In this follow-up from my last post, I’m offering a little more detail, post-conversation . . .
Joe’s side of the “debate”
If I might presume to put more words in his mouth, based on what I’ve seen and heard from others, the significant question is this: Why would a Christian not stand up to be heard? We must take action for the sake of our earthly nation, and Christians’ voices should be strong and confident on moral issues. Our country is heading down a bad path, and it is up to Christians to be active in the political process that affects lives.
From my side, the significant question is this: Why would a Christian get involved? Speaking both practically and spiritually/biblically, I see little rational motivation for political activity, and even less hint of biblical basis for the same. Imperatives in this area are simply non-existent. Political activity, as we think of it today, is unknown to the Bible; in view of this scriptural silence, involvement in civic affairs must be seen as a liberty, not as a right or responsibility. Our responsibilities as Christians must be worked out with the eternal Kingdom in view — the Kingdom in which resides our primary citizenship. Kingdom purposes supersede the affairs of temporal, global governments.
Essentially, Joe thinks my values and priorities are skewed in the area of political thought and activity, and I think his are just as skewed. I often feel incredulous when confronted with others’ interests and energies around politics. How could you think that? Why do you do that? Don’t you get it? I ask, inside myself. On the other hand, Joe and the huge majority of believers ask, inside themselves, How could you be so apathetic? Why do you not do that? Don’t you get it?
Either Joe or I may be more right than the other, or we may both be wrong. In the end, though, his final words are on target:
“10,000 years from now our differences won’t matter.”
So be it. And in the meantime, we must allow for disagreement on disputable matters such as this one. Thank you, Joe, for your good heart and graciousness. When people act and dialogue as you do, it is easier for weaker characters such as myself to act better, and I am persuaded that dialogues such as ours — working through some disagreements in an area of Christian liberty — are pleasing to the Lord.
~ ~ ~
In necessariis unitas,
In dubiis libertas,
In omnibus autem caritas
(In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.)
The slogan above is attributed to Augustine (4th-5th centuries A.D.); appropriated by Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1852); reappropriated by Isaac Errett and others connected with the frontier American Restoration Movement (a/k/a Stone-Campbell Movement) in the later nineteenth century.
Now, another bit, via the ARM, on the topic at hand. This comes from Richard T. Hughes: Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America, p. 109:
If [Barton W.] Stone had a creed, he surely expressed it in 1841 when admonished his readers that “you must not mind earthly things, nor set your affections on them — not to be conformed to the world. . . . Here you have no abiding place, but are as strangers and pilgrims seeking a better country.”
For more on the so-called apocalyptic worldview, read more about Barton W. Stone than about Alexander Campbell, and continue following thoughts, teachings, and philosophies through David Lipscomb, Tolbert Fanning, and Andy T. Ritchie, Jr. Once upon a blog, I wrote a six-part series on Government and Christian. If interested, please go here for a first serving, or perhaps here. At this point, there are 33 posts on this blog that fall in the category “Government and Christian,” to some extent. I think this topic is of some importance, clearly, but I don’t want it to get more attention than it deserves.]