I recently stumbled on an interesting interview with Wayne Grudem, the author of Politics According to the Bible. Grudem sketches five common mistakes that Christians can make in their posture toward government and politics. The antidote, says Grudem, is growing to understand how the gospel can (and should) change our political sentiments.
The full interview with Wayne Grudem was originally published by the Acton Institute's periodical Religion & Liberty. Here's an excerpt that made me excited:
The gospel, when it is truly proclaimed, will result in changed lives. And I think Jesus wants us to have changed marriages and changed ideas of parenting and changed schools and changed neighborhoods and changed businesses and workplaces, and certainly, that would include changed governments as well.
I think that pastors have an obligation to explain to their congregations how biblical teachings impact the government. In addition to that, there are many passages in the Bible that talk about God's purpose for government. Another answer to this view that says we should do evangelism and not politics is that it fails to understand the great influence that Christians have had on governments since the early history of the Church. Early in the Roman Empire, it was Christian influence that led to outlawing infanticide, child abandonment and abortion in the Roman Empire. Christian influence led to outlawing the gladiatorial contests in 404 A.D. Christian influence led to granting property rights and other protections to women at various times through history...
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While I'm all for pastors preaching on values that could affect our voting decisions -- for example, "What is a fair wage?" -- I'm unsettled by the idea of pastors regularly giving their congregations specific voting instructions. In my experience, this situation often carries a subtext that there's only one valid Christian way to vote. I believe our voting decisions today are only rarely as clear-cut as when Christians in ancient Rome influenced the outlawing of infanticide.
But what do you think? Should churches discuss voting decisions from the pulpit, or is that something better left among friends?
Has your church become involved in political projects? And when conflict over politics erupts, how has your church handled it? I'd love to hear your comments.
(-Adam Forrest, Zondervan Internet Team)
About Wayne Grudem
Wayne Grudem is Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona. He holds degrees from Harvard (BA), Westminster Seminary (MDiv), and Cambridge (PhD). He is the author of over fifteen books including the bestselling Systematic Theology and the related Making Sense Of... series.