As we continued our discipleship class this past Sunday evening – Politics According to the Bible – we discovered the better solution to the relationship between politics and religion. Wayne Grudem, the author of our text, states,
…Christians should seek to influence civil government according to God’s moral standards and God’s purposes for government as revealed in the Bible (when rightly understood). (p. 55)
Understanding the Bible rightly, in regard to the main teachings of the Christian faith and methods of interpretation, is not an impossible concept. Grudem states that, among responsible evangelical interpreters, there are “vastly more areas of widespread agreement than disagreement, both today and throughout history.” In other words, we can all agree that murder is wrong; yet, we may disagree on interpretations regarding the end times. The widely accepted views, though, are what we lean on when applying biblical principles to government and policy issues.
While there is much evidence in the Bible for “significant Christian influence” on government (Daniel, Joseph, Jeremiah, Paul, and John the Baptist, among others), we find biblical guides regarding the purpose of government in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. As Christians, we are subject to authority and laws, the very institutions created and ordained by God “to restrain evil and promote good.”
While some Christians – and these are rare – would promote a theonomy (a governmental system based on Mosaic Law), most evangelical Christians and interpretations support the ideal of governing that we have now. Our influence, as Christians, should be based on biblical morality within the framework of our government now. However, Grudem goes as far to say that it is not necessarily true that Christians must support the Christian candidate. We must support, though, the candidate “who best represents moral and political values consistent with biblical teaching, no matter his or her religious background or convictions.”
But, what if all Christian influence on government were suddenly removed?
This is a valid point. Many laws and interpretations of laws have worked to completely remove any reference to religious influence. While the intention of politicians and judges may be honorable – to keep a separation of church and state – many are taking this approach to the extreme. They want religious influence altogether removed form the equation.
Yet, if Christians do not speak publicly about moral and ethical issues facing our nation, then where will moral standards come from?
“Significant Christian influence” is the better solution.