Monday, May 5, 2008
Is the Church to influence society by wielding collective political clout as a moral majority that legislates morality? Is society transformed by the power of the government or the power of the gospel? Phil Johnson said, "Practically the worst kind of spiritual treason any pastor or church body could ever commit would be to supplant the gospel message with a different message, or to allow a merely moral agenda to crowd out our spiritual duties. That is exactly the risk we take when we pour money and resources into political and legislative remedies for our society's spiritual problems."
As a pastor, here are some problems as I see them with wielding our collective political clout:
(1) Morality is not obtained by legislation or demonstration but wherever the Gospel is preached in power and disciples are made who in turn witness to the lost in society. In Ephesus, people didn't stop purchasing idols because Paul picketed the temple of Diana or staged anti-idolatry rallies or lobbied Rome for legislation against it - many stopped purchasing idols because Paul taught the truth, people got saved, they in turn shared the Gospel, more and more people got converted, and fewer and fewer customers were available (see Acts 19:23-27).
(2)Today's church seems to be more interested in imposing God's standards in the courthouse than they are in the church-house. When churches will not operate by the guidelines that God has given in His Word for their government (biblically qualified leaders), for their discipline (biblically maintained purity), and for their exemplary conduct in society (biblically adorned doctrine), then they have no right to impose God's standards on others - or else it is hypocrisy and the world takes note of it!
I believe that being the salt of the earth and the light of the world has more to do with moral character based on sanctification flowing from justification in the Lord than moral principles based on legislation. Are we the salt of the earth and the light of the world because we legislate morality or because we live it?
I propose that living morally has a far greater impact than legislating morality. It is the State's God-given responsibility to legislate morality. It is the Church's God-given responsibility to live morally. Therefore even the Church is called to be subject to the State (Romans 13:1-7) and is not to usurp the God-given authority of the State. Likewise God has called the Church to live morally (Romans 13:8-14) and the State is not to undermine the responsibility of the Church by legislating immoral laws.