There's No Plan B
November 2, 2020 · C.E. Carter
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
This is the mission given to the church by our Lord in His resurrected glory, after he had paid for sin on the Cross and had declared victory over sin and death by rising from the dead. This work which Christ accomplished catalyzed the redemption of all things; the work of Christ on Earth would serve from that moment forevermore as the lynchpin of redemption in history. What was left to be done was to actualize that redemption; to take ground, to conquer the nations with the message of the Gospel, with the Trinitarian baptism, and with obedience to the King who reigns in Heaven. With that as the objective, the church is Plan A, and there is no Plan B.
Part of the fuzziness that Christians are facing in our day is how to interact with politics and government. Evangelicals especially are pretty solid on the core tenets of the Gospel, but are a bit fuzzier on the implications of the matter. Broadly, “what does the Gospel mean for all of life, outside of salvation from sins?”, or more specifically right now, “how should I vote? How should I engage in politics?”, are the questions that American Evangelicalism doesn’t know how to answer, or is answering falsely. Evangelicals believe that they ought to abstain from voting for lack of Godly character on either side of the isle, that socialism is the same thing as “loving your neighbor”, that they ought to keep their Christianity out of their politics for the sake of being a good Christian witness to the world, and that they ought to embrace social justice for the sake of furthering God’s justice, and other various and sundry Evangelical civic nonsense.
Roughly, you can boil it all down to two things: that 1) Evangelicals are profoundly pietistic, meaning they value renouncing almost any role in politics for what they perceive to be an apolitical middle-way for advancing social issues (e.g. “let’s find a solution to abortion that isn’t political”), and 2) that Evangelicals are becoming more and more convinced that the apolitical middle-way is societal engagement via social justice (e.g. “this isn’t political, it’s just about loving your neighbor”). This forking confusion has come into being for the very simple reason that Evangelicals don’t understand their Bible very well, nor their role in God’s redemptive plan.
The second prong I have dealt with in previous writings, and individuals who are far more articulate and studied than me have addressed social justice for unbiblical falsehood that it is. Jeff Durbin gave a pointed sermon on it at the Fight Laugh Feast conference a few months ago that summed it up far better than I can here. So, let me attempt to kill the snake by cutting off its head, and dealing with the issue of politics as perceived by Evangelicals.
Politics, from the Greek politiká, is literally the “affairs of the cities”. Politics is not just a column on CNN, or simply the affairs of Congress and the President and (increasingly) the Supreme Court, nor is it whatever Glenn Beck happens to be spouting off in between ads on The Blaze Radio, nor is it the kind of thing somebody plays when they suggest a policy decision to stop abortion. It is far more broad; if you are involved in human affairs, you are involved in politics, whether you like it or not. Yes, to remove yourself from all human affairs in a Thoreauvian escapist “cabin in the woods” type of way is to remove yourself from politics, but it is also to remove yourself from any ability to obey God by discipling the nations. If we care about following the command of our Lord and bringing the nations to obedience to Him, so that the affairs of the cities are performed in accordance with the Law of God, we must by definition engage in politics. And further, if we want to be effective soldiers to this objective, we must be shrewd and strategic in our politics. Practically, in America, this means voting for candidates whose platforms would prohibit behavior which is not in accord with God’s Law, protect the right to gather to worship Jesus (even if there’s a mild pandemic going on), protect the right to engage in public discourse where the Gospel may be preached in the marketplace without fear of persecution, and limit government to its God-given role of punishing evildoers.
When the Gospel is preached to a city, and when a great number of people in that city are converted, that city begins to be conformed to obedience to Christ. Just as Christ has become the object of worship for that city, and just as His reign and Law become the ultimate standard for goodness and righteousness, so the politics of the city must necessarily change. Who is going to cause this great social and political reformation but Christians? Who else is going to bring all things into conformity to Christ, if we refuse to be involved in the political process at all?
The whole of the matter may be summed up in this: be Biblical, be Holy, submit to God, roll up your sleeves, preach the Gospel, and teach your disciples obedience to Christ. #NoPlanB