Sunday, April 24, 2005

At what cost do we sell morality?

My perception of Christ's single message as displayed by his life on Earth can be wrapped up in a single statement: Love trumps the Law. Maybe better said: Love is the Law, and the Law is Love. This kind of statement, morphed into some post-modern hippie pacakge, can be taken way out of context to mean something very different than I intend. More on that later. I still believe the statement to be factual and central to the Christian message.

I was dwelling on it as I read Gregory Koukl's and Scott Klusendorf's commentary on what they called the Vanishing Pro-Life Apologist. Their argument is simple enough: Any attempt to soft-sell the Pro-Life message is tantamount to abadoning the movement.

As someone who was once an ardent Pro-Lifer and has since abadoned the political movement, this is the kind of absolutism that makes me wonder what Bible they're reading. There's a notion that God's power is best displayed in the court and in our laws, and that is supposed to be Priority No. 1 among all Christians. Here are some statements related to me by well-meaning Pro-Lifers during my college days in the early 90s:

* Christians have a a mandate to claim dominion in the government and public policy.

* Christian public and political activism is relevant to advancing God's domain

* God's view of a "Christian nation" is a political view (i.e. we must end abortion so God doesn't judge us).

Are they advancing God's heavenly kingdom or simply attempting to create an earthly kingdom? Jesus was constantly faced with and totally resisted political pressures of his day. The Zealots wanted him to join a Jewish rebellion of Rome. He was questioned about Roman taxes and local authority. He was passive to it all, except to say that His kingdom is a heavenly kingdom, and governments are neither inherantly good nor evil. Government wasn't even part of God's plan, and the Hebrews' insistence on an earthly king cost them dearly. I'm not saying that government, being politically active, or voting is antithetical to being a Christian, but it in no way defines Christian thought or practice in any way. Here some statements that I do believe define a Christian life:

* The primary goal in a Christian's life is to worship God with the heart, the mouth, and the hands.

* A Christian nation is defined by a majority of believers who work in grace, love and charity.

* True righteousness, holiness and moral works are the effect; humility and surrender before God and heart intent on serving man is the cause.

With this perspective, I have a hard time believing Christ would be a member of a Pro-Life organization. I still believe abortion is murder, but I don't believe changing the law changes a single heart nor solves a problem. Instead, I believe Christ would be attempting to change the world one heart at time, staying focused on the essential Gospel message.

That Gospel message -- Christ, who was fully man and fully God, sacrificed his earthly body to conquer our sin -- is the real power, the real dunamos. In this, the Age of Mercy, there is no other power or promise from God other than eternal salvation. God already has full dominion over man, government and laws. I don't think God needs any more politicians. However, there is always a shortage of evangelists -- the gentle kind that make real change in the world, not the TV kind with bouffant hairdos and million-dollar bank accounts.

If we are then seeing people surrendering their lives to Christ, there is no need to show them a law telling them abortion is wrong. God's law will be written on their hearts. Do we not have faith in God's power today? Do we not go to our churches and lament how much we want revival? Do we not sing songs praising God for his inexplicable love and compassion for men? Why, then, do we remove God from this one thing and say it is OUR job, that God has no power but in the politics of his people?

If you want a Christian nation, don't give the people the law, give them Jesus. Jesus did not go around telling unbelievers to behave. He told unbelievers to have faith in Him and He revealed their sin to them. There is the power of the message, and there is the agent of social change Pro-Lifers so desperately seek.


Reg said...

Great stuff, Gad.

Aron Gomez said...

Strong statements that titilate, even inspire, but I'm struggling to discern on what theological ground you stand. Is this born out of Biblical study or your own frustration?

I would not at all disagree with your statements in general, although I think there is a very fine line between favoring evangelism over political activism and using the perceived lack of evangelism as an argument to undermine Godly political activism. Is there not a role for both in God's Kingdom? It seems to me we should be arguing the degree to which each is emphasized, not only one or the other.

Gaddabout said...

Are you asking if I'm implying we should hand all government over to the pagans? =)

I don't really know where best to draw the line, but I can think of several practices that I would put to a stop. For one, no more leafletting during church or in a church building. Please, let's keep our churches places of worship and not turn them into a political grass-roots workshop. Also, I would pull the plug on most -- if not all -- Christian PACs. Furthermore, I would discourage large groups like the Southern Baptists making political statements; how many times do you see the local SB pastor on time red-faced and embarassed having to explain his church does not endorse the harsh political views of their leader?

I think I do have a theological groundwork for point POV. What I don't have is a traditional theological grid, unless you consider George Eldon Ladd's "Kingdom Theology" (as opposed to the heretical Kingdom Now Theology) to be a grid. If anything, I use the life, death, ressurection of Jesus is the interpreting key to the rest of the Bible. IMO, all Biblical interpretation should be first compared to what Jesus said. Apologies if that "spirtualizes" the text or deemphasizes thinks like eschatology, but I think it's central to our very faith to focus on the main and plain. I see Jesus as a civil activist, eschewing politics in favor of social change. IMO, the whole point of Jesus' ministry in the flesh was to model how the present-day power of God is infinitely more effective in positive social change than anything we could do as a voting bloc.

Anonymous said...

Go Kings!