Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Christian and An American?

Collin Hansen has an excellent post, Pay Your Taxes But Put Your Trust in Christ, discussing a Christian's approach to government and politics. Much of what he says is taken from a sermon given by Mark Dever. Having a clear and biblically informed understanding of citizenship is so important as we live in this world awaiting Jesus' return.

Here are some excerpts:
Lincoln Memorial
Enjoying a sunny fall day, I walked around the National Mall on Saturday afternoon. Before visiting any other favorite sites, I ascended the temple steps where Father Abraham presides on his throne over American civil religion. ......
Only three weeks earlier self-appointed political prophet Glenn Beck claimed Lincoln’s imprimatur by packing these same steps for a rally. But religious nationalists who invoke America’s greatest president never seem to understand the irony of his memory. The man who saved the Union understood that God transcends and judges it. God’s ways often surpass our understanding. We cannot manipulate him to baptize our pet causes.....  Jesus Christ didn’t robe himself in an American flag...........

I heard from senior pastor Mark Dever the best sermon I know on Christianity and government [3].......In these days of overheated rhetoric and protest rallies, I pray that evangelicals will set aside 70 minutes to listen to Dever’s sermon. Much of the wisdom expressed here echoes the forthcoming book City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era [7], written by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, with a foreword by Tim Keller. We need to hear from the best evangelical thinkers about a faithful, biblical approach to politics. Perhaps I can help the cause by summarizing four pages of notes I scribbled from Dever’s sermon.
Mark Dever
Jesus Paid Taxes
....Jesus regarded the pagan state as legitimate when he said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17). The answer stunned the Herodians and Pharisees, because whatever their differences, Israel and Rome both derived their legitimacy by divine appeals.Human government is deeply biblical.....Government is not specifically Christian, but it is good. Certainly order is better than organizing society around unfettered self-interest.......In his second point, Dever argued that no earthly kingdom can be identified with God’s people. Christians are international. With his answer, Jesus unhitched God’s people from any one government, severing the national covenant that extended all the way back to Moses. If followers of Jesus could support Rome with their taxes, which government today—no matter how corrupt—can’t Christians support? “Christians are, by God’s grace, cockroaches,” Dever said. “We can survive anything.”.....With his third and final point, Dever argued that Christians are finally accountable to God. Many remember that Jesus told the Pharisees and Heroadians, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Not so many remember that Jesus ended his teaching by saying we should render “to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
.....If Romans 13 calls Christians to obey government, then Revelation 13 illustrates what happens when the state rebels against God. No government commands the Christian’s unqualified support....
If we were ever tempted to invest our hope in the state, we should remember that Americans live in a country where spanking children is suspect but aborting children is okay. ....
Let us give to God what is God’s, Dever exhorted. Everything is God’s. Let us pay our taxes. But even more, let us trust in Christ.
You can read the whole article here.

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