Secant but Not Bound Politically

From time to time a church, especially in this globalized modern era, a church must make decisions of a political nature not for the sake of the church being in politics – the church, for its purity, must not become a political organization, nor may it serve such purposes – but for decisions pursuant to its own work.

A definition of authority needed

A church must have, probably implicitly, some idea of what is an authority it must obey and what is not: this should spring from soundly Scripture-derived principles, not the political leanings of either the leaders or the congregants. I am by no means a radical, for I take no interest in uprooting society for the sake of frenzied changes that may kill good things as well as bad things, but in the face of Scriptural truth, correctly interpreted, nothing else stands, not tradition, not mass opinion, not cultural imperative, not anything but truth.

What, then, must a church know? As a body, it must know what constitutes legitimate authority to be obeyed at all, and what grounds are sufficient for the church to call for civil disobedience even at the cost of tax-free status. There will be contentious times and places, like apartheid South Africa, where church and church will disagree vehemently, and yet they must meet at the table of the Lord in the life of the Spirit, but speak different things they will, and controversy, though distasteful, they will not be able to avoid.

Unity in marked disagreement

The point of being one body is not that theological disagreements over things called non-essential are inconsequential, but that despite strong and vocal (but reasoned) disagreement, the body will know itself through the headship of Jesus Christ and be able to work not just separately for the sake of God’s glory but as a church to the realization of God’s greater glory.

When a church is truly divided and not able to appreciate God’s calling to the church together, it will be timid and do things “for” God’s glory – that is, in the hope that God may find it acceptable. When that same church is united even as her members exhort one another, it will do things to God’s glory, not resting on the mere intention but pursuing the thing to fruition.

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3 responses to “Secant but Not Bound Politically

  1. Lue-Yee, wonderfully put. We need to all “come to the Lord’s table” and yet still acknowledge our source of truth in Scriptural revelation. It’s a hard tension to sit in, but I like how you point out that the dialogues and conversations and humble prayers bring us to greater know the reality of Jesus and work to the ends of glorifying our God.

    Thanks once again, bro, for sharing your thoughts and convictions.

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  2. People thinking about Zimbabwe now do have these political questions to ask, not for their political agenda but for the work of Christ. And again in relation to dealings with the régime in mainland China, the same question. And as for Sudan, the same.

    Does it matter that controlling entities may take criticism hard and retaliate? Is it productive to attempt persuasion through guanxi rather than through, say, open letters and forceful protests? Different churches may believe different things.

    But the world must see and know that we are first Christians and only because of that unyielding supporters of justice.

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  3. Pingback: Unanswered Questions of Legitimacy « Cogito, Credo, Petam

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