Awesome post from Collin Hansen on the Christian and political involvement. Very timely as we see politics dominating the American public forum as we approach the fall elections. Full post here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/03/01/we-dare-not-defend-our-rights/.
Here’s an excerpt:
“…Those of us who live in democracies give thanks that we can be involved in the political process and shape policies out of love for our neighbors.
But we seem to be fighting a losing cause of late, at least in theUnited States. Our vision for the common good is being eclipsed by a new order that seems not to understand Western culture’s debt to the Christian vision for humanity.
Contrary to appearances, this new vision does not support a “live and let live” ethic. Religion continues its centuries-long retreat into the private sphere. Christians replace gays in the closet. Our future feels tenuous, so we appeal to help from the state. But we haven’t yet determined if the state is friend or foe.
“For democracies, like all governments, are based on affirming and supporting certain values and visions of reality, and proscribing others,” D. A. Carson writes in his new bookThe Intolerance of Tolerance. “But when the values and visions of reality that sustained such democracies in the past shrivel away, in the domains where the shriveling takes place the only über-value is the new tolerance, backed up by the coercive power of the state.”
We may have only a few reasons for optimism about the difference we can make in coming days. But neither should we fall prey to faithless pessimism. Though embattled, thousands of evangelical churches thrive across the country. We can learn from the example of congregations worldwide that maintain a vigorous witness where Christian rights have been restricted most severely.
Or we can look back to the body of beleaguered believers encouraged thus by the apostle Peter: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Though slandered and scattered, these believers trusted that God would glorify himself among unbelievers through their good deeds and patient endurance. That’s the ethic captured in The Gospel Coalition’s Theological Vision for Ministry. Notably, this document says nothing about our rights. But it does hold out hope for significant cultural influence if we seek service rather than power. And it warns, “But if we seek direct power and social control, we will, ironically, be assimilated into the very idolatries of wealth, status, and power we seek to change.”
We dare not defend our rights if this defense assimilates us into the culture of ressentiment [sic]. State-sanctioned persecution would be a better fate.
But there is a better way, laid out by Carsonat the end of The Intolerance of Tolerance. Let us practice civility toward our neighbors, believers or not. Preach the gospel and watch seeds of faith sprout. Be prepared to suffer—“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
All the while, trust and delight in God. No one can snatch your joy from the Father’s hand. But you can squander divine delight and squelch the witness of the Spirit by fighting for your rights while forgetting the sovereign Creator who endows them.”
-Collin Hansen, 03-01-2012