LONDON – The author of bestseller Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine has called upon Christians in the United Kingdom to stand against threats to the Gospel by engaging in politics and increasing their influence on government.
U.S. writer and theologian Wayne Grudem, a co-translator of the English Standard Version of the Bible, addressed a packed St. Helen's church in Bishopsgate, London, Thursday night in the first leg of his U.K. tour tackling the question of whether political involvement distracts from the Gospel.
He said God was calling Christians in the U.K. to "stand against evil" and "threats that would silence the Gospel and remove it from the public square," particularly laws passed in recent years promoting homosexuality and attempts to loosen existing abortion regulations.
Grudem argued that far from being a distraction from the Gospel, Christian involvement in politics was necessary.
While he admitted Christians had made the mistake in the past of using government to impose the faith on the people, he stressed that the opposite end of the spectrum – excluding religion from the public square altogether – was equally undesirable.
He pointed to the proliferation of secularist campaigns in the U.S. aimed at forcing Christians to confine their religion to the home, including campaigns to silence public prayers, lawsuits against the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings and courtrooms, and moves to prevent schools from using church buildings.
Such secularism, he warned, "threatens the voice of the church and the voice of Christians" and "removes from government God's teaching about good and evil."
"How can government officials rightly serve God if no one is able to let them know what God expects of them?" he asked.
Such a position, he continued, "either assumes there is no God or that His morality is unknowable, or that it is not important for human beings."
If secularism wins the day, he warned, it will "remove from an entire nation any sense of absolute moral standards" and result in the "destruction of belief in God."
While some Christians believe that all government is bad, or that Christians should involve themselves solely in evangelism and not politics, Grudem said such views represented too narrow an understanding of government and the Kingdom of God.
He argued that government and evangelism were two tools God had given Christians to defeat evil, and that the Good News should also be Good News for government and all areas of life.
"Isn't the Bible good news about government too? Doesn't the Bible come to transform all areas of life?" he said.
He continued by arguing that the biblical calling upon Christians to do good to others and love their neighbors also meant caring about what laws are passed by the government of the day.
"If I love my neighbor as myself then I want good laws that protect my neighbor from evil and harm," he said.
Turning his attention to the question of whether Christians in the U.S. and UK could expect secularism to turn to persecution, he cautioned that Christians "should not give in to fatalism and pessimism."
Grudem concluded that the best strategy for Christians to pursue in the current climate was to "exert significant influence on government."
He said: "If we do not have significant moral influence then from where will the government get its moral guidance? If Christians don't speak publicly about moral and ethical issues affecting the nation, who will?"
"Might there be something that you know God's word teaches, and you know that God is calling you to speak, but you are afraid because there will be criticism and opposition? Be sure you proclaim the whole council of God," he added.
"Apostle Paul did not tailor his teaching in order not to offend unbelievers. He proclaimed the whole Gospel of God and today we're going to have to do the same."
Grudem's tour is being hosted by The Christian Institute and ends next Wednesday in Chessington.