Part 2 of 3 – The Imperative of Acknowledging Biblical Authority

This post is the 2nd in a 3 part series:

Part 2 – The Imperative of Acknowledging Biblical Authority

As evangelical Christians we are typically quick to affirm the truth of II Timothy 3:16 that the Word of God is applicable to every area of our life.  However, there seems to be a disconnect when we discuss politics.  We are quick to acknowledge that God’s word applies to how we treat others, but hesitant to apply it to how we vote.  We are quick to acknowledge God’s Word as authoritative in matters of morality, but hesitant to apply those principles in a broad way that would impact public policy.  We are quick to acknowledge that God gives us direction in our personal finances, but we bristle at the idea that God may have something to say about monetary policy.  Why?

I think the disconnect boils down to this – as Christians, our first inclination when some topic becomes a “political” issue, is to suddenly cede our biblical authority on the issue to the state, wash our hands of it, and claim to be focused on the “Gospel”. 

It will not be long before there is nothing left of the Gospel!  How much can we strip away from “All that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20) before we have nothing left?  By allowing society to marginalize biblical authority on matters across the spectrum of human experience we only contribute to the perspective that the Bible is just for Sunday morning.

We need to have a discussion about what qualifies as a “political issue” vs a “biblical issue”?

  • Is caring for the poor a political issue or a biblical issue?
  • Was slavery a political issue or a biblical issue?
  • Is the education of your children a political issue or a biblical issue?
  • Is homosexual “marriage” a political issue or a biblical issue?
  • Is our relationship to Israel a political issue or a biblical issue?
  • Is the punishment of criminals a political issue or a biblical issue?

All of these are biblical issues.  Just because our government asserts itself into an issue doesn’t change the fact that it is still a biblical issue.  So if these current “political issues” are actually “biblical issues”, then we need to know what the Bible has to say about them.

Unfortunately, while we might be able to produce a verse about the hot button issues of abortion or same-sex “marriage”, what about biblical environmental policy, foreign policy, private property rights, healthcare, welfare, taxes, punishment of criminals, or education?  Do we agree that the Bible speaks to these issues?  I hope we do, but I doubt if we’re prepared to present any kind of cohesive case for what the Bible has to say.

Now I would be remiss if I did not admit that when searching the Scripture, just as with certain theological questions, some issues will be clearer than others.  We can probably come to a consensus more quickly on the matter of preserving human life, than we will on matters of tax policy or often very messy questions of foreign policy.

In fact, on some issues, we will not agree.  Just as I would disagree with my Presbyterian friends on the important issue of baptism, I may disagree with other Christians the precise role government should play in assisting the unemployed or the proper way to address illegal immigration.  That is OK, but let us not disagree on the authority of Scripture to guide us in addressing these issues.

Too often, as Christians, both those on the political right and the political left, we make our arguments based on the exact same logic as the world.  Whether we agree with Barack Obama or Ayn Rand on fiscal issues, there is rarely a mention of the Bible in defense of our position.  Whether we agree with Rick Santorum or Nancy Pelosi on social issues, we rarely invoke the Sacred Word to support the position we’re so loudly advocating.

I suggest we change that, starting today.

But wait, I already hear the wails bemoaning that we are going to drag the name of Christ through the political mud for the sake of our pet issue.  Unfortunately, this is a valid fear as Christians have often slandered the reputation of Christ while genuinely seeking to advance a biblical cause.  This should never be.  However, I do not believe that the antidote is for us to remain silent and tacitly cede the Bible’s authority on one issue after another.  If indeed God has spoken, then why would we remain silent?

The answer is for us to crucify our anger and animosity towards those whom we disagree with, and to engage in the discussion with a spirit of kindness and love… Love for our neighbor, love for our country, and love for our Savior.

I’ll take up this topic again next time…

– Jeremy


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