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Reclaiming Occupied Territory: Christianity and the Cultural Mandate
BreakPoint with Charles Colson ^ | June 3, 2004 | Charles Colson

Posted on 06/03/2004 11:20:45 AM PDT by Mr. Silverback

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To: Taliesan
I'm not advocating the end of "secular jobs".

But that's where your reasoning leads.

We've discussed this before, and you ended up conceding that Christians should be good citizens, vote, etc. Since voting is an exercise of governmental power, I assume that you don't consider it sinful for a Christian to hold office and exercise other forms of governmental power -- as a judge, a congressman, president, etc. (Is this a correct assumption?)

If so... then WHAT sort of laws should Christian congressmen vote for? What sort of decisions should Christian judges hand down? For that matter, what kind of candidates and propositions should Christians vote for? Should the scripture inform our decisions on these matters, or not?

If so, then, how is it that you are against political action by Christians? Certainly politics *by itself* saves nobody, but it can hardly be denied that politics an sometimes either promote, or retard, certain kinds of social wickedness.

51 posted on 06/04/2004 2:46:39 PM PDT by Rytwyng (we're here, we're Huguenots, get used to us)
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To: Colofornian
It's really very simple. If a person is "tempted" to havce an abortion, she does not need an abortion law. It will not help her spiritual condition one bit.

Her baby does.

52 posted on 06/07/2004 5:21:14 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Rytwyng
Well, that's a relief to hear. I'm glad I "conceded" before that Christians should be good citizens, since St. Paul tells us as much, and I've never doubted it.

I'm not "against" political action by Christians. There is no New Testament list of accepted and proscribed actions, so I can't offer one, nor would I want to, nor is that even what the issue of the thread is.

The issue of the thread is one of emphasis rather than of sorting through possible political acts to build an "oK" pile and a "bad" pile.

Again, the point under contention: Colson (whom I respect muchly) thinks we (the church) should engage in some sort of "cultural commission" to "reclaim" our culture. I assert that this passion involves multiple un-biblical assumptions, some of which are:

1. that there is a "cultural commission" for the church that has any thing like a scintilla of the meaning of the Great Commission. To think this is patent nonsense. He thinks it for his own psychological reasons: because he is a wonderful Christian man who loves America and he needs to have some sort of biblical mandate to do what he thinks will save America.

2. Said "cultural commission", if acted on, will work. It will not, in the long run. There is no New Testament warrant for thinking that way. There is every NT warrant for thinking the opposite.

I'll just check back every 5 years or so for a progress report on the "cultural commission". I predict it will fail demonstrably.

53 posted on 06/07/2004 5:36:06 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Rytwyng
Since voting is an exercise of governmental power, I assume that you don't consider it sinful for a Christian to hold office and exercise other forms of governmental power -- as a judge, a congressman, president, etc. (Is this a correct assumption?)

This is a fair question and I realize I didn't answer it.

It has never been clear to me where the line is, because, again, the New Testament doesn't answer it. From the perspective of the NT, the individual is supposed to devote his life to the exercise of his gift of ministry and from such seeking first of the kingdom his personal answers come.

The post-apostolic church, though, struggled with this question a great deal and a strong tradition developed that Christians shouldn't be engaged in directly coercive occupations: i.e. soldiers, political offices, etc.

That tradition submerged with Constantine, of course. (And that sure worked out well.)

Later, such groups as the Anabaptists and their descendants decided they couldn't be coercive. Their traditions continue, and i have sympathy for their stands.

I personally could not hold political office.

I vote. I vote for minimal government and lower taxes. I do not vote for candidates who want to pass laws which will impose Christian values on non-christians, except where those values will protect others from having values imposed by force on them (abortion, for example).

So I am almost a libertarian, I suppose you could say, and almost a pacifist. But not quite, in both cases: I don't share the view held by many libertarians that taxes are illegitimate, since both Jesus and Paul had no issue with taxes. And you obviously can't have a government without coercion -- in fact, the government simply IS the sword.

I don't mean to give you a tour of my mind, I'm just trying to answer as honestly as I can.

One more thing: you asked "what sort of decisions should Chrsitian judges hand down?"

Answer: those that are in accord with the laws as they exist. if those laws violate his Christian conscience, tough. He has no right (and certainly no biblical commission) to impose his Christian values on others if those values are not reflected in the laws. If he can't rule by the written law, he should step down.

A legislator is different, because his role is different. He has no duty to vote for "Christian laws" -- there is no such thing -- and his role is awkward because he has no model to go by. He is left with a few terse statements from the NT (Paul, mostly). At the same time, many moral laws are so clear they need no further analysis (thou shalt not kill) and any law which violates that sort of clear line he cannot support.

I don't believe a legislator could follow the NT carefully and succeed. He would be voted out of office forthwith in almost any jurisdiction in he land.

54 posted on 06/07/2004 6:27:50 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Taliesan
Colson...thinks we (the church) should engage in some sort of "cultural commission" to "reclaim" our culture. I assert that this passion involves multiple un-biblical assumptions

I believe the origin of this idea comes from certain writers such as Francis Schaeffer and CS Lewis. Lewis, as I recall, made a comment to the effect that the clergy wasn't supposed to do everything, but, that "....the application of Christian principles to, say, education or trade-unionism, should come from Christian schoolmasters and Christian trade-unionists..." and that "good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason than that bad philosophy needs to be answered."

Or, to put Lewis' point another way, the culture will be reformed when many individual Christians apply their faith and convictions to their particular profession or sphere of influence -- whether you're a philospher, a pre-school teacher, or a politician. As I see it, this is simple discipleship, simple obedience. Hence, "reclaiming the culture" is nothing more, less, or else than the earthly side effect of Christians obeying God. Note well that I said "side effect", not primary goal. Calls to "reclaim the culture" are therefore (a) wrong if they prioritize reclaiming Earth over claiming Heaven (Seek ye first..), but (b) right if they shake socially complacent Christians into awakening to this particular, oft-neglected aspect of discipleship.

I'll just check back every 5 years or so for a progress report on the "cultural commission". I predict it will fail demonstrably

Alas, I doubt it will be seriously tried, because the vast majority of American "Christians" don't actually have a biblical worldview and hence don't make biblical decisions about any area of life -- certainly not career or cultural engagement.

55 posted on 06/07/2004 10:43:22 PM PDT by Rytwyng (we're here, we're Huguenots, get used to us)
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To: Taliesan
The post-apostolic church.. struggled with this question a great deal and a strong tradition developed that Christians shouldn't be engaged in directly coercive occupations: i.e. soldiers, political offices, etc.

I don't recall Jesus instructing the Centurion to resign his commission. And Paul the apostle described sword-bearing magistrates as "ministers of God" to keep public order. But this doesn't surprise me, as some of the most on-fire, serious Christians I've ever known, have been cops.

That tradition submerged with Constantine, of course. (And that sure worked out well.)

Oh, you'll hate these guys: Christian Exodus

what sort of decisions should Chrsitian judges hand down?" Answer: those that are in accord with the laws as they exist.

You and me and Robert Bork agree: Judges interpret the law, they shouldn't invent it. However, clearly judges on the other side ARE inventing law -- re: abortion, sodomy, gay marriage, etc -- and so any judge (Christian or not) who followed the law would be an improvement.

A legislator is different, because his role is different. He has no duty to vote for "Christian laws" -- there is no such thing... At the same time, many moral laws are so clear they need no further analysis (thou shalt not kill) and any law which violates that sort of clear line he cannot support.

Plenty of laws DO violate those clear lines nowadays. No deep theology is necessary to discern that abortion is murder.

56 posted on 06/07/2004 10:55:24 PM PDT by Rytwyng (we're here, we're Huguenots, get used to us)
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To: Rytwyng
Hence, "reclaiming the culture" is nothing more, less, or else than the earthly side effect of Christians obeying God. Note well that I said "side effect", not primary goal. Calls to "reclaim the culture" are therefore (a) wrong if they prioritize reclaiming Earth over claiming Heaven (Seek ye first..), but (b) right if they shake socially complacent Christians into awakening to this particular, oft-neglected aspect of discipleship.

This is magnificent and we fully agree right here, at least. (emphasis mine, of course)

And anyone who alludes to Frances Scheaffer and C.S.Lewis I count a companion, whether he wants me to or not! :-)

Warmest regards.

57 posted on 06/08/2004 5:15:10 AM PDT by Taliesan (fiction police)
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To: Taliesan
And anyone who alludes to Frances Scheaffer and C.S.Lewis I count a companion, whether he wants me to or not! :-)

Urendi Maleldil!

58 posted on 06/09/2004 10:14:59 AM PDT by Rytwyng (we're here, we're Huguenots, get used to us)
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