Friday, May 6, 2016
Taking Sides: The Christian's Responsibility in Civic Affairs Part 3
By Kevin Kookogey, Guest Columnist
This is the third in a series of essays on the duty of Christians in civic affairs, adapted from Kevin Kookogey’s weekly radio address and podcasts at www.advancingchurch.com
4. What are the potential dangers of mixing politics and Christianity?
If by mixing politics and Christianity one means establishing a theocracy, then of course that would be a danger. But that is not what Christianity is. If you fear theocracy, then you should fear Islam, which advocates an unaccountable civil power imposing Sharia without the consent of the governed.
Christianity, on the other hand, limits the power of the State. Jesus Christ rejected theocracy, explaining that His kingdom is not of this world. But this should never be an excuse to abandon our duty to engage in political affairs.
And we must recognize a straw man when we see him.
We are told that Christianity can’t be permitted to inform our political decisions because to do so means that Christians want to replace the State with the Church. But we can reject theocracy without abandoning the influence of religious belief on policy, just as we can encourage the participation and influence of Christians in political affairs without advocating for the Church to replace the State.
Theocracy is rampant in America today, but it has nothing to do with the Church. Theocracy in our day masquerades as concern for the environment, where every citizen must conform to the State religion of man-made climate change or face ridicule, shaming, and fines, accompanied by loss of liberty and opportunity. Theocracy also manifests itself among the diversity police, whose idea of diversity allows for no actual diversity of ideas; where citizens are forced to surrender their rights of conscience at the alter of the absolute State or face loss of business, fines, and even incarceration.
5. What are the dangers of separating Christianity from politics?
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Period. He did not exclude any people or geography, and He certainly didn’t allow for any caveat about Christians not engaging in politics. Politics is the arena where we discuss some of the most important questions of our day. How can we be salt and light if we remove ourselves from the conversation?
Separating Christianity from politics, in fact, would be qualifying the Great Commission. And it would come at great cost to human liberty and justice for all of society because modernity has no answers for the abuse of power. The Church is the only institution with the moral authority to make distinctions between a State acting within its proper sphere and a usurping, absolutist State.
Indeed, the Body of Christ is uniquely qualified to encourage a wise and frugal government and to stand as a necessary check against a bad one.
Government is ordained by God, responsible for repelling foreign enemies, defending the God-given rights of its citizens, and otherwise maintaining domestic security and justice, for there can be no true freedom without the law.
But the State is not absolute. It is a temporary institution, willed by God for the present day.
The State is God’s servant to the extent it remains in God’s order and does not seek to emancipate itself by becoming totalitarian. When a State remains within these limits, Christians will be its greatest defender. But when the State transgresses its boundaries by infringing upon, limiting, or otherwise seeking to condition our God-given rights, Christians must lead the resistance, even at the hazard of their lives.
6. Is there a danger of having our religious liberty stripped by being un-informed about politics?
Contrary to folklore, ignorance is not bliss. It fuels the enemies of freedom, nourishing the advance of false ideas while starving truth of its sustaining force, knowledge. We cannot defend truth if we do not first know what is true. And we cannot know what is true unless truth is our object.
First Liberty Institute publishes an annual Survey on the Hostility to Religion in America called Undeniable. The report exposes the increasing incidence of religious persecution in the United States, most of which goes unreported by the media.
Hostility toward Christianity, in particular, is accelerating across America even as it does around the globe. Employees are being wrongly terminated, businesses are being destroyed, and ministries are restricted from carrying out their missions. Even the military has joined in the unlawful discrimination against chaplains, banning the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ while encouraging the practice of Islam, forcing women into combat, and coercing soldiers into gay sensitivity programs.
Meanwhile, even Republican Governors, once a dependable force for freedom, collaborate with big business against the common good, threatening conscientious objectors to abandon their convictions under force of law.
And it is important to remember that the effects of discriminating against Christians are not limited to those whose rights are violated. The effort to diminish the influence of religious belief in the political arena, combined with the coordinated aims to extinguish the right of Christians to freely exercise their faith or abstain by right of conscience is destructive to all of society.
Religious liberty is the most important among our unalienable rights. Its enumeration in the First Amendment reinforces its preeminence as the indispensable freedom. Our ancestors fled Europe in order to establish a new society on this continent where they could live freely according to their convictions. When England demanded their absolute loyalty, the colonists announced to the world that they were appealing to God for relief.
One cannot account for limits on the power of government without a transcendent universal moral standard. If the State is unaccountable to anything beyond itself, we become subject to its whims.
Because our founders understood that the State becomes absolute in the absence of God, they encouraged the practice of religion and vigorously assured its protection. Religion and morality were deemed the indispensable supports to a free and civil society. The more virtue one has, the less government one needs. These convictions served our nation well for over 200 years.
Next week we will examine how our present American decline is directly attributable to decades of coordinated efforts to undermine this first freedom.
Kevin Kookogey spent more than two decades as an entertainment lawyer and music industry executive. In an age of creeping socialism and intellectual neglect, he took on the responsibility of home-schooling his six children. For more on this subject, or to listen to Kevin on these topics in his weekly radio address on 99.7 WTN Nashville with Michael DelGiorno, please visit advancingchurch.com
The Language of Liberty series is a collaborative effort of the Center for Self Governance (CSG) Administrative Team. The authors include administrative staff, selected students, and guest columnists. They may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org To read more, go to CenterForSelfGovernance.com and click on Language of Liberty Series.