The Christian’s Political Objective

This essay concludes the Christian Theology and Public Policy Course by John Cobin, author of the books Bible and Government and Christian Theology of Public Policy. Congratulations if you have finished reading the entire series! This column is the second segment of a two-part series dealing with Christian civic duty.

Active Christians need an objective in carrying out their civic duty. In America, Christians need to have a vision of what an ideal republic would look like, along with some specific objectives of social transformation in order to achieve that republic. A fallen world can be improved by a Christian’s efforts, but his efforts need to be focused.

In terms of political activism, a useful starting point for thinking about ideals is facilitated by considering society without any political structure, as well as considering the actions of fallen men in establishing it. The natural state of society is anarchy —not in the sense of untrammeled chaos but in the sense of having no established civil authority. Yet the sinful tendencies of men have led them to create states— parasitic power structures that devour social order and bring chaotic social conditions. As bad as society under anarchy may be it is always preferable to life under a state.

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The Christian and Political Activism

This essay continues the Christian Theology and Public Policy Course by John Cobin, author of the books Bible and Government and Christian Theology of Public Policy. This column is the first segment of a two-part series dealing with Christian civic duty.

All Christians should be activists, although what each individual Christian decides to do politically should be left to the liberty of his conscience. Christians can make a difference through many means, such as petitioning the government for a redress of grievances, voting, participating in public meetings and informational lectures, writing to elected officials, and participating in jury duty. All of these activities are costly to Christians, not only in terms of incidental expenses incurred but also in terms of time. Accordingly, engaging in some political activities might seem to make no sense—at least theoretically—unless we begin to view them in a different light.

For example, voting is always futile in the sense that there is virtually no chance that any individual vote can change the outcome of a major election. The expected cost exceeds the expected benefit. Yet voting makes more sense for a Christian activist once other accrued benefits are considered. Economic efficiency is reached when the benefits of activism are elevated in our minds through exalting the importance of spreading the truth, standing up for principles, and transforming our society by heralding the fundamental rights that America’s Founders held dear. To the extent that voting can help accomplish these things or encourage virtue it becomes a net benefit to a Christian (i.e., the benefit exceeds the cost).

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