There are numerous Christians who believe that a personal and private faith is all the gospel requires. Os Guinness described this as “The Private-Zoo Factor,” a religion that is caged so that it loses its wildness. When true Christianity is applied to any part of the world, it blossoms far more fully and colorfully than we ever could have imagined. Everything seemed possible within the boundaries of God’s Providence and law. A Christian worldview made science possible and civil government ministerial rather than messianic. Stanley Jaki, the author of numerous books on the relationship between Christianity and science, comments:
Nothing irks the secular world so much as a hint, let alone a scholarly demonstration, that supernatural revelation, as registered in the Bible, is germane to science. Yet biblical revelation is not only germane to science—it made the only viable birth of science possible. That birth took place in a once-Christian West.
Worldview 101: A Biblical View of the World
Utilizing audio, video, and printed material, Worldview 101 will equip the student with the tools necessary to ‘think God's thoughts’ about the world and the created order. It will reveal and re-direct the humanistic thought patterns that exist in each of us. The Enlightenment promised freedom, but brought slavery to man's ideas instead. Worldview 101 points the way forward to true freedom of thought in Christ.Buy Now
Over time, Christianity ceased to be a comprehensive, world-changing religion. “[W]here religion still survives in the modern world, no matter how passionate or ‘committed’ the individual may be, it amounts to little more than a private preference, a spare-time hobby, a leisure pursuit.” Theodore Roszak used an apt phrase to describe much of modern-day Christendom: “Socially irrelevant, even if privately engaging.” It wasn’t always this way:
The Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, comes out of the background of a Hebrew mindset. The basic idea behind the Hebrew mindset is that God and accompanying spiritual principles permeate all of life here on earth. . . . I believe one of the causes of [cultural disengagement is a Greek mindset], which tells us Christians should be concerned about saving souls and going to heaven rather than paying much attention to material things like transforming our societies.
[James Davidson] Hunter, to the contrary says, “Most Christians in history have interpreted the creation mandate in Genesis as a mandate to change the world.”
As long as Christianity remained nearly exclusively “privately engaging,” the secularists had no interest in disturbing the sleeping giant. Guinness once again defines the issue:
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 businessperson 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.
The following are some of the theological reasons many Christians use to justify not getting involved politically. They believe there are sound biblical reasons why they should avoid the endeavor altogether:
- We should just preach the gospel: Paul told the Ephesian elders that he did not shrink from declaring to them the “whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27). Being a new creature in Christ is the first step in a whole new life. Being born again does not stop at infancy. We are to grow up in the Christian faith, so every area of life is impacted by God’s Word (Heb. 5:11–14).
- Politics is dirty: What isn’t dirty? Our job is to clean up the things that are dirty. Diapers are dirty, and we change them. If a politician is dirty, then change him or her. If schools, governed by politicians, are propagandizing your children, remove them.
- Jesus didn’t get mixed up in politics, so why should we?: There are many things Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t get married, have children, or own a home. Should we follow His example in these areas? The civil magistrate is said to be a “minister of God” (Rom. 13:1–4). It’s the same Greek word (διάκονός/diakonos) used to describe a deacon in an ecclesiastical setting (1 Tim. 3:8–13). In neither of these governmental offices are these ministers to “lord it over those allotted to [their] charge” (1 Peter. 5:3; see Matt. 20:25–28).
- Our citizenship is in heaven: We have multiple citizenships (commonwealths), with our heavenly citizenship being a priority (Phil. 3:20; see Acts 5:29). The fact that Paul was a citizen of heaven did not stop him from claiming his Roman citizenship (Acts 16:22-40; 22:25-29) and appealing to Caesar (25:9-12).
- There’s a separation between church and state: The Bible teaches that there is a jurisdictional separation between church and state, but there is no separation between God and government, and that includes civil government.
- Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world: God’s kingdom does not derive its power and authority from this world, but His kingdom is in and over this world whether people acknowledge it or not. We are to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 7:10). Doing God’s will is the manifestation of kingdom living.
- Politics is not spiritual: If civil government has been ordained by God, then it is spiritual as is every area of life when governed by the Word of God. Spirituality is defined as being guided by the Holy Spirit in terms of God’s Word. It’s not something separate from God’s Word
- Satan is the god of this world: Satan is no more a god than a person’s stomach is a god (Phil. 3:19). Paul was describing what some people choose to be their god, a limited creature who has been defeated. The Bible shows us that if we “resist the devil he will flee from” us (James 4:7). Scripture tells us that Satan is defeated, disarmed, and spoiled (Col. 2:15; Rev. 12:7; Mark 3:27). He has “fallen” (Luke 10:18) and was “thrown down” (Rev. 12:9). He was “crushed” under the feet of the early Christians, and by implication, under the feet of all Christians throughout the ages (Rom. 16:20). He has lost “authority” over Christians (Col. 1:13). He has been “judged” (John 16:11). He cannot “touch” a Christian (1 John 5:18). His works have been destroyed (1 John 3:8). He has “nothing” (John 14:30). He must “flee” when “resisted” (James 4:7). He is “bound” (Mark 3:27; Luke 11:20). Finally, the gates of hell “shall not overpower” the advancing church of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18). Surely Satan is alive, but he is not well on planet earth.
- We’re not supposed to judge: We are admonished by Jesus to be consistent in judgment (Matt. 7:1-2) and to “judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The Apostle Paul judged a man who had “his father’s wife” (1 Cor. 5:1), a clear violation of God’s law (Lev. 18:8; Deut. 22:30; 27:20).
- We must render to Caesar what’s Caesar’s: We don’t live under Caesar. We live under a constitution, and we can remove and replace elected officials and “petition the government for a redress of grievances” (First Amendment). The people in Jesus’ day could not. We do not have to settle for the political status quo.
- Christians should remain neutral: Neutrality is impossible. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matt. 12:30; also see Rev. 3:16).
- We can’t impose our morality on other people: All law is the imposition of someone’s view of morality. The question is, What areas of life are given to the civil magistrate for legislative purposes?
- We’re living in the last days and Jesus is coming soon to rapture His church so why polish brass on a sinking ship?: How many times have we heard this claim? Even today Christians are pushing the canard that the “rapture” is near, that the antichrist is on the brink of revealing himself, and there is no reason to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Those in the world are wiser. Shipbuilding did not stop with the sinking of an unsinkable ship.
Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths
Christianity's failure to show itself practical in the past 150 years has guaranteed the success of secularism and militant Islam, both of which are doing incalculable harm at home and abroad. The rejection of any type of ‘this-worldly’ application of the Bible has resulted in the proliferation of man-centered worldviews that have steadily drained the life out of our world and left behind a spiritual vacuum. Now is the time to make the necessary theological preparations. Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths will help in that task.Buy Now
Os Guinness, The Gravedigger File: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 79.
Stanley Jaki, “The Biblical Basis of Western Science,” Crisis 15:9 (October 1997): 17–20. www.catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0005.html
Guinness, The Gravedigger File, 72.
Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends (New York: Doubleday, 1973), 449.
 C. Peter Wagner, Dominion! How Kingdom Action Can Change the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen, 2008), 40, 41.
 The material on Satan was taken from Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1973), 126–127.