Questions about Christian witness in the public square...

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Here's a response to a couple questions posted under "Trust your nose...".

Dear (brother),

Thanks for your questions. A couple responses:

1. Let's say a man speaks out against the sins of society and uses Scripture to support his arguments. You say it would be wrong to discourage him, and I agree. But let's say a man speaks out against the sins of society and decides not to overtly use Scripture to support his arguments but instead uses natural law. Would that man be wrong to not openly use Scripture?

Tactics are open to debate. Each man decides what is best in which situation. Would I have thought Gov. Mike Pence should have quoted Scripture in supporting the state's just-passed RFRA when Tim Cook and the NCAA attacked him? Not necessarily, but then again, maybe. But I'd argue in favor of quoting Scripture in the public square on strategic—not just principled—grounds. If it were a timid person in the congregation I serve who spoke up in defense of God's Moral Law and did it on the basis of general revelation, I'd simply...

encourage him and thank him. If it were a pastor or elder or veteran witness, I'd exhort him to not abandon the authority of Scripture in the public square.

But "wrong?" I don't think that way about it. What I think is wrong is men saying it's wrong to use Scripture. Very wrong.

2. Let's say a man wants to actively speak out against the sins of society through political organizing, letters to the editor, blogging, etc. You say it would be wrong to discourage him, and I agree. But let's say a man decides not to participate in these activities aside from voting against candidates holding notoriously immoral positions. Would this man be wrong not to be more active?

We all have different gifts, but reread what I've written above and you'll see it was aimed at church officers. Pastors have a calling and to limit it to the privacy of the sanctuary and home has no support in Scripture or church history. Sure, pastors have abused this part of their calling, but something about the abuse of a thing not invalidating its proper use? And yet, there may be certain situations where a pastor should not be more active, and that's no failure. Case by case. Not everyone is able to preach. Witness. Rebuke the civil magistrate and the public as John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul did.

Then there are the leaders of the public square—doctors, lawyers, civil magistrates, etc.—who are (very often) church officers, also. They have a higher responsibility to oppose wickedness and their pastor's job is to exhort them to do so. So again, it's a matter of calling and gifting, with some gifts so leadership and authority-centric that the Christian with that calling may not even have the option of being silent.

So, again: "wrong?" I don't think that way about it. What I think is wrong is men saying it's wrong to use Scripture to commend justice and condemn wickedness in the public square; and specifically, for pastors and other church officers to do so citing the Lordship of Jesus Christ and/or His Word. Very wrong.

3. Would your answers be different for officers of the church and laymen?

Absolutely. We have different callings and those gifted and called to leadership and the exercise of authority often hold office in the public square and the Church, both at the same time. Something about gifting, and to whom much is given, much shall be required.

In each of these questions, my concern is that we not diss and discourage and ban Christians from the prophetic calling God has gifted and called them to.

Yes, the transformationalists are absurd, but how anyone takes them seriously is beyond me. They are the Pharisees blowing their own trumpets to call attention to their good works, but their good works don't exist. No one transforms anything when his ordering principle is fear and his main strategy is compromise—say the historicity of Genesis and the Creation Order of Sexuality. The transformationalists are so effete, I can't imagine why we need to oppose their transformationalism with R2K. Oppose their compromise and false doctrine and the effeminacy of their preaching and pastoral care, instead.

Yes, Rauschenbusch and the Social Gospel men betrayed the Gospel, but how anyone can't see the loss of the mainline denominations as God's judgment on them is beyond me. Youhooo! They're dead. They've been dead for decades.

We need to preach the Gospel with and in authority and let the dead (both social gospellers and transformationalists) bury the dead. The transformationalists do look like they have the numbers now, but don't worry about them. Their numbers are a charade that only fool the foolish.

To the Church! To the Gospel! To preaching! To raising up God's godly seed! To training the next generation of pastors, elders, deacons, and deaconesses (Titus 2 women)! And take the handcuffs off them, the duct tape off their mouths. Return to Scripture and Geneva for our model of Gospel preaching and pastoral care.


Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!