Friday, January 25, 2013

Who Is Right? A Discussion About Louis Giglio's Dis-invite from the Inauguration

Commenting on the dis-invite of Louis Giglio as a participant in the inauguration, Robert George writes: "Christians shouldnt panic or cower when culture or political power shifts into the hands of those who hold our moral convictions in contempt. Christians shouldnt seek to silence our opponents. But calling for fairness and justice, as the Apostle Paul did for himself (Acts 16:37-39), is none of those things. When it comes to our public witness, we are our brothers keepers." This was a directed response to Matthew Anderson's blog comment that evangelicals need to "shrug it off."  (SEE Robert George and Russell Moore, First Things First post at 2013/01/shrug-not commenting on Matthew Lee Anderson, Christians ought to shrug off inaugural pastor rejection, CNNs Belief Blog)

(NOTE: Robert P. George is a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University; Russell D. Moore is the provost and dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

O.K. who is right? Anderson or George? What SHOULD be the Christian's response to the dis-invite of Louis Giglio in the inauguration? I think there are actually a number of responses. First, a bit of background. I have marched in Right to Life rallies, served on a city-wide pro-life board, written letters and spoken to Washington, DC insiders. I have also, on the other hand, written letters and notes against Jim Dobson and other "activist" politically-minded evangelicals. I have been a Baptist, a Presbyterian and a Brethren in Christ pastor and church leader. So, I come from a wide perspective and with a breadth of interaction and experience in dealing with both non-conformity and, on the other hand, involvement with the culture. I believe in a God-centered, Bible-based, world-and-life viewpoint.

To begin with, you cannot have it both ways. Either we SHOULD seek to silence our opponents, OR we should PANIC and be VERY concerned. Not to silence our opponents means accepting more and more of a worldview at violent and inescapable odds against Christianity. The current homosexual agenda is very militant, very focused, and is saturating every aspect of our society. If we don't defeat this evidence of atheistic secularism, we will never be able to define marriage biblically. This may require severe means for Christians who take a stand against such agendas.

On the other hand, what does "silencing" our opponents mean and involve? Some would call for radical protests, marches, demonstrations, sit-ins (remember the 60s?), jail time, fines and so forth. A few would even propose more radically minded revolt. But I see this option as unbiblical and unworthy of what God finally wants of us. Jesus as a sheep was led to slaughter. He calls his disciples to turn the other cheek, to pray for enemies, to submit to even ungodly governments.

This brings me to my second point. The Apostle Paul DID plead for justice and his rights as a Roman citizen, BUT ONLY to be able to get the Gospel across and fulfill his calling from God. The key was the Gospel, because it is the Gospel which changes lives and minds and positions. It is the Gospel driven to the heart by the Holy Spirit which conquers anti-God secularism. It is the Gospel which turns it on its head. His purpose was never politically motivated. He could have complained against the Roman prison system and pleaded his case against the harsh treatment to the governor. His purpose was the Gospel, not to change the system in which the Gospel lived.

Third, and I have said this for years, it is the one-by-one internal, radical, God-given change in the heart that finally wins the day against secularism and atheistic movements. That is why I am a minister of the Gospel. That is why I believe in sharing the Gospel near and far. That is why I must at the end of the day trust God to change legislation and the minds and hearts behind it.

The objection would be that if my rights and liberties and means are taken away, the Gospel cannot get out. This is nonsense. The Gospel cannot be muzzled nor defeated! The fantastic underground growth of Christianity across the world in countries where it is officially outlawed is the witness for that. God always will find a way to get His eternal message and plan across. It doesn't matter how evil, how bad, how secular, how atheistic humankind gets. God will win. And that does NOT depend on us or our efforts at the end of the day. God will win because He is God. He is sovereign. He holds the rulers in His hands. He controls history. He has determined the means and the end.

Fourth, evangelical Christians must LIVE OUT the Gospel message. Judgment rightly must begin at the house of God, at the local and national and global level in our churches. We have generally failed to live out the Gospel message. We have imbibed secularism and then fight against it when it crosses our views and comfort zones. Unless we become what John R.W. Stott called "radical disciples," unless we live what we say and teach, unless we choose lifestyles that are Christ-centered and others oriented, we cannot and will not defeat the homosexual agenda or any other unbiblical agenda for that matter.

So, I am fully ready to do whatever I need to do to preach and teach and share the Gospel. That might even be from a prison cell. God will at the end of the day win. Both Anderson and George are right and both are wrong! Giglio did the right thing--he redirected the conversation back to the Gospel and to Gospel work. Unless we teach and preach and live out the Gospel and its demands, we will never be able to move forward.