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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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R. G. Lee - Jesus Above All (Pt. 3 of 3)

Pastor R.G. Lee was born November 11, 1886, and died July 20, 1978. The midwife attending his birth held baby Lee in her black arms while dancing a jig around the room, saying, "Praise God! The Lord has sent a preacher to this house." "God-sent preacher" well describes Dr. Lee. Few in number are the Baptists who have never heard his most famous sermon, "Payday Someday!" If you haven't heard it, or read it, surely you have heard some preacher make a favorable reference to it.

R. G. Lee - Jesus Above All (Pt. 2 of 3)

Pastor R.G. Lee was born November 11, 1886, and died July 20, 1978. The midwife attending his birth held baby Lee in her black arms while dancing a jig around the room, saying, "Praise God! The Lord has sent a preacher to this house." "God-sent preacher" well describes Dr. Lee. Few in number are the Baptists who have never heard his most famous sermon, "Payday Someday!" If you haven't heard it, or read it, surely you have heard some preacher make a favorable reference to it.

Pastor R. G. Lee - Payday Someday! (Pt. 4 of 4)

 

Pastor R.G. Lee was born November 11, 1886, and died July 20, 1978. The midwife attending his birth held baby Lee in her black arms while dancing a jig around the room, saying, "Praise God! The Lord has sent a preacher to this house." "God-sent preacher" well describes Dr. Lee. Few in number are the Baptists who have never heard his most famous sermon, "Payday Someday!" If you haven't heard it, or read it, surely you have heard some preacher make a favorable reference to it.

Pastor R. G. Lee - Payday Someday! (Pt. 3 of 4)

Pastor R.G. Lee was born November 11, 1886, and died July 20, 1978. The midwife attending his birth held baby Lee in her black arms while dancing a jig around the room, saying, "Praise God! The Lord has sent a preacher to this house." "God-sent preacher" well describes Dr. Lee. Few in number are the Baptists who have never heard his most famous sermon, "Payday Someday!" If you haven't heard it, or read it, surely you have heard some preacher make a favorable reference to it.


Pastor R. G. Lee - Payday Someday! (Pt. 1 of 4)

Pastor R.G. Lee was born November 11, 1886, and died July 20, 1978. The midwife attending his birth held baby Lee in her black arms while dancing a jig around the room, saying, "Praise God! The Lord has sent a preacher to this house." "God-sent preacher" well describes Dr. Lee. Few in number are the Baptists who have never heard his most famous sermon, "Payday Someday!" If you haven't heard it, or read it, surely you have heard some preacher make a favorable reference to it.

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The results of an election can reveal the character and heart of a people. And this most recent election, at least in the state of California, didn't reveal a heart for God or loyalty to Christian values. Our newly-elected governor was, fourteen years ago, the first mayor to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California. This week, the opening sentence of an LA Times article quipped, “Gavin Newsom's election as governor of California is expected to shift state politics and policy even further to the left after eight years under the leadership of Gov. Jerry Brown.”Recent laws passed in our state have created increasing discomfort for Christians who believe in the sanctity of marriage, the life of the pre-born, and even the role of biblical values in society. Indeed, California and many other parts of America have more of a European flavor politically and religiously than ever before. But although this is a developing path for the United States, it is not new in world history. The psalmist talks about the depth of depravity to which those who are anti-God go. And if the intensity of vitriol that sometimes accompanies their insistence on a position seems disproportionate to the occasion, there is a reason. It often is not simply a single matter or viewpoint at hand, but a decision to rage against God Himself. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.—Psalm 2:1–3As Christians, during these times, we pray with the psalmist for deliverance from oppression, an opposition which I believe will only increase until the coming of the Lord: “Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts” (Psalm 119:134).Although times like these can be discouraging for a Christian whose focus is solely on experiencing comfort in this life, this is a short-sighted viewpoint. When we are living as Spirit-filled Christians, these can be exciting times to see God work in unusual and significant ways.In fact, two of the great men of the Old Testament whose stories we remember often—Joseph and Daniel—were both surrounded by political and spiritual depravity of the worst sort. It was against that backdrop that their lives made such a profound difference. So, rather than being discouraged with the results of this past election, I choose to be grateful.I am thankful because…1. God Is Faithful in Every GenerationO give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.—Psalm 118:29Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.—Psalm 90:1–2The first-century Roman empire was far more corrupt and pagan than the United States today, yet the gospel flourished and spread through its entirety. 2. The Mission of God's People Never ChangesAnd he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.—Mark 16:15My goal as a pastor is not to be overly concerned about red states and blue states. My goal is to preach the crimson red blood atonement of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. When people are redeemed by His blood and inhabited by the Holy Spirit, their worldview will change. But until they know the Lord, the biblical worldview will not make sense anyway. While election results intrigue me, as a Christian, my task does not change from season to season. I need to be ready to share Christ with a spirit of love and compassion today.3. Our Mission Is ObviousNow while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.—Acts 17:16Rather than being surrounded by professing and often carnal Christians, we have masses of unconverted heathen people in our state. If you lived in a county that was surrounded by hundreds of Baptist churches, you might not even think you need to actively look for ways to witness. But here, you can't help but see the need. A mature believer in California does not view his life as one dedicated to aerospace advancements, a hospital, or a law enforcement agency. He sees these as a vocation and certainly does his best, but he knows his higher calling is to be a light for Jesus in those places. This is a time to consider whether we will respond with flight or fight to the challenges in California. Will we flee discomfort? Or will we, not combatively but with a soulwinner's heart, have a spirit to take the Sword of the Spirit and stand for truth? The opportunity to do so has never been greater. 4. The Sovereignty of God Is Over AllThe LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.—Psalm 113:4Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing…. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.—Isaiah 40:15, 17I don't have to wring my hands in apprehension over the future because I know the King of kings and Lord of lords. No, we aren't promised a life of ease and comfort, free of persecution. But we are promised God's peace and comfort, and we can rest in knowing that He isn't surprised or disabled by an election.5. Revival Is an Ever-present PotentialWherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.—Psalm 115:2–3Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?—Psalm 85:6Frankly, for states like California and New York, as well as a growing number of other places across our land, revival may seem completely impossible. But it may be the complacency of Christians that is to blame. Perhaps now Christians will ponder the need for prayer, seeking the Lord, and humbling ourselves. These are the choices to which God responds with His grace. 6. The Natural Beauty of God's Creation Surrounds UsLet the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.—Psalm 96:11–12From the giant sequoias to the redwoods to the expansive deserts to the sandy beaches and cliff-lined coasts to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California is breathtakingly beautiful. And it all points to God as the creator and sustainer who is worthy of our honor and praise. 7. The Lord Is on Our SideI called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?—Psalm 118:5–6When you're involved in politics, you always want the most persuasive, influential, or powerful person on your side. And when “the other side” has such a person, you cringe. As Christians, we have the Lord on our side. Sometimes we forget it, and sometimes we forget the significance of it. But He is always there, and we have no need to fear.8. The Local Church Will ContinueAnd I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.—Matthew 16:18I'm thankful for the local church. In particular, I'm thankful for Lancaster Baptist Church—a place where God has allowed me to pastor for over thirty-two years and where I joyfully serve to this day. The assembly of believers is to be a place where we focus on the Lord, have a haven of rest, and pray and prepare to reach the lost with the gospel. As our culture becomes increasingly hostile toward God and biblical truths, the church should mean more to us today than ever. 9. Our Weather Is TerrificIn every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.—1 Thessalonians 5:18I'm thankful I will not shovel snow to get to work this winter. And I'm thankful that I will enjoy an average of 284 sunny days out of the 365 this year. (There are several reasons California is the most populated state in the nation, and weather is definitely one of them.) 10. Laborers Are Being Trained to Take the Gospel to CaliforniaTherefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.—Luke 10:2Jesus had one prayer request—gospel laborers for the harvest. And here in northern Los Angeles county, of all places, I get to be involved in training some of these laborers at West Coast Baptist College. Not only are there WCBC graduates planting churches in dozens of countries around the world, but there are thirty who are currently pastoring in California, many of which are church planters. Everywhere I preach outside of California, people criticize our state—its policies, media, political agenda, legislation, and even the way churches do ministry. I would remind our friends across the country, you'll never see a monument to a critic. Rather than pointing out our challenges, why not come help us and be part of the solution? Pray for us, come share the gospel with us, and come plant more churches. In fact, I invite any student or recent graduate from another Bible-believing Baptist college or any pastor serving in an area that is surrounded by other churches to call my office regarding opportunities for church planting here in California, as well as the opportunity for Lancaster Baptist to support you in planting a church here.11. Our Citizenship Is in HeavenFor our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:—Philippians 3:20These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.—Hebrews 11:13We can get so focused on local, state, and national government that we forget who our King is. Although I believe that we as Americans should take advantage of the extraordinary privilege we have to be engaged in our government and its processes, we must guard against thinking of this world as our home. We are but strangers and pilgrims here, and we have a better Home coming. Back in the 1700s, there were a group of people who were known for the fact that, not just a few but all of the church considered themselves missionaries. Laymen surrendered themselves by the hundreds to go to far away places, including the Caribbean, North and South America, the Arctic, Africa, and the Far East to carry the gospel. If we today would have the godly depth and maturity of these Moravian missionaries, we who live in California would see the opportunities around us for the gospel as nothing more than a privilege. We would see what a great blessing it is to be living in the midst of millions of people needing a Saviour. If, however, we begrudge living in California (or wherever you may be living today), we should apologize to the missionaries we send to China, where it is illegal to hand out a gospel tract. We should apologize to the churches in Malaysia, where to simply give out a printed copy of the gospel would mean your hand would be cut off; and Iran, where a Christian would be imprisoned for the same offense. May we instead, as mature Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, serve God graciously and witness for Christ passionately where we are in the days ahead.
Dear Friends,As our country grapples with yet another senseless, brutal, and evil act of violence, this time perpetrated against Jews worshipping in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the media is predictably churning out an avalanche of breathless accounts of who is to blame. Our collective energy as a nation would be much more valuably spent in reflection and prayer.In the aftermath of such horrendous violence being perpetrated by one human being against fellow human beings, many rightly ask: how could someone do this? Only God knows the full answer to this question, but we can be certain of one thing: the attacker lacked empathy for his fellow man. Therefore, it is critical that our society spend more time pondering the concept of empathy, and increasingly put it into practice in our daily lives.Empathy is the mental practice of putting oneself in the shoes of another in order to better understand what life must be like for that person. This practice seems relatively straightforward, but for most of us, it is difficult to do, because we human beings have a fallen natural tendency for selfishness and snap judgments. Just like everything else in life that is difficult yet worthwhile, we must work at practicing empathy. When we witness behavior from a person that we consider offensive, we must refrain from stereotyping the person based on their outward appearance. Similarly, we must refrain from making rash generalizations about groups of people based on ethnicity, religion, political views, etc. Instead, we must seek to better understand other people and avoid instant judgments of character.When thinking about the actions and motivations of others, we must take into account a whole host of information before we can come to any fair conclusions. For the person in question, we must ask ourselves: What is the broader culture like where this person came from and how were they influenced by it? How was this person raised by their parents? Were they mistreated or abused as a child? What beliefs were taught to them growing up? And on and on. Obviously, we can’t know the answers to many of these questions without either research or first-hand knowledge. But we must make the effort so that we can better understand the reasons behind particular actions or words, and thereby have a better capacity for true empathy.Jesus displayed empathy all over Scripture. When coming open Matthew, a tax collector who was widely reviled, Jesus did not judge him by his place in society or apparent misdeeds of extortion. He saw the goodness in Matthew and his need for salvation, and invited him to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9). Similarly, rather than condemning the woman caught in adultery, Jesus rebuked those who were condemning her and invited her to “go, and sin no more” (John 8:1-11). All over Scripture, Jesus is said to have spent time in the company of sinners, which the Pharisees reviled Him for. Jesus displays a crucial trait here: His first instinct is mercy rather than condemnation, which shows that He empathizes with those He meets and responds to them with love.We are called to do likewise. The more we make empathy our first reaction, the better chance we have of making it a habit rather than falling into the bad habit of snap judgments. When we fail to empathize with others, and instead burrow down the rabbit hole of stereotypes and prejudice based on outward appearances, the more we are prone to hate and dehumanize other people. The more we see others with empathetic eyes, as Christ did, the more we will grow in love and the more our world will flourish in peace and unity.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesWe Must Turn to God to Find Healing, Unity and Restoration – Tony PerkinsHHS should put a stop to ObamaCare's hidden abortion surcharge – Marjorie Dannenfelser and Tony PerkinsTrump transgender policy is simple and scientific: 'Sex' means biological sex – Peter SpriggWhy Evangelicals Will Vote (It's Not What You Think) – Tony PerkinsThe Attack on Faith-Based Adoption Agencies – David ClossonPastor Brunson's Release: A View From the Courtroom – Travis WeberPastor Andrew Brunson's release illustrates power and potential of Trump's foreign policy – Tony PerkinsPray Tell: Atheist Sues to Lead Legislative Prayer – Alexandra McPheeAla. Supreme Court Justice: Roe Cuts Off the Unborn’s Full Right to Life – Alexandra McPheeThe Gosnell Story: America Deserves to Know – Alyssa GrasinskiHow Shall We Engage Politically? A Response to Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung – David ClossonChristianity’s Blessings to Society – Travis WeberPro-Life Law Upheld By Another Federal Court: Dare We Say “Momentum”? – Cathy RuseOur Moralized Social Tyranny and What Conservatives Can Do About It – Caleb SutherlinOur Gifts Received through Child Loss – Katy DowneyAtlanta’s Kelvin Cochran Settles the Score – Alexandra McPhee Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareSchool Bans Christmas Songs That Mention Jesus – ToddStarnes.com'Gosnell' Filmmakers: Theaters Dropping Movie, Preventing People From Buying Tickets – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostBakers Fined $135K Over Wedding Cake Appeal to Supreme Court – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily SignalJack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop Asks Court to Halt New Civil Rights Prosecution – Kevin Daley, The Daily CallerABC, NBC, CBS Ignore GOP Candidates Allegedly Assaulted by Left-Wing ‘Protesters’ – Kristine Marsh, NewsBustersAtheists Put an End to Police Prayer Vigils, but Fail to Stop 'Pastors on Patrol' – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostSchool Bans Christian Athletes From Meeting on Campus – Jeremiah Poff, ToddStarnes.comFaith-Based Adoption Agencies Are Under Siege in the US – Emily Jones, CBN NewsLawsuit challenges tax perks available to America's pastors – Kelsey Dallas, Deseret NewsPensacola cross: Does Kavanaugh’s rise change the stakes? – Alabama.comInternational Religious FreedomChina Must End Its Campaign of Religious Persecution – Sen. Chuck Grassley, PoliticoThe Secret and Surprising Ways Christians Worship in North Korea – Lindy Lowry, Open Doors USAAsia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death row – BBC NewsOxford Students Vote to Ban Christian Group Over LGBT Claims of 'Threat to Physical, Mental Safety' – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostTurkey Arrests Another Pastor Just Days after Pastor Brunson is Released – Kayla Koslosky, ChristianHeadlines.comBig Victory for Medical Conscience in Norway – Wesley J. Smith, National ReviewImprisoned Iranian Pastor Got Help From Unlikely Source to Spread Gospel – Mark Ellis, The Christian PostAmerican missionary shot and killed in ‘targeted’ attack weeks after moving family to Cameroon – Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox NewsOver 20 Chinese Christians Arrested for Sharing Gospel, Holding Public Worship Service – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post LifeAbortionAlabama top court judge urges Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – Gualberto Garcia Jones, LifeSiteNewsNearly 60% of Millennials consider abortion a sin: new poll – James Risdon, LifeSiteNewsAbortion has been decriminalised in Queensland – SBS NewsNIH Spends $13.5 Million on Aborted Baby Parts to Transplant Their Brain Tissue Into Mice – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsIs It Possible to Be an Anti-Abortion Democrat? One Woman Tried to Find Out – Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times65-year-old pro-lifer in hospital after being punched outside Florida Planned Parenthood – Calvin Freiburger, LifeNewsAbortion pills now available by mail in US -- but FDA is investigating – Jessica Ravitz, CNNWatching ‘Gosnell’ Shattered My Agnosticism On Abortion – Adam Mill, The FederalistAdoptionAfter two generations of adoption, family finds incredible way to give back – Anna Reynolds, Live ActionWhy adoption isn’t Plan A or B – Jenn Hesse, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionParents told they cannot do foster care due to Christian beliefs – The BridgeheadBioethicsThe Dangerous Effects of Surrogacy: A Review of A Transnational Feminist View of Surrogacy Biomarkets in India – K. Blaine, Public Discourse FamilyMarriageLove Has A Source – Fr. Billy Swan, Word on FireHow All Relationships Prepare Us For Marriage – Verily Premarital Cohabitation Is Still Associated With Greater Odds of Divorce – Scott Stanley, Family StudiesDear Husband, Having Kids Together Has Only Made Me Love You More – Celeste, HerViewFromHomeWhy Does Graduate School Kill So Many Marriages? – Kathryn R. Wedemeyer-Strombel, The Chronicle of Higher EducationDoes Sexual History Affect Marital Happiness? – Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Family StudiesParentingYour Kids Are Not Projects or Burdens. They Are Gifts. – Cameron Cole, The Gospel CoalitionGetting Your Kids to Really Listen – Justin Coulson, Family StudiesWhy it’s important to teach modern kids to “mind their manners” – Calah Alexander, AleteiaHelping Low-Income Fathers Form Loving Relationships With Their Children – Natasha J. Cabrera, Family StudiesSilicon Valley Execs Get Your Kids Hooked On Their Gadgets, But Not Their Kids – Jessica Burke, The FederalistEconomics/EducationThe Family Geography of the American Dream: New Neighborhood Data on Single Parenthood, Prisons, and Poverty – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family StudiesFrom the Great Recession to the Great Divide: Business and Economics in the Last Decade – Kelly Hanlon, Public DiscourseTax-Cut Repeal Could Cost Americans $27K in Pay Over 10 Years, Study Says – Rachel del Guidice, The Daily SignalWhy America desperately needs another baby boom – Steven W. Mosher, New York PostHow Public Schools Indoctrinate Kids Without Almost Anyone Noticing – Auguste Meyrat, The FederalistFaith/Character/CultureThe Joy We Know Only in Suffering – Marshall Segal, Desiring GodWhere Is God? The Problem of Divine Hiddenness – Matt Nelson, Word on FireWhat Makes a Woman Strong – Kathleen Nielson, Desiring GodRage Makes You Stupid – Kevin D. Williamson, National ReviewHuman Dignity Is Not a Political Platform – Tina Boesch, The Gospel CoalitionAre Siblings More Important Than Parents? – Ben Healy, The AtlanticHuman SexualityThe Future of American Sexuality and Family: Five Key Trends – Mark Regnerus, Public DiscourseSatisfied in the Arms of Another – Christopher Asmus, Desiring GodVideo: Understanding Sexual Exploitation – What Drives Our Objectification Culture? – Lisa L. Thompson, National Center on Sexual ExploitationTransing California Foster Children & Why Doctors Like Us Opposed It – Andre Van Mol, Public DiscourseThe new taboo: More people regret sex change and want to ‘detransition’, surgeon says – Joe Shute, The TelegraphDid Transgenderism End Political Correctness? – Jacob Airey, The Daily WireOn Sex, the Trump Administration Returns to Reality and the Law – Ben Shapiro, National ReviewTeacher Faces Punishment Over Objections to Girls Taking Showers With Boys – ToddStarnes.comTrump’s Proposed Rollback of Transgender Policy Is Good News for Many Who Are Suffering – Walt Heyer, The Daily SignalPornographyHow Pornography Prevents Intimacy in Your Marriage – Jonathan Daugherty, Focus on the FamilyPorn problem is so serious that British MPs want to address it with public health campaign – James Risdon, LifeSiteNewsBeating the Odds: 10 indicators your marriage will survive porn addiction – Rob Jackson, Focus on the FamilyNepal Bans Pornography to Stem High Rate of Sexual Assault – National Catholic Register
A perennial question for the church is the issue of political engagement. From broader questions such as the Bible’s teaching on the role and purpose of government to specific issues such as abortion, marriage, and racial equality, theologians have grappled with these questions and offered various models for faithful witness in the public square.Without doubt, we live in a time of acute political polarization. As evidenced recently in the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, civil discourse has reached a disheartening low. For Christians frustrated by the overall negative tone of politics and extreme partisanship, walking away from politics might be tempting.However, for Christians called to be salt and light in the world, abdicating their political responsibilities is not an option consistent with Scripture. The gospel is a holistic message with implications for all areas of life, including how Christians should engage the political process and how we should think about our two-party system and voting.So, what are the principles Christian ought to consider as they seek to live out their allegiance to Christ alongside their civic duties? Some Suggestions Recently, the question of how Bible-believing, gospel-loving Christians should exercise their political responsibilities has been raised by well-known pastors including Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung. In thought-provoking articles, both lay out their concerns with the current divisive and coarse nature of American politics and offer guidance for how believers ought to approach their engagement. Whereas Keller mainly considers how Christians fit into the two-party system, DeYoung offers practical suggestions for engaging in the political process.Much of their advice is helpful. For example, in his article, Keller rightfully argues “to not be political is to be political.” By this he means that those who avoid political discussions tacitly endorse the status quo. Keller’s example of 19th century churches who were silent on slavery is a sobering illustration. By refraining from becoming “too political” these churches were in fact supporting a sinister institution. Likewise, DeYoung encourages pastors to engage in the political process by praying for leaders and preaching to controversial issues as they arise in the course of expositional preaching. DeYoung incisively echoes James Davidson Hunter by reminding Christians that faithful presence within the culture should be the overarching goal of cultural engagement and that electoral politics is just one of many ways to express neighborly love.However, despite Keller and DeYoung’s contributions to the question of Christian civic responsibility, the utility and real-world application of their advice is limited due to an underlying political theology that hasn’t fully accounted for the realities of the political system within which we have to work. Although their warning to not equate the church’s mission with the platform of a political party represents faithful Christian convictions, they don’t follow through with a remedy for our current situation. Christians are left asking: Well, then, how should I engage politically?Following ThroughAnswering this question requires an understanding of government’s God-ordained authority, the structure of a representative democracy, and a theologically informed view of voting.In his article, DeYoung expresses discomfort with hosting voter drives and providing voter guides because it communicates that participation in the political process is “what Christians should do.” Although DeYoung agrees that “voting is a good thing” he does not think it is the church’s role to go beyond praying for candidates or preaching on issues. This is rooted in an admirable desire to preserve the church’s mission. However, despite these noble intentions, does this approach fall short in what full-orbed Christian discipleship requires?In representative democracies like the United States, the locus of power is the citizenry; government derives its authority from the people. As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist Paper 22, the consent of the people is the “pure original fountain of all legitimate authority.” This principle is foundational and provides American citizens with an incredible privilege and responsibility. Unlike billions of people around the world, Americans control their political future.For Christian citizens, the implications of America’s form of government are even more significant when considered alongside Paul’s teaching in Romans 13 about the purpose of government. According to Paul, government is ordained by God to promote good and restrain evil. To this effect, government wields the sword to punish wrongdoers. Thus, the administration of justice is the state’s responsibility; the government, not individual citizens, is tasked with the actual exercise of the sword.From these considerations a truth with massive implications for Christian political engagement emerges: suffrage as an exercise in delegating God-ordained authority. Because power resides with the people in a representative democracy, when Christians vote, they are handing their sword to someone else to wield. That’s what voting essentially is; the delegation of authority. Seen from this perspective, voting assumes enormous responsibility and implies that failure to vote is failure to exercise God-given authority.Voting Is Part of ItThus, returning to DeYoung’s article, it is simply not enough for pastors to hope their congregations are informed about candidates and issues. If the act of voting is the act of delegating the exercise of the sword, pastors should communicate to their members “This is what Christians should do.” Given the unavoidable role of politics and the real-world impact that the state’s decisions have on people’s lives, downplaying the role of voting amounts to a failure in Christian discipleship and a neglect to offer neighborly love.On this issue of neighbor love, DeYoung writes, “Political engagement is only one way of loving our neighbor and trying to be a faithful presence in the culture.” Although true, DeYoung minimizes the significance of government and politics. Obviously, neighborly love must be embodied in all aspects of life. However, can Christians really care for their neighbors without substantively engaging the arena that most profoundly shapes basic rights and freedoms? Further, given the United States’ outsized influence in the world, how can American Christians love the people of the nations without having a vested interest in how their own government approaches the issue of religious liberty and human rights? Through the power of the vote, American Christians can determine who will represent their country abroad and what values will be exported around the world: whether abortion education programs funded by American taxpayers or values congruent with the Bible’s teaching on the dignity of human life. Will America’s ambassadors be stalwart defenders of those engaged in religious expression (such as overseas missionaries) and vigorously advocate for their rights, or will they abandon them? Again, American Christians through the exercise of the franchise have a direct say in all of these issues. Because of these considerations, pastors would do well to educate and equip their members to think biblically about political issues, candidates, and party platforms. It is not enough to espouse concern for human dignity but not support policies and candidates who will fight to overturn profound moral wrongs. In a Genesis 3 world plagued by sin, Christians are called to drive back the corroding effects of the fall wherever they exist. This must include the realms of law and politics.Back to the BibleThus, in the quest for Christian faithfulness in political engagement, a robust understanding of the nature of government and the act of voting must be applied to the current reality of the two-party system. Addressing this issue is the primary goal of Keller’s New York Times article where he contends that Christians must participate in the political process without identifying the church with a specific political party. Because political parties insist that you cannot work on one issue with them without embracing all of their approved positions, Keller says Christians are pushed toward two equally unacceptable positions: withdrawal from the political process or full assimilation with a party.When it comes to specific issues, Keller writes, “Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family.” He concludes, “the historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.” Keller implies that because both major parties hold some views that are faithful with Scripture alongside others that are not, Christians have liberty when it comes to choosing a political party.This idea that historic Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments grounds the outworking of Keller’s political theology. Although not explicitly stated, he suggests that while Republicans may hold a more biblical view on issues related to abortion and marriage, Democrats are more faithful in their approach to racial justice and the poor. Implied in this analysis is that these issues carry similar moral freight and that consequently Christians should be leery of adopting either party’s “whole package.”Although Keller is right in cautioning against blind allegiance to a political party, his analysis of the issues and where the respective parties stand is inaccurate. Without doubt, the issues of abortion, marriage, racial equality, and poverty are crucial, and the Bible has implications for how Christians should evaluate them. Regarding abortion, the Bible is straightforward—life begins at conception and abortion is murder (Ps. 139:13-16, 22:10, Jer. 1:5, Gal. 1:15, Ex. 21:22). Likewise, on marriage; the Bible is clear and presents marriage as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:24, Mat. 19:5, Mark 10:6-9, Eph. 5:22-23). Moreover, Scripture is unambiguous regarding the moral status of homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:9-11, Rom. 1:26-28, 1 Tim. 1:10-11, Lev. 18:22, 20:13, Gen. 19:1-5). On these issues the Bible is unmistakable; there is a clear “Thus saith the Lord.”As Keller acknowledges, in terms of biblical clarity and priority Christians have rightly seen abortion and marriage as first tier moral concerns; when it comes to voting, a candidate’s stance on them matters greatly. But what does the Bible teach about the other issues Keller identifies?Concerning racial equality, the Bible is clear that all are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Additionally, the good news of the gospel is for everyone; Christ died for all people, and in him believers from every tongue, nation, and tribe are reconciled to God and each other in “one new man” (Eph. 2:14-16). In terms of access to God, the Bible is unmistakable: distinctions based on gender and race are abolished in the new covenant (Gal. 3:28-29, Col. 3:11). Consequently, racism is sinful and must be repudiated by the church.Finally, God’s concern for the poor is a pervasive theme throughout the Bible. Exhortations to care for the poor abound (Prov. 3:27-28, 22:22-23, 31:8-9, Isa. 1:17, 10:1-3, Zech. 7:8-10) and Jesus himself displayed remarkable concern and compassion for the poor in his healing and teaching ministry (Mat. 11:4-6, 25:45, Luke 6:20-21, 14:14). Famously, Jesus’ half-brother, James, wrote that “pure and undefiled religion” includes care for orphans and widows (James 1:27).Consequently, the Bible speaks to the issues identified by Keller; committed Christians, therefore, must care about all of them. Faithfulness to God’s Word requires nothing less. However, the tension arises when it comes to application—when biblical imperative intersects with the realities of today’s politics. Therefore, the first step in Christian political engagement—identifying the issues that the Bible explicitly or implicitly speaks to—is the easy part. The challenging part of application requires discernment, prayer, and wisdom. No One Ever Said It Wasn’t MessyAt this point it should be stated clearly: neither political party is a Christian party in the sense that everything they advocate for lines up perfectly with the Bible. Evangelical Christians do not think everything the Republican party does is Christian—at least they shouldn’t. In fact, there are numerous policy issues the Bible does not clearly speak on. On tertiary issues like these Christians should debate charitably and extend liberty toward one another on points where they disagree.However, it is also true in recent years the two major U.S. political parties have clearly adopted positions on first tier moral issues on which the Bible does speak. “First tier” moral issues include questions where the Bible’s teaching is clear and where specific, positive action is prescribed. Concerning marriage, the Bible commends the union of man and woman as representative of the relationship between Christ and the church and prohibits encroachment by any means. Regarding life, every human being is an image bearer of God and possesses inherent dignity. Thus, the responsibility to preserve life is supreme. Therefore, life and human sexuality are first tier issues because of their biblical clarity and priority. Concerning these first tier moral issues of life and human sexuality, one of the major parties has embraced positions manifestly at odds with biblical morality. The result has been increased moral confusion in the culture and the undermining of human dignity.Thus, although neither political party perfectly represents evangelical Christians, party platforms do allow us to make considered judgments for who to support at election time. Political scientists have shown that politicians increasingly vote in line with their party’s platform—80 percent of the time over the last thirty years. Consequently, a party’s platform is a good indicator for how politicians from that party will vote. Thus, for Christians, in so far as a platform recommends policies informed by biblical morality it is easier to support that party.So, while it is clear Republicans have adopted positions more aligned with Scripture’s teaching on abortion and marriage, is it obvious (as Keller implies) that Democrats have the moral high ground on the other issues he raises? In short, no. In fact, neither party expressly takes an anti-biblical position on issues related to race and the poor—it is the remedies for these issues that are debated.Though it is popular to conceive of the Republican party as “anti-poor” and opposed to minorities, these conceptions are not as neatly supported as many in the media would have us believe. Earlier this year Republican lawmakers voted almost unanimously to advance legislation designed to reduce recidivism through vocational training and education courses. House Republicans (262 of them) joined 134 Democrats in advancing this legislation. According to the NAACP, African-Americans and Hispanics make up 32 percent of the general population but 56 percent of those incarcerated. Thus, efforts to reform the criminal justice system represent positive steps forward in addressing problems that disproportionately affect minority communities. Further, not only is the current unemployment rate of 3.7 percent the lowest since 1969, the African American unemployment rate hit an all-time low of 5.9 percent in May 2018; in September, black teen unemployment fell to 19.3 percent, another all-time low. While the factors contributing to this picture are many, the fact remains that under Republican national leadership, more minorities are getting jobs.On the issue of poverty, no doubt many individual Republicans and Democrats care for the poor (though many others might use the issue to their own political gain). It is simply misleading to conflate the parties’ different economic philosophies with moral indifference—a conflation which widely contributes to popular conceptions of all Republicans as “against the poor.” The fact that conservatives believe in the efficacy of limited government and free markets in addressing poverty does not indicate apathy toward marginalized communities. On the contrary, conservatives believe that the best conditions for economic flourishing are created when the government’s authority is decentralized. The Bible does not endorse a specific economic system—though it does favor some while disfavoring others; the commandment against stealing shows respect for private property as does the Old Testament’s regard for inheritances. At any rate, there is room for disagreement on how to address such issues biblically.Thus, by unfairly characterizing Republican views on racial justice and poverty, Keller creates a false dichotomy between the two parties. Whereas the Republican party platform is clearly on the side of biblical morality on abortion and marriage (in contrast to the Democrat platform), it is not at all clear that Democrat policy positions on racial justice or poverty are “more biblical” than those held by conservatives. At a minimum, they can be debated.Tying Up Loose Ends Further, while all of these issues are important, Christians should employ a form of moral triage as they consider their political engagement. As Andrew Walker points out, with abortion there is a “greater moral urgency to repeal morally unjust and codified laws than there is the priority to ameliorate social evils that exist because of social wickedness and criminal behavior.” In other words, the existence of a positive right to terminate the life of unborn children calls for immediate action. Christians concerned about the unborn—the most vulnerable class of people in our country—must leverage their influence, resources, and time to correct this wrong as soon as possible. As part of a holistic effort to create a culture of life, Christians must engage the political process to pass laws that protect life. Mapped out onto the political realities of a two-party system, the outworking of this moral calculus is clear.In short, if theologically conservative Christians appear aligned with the Republican Party, it is only because Democrats have forced them there by taking positions on moral issues that oppose the Bible’s explicit teaching. Thus, while Keller is right that Christians should not feel perfectly at home in either political party, is it fair to suggest that they should feel equally comfortable in both?In 2018 the answer would seem to be “no.”It should also be noted that the challenges facing American Christians regarding politics is not unique; brothers and sisters in other nations face the same tensions. This is because there is no “Christian” political party; no party aligns perfectly with the Bible. This is true even in countries where dozens of political parties participate in any one election. This means that there is never a perfect choice when it comes to political engagement; on this side of the Parousia, faithful Christians will always be choosing from less than ideal options. This is why wisdom, prayer, and counsel are indispensable when it comes to Christian political engagement.ConclusionFor the sake of Christian faithfulness, we need an informed Christian citizenry. It is not enough for pastors to acknowledge that various policy positions are profoundly evil yet withhold the requisite tools that empower concrete action. It is not enough to pray for candidates and speak on a handful of issues without equipping believers with everything they need to honor God in the voting booth.Over the last few years, many Christian leaders have lamented the current state of American politics. They have reiterated that Christians have no home in either major political party (a state of affairs to which we might ask whether Christian indifference and distaste for politics has contributed to in the first place) and that in secondary and tertiary issues Christian liberty should abound. While these calls are helpful, people in the pews are yearning for more direction. Of course, it would be pastoral malpractice to pronounce a “Thus saith the Lord” when there is no biblical warrant. However, in areas where pastors and Christian leaders can say more, they should. These areas include grappling with the reality of our two-party system and following our political theology to its logical end by voting.If political engagement is an aspect of Christian faithfulness, it is also a matter of discipleship. Thus, church members must be equipped to honor God in the political arena in a way that goes beyond merely describing current challenges. Applying a faithful political theology in our context requires a thorough understanding of biblical morality and an awareness of the positions of the political parties and candidates. As this dual knowledge is acquired, Christians will better understand the times and increasingly know what they ought to do in politics.David Closson serves as the Research Fellow for Religious Freedom and Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council. He is also a Ph.D. student in Christian Ethics (Public Policy) at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
A series of death threats against a pastor in a working-class Medellín neighborhood prompted him to abandon his home and ministry last month and flee with his family to Colombia's capital.
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