God uses the “Political” to Convert People…

I have been having a conversation with my friend Steve regarding my last few posts and a post that he has on his blog titled “The Kingdom of Christ is at Hand” – for a little context on this converstion his post is found here

I would like to get feedback from others on the issues that are raised in this dialog…

Here is my latest entry on his blog:

In Response…

My Brother Steve, I certainly understood your comments…

It is very easy to understand phrases like “things that simply matter very little” and “get Christian’s undies in a bundle” and “complaining about the government” and “spend half their energy they expel on political issues” and “there are no shortage of whiners and complainers” and smelling and laying eggs and such…

I’m not trying to be accusatory, I am trying to deal with what I believe to be faulty assumptions.

If I seem course or accusatory in the way I deal with the issues please forgive me I am a plainspoken man and don’t always say things (or write them) in an eloquent way, writing comes very difficult to me.

The reason I ended with “Grace and Peace” is I wanted you to know I am trying to deal with the issues you are raising in a spirit of grace and peace. If in making or being right in an argument I lose a friend then what good is it? Hopefully we are good enough friends that we can have a spirited conversation (or even misunderstand each other) over matters that really do matter and both of us grow as a result of it. (It is obvious that I think these issues really matters else I would never reacted the way I did)

Forgive me if I made anything personal, you are a dear brother in Christ. (and you know I mean it)

Now let’s start from the beginning, I see your statements here as a continuation of some of the comments you made on my blog (the dates match). Under the title ”3 Republican join 1 Democrat to legalize Same-sex Marriage” you made comments like:

“So what will we do in light of this? Whine? Complain? Or plant Glory-Focused, Gospel-Driven, Global-Minded Churches?”

“Exactly my point Lar, We must move beyond recognition to action. We are warriors in the Kingdom of God.”

Maybe I’m wrong, and your post here was not inspired by my blog entry nevertheless the issues are the same. After your last entry on my blog I was going to let the issue go until I discovered a few days later you had raised similar issues on your blog about the same time. You seemed to invite more dialog on this issue so I decided to chime in.

Onto your questions to me:

Steve, of course, I believe in the doctrine of hell, and that millions of people are going to end up there. And of course I believe that the church has been given the ministry of reconciliation. You also know me enough to know that I regularly preach the gospel confrontationally using the word “repent” (I believe you use the word “repent” when you preach the gospel and have not become soft like many other so-called evangelists)

I understand your intention in this post is to challenge Christians (me included) to share the Gospel.

I do not think however that you fully understand what I am driving at when it comes to the political, if you did you would not say “things that simply a matter very little”.

I deeply care about the salvation of souls however I disagree with you, these political issues “really do matter” and they matter in terms of the Gospel and the saving of souls in a bigger way than I think most evangelicals realize. These “issues” that are seen as not mattering “all that much” effect our culture and whether we will have the liberty to even preach the gospel!

I do not want America to become another North Korea or Soviet Union (many believe it will never come to that in America, but I ask how many sober minded Germans thought Germany would ever become what Hitler made into) where the ability to preach the gospel is made illegal and persecuted severely. Millions of North Koreans and Russians are and were prevented from hearing the gospel because of their “gospel hostile government” had outlawed the religious liberty to preach the Gospel. I know the early church was established by much blood, but why should we ask God for such a bitter cup? Think honestly about your family.

God has not always given his church this bitter cup in order to establish and preserve the church. (I’m not afraid of this bitter cup if God calls me to it – hopefully) God has throughout history used other ways which I prefer. Think of the stories of tribal missionaries when the chief became saved and declared Christianity to be its peoples religion, this was seen as a great victory to the missionaries because it now allowed the missionaries to truly convert and disciple those tribal peoples it was an opportunity to preach the gospel even more freely and thus save many more people. Think of the protection that was afforded Martin Luther by his political magistrate so that the Reformation could go forward and thus many souls could be saved (unlike what happened a hundred years earlier with Hus) Think of how God used William Carey in India, the English government provided the protection that Carey needed to preach the Gospel in India. It was the same in Africa, the English provided much protection to the missionaries so they could do the same. God also used many European Kings throughout the Middle Ages in a similar way..

As Ruben Alvarado has said in his book A Common Law:

“the top down law order imposed by the theocratic king did not stand in the way of bottom-up participation… To view top down government as an inevitable impediment to bottom-up participation is to misconstrue the issue. These two forms of public organization are not mutually exclusive: in fact, rightly understood they complement each other. The one provided the necessary preliminary infrastructure for the establishment of the other.”

Therefore, as I see it, if I love my neighbor, and I want to see souls saved then I want to insure that Gospel can continue to be preached freely in our nation.

Today Homosexual totalitarians threaten this liberty like never before in the history of the world. (and only God knows what horrors these sodomites will impose on us and our children) I will continue on my blog to spread the word to my Christian brethren of what is happening in the political sphere, that which threatens our religious liberty most. Call it “whining and complaining” if you want. I for one see it as doing something; keeping my eyes open and keeping my brethrens eyes open as well. Being engaged.

Onto another one of your points:

You say: “One of the points I was trying to drive home, is that many have neglected the beginning of the great commission and have gone straight to your so-called end result”

Steve who are you talking about seriously? (maybe you’re talking about those above-mentioned Chiefs and Kings) Hopefully, what I’ve said above addresses this comment.

You also say:
“One fine point in your interpretation that needs to be corrected is your view that nations are to be converted into Christian nations the Greek word there is ethane is better translated as peoples”

Steve I have no problem with the translation of the word “nations” as “peoples” what’s the difference? The way I see it what’s really at work here is an individualistic presupposition placed on the text. Switching the word to Gentiles, heathens, nations, ethnicities, or peoples doesn‘t change what I‘m saying. I really don’t see the difference between a discipled nation and a discipled people group (ethnic group). No matter how you cut it does not say “therefore go and make disciples of all “individuals” (although individuals make up a people group or nation) So we disagree on the interpretation of Matthew 28, well what about Genesis 18:18 which is quoted in Galatians 3:8 which in essence is the promise of the international Gospel to Abraham. In it Abraham is to be made a mighty “nation” or “ethnic family” and the promise is that this “Abrahamic Nation” will be the means of blessing to all the other “Nations” or “Ethnic Families” of the world (Think of the table of nations in Genesis) the same Hebrew word is used in both places in Genesis 18:18 which makes the gospel promise to “whole people groups“.

As for Christian nations; yes there is such a thing as Christian nations, Pagan nations, Muslim nations, Buddhist nations, Hindu Nations etc. Nations that reflect (however imperfectly) Christian ethics in their laws and a Christian ethos in their culture, are Christian. I know there are certain theologians would argue that a nation can never fully reflect Christ perfectly therefore there never can a be such thing a Christian Nation. I simply would ask them to apply this same thinking and standard to the church. Is a church “not Christian” because it never fully reflects Christ perfectly? It is perfectionistic presuppositions that lead these folks to argue there can be no such thing as a Christian nation. (this modern way of thinking was given to us by the Anabaptists – older traditions never seen it this way)

What you call my “creative” of interpretation of Nehemiah is certainly not my own but by many who have gone before, Spurgeon is one example who called his magazine the “Sword and the Trowel“. Just because something “sounds very allegorical to you” doesn’t make it exegetically wrong especially if the NT uses “the sword” in this way. (I don’t want to get into a debate about hermeneutics but I don’t accept a purely grammatical approach to Scripture. I don’t have tell you that the NT uses OT as allegory often, therefore if the allegorical interpretation is biblical I think it’s legitimate. Besides who wrote the hermeneutical “rules” anyhow, does the Bible make its own rules of interpretation or are the rules of exegesis to be only made by modern men whose presuppositions are controlled by modern scientific approaches to literature)

Lastly on your comment

“do I spend as much time sharing the Gospel with the lost as arguing theology with people”

I would never turn the question around and ask you how much time you have spent watching the Twins or the Vikings or how much time is spent watching television, or spent fishing or even how much time you spend with your family on trivial things like taking your young children to the zoo when there are people going to hell. To ask these questions and pit priorities against each other would be unfair and ridiculous and I would never do such a thing and yet many zealously evangelistic Christians do this kind of thing.

Your comment, supposes that I spend too much of my time arguing theology and not enough time caring about the lost. Basically too much polemics are a big waste of time considering there are people going to hell. For goodness sake Steve, I work at a theological institution, what would you rather me be doing at my lunches than using the opportunity to grow in my understanding of the truth? You were able to spend a significant time in the classroom and in books while your wife worked so you could work these truth issues out yourself. I however, given the fact that I have to work full time, use the opportunities to grow in my understanding seeing if my understanding is correct. I do this by allowing others to challenge me and I them. Much of what I believe today, both what I believe, and don’t believe have been forged by the arguments made there. Much of this I have brought to our church with the purpose of strengthening and encouraging the believers there to walk more seriously with the Lord.

Besides, most of what you have seen of my life is the time I spend at lunch or break at TEDS. Away from TEDS I’m a very busy man for the kingdom. (I feel like a fool having to defend myself) I have preached the Gospel to the lost, I have spent hours and hours discipling people, leading Bible studies, teaching our people how to evangelize, strengthening the family ministry at our church (so fathers take the role seriously and disciple their children). I do all this to strengthen the church for the long run to build up her members so that they will be fully equipped to bring the Gospel in their area and realm of life.

Also, I have spent a small percentage of my time laboring in the American Heritage Party (which is an explicitly Christian Party) trying to work for the continued and future liberty of the Church to preach the gospel. (if you’d like to see why I think it’ll make a difference in the long run please visit www.midwestahp.wordpress.com)

I ask what Army raises “recruitment issues” to such a level that it spend very little time building up its personnel for the fight just so she will be mowed down easily, even if she has large numbers. Yet this is what I feel I am being accused of, not raising “recruitment issues” high enough.

You say, I do not have the right to call your view of the Gospel myopic – maybe so, but I would say the same to you, you do not have the right to imply that my particular laboring or that of my brethren who fight the political fight are spending time on “things that simply matter very little” for the kingdom.

You say: “think about it Lar”

I have, and when it comes to the Gospel… I think big, long term and multi generational.

In Peace and Friendship,

Lar

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3 Responses

  1. lAR,

    Good post! Athanasius during the Arian controversy was criticized for being too concerned about the formulation of the deity of Christ. The majority at the time simply wanted a compromise to satisfy both sides but Athanasius insisted on a creed that would establish a divide. He was persecuted for it too. If he wasn’t so theologically concerned as your friend seems to be groups like the Mormons and JW’s would not be heretical. The Church would and could allow any theology without challenge. It really concerns me when Christians think theological issues are wastefull and irrelevent to the gospel and Church. Athanasius is only one of the many examples that have helped shape the Church into a stronger body that stands as a witness to the world. In time it will only grow stronger..
    keep it up Lar.

    Matt

  2. Lar,

    You once again that you have shown that you have not understood the point I was making. You had stated that you were interested in dialog. Dialog involves interaction and understanding. You have failed on both fronts.

    Additionally my comments are based on a wider context than your own post. We are in the midst of an election and many people are discussing various political issues.

    You may not believe this, but I do read other blogs and I do interact with other people on this issue. You have seriously misrepresented my view on this. If you had read the comments on my post concerning the issue of abortion you would see that I do not advocate abandoning the political realm.

    Lar it is arrogance that leads you to believe that you understand my view when you have not even discussed it with me.

    I have known you for six years Lar and this is the same pattern that I have seen in you in numerous other conversations. It is also the reason that I quite having these ‘discussions’ with you while I was at TEDS and it is why these will be my last comments on this subject with you.

    I would also caution you against slandering my name by misrepresenting me. One day you will stand before the LORD and give an account.

  3. Steve,

    Here is an apology and a little more context, please read and please respond.

    “my comments are based on a wider context than your own post” I understood this, however maybe I just don’t see clearly enough how much I offended you, I don’t have your perspective that I was doing you some harm (that is the nature of written dialog on email or blogs) Please forgive me. I am very stirred inside when it comes to these “political” issues and I am sorry if I reacted and my reaction “slandered your name” . Honestly Steve I don’t know why if I “assumed” something about your position you just didn’t graciously and simply just clarify instead of getting defensive. You seemed to have done this with the others on your post why not with me? (BTW I did read your other comments on the post but still felt we needed to go a little deeper into the issue which was my intension) Blogs are totally 2 way so I don’t know what you are talking about that I have “failed on both fronts” why didn’t you just clarify even more?

    Your caricature of me in this last entry is very harsh, hurtful, and slanderous as well. You directly said a lot of “personal” things about me here which are not just a simple misunderstanding and then called God’s final judgment on my head.

    You know me well enough to know I would never deliberately misrepresent or slander you, you are my brother. I honestly was just trying to elevate the “political” issues to a level equal to “evangelism” simply that….

    What you don’t know is that you had touched on an issue that I was thinking about and wrestling over for the last month but I had writers block (this explains my basic blog absence in May) I was going to write about this exact topic because as I mentioned in my Political laboring with the AHP I have been frustrated with this exact issue “the gospel vs politics” So many evangelical pastors I talk to just outright reject Politics in the name of evangelism. (a friend of mine Kent from Dixion Illinois has experienced the same kind of thing from every single Pastor in Dixion (he personally spoke with each of them)

    This thing is a timing issue. You just so happened to be the inspiration (and maybe you felt like the target) on this issue to get me over my writers block.

    Sorry for the offense, (let me know if I you would like some public aplogy on your blog I will gladly submit)

    Hopefully still friends,

    Lar

    BTW My post on the California supreme court was intended to raise the issue of a need for an alternitive party to the republicans (I posted the same at the midwestahp blog at the same time) I should have said more carefully that was my intention.

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