Edited August 8, 2008:
I decided that I should edit this article to show excerpts from John MacArthur’s articles on “Christians and Politics” to help clarify both what his views and what mine are. Neither John MacArthur nor myself believe that Christians should totally be uninvolved in politics, instead that Christians not lose their focus from Christ and preaching and teaching about Him to focus on politics.
Excerpt from “Christians and Politics” Part 1:
“In less than fifty years’ time, our nation’s political leaders, legislative bodies, and courts have adopted a distinctly anti-Christian attitude and agenda. The country has swept away the Christian worldview and its principles in the name of equal rights, political correctness, tolerance, and strict separation of church and state. Gross immorality–including homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and other evils–has been sanctioned not only by society in general but in effect by the government as well. A portion of our tax dollars are now used to fund programs and government agencies that actively engage in blatant advocacy of various immoral practices.
What are Christians to do about it? Many think this is a political problem that will not be solved without a political strategy…..But is that a proper perspective? I believe not. America’s moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and its solution is the gospel, not partisan politics.”
He’s right on the mark. This country is declining morally. When has legislation and politicking ever solved moral problems? They don’t. Our country must turn back to Christ for our nation to see revival.
Excerpt from “Christians and Politics” Part 2:
“Evangelical activists in essence are simply preaching a politically conservative version of the old social gospel, emphasizing social and cultural concerns above spiritual ones. That kind of thinking fosters the view that government is either our ally (if it supports our special agenda) or our enemy (if it remains opposed or unresponsive to our voice). The political strategy becomes the focus of everything, as if the spiritual fortunes of God’s people rise or fall depending on who is in office. But the truth is that no human government can ultimately do anything either to advance or to thwart God’s kingdom. And the worst, most despotic worldly government in the end cannot halt the power of the Holy Spirit or the spread of God’s Word.”
To continue this train of thought, think of this: Of the corrupt government of Rome that actively sought out to stamp out the “Christian sect”, by hunting them, torturing them, persecuting them, and killing them, who came out victorious? The church or the Roman government? The church still lives, though I can’t say as much for the Roman government. It was also during this time, under intense persecution, the New Testament cannon was written, miracles were performed, and people came to Christ in droves. The point? Political revival and spiritual revival are 2 separate entities. A “Christian” government is not necessary for God to work in, but what is required is for God to move among the people is for the people to seek after Him. (2 Chronicles 7:14) God refuses to impart His grace and mercy among the proud and stiffnecked. (1 Peter 5:5)
Excerpt from “Christians and Politics” Part 3:
“My point is not that Christians should remain totally uninvolved in politics or civic activities and causes. They ought to express their political beliefs in the voting booth, and it is appropriate to support legitimate measures designed to correct a glaring social or political wrong. Complete noninvolvement would be contrary to what God’s Word says about doing good in society: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10; cf. Titus 3:1-2). It would also display a lack of gratitude for whatever amount of religious freedom the government allows us to enjoy. Furthermore, such pious apathy toward government and politics would reveal a lack of appreciation for the many appropriate legal remedies believers in democracies have for maintaining or improving the civil order. A certain amount of healthy and balanced concern with current trends in government and the community is acceptable, as long as we realize that that interest is not vital to our spiritual growth, our righteous testimony, or the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Above all, the believer’s political involvement should never displace the priority of preaching and teaching the gospel. There is certainly no prohibition on believers being directly involved in government as civil servants, as some notable examples in the Old and New Testaments illustrate. The issue again is one of priority.“
So you see that neither one of us are advocating political noninvolvement, but that proper focus and priority is maintained. Simply put: the Gospel comes first.
Excerpts from “Christians and Politics” Part 4:
“We can’t protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle waged against worldly ideologies and dogmas arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture. The apostle Paul writes: ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).”
“God has above all else called the church to bring sinful people to salvation through Jesus Christ. Even as the apostle Paul described his mission to unbelievers, so it is the primary task of all Christians to reach out to the lost “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me [Christ]” (Acts 26:18; cf. Ex. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). If we do not evangelize the lost and make disciples of new converts, nothing else we do for people–no matter how beneficial it seems–is of any eternal consequence. Whether a person is an atheist or a theist, a criminal or a model citizen, sexually promiscuous and perverse or strictly moral and virtuous, a greedy materialist or a gracious philanthropist–if he does not have a saving relationship to Christ, he is going to hell. It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.
When the church takes a stance that emphasizes political activism and social moralizing, it always diverts energy and resources away from evangelization. Such an antagonistic position toward the established secular culture invariably leads believers to feel hostile not only to unsaved government leaders with whom they disagree, but also antagonistic toward the unsaved residents of that culture–neighbors and fellow citizens they ought to love, pray for, and share the gospel with. To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord.”
“By means of faithful preaching and godly living, believers are to be the conscience of whatever nation they reside in. You can confront the culture not with the political and social activism of man’s wisdom, but with the spiritual power of God’s Word. Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of “Christian morality” in society is not our calling–and has no eternal value. Only the gospel rescues sinners from sin, death, and hell.”
In a nutshell: The only thing that politics has the power to change is this country’s laws. True change and transformation in the lives of people can only occur through the saving, justifying, and sanctifying power of Christ.