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Evangelism - Myers Mott Maggay Linthicum        

 Colson on the Religious Right

     "In the twentieth century, the debate has produced wide swings among conservative Christians between the extremes of isolationism and political accommodationism. In the early decades, believers were buffeted by the winds of theological modernism (with its social gospel), humiliated by the Scopes trial, and finally retreated into fundamentalist enclaves to create a parallel culture through their churches and schools. 
     Then, in 1947, Carl Henry published The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism and led Christians back into the American mainstream. ...
     Were Christians to withdraw, we would simply ride a pendulum swing back to the isolationism of the fundamentalist era. Instead we should learn from our mistakes and develop a biblically grounded political philosophy that gets us off the pendulum and provides a basis for acting 'Christianly' in politics. ... 
     The doctrine of Creation tells us the state is ordained by God; therefore, participation in political life is a moral obligation ... because of the Fall we must be realistic about the limits of political success. This side of heaven, our accomplishments will always be partial, temporary, and painfully inadequate. This is no room for triumphalism. Yet, neither is there room for despair, for the promise of redemption is that even in a broken world there can be healing and restoration. ... Salvation is not about personal renewal alone, but also social and political renewal.
     These principles give a foundation for responsible political engagement, rather than mere (over)reaction. They give us a perspective beyond the next election and an independent stance that prevents us from being tucked into any political party's hip pocket. We must understand the biblical role of the state and then hold it accountable for fulfilling that role. ...
     Of course, there are important distinctions between what is proper for the church as an institution and what is proper for the individual believer exercising his civic duty. The church can and should address moral issues, but it should never make partisan endorsements. It must not allow itself to be seduced by political power - something I saw all too often when I was in the White House. The church must guard its prophetic stance, leaving direct political activism to individual believers. 
     In addressing moral issues, moreover, we must not allow ourselves to be stereotyped. ... (We are) to address every issue from a Christian perspective - not only abortion and homosexual rights, but also poverty, social justice, and concern for the disenfranchised. I've spent 25 years working among the most marginalized people in society through a ministry to prison inmates, with a lobbying branch (Justice Fellowship) that advocates laws based on a biblical understanding of justice."

Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship,  was former special counsel to President Richard Nixon. His article is one in Christianity Today (9/6/99, p. 58-9) that responded to the book Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson (no relation). 

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