Christ is Lord of (Almost) All
A defining issue of our day is the Lordship of Christ over all areas of life. Most Christians would agree, at least to an extent, that Christ is Lord. After all, does not Scripture teach this? “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11, KJV).
While it is fine for Christians to profess Christ as Lord in their individual lives, families, and churches, what of their political affiliations? Many do not understand that Christ and His Law-Word are preeminent over every area of life, not merely in the “inward” or “spiritual” aspects. This pietistic confusion is easily dismissed when we grasp the implications of the statement that God’s “kingdom ruleth over all” (Psalm 103:19, KJV).
The Reverend Jerry Falwell propounds an alternate view in his recent WorldNetDaily Commentary, The GOP is not a church (http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLEID=40186). To preface my comments, let me say that I appreciate Reverend Falwell and what he has done to turn our nation back to God. Especially encouraging was his support for Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama. About a year ago in Montgomery, Alabama I attended a rally to support Justice Moore where Falwell spoke. Here is a transcript of his speech: (http://renewamerica.us/archives/speeches/others/0308_16falwell.htm) I am sure that Reverend Falwell means well. Surely, in his recent article he intends to convey his beliefs concerning a truly sound approach to politics. I do not question his motives, merely his errant methods and conclusions.
Especially troubling is this statement: “While we must never compromise our Bible-based values in our churches, most conservative people of faith realize that we must work with a sense of cooperation in the political realm.” He also states, “I’m sure there are a few evangelical pastors who believe the Republican Party should be reflective of a Southern Baptist church, but that would be a big mistake. The party represents a wide range of political viewpoints and the leadership understands this; the GOP is not a church.”
What is wrong with these statements? After all, was not our nation founded on the separation of church and state? Should not we leave heavy theological debates to churches? To an extent, these statements are true. We must understand, as Justice Moore has so often stated, that the church and state are jurisdictionally separate. The church has the “keys to the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19) and the power to administer the sacraments, preach the Word, discipline its members, and ordain biblically qualified leaders. The state possesses the “power of the sword” and is vested with the responsibility to punish the wicked and praise the good (see Romans 13).
The church and the state must operate by the design of a sovereign lawgiver. Rushdoony teaches us to analyze law systems based on who is sovereign. As Blackstone said, “Law is the will of the sovereign.” Sovereignty is inescapable in any law-order. If Christ is sovereign over the church and the state, His law will be implemented. If we find another law-system in place, we can question whether men properly acknowledge His Lordship.
The task of the Christian is not to conform the state to the image of the church. We would certainly cringe to see the state follow the lead of today’s lukewarm, cozy, spineless churches. Moreover, we realize that both the church and the state must rule their separate jurisdictions in terms of Christ’s Word with Him as sovereign. Falwell fails to propound this. The point is not to transform our nation into an ecclesiocracy, but rather to see Christ’s rule over all areas of life - church and state, included.
Falwell should understand this. As I said, he supported Justice Moore who argued and acted for the rule of God’s Law. Moore even sacrificed his position as judicial leader of his state for this principle. Falwell, in his speech referenced above, praised Moore: “Yes, the judge may get in trouble over this. There are those who might strip him of his judgeship. He might lose his ability to make a living. Big deal.” He went on to compare Justice Moore with the courageous men who risked their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” for the establishment of our nation.
This statement, juxtaposed against his recent statements, is very principled. You will not find an ounce of political pragmatism within it. He does not argue, as many well-meaning but misguided Christians did, that Justice Moore should have backed away from his “acknowledgment of God” thesis, in favor of a neutralized “historical significance” reasoning for retention of the monument. For this stand, Falwell deserves praise.
It is clear, however, that his recent statements represent a departure from those of a year ago. Why is this? Could it have to do with the upcoming election and his fear that Kerry may win? Is he willing to compromise so that Bush and other Republicans can retain another four years of power? Whatever the reasoning, Christians must not concede the civil sphere to the cries of pragmatists who demand pluralism. Rather, we must press for the Crown Rights of Christ over all areas of life, politics included.
I hope that Christians will see these issues more clearly in years ahead. I hope that we will finally realize that God’s Law is ultimately relevant for today’s crises. I hope that we will stop neutralizing Christ’s rule and God’s Law for expedient, pragmatic politics. When will we understand that God works through principled, dedicated, and knowledgeable minorities? The future belongs to rigorously consistent Christians who will not compromise Christ’s sovereignty in any area of life.