The believers in Jesus had turned the world upside down! This was not the result of the myopic, disengaged, narrow, this-world-is-going–to-hell, “hold-the–fort-til-Jesus-comes” gospel of defeat and withdrawal that is espoused by many today. This was the gospel of the Kingdom moving to transform both individuals and society. And this is the same gospel we are called to preach today.

  1. Paul Rothbard
    June 18th, 2012 at 14:02 | #1

    I’m interested in your perspective on this topic of faith and politics. My concern is that politics can corrupt the Church’s mission and that the use of government force to try to change people’s behavior is not as effective as believers persuading change by proving to others that there is a better way to live.

  2. Paul Rothbard
    June 18th, 2012 at 14:22 | #2

    As for the example of Constantine, I tend to side with Puritan and a founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams.

    He felt, “Christianity fell asleep in the bosom of Constantine, and the laps and bosoms of those Emperors who professed the name of Christ.”

    Also claimed, “Constantine had been a worse enemy to true Christianity than Nero because Constantine’s support had corrupted Christianity.”

  3. July 11th, 2012 at 22:00 | #3

    While Constantine’s actions and their effect on the vitality of the Church are often debated, my point was simply that the Church was a powerful force in culture that could not be ignored or glossed over. What a far cry from today!

  4. July 11th, 2012 at 22:01 | #4

    I’m going to write a blog on this issue shortly. Great question and a valid concern.

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