Getting Christians Back Into Politics

By Phillip G. Kayser · 2007-1-1

    Introduction

    A pollster at Gallup called up the lady of the house and asked if he could interview her on her leanings for the upcoming primaries. She immediately responded, “Oh, I never vote. I don’t want to feel in any way responsible for what goes on in Washington.” She had no idea that neglect of politics makes us responsible. One person said, “Political difference is wholesome. It’s political indifference that hurts.” What is it that keeps many Christians uninvolved, and how can we overcome it?

    Issues that keep us from being involved in politics

    Fear of Man

    One of the big obstacles to involvement is fear. Some are simply fearful of talking to people on the phone, or of calling a candidate. They might think, “What would I say?” Education on the issues could alleviate such fears. Others are fearful of peer pressure. Certainly several politicians have testified of the enormous peer pressure to compromise. In the Bible, Peter found it difficult to confront the Judaizers because he wanted to be liked. Very few people enjoy confrontation with others. But let me tell you something – if you make any attempts to bring Reformation to family, church or culture there will eventually be confrontation. And if your goal is to please man, you will never make it. Paul said in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Romans 13 says that magistrates are supposed to be servants of Christ. We should pray that God would take away the fear of man and enable them to do so. Scripture says that the fear of man is a snare, and until it is replaced with the fear of God, we will be unable to turn the tide in America. In fact Carl F. Henry said that it really does take courage to run for office, and it takes courage for citizens to be involved in the political process rather than being passive. But he said, “Christian duty requires courageous participation at the frontiers of public concern.” (TGC, 44). So there is the fear of man.

    Politics is dirty

    Secondly, one of the strange objections I have heard to Christians getting involved is that politics is dirty. Let me give you a sample quote: Wayne House said, any “attempt to establish long-term change in institutions will only result in the leaven of humanism permeating Christianity.” (Wayne House & Tommy Ice). Well, you can see how that fear would keep you out of politics, business and most other aspects of culture.

    Should Christians avoid the trucking industry simply because it is acknowledged that there are a lot of truckers with dirty mouths? I think we would recognize that this is just not a legitimate argument. In his wonderful book, Myths, Lies & Half Truths, Gary DeMar cites the bumper sticker that said, “Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often.” He’s not advocating term limits. But he is recognizing that politics can get dirty, and you won’t see any dirty diapers getting changed in Washington DC if Christians don’t get involved.

    In point of fact, a good chunk of the Old Testament is devoted to politics. Even some of the New Testament heroes involved themselves in politics. Luke 3:14 shows John the Baptist addressing numerous ethical issues with Herod. He was seeking to make politics clean. The Centurion, Zaccheus the Tax Collector, Sergius Paulus and others were involved as Christians in seeking to be salt and light in society. And by the way, Matthew 5 says that if we aren’t salt and light, we are good for nothing but to be cast out and trampled under foot of men. That was imagery saying that if the church did not get out there and do something, the humanists would dominate. We would be under their feet; under their authority. Of course politics is dirty – because the Christians have gotten out of it.

    It’s hopeless to win

    So there are the obstacles of 1) fear and 2) the idea that politics is dirty and might get me dirty. But a third obstacle is a sense of hopelessness. It is a lack of faith that we can make any difference. In 1977 Salem Kirban said, “We have reached the point of no return. We are on an irreversible course for world disaster.”[1] Wow! Talk about pessimism. If it’s irreversible, why bother? This brand of pessimism thinks that it is hopeless to even try. That was back in 1977. No wonder we’ve had so many problems since then. And people do indeed feel hopeless in a task when they know it will be futile.

    A scholar from a totally different denomination, Herman Hanko, said, “Forgotten is the fact that sin and the curse made it forever impossible for the cultural mandate to be fulfilled in this present world.”[2] In another place he said, “The world [is] filled with sin and getting worse, a hopeless situation beyond repair and impossible to salvage”[3] But we must never say impossible for God. Jonah’s message of repentance may have seemed impossible when he came to the wicked city of Nineveh, yet that entire city repented because he did what he was supposed to do, and Christ said that it was a genuine repentance. Can God do the same today? Yes, His hand is not too short that it cannot save. In fact, Jesus said, I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The question is, do we have faith? Jeremiah 18:7-9 says that we should not give up on a nation as being too far gone. It says, "The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it." He’s saying, “Don’t give up on a nation. Call it to repentance. Do something. But there is always hope if there is still time for repentance.” This sense of hopelessness paralyzes the church, but a Scripture like that is a great antidote.

    Discouragement – “God won’t bless our efforts”

    Sometimes this sense of hopelessness comes from discouragement. If you fail enough times you can feel like giving up. And I think part of the reason for short term victories and long term failures is that many Christians are so convinced that they won’t be around much longer that they have adopted short term strategies to win a political skirmish here and there and have abandoned the long term strategies needed to win the war. They are not here for the war. They are just here for a battle or two. John Walvoord said, “perhaps Christians are not as concerned about social, political, and moral conditions in the world as they should be; but, on the other hand, it is not God’s purpose in our present age to have social justice...”[4] And my reaction is, “Excuse me! Jesus was indeed concerned about justice.” The parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18 is about a widow seeking justice. Christ’s conclusion is this: “… now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily.” That is an antidote to discouragement. Isaiah 42 is quoted by the New Testament as applying to Christ’s baptism and ministry, and it says of Jesus, He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth. It acknowledges that there will be a long time of resistance to Christ’s purposes, but that He will not get discouraged until He establishes justice in the earth. I am a minister of the Gospel; but the President of the United States, or a congressman, or a mayor is also called a minister by God in Romans 13. It is an honorable profession, and we should not make light of it.

    Sometimes people are discouraged not because they question Christ’s interest in justice, but because they think He hasn’t given us sufficient grace to succeed. In one book, Wayne House and Tommy Ice explicitly state this three times: “God has not given the Church a proper dose of grace to Christianize the world.” (House & Ice)[5] But Luke 24:49 promises that Pentecost will give us power from on high to accomplish the Great Commission. And the Great Commission is a call to disciple the nations. You see, we cannot have faith for the future until we understand the promises of God for the future. We will continue to be discouraged if we operate in our own wisdom and strength. But greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. The question is: “Do we really believe that?” The spies who went into the land of Canaan could only see the giants in the land, and they saw themselves as being as tiny as grasshoppers. They were so discouraged, they refused to take the conquest. Now Joshua and Caleb saw the same giants, but their focus was not on the giants; it was on the greatness of God, and they triumphed. We must overcome the sin of discouragement by getting rid of grasshopper theology and having a faith in the promises of God.

    Escapism

    A fifth sin is escapism, and even the best of saints have been tempted by this sin. In Psalm 11 David is tempted to flee like a bird to a mountain because the foundations of his culture were being destroyed. In fact in that chapter it is describing a lot of the problems that we are experiencing in America. But he resisted that temptation to escape, and he resisted by faith. He refused to escape from his responsibilities.

    Our citizenship is only in heaven.

    One form of escapism is found in the statement “our citizenship is in heaven and we must take people out of the earth.” But Paul found no contradiction in claiming a heavenly citizenship in Philippians 3:20 and at the same time claiming and using his Roman citizenship in Acts 16:37-39 and in 22:22-29. Our heavenly citizenship (if it is rightly understood) will profoundly impact our earthly citizenship. It brings into perspective that wonderful phrase, “One nation under God.”

    God’s kingdom is not of this world.

    Another form of escapism can be found in the statement, “God’s kingdom is not of this world.” Again, it is a true statement if we understand by the word “of,” that God’s kingdom is not derived from this world. It is derived from heaven. But what does the Lord’s prayer ask? Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s not an escapist prayer. That is a prayer that wants the heavenly kingdom to influence and change the earthly.

    We are only to seek those things which are above.

    Another form of escapism can be found in the expression, “We are only to seek those things which are above.” Once again, it is a true statement, but taken out of context. The context of Colossians 3 is that Christ (who is above) is sufficient for everything we need in life. It’s not a call to escape from life. And we know that because Paul goes on to show in Colossians how Christ is sufficient for our marriage relationships, children, employers, employees and “whatever you do.” That’s not escaping. That’s asking His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. But it is tangible terra firma earth that is being affected in Colossians.

    The world is unimportant.

    Another excuse given is that the world is unimportant. J Vernon McGee once said, “You don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.” The idea is that when a ship is sinking, don’t worry about the ship – save souls. He believed that our world was sinking, and the only important thing to be involved in was evangelism. But, was John the Baptist polishing brass when he sought to bring reforms to politics in Luke 3:19? No. He was doing as all the prophets in the Old Testament did – confronting evils in society and seeking to make a difference. I praise God that He is raising up candidates who are trying to bring reform to Washington, DC. And you will no doubt see a number of them coming through these doors. If the world was not important, why does the New Testament say that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19)? Why would He promise, the meek shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5)? Why would Jesus be given all authority in heaven and on earth in the first century? Why would Romans 13 say that the civil magistrate is God’s servant, a minister of justice? Why would the New Testament say so much about employers, employees, economics and stewardship of the earth? Obviously the world was pretty important to God. The Bible says, “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” so obviously He is interested in cattle and hills. I love the Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World.” It says that God’s grace is destined to go, far as the curse is found. That’s pretty far. Has the curse negatively impacted politics? Yes it has, and God’s grace is sufficient to go as far as the curse is found.

    Truncated Theology

    The Bible is only concerned about salvation.

    Another major hindrance to changing culture is a truncated theology. Some people believe that the Bible is only concerned about salvation. Hal Lindsey said, “God sent us to be fishers of men, not to clean up the fishbowl.” Well, that’s a clever slogan, but his logic simply does not follow. When a tax collector by the name of Zaccheus gets saved in the New Testament, he immediately starts to clean up the way he did business. That’s cleaning his part of the fish bowl (which happened to be the IRS). Wouldn’t it be great if the IRS could have its part of the fishbowl cleaned up? Better yet, abolish the IRS and its unfair graduated income tax. James 5 is not content with merely the salvation of rich people. He tells them that they need to change their business practices. Luke 3 shows the salvation of some soldiers, and John the Baptist’s immediate admonition is that they need to clean up their fishbowl by changing their practices as soldiers. You see, it was actually Hitler who came up with this terrible idea that the Bible is only about salvation. Let me quote from Adolf Hitler. He said, “I will protect the German people. You take care of the church. You pastors should worry about getting people to heaven and leave this world to me.”[6] We must resist that truncated theology by saying, “This is My Father’s world. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1). Amen? Do I have a witness? We can’t retreat from that which God claims as His own.

    The Bible doesn’t provide answers to social issues.

    One prominent author made a statement that takes my breath away in its audacity. He said, “Christians have no immediate solutions to the problems of our day… [the only] solution is that Jesus Christ Himself is coming back to bring peace and rest to the world.”[7] He claims that we have no solutions. It is utter escapism. But that flies in the face of Paul’s statement that the Bible is sufficient to equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It does have the answers. 2 Peter 1 tells us that the Bible gives to us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). It sounds like a solution to me. At the Biblical Blueprints website we have books that outline the Bible’s answers to complex family issues, a complete system of economics, civil government, law and ethics. I have given lectures to government officials on the genius of the Bible’s principles of court jurisprudence (which early America followed, by the way), principles for conflict resolution in a nation and ways to protect the rights of minorities. Now you may not like the solutions, but the Bible does indeed provide the answers to every one of America’s social crises.

    Passivism

    Christians should remain neutral.

    Let me quickly cover three forms of passivism. The passivity of the church in America is astonishing. But if we could throw off these next three myths, we could once again have the backbone to make a difference. And I tell you, the church needs to regain its backbone.

    The first passivity myth is that Christians should remain neutral. But that is impossible. Christ said, He who is not with Me is against Me (Matt. 12:30). There’s no neutrality there. In the book of Esther, Mordecai told Esther that a failure to take a stand was not an option. It is automatically taking a stand for the enemy. The woman I referenced at the beginning did not want to vote because she did not want to be responsible for what was happening in Washington DC. But she failed to recognize that she was indeed responsible for the evil by failing to act. On the final judgment day people will not be able to claim that they were neutral. Jesus will say, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did not do it to me. Failure to act is treated as failure.

    There is a separation of church and state.

    A second kind of passivity flows out of the separation of church and state idea. Now I do believe that there is a jurisdictional separation of governments (neither one is under the other), but that is the only kind of separation the Bible speaks about. Usually, those who advocate separation of church and state are saying that Christians may not influence politics and that the state itself should not be Christian. But that was certainly not George Washington’s intent. He said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” (George Washington, 1752) [p. 660]. In 1821 President John Quincy Adams said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” He said that the connection between Christianity and the state is indissoluble. And this was certainly the view of the Bible. John the Baptist addressed soldiers, the king, tax collectors, members of parliament. He was hardly passive.

    Fear of the future & fatalism

    We’re living in the last days.

    There are other problems such as laziness, and misplaced priorities that I won’t address, but let me spend a bit of time dealing with fear of the future and fatalism. One prominent writer said, “We should live like people who don’t expect to be around much longer.”[8] He said that in 1973. What would have happened if people had taken him literally? They would have stopped influencing politics, education, arts, culture, business, etc. They would have stopped saving money and gone into debt. Now wait a shake. Maybe they did take him seriously. Maybe that’s why America is in such a mess. There have always been people who have thought that their generation would be the last one living in the last days, and it has led to poor planning and a present oriented approach to life that neglected the long term winning strategies. No one knows the time of Christ’s second coming. He calls us to occupy till He comes.

    We can’t stop prophecy – things will always get worse and worse.

    Perhaps an even more perverse variation of this is to rejoice that things are getting worse and worse. One prominent scholar who will charitably remain anonymous said, “The darker the world gets the lighter my heart gets! Because that means we are that much closer to the Second Coming of Christ!” (R.A. Torrey) This has led to a fatalistic and cavalier attitude toward evil in culture. It makes people spectators of the horrific events of history rather than participants in and changers of history. If you look at the Scripture authors you will see them grieving over the evil in the world and putting up a resistance to it. Another author said, “Without the hope of our Lord’s return...what future do any of us have?”[9]

    Christ’s insistence that we turn the tide (Mt. 28:16-20)

    All authority

    Well, I want to end by insisting that we do have a future in America. It is summed up in the Great Commission, a portion of Scripture that all branches of Christianity claim to believe, but few take seriously. There are four occurrences of the word “all” in Matthew 28:16-20 that should revolutionize your life and give you a fire and energy to get involved not just in politics, but other areas of culture as well. Those four “all’s” will give you a faith to expect great things from God and to attempt great things for God.

    The first neglected "all" in the Great Commission is "all authority has been given me in heaven and on earth." A lot of people don’t believe that. They don’t believe that it is appropriate to apply Christ’s authority to the state. But there is no exception to this comprehensive claim. Jesus said, “all authority has been given me in heaven and on earth.” He has authority over our families. This means that we cannot run our families any way that we please. We must ask Him how He wants the family run. And he speaks to such intimate issues as birth control, sexual relations, discipline, role relationships, inheritance and many other family issues. There is a desperate need for Reformation of the family – something that Biblical Blueprints is passionate about. And until the family is restored to its place, we are going to have a difficulty restoring our nation.

    Another authority is church authority, and Jesus claims all authority over the church. Over church membership, discipline, worship, outreach, etc. When a church does something new, they need to ask, “Has Jesus authorized the church to do it?” It’s not enough that it is a good thing. There are many good things that God has not authorized the church or the state to do. He wants families doing them. And there are many good things that God has not authorized families to do. He has delegated that authority to someone else. And when any of those governments oversteps their bounds, they are living in rebellion to Christ’s authority. The church is in desperate need of Reformation in America, and Biblical Blueprints is trying to do what we can through coaching, resourcing and training. Pray for us.

    But I think it is especially the civil government that many Christians think is exempt from Christ’s authority. But what does Psalm 2 say? It calls upon all nations to kiss the Son lest He be angry and that nation perish in its way. It says, Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. By the way, Acts 4 quotes that Psalm and applies it to our age. We cannot embrace pluralism. Pluralism means a sharing of authority with other religions and viewpoints. Pluralism wants political officers to swear upon the Koran and upon other religious documents (which happened in 2007 for the first time in American history). But Jesus refuses to share authority. He claims all authority in heaven and on earth. And from the first Supreme Court to the mid-1900’s, there have been numerous declarations that this was a Christian nation, founded upon the Bible. Andrew Jackson, said “The Bible is the Book upon which this Republic stands.” Even Presidents whom I would not have voted for have said the same thing. President Truman said, “This is a Christian nation.”[10] Woodrow Wilson stated emphatically, “America was born a Christian nation.”[11] Now of course, we have given freedom and liberties to other religious viewpoints, but they were simply stating that we have nothing to be embarrassed about applying the Bible in culture. It is the Bible’s perfect law of liberty that has brought us our American liberties. Court case after Court case has shown that Biblical law stands back of American law. That’s why we have the Ten Commandments on the wall behind the Supreme Court Justices. And yet our court ignores those laws. And Christians are afraid to say this because they have called for a strategy of incremental victories (which has actually ended up with incremental losses). We need to go back to original intent and vote for candidates who believe in original intent. They are swearing to uphold and defend the Constitution. So the first “all” is that Christ has all authority.

    All nations

    The second neglected "all" is that Christ commanded us to make disciples of all the nations. Not just make disciples of a few individuals. The literal Greek reads disciple all nations. There is no genitive. It is the accusative case which means that the nations as nations must be discipled. His goal is a comprehensive vision of victory: Christian nations. Well, that makes perfect sense since we have already seen that He has been given all authority on earth. Go therefore implies that the commission is as extensive as His authority. What does it mean to be a Christian nation? It doesn’t just mean politics will be Christian. The Bible speaks of very limited government – not the massive bureaucracies that many in Washington DC are pushing for. Politics is only a tiny subset of a nation. For a nation to be a Christian nation, art, science, politics, sports, media, entertainment, education – everything must be under Christ’s lordship.

    All the Word

    Now this relates to the next neglected “all” because it says, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. We are not authorized to pick and choose what we will teach on. In Matthew 5 Jesus told us what to teach – the whole Bible. In Matthew 5:17-19 He says, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” [The last time I looked, the heaven and earth hadn’t passed away yet. And to me this means that every jot and tittle of God’s Word continues to be relevant. Conclusion? The next verse says,] “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Christ wants us to teach every one of the Old Testament laws relating to nations. Old Testament law teaches us conservative principles of ecology, not socialistic green ecology. It teaches us conservative principles of economics, politics, art, mathematics, philosophy. In fact, it gives us every axiom needed to form the foundation for our nation.

    To me, that is staggering. To even command it is staggering, but to believe it will be fulfilled? That takes faith. It means that He is talking about world conquest to twelve disciples! In fact, this is such a bold command, that for many it is unbelievable. Christ must have meant something else! But think about it for a moment. If Christ is presently a universal King as He says that He is, and if He claims a universal kingdom, as He says He does, then nothing less than total conquest and nothing less than total discipleship would be worthy of our King or of His kingdom. And that leads us to the last all which shows us that we are not left on our own. When God commands the impossible, He gives the grace to fulfill the impossible.

    All the days

    The last neglected “all.” The Greek has literally, “Lo, I with you all the days, [πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας – “all the days”] even to the end of the age.” You might wonder how I could say that this is a neglected all. Doesn't everybody believe that Christ is with us all the days? In a sense that is true, but there are many who act as if it were false. I quoted one scholar earlier who said, “the only solution to the turmoil among nations is the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory to the earth.”[12] The implication is that Christ’s spiritual presence is not sufficient. But we would respond that since Jesus has been given all authority, He has the whole universe at His command. And His commission is based on His authority and His presence. Of course we cannot do it on our own, but we are not on our own. That’s the point.

    Let me ask you this? Was God physically present during the conquest of Canaan? No. His glory cloud was in the tabernacle, not on the battlefield. And yet God fought for them in miraculous ways as He directed His armies from the Holy of Holies. So why is it hard for us to believe that Christ is just as powerful now as He directs His spiritual armies from the Holy of holies today? Hebrews 13 calls us into the spiritual conquest with exactly the same stirring words given to Joshua just before His physical conquest: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." He wasn’t visible, but He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He is just as present now as He was with Joshua. He is the Lord of Lord's and King of Kings. He is very effectively directing world history.

    But here is an important point: God will not fight our battles in place of us. He has not promised to go instead of us. He has promised to go with us. And that should stir us up to bold action. It should also give us comfort even when the giants of communism, Islam, the homosexual movement, pornography, abortion industry and other giants make us feel as small as grasshoppers. By ourselves we cannot win, that’s true. And it would have been a farce to think twelve disciples could conquer the world without Christ. But what did the apostle Paul say he could do with Christ? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That’s what gives us boldness. It is His gracious presence.

    Don't believe the ten spies of the modern church. The quotes I have given have had the same effect upon the church today that the ten spies had back then. One famous Christian spy in a published work says, “We have reached the point of no return. We are on an irreversible course for world disaster.”[13]

    But this passage contradicts that. It gives us a brilliant business plan, not a hopeless and idealistic one. And I want to encourage you to be Joshua's and Caleb's who will take the mountains that God has given to you. Visit our website and download free materials that will appear monthly over the next few years. Get active in doing something. As one famous politician said, “The duty is ours, the outcome is God’s.” Amen.


    1. Salem Kirban, Countdown to Rapture (Irvine, CA: Harvest House Publishers, 1977), p. 11.

    2. Hanko, “An Exegetical Refutation of Postmillennialism,” p. 10.

    3. Hanko, “The Illusory Hope of Postmillennialism,” p. 159.

    4. Ibid., p. 43.

    5. Wayne House & Tommy Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? (Portland, OR: 1988), p. 340.

    6. Quote by Chuck Colson in Kingdoms in Conflict (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), p. 140.

    7. John F. Walvoord, in Charles Lee Feinberg, Prophecy and the Seventies (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1971), p. 212.

    8. Hal Lindsey, Late Great Planet Earth, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973) p. 145.

    9. Salem Kirban, Your Last Goodbye (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1969), p.

    10. Quoted by Gary DeMar in America’s Christian History, The Untold Story, (Atlanta, GA: American Vision Inc., 1995), p. 2

    11. Ibid., p. 3.

    12. John F. Walvoord, “Why are the Nations in Turmoil?” in Feinberg, Prophecy, p. 210-211.

    13. Salem Kirban, Countdown to Rapture (Irvine, CA: Harvest House Publishers, 1977), p. 11.


    Support Kayser Commentary - donate to Biblical Blueprints today! It allows us to publish more books, blog posts, and cool works like the Revelation Project.

    Sign up for the Biblical Blueprints email list to learn about new resources as we release them.