Christians should not be involved in politics.
Debate Rounds (3)
Christian - a person who is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings (therefore practices them)
Politics - the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power
I believe those are the only two definitions that are really relevant to this debate. I will cite scriptures from the Bible to justify my position. The rounds will be broken down like this:
Round 1 - Acceptance
Round 2 - Initial Argument(s)
Round 3 - Rebuttal(s)
If you have any questions or concerns, please use the comments to voice them before accepting the debate.
Best of luck to my opponent and I hope that anyone watching will be entertained.
It is my understanding and belief according to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus that we, as Christians, should not be involved in politics (this includes military service). I see the message from Christ to be completely clear and direct. Any involvement in politics is simply unscriptural and against the teachings of Christ.
What does the Bible say?
*all verses used are NIV renditions*
Jesus at one point directly avoids taking a political position in John 6:15, which reads:
"Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself."
Besides this, Jesus made it clear to his disciples that they are no part of this world and therefore should not be involved in political issues. Consider this idea in light of these verses:
John 17:14: "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world."
John 17:16: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it."
John 18:36: "Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.'"
Mark 12:13-17: "Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, 'Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?'
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. 'Why are you trying to trap me?' he asked. 'Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.' They brought the coin, and he asked them, 'Whose image is this? And whose inscription?'
'Caesar's,' they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, 'Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.'
And they were amazed at him."
As Christians, we are to be loyal to God's Kingdom, which Jesus says in Matthew 24:14:
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
Since we are representatives of God's Kingdom, we should remain neutral on all political issues and affairs. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:20:
"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ"s behalf: Be reconciled to God."
Or even Ephesians 6:20:
"for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
If we as Christians remain neutral in politics, we can truly break down barriers and teach the gospels to people of all nations as Jesus wanted us to do.
Does this make us anarchist who should resist government? Not at all. Consider these verses:
Romans 13:1: "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."
1 Timothy 2:1-2: "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity"
What have scholars said?
*sources provided next to excerpt*
"Early Christianity was little understood and was regarded with little favor by those who ruled the pagan world. Christians refused to share certain duties of Roman citizens. They would not hold political office." (On the Road to Civilization, A World History by Heckel and Sigman, p.237,238)
"Zealous Christians did not serve in the armed forces or accept political offices." (World History, the Story of Man's Achievements by Habberton, Roth and Spears, p.117)
"While among Romans it was considered the highest honor to possess the privileges of Roman citizenship, the Christians announced that they were citizens of heaven. They shrank from public office and military service." (The Great Events by Famous Historians by Rossiter Johnson, Vol. III, p.246)
"The Christians were strangers and pilgrims in the world around them; their citizenship was in heaven; the kingdom to which they looked was not of this world. The consequent want [lack] of interest in public affairs came thus from the outset to be a noticeable feature in Christianity." (Christianity and the Roman Government by E.G. Hardy, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, p.39)
"The Christians refused to show their loyalty by burning incense to the emperor. Being men of peace, they would not serve in the Roman armies." (From The March of Civilization, Ancient and Medieval World by Jesse E. Wrench, Professor of History, University of Missouri, p.205)
"They preferred the Kingdom of God to any kingdom that they might serve on earth. The early Christians were ready to die for their faith. Since they believed in peace they would not serve in Rome"s imperial armies." (From From the Old World to the New by E.A. Golligan, Associate Superintendent of Schools, City of New York, and Maxwell F. Littwin, Principal of New York City Public Schools, pp. 88,89)
What have pro-political Christians said?
*source provided next to excerpt*
Concerning the then future possibility of a war with Iraq:
"Even though an attack seems inevitable, we Catholics should do whatever we can to prevent what may become an utterly senseless slaughter of innocent lives. 'We should raise a mighty league of Catholic conscientious objectors.' This slogan was used by Dorothy Day and others involved in the Association of Catholic Conscientious Objectors, an organization that supported Catholics who refused to be drafted into the military during World War II for reasons of conscience. As one might expect, their number was not legion: 135 in all."
"...the church has come to endorse conscientious objection because it stands against sin and evil. To a large degree this new development in the church's theology of peace is rooted in the hard lessons the church learned as it examined the behavior of Catholics under the Nazi regime. It was not, to say the least, exemplary. Bishops wrote pastoral letters declaring their devotion to the Fatherland and Fuhrer, priests preached homilies calling upon their flocks to do their duty for the nation, and Catholic men, with very few exceptions, went off to fight while their families generally fully supported what was obviously an unjust war. And yet Catholics flew carpet bombing missions over Germany and Japan in World War II, carried out destructive operations in Vietnam, contributed to the most intensive air attack ever in Iraq, and currently sit in nuclear missile silos ready to turn the launch key on command. I find it troubling that conscientious objection to war is not so much as a passing concern to most Catholics."
"The problem, I believe, is that when it comes to war, too many Catholics pledge their allegiance to their country, right or wrong. They are obedient to the nation before all else: before natural law, before divine law, before the words and example of Jesus Christ, before conscience. The problem is, in a word, idolatry. The nation-state has taken the place of God. "
"From the very beginning of the church, the apostolic teaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:13-14), but at the same time, it firmly warned that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29)." (Catholics should be more conscientious about objecting to war, U.S. Catholic, December, 2002, by cleric Michael J. Baxter, C.S.C., teaches theology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, serves as the national secretary for the Catholic Peace Fellowship)
What can we conclude?
I believe that in light of what Jesus taught fromt he Bible and what scholars have said about early (1st century) Christians ont he ropic, it becomes clear that politics and Christianity do not mix.
Today and in recent years, Christians have been an active force in world politics. However, do not let this skew the original teachings of the Bible and Jesus, as well as the original interpretations of the 1st century Christians.
The validity of the bible, a book written over 2000 years ago that has been translated several times over the course of 20 centuries, is questionable at best. The verses that you posted did not satisfy me with the idea that Christian doctrine states clearly that Christians should not be involved in politics. Just because Jesus does not want to be involved nor his disciples, the verses shown do not say that all Christians should not be involved in politics. The phrase "Not of the world", is not to be over-interpreted as to mean "not involved in politics". Because Jesus will not accept a coin, this does not mean that he does not want Christians to be involved in politics. Remaining neutral on all political issues and affairs does not mean that all Christians should not be involved in politics. Neutral is a position, as are for or against. The idea of government authorities not being legitimate because only God has authority wouldn't have been written today. At the time of Jesus of Nazareth, most governments were totalitarian dictatorships (although it can be argued that God is a totalitarian dictator). Many people strongly opposed the political positions of the highest in power, such as Caesar. Would the same be said today about our governments in which the citizens have representation? Unless you're a libertarian, I don't think so.
If the goal of Christian missionaries are to ultimately convert all people to Christianity, then there would be nobody involved in politics. There would be no organization of food, housing, water, supplies, etc. All would be Chaos. If everyone was Christian, which is what most Christians want, then how would the world function under the idea that Christians and politics shouldn't mix? Should we leave some people Jewish so that they will go to Hell, but at least our system won't collapse? I don't really see the upside of Christians not being involved in politics...
In this round I will be only providing my rebuttal to Con’s initial argument.
*all verses used are NIV renditions*
*superscripted numbers are in referenced to sources at end of rebuttal*
Con’s Initial Argument: First Paragraph
Con has said that “Christian doctrine” does not in any way demand its followers to refrain from politics. I would ask Con to clarify, but I cannot. He can only mean one of two things:
1) The Bible and teachings of Christ in no way demand its followers to refrain from politics.
2) Man made church doctrines (after the 1st century) in no way demand its followers to refrain from politics
The first statement is simply incorrect, as I have shown. However, the second statement is correct. So I will go with the assumption that Con is referring to second statement when he talks about “Christian doctrine”. As a Christian myself, I prefer to go off of what the Bible and Jesus teach, not what fallible men have come up with.
Con seems to be taking the approach of saying that it would be unpractical to withdraw all Christians from politics at this point. I agree. I am not trying to argue that all Christian politicians and leaders should be pulled out of the political scene, but rather that it is not scriptural for them to involved with it.
Con has said that my argument has no religious or social grounds. However, my initial argument clearly shows that Jesus refused to be apart of politics and that he encouraged his disciples to not be apart of them as well. Also, I showed it would be impossible for us Christians to be loyal to an earthly kingdom when we have to be fully loyal to God’s Kingdom. In order for us to preach the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, we have to be able to break down the political barriers established in this world by earthly kingdoms. It is not only me that recognizes this, but also the early Christians were aware of everything I have said.
Con states that any massive religious movement desires/likes power. I have to disagree. An example of a massive religious movement that does not strive for worldly power is the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are roughly eight million of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 239 countries. Out of those roughly eight million, none of them are affiliated with any political movement or hold a political office. They are loyal to God’s Kingdom and His Kingdom only, just like the early Christians.
Con brings up the point of Christian interpretation. While it is true that many Biblical topics can be interpreted in different ways, I have shown it to be clear through the activities of the early Christians that this was once a straightforward concept and teaching. He goes on to give the example of Leviticus 11:12 to support his claim that there are different Christian interpretations. The verse reads:
“Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.”
The problem with this example is that it actually does not support his claim of differing Christian interpretations. While there are differing interpretations on some subjects, as I have stated, this is not one of them. Every Christian agrees that this law, along with many others, has been fulfilled by Jesus. Christians are no longer bound to the laws of the Old Testament. Consider this concept in light of these verses:
Romans 10:4: “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
Galatians 3:23: “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Ephesians 2:15: “by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,”
Essentially, Con’s whole argument comparing Leviticus 11:12 to this topic is useless. I also believe that it shows Con’s lack of knowledge on the scriptures and Biblical thought, which are two primary sources for arguing on this topic.
Con goes on to say that the interpretation of one person, unless the pope, is meaningless. I have to disagree. Men have greatly changed the shape of Christianity over the years. Consider all the Christian revivals and movements that have happened throughout history. One that really comes to mind is Martin Luther. So this claim that one person’s interpretation is meaningless has no foundation of support or evidence. 1
I would like to briefly address the other misinformed statement in his argument, which is that in “scientific tests” outliers are disregarded. This is simply not true. If it is true, then I encourage Con to add a source supporting this claim. 2
Con’s Initial Argument: Second Paragraph
Con has claimed that the validity of the Bible is questionable. Not necessarily because of the information in it, but because of the years of copying. I am here to set the record straight that the validity of the modern Bible is not at all questionable. Almost all scholars agree that the modern Bible in relation to the early manuscripts is accurate and valid. Think of it like this, we have 105% of the Bible. Nothing is missing, but we have a little extra. That is why you will see that some Bibles omit particular verses that are not found in the earliest and most accurate manuscripts. Let’s see what the Institute for Religious Research has said about the Old Testament:
“In 1948, some Old Testament manuscripts (along with some non-biblical writings) were found in caves near the Dead Sea which dated as early as 250 B.C.E., about a thousand years before the Masoretic text. These are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Instead of being anywhere from 1000-3000 years from the original, these are as close as a few hundred. In the case of one of these scrolls – a copy of the book of Isaiah – the only difference between its text and the Masoretic text, was three words, and these only differed in spelling! Though over 1000 years separate these two texts, there are only three spelling changes! This shows the care with which the Masoretes and other scribes had worked.” 3
Despite my scriptural and scholarly presentation for my argument, Con does not feel convinced. He stated that just because Jesus and his disciples were politically neutral, that does not mean that all Christians should be. I disagree. Jesus and the disciples are pretty much the poster children of Christianity. We, as Christians, are supposed to imitate Jesus. (1 Peter 2:21) So if Jesus was not involved in politics and he encouraged his disciples to do the same, then we as Christians are supposed to follow that example. As I showed in my initial argument, the early Christians also recognized this.
When the Bible states that we are not a part of this world, it is clear to me that we are not a part of this world. That means that we should not support, promote, or be involved with earthly/worldly kingdoms beyond necessity. If Con has a better or more accurate interpretation, then I would encourage him to put it in his rebuttal.
When Jesus is discussing with the Pharisees and Herodians about paying imperial taxes, it is not just about Jesus refusing the currency. It is about Jesus showing that what is earthly/worldly belongs here on earth. What is apart of God’s Kingdom belongs to God. This shows the clear line drawn between what is God’s and what is man’s. Christians are to be loyal to God’s Kingdom and His Kingdom only.
Con goes on to argue that remaining neutral on political issues does not inherently mean that all Christians should not be involved in politics. I have to disagree. To say that Christians can both be neutral on political issues and be involved in politics is simply being intellectually dishonest. Let’s define what neutral means:
neutral - not helping or supporting either side in a conflict
If someone is neutral on an issue, or impartial, then they cannot really be active in it.
The next argument is that verses arguing “government authorities not being legitimate because only God has authority” would not be written today. He goes on to say that those verses were only relevant to the people during the time of Jesus. I have to disagree once more. Let’s consider this argument in light of Hebrew 4:12:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
If the word of God is truly alive and active, that means that it can never be outdated or irrelevant like Con has suggested. Therefore, these verses should still be applied today.
Con’s Initial Argument: Third Paragraph
The goal of missionaries is to convert as many people as they can to Christianity, not to convert all people to Christianity. There will never be a time under Satan’s rule where every person will be a Christian. (Matthew 7:14)
A principal Christian value is that one should love his neighbor as he loves himself. To fulfill this idea, Christians have to be involved in politics. In creating food drives and providing economic and political support to countries in need, they are directly involved in politics. There is no other realistic source of arranging such organizations on a scale that would make a difference.
I will ignore the point about whether or not Christians are bound to the laws of the Old Testament, because that is a different argument. However, for my position, Christians are bound by neither testament nor by any omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent God.
I don't see how Christian revivals and movements like Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation have anything to do with the involvement in politics, which is only a matter of the basis of all Christian doctrine, the bible. Perhaps if you quoted a second source from one of these movements it would add to the argument.
I did not say that all outliers should be regarded in every experiment. I was making the point that in a sample of many religious people, some will have slightly differing opinions. If one has an extreme opinion on a certain topic, such as suicide bombing in the Zen Buddhism community, then should we consider that an interpretation of their doctrine which can be discarded by the majority, or the true ideas of Buddha that the entire community should take part in?
Leviticus also states that a man should not lie with another man as he would with a woman. Does this mean that shrimp and gay marriage are both OK? What about homosexuals eating shrimp? Where do you draw the line as to which laws in the old testament Christians are no longer bound to?
The claim that the validity of the bible is not questionable is absolutely absurd. Historically, since the beginning of man, the absolute worst source of information is eye-witness testimony. Most biblical scholars believe that the original New Testament was written in Greek. The biblical Dead Sea Scrolls were only found of the old testament. It was in Hebrew. As you have clearly stated, "Christians are no longer bound to the laws of the Old Testament." How can you validate a point about the New Testament using evidence of ancient Hebrew texts of the Old Testament, while also saying that the old testament laws no longer apply to Christians? That is absolutely absurd.
I close with this: "If the word of God is truly alive and active, that means that it can never be outdated or irrelevant like Con has suggested. Therefore, these verses should still be applied today."
I like that you added an "if". I'd say that your doubt is a point for me rather than against. The word of God is not truly alive and active, but that is a different argument. The afterthought preceded by "therefore" implies that you are saying this: The word of God might be alive and active, which means that it might not be outdated or irrelevant, ergo the Bible is law (just not the old testament).
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by OberHerr 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
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