When Christians disengage from society, bad things happen:
Enemies of Christ and the gospel have always paid lip service to Christians. They pretend that we can be free to do whatever we want, but what they really demand is this: ‘You are free to worship your God, but just make sure it is done by yourself in private – keep your religion out of the public.’ That of course is one thing Christians CANNOT do. Christianity is a most public religion, and it is meant to have a public impact.
A purely privatised faith that makes no difference to the surrounding culture is not biblical Christianity. So all true believers must reject the calls by the critics and the fake Christians for us to just butt out of society, of culture, of politics, and the rest of the world. That just ain’t gonna happen.
And two thousand years of church history proves this. Christians have always sought to change their world for the better. They have not been content with a purely privatised or overly spiritualised faith which makes no difference whatsoever to the world.
The commands to be salt and light and to love our neighbour as ourselves means of necessity that our gospel will impact the whole person in the whole world. Plenty of Christian thinkers can be appealed to here on this. Let me cite a few of the more recent ones. As Norman Geisler once put it:
What sometimes escapes Christians is the fact that the responsibility to love other persons extends to the whole person. That is, man is more than a soul destined for another world; he is also a body living in this world. And as a resident of this time-space continuum man has physical and social needs which cannot be isolated from spiritual needs. Hence, in order to love man as he is – the whole man – one must exercise a concern about his social needs as well as his spiritual needs.
And Carl F. H. Henry said this in his 1947 work, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism: “If historic Christianity is again to compete as a vital world ideology, evangelicalism must project a solution for the most pressing world problems. It must offer a formula for a new world mind with spiritual ends, involving evangelical affirmations in political, economic, sociological, and educational realms, local and international. The redemptive message has implications for all of life; a truncated life results from a truncated message.”
Indeed, so many Christians are scratching their heads and wondering why things are getting so bad and why our culture is falling apart. Um, it could be because Christians have not been obeying the command to be salt and light. As Chuck Colson said, “We ignore the complete cultural implications of our faith and then we’re shocked by the state of the culture.”
Francis Schaeffer in A Christian Manifesto (1981) expressed it this way: “Our culture, society, government, and law are in the condition they are in, not because of a conspiracy, but because the church has forsaken its duty to be the salt of the culture.”
But believers who know little of Scripture, or of church history, continue to think that their faith has no bearing on society, on politics, on culture, on economics, on law, and so on. They should know better. But as I said, enemies of the gospel are also pushing this view.
I get folks coming to my website all the time trying to push this baloney on me. They are usually just pagan trolls, or those pretending to be believers but who clearly are not. Consider just one recent example of this. One guy sent in this comment:
“Everyone is entitled to their political views. And biblical quotes can always be cherrypicked to support any worldview. So how about some honesty here? Express your political view, protest as you wish, but don’t drag Christianity into it. It’s embarrassing, deceitful and a disgusting corruption of Christ’s message.”
This is how I replied to him:
Hmm, where did I hear that sort of talk before ****? Oh yeah, from neglected history books. Examples are plentiful. Numerous critics told the English politician William Wilberforce to not drag his Christianity into Parliament as he fought to end the slave trade. Thankfully he ignored these fakes and frauds. And when Hitler gave the same sort of lousy advice to Martin Niemoller and other German pastors (“You confine yourself to the church. I’ll take care of the German people”), they would have none of it.
Sorry but I will always side with real deal Christians like Wilberforce, Niemoller, Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr and countless others who ignored the unhelpful and unbiblical critics and were fully involved in the political and social issues of the day. Opposing such concerned Christians is really what is embarrassing, deceitful and a disgusting corruption of Christ’s message. So how about some honesty here?
And that remark about Niemoller is certainly relevant for us today, since we also hear the same thing that Hitler told him: ‘Just butt out of public life and stick to internal church affairs.’ Hitler was happy for a church that had zero relevance for the political scene. It was only those in the Confessing Church movement that bothered Hitler and that he tried to suppress.
It is the same today. Plenty of those in politics, the media and elsewhere are happy for Christians to be around – just as long as they keep their pesky views to themselves and just as long as their faith does not have any bearing on culture and society. (But of course lefty ‘Christians’ are quite welcome to speak out and have an impact!)
And sadly far too many in the churches today are happy to go along with this fully unbiblical and unChristian advice. They are far too much like most Germans last century. Both groups were and are quite content to live their own selfish lives, and not get involved in politics and the surrounding culture.
And even if they were not thrilled with some of the things they saw happening in the public arena, they refused to speak up, and preferred to just go about their daily business. As I recently read in one book about what happened back then (What We Knew):
Although much of the persecution Jews suffered in Nazi Germany was fueled by propaganda and long-term indoctrination, the reaction of much of the German citizenry was ambivalent. Many Germans reacted negatively to the anti-Jewish propaganda and persecution. With regard to some extreme measures – such as publicly labeling Jews by forcing them to wear the Jewish star – a majority appears to have reacted negatively. Many Germans, however, were quick to accept the new situation and concerned themselves only with their own private lives and tended not to think about what was happening to the Jews. Thus it was only a very small minority – though still in the thousands – who helped the Jews hide after the deportations had begun, and, even though many might have felt some pity when viewing Jews wearing the Jewish star, they preferred to keep to themselves.
Hmm, sounds pretty much like today. VERY much like today. Everywhere we see our freedoms being stripped away from us, the rise and rise of Big Government, and the persecution of a new class of lepers – the unvaxxed – yet most people ‘are quick to accept the new situation and concern themselves only with their own private lives.’
Most folks refuse to get involved and refuse to take a stand. Indeed, most folks just do not want to know what is going on. These apathetic and uncaring folks today – including far too many Christians – are just as guilty as their Christian counterparts were 80 years ago.
This is all a part of the danger of an unbiblical gospel which sees Christianity as being of no concern or relevance to the world around us. That never ends well.