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    A New Covenant Perspectice

    What should a Christian's attitude be towards politics? Is it possible for a Christian to defend involvement in politics?

    The Three Christian Approaches to Politics

    Generally speaking evangelical Christians have been divided into three camps with respect to political involvement and activity.

      (1) The first group has a long history and in more recent centuries was the position of the Anabaptists in Europe. It is also held today among sections of the Brethren, Pentecostals and some Baptist groups. It argues that the world of human affairs has been so affected by the Fall that it has been irredeemably lost to God. Not only is the Christian unable to contribute anything to such a world but any involvement is positively sinful.

      (2) The second attitude, promoted by various Reformed Churches of Dutch origin, is pursued vigorously in Canada at the present time. The greatest exponent of this view in recent years has been Abraham Kuyper who actually became Prime Minister of Holland. It is a view which encourages total involvement and is in many respects the exact opposite of the first.

      (3) The third view is very common in the United Kingdom particularly amongst many evangelicals. It advocates a path which takes an uneasy middle road between the other two attitudes. It recognises that we ought to be good citizens in ways which don't compromise our Christian testimony. There is, however, considerable uncertainty as to how this should be worked out from the Biblical data. In addition it is perhaps worth pointing out that a fourth attitude developed in the 1980s. This attitude proclaims that God's Kingdom is being built by the political efforts of man, e.g. the Welfare State, the United Nations, etc.. This is the secularisation of the Gospel and is born of liberal Protestantism. It is the prevailing view of the World Council of Churches and its national subsidiaries and their denominational members.

    In the midst of all this the Christian needs to be aware of common grace. That is, God in His goodness and mercy confers upon unbelieving men and women the capacity to do good to their fellow men and work for their good: "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children..." (Matt.7:11).

    "Evil" people are not necessarily uncaring or incapable of helping those in need -- rather, they are evil as adjudged by the holy standards of the Gospel of Christ. Bearing this in mind, there will be agencies in this world which are expressing concern and seeking for help. At the same time, we must balance this against the fallen nature of man. This means that the ideals of any particular political party will of necessity fall short of the will of God expressed in Scripture. This in itself should warn us against blind allegiance and unthinking commitment to any political party.

    The Scriptural Approach

    The Scriptures are as helpful as ever. They help us assess if any party has a concern to see whether crimes against the person are firmly dealt with; property is protected; acceptable sexual behaviour is upheld; departures recognised as constituting a reproach to our nation; provision made for those falling upon hard times; justice and fair trading is upheld; exploitation is avoided; the family is strengthened; no restrictions are placed on worship or the proclamation of the Gospel.

    The New Testament does not teach, as many Christians maintain, that all governments are instituted of God and should be respected and honoured unconditionally. Rather, it teaches that we should respect and honour the principle of government, for without government there would be anarchy. We recognise that governments are necessary in this dispensation, even if they are at times utterly evil.

    Peter writes: "Show proper respect to everyone; Love the brotherhood of believers; fear God, honour the King" (1 Pet.2:17). The ruler in Peter's time was the King, or Caesar. But is this council particular (to Peter's time) or general (for all time)?

    Christians have agonised over this and other passages when faced by murderous totalitarian régimes. Should they support them because, as many Christians claim, all government are instituted by God? Should they actively oppose them, as many liberal Protestants and Catholics have been doing in recent decades, by joining in "liberation struggles"? Or should Christians just turn a blind eye and concentrate on winning souls? Should we engage in "righteous warfare" or be pacifists?

    One thing that we, as a Christian body, refuse to do, is make declarations of what other Christians should do. We do not, for example, condemn other Christians for sincerely believing they have been called into politics or into military service. Indeed, we sincerely believe that many Christians have been called by God into both and that they have been instrumental in bringing God's grace into the dark corridors of the political world and into the horrendous mire of the battlefield. God needs, and chooses, men and women to bring His light into every corner of life. In the British Parliament and the U.S. Congress there are associations of Christians which transcend political boundaries.

    The New Covenant Church of God Approach

    The New Covenant Church, in its short life, has struggled with these and related questions. Much has been written about them in our periodicals. As we approach the completion of our reorganisation following the Bergen Solemn Assembly of 15 October 1995, it is important that we state our beliefs clearly for the coming generation of New Covenant Christians and those who take an interest in what we believe in and do.

    We continue to believe that it is a matter of personal conscience whether a man serves in the military or consciously objects, particularly in countries where national service is compulsory. We strongly urge members not to enter the military as a career unless there has been an undeniable revelation from God to do so and only after very careful examination of desires, motives and conscience. We would consider this to be the exception rather than the rule. In general, we believe that the military desensitises God's sons and daughters and teaches them to do the very opposite of what the commandments teach them: to hate and to kill.

    Our view with regard to politics is the same. Unless there has been unequivocal revelation from God to be involved in politics to accomplish a special mission for the Lord, we council non-involvement. We strongly advise those contemplating military and political service to take council with their pastor and the elders of their local congregation before making a commitment.

    The End-Time Situation

    Forty years ago we, as a Church, probably would have counselled our people to take the third position described above, the "middle road", in regard to political matters. Today, however, we believe that corruption is so endemic and widespread that governments are irredeemable -- that society is now entering its last stages of final and total disintegration. It is our belief also that within two generation the world will be a place of almost total anarchy, ripe for the Second Coming of our Lord. Therefore today we take the first position: that the world system is now beyond redemption and that it is our priority, above all else, to save individual souls and bring them out of the world system and into Zionic communities.

    I myself was once involved in politics. As I was getting sucked in more and more the Lord plucked me out and brought me to another land, giving me a Gospel ministry instead. Since that time we, as a Church, have witnessed the evil that is even in so-called "liberal democracies" and come to understood that to participate in the political system is to participate in its wicked and sinful intentions and deeds. The political system we live in is not moving towards a more just society, even though sometimes it appears to be; rather, it is moving -- gradually at first, more quickly now -- from our Judeo-Christian heritage. We are rapidly becoming a pagan society albeit with a Christian gloss.

    In Peter's day, the world was pagan, and Christianity invaded it. In ours, that world, turned Christian, has been invaded and is being totally overrun by the enemy using the Christian symbols of peace and tolerance but with an occult, pagan spirit. We are entering into what will be a short-lived, virulent, violent and satanic "New Age" -- not the Christian New Age, but the Satanic counterfeit, popularly called the "Age of Aquarius", in which an attempt will be made to first isolate and then physically exterminate Biblical Christianity.

    The Norwegian and British Monarchies

    We, as New Covenant Christians, are people of the Book. We are Biblical Christians. We reject the world system whilst living with it until a better and more glorious day. Here, in Norway, we are lucky to have a good King who professes Christianity. We honour him as the Bible teaches. He is, however, only a titular head. The real power is the Prime Minister and her government who have done much to harm Christianity whilst paying lip service to it. In my own country, the next King has already made it clear that he is no Christian, but a defender of all faiths, and is himself involved in occultic activities. His estranged wife, still the darling of the public, is a strong believer in the occultic doctrine of reincarnation. The British monarchy, if it survives, is destined to become progressively more dechristianised. And the American President, though supposedly a Baptist, supports, as virtually does every governmental head, the mass murder of the unborn (abortion) and anti-biblical sexual practices.

    The Anti-Democratic Politics of Abortion

    I was once involved in a political party all of whose members of parliament supported abortion. I agreed with their economics but with little else. No parties were against abortion at that and as far as I know none are today. I was deeply involved in an anti-abortionist movement called Life. I remember a big campaign that we initiated to get the abortion law in Britain modified, with the eventual goal of having it abolished altogether. We had a majority support in parliament but our opponents threw so much paperwork at us, using varying legislative stalling techniques, that the question eventually disappeared from the agenda. Powerful forces were determined that the voice of democracy would not be heard. We might have won were it not for the system.

    Today, a decade on, I realise that getting the abortion laws modified or repealed would be utterly impossible. Public opinion -- the barometer of its morality -- has swung against the anti-abortion lobbyists. Perhaps the United States, under a right-wing Republican Government, might cause the abortion laws there to be repealed, but I doubt for long. And how could it be enforced? How would we stop abortion going underground? Succeeding governments would simply undo the laws anyway. And in the former Soviet Union, abortion is epidemic -- for every child born, over two are "aborted" [1]. The situation is unlikely to change.

    I mention this as an illustration of the hopelessness of reforming the political system. Sinfulness is increasing everywhere at an alarming rate. Democracy is no longer able to sustain Christianity because the so-called "Christian West" (and I include post-communist East Europe) is in truth no longer Christian.

    What Values?

    It is for this reason that the New Covenant Church maintains its policy on politics and the military. There are no longer genuine wars of liberation, for the liberators are often little worse than those they are supposedly "liberating". When recently I heard the U.S. President declare that the USA would participate in policing Bosnia "to influence it with American values" I wondered at those values. What actually are they? Blended in almost even measure with what may rightly be described as good, positive, Biblical American values are promiscuity, homosexuality (the USA is the most homosexual nation in the world with communities where homosexuals are in the majority), abortion, homicide, greedy, selfish capitalism, etc.. And the bad values will progressively edge out the good ones over time until the balance tips in the favour of evil (if, indeed, it has not already done so).

    All Governments are Corrupt and Anti-Zionic

    No, there is little good government left anywhere. They are all corrupt. Some are better than others, but not much better.

    Therefore what shall the Christian do? Pray for government leaders, honour those set over us, but follow God first. We must set good Christian examples in our communities and try to influence people, whether Christian or not, to adopt these values. This will be done passively, for the most part, in an unconscious way by simply being imitators of Christ.

    Most of us live in peace with the governments of our countries but as time marches on it will not be long before we come into conflict and are openly persecuted. Christians already are in many countries -- we, in the materially affluent, but spiritually impoverished, West, will need their council very soon....

    A greatly expanded and modified version of a pastoral letter by Keith Stokes, Pastor of the Woodstock Road Baptist Church, Oxford, England, June 1987.


    [1] For every 100 live births, 217 unborn are murdered in Russia, 38 in the USA, and 22 in the UK. For every 100,000 people, 21.8 are murdered in Russia, 9.3 in the USA, and 1.2 in the UK (The World in 1996, The Economist, 1995, p.44).

    This page was created on 22 May 1998
    Last updated on 22 May 1998

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