Cal Thomas, commenting on Pat Robertson's resignation from the Christian Coalition (Dec. 11, 2001, "Second death of religious politics," Oklahoman), seems to take strange delight in what he believes is the demise of that organization. He characterizes that group's efforts as another failed "marriage between church and state." "There is no biblical mandate," Thomas claims, "…for reforming the world through government." Both assertions are distortions of what some thoughtful Christians were trying to do.
What Is the Christian Coalition?
The Christian Coalition is not an attempt to unite church and state or to reform the world through civil government, but an effort to elect more Christians to office and to influence law-making in a moral way. If civil government is a ministry of God, as stated in Romans. 13, why shouldn't Christians be trying to influence government? It is strange that Thomas, a Christian, would oppose this in view of the many left-wing pressure groups who exert enormous liberal, non-Christian influence on government. His argument is unbiblical.
Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ "is Lord of Lords and King of kings" (Rev. 17:14) and is "the ruler of the kings of the earth" (Rev. 1:5) who are instructed to submit to Him (Ps. 2:10-12). He is to be "pre-eminent in all things" (Col. 1:13-18) which includes the cultural, political, and legal spheres. Christians are to be "salt and light" to the culture (Mt. 5:13, 14) and exercise dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). Jesus' Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20) is an extension of this cultural mandate. There, Jesus said, "All power is given … me in Heaven and in earth." He said to not just disciple all nations, but also to teach them to observe His commands. Does Thomas want to limit Christ's rule?
In His parable of the pounds (Lk. 19:12-27), Jesus describes the nobleman, who is actually the Lord, telling His servants, before leaving for a far country: "Occupy till I come." "Occupy" means to take possession. Jesus is saying that His people should occupy, or take possession, here until He returns. They are to pull down ungodly strongholds, of which there are many (2 Cor. 10:4, 5).
Thomas-type thinking has spawned a disobedient church which has become so culturally irrelevant that one writer said, "The Church surrenders the world to the enemy and retreats into defeat as though it were victory." Instead of studying his Bible, Thomas appears to be heeding the many clergymen who preach as if man is only a soul to be saved and treat the Bible as solely a roadmap to Heaven. They incessantly stress that one is saved not by works, but by redeeming grace (which I believe), while neglecting to preach that Christians are to show their faith by and glorify God through good works (Mt. 5:16; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Jas. 2:18). Do they fear the brethren might somehow work too hard for the Lord?
Such preachers are too spineless to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort" (2 Tim. 4:2), to preach against sin and about the great moral issues of the day, but instead provide a weekly serving of pap and warm fuzzies calculated to make the brethren feel good about themselves. They lack the courage and/or knowledge to tell why abortion, homosexuality, pornography, feminism, big government, etc. are Biblically wrong. It was, in fact, just such neglectful and unfaithful preaching that first created the need for the Christian Coalition.
Christendom must return to the courageous, righteous, and faithful preaching of the Colonial period which did so much to establish the foundations of American liberty. Alice Baldwin, in The New England Clergy and the American Revolution, states that the clergy preached resistance to England's tyranny and taught, as did Founder Noah Webster, that Christianity is the basis of civil liberty. For eighty-five years prior to the War for Independence, they preached that God's and Christ's laws did not concern spiritual matters alone, but affected politics as well and were "a part of every constitution and no ruler is permitted by God to violate them." Baldwin concludes that the 1787 constitutional convention and the Constitution itself "were the children of the pulpit."
Had the colonial preachers been as timid as some of today's clergy, America would still be subservient to the Crown. The brave and righteous Colonial preachers obviously subscribed to (and so should modern clergy) this bold teaching of Martin Luther:
"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the Devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however, boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."
It was in part because of such preaching that George Washington said that, "Religion and Morality" were indispensable supports to "political prosperity"; that America's first Chief Justice John Jay said it was the duty "of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers"; and that Justice Joseph Story wrote that Christianity was the great basis of our Republic and that Christianity "ought to receive encouragement from the State."
As the church began surrendering the culture and government to the Left, government started on the road to tyranny through unconstitutional orders, adjudications, and legislation. As a result, liberal lawyer Leo Pfeffer gleefully proclaimed that the godless religion of secular humanism now permeates every institution, both private and public, in America.
Thomas' theology is the politics of total surrender of the culture and government to the ungodly. This can be avoided only by preachers not shunning to preach "the whole counsel of God" (Ac. 20:27) and His laws, by the faithful efforts of righteous and courageous parents, teaches, elected officials, and judges. Thomas is right on one point: the Religious Right can't save America. However, God can and Christians are His soldiers.
- William D. (Bill) Graves
Bill Graves is an Oklahoma City lawyer and a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.