Sunday, September 28, 2008

Worldview Class – Part 4 – Mixing Politics With Religion

This is a continuation of highlighted topics discussed in a worldview class I am teaching on Sunday morning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

In Part 3 of this series, we learned that separating the sacred from the secular is an incorrect approach to weighty topics such as psychology, law, and economics. These topics should be considered entirely sacred, where they touch on ethical issues. But, something has happened to me several times in developing the worldview class for my church – I become hesitant to share a topic because it doesn’t seem “biblical” enough.

In developing some quotes and examples, I find myself second-guessing whether or not I should be presenting these in a church environment. This is especially true in the area of politics, which I often find myself addressing. Something inside me still struggles to mix these two. Could it be that my own worldview has been affected by my upbringing – especially where I’ve been taught (incorrectly) about the concept of separation of church and state? I think this is partly to blame for my hesitance in addressing politics in a church setting. A piece of me still thinks of politics as belonging strictly in the “Secular” box.

The apostle Paul was an excellent example of someone who was not afraid to share the gospel in a place other than a typical “church” setting. His speech in Acts 17:16-31 was given in the Areopagus, a kind of Roman high council venue, and a true political situation. Paul preached Jesus crucified and resurrected in this place, without apology. He was well-spoken and convincing in his argument.

‘While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."’

Paul’s example demonstrates that politics and a religious worldview can be presented in the same context. To some degree, our culture has tried to pry these apart and make the claim that they cannot coexist. But it should be understood that God’s grand design flows down to a great number of subjects – even politics. Our founding fathers knew this, and if you still doubt it, go back and read some of their quotes on the subject (from Part 1).

To Worldview - Part 5 - Secular Humanist Theology

Or go back to the main index for all twelve Parts.

If you are interested in portions, or all of this twelve part series taught in an engaging, educational fashion, please contact Alan at Banyan Concepts.

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