Thursday, 12 March 2009

Christians and political blogging

What am I doing writing a political blog? Why should Christians be involved in politics? To answer those questions, and justify my activity, I want to consider what the Bible has to say on the subject.

Let’s start with the New Testament. The New Testament really says pretty well nothing about Christians being involved in politics and government. And so one could draw the conclusion that Christians should take the view that they strangers and exiles on earth (Hebrews 11:13) and that their citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). And some Christians have taken that viewpoint. They do not take political office or vote in elections. (It is pretty unusual among Christians, but it is the position of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

The Old Testament has more to say on political subjects. The people of God are a nation, and God gives them laws for governing themselves. They are to live in the promised land and govern themselves according to God-given laws. They become an independent sovereign state. It’s all very different from the New Testament. And so the conclusion could be drawn that Christians should favour a model in which nations should be Christian nations with laws drawn from God-given, biblical principles. Historically, this model became widely accepted when the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire - and continued to be the accepted model through the Middle Ages in Europe. It has, however, broken down in the modern period as ‘Christendom’ has given way to secular states.

There is, however, another model for Christian political involvement in the Old Testament. As the Old Testament draws to an end, the people of God cease to be an independent sovereign state, and become part of the Babylonian Empire. The inhabitants of Jerusalem go into exile in Babylon. And God gives the prophet Jeremiah a message for them. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7) God’s people are to live in Babylon, in the midst of a very alien civilisation. But they are not to seek to undermine it, nor to disengage from its life, but to work for its benefit.

This, it seems to me, is the most appropriate model for today. We might call it “the Babylonian model”. And it explains why I, as a Christian, am writing a blog which is about politics. Yes, I believe that the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ is more important than the government of Britain. I’m glad that other Christians are blogging about the gospel. But the government of Britain is not a complete irrelevance for Christians.


patently said...

What do Jehovah’s Witnesses do in Australia, where voting is mandatory?

Young Mr. Brown said...

Good question!

I googled and found this:

Voting is not expressly prohibited, but it is discouraged. The Watchtower, the official publication of the Jehovah's Witnesses, ran an article in 1999 suggesting that the decision whether to vote was one of personal conscience, although it carefully laid out reasons for staying out of the voting booth. In reference to countries that require all citizens to show up at the ballot box, the Watchtower has explained that "[w]here Caesar makes it compulsory for citizens to vote … [Jehovah's Witnesses] can go to the polls and enter the voting booths," but the Watchtower did not specify what Witnesses should do with the ballot itself. . . .Most Jehovah's Witnesses in America do, in fact, abstain from voting.