Nebuchadnezzar saw a rock cut from no human hand smashing earthly kingdoms and growing into a mountain that filled the entire earth. Daniel interpreted this to be the kingdom of God that he himself would establish “in the days of those kings” – after Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. This Jesus did when he ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father and is still doing until all his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. Jesus described it thusly, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matthew 13
In a recent article, Dr. Russell Moore disagrees that Jesus’ kingdom is presently growing to fill the earth, taking over the whole lump. “The church of Jesus Christ is never a majority, in any fallen culture, even if we happen to outnumber every(one) else around us.” Moore sees the church as strange, small, a minority, obscure, prophetic. Therefore, the church should not seek civil engagement: “When a vision of Christian political engagement hinges on building a politically viable network of ideologically united voters, Christ and him crucified will tend to be a stumbling block, not a rallying point.” But is not this the precise purpose of the ERLC? To gain a politically united Christian vote? Was not this the purpose of his denouncing any Christian vote for Trump?
As friend of mine recently observed: “To say that Christians can in some sense Christianize (adorning influence) the domestic society (the family) and religious societies, but not the civil society, is special pleading. How is it that all natural human institutions can take on a uniquely Christian character except natural civil society? The necessary distinction, if there is one, is never provided.” And, despite his claims to the contrary, Moore’s words, actions, and very position in the ERLC declare otherwise.
Moore also conflates Christian political engagement with gospel conversion. Any political engagement by Christians trying to build a Christian vision for society is equated with trying to do only what the gospel can do. “it would be a tragedy to get the right president, the right Congress, and the wrong Christ. That’s a very bad trade-off…for some, the important question is building the coalition, including an artificial cloud of witnesses, more than it is about asking whether these almost-gospels and counter-gospels will save or damn.” Here’s the false division: building a coalition of false Christianity or these almost-gospels and counter-gospels will save us. Now, it must be asked, “Who is looking to politics for salvation?” Moore confronts us with a choice between the state trying to convert people or conversion through the gospel, when conversion is not the issue but civic morality and order and stability.