Referring again to the E.A. Slater paper, I’d like to comment further on a couple of points I think are particularly salient:
First, that biblical subjection to government and active assistance of & participation in it are not the same thing. The former is commanded; the latter is a matter for interpretation and conscience. Perhaps many Christians — wishing to be in proper subjection — are not even aware, for instance, of the possibility of registering for the Selective Service with Conscientious Objector status. On the other hand, it should also be emphasized that we believers really should submit ourselves to governing authorities. This is sometimes difficult — perhaps when considering the IRS, speed laws, and more.
Also, the sometimes radically different goals of the two kingdoms/systems must be kept in mind. Some of the arguments I’ve heard in support of Christians’ involvement in civil government are made based on an emotional attachment to democracy, or to the U.S., or to our relative lack of anarchy, or something else that won’t ultimately last. On the other hand, tell me why my participation in government would make a difference in the eternal kingdom of God, and I might just perk up.
Sincere believers also frequently argue on the basis of a shaky concept of Christian ministry. It goes something like this:
Well, if Christians don’t get involved in politics, who will? I mean, we have to step up to the plate and make things better by serving the public. Don’t you want the likes of [insert name of actively involved, good Christian conservative here] in office instead of [insert name of shady, corrupt, immoral liberal here]?
Further, the fear of having some other form of government—although a genuinely frightening thing in our time!—cannot be allowed to determine our course of action. More specifically: we cannot compromise biblical principles because we fear the onslaught of militant Islamists. Personally, I fear that eventuality, but I must admit that God could, in fact, “ordain” Islam for some purpose unknown to me now. In Slater’s terms, potential consequences, i.e., of keeping out of government, must not dictate actions.
Below is a link to some “emerging church” blog material on the Christian and war. I have only scanned this (and I realize it’s re-opening a worm can to refer to material some may find questionable because of associations), but it’s food for the mind, if not the soul. http://www.opensourcetheology.net/node/578