Increasing numbers of professing Christians are engaging
in social and political "activism" for the astonishing
purpose of attempting to coerce an ungodly society into adopting
Christian standards of conduct. "After all," they
say, "in this way we can begin to reclaim our Christian
Rescue" is one example. Its founder,
Randall Terry, explains that its purpose is to create
social upheaval and thereby pressure government into
changing the abortion laws. A typical brochure declares: "Rescues
help produce the social tension necessary for political
change ... whether for good or bad, political change
comes after groups of Americans bring enough tension
to the nation and pressure on politicians that the laws
No matter how commendable the goal of such tactics, there
is not one example in the entire Bible of political
or social "activism" ever being advocated or used
by God's people. That
fact must weigh heavily upon any consideration of this important
are numerous cases of civil disobedience in Scripture,
but it was never engaged in for the purpose of forcing
an ungodly society to obey Biblical principles.
The Hebrew midwives, for example, disobeyed Pharaoh's edict
and spared the lives of the male babies, even lying to cover
up their "rescue operation." God
was so pleased that their names, Shiphrah and Puah, have
been preserved for us (Exodus 1:15-22). This was, however,
a matter of individual conscience before God, not an
organized attempt to pressure the pagan Egyptians by mass
demonstrations into adopting Israel's God-given morals.
There are no Biblical examples to support today's "Christian
activism." Christ "suffered for us, leaving
us an example that we should follow his steps" (1
Peter 2:21). He sternly and repeatedly rebuked Israel's false
religious leaders, yet He never spoke out -- not
even once -- against the injustices of Roman civil authority!
Nor did He advocate, organize, or engage in any public protests
to pressure Rome into changing its corrupt system, or the
society of His day its evil ways. He submitted to unjust
authorities as Romans 13 tells us we should do today: "Who,
when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered,
he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth
righteously" (1 Pe. 2:21-25). No "activism" here!
So it was with the apostles and the early churches.
If "Christian activism" is God's will, Paul would
have been the first to pursue it fearlessly at whatever cost.
Yet Romans 13 tells us to obey rulers, and 1 Timothy 2:1-4
to pray for them -- not to attempt to change them by coercion.
It is not only foolish but counter-productive to attempt
to persuade the unsaved to live like Christians. They can't
do it -- and if they could it would only blind them the more
to their sin and need of a Savior.
"Christian activism" involves today the well-meaning
but foolish attempt to force "Christian principles" upon
a godless society through more effective lobbying, larger
demonstrations, and greater "social upheaval" than
the homosexuals, abortionists, or pornographers can produce.
But rather than pressure the ungodly to live like saints,
we must win them to Christ that they might live wholly for
God. As Christians, our personal lives must also be
lived in obedience to God even if that brings us into conflict
with civil laws. In addition to avoiding idolatry and immorality,
Christians must preach the gospel to everyone everywhere,
regardless of government edicts to the contrary.
There is a danger of being so caught up in the social aspect
of good causes that one forgets that the soul must be placed
before the body. The Great Commission does not involve exerting
a Christian influence upon society. We are not to "change
society," but to "convert individuals." There
is much talk today about "changing the world for Christ." In
fact, there is no Biblical teaching or example to support
that popular slogan. Rather than persuading sinners to live
like saints, we must call them to "repentance
toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts
Significant changes in society have been effected by preaching
and example. Unfortunately, changes such as the abolition
of slavery and the enactment of child labor laws, while improvements
to be thankful for, have not made society any more godly.
Nor is it any more likely under these better conditions that
a higher percentage of mankind will end up in heaven than
before. Even if such changes could be construed as "worth
working for," many who call themselves Christians have
become so absorbed in good causes that they have lost their
fervor for saving souls. They have ended up joining forces
with non-Christians who also espouse "traditional values," and
promoting a compromised "social gospel" that cannot
We must denounce sin, call for repentance, and preach the
gospel in convicting power. Yes, Christians should call for
repentance from homosexuality, child abuse, pornography,
and abortion, but we should primarily be calling for repentance
for rebellion against God and rejection of Christ. Rather
than indicting churches for their lack of "social concern," they
should be held accountable for heresies and failure to preach
the truth. We
must denounce the destructive false teachings that abound,
which is the major vehicle of so much of this evil, and root
it out of our churches, seminaries, Bible colleges, and universities.
It is hypocritical for a church to protest the world's sins
while tolerating and honoring those who preach a false gospel and
are the enemies of the cross of Christ.
Instead of protests, we need prophets who call the world
to repentance: Enochs who walk with God and warn of judgment
(Jude 14-15); Noah, "A preacher of righteousness" (2
Peter 2:5), who warned of judgment to come and built an ark
for escape. What if he had tried instead to reform society?!
We need Daniels: "Mene, Mene. Tekel. Upharsin." (Dan.
5:24-28) -- the handwriting is on the wall America! You've
been weighed in the balance and found wanting! Murdered babies,
the abomination of homosexuality, and society's flippant,
deliberate rebellion against God arouses His anger! We need
Isaiahs and Jeremiahs, who had never heard of making a "positive
confession" or of the "power
of positive or possibility thinking," but
Today we are also seeing more and more professing Christians
who want to become part of the ruling class -- they run for
political office so they can then "influence government
for Christ." They use the Old Testament examples of
Joseph, Nehemiah, and Daniel, all of whom were placed by
God in prominent positions in civil government, as justification
for political activism today. But what they fail to recognize
is that Joseph, Nehemiah, and Daniel did not run for
elective political office, but were given offices either
reserved or created for trustworthy slaves. Moreover, it
is not the calling of God's people in this dispensation to
get involved in the political process nor the functions of
civil government. We have a higher calling; our citizenship
is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). We are strangers and pilgrims
(1 Peter 2:11), sojourners, not settlers (1 Peter 1:17).
"Christian activism" is not Christian,
and represents a detour from the straight path churches are
to walk before the world. It can confuse the real issues,
lead to compromise and unholy alliances, and divert time
and effort that would better be used in proclaiming the Gospel
of repentance of sin unto salvation. Weigh the demands upon
your time and set priorities. Be fully engaged in rescuing
souls for eternity.
Adapted in part from an article published in The Berean