Calling All Activists

In case the buzz has worn off as of late, and you need yet another religio-cause to get you going, try the Manhattan Declaration.  Join drafters Chuck Colson, Robert P. George and Timothy George as well as signers like J.I. Packer, Tim Keller and Albert Mohler to let the world know what’s what–in a nice way, of course, maybe with some tears. If your own house isn’t in order, don’t let that stop you. You’re good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you.

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54 Responses to Calling All Activists

  1. Todd says:

    oh brother – Christians are so goofy – this stuff just makes non-Christians laugh

  2. reformedmisfit says:

    “oh brother – Christians are so goofy – this stuff just makes non-Christians laugh”

    Todd, hate to break it to you, but your theistic beliefs make them left just as hard, if not more so.

    Since when did “two kingdoms” get reduced to self pride (self-delusion?) about not making non-Christians laugh.

    I bet Todd would think that 8200 people signing on to the Westminster Confession of Faith Project would be a good thing. However, I could see some blogs laughing at the matter, pointing out how those confessions “just make non-Christians laugh.”

    Todd, your comment gave away the farm. If you’ve read your Hart, you sound *just like* the Evangelicals two-kindomers are supposed to demarcate themselves from.

  3. reformedmisfit says:

    “make them left just as hard”

    er

    make them LAUGH just as hard

  4. scottw says:

    Dr. Hart’s friends at FPR seem to like it. http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/?p=7247

  5. Todd says:

    I have no idea what you are talking about (what farm?), and it seems you have no idea what I am talking about either.

  6. Zrim says:

    So do they at pomo First Things. Seems Constantinianism is an equal opportunity affliction. Go religion!

  7. GAS says:

    This will be interesting to see how this thing plays out. While I agree in principle with the 1st and 3rd sections the 2nd section is a mess.

    They would have done better if they had a section on covetousness and how governmental policies are engaging in and promoting covetousness.

    If this Health Care monstrosity passes there will be real opportunities to resist the evil perpetuated upon us.

  8. Zrim says:

    They would have done better if they had a section on covetousness and how governmental policies are engaging in and promoting covetousness.

    How would that line up with:

    “As Christians, we take seriously the Biblical admonition to respect and obey those in authority.”

    How can one at once respect and obey civil authorities and morally exhorting said authorities? I can see disagreeing, and I can even see voicing disagreement. But isn’t disagreement different from morally exhorting? And how does one morally exhort another when the former has no jurisdiction to do so, but in fact is in the position of being under the latter’s authority?

  9. Todd says:

    What is goofy to me is that every few years American Christians come out with “statements” to show the world how united we are for good conservative values.

    The longer you’ve been around, the more silly these seem. Anyone remember the “pledge of virginity” until marriage from the Why Wait campaign? Ended up more than half the teens who signed ended up abandoning their pledge.

    Then Promise Keepers assured women of America that real men loved Jesus and men even signed a covenant to guarantee they would be good husbands. Now that should make all you women feel good about us; we signed our names after all!

    What else – oh yes, back in the 90’s churches of all stripes came up with a statement and plan to cut the divorce rate in America. How’d that go?

    And I am sure black people of America feel much better about us when we promote a statement apologizing for slavery (whatever that means).

    By the way, it is fascinating that the signers of this latest statement, some of them very good and sound Christians, cannot make a clear statement on justification, because so many signers disagree on sola fide, but we are all sure the government should not give gays the right to marry – that we can all agree on.

    (Boy, am I in a snickery mood tonight)

    And what ever happened to not practicing your righteousness before men, and when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet (Matt 6:1&2). Why do we need to brag of all the good we have done for society?

  10. Zrim says:

    Todd,

    I feel you.

    At the same time, to the extent that these things are good examples of “the world setting the church’s agenda” (liberalism’s old slogan), I wonder if there may not be as much worldly har-haring as we might think.

  11. Todd says:

    Zrim,

    It seems an American phenomenon to believe cross-denominational public statements are what changes people’s perception of the church, though I’d prefer life over statements any day.

  12. Let’s hope that this healthcare monstrity, if it gets passed, will merely be perpetrated on us rather than perpetuated on us…

  13. joe branca says:

    Obviously, these men have deemed such a statement worthwhile based on their survey of things. But I would love the opportunity to ask them directly (drafters or signers) what exactly they are hoping to accomplish with this, and how they think the statement will accomplish it. As men who devote themselves to the study of God’s Word, they have to know the dissonance between these sorts of things and the whole tenor of say the apostolic mission. For example at every turn, Paul whether speaking to the social elite or common folk or civil magistrates, preached the resurrection of Christ and the hope of *eternal* life. As ministers of the Gospel, I haven’t noticed any sidetracking going on with contemporary matters, unless I’m missing something.

    j

  14. sean says:

    Wow, you can almost feel the distinctives of the faith vanish into the ether. Yet another thing to get lambasted for in the next homily for my apathy and lack of christian character. Woohoo. The room gets smaller and smaller

  15. bs says:

    20,000+ new signers today alone (11/23). As for the Manhattan Project, I wonder if scoffers-at-large do so because they think those behind it and those that sign it are just goofy. Or are they savvy enough to conclude that those backing the project are misguided in thinking that Christianity somehow owns the three principles they’ve founded the project on?

    In reality, I suspect the scoffers are few. I believe that this sort of things stays so far below the cultural radar that its visibility is in the statistical noise. Other than a lot of high-fiving from the choir, I’d venture that the most it gets is a big yawn.

  16. Todd says:

    bs,

    Yes, yawn is actually a better description than laugh. And goofy may have not been the most erudite response I could have come up with, but I certainly think the statements are worthless, and as for the people who get all excited over the latest “statement” thinking it carries great weight with unbelievers, goofy may work after all.

  17. GAS says:

    If you want to take a hyper-literalist application then you need to head to Rome because the Reformation was a farce.

    I think your old fundy hermes are showing.

    Who said it?

    “We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him, let us not pay the least regard to it,”

  18. Zrim says:

    Really? My self-proclaimed fundies (IFCA folk) put up the same protests you do. They love stuff like ECT and the Manhattan Declaration. And the only thing that keeps them from Rome is low-church bigotry.

    John Calvin said it.

  19. GAS says:

    No, the Romanists and Fundies share the fact that they wish the government would enforce laws against personal immoralities.

    The Reformed position has always been that the Ten Words is the framework under which government should be framed and the Ten Words do not address personal immoralities so much as it restricts harm to others.

    So in that respect the Manhattan Declaration goes off the farm with regards to Marriage. What two consenting adults agree to is not a prohibition under the Ten Words. Thus we should not resist the government if it allows people the liberty to freely form their own associations.

    Covetousness, and her ugly sister Egalitarianism, are prohibited under the Ten Words. Clearly this present government is endorsing covetousness through governmental policies and these policies can rightfully be resisted.

    In particular, if the Health Care bill passes with the provision that makes it a requirement that everyone must pay into it then I believe it is the Chrisitian duty to resist that law.

  20. Zrim says:

    GAS,

    I’m afraid I don’t follow how the Decalogue makes a distinction between personal immoralities and harm to others. That seems pretty tortured. I’m also not sure it’s fair to suggest that the Romanists and Fundies are simply being petty. But, like so many related projects, this one goes off the rails not by being petty but by confusing the kingdoms.

    So, tell me, if resistance is “Christian duty,” and I participate in socialized health care should I be brought up for discipline? I already happily participate in socialized education (and I really like my socialized bookstore and plumbing options). But I think it better to conceive of Christian duty as attending the means of grace, its resistance being grounds for discipline. I’m not saying this is you, but I find it curious how often those predisposed to calling cultural non/activities as “Christian duties” also latitudinarian on cultic ones like, say, baptism. It’s my “Christian duty” to not employ socialized education (or health care, etc.), but they can withhold baptism from their children. Then they get huffy when when it is suggested that they aren’t behaving christianly.

  21. GAS says:

    I’m afraid I don’t follow how the Decalogue makes a distinction between personal immoralities and harm to others. That seems pretty tortured.

    Tortured? That’s been the Reformed position since the 17th century. I don’t believe you’ll find anything in the Decalogue that saying anything about drinking, chewing, or dating girls who do.

    I’m also not sure it’s fair to suggest that the Romanists and Fundies are simply being petty.

    It is not a question of petty but rather the role of government. It is to make a theological decision that the role of government is limited to it’s role of protecting you from direct harm from others not some indirect harm that you may perceive.

    But, like so many related projects, this one goes off the rails not by being petty but by confusing the kingdoms.

    That’s merely begging the question.

    So, tell me, if resistance is “Christian duty,” and I participate in socialized health care should I be brought up for discipline?

    Not necessarily. Your Pastor should sit down with you and discuss the evils of covetousness and see where your conscience lies and open your eyes to your contribution to covetousness.

    But I think it better to conceive of Christian duty as attending the means of grace, its resistance being grounds for discipline.

    That’s certainly included.

    I’m not saying this is you, but I find it curious how often those predisposed to calling cultural non/activities as “Christian duties” also latitudinarian on cultic ones like, say, baptism.

    But those folk are of the moralist persuasion in both their theology and political philosophy. If their theology is moralists then the sacraments are empty symbols to be used for pedagogical purposes only or in the Romanists case as a shot of grace to help the moralist cause. Because moralism is the ground of all their doing they generally lack the knowledge of grace.

  22. Zrim says:

    First, I think there is a difference between personal morality and personal holiness; I understand murder to be both a personal immorality and a public crime. Second, I don’t recall anything in these sorts of projects that suggests Fundies/Romanists are concerned for personal holiness or matters indifferent.

    To those who hold to the spirituality of the church, Scripture doesn’t bear a blueprint for the philosophy of government. There are lots of perfectly legitimate and different ways to order public and political life.

    “So, tell me, if resistance is “Christian duty,” and I participate in socialized health care should I be brought up for discipline?”

    Not necessarily. Your Pastor should sit down with you and discuss the evils of covetousness and see where your conscience lies and open your eyes to your contribution to covetousness.

    Yes, I get that counsel precedes discipline. So, what you are saying is that participating in socialized health care (or education) is tantamount to carrying on with my sister-in-law. Both are sin and both require counsel. And if counsel doesn’t take then discipline follows. But I make a distinction between these things, such that my adultery is grounds for discipline but letting the gov’t pay for my catheter isn’t.

    And what you’re also saying is that not attending the means of grace is tantamount to electing to publicly educate my children and how I elect to get healthcare. Presumably, checking out a book at the local library, or socialized bookstore, or flushing my toilet into socialized pipes, are also the same as withholding baptism from my children. But, again, it seems to me that unless we make important distinctions between cultic and cultural activities all we’re saying is that the fall never really happened.

  23. GAS says:

    But I make a distinction between these things, such that my adultery is grounds for discipline but letting the gov’t pay for my catheter isn’t.

    Presumably, checking out a book at the local library, or socialized bookstore, or flushing my toilet into socialized pipes, are also the same as withholding baptism from my children.

    I find it curious that you’re willing to make distinctions on how Christian behavior is regulated within the Church but you seem to conflate all secular governmental actions as the same thing.

    Are public sewer systems a means to redistribute wealth or is it a common good? If you are opposed to public sewer systems you could find property in which you could install your own septic system and no one forces you purchase property that requires a public sewer system.

    The problem with the health care proposal is that while an argument could be made for public good the arguments made by it’s proponents are actually arguments of coveteousness about how the rich are taking advantage of the poor and money must be taken from the rich so the poor can have what the rich have. Those same arguments are not made about sewer systems.

    So the same distinctions we make in Church we should as citizens be aware of secular distinctions and when the government openly endorses covetousness then it is our duty as Christians to openly oppose this evil.

  24. Zrim says:

    GAS,

    I don’t understand why you can’t just say you disagree with the proposed health care initiatives instead of having to talk about it being “evil and ungodly.” That’s just old-fashioned overstatement. Why can’t you just make sane arguments about the “redistribution of wealth” versus “common good” without suggesting what God thinks about it all. He simply hasn’t spoken on any of it–why do you presume to speak on his behalf? If what you suggest isn’t the politicizing of faith I’m not sure what is.

    But maybe I can escape persecution by having an Outhouse instead of socialized pipes?

  25. GAS says:

    I don’t understand why you can’t just say you disagree with the proposed health care initiatives instead of having to talk about it being “evil and ungodly.” That’s just old-fashioned overstatement. Why can’t you just make sane arguments about the “redistribution of wealth” versus “common good” without suggesting what God thinks about it all. He simply hasn’t spoken on any of it–why do you presume to speak on his behalf?

    Ahhh…but he did speak about covetousness and we are allowed to speak about what God spoke about… and he did call it evil.

    But maybe I can escape persecution by having an Outhouse instead of socialized pipes?

    I doubt you can escape persecution but at least you can live by your regenerated conscience.

  26. Zrim says:

    GAS,

    My point isn’t that covetousness isn’t a sin or that we can’t speak after God in calling it sin. My point is that it is not altogether obvious that socialized medicine is covetousness. It’s one thing to say that sin clings to everything we do (filthy rags, etc), but it’s another to say how anyone decides to make public policy is in direct violation of the moral law. The same moralist argument could be made against free market capitalism, but I’m not persuaded. God has spoken clearly on what we may do in our minds and bodies, but he has not spoken on whether we should have kings or presidents, nor if presidents how how they should solve questions of public policy.

    But I feel your pain. I’d like more people to see how the pro-life movement makes the world safe for idolizing life. But, tempting as it may be to wallop them over the head with divine sanction, I’m not about to accuse lifers of violating the second commandment. I’d rather argue for states’ rights, which tends to put quite a damper on the abiding tendencies for idolatry. It’s also good when engaging folks who don’t have any template for the sanctions against idolatry.

  27. John Yeazel says:

    So, explain to this confused Lutheran where this in house Reformed debate stems from (between Gas and Zrim). I am guessing that Gas is coming from a VanTilian and Kuyperian perspective bordering on Reconstructionism (or as it is sometimes put Neo-Calvinist transformationalist). Is Gas rejecting the two-kingdom theology paradigm? This all gets very confusing like the debate between Lutherans and Calvinists. I am always trying to probe for a more clear view of a reality as portrayed in the scriptures. I do not think true clarity comes until the next life.

  28. GAS says:

    My point is that it is not altogether obvious that socialized medicine is covetousness.

    I’ll grant that most people do not understand it in those terms but objectively it may still be the case. Again, if we take the same care as we do in Church distinctions with political distinctions these policies can be seen for what they are. There may be situations in which socialized health care is a common good and appropriate but in either case it takes listening to how the project is being sold. If you can read between the lines of the rhetoric it is clear that class envy is the means by which these elitists which to sell the plan. And the greater danger beyond the selling of covetousness is that these elitists will use that sin to set up a despotic regime.

    I’d like more people to see how the pro-life movement makes the world safe for idolizing life. But, tempting as it may be to wallop them over the head with divine sanction, I’m not about to accuse lifers of violating the second commandment. I’d rather argue for states’ rights…

    Why should they be two separate arguments? If your argument against the pro-lifers is valid I would think it would organically lead to your States’ rights argument.

    BTW, check out this link and have a happy time deconstructing these arguments. 😉

    http://www.magic-city-news.com/J_Grant_Swank_61/Biblical_Moralists_Defy_Government12625.shtml

  29. GAS says:

    I no more oppose the Two-kingdom theology than did Augustine who was it’s author. The Two-kingdoms can be sliced in a hundred different ways. I prefer a more organic approach as opposed to a radical separation.

  30. Zrim says:

    John,

    GAS uses slightly inflammatory language (“radical”), but I can live with the general distinction he is making. For my part, I’d rather say that he presumes that the gospel has direct and obvious bearing on the cares of this world, I don’t.

    GAS,

    Lifers might be led to states’ rights, but they aren’t satisfied with states’ rights—I am. They want to push back as hard as Roe shoved—I don’t. They can’t live with their local magistrate or any other deciding something they don’t agree with—I can. Lifers and choicers have more in common with each other than either does with statesers.

  31. GAS says:

    can’t live with their local magistrate or any other deciding something they don’t agree with—I can.

    For you personally, can you see yourself resisting the Magistrate on any issue? If the Magistrate required you to sacrifice your first-born child to Moloch would you resist that Magistrate? If so, what grounds would you resist the Magistrate?

  32. Zrim says:

    For you personally, can you see yourself resisting the Magistrate on any issue? If the Magistrate required you to sacrifice your first-born child to Moloch would you resist that Magistrate? If so, what grounds would you resist the Magistrate?

    Aside from it being the kind of hyperbolic example I find less-than-useful to sane consideration, if I were required to sacrifice to a false god that would be an act of idolatry. So I would resist such a thing just as much as I would resist being required to forsake the assembly.

    I know that many point to Acts 5:28-30 as grounds for civil disobedience, but it is really a text that calls for cultic disobedience. And it’s the one to which I would appeal to resist men and obey God in your example.

  33. GAS says:

    Sometimes hyperbolic examples are need to make some finer distinctions.

    In this case you base your grounds of resistance on the Decalogue, particularly the law against idolatry however broad or narrow you define idolatry.

    Of course you could have used the law against murder but you have already made clear that you do not believe that resistance is proper for that violation.

    Since you have chosen one law over another law as a more proper form of resistance is idolatry the only law on which one could resist the Magistrate or are there any other laws which one could use to resist the Magistrate?

    I would assume you would use a narrow definition of idolatry when resistance is proper. How narrow that definition is up for question. If the Magistrate required you to plant trees because the Magistrate believes that trees are gods and requires all citizens to plant trees as a form of worship to those gods would you resist the Magistrate?

  34. Wout says:

    GAS seems to think socialized medicine is sin because of covetousness. In my democratic country we benefit from socialized medicine and I believe it is very much in tune with the second great commandment–love your neighbour as yourself. Therefore it is far from sin. Anti socialized medicine advocates are coming at it from a political point of view rather than a Christian one.

    I am a Canadian Christian, but I do think I know that I am in one kingdom as a Canadian and another kingdom as a Christian. Would that all Christian citizens of all countries could see the difference.

    The Manhattan declaration appears to put a Christian veneer on issues that many non and anti Christians agree with. A purely political statement without the religious trappings would be more honest.

    By the way, after more than six years of same sex marriage in my Province, Christians are still free to preach the gospel–how is that possible eh?

  35. GAS says:

    Wout,

    Is it really loving for the government to steal from one person and give it to another? True love would demand that the gift would be a voluntary act instead dictated by the government. With the government now taking responsibility for charity it leaves you without the actual involvement in the act of charity; disassociated from those actually in need.

    None of this gets into the fact that the quality of the health care actually diminishes because it becomes just another beaurcratic function in which people become mere statistics as wards of the State instead of the personal relationship between a patient and a physcian.

    Which of these systems is more loving?

  36. Zrim says:

    In this case you base your grounds of resistance on the Decalogue, particularly the law against idolatry however broad or narrow you define idolatry.

    Of course you could have used the law against murder but you have already made clear that you do not believe that resistance is proper for that violation.

    I’ll use the law against murder, I suppose, if you can give me a realistic scenario where the magistrate requires me as a private citizen to actually murder someone. But the larger point here is to suggest that idolatry is at least as scandalous as murder, if not more so. Both un/believers alike agree that murder is bad, but only believers idolatry is as well. In your hypothetical, my guess is that you want me to gasp at the murder. But Yahweh ordered his people to kill. I’ll grant that I am a product of my modern times, so the murder part does offend me (and I can’t imagine dashing infants’ heads against rocks). It’s a conundrum, but Yahweh doesn’t seem to have a problem so much with killing human beings as he does with idolizing other gods.

    Since you have chosen one law over another law as a more proper form of resistance is idolatry the only law on which one could resist the Magistrate or are there any other laws which one could use to resist the Magistrate?

    There are others, of course. Idolatry is but one of them. The point, again, to my answering your hypothetical is to suggest that the natural mind is more bothered by murder and the supernatural mind by idolatry. I have both a natural and supernatural mind. What should distinguish me from others who also have natural minds is my supernatural mind.

    If the Magistrate required you to plant trees because the Magistrate believes that trees are gods and requires all citizens to plant trees as a form of worship to those gods would you resist the Magistrate?

    Caesar may have thought that to pay him taxes was worship, but it’s really obedience. In the same way, he may think my obeying him and planting trees is worship, but it’s really obedience. If, like paying taxes, he wants me to plant trees, fine, give me a shovel. If he wants me to plant trees instead of go to church, not so fine.

  37. Wout says:

    So taxes are stealing? Health care is charity? People become mere statistics as wards of the state instead of the personal relationship between a patient and a physician?

    GAS, you really have no understanding of what health care is.
    It appears you really believe the right wing propaganda that we don’t have a relationship with our own physician because of government interference. I have been seeing my physician (my choice) for about 20 years. Yes, if I needed emergency surgery, it would be whatever surgeon is on call at the moment, but then would I really want to check the yellow pages to choose one if I had minutes to live.

    You are entitled to your political views of course, but do not confuse them with Christianity.

  38. John Yeazel says:

    Zrim and GAS,

    Gotcha, that is helpful- you guys explain your positions well. I am enjoying eavesdropping on your debate. The internet is good practice in helping us articulate our positions. Other than that I take the debates with a grain of salt and prefer more authoritative sources before I come to any convictions.

    Confessional Lutherans seem to take the more conservative route in their political convictions and do believe the Gospel has effects on their politics and concerns of this life (as Zrim puts it). I do not know any CL’s who would not fight against gay marriages or want to legalize marijuana though (in order to stop the drug battles going on in Mexico and Latin America). So, from what I have gathered from discussions among my fellow CL’s they would tend to lean towards GAS’s point of view. I have not developed a conviction yet and prefer to listen intently to both sides at this point. That is kind of a copeout but I have learned from the past to not jump on any bandwagon early in my reading of a particular point of view that is controversial. Zrim has a tendency to be a bit balsy at times but I enjoy his arguments nonetheless.

  39. sean says:

    John,

    There’s another way to approach this argument, that does no violence to 2k and grounds it in more biblical theological language, if you will. It’s the idea that in a post-lapsarian world particularly, our cultic obligations are add-ons and impositions upon our common(as opposed to sacred) human condition and obligations. In other words, I’m a human being before I’m a Christian. The tendency to presume upon and impose covenant obligations (i.e. the decalogue) upon our common condition, is just that, a presumption. Covenant standing and participation is privileged status not a common grace normative one. In the edenic situation cult and culture were one, in a fallen world they are seperate and identifiable spheres and as christians we straddle the kingdoms. Lots of tension in such an existence thus the distinctions between Lutherans and Reformed in how this fleshes out much less between confessing reformed folk. Anyway just my two cents.

  40. RubeRad says:

    I’ll use the law against murder, I suppose, if you can give me a realistic scenario where the magistrate requires me as a private citizen to actually murder someone.

    More relevant would be a realistic scenario where the magistrate allows me as a private citizen to actually murder someone. Like, how about a law that specifies a particular age as a lawful criterion for euthanasia. So if someone is, say, 80, then their children or doctor or whatever can kill them with impunity?

    That’s no different than legalized abortion, wherein people can be legally murdered if they meet an age criterion measured in negative trimesters.

    I guess it divides into two questions: must Christians affirm that abortion is murder? and then, must Christians civilly resist magistrates that specifically legislate that some murder is legal?

  41. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    How does one resist something that isn’t being compelled? Our magistrate doesn’t compel anyone to abortion, he just allows it. The question of abortion legislation here seems forced in order to make a point, but it falls flat. I don’t see how your two questions really follow. Yes, Christians must affirm that abortion is murder, but how do Christians resist what isn’t being forced?

  42. RubeRad says:

    One resists what is allowed by respectfully exercising whatever political means are available to disallow it. By “civilly resist” I don’t mean “civil disobedience”. The latter means to transgress the civic boundaries, and the former means to work within the civic boundaries.

    Perhaps a useful case study would be the early church practice of adopting abandoned babies (the classical form of abortion?, which is also tantamount to murder). In addition to taking these babies in and raising them, did the church “speak out” against this abhorrent cultural practice? Did they have any venue to speak out? Was there a faction of non-Christians that were already speaking out?

  43. Todd says:

    Rube,

    This is an interesting post from Al Hsu from Intervarsity that partially answers your question.

    “This past week was the annual Wheaton Theology Conference, cosponsored by InterVarsity Press. This year’s theme was “Ancient Faith for the Church’s Future,” exploring how the early church’s theology and praxis intersects with our contemporary context.

    One session that I found particularly interesting was presented by Alan Kreider of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, who talked about the early church’s approach to evangelism. In summary, the early church was not actually very “evangelistic” by our terms. The patristic literature did not emphasize the Great Commission. They didn’t have official evangelists, missionaries or mission boards. They did not have exhortations to evangelism (though they had exhortations to martyrdom!). They did not have prayers for the conversion of pagans, though they had prayers asking for God’s help to love their pagan neighbors and enemies. And in certain eras, church worship was actually closed to visitors, with deacons at the door serving as bouncers, restricting entrance to the unbaptized. Not the most seeker-sensitive approach to ministry!

    And yet the early church grew and grew and grew, even without intentional evangelistic strategy or ministry. How? By being the most attractive community in the Roman Empire. The early Christians rescued abandoned babies and raised them as their own. They gave dignified burials to all, regardless of economic status. They cared for the sick; instead of abandoning the cities in times of plague, they stayed and cared for the sick and dying, even if it meant their own deaths. It was said of the early Christians that “they alone know the right way to live.”

    It wasn’t until after Constantine that conversion became a matter of advantage rather than attraction, or eventually by compulsion. Only after Constantine did people reject the church on moral and ethical grounds and begin to accuse Christians of hypocrisy. Prior to that, the church was known as the people of compassion, love and peace.

    It was interesting to ponder how the church could recover that kind of pre-Constantinian attractiveness in our post-Constantinian, post-Christian, postmodern context. For those of us who have struggled with being “evangelistic,” it’s encouraging to know that the early church grew not because they were distributing gospel tracts but because they were practicing hospitality, neighborliness and social concern for the poor and marginalized. That still seems to me to be a prophetic countercultural stance in today’s context. “

  44. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    It still seems like pounding square pegs into round holes. I think this is because you fundamentally equivocate between the categories “compel” and “allow.” And doing so with “respect” doesn’t help much.

    But I think when you say “resist” you mean “disagree.” And I think Todd’s quote is, well, awesome. It seems to suggest that there was a lot more quiet living according to a dignified principle and scarce a trace of ignoble public indignation. Their polity may not have allowed for much speaking out, but I think the point is that even if they did, they would be much more inclined to swipe babies off exposure heaps than spend inordinate amounts of resources disciplining the world. The challenge for modern believers actually might be to resist our polity’s allowance to be morality police and simply mind our own business while also showing compassion to all men.

    Score the Mennonites 50K observation points.

  45. RubeRad says:

    being the most attractive community in the Roman Empire

    That sounds a lot to me like “preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary”.

    I don’t see where you get the distinction that Christians are only concerned when there are laws that compel evil, but when laws specifically allow and protect evil, it’s none of the Christian’s business. Doesn’t compassion and love for neighbor mean protecting neighbors from evil not just reactively, but proactively and preventitively?

  46. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    One of the problems with what you seem to be suggesting is that if our mission is to be concerned for being proactive about what evil is allowed and protected is that there is a lot out there that is allowed and protected. Unless you are willing to draw a line, the workload becomes unbearable to say the least (and you make the world safe for transformationism). If you are willing to draw a line, well, then it would seem that some evil may be allowed and protected but others mayn’t and what is allowable likely just reflects your own particular socio-politics or worldview.

    Why not be satisfied with policing our own internal borders with regard to evil behavior?

  47. GAS says:

    Let’s see. The government compels you to pay taxes so it can turn around and give it to a woman to kill her child. You’ve been compelled to pay for an abortion.

  48. GAS says:

    Wout,
    I’ll promise not to believe the right wing propaganda if you promise not to swallow hook, line, and sinker the socialist god of government.

    In the mean time please tell your Canadian citizens to stop coming to the US for needed medical care because the Canadian system is so bad. Canadians have stolen the US capital in medical care, that which was developed and initiated by hardworking Americans, that which the Canadians benefited without their efforts. That’s stealing no matter how you want to spin it. The reason Americans lead the world in health care is because of the Free Enterprise system and the rewards these researchers will garner from their hard work. Take that away from Americans and the whole world can rejoice in sub-standard medical care.

    The old adage still applies: Making everyone equal (in income, health care, etc…) will make everyone equally poor.

  49. Zrim says:

    GAS,

    Others might say that, in the same way, I was also compelled to drop bombs on Iraqi civilians. But I find these arguments really quite contrived and not much more than thinly veiled political disagreements, overstatements designed to incite rather than persuade. Taxes go for lotsa stuff we’d rather it not as individuals–that comes with the territory of being a citizen.

    But wouldn’t it be nice if taxes worked like tithing, where the cause is announced ahead of time? If the cause is evangelism or mercy, loose offering. If it’s for Christian schools, general fund envelope.

  50. Wout says:

    GAS, calm down.

    It appears you cannot stop repeating propaganda.
    As I indicated before, you are entitled to your political views, but please realize they have nothing to do with Christianity. You seem to be stuck on the idea of “theft” in the area of taxes. I don’t think anyone likes taxes, but most people realize they are a necessity if we are to live in a regulated society rather than anarchy.

    Yes, some Canadians do go to the US for medical care, and I have no wish to denigrate your system. However, a local specialist spent a year working in the US and returned home as he was so upset by seeing people with untreated conditions that could have been treated easily with some medical care if they had had access to it. By the way, one of his patients here travelled across the continent to be treated by him–the patient was a physician with the Mayo clinic.

    Lastly, I worship the one true triune God of Christianity, not the “socialist god of government”.

  51. Todd says:

    Wout,

    You are a breath of fresh air

  52. GAS says:

    John,

    The Reformed borrowed off the capital of the Lutherans in their development of the rights to resistance and other rights. Beza and others used the Magdeburg Confession as their beginning template. Thank God for the Lutherans and their resistance to the Romanists.

    But 500 years later we have lost the memory of how these rights were developed and the sacrifice of those who stood for them. Now, like old Israel, we’ve forgotten the Exodus and allowed the pagan nations to take influence. The new prophets tell us to calm down and stop thinking so much about those old stories of the Exodus and just get along with the pagan nations. Go ahead and sacrifice your child to molech, the new prophets tell us, and you can still practice the old religion at the same time.

    Well we know how that ended up. I don’t know what Providence has in store but from a natural point of view if the families of the Exodus have lost their memory exile is sure to follow.

  53. John Yeazel says:

    Interesting response GAS- I have not made up my mind about this yet but there does seem to be some chinks in the 2K armor that cause me some concern. The issue with the Muslims is one concern and with some of the more other aggressive power brokers like the aggressive new atheists who seem to be seeking to take over the public square and whom the 2Kers do not seem that concerned about. It would be nice if the various groups in the culture would cooperate with each other for the greater good with the use of natural law and reason but that may be a pipe dream. I do like the fact that 2k theology gives us a greater platform to dialog with other groups without them having to think we are trying to “convert” them. I also like Darryl Hart’s idea of getting conversion language out of our vocabulary. I think this is more of a Lutheran idea then a Calvinistic idea if you look at its roots. There is a difference between sacramental language and conversion language. I just read a excellent article about that at Issues, etc which should be must readingFaith Alone: Luther & Calvin

    Dr. Phillip Cary of Eastern University

    right-click here, or…

    Space
    Further Resources & Reading:

    * Sola Fide: Luther and Calvin by Dr. Phillip Cary
    Click the article Sola Fide by Phillip Cary

  54. GAS says:

    John,

    I agree it will be a matter of agreement on Natural Law issues and can we come to terms on those issues even if the different parties come from different starting points. If our neo-2K friends are willing to give up liberty of conscience then we have already lost the war.

    I’ll check out your link. Thanks.

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