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Saturday, 30 April 2016

A review of The Demands of Christian Citizenship, a sermon by Adrian Rogers

I recently heard a sermon by the late Southern Baptist President Adrian Rogers, on The Demands of Christian Citizenship. Now, I like Adrian Rogers, and appreciate a lot about the man and his ministry. But some of what he teaches in this sermon concerns me, inasmuch as it calls into question my Christian credentials; there are demands in the sermon that I have no intention of meeting (although, as it happens, in an earlier life I actually did things to have met them fully). I've written elsewhere on how I would now differ from the Baptist view on such things (although there was a time in my life when I didn't), so in this post I'll only be briefly critiquing the main points of his sermon, which follow. I think there were six in the audio sermon, but no online source seems to list more than four--this is a compilation of the five I can remember (I think the sixth may have been Protect the Government, which see under my posts on warfare).

As Christian citizens, the Word of God directs us to these responsibilities to our country:

1. Pray for government 1 Timothy 2:1-3
Well, of course I can't dispute this, being a man, and given that Paul would that all men lift holy hands in prayer for those in authority, that we may live quiet and peaceable lives in all piety and integrity. I can only thank Dr. Rogers for encouraging me on to more frequent and fervent prayer.

2. Pay for government. Romans 13:1-7
Again, this is something for which I needed encouragement. It does get a little complicated, though, given that the government's desire is to pay me. So his argument begins to break down when faced with modern reality. He says, "simply no loophole when it comes to paying taxes. Jesus did it, so must we."  But in paying his taxes, Jesus himself said that as sons of the king, we really didn't have to. Sounds like a major loophole to me! So, no net benefit to me from this point.

3. Praise government. 1 Peter 2:17
Well, he does have some biblical precedent for this: Paul respectfully addressed Agrippa, and Peter did tell us to honor the king. I would have to admit that this point still needs emphasis, in a digital age where it is so easy to post satirical criticism of one's president or legislator. Definitely, that's not honouring the king. And he does balance this point out with the next one, so I'll grade this point as being well worth hearing as often as is needed for it to sink in.

4. Preach to government. Ephesians 4:15
He gives the example of John the Baptist, who was respectful enough in delivery to gain Herod's hearing, but hardline enough to get executed for the message itself. So, another good point to go along with the previous one--rebuke when necessary, but still in a respectful way that doesn't detract from the message. So far, I'm finding a lot to appreciate and apply from this sermon.

5. Participate in government. 1 Peter 2:12
Here is where Dr. Rogers makes a gigantic leap, both in hermeneutic and logic. Nowhere in the Bible are Christians actually commanded, or even recommended, to participate in government--so he has to quote Daniel Webster rather than Scripture for this point. Jesus certainly never participated in government (he fled when they would make him king), nor did any of the apostles. Government figures in Christian Scripture are generally the bad guys, to be respected or rebuked, even rewarded, but never to be joined in their governance. Furthermore, he says nothing of the alien, the felon, even the citizen lacking a social security number or otherwise disenfranchised for exercising his religions beliefs--none of whom are able to participate in government even at the lowest level of voting. So while I vehemently part ways with Dr. Rogers on this point, I propose that by diligently carrying out the first four duties, a Christian has fully discharged his responsibility to participate in government, and no civic limits apply to any of these.

So, a good sermon overall--just ignore his final point, and strive to apply the first four. That should keep you busy enough

1 comment:

  1. Concerning the last point, I've never met a preacher yet who knows when to sit down and shut up.


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