Just received a very short and concise newsletter from Africa Christian Action on Christians and politics. The whole letter is here below.
CHRIST AND POLITICS
To say that politics and religion don't mix and must be kept totally separate is naive. You can no more separate politics and religion than you can separate breathing and life. The question is never whether religion should influence politics or not, but always, "whose religion and whose morality is going to shape our politics and thus our nation?" Policies and laws are going to be made and it is impossible to make these from a position of religious neutrality - no one is ever religiously neutral.
Politics is the science of governing at the state level. Policies and laws have to be made for the ordering of life at this level of existence, yet each one that is made, arises from some "moral" belief system. Whether someone believes in Jesus Christ or not, their views about right and wrong, justice and injustice are held to with religious devotion. Everyone starts their thinking with a faith commitment to some basis which serves as their ultimate authority - this basis could be the opinion of "the party", or "science", or the "voice of the people", or the person's own intellect, etc. Everyone gets their ideas for "morality" from somewhere and their position is held to and defended with religious zeal. However, it is obvious that one person's liberty and morality is another person's tyranny and perversion - so how can we know what is truly right?
Many churches have, for the most part, seen themselves as a-political (that is, to be uninvolved in the political realm), which rests on an assumption that politics is a-moral (i.e., there is no Biblical basis for calling something moral or immoral in the political realm). Many churches, in smug self-righteousness, have proclaimed, "Holiness is.... not touching that filthy thing" (meaning politics). The same people who can sing for hours at a time that Jesus is Lord, have also categorically denied that He is lord in the realm of politics - whether by open declaration or merely by their inaction, this is the message that has gone out to both Christian and non-Christian alike. It is a stance, however, that cannot be reconciled with the Scriptures and it is therefore, anti-Christian.
The Psalmist tells us that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it (Psalm 24:1). Everything that exists has been made by Christ and this doesn't only refer to physical things, but to invisible things also, including thrones and dominions (Colossians 1:16).
All authority structures have been ordained by God for His own purposes (Romans 13:1) and it is clear that the Messiah reigns over the kings of the earth: "Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him" (Psalm 2:10-12). We are told that it is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness (Proverbs 16:12). Jesus said that all authority in Heaven and earth is His (Matthew 28:18) and the book of Revelation tells us that Christ is present, not only as Head of the Church, but also as "the Ruler of the kings of the earth" (Revelation 1:5).
Kings are told to fear God and observe all the Words of His law (Deuteronomy 17:18,19). Daniel the prophet, in confessing his nation's sin, said, "Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your Name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of Israel" (Daniel 9:6, see too Ezra 9:7; Nehemiah 9:34).
Christ is the universal ruler over the whole earth. His authority and Righteous Law has never been restricted to only one nation, for one time - all people and nations have always been and always will be answerable to His Holy Standard. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their sin against God (Genesis 13:13; 2 Peter 2:6-8). The prophet Jonah was sent to a non-Israelite city, Nineveh, because of their wickedness before God (Jonah 1:2). The prophet Amos proclaimed the coming judgement, not only upon the Jews, but also upon Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon and Moab. Non-Israelite nations were judged along with Israel for their transgressions against the lord. The prophet Isaiah announced God's condemnation against the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:4), and spoke of God's judgement upon Egypt for idolatry and the ungodly rule of its leaders (Isaiah 19). Assyria also came under the spotlight of God's reproof (30:31).
God has remained the same: "l am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6; James 1.17). Daniel clearly proclaimed that God rules over the kingdoms of men (Daniel 4:34, 35; 5:21). His rule is not only in Heaven above, but also on the earth below (Joshua 2:11, see too Deuteronomy 4:39).
In the light of God's intimate concern with the affairs of nations, it is easy to understand Proverbs 14:34, which says, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people". You cannot limit the implications of this verse to only narrow realms of our existence and exclude it from the political realm. Mankind, in the whole of life, is exhorted to live by every Word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).
Paul said we are to cast 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 Corinthians 10:5). It is pagan philosophy, not Christianity, that forces a separation between the physical and spiritual aspects of our existence, yet many Christians have embraced this dualism. The silence and indifference that most church leaders have displayed towards the wickedness of the national leadership, is a form of "Christianity" unsupported by the testimony of Scripture. What it actually is, is an example of idolatry: a religion fashioned according to human imagination, teaching as doctrines, the commandments of men (Mark 7:7).
How much longer will Christians, who are meant to be the salt and light in society, cower in the corner in muted silence? At what stage will God account the "salt" to be worthless and good for nothing but to be trodden under the feet of its enemies? As the great trampling day draws nearer, an apostate church will become more muted and more irrelevant.
What more needs to be done by the president and his accomplices before we say, "Enough!" What more has to happen before the church will awaken from its idolatrous slumber and exalt the Righteous Standard of the Lord? How can so few people hold an entire nation to ransom?
Only fools and cowards will allow such wicked people to rule over them. Added to all of this, the state's media propaganda mechanism is a key weapon in their oppressive arsenal. Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in an open letter to the leaders of the Soviet Union in 1974, "This universal, obligatory force-feeding with lies is now the most agonising aspect of existence in our country". We can concur with his sentiments.
The Church has a God-given responsibility to take the lead in denouncing the ANC's corruption and misrule. There is no moral basis to justify their continued stay as the ruling party. That which has been committed in secret will be brought into the light and what we already know of corruption and atrocities is hardly the tip of the ice-berg of what will be known, yet it is already nauseating. If the Church fails in its responsibility to be salt and light in these days, it will become worthless in God's eyes. The Church exists for God's purposes and for this Righteous Kingdom, not for its own programmes, comforts and self-imagined goals.
When the Church adopts a position of silence in the midst of great wickedness and immorality, the silence is not merely deafening, it is immoral! The political beast will always have the support of a religious beast (Revelation 13), but this should not intimidate the True Church of Christ. Our nations desperately need a loud united voice coming from all those who call on the name of the Lord, saying that they will not tolerate wickedness in political office. There should be a nation-wide campaign whereby churches submit letters to the press clearly stating their utter contempt for the perpetual disregard for the rule of law and justice that is championed by ANC leaders.
This game of pretence that says things will improve, if we just wish hard enough for it to get better, is for mindless cowards. If there is any integrity and courage left in our nation, then we need to exercise it by putting an end to this reign of abortion, nepotism and corruption we have grown accustomed to.
Those churches who refuse to take such a stand have no Biblical basis to support their profession of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. As the furnace proves the fineness of gold (Proverbs 17:3), so, difficult times prove what is in our hearts. The Church is to lead with the Lamp of Righteousness (Psalm 119:105) or it will be led, with a nose hook, into greater captivity and irrelevance (Amos 4:2). God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34,35), and He will certainly not tolerate His Church's refusal to be salt and light when the times so desperately require salt and light.
Rev Derek Carlsen