There is one major theme that stands out in my mind when it comes to American Christianity and politics. It is the subconscious obsession with Fatalism.
The World English Dictionary defines it:
1. the philosophical doctrine that all events are predetermined so that man is powerless to alter his destiny
2. the acceptance of and submission to this doctrine
3. a lack of effort or action in the face of difficulty
Loraine Boettner defines Fatalism by saying it, holds that all events come to pass through the working of a blind, unintelligent, impersonal, non-moral force which cannot be distinguished from physical necessity, and which carries us helplessly within its grasp as a mighty river carries a piece of wood.1
Marvin Olasky defines Fatalism as the idea that some people are destined for trouble and that it’s useless to take action to fight against descent and that it opposes the Christian concept that attitudes and lives can change.2
In light of the recent Blood Moon nonsense by John Hagee and his followers I have become further convinced that Fatalistic tendencies have taken root in many minds of professing Christians. Christians have become enthralled by the idea that since the times are so perilous we should hopelessly give up and await Christ’s return. Granted though I do believe in the imminent return of Christ, I do not see how this negates our responsibilities as Christians to ensure the propagation of the Gospel.
I could probably create a laundry-list of issues that plague the minds of Christians today; everything from the demoralization of society, threats of war, and the overreach of the federal government. But what would it profit us? Honestly, I would suggest that acknowledgement of these realities keep us from delusion and help us to understand the nature of our society and how we should best approach evangelism. Regardless of your Eschatological disposition be it optimistic or pessimistic, we are called to be content in Christ as per Philippians 4 no matter the circumstances. Being content in Christ is not some mere suggestion, but is emphasized in the life of the Apostle Paul. If you truly examine what Paul is saying in verses 10 ‘ 14 then you can understand his developed trust and dependence on Christ for joy and contentment. Would it not keep us from distractions that would otherwise interrupt our endeavor to worship and glorify Christ in all things while discipling others?
This Fatalistic mindset has taken American Christianity by storm, among other things like the aberrant teachings on TBN. I cannot blame TBN for perpetuating the end-time madness in which the Fatalistic mindset thrives; that blame should more be given to the secular news media. The only news they produce is negative unless it’s in favor of a politician or celebrity.
Speaking of politics, it is here that the influence of Fatalism has created a colossal destructive path leaving very little to spare. Christians for some time now have been taught to stay out of politics, and as a result you can clearly see our rights dwindling away and an ultimate threat against our religious freedom mounting on the horizon. Many Christians seemingly gain a sense of piety for believing we are currently being persecuted and as a result they continue to refuse political involvement so to feed this so-called persecution; self-fulfilling prophecy. The reality is there is no current widespread persecution of Christians in the United States; so please quit circulating this trend. I do not think it is wrong to assume how sinfully negligent and irresponsible it would be to remain inactive and apathetic when God has provided for us the means to ensure religious freedom for the continued spread of the Gospel. He has given us the means of unrestricted and unhindered deliberation. Through deliberation we as Christians are capable of stemming the tide of unconstitutional laws. For instance we could reverse the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling if Christians were more involved in Law and perhaps sitting on the bench of Justices.
Contrary to what you may have been taught about Christians being politically active, I am telling you otherwise. Consider the following passage from Romans 13:1-7 (NASB):
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves [See how not submitting to the authority can cause you some trouble? Keep reading]. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” *Note Added
What does this passage have to do with a Christian’s political involvement? I am glad you asked. First we must identify the governing authority, and then we must realize the implications of its power. The governing authority, contrary to historical-political ignorance, is the United States Constitution. President Abraham Lincoln rightly stated in the Gettysburg Address that our government is of the people, by the people, for the people. This clearly reinforces the first three words of the United States Constitution’s Preamble, We the people‘ Do you understand the effects of this reality? Do you know what this means? Do you realize that it is up to the common citizen by his participation to hinder any threat against the freedoms premised in the United States Constitution? Abraham Kuyper, once a man who served as Prime Minister to the Netherlands and was also a very gifted and wise theologian, once stated that the, authority of government is exercised by sinful men, and is therefore subject to all manner of despotic ambitions“.3 Knowing this reality while living in a country where God has providentially afforded us the privilege of freedom and liberty from tyranny should make clear the outcome of deliberate silence. Silence is consent. We have the ability and privilege to deliberate on political and judicial platforms and so we should. We should be good stewards of this freedom to ensure its longevity for the sake of the spread of the Gospel.
Christians should see themselves in a unique situation in relation to the rest of the world. Submission to the governing authority in our particular situation does not mean passivity; it means action. It means deliberation. It means holding dialog with other citizens of differing views to influence them. It means voting for a candidate, not particularly Christian, but one that bolsters the authority of the Constitution. Admittedly, not all Christians are called to participate in politics and law, but it should never be discouraged by other Christians. Vote or don’t vote that is your prerogative; given it is the minimal assumed participation of a citizen thus minimal submission to governing authority. Litigate or don’t litigate, that is your prerogative. Protest or don’t protest (Allowed and encouraged by the 1st amendment against the government), that is your prerogative.
All of this to say, Christians should not discourage one another from being involved in something that promotes the well-being and love for our neighbor (e.g. abortion abolition); or, more importantly, promotes our love for God in answering the Great Commission and ensuring our ability to do so. Be aware of the Fatalistic mindset that is lingering at the threshold of your worldview, and do not permit it entry.