Evangelistic Politics

Yesterday I wrote that for Christians, the agendas of the current political parties, news organizations, and political movements do not go far enough.  If we merely vote for the country to become more conservative we have fallen short of the gospel.  The gospel demands that we call men and women to repent of sin and trust Christ for salvation.  The gospel means that we not only vote, but that we become activists in the culture around us.  We are to be evangelists. 
Is involvement in the political process a viable part of the evangelism?  There are many throughout the centuries that advise the church step to away from politics completely and concentrate on influencing the culture by simply living out the gospel.  Should we completely divorce the church from the state?  Bob Lockhart writes a thought provoking article, citing four ways political involvement helps the church fulfill its evangelistic mission: [1]  1)  By changing the laws of the culture a moral climate is created that may make it easier for people to remain faithful to the gospel.[2]  2)  Christian political activity can serve to enhance the credibility of Christians with people to whom the political realm is an important area of life.  3)  Christian political activity can help to create laws and structures that are more in line with God’s purpose for law, part of which is to prepare a person for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  4)  Christian political activity can serve to create apologetic and evangelistic opportunities with people that otherwise might not ever participate in such dialogue.
The political forum is a verbal debate that validates viewpoints through results.  The gospel is a message that is spread orally and challenges people to new ways of living.  If Christians are not involved in politics the church loses a critical forum in which it can spread the gospel, not only to politicians, but to news agencies, political action groups, and to the culture at large.  The gospel is not simply telling someone how to go to avoid Hell and go to Heaven; the gospel is demonstrating that the Lordship of Christ is best for individuals, families, schools, the economy, etc.  Jesus brings new life to every social structure.  What about other religions?  If we allow Christianity to influence society, does this open the floodgate for other faiths to do the same?  This is a fallacious line of reasoning on two counts.  1)  The assumption is that other faiths do not already influence society or politics.  The recent Pier 51 Islamic mosque debate should put this idea to rest.  2)  This line of reasoning also assumes that Christians are not called to show other faith groups that Christ is a better way.[3]  Bible believing Christians should welcome the open dialogue and validate their message by living out the gospel.  Allow the culture to view the results.  If we retreat from the political process, many people will not hear the gospel.  Dr. Lockhart points out, “Responsible political activity can help the church with the evangelistic task by providing apologetic and evangelistic opportunities with a group of people that otherwise might never hear the message.”  The world needs to hear the message of the gospel.  The political forum is a critical conduit of evangelism.

[1] Bob Lockhart, “Evangelistic Politics”, Global Journal of Classical Theology (Jul 2008)
[2] Lockhart’s point here is that by passing laws that restrict social evils such as the display of pornography in public places people would have less access, experience a lesser degree of temptation, and as a result not be so prone to become unfaithful in their Christian walk.
[3] The entire Book of Hebrews fleshes this thought out.  The theme of the book is that Jesus is superior to all other messages about God and ways to God.


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