Concerning Christian Civic Duties
Copyright 2006, International Church Council Project
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It was my first or second year of Bible college. I was standing outside the
Chapel among a circle of upper-classmen and teachers when the discussion turned
to a certain Christian leader who had written a book in which he taught that God
expects Christians to be change agents in every area of culture, including
government. I don’t remember the words exchanged that morning, but I do remember
that the man being discussed was considered by my seniors a liberal because he
taught that politics and government should not be left to unbelievers. This was
but one experience that came from my evangelical culture that clouded my
perception and cultivated in me the misconception that it is somewhat less than
Christian to be involved in politics or government.
The problem is not that politics is worldly and therefore Christians should not
be involved - Christians colonized our land, and men with a Christian worldview
gave us a government that has been the envy of the world. Yet one hundred,
seventy years or so ago many Christians began to acquiesce before the wicked (Prov.
25:26), leaving politics to unbelievers. Christians became preoccupied with the
coming of Jesus and internal holiness, and left off God’s dominion mandate to
Christianize the culture (disciple the nations, carrying God’s holiness into
every realm of every nation, including our own). Politics soon became dominated
by worldly men not because it is an unholy realm, but because Christians who
should be the head became the tail, and all Americans suffer, as vileness rather
than righteousness is now exalted in our land (Psalm 12:8; Prov. 14:34). We
Christians have abdicated our responsibility.
In numerous places the Bible refers to the orphan and widow saying we should
not oppress them. But the Bible does not stop there, it goes much farther. It
also teaches us that we should, “…seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend
the orphan, plead for the widow” ( Isa. 1:17; 1:23). The question to ask is
this – How can we fulfill these things without being involved in the places of
power and influence so that we can deliver the widow whose property is taxed so
that she eventually loses her home, or the orphan whose father not only divorces
his wife, but also abandons his family financially. Jesus taught us to daily
pray, “Father…Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth…” But the Bible
nowhere teaches us to pray only. We are also to fight (strive, labor) for
justice and for the delivery of the oppressed, be they oppressed by an
individual, group, or by a government that overreaches its God-given authority.
Here is a one question worldview test. The question is multiple-choice and goes
like this: When there is an effort or proposition to increase property taxes (an
affliction that weighs heavily on widows and single mothers, many of whom have
children orphaned by covenant breaking fathers), what should Christians do?
Choose your answer: 1) Sit by as misguided or wicked politicians set heavier and
heavier burdens on the people; after all, there is not much we can do about it
anyway! 2) Seek (by prayer and political effort) to elect godly people to places
of decision and influence in order to promote the justice and mercy of God’s
law. 3) Diligently vote using righteous judgment to promote biblical principles
in our society. 4) God is not concerned with politics of this world, therefore
don’t be bothered; let the wicked run government; don’t even bother voting;
Jesus will save us out of this mess soon! - If you answered 1, you are in the
majority of evangelical Christians; though they would not answer verbally this
way, their actions speak louder than words. If you answered 4, you are in
agreement with Jehovah’s Witnesses! If you answered 2 and also 3, I believe you
gave a biblical answer.
The ICCP topic, “Concerning Christians’ Civic Duties,” sets forth the biblical
perspective that Christians everywhere should promote biblical justice within
their society, by faithfully voting, by either running for public office or by
encouraging those who do run, by being godly change agents as much as possible
within their political structure; the opportunity will vary – in a dictator run
country there is much less opportunity than in a free country such as the United
Following is the preamble to the International Church Council Project document
“Concerning Christians’ Civic Duties” followed by four of its eighteen
affirmation and denial statements. We are happy to send you the full document in
the mail, or you may read it or print it from www.churchcouncil.org.
From the beginning of time, people have gathered together in
groups, starting with two in the Garden, developing into larger family groups,
and finally into nations. With marvelous forethought, God has provided standards
for this kind of interpersonal conduct, both for families and for venues we
might label as civic arenas. These standards are found most concisely in the
Decalogue given to Moses, but they are also interspersed throughout all of the
Bible. The Bible therefore is our textbook for civic action. It contains
principles that are valid and workable for all people, all cultures, and all
time. It must be society’s starting point today.
Heroes of the Church in past centuries have recognized there are
different jurisdictions within society, each being directly accountable to God,
and each of which has certain boundaries and its own governmental structure.
Those jurisdictions are: Self Government, Family Government, Ecclesiastical
Government, and Civil (state) Government. Tyranny arises whenever any one of
these jurisdictions steps beyond its own God-given boundaries and interferes
unbiblically with the legitimate action of any of the other jurisdictions.
Civic actions are relevant to all members of the group, because no
one in society can function long without affecting others. Choices have
consequences, not only for one’s self, but for others also. In society we live
with and in dependence on others. In order to function in this relationship, we
need mutually acceptable rules to ensure that our actions are relatively
predictable and fair. (I Cor 12:12-31; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
We affirm that the principle of civil government is a divinely
established sphere, and that all citizens, especially Christians, have a
stewardship role in civil government.1
deny that civil government is, in itself, evil, or that Christians
should avoid involvement in it.
1. Mat. 22:17-21; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17; Rev 1:5
We affirm that citizens under any government are accountable to God
and their fellow citizens for the preservation and increase of justice,
righteousness, mercy, and national stability.1
deny that in a republic it is morally acceptable for the citizenry to
leave government in the hands of the elite or in the hands of politicians.
1. Exo. 22:21-22; Isa. 1:16-17, 23; 29:13-21; 59:1-19; Jer. 5:28-29; 7:5-7;
22:1-3; 32:17-19; Zeph. 3:1-8; Zech. 7:9-10; Mal. 3:5; Mat. 12:18 with 28:20;
23:23; 1 Tim. 1:8-11
We affirm that in a society based upon representative government
(such as the United States) citizens share responsibility for the actions of
deny that in a society based upon representative government the
citizenry is held blameless for the actions of those whom they elect.
1. Josh. 7:24-25; Dan. 9:5-6, 8; Zeph. 3:1-8; Rom. 5:12-19
We affirm that God holds all persons, especially Christians, responsible
to establish and maintain righteous civil government.1
deny that Christians may avoid involvement in civil government and
1. Exo. 22:21-22; Isa. 1:16-17, 23; Jer. 5:28-29; 7:5-7; 22:1-3; Zeph. 3:1-8;
Zech. 7:9-10; Mal. 3:5; Mat. 12:18 with 28:20; 23:23; Rom. 12:18, 21