During the Revolutionary War, before, and during, the ongoing battles on the battlefield, there was another battle that had to be waged. Most colonists at the time thought of themselves as British citizens. To fight against the king, even if it was due to cruel behavior on his part, was actually difficult for many of them to accept. Moreover, since the founding of America, most colonists lived a better life, with a higher standard of living, than did their brethren across the ocean. To fight against the king was to jeopardize their standard of living and possibly their very souls.
Following from a biblical standpoint, most colonists thought that rebelling against the English crown would be resisting the authority established by God. Romans teaches us to submit to the authorities, and to respect those in positions of power. We see this same teaching throughout Scripture. This strand is so pervasive that Solzhenitsyn, in “The Gulag Archipelago” recounts a story about a Christian woman standing before the communists and reprimanding them for persecuting Christians, because Christians were the ones who were most likely to submit to the government and help it maintain stability. Just as was true in Russia over a hundred and fifty years later, American Christians were the most likely to be committed to the stability of the nation and submission to the government.
The only way to win the war for the hearts and souls of the colonists was from the pulpit. Thus arose preachers in the colonies who began to teach in their churches that the Revolution was acceptable before God. They showed the Christians in the pews how this Revolution was in line with Scripture, and how this was not a rebellion against God, but an attempt to raise up a government where they could be loyal to Him. The Black Robed Regiment, as they were called by the British, were warriors not on the battlefield (for the most part) but in the pulpit, waging war for the soul of the nation, wresting them away from king.
The rise of Donald Trump is a final straw in proving that we need a new Black Robed Brigade. We need pastors who are educated on how politics and the Bible intersect. We need pastors who are willing to teach, from Scripture, why their people should support certain political ideas, and fight against others. We need pastors who understand that politics inherently must have a religious underpinning.
Politics deals with the governance of mankind. To govern men, you must make assumptions about the nature of men. To govern men, you must make decisions about what is ultimately good for men. To govern men, you must make assumptions about how the good of men may be accomplished. All of these questions are the purview not of science, but of religion.
Religion answers the question of who man is. Christianity, particularly, says that man is a creature, made in the image of God, and fallen from that image. Because of the imago dei, all men are sacred and important. Racism, sexism, and any other -ism that denigrates people based on their sacred aspects, is thus forbidden. To hate another because of their sex, or because of the color of their skin, is to hate the God who made all men. This conclusion cannot be reached by scientific study or philosophical pursuit, but must be understood through the lens of religion.
The Judeo-Christian foundation of our Western Civilization teaches us that we must be governed because we are fallen. Men, left to their brute natures, would enact evil against one another. Likewise though, this is the reason our Founding Fathers organized a limited government. Government is made up of people, and thus, as government gets bigger, its power will ultimately be sought not only by the virtuous, but also by the wicked who will seek to use it to harm others and enrich themselves.
But, there are also better and worse political systems beyond just what we find in our Constitution. For instance, it isn’t hard for a pastor to argue that wise Christians should support a free market, capitalism, and international trade. Part of what we are called to do, as Christians, is to care for the “least of these.” As has been noted here on RedState, and in many other Conservative publications, there has been no greater force to raise people out of poverty, and to provide a better standard of living for people, than capitalism and free trade. As Christians desire to serve our neighbor, part of the way we can do that is by spreading an economic system that will allow them to do even what Paul said, and work, to have something to give to any who is in need.
We could go to address multiple issues such as school choice, welfare reform, repealing Obamacare, tax reform, and a host of other issues. There will be disagreements among Christians as to the best way to address each of the issues, but that doesn’t mean that pastors shouldn’t be preaching on these things from the pulpit. Moreover, it doesn’t mean that pastors need to give up preaching the gospel in order to address these issues. Rather, the importance of these issues for Christians stems from the importance of the gospel.
Because we (Christians) have been saved by the work of Christ, we ought to desire to spread this message everywhere. Thus we ought to fight for freedom of speech for everyone. We fight for freedom of religion for everyone. We fight for the right of everyone to defend themselves, because only in this way can we guarantee that we will actually have freedom to speak.
Likewise, because of the gospel teaching us that all men are sacred, thus we should desire the good of all men. We should thus desire the spread of free trade, so that men can be lifted out of poverty through serving their fellow man. We desire welfare reform, so that the victims of government manipulation are encouraged to find the value of working for their bread. We desire tax reform, because one man taking another man’s wealth (theft) is always wrong, even when done by the government. Likewise, the desire to tax the “rich” because “they can afford it” (also known as “envy”) is also wrong.
Politics intersects with Scripture on a thousand different roads. We need pastors to educate themselves and preach on these issues regularly, whenever they arise in the natural course of the life of the church. The rise of Liberalism, and thus the rise of Trump, is, in part, thanks to the fact that pastors stopped preaching these truths to their people. We, as Christians, accepted that politics and theology were only tangentially related, or that, because the government said so, we couldn’t preach on politics in the church. Pastors need to get politically savvy and preach both the true gospel, and the ramifications of that gospel in our political thought life.