Q&A: Christians in Politics

Christians in Politics

Question

I am a Christian and I am trying to decide whether or not I should go into ministry or do something less spiritual like politics. I live in a country where Islamists are trying to use politics to impose their beliefs, but Christian leaders often say that the church should not concern itself with politics but rather should focus on "spiritual" concerns. What do you think?

Answer

This is a continuing argument among Christians. In some forms of American Presbyterianism, there has been the view of the "spirituality of the church," that the church should attend only to "spiritual" things, not to matters of politics and culture. I disagree with this. "Spiritual" in the Bible pertains to the Holy Spirit. It doesn't designate a realm independent of the material world, independent of politics and culture. Rather, Christians are to be guided by the Spirit in whatever walk of life God appoints.

I agree that the church can sometimes lose its focus by getting too involved in social issues. Modernist churches in the US bought into the "social gospel" in the early twentieth century, and in doing that they lost the gospel of grace. Martin Luther King did some great things, but he rarely preached the gospel of salvation through Jesus' blood. The gospel, of course, is the key to valid social change. It is only people who are moved by Jesus' love who are able to deeply love other people, even those of other religions. So the church should always be focused on the gospel.

At the same time, the gospel has implications for society. We should preach those as well, without getting so tied up with two or three issues that we lose our main focus. This is especially true in a society where the society, government, and or culture punishes people for being Christian. Christian citizens have a right to speak out against this, and the church should support them.

As to whether you should go into a church ministry or into a "secular" vocation, I don't think Scripture gives us any answer. Both are godly choices; it all depends on where God is leading you. The chief consideration will be your own gifts and opportunities.

Answer by Dr. John M. Frame

Dr. John M. Frame is Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.