My brother David posted this quote on facebook.
“But followers of Jesus, whose kingdom is not of this world, should not think that having the “right” person in office will somehow restore righteousness to a fallen and sin-infested world. How can a fallen leader repair a fallen society? He (or she) can’t. Only God can do that through changed lives. And lives can be changed only by the transforming power of Jesus Christ. Indeed, it has always bee…n so. As revivals of the past have shown us, the social impact was astounding. So if believers want to see a culture improved (fewer abortions, less drunkenness, fewer divorces, and so on), let their objective be to lead more people to Christ. Those converts will then be “transformed by the renewing of their minds,” and societal transformation will follow. It’s bubble- up, not trickle-down. The problems we face come from our forgetting God and worshipping the golden calf of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. In material things and pleasure we trust, not God. That’s why He gives us over to the consequences of an unrestrained lower nature. Politics can’t redeem us from that.” Cal Thomas (Former VP of Communications for the Moral Majority in the 1980s)
- It makes it sound like we have no one converted right now. Sure, we should keep focusing on evangelism, and that should make an impact on society. But I think it’s a mistake to think that, because we are seeing society change for the worse, that therefore we haven’t been evangelizing enough. I’m sure we haven’t been, but I’m not sure this era is much worse than any other.
There are certainly times of revival when a bunch of evangelism happens and a bunch of conversions happen, but I think those are both more a product of the revival rather than a cause of it.
- Although it is true that “These converts will be ‘transformed by the renewing of their minds’ and societal transformation will follow”, it does not happen very quickly on its own. Transformation at the level that affects society and politics is sometimes very slow.
We (the church) can speed it up by discipling one another more in the area of thinking politically and socially. That’s tricky, because we don’t even always know what we should be thinking about politics and society.
It’s certainly more complicated than giving people a scorecard for the candidates. We can’t think of discipleship in political areas as a means to an end — the end of winning politically — but as simply growing in our understanding of how Christianity affects everything.
- If we are doing a good job of evangelizing, there will be as many liberal Democrats getting saved and growing as there will conservative Republicans. Therefore, the body of Christ will be frustratingly diverse when it comes to political convictions. In the long run, this will be a strength for us politically, as long as we are willing to work with it.
- I very much agree that part of thinking Christianly is to realize that we do not belong to this world. We are citizens of another kingdom. Like Paul, we can use our earthly citizenship for the glory of God, but ultimately we do not belong here and our national identities are not our true identities.
Nonetheless, as Christians who anticipate Jesus’ return to earth to restore society, we should be foreshadowing his return by combatting wickedness and promoting goodness wherever we can.
- Sometimes systems, cultures, and laws are set up so that they promote evil. We need to see that there can be a value in changing them.
I posted my reactions today. Broader and less directly responsive, more my general thoughts spun off from the quote. However, I had a couple of thoughts here from your blog. I mostly agree. I would, carefully with acknowledgement of my respect for all my truly liberal, truly Christian friends, argue that discipleship will, at least in some areas lead to some of the more traditional views. For example, most of my liberal friends who have converted to Christianity but kept many of their liberal views, have converted to a pro life position. I’m not saying they aren’t really Christians if they don’t agree with me on this (or any other political view) but in response to your statement that there will be as many liberal believers and Conservative, I’m pointing out it may not be exactly true because some of the views may change along with becoming a Christian. Certainly views would change, I’m just suggesting (gently) that some of those views may be more conservative. However, to show you that Cal Thomas agrees with you and is not suggesting that evangelism will make us all Republicans, consider this: In a recent interview, Cal Thomas talks about a liberal friend of his Bob Beckel, “Bob sits with me in church (when he is not ministering to alcoholics on a Sunday), and we pray together there and when we travel. Before Bob’s conversion, we used to debate on TV and never change each other’s minds. Since his conversion, Bob has devoured the Bible and now sees many things from the Lord’s perspective. By listening to his story, I have a greater appreciation and respect for him as a man, a father, and a fellow American who loves this country as much as I do. We just sometimes have different approaches to making it better. I have come to understand why he holds many of his views and even embraced some of them, as he has mine. But it begins with a relationship — with God and with each other. Most of us know each other by labels — conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat. We speak of those with whom we disagree as being on “the other side.” Bob isn’t on the other side. The Taliban are on the other side. Bob is my brother in Christ and one of my dearest friends.”
My second thought to your response is to emphasize my agreement that change can still be slow and that our ability to disciple is directly related to cultural change and not just our ability to evangelize. In fact, I think good discipleship is more key than mere evangelism. In fact (again), that evangelism itself is most effective when seen in the context of discipleship (as the first step of discipleship often.)
Just my thoughts. That’s my reaction to your reaction to Cal Thomas. For my reaction to the Cal Thomas quote, see my post today. 🙂