There are a couple of posts from Nick Gill’s Fumbling Towards Eternity blog that I just have to mention (now that he’s stopped changing the font color so much 🙂 ).
First, Nick’s post on a narrative reading of the scriptures is particularly good, because he gives such a straightforward, understandable explanation a concept I find hard to explain. I’ve not said much on the subject, but it’s important.
Earlier, Nick provides an all-too-brief conversation on political participation by Christians, with a particularly intriguing comment by Tim Archer, who also comments here frequently —
Let us not forget that “be good citizens” is NOT in the Bible. I’ve heard that phrase mentioned many times over the years in reference to what the Bible teaches, yet the only reference to our citizenship is our allegiance to another kingdom. The Philippians were proud of their Roman citizenship, which they had by birth, so Paul wrote to them: “But our citizenship is in heaven…”
(Philippians 3:20) Note the contrast. Some have their minds set on earthly things, Paul says, but our citizenship is in heaven.
There is no call to participate in society as it is. I daresay Paul would shudder at such a statement. What we seek from secular government is to be left alone, to be able to lead quiet lives and preach the gospel. (1 Timothy 2:1-4) Can you imagine early Christians participating in Roman politics, joining the Roman army, swearing loyalty to the Roman empire? Why should our lives be so different from theirs if we seek to restore what they once were?
A man may choose to participate in American politics, but it is not because of any biblical obligation.
I’m still pondering the question: should Christians pledge allegiance to the flag and the republic for which it stands? You see, if I’m not misreading him, Tim’s comment gives rise to a certain irony. There are three plausible positions on the Pledge of Allegiance —
* One could argue for the traditional Pledge, particularly the assertion that the nation is “under God,” as is very Biblical.
* One could argue that the state should not ask people to make a theological pledge at all. (Christian lawyers have argued before the Supreme Court that the “under God” should stay as it’s mere ritual Deism, and so not really theological, hence trying to win by surrendering. Wouldn’t it be better to argue that it means something — a lot! — and suffer defeat? It’s like arguing that a monument to the Ten Commandments can stay on public land because nobody’s going to read them, much less obey them.)
* One could argue that Christians should promise allegiance only to God.
The public debate has been between the first two positions, with the ritual Deism argument likely to carry the day (is that really winning?) But the third position is not without weight. I’m not quite ready to advocate it, but it bears careful thought. I mean, no man can serve two masters, right? And we are aliens in this country, not citizens, according to Peter.
(1 Pet 2:11) Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
Obviously the answer depends on more that proof-texting, and so it bears serious thought, I think, in the larger context of just what Christians are to be about in a democracy.
And so, I commend to your reading two posts that have made me think.