Christians and the State

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Once in a while, someone takes me to task for meddling in politics. Christians, they think, should stay out of politics. I have had a couple this month chiding me for not sticking to salvation and personal piety. Religion and politics shouldn’t be mixed, they say. Some cite things like separation of church and state, and all that.

I agree that separation of church and state is a wise thing. I am not so sure that separation of religious faith and state is quite so smart. Nor am I so sure that the state should be immune from criticism from Christian commentators. The Constitution is quite specific on this issue, narrowly defining a restriction, not on religion or church, not on Christians or Jews, but upon government. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I don’t know if many people notice this, but it is entirely pointed at Congress, and by implication, at the courts. There is nothing in the Constitution that should in any way inhibit Christians from criticizing the government on the basis of Christian morality. So from the government side of the equation, they have no basis for inhibiting criticism from a Christian point of view. They can take it or leave it, but they can’t shut it up.

But what about the other side of the equation? Should the Christian involve himself in politics? Should he engage in criticism or support of the government on biblical principles? What exactly is politics? The dictionary calls it the art or science of government or the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy. Why should anyone assume that religious faith is somehow barred from guiding or influencing governmental policy? Why should the influencing of governmental policy be relegated to only the godless? Logically, it makes no sense that we who follow Jesus should stay out of the public square. The Constitution not only does not require it, but demands that we be allowed to speak. But maybe there is a biblical reason why we should shut up about such things? First, let’s take a look at a man named John the Baptist.


Author
Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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