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John MacArthur Laying The Smack Down On Political Christianity

Posted by Job on October 28, 2008

Another excellent one from PJ Miller!

John MacArthur: Politics, Activism, and the Gospel

This is an excellent and timely message by John MacArthur. I came across it tonight posted by Greg at SermonIndex, and also at Pulpit Magazine:

 With the nation focused on the November elections, we thought a post on politics might be appropriate. The point of this article is not that we should abstain from any participation in the political process, but rather that we must keep our priorities straight as Christians. After all, the gospel, not politics, is the only true solution to our nation’s moral crisis.

We can’t protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle waged against worldly ideologies and dogmas arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture.

The apostle Paul writes: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

We must reject all that is ungodly and false and never compromise God’s standards of righteousness. We can do that in part by desiring the improvement of society’s moral standards and by approving of measures that would conform government more toward righteousness. We do grieve over the rampant indecency, vulgarity, lack of courtesy and respect for others, deceitfulness, self-indulgent materialism, and violence that is corroding society.

But in our efforts to support what is good and wholesome, reject what is evil and corrupt, and make a profoundly positive impact on our culture, we must use God’s methods and maintain scriptural priorities.

God is not calling us to wage a culture war that would seek to transform our countries into “Christian nations.” To devote all, or even most, of our time, energy, money, and strategy to putting a façade of morality on the world or over our governmental and political institutions is to badly misunderstand our roles as Christians in a spiritually lost world.

God has above all else called the church to bring sinful people to salvation through Jesus Christ. Even as the apostle Paul described his mission to unbelievers, so it is the primary task of all Christians to reach out to the lost “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me [Christ]” (Acts 26:18; cf. Ex. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9).

If we do not evangelize the lost and make disciples of new converts, nothing else we do for people—no matter how beneficial it seems—is of any eternal consequence. Whether a person is an atheist or a theist, a criminal or a model citizen, sexually promiscuous and perverse or strictly moral and virtuous, a greedy materialist or a gracious philanthropist—if he does not have a saving relationship to Christ, he is going to hell. It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.

When the church takes a stance that emphasizes political activism and social moralizing, it always diverts energy and resources away from evangelization.

Such an antagonistic position toward the established secular culture invariably leads believers to feel hostile not only to unsaved government leaders with whom they disagree, but also antagonistic toward the unsaved residents of that culture—neighbors and fellow citizens they ought to love, pray for, and share the gospel with.

To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Author John Seel pens words that apply in principle to Christians everywhere and summarize well the believer’s perspective on political involvement:

A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. … Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America. … Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity…..

American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core. (The Evangelical Pulpit [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993], 106-7)

By means of faithful preaching and godly living, believers are to be the conscience of whatever nation they reside in. You can confront the culture not with the political and social activism of man’s wisdom, but with the spiritual power of God’s Word.

Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of “Christian morality” in society is not our calling—and has no eternal value. Only the gospel rescues sinners from sin, death, and hell.

****

“Ironically, we turn to the state to enforce the values we can’t seem to advance in our own churches. We’re rightly concerned about our collapsing families, internet pornography, decadent movies and music, and the weakening of sexual morality. But we often can’t seem to prevent the encroachment of these problems in our own Christian families and congregations. As if in response, we keep trying to change our nation’s laws” – Christianity TodayUnion University professor David P. Gushee excoriates politicking by Christian conservatives

18 Responses to “John MacArthur Laying The Smack Down On Political Christianity”

  1. Carlotta said

    Wow! Very good article. John MacArthur is very consistent in challenging us to the truths of God’s word.

    During this Yes on Prop 8 campaign here in California which has the churches pouring money into getting folks to vote for it, I’ve received plenty of comments from people not in favor of the proposition accusing the church of spending money that could be spent else where. They’re right!

    Now, I’ve seen positives in this social activism and that is people hearing the gospel, Christians being strengthen in their own positions such as taking a look at their marriages while shooting down gay marriages.

    That’s just an example. But one thing that I was noticing that I wasn’t comfortable with was the “us against them” attitude that takes over when you begin to get involved with social activism. John MacArthur touched on that when he wrote:

    “To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord.”

    The question becomes, how much of ourselves do we involve in the political process if any? If we have the means to promote legislative or judical change, do we ignore the process altogether? Do we keep it to ourselves and vote accordingly?

    I know there has to be a balance, but I’m not sure how I would go about it. I’ve involved myself politically more than I’ve ever have before. Although I didn’t spend any money, I did give quite a bit of my time.

    I love John MacArthur as I’ve been an avid reader of his books, listener to his sermons and practically grew up spiritually on his teachings until I found a church home that met my spiritual needs.

    I don’t disagree with him here, but I’m wondering just where do we draw the line?

  2. Carlotta said

    oops..please fix my html. I forgot to close out the bold after MacArthur’s quote.

    Then delete this comment!

    Thank you!

  3. Devon said

    Carlotta I wonder the same thing…that line kinda is blurry at times it seems!!

    I do know this…I do not want anyone to stumble at my politics or anything else except for them to stumble at the cross…I never bring up my views about things that are unneccesarily divisive.

    For example, in the next week, a young woman and her 2 children are coming to live with us here in Canada from America until she gets on her feet finacially and can get her own place….she is the daughter of a Dear Sister in Christ and a hippie new ager type…..and not remotely a Christian at this point…she is very liberal from what her Mother tells us….the opposite of me…ha ha ha…sounds almost like a sitcom…lol…

    So I made it clear to the Mother of this woman not to tell the daughter anything about me and my wife except that we are Born Again Christians…..I do not want this young lady and her children stumbling at my views on Obama or Liberalism or anything else…

    I want her to know Christ and Him Crucified…that is it….the Lord will sanctify us through the course of our lives….she cannot see that abortion is wrong or that gay marriage is wrong and I do not expect her to see that…….all that comes later as we grow in Christ and his truth and holiness….

    I want her to be saved but if she stumbles, I never want it to be because of my political beliefs …….I want it to be because of Christ…

    I pray of course that she will not stumble but that she is rescued by our Savior!!

    Blessings!

  4. James said

    I have a family member who is with the NAACP and a deacon who is looking forward to electing a Black man regardless of mountains of evidence showing his disdain for the “religious right” and the voting record of this man. He was a traditional Christian but has put away his bible due to confusion over why blacks are supporting one man and evangelical whites the other.
    If we all could read the scriptures together our politics would not change with skin color. The scriptures clearly say woe to them that call evil good and good evil. Our nation is marginalizing Christians like never before. I will do all I can to speak about Christ and not be made squishy with political correctness.
    There is a culture war whether we like it or not.

  5. Job said

    James:

    There is no culture war. There is only spiritual warfare between the Body of Christ and Satan, and Satan is a foe that is already defeated and knows that he has but a short time. The world and its wickedness has always existed and always will exist until Jesus Christ returns and gives us a new heaven and a new earth free of sin. Besides, there are cultures more wicked than America. What of those? I would argue that there were times when our culture was as wicked as it is now or worse, such as back when we were enslaving blacks and killing Native Americans. So please, keep that in mind, the proper perspective. There are those who are in Christ and those who are not. Period. Our focus should be on spreading the gospel and on discipleship.

  6. James said

    There is truly a war within the church as well as a war among citizens in this country about everything. Politics permeates religion and vice versa.
    I will agree this nation was birthed at a time of slavery. The candidates themselves are only representatives of viciously competing sides.
    I don’t think we can wish this war away or deny it exists. There are churches actively campaigning on both sides both right and left.
    Bishop Blake’s church would vote for one guy and Hagee’s church would vote for the other. I don’t like it either but I’ve never seen the churches this active for politicians since I’ve followed politics myself beginning in 1992. More churches are becoming more politically correct and adapting their teachings to the desires of their favorite candidate.

  7. nan said

    Every country on this planet is wicked. That is why the whole world will be destroyed except for the very small remnant. Sin is sin. Wicked is wicked regardless of what country it is in. Every country is equal in sin and that is why God is going to destroy the whole world. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. Politics are of the world. Government is of the world. If Christians are fooled by anyone of these politicians then, shame on you. Bush, who claimed to be a Christian did not stop abortion, stop gay marriage or any of the things we as Christians believe should not be. He, like theses only told you what you wanted to hear because you are so dependent on the world. I believe that the very elect of God are not concerned about who will be President. God is his very elects President and Jesus is Vice President. God hates the world, because it belongs to Satan. Why should we fret over things that the Bible speaks of. The word tells us not to be fearful, because these things must be. The sins of the world are not ours to fret over. Christians are too fearful. John McCain will not stop any of the Bibles prophecies and neither will Obama. They are speaking to you what you want to hear. Wake up People of God and come out of her and be not partakers of her plagues. Most churches are afraid because they have sold out to the government. They are getting millions of faith-based dollars to fund their mega churches. Teaching psychology from the pulpit and manipulating the flock into voting for a man instead of God. Jesus was never into the government or leading His people to it. All of these man made Bishops (WOW) are leading the church to Roman Catholicism. Pretty soon they will be hailing Mary. Has anyone else noticed how so many Pastors in the black churches are becoming Bishops now and going towards a Jesus only doctrine. Let the prophecies be fulfilled, which are are being fulfilled anyway and let’s turn back to God and wait for him. Those who will be saved, will be. Those who are not will continue to be for the world, (one world church, one world government). I know I’m going to get ridiculed for what I have written, but that doesn’t concern me. The President and Government is not our Bishop or head Pastor. TRUST GOD ONLY, WATCH (the church) AND PRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Devon said

    James, who is this Blake fellow you are referring to?

    And Nan, I hope you are right..I know I am to focused on the world situation…to be honest, I am a news hound…I still think the far left is to dangerous to ignore but I also know that I have to get my eyes on the prize and that is Christ Jesus….everything else is sinking sand…Bless you

    Take care

  9. James said

    Biship Charles E. Blake you can read about in Wikipedia. He is a big shot in the COGIC circles. COGIC years back was pretty strict and I couldn’t get a date unless rose up and became a preacher. I didn’t stay with the church long enough to achieve that. I used to attend COGIC for a time in the 1980’s and I still like the Azusa music. Many black churches are very political and I bet you can find Obama books and comics in their bookstores now and very few if any McCain books.
    The NAACP, in my opinion, is an integrated part in the black church. Look up their leadership and you will find pastors and deacons all over.

  10. James said

    Sorry about the typos.

  11. David L. Williams said

    I too would like to ignore the world. However, I know that if I see someone running for office whom I know will have no fear of God and will aid the wicked one, I will oppose him/her with my vote. For example, if I know one candidate will install Supreme Court judges who will further abortion, I will exercise my vote in opposition. I do not want to face Jesus at judgment and be asked why I aided millions of babies to be murdered… DavWms

  12. Job said

    David L. Williams:

    You are aware that most of the pro – abortion judges have been placed on the Supreme Court by Republicans: Nixon, Bush, and REAGAN. The margin for Roe v. Wade was 5 – 4 when Reagan entered office. It was 6 – 3 when he left. Amazing how no one seems to remember that but a few people. And by the way: George H. W. Bush has repeatedly and consistently publicly stated ever since he ran for Congress in the 1970s that he supports abortion. In the 70s and 80s he was more explicit about it, but in his “evangelical Christian” mode that got him elected twice, he talked about “the culture of life” to fool those who were willing to be fooled (like me). But his public line on abortion was “we cannot overturn Roe v. Wade because America’s heart is not right on the issue.” Well, back when most Americans opposed abortion, Ronald Reagan gave the country Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, who refused to even vote for a measure that would have placed the same limitations on the procedure that exists in liberal European countries (that is right, America has the most liberal abortion laws in the west … in Europe abortions are practically illegal past the second trimester, and in Britain particularly there is a huge shortage of doctors willing to perform ANY abortions, so pro – abortion types are trying to get a law passed that will allow nurses to perform the procedure).

    So, during the religious right, evangelicals have supported 1 explicitly pro – abortion president (George W. Bush), 1 person who lied about it and everyone knew it (George H. W. Bush), and one person who lied about it, was found about it in his first major act as president – remember O’Connor was appointed in 1981 – and was quickly forgiven) and now will support a fellow who in 1999 told the San Francisco Chronicle that he opposed overturning Roe v. Wade because it would lead to illegal abortions that would harm women (he now claims that the San Francisco liberals misquoted him).

    David, abortion is a key part of the new world order agenda, as is promoting homosexuality, divorce (Ronald Reagan signed the nation’s most liberal abortion AND divorce laws as governor of California!), and attacks on the family and child rearing in general. Why? Who knows. But it is a key part of the reason why the native born population of the west has actually declined in the past 30 years. Were it not for immigration (illegal and otherwise) and the high birth rate of first and second generation immigrants, the population of America and western Europe would have actually DECLINED. So, it is likely impossible to get elected president or to any other position of real power in the west unless you either support abortion or are willing to act in support of it in exchange for power.

    Ronald Reagan fans claim that the reason why he sold evangelicals out over and over again once elected was that he saw the Soviet threat as his biggest priority in office, he used all his political capital on that, and everything else took a back burner. Then George H. W. Bush said the same about the economic mess that he inherited (as a direct result of Reagan’s deficit spending policies), then George W. Bush said the same about the war on terror. Jimmy Carter? You realize that he was the first candidate of the evangelicals who presumed that he would be pro – life because he was Southern Baptist and they supported him against the more explicitly pro – abortion Gerald Ford (who was placed in his position by the covertly pro – abortion Richard Nixon never forget, as were a bunch of pro – abortion people in the judiciary on the federal level and in California … Reagan and Nixon judiciary appointees basically run the California courts to this day) but you see how that turned out.

    Seriously David Williams, as I mentioned to James earlier, expecting voters to choose morality over immorality is not supported by the Bible. It would be one thing were it a monarchy, especially if he were acting under the advice of godly counsel like pharoah/Nebuchadnezzar/Cyrus/Xerxes in the Bible and could unilaterally impose basic morality onto a population that if given a choice will always choose evil. But left to the devices of the population itself, people are generally going to choose abortions, choose homosexuality, choose pornography, choose gambling, choose no fault divorce, choose smoking and drinking, choose prostitution, etc. At first there is some opposition, but after a couple of decades of it being glorified in the media and normalized in public, it is accepted. That is the reason why democracy is the one system that God NEVER worked through in the Bible. God worked through theocracies. God worked through monarchies. God even seems to have worked to accomplish His purposes in areas where if not actual anarchy at least there seems to have been no effective civil government structure. (As a matter of fact, God intervened to render civil government power basically ineffective in the Tower of Babel.) In the Bible, the will of the people is always depicted as capricious, arbitrary, rebellious, and EVIL whether it was Babylon, Israel in the desert, Israel in the land of Israel, Israel in captivity, and heretics and proud people in the early church.

    Keep in mind: the Pharisees and Sadducees exploited mob action to force Pontius Pilate’s hand in the decision to execute Jesus Christ. They were able to get the people to demand that a Man that they knew was innocent be subjected to a torturous humiliating accursed death at the hands of their pagan national oppressors and free a murderous criminal subversive in his place. That is probably the best example of why John MacArthur’s thesis that the kingdom of heaven cannot be advanced by voting – especially voting for president – should be taken seriously. Look for competent moral people running for city council, mayor, sheriff, school board, etc. but that may be just about it.

  13. James said

    Job,
    I went to a prayer breakfast this morning this morning at a church I’ve never been before. I was invited. I stayed quiet for awhile why they discussed the election and the ballot initiatives on Tuesday. I didn’t speak until I knew their positions.
    The pastors never endorsed a candidate but affirmed our similar stand on abortion, gay marriage and where I live marijuana is on the ballot. You mentioned gambling on our ballot dog racing will be a measure.
    If I were invited to a black church the politics would be opposite and everyone would look forward to having the first black president. If he can deny care to infants I can’t support him.

  14. Devon said

    Job, those are good points about the Supreme court justices that Republicans have chosen but to be fair, no one knows how these judges are going to vote down the line…you can’t blame conservatives values for that…

    We stand for small govt, low taxes, anti abortion, strong defence, against the gay agenda, against illegal immigration…

    Now, all we have to do is find a conservative that will actually stand for those things and not waffle the minute he/she is in power…the values of the conservative/right wing, are solid…we just need someone out there to stand for them..

    If memory serves, Bush the Elder picked Souter and look how he turned out…awful…

    Anyways, good post…

    James…again I have to agree…regardless of everything else a politician stands for, if they are pro choice, I can never vote for them…that is the issue of the day…at least domestically speaking…and perhaps overall….

    Dev

  15. Devon said

    Job, those are good points about the Supreme court justices that Republicans have chosen but to be fair, no one knows how these judges are going to vote down the line…you can’t blame conservatives values for that…

    We stand for small govt, low taxes, anti abortion, strong defence, against the gay agenda, against illegal immigration…

    Now, all we have to do is find a conservative that will actually stand for those things and not waffle the minute he/she is in power…the values of the conservative/right wing, are solid…we just need someone out there to stand for them..

    If memory serves, Bush the Elder picked Souter and look how he turned out…awful…

    Anyways, good post…

    James…again I have to agree…regardless of everything else a politician stands for, if they are pro choice, I can never vote for them…that is the issue of the day…at least domestically speaking…and perhaps overall….

    Dev

  16. James said

    I look at the appointment to the SCOTUS and federal courts under Obama and know they are not going to agree with anything I believe in except breathing air.
    I will pray for these candidates.

  17. David L. Williams said

    Yes, Job, I am aware we have been sold out by our supposedly own side. I’m 75 yrs old, so I’ve been sold out way too many times. Nevertheless, I will cast my vote as I said before.

    God has put me thru a lot of painful trials to show me how true it is that man is full of wickedness. It is one thing to read where Jesus said that, and another to experience it. After experiencing selfish betrayal by well known pastors, as well as lesser known ones, it tends to open the spiritual eyes. Then the follow-up lessons that showed I also had evil traits hidden in me together convinced me I am hopelessly lost without Jesus. I have nothing left to be proud of. And I realize, neither does any man.

    Thru this, I am more aware that people hearing Jesus say “Well done my good and faithful servant,” at judgment will likely be few and far between. In my mind, should I vote for someone whom I believe would further the murdering of babies, that would be one more reason for me to not want to face my Lord… DavWms

  18. James said

    Pro-life is my biggest issue but I can’t let the other side pin me down on just one moral issue. My child is in a Christian school in an urban area where violence prevails.
    I don’t support gay marriage but consenting adult can do whatever away from me. I usually stand with the evangelicals but these days it is more defense than offense due to vicious adversaries in our institutions and media.

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