Evangelistic Politics -- By: Bob Lockhart

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 06:3 (Jul 2008)
Article: Evangelistic Politics
Author: Bob Lockhart


Evangelistic Politics

Bob Lockhart, Ph.D.

I contend in this paper that Christian political activity is not only an appropriate expression of the Christian faith, but also that it actually can help the church accomplish the task of evangelism. There are four possible results of Christian political activity that, in my view, have not received sufficient attention in current literature. I will examine each one of these four areas briefly and then will make a few comments about the nature of Christian political activity. There is not space in this paper to discuss the potential impact of Christian political activity on the search for common justice except to say that Christians certainly have much to contribute. The focus of this paper will be on what impact, if any, Christian political activity might have on the evangelistic mission of the church.

Background

Over the last forty years, much has been written concerning what role the church should play in political affairs. Some have maintained that there should be a strict separation between church and state, with the role of the church limited to making pronouncements on various moral and ethical issues. Some have claimed that Christians essentially have lost the Culture Wars because of ineffective efforts in the areas of evangelism and discipleship; therefore the solution lies in more effective evangelism and discipleship, even if that means curtailment of political activity. One such author is David Gushee, who contends that conservative Christians have made a serious error in their attempts to address the moral and social decline of America primarily through the political process.1 Gushee does not advocate a total withdrawal from the political arena, but rather a drastic reordering of priorities, which necessarily would entail a reduction in the amount of time and resources spent on political activity. That same call was issued recently by David Kuo, a former White House staff member. In an article that appeared in the Baptist Standard, Robert Marus quotes Kuo as calling for a “two-year fast from political activity to refocus on the gospel.2

It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss how such a reordering of priorities advocated by Gushee and Kuo might take place and the extent to which it might be necessary. What we must be careful to avoid is the possibility of missing out on opportunities for evangelistic dialogue that might be created by participation in the political process itself. Other writers have maintained that society needs the prophetic voice of the church and that the role of the church inevitably must include analysis and criticism of specific policy proposals. One such author has is Richard Mouw. In Political Evang...

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