Jollyblogger's got one more post in his series on Christians and politics. A lot of it collects things he's already said, most of which I've agreed with. I see one completely new element in today's post that I see as both right and important. He assumes those who say that the United States was founded as a Christian nation are right. I've disputed this, but suppose they're correct for the sake of argument. He then compares our situation today (or at least the one the people he's dealing with say we have today) with the closest situation historically. This was a nation expressly set out to seek God and follow God's ways. Those who oppose God's ways have in effect taken over or are at least trying to. What situation resembles that? Ancient Rome conquered God's people and made them subservient, requiring things of them at times that went against what God said but usually just encouraging behavior that goes contrary to God's law.
Jollyblogger says to suppose all that is true. Does it give us a right to take over the government as God's people and transform it to be a more godly government? What did Jesus do in the same situation? What did he tell his followers to do when he was leaving? He saw the divine plan of salvation as primary. He said to make disciples. The preaching of the gospel is crucial to that (and not just to nonbelievers -- Paul uses the term 'preaching the gospel' more often when talking about everyday teaching of the outworking of the implications of the gospel in Christians lives than he does in the context of evangelism). It doesn't say anything about using political methods to encourage godly behavior. That's putting the cart before the horse. It doesn't say not to vote, not to serve in the government, not to speak the truth about how God says people should live. Living in a democratic republic that encourages such political participation does make a difference, but we also have to deal with the dual biblical pictures of government -- the sword to administer justice for good and under God's sovereign appointment and the world system (i.e. Babylon in Revelation) opposed to the gospel. Even acknowledging the extent to which we might have a responsibility to use wisely the rights a democratic republic gives, scripture never gives any reason to put those as a priority and more emphasizes the reverse, and it never would says we should see legal methods as a way to control people's behavior when it's not a matter of justice (which is the only thing Romans 13 gives as the responsibility of the government. All in all, another great post from Jollyblogger, who will be missed this week but whose absence might allow me to get a little more work done. As usual, much of the development of what he said is mine and may or may not be endorsed by him (though historical evidence suggests that it would).