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In terms of Christian theory, privatization means that the grand, global umbrella of faith has shrunk to the size of a plastic rain hat. Total life norms have become part-time values. In terms of Christian practice, watch your average Christian business person or politician. Are there family prayers at home before leaving for work? The private sphere. Are there Bible studies with colleagues at the office? Still the private sphere.
Ray Kroc, founder of the McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain wrote the following in his book Grinding it Out: “I believe in God, family and McDonald’s — and in the office, that order is reversed. If you are running a hundred-yard dash, you aren’t thinking about God while you’re running. Not if you hope to win. Your mind is on the race. My race is McDonald’s.”
Kroc’s statement reminds me of the made-for-television movie Brian’s Song (1971) which is the moving story of Sayers’ friendship with Brian Piccolo when they played for the Chicago Bears and Piccolo was fighting an aggressive form of cancer to which he succumbed at the age of 26. Sayers tells the story in his 1970 autobiography, I Am Third. The title is based on his philosophy of life, “The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am third.” While Kroc’s worldview is crass and unChristian, the one by Sayers is endearing and a credo to emulate. But unless “the Lord is first” means first in everything beyond its use as a cliché, like saying “God bless you” after someone sneezes, it isn’t much different practically from Kroc’s business philosophy that God is third.
Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), homeschooled by his father, minister in the Dutch Reformed Church, prime minister of the Netherlands, editor of the newspaper The Standard, president of the Free University of Amsterdam, founder of the Anti-Revolutionary Party, and prolific author, said, “there is not one inch of creation of which Christ doesn’t say ‘Mine,’” Too many Christians, by default, ignorance, or choice often choose “there is not one inch of creation of which Satan doesn’t say ‘Mine’” with the result that the church of Jesus Christ has ceded territory to the devil in the name of biblical Christianity.
There are many Christians who see no direct relationship between their Christian faith and business and politics and everything else. It’s not that they are hypocrites (Although they may be. Their Christianity, like Kroc’s, could be more cultural and social than authentic.) It’s more likely they were taught that the Bible does not apply to their larger world, certainly not when it comes to law, economics, business, and politics because there is a fixed sacred-secular divide. The pastor does not address politics from the pulpit since Jesus didn’t get mixed up in politics, there’s a separation between church and state, our citizenship is in heaven, politics is dirty, you can’t impose your morality on other people, we don’t want to offend people, we’re told not to judge, we are to render to Caesar, etc. As a result, Christians often adopt the broader culture’s version of the role the State plays in our lives, and it’s a dangerous and ever expanding role.
The State is neither demonic nor messianic. Believing in either one can have the same result. By believing the State can save us with its programs and laws, we give up more power to the State in hope of seeing extended positive results. By claiming the State is demonic, we withdraw from civil government with the result that the State becomes a law unto itself with ever increasing authority and power.
There is a prevailing belief held by many Christians that the laws of God are not applicable to the civil magistrate because (1) they are outdated, (2) we are under grace not law, and (3) the civil sphere is an independent sphere of government. It doesn’t help that Christian teachers reinforce these beliefs by an appeal to the Bible. Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote the following in his commentary on Romans”
It was a tragic hour when the Reformation churches wrote the Ten Commandments into their creeds and catechisms and sought to bring Gentile believers into bondage to Jewish law, which was never intended either for the Gentile nations or for the church.
One Christian website argues that since the Bible says “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1) that Christians have no biblical right to oppose, for example, abortion clinics and businesses that openly promote homosexuality. Why? We are in the dispensation of grace. Here’s how some in the anti-law crowd argues: “These pastors are trying to turn unsaved pagans into righteous heathen instead of presenting them with the gospel as Paul did.” One has to wonder how such an argument would apply to slavery and gas ovens. What do we do in the meantime while we’re witnessing to the likes of a Hitler, a Stalin, and the people at Planned Parenthood and the politicians who support and fund them? If Christians serve politically, what standard do they apply to the civil sphere? Should Christians even participate politically? If they do, is it a violation of Romans 13 to oppose the funding of unconstitutional programs, abortion, and homosexual marriage? Must we wait until all these legislators become Christians? And so what if they do, what law will they follow?
Article posted July 27, 2009