Summary: With the passing of Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy along with the dissolution of the Center for Reclaiming America and the Center for Christian Statesmanship, the issue has arisen once again as to whether or not conservative Evangelicals should partic
With the passing of Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy along with the dissolution of the Center for Reclaiming America and the Center for Christian Statesmanship, the issue has arisen once again as to whether or not conservative Evangelicals should participate in political activity. Since things have not gotten any better and if anything continued their downward spiral since the advent of the contemporary conservative Evangelical movement popularly referred to as the "Religious Right", it has been suggested by some that politically interested Christians should be herded back into their pews to once again await the Apocalypse.
Interestingly, one of the foremost voices now opposed to conservative Evangelical political involvement is none other than columnist Cal Thomas, who at one time served as a Falwell underling as vice president of Moral Majority and spoke at Dr. Kennedy’s Reclaiming America for Christ conference. Thomas, in a column analyzing the passing of his former colleague titled "The Legacy of Jerry Falwell", concludes of the Religious Right, "The movement also had its downside, because it tended to detract from a Christian’s primary responsibility of telling people the ’good news’ that redemption comes only through Jesus Christ."
While there is a degree of truth to that as during the early to mid 90’s at times it seemed Falwell’s ministry did place too much emphasis hawking videotapes exposing the criminality of Bill Clinton and replaying week after week snippets of homosexual excesses to the point where one had to send children out of the room or have to explain why mommy and daddy’s faces were turning red, some of this is more the fault of how the Evangelical subculture is structured sociologically than the result of Christian political participation per say.
All throughout Sunday school and the Christian day school environment, those spending most of their lives in this branch of the Christian faith are conditioned with the assumption that those holding professional ministry positions such as pastors and missionaries are some how a cut above the remainder of the congregation even though the traditional Protestant position held to the priesthood of all believers and that all moral work was as equally holy. As such, it is no wonder most believers are paralyzed unless there is a so-called "man of the cloth" there on the scene to direct their every movement. Thus, it was only natural that clergy such as Falwell and Kennedy would have to play prominent roles in these movements.
Ironically, at earlier stages in his career, Thomas was one of the most eloquent voices urging Christian youth to consider callings in fields other than professional ministry such as government, politics, and the media. He even one time quipped he did not recall any Christian being called to serve Christ part time.
However, now that he’s had his career, Thomas concludes that "...a Christian’s primary responsibility is telling people the ’good news’ that redemption comes only through Jesus Christ." If that’s the case, is Thomas going to repose himself from commenting on sociopolitical matters in favor of more monastic or missional undertakings or is it part of a more natural inclination of not wanting to share notoriety. For in another column Thomas lamented the rise of consumer choice as exemplified by the growth of talk radio and the blogosphere and instead enunciated a preference that the masses all sup of the same information from the swill placed before them by traditional journalists as the nation’s media gatekeepers.
When Thomas chastises Christians for participating in politics and the media since this detracts from time that should be spent directly sharing the Gospel, is he also going to level this charge against Christian physicians if they take the time to perform surgery rather than only praying for the patient’s recovery? Likewise, what about the farmer that toils away all day in their fields as this is also time that could be spent in more religious pursuits.
I Corinthians 12:28 says to some God gave to be preachers, some evangelists, others government. Not everyone is cut out for the same purpose in life. As such, their level of interest and the way they contribute to the advancement of the Kingdom of God will varying by kind and degree.
Thomas writes, "But Christians must first understand that the issues they most care about --- abortion, same-sex marriage, and cultural rot --- are not caused by bad politics, but are matters of the heart and soul." While Thomas is correct that these problems won’t ultimately be solved until people have a total renewing of the mind found through Christ’s shed blood, it does not follow nothing else should be done to ameliorate the social impacts of these manifestations of man’s sin nature.
All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing. In certain communities across the United States, whether or not I steal your car at a stoplight, plug your head with a bullet, and rape your mother as you lay their bleeding to death there on the pavement are as debated as the propriety of abortion and sodomite nuptials are in others. Does that mean in such jurisdictions those of good conscience should not insist that laws against these infractions should not be enforced since, well, the unrepentant apparently have few qualms or taboos against such alternative lifestyle choices?