David Platt weighs in on how Christians should engage government in Secret Church simulcast

David Platt preaches on God and government
David Platt preaches at the Secret Church simulcast on April 24, 2020. |

McLean Bible Church Lead Pastor David Platt weighed in on how Christians should engage the government from a biblical perspective, emphasizing that while it's not an easy task, it's vital.

The pastor began by recounting in a Secret Church simulcast titled "God, Government, and the Gospel" how it all unfolded in June 2019 when, as he was nearing the end of a service and about to take communion, his staff informed him that President Trump was about arrive and had requested prayer.

Mindful of the scriptures related to the responsibility of Christians to pray for their leaders and those in positions of authority, Platt told his church that what unites them is not their politics or ethnicity — over 100 ethnicities attend McLean Bible Church — but the Gospel and God's Word. Platt then brought the president on stage and prayed for him.

"I immediately knew though that what happened would be received and perceived in different ways by everyone from press to members of our church," he said.

Such expectations were confirmed soon after as Platt was scrutinized by the national mainstream media for praying with the president. He immediately wrote a letter to members of McLean Bible Church explaining what had happened and how he intended to continue approaching ministry.

Platt said he soon found himself in the middle of a "social media firestorm" as accusations and derision began swirling. He reflected on how he managed to make nearly everyone, no matter their politics, unhappy with him within a short period of time.

His experience of praying for the president led him to think about how he and Christians around the world relate to governments, including Christians who live in nations where it is illegal to gather and worship.

Government affects so much, is extremely complex, and contains a breadth of issues to consider where sincere Christians disagree, he said. A particular challenge is the language that surrounds government regarding political orientation and identity. When the matter arises as to whether the United States is a "Christian nation," he said, it necessitates asking what people mean when they say that.

"If you mean that, 'Did many of the founders of the United States generally believe the Bible?' the answer is yes. That doesn't mean they were all Christians by any means. Or maybe you mean that Christian beliefs provide the foundation for many of the cultural values still held by many of the citizens of the United States today. The answer to that question could be yes or it could be no."

He continued: "Without question, the founders wrote that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights. But the white men who drafted those words didn't apply them to hundreds of thousands of black people in their midst, or women for that matter. Which doesn't sound very Christian."

"Or if you mean, does the United States government promote Christianity as the national religion, and does a person have to profess Christian faith in order to become a citizen and to have the rights of a citizen of the United States? The answer to that question is no. Or are a majority of people in the United States Bible-believing, Gospel-embracing Christians? The answer to that question is no. Is belief in Christian values the dominant perspective promoted by the government, the media, and universities in the United States today? I'd say the answer to that question is a resounding no."

God is ultimately sovereign over who leads any country, he stressed, but that is a different matter entirely as to whether He personally endorses every person as leaders of a nation.

"Does God personally endorse Kim Jong Un as leader of North Korea? I think there is a sense in which we would all say no," he said.

"When we say things, as Christians, about this or that leader being God's man or God's woman, other people — including a world of non-Christians — hear all kinds of things, many of which are very unhelpful and very unbiblical. When we're attaching the name of God to someone [or] something, we need to be really, really careful."

Christians need sustained dialogue about these issues, not sound bites, he emphasized.

The McLean Bible Church pastor went on to explain the nature of God's covenants throughout the Old and New Testaments, both those that are general and apply broadly and those that are specific to Israel. And God's covenants still apply to all humanity, he said, relating why His covenants matter to governance today.

"God gives grace to all people, not just some people. He gives life and breath and skills and resources by His grace to all people, even to people who hate or deny Him," Platt said.

A scripture that many Christians often use when praying about politics is from 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land."

But this was part of God's covenant that was specific to ancient Israel, not a general one, Platt said. American Christians in the 21st century cannot pray that specific verse, for example, with the expectation for God to heal the land of COVID-19, he added.

"That promise hasn't been given to any nation today. God's covenants with Israel do not still apply in the same way to all people or to any nation," Platt said.

"Unless an Old Testament commandment is somehow restated or reinforced in the New Testament, it is no longer binding for Christians."

He went on to say that theological liberalism is an affront to the Gospel. When the primary doctrines of the faith are distorted to fit with increasingly secularized times and framed as "progressive," sincere Christians must reject it, he said.

The Bible isn't written to speak to every specific political situation and it's not a handbook to address contemporary America or any other nation on issues that are complex like tax rates and tariffs, immigration restrictions, or gun control, he said.

The Bible is written to reveal who God is and who we are and how we can be redeemed by God's grace through God's Son for God's glory.

"Avoiding politics is disobedient to God, unloving toward others, and impossible in the world," he concluded.

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