Politics & Faith: Should Believers be Involved?

(This is the first of a two-part article making The Case Against Christianity Today, an editorial response to retired Editor-In-Chief Mark Galli’s controversial article entitled Trump Should be Removed From Office, 12.19.19)

The typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible.

– Mark Galli, Christianity Today, Trump Should be Removed From Office, 12.19.19

Billy Graham, probably the most famous and universally respected evangelist among Christian leaders in America, began his long journey of preaching the gospel full-time shortly after World War II. As his famed crusade and passionate preaching grew, Graham became an iconic public figure; though he would tell you this was never his intention.

One of the many roles he took along the way was to provide pastoral counsel to many of our past presidents, and even candidates. At first, he did not want to seem partisan and would not openly endorse candidates. Later on in life, to the chagrin of many fundamentalists, he did endorse a candidate that did not exactly align with mainstream Christian theology.

Graham would take bold stands against many controversial culture issues that impacted our world. In the early 1950’s, he refused to continue an event if blacks were not allowed to sit or stand where they choose, rather than be separated because of their race. He opposed feminism during the movement to pass the now-defunct Equal Rights Amendment. In 1973, he openly denounced apartheid, and would not visit South Africa while the government refused to integrate seating for blacks.

Though some evangelical leaders do not condone taking an open stand on politics, one Christian leader invoked the word “coward” towards believers that chose not to be involved.

Christians involvement in politics dates back before the days of the Roman Empire. The faith-based community is led by the words of Scripture combined with the supernatural. All throughout world history, the two aforementioned entities stand diametrically opposed to the secular authority of the day. If we are to be true to our faith, we must honor our King first, then the secular king (as directed by the Word of God).

On this subject, Reverend Graham stated in an article from Newsweek that politics is secondary to the Gospel, which transcends earthly realities. “You know, I think in a way that has to be up to the individual as he feels led of the Lord.”

Reverend Billy Graham with former president Richard M. Nixon. (Photo Source: Carlos Schiebeck/AFP/Getty Images)

In 1956, Billy Graham started the evangelical publication Christianity Today (CT). It was during a time when many voices were surfacing to inform believers on how to handle the issues of the day, discuss popular topics within the faith, and to raise awareness regarding many happenings in society. This was in a day and age when there simply wasn’t many choices in media.

Over the years, CT had been viewed as a widely accepted voice for believers to rally around. However, for the better part of the 21st century, CT has demonstrated a steady departure from fundamental, or what we would call mainstream, Christian worldview.

Mark Galli, the now retired former Editor-In Chief for CT, demonstrated gall and veracity by stepping out in support of the “banana republic” house impeachment, where the vote was unanimously partisan. He then prefaces his thesis by declaring CT as a publication that “encourages all to pursue justice according to their convictions”.

As many believers displayed their disapproval for Mr. Galli’s outlandish position on this matter, the president of Christianity Today doubled-down on his support for the retired editor.

But back to the issue of politics in general…

As the late Reverend Graham demonstrated to us as believers, though your involvement in politics and issues that affect us all should be measured against our honor of Jesus and Scripture, there is nothing wrong with getting involved on some level. In fact, it is not a stretch to say that some issues (if not many) require us as followers of Christ to take a stand for or against. The greatest example of such is the matter of abortion. It is biblically and morally necessary to support the protection of the defenseless unborn. And with the stand that our leaders have taken against what God and our founding fathers put in place, there are many more issues that we must pray about and take a position in favor of our Lord.

When I decided to follow Christ in my youth, I had to make many conscientious decisions that challenged me to pick and choose which master I will serve today. It is through this process into adulthood that I began to realize if you believe what you say you do, then you must live it out in everything you do; and not just on Sunday morning or around your believing friends. This is when I was confronted by many issues that still present us with challenges that require us to take a stand.

For Mark Galli to say that support of Donald J. Trump places your beliefs in question, not only goes against what the CT founder stated, but also shows poor judgment on his part.

In Part II of this series, I will answer the question of “Are We Justified in Supporting Donald J. Trump?

Chris Gaines, Stand & Kneel

(Feature photo source: Konrad Summers, Flickr)

His Name is Jesus, but His Title is Lord.

(This is a four-article series, Jesus at Christmas, in short 2-3 min. reads, about the person of Jesus and why we need him at Christmas more than ever. We will use the Bible as the main source of truth, but call upon classic publications and authors to assist in providing answers.)

People often refer to the Savior as Jesus Christ. It’s fine. It’s what we do in America. We like to make a first and last name for people, even though some people have four names. And then if you count nicknames, the list becomes much larger.

But Jesus Christ are actually two separate names combined to make it comfortable for the person that is accustomed to introducing a person through two names.

But as we discovered thus far, Jesus was given two names at birth. But what we did not discuss yesterday were the many names used to describe Jesus through the prophets and up through the time of His days walking amongst us.

In a book by the late R. C. Sproul called Who is Jesus, we discover there are nearly endless names applied to Jesus. So many that Sproul had to dedicate one chapter to the many names, while breaking them up into categories.

“A fascinating element of the Bible is the significance that is often attached to names and titles. The names and titles for God the Father are many, and they reveal something of his character. The same is true for Jesus”

R.C. Sproul, Who is Jesus; Ch. 3 The Names of Christ

He went on to share a small list of names for Christ by a speaker at a seminary convocation. “Lord,” “Son of God,” “Son of Man,” “Son of David.” “Immanuel.” “the Word.” Just to name a few. But with each name revealed something about the character of Christ and the gravity of his role in the world.

Sproul had listed Christ as the most frequently used name for Jesus, often referring to Him as Christ Jesus. But the second most used name for Christ Jesus (Christ, meaning Messiah or one who is anointed) is the title LORD.

Sproul described how this creed became a common title used by the the community of believers, confessing “Jesus is Lord”.

“This confession was at the center of the conflict that the early church experienced with the Roman authorities. Roman citizens were required to recite publicly Kaiser kurios, “Caesar is Lord” The early Christians were deeply committed to the mandate they had received from Christ and from the Apostles to be obedient to the civil magistrate; they were careful to pay their taxes and obey the laws of the state. But one thing they would not do is ascribe to Caesar the honor that went with the term lord.

R.C. Sproul, Who Is Jesus

There were several usages of the word lord back in those days. But the most esteemed usage of the word lord, and made it a capitalized usage, were the words Yahweh and Adonai. These words were applied to the Father, but also to the Son of Man (a title Jesus ascribed to Himself to demonstrate his authority and equality with the Father)

Why are these names significant? Each title describes in greater detail who Jesus was, what he was on Earth to accomplish, what he represented to humankind, and His plan for restoring us to become part of his kingdom- a kingdom that never ends. The path and the plan to eternal salvation leads to Him and Only through Him and the work he did while here on earth. But the title “Lord” refers to how he reigns in the highest now. It also refers to his sovereignty over his people.

That sovereignty, along with a summation of Jesus’ work that lead to his designation as Lord is encapsulated in this hymn by the Apostle Paul:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:5-11

Again, I’m awestruck by the humble circumstances that Jesus was placed, and later would continue to take the role of the servant. He was here to be the sacrifice for our sins in our place. He was here to do what we were incapable of doing. He did it so that we may have life eternal. He taught us along his journey on how we should live. And ultimately, as the Pharisees, scholars, and neigh-sayers of the day challenged his words and claims, He stated his authority over all and equivalence to God the Father.

The baby born on Christmas Day that became a king, and now reigns eternally as our Sovereign Lord. But he is a Lord that does not Lord over you, as you are given free will to decide what to make of Christ Jesus. His sovereignty will never change, however.

His work here was costly. But his grace in providing what we needed is limitless.

Today, Jesus calls us and gives us the choice who we will serve. Christ did the work. All we must do is confess our sin to him and honor Him as our Lord and Savior.

This Christmas, I hope you will consider the work that baby did as he grew to become a man. But being without sin, he was the only possible sacrifice to take our place, to take upon the sin of the world, that we may be made new and live eternally with him.

My hope at Christmas is that each of you would consider Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That you would pray to Him to forgive your sins and be Lord of you life. If you hear His word today, let him into you life and you will discover the gift he left us in the form of the Holy Spirit.

If you need someone to pray with, reach out to a local church leader, a believing friend, or message me. I would be happy to pray with you. But whatever you do, if our Lord Jesus touches your heart, turn to Him and follow. His kingdom is forever. And if you accept Him as Lord, it will change your heart, mind, and life in ways you could never imagine. Merry Christmas to all. May his Kingdom Reign forever and ever!

Chris Gaines, Stand and Kneel.

(Sources: Who Is Jesus, R.C. Sproul, Ligonier Ministries, 2017)