About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Social/Political Activism


Before you disregard this article, give it some thought.  Allow the Bible, not your national culture, to formulate your social/political positions.              


In 1978 I became interested in the American political movement called the Conservative Christian Right.  After moving to a Washington D.C. suburb in 1980, and then to Richmond, Virginia, in 1981, I activated my interest.  Inspired by visits to the headquarters of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, leaders in the movement, I became a social/political activist.  I co-ordinated the canvassing activities in the 1982 mid-term election for our local Republican candidate for congress.  Upon my return to Canada in 1984, I tried to Christianize Canada by joining the now defunct Christian Heritage Party, protesting outside of abortion clinics, and publically debating my opponents in our local newspaper.      


My parents' generation of Evangelical Christians criticized the liberal church for its social gospel.  Those in the Conservative Christian Right, including me, blamed my parents' generation of Evangelicals for the West's departure from Christian morality.


In 1988 a well-known international Bible teacher told me that if Pat Robertson won the 1988 U. S. presidential election, he would demote himself from being a preacher to being president.  Like a pitcher's fastball bouncing off a catcher's chest, his words hit me hard in the heart.  Was I preaching a social/political gospel, a different gospel, as Galatians 1:8 might put it?  Was I mistaken by thinking I could Christianize America and Canada through a humanistic social/political agenda?  Was I mixing Biblical theology with a cultural nationalism?  Was Jesus a social/political activist?  Did Paul try to Christianize the Roman Empire through social/political activism?  Was Peter preaching a social/political gospel when he told the Jews to rescue themselves from their corrupt generation (Acts 2:40)?   


I admit to my error.  There is no Biblical support for Christianizing a nation through social/political means.  It has never worked.  In Christ's name, the fourth century Emperor Constantine, the dark age of Catholicism, the sixteenth century Reformers, and others, failed miserably in their attempts to Christianize their respective cultures through social/political means.  In each case, such activism severely hurt the church.                           


The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 mandates us to Christianize individuals, not nations, and that through the preaching of the gospel, for only the gospel has the power to change a life, as Romans 1:16 states.  


"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek."


Mark 16:20 shows that this mandate is a co-operative effort between Jesus and us.  We preach the gospel and Jesus speaks to the hearts of those to whom we preach.         


"And they [the disciples] went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the accompanying signs."


If preaching a social/political gospel can be considered giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, then, preaching Jesus' gospel can be considered giving to Jesus what belongs to Jesus.  That being true, being a Jesus activist trumps being a social/political activist in our present day's Caesar culture.       


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