More pastors are speaking out on the relationship between the Bible and politics. Unfortunately, some of them are creating a false dichotomy between the gospel and politics. The latest is Perry Noble, pastor NewSpring Church that meets in different locations in major cities in South Carolina and online. He writes on his blog: “It’s never pretty when the church crawls in bed with politics. EVER!”
Ever? It’s never pretty when government steals your money, supports the murder of pre-born babies, and overturns God’s design for marriage. These things might very well bring God’s judgment down on us. If a government is doing these things, don’t you think Christians should get involved to stop them?
Using the phrase getting “in bed with politics” kind of poisons the well. Most people I speak with on their interest in politics say they want to kick the politicians out of our beds, pockets, schools, and businesses. My goal as a Christian interested in politics from a biblical perspective is to insure that civil government, a government ordained by God like family and church governments, stays within its God-ordained limitations. I don’t want to increase the power of government; I want to decrease its power so it can do what is biblically and constitutionally required.
Pastor Noble continues: “I have a question for Republicans and Democrats alike . . . how is putting your hope in a political savior going for you?” Pastor Noble, can you tell me what Christians are looking for a “political savior”? I certainly don’t view Mitt Romney as a political savior. The people I speak with on this subject do not want a political savior. We want to put a stop to political messiahism; that’s why we want Barack Obama out of the White House. That’s the first step.
There’s a lot more to be done at all levels of government, and in addition, families, churches, schools, businesses, journalism, economics, international relations, etc.
I wonder if Pastor Noble tells his very large congregation to pull their children out of government schools. Talk about a different gospel! Government schools are all about salvation through politics. I know he supports helping with tuition-free schools, but is he as adamant about government education as he is about politics?
Pastor Noble writes, “Reality is that if the heart of a person is not impacted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ then…” He lists seven things that will continue. Here’s the seventh: “The sex slave trade is going to continue to flourish.” If we follow Pastor Noble’s disdain for getting involved in politics, then the sex slave trade will continue indefinitely. Let’s say that 90 percent of the world is Christian, leaving 10 percent that’s not. Who would be involved in government and making the laws? The 10 percent. They could keep the sex slave trade going while Christians piously sit on the sidelines waiting for the last 10 percent to be saved.
He continues: “And these things will NOT be changed through an act of congress but rather through Christ! People who are on these paths are not going to change unless something (or someone) changes them…and no law or legislation can do that, only the POWER of the Gospel.”
Really? No law can stop people from stealing other people until everybody is a Christian? It’s true that not everybody can be stopped by a law, but a majority of people are. It’s the threat of punishment that does it, even for Christians. That’s a very biblical idea. God doesn’t throw law away for the Christian once he or she is born again. The apostle Paul writes:
“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted” (1 Tim. 1:8-11).
Notice the last phrase: “according to the glorious gospel.”
It was the Christian William Wilberforce who worked to stop the slave trade in England. The new anti-slavery laws prohibited everybody from trading in slaves, whether they had a changed heart or not. Was Wilberforce wrong to work for the outlawing of slavery because not everybody had responded to the gospel? Not at all.
Pastor Noble gets some things right, but he also gets some things wrong. Our goal as Christians should be to understand what the proper role the political sphere (civil government) plays in the Christian’s life.