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THE CHRISTIAN AS SALT &

LIGHT IN POLITICS

Dr Toh See Kiat


BGST Annual Lecture
11 July 2008

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Outline – 5 parts
I. Defining the Issues and Taking Sides

II. What does It Mean to be Salt and Light?

III. Submission, Not Subordination

IV. Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits

V. The Rest Is Up To You


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Defining the Issues and Taking Sides

a. The meaning of “politics” (politeia)

b. Four positions on Christian involvement


in politics

c. My kingdom is not of this world

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My kingdom is not of this world
Jn 18: 33-37

 Pilate then went back inside the palace,


summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you
the king of the Jews?" …. Jesus said, "My
kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my
servants would fight to prevent my arrest by
the Jews. But now my kingdom is from
another place." "You are a king, then!" said
Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in
saying I am a king….”
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What does It Mean to be Salt and Light?

a. The functions of salt and light

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What does It Mean to be Salt and Light?
Mt 5: 13-14, 16
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses
its saltiness, how can it be made salty
again? It is no longer good for anything,
except to be thrown out and trampled by
men.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill
cannot be hidden.
….
In the same way, let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and
praise your Father in heaven. 6
What does It Mean to be Salt and
Light?

a. The functions of salt and light

b. Being political without doing politics

c. The political Jesus – in the face of evil


and injustice

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Submission, Not Subordination

a. The purpose of submission – let your


light shine

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Submission, Not Subordination
 Rom 13:1-2,4
1Everyone must submit himself to the
governing authorities, for there is no
authority except that which God has
established. The authorities that exist have
been established by God. 2Consequently,
he who rebels against the authority is
rebelling against what God has instituted,
and those who do so will bring judgment on
themselves….4For he is God's servant to do
you good.
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Submission, Not Subordination
 Rom 13:3-4
3For rulers hold no terror for those who do
right, but for those who do wrong. Do you
want to be free from fear of the one in
authority? Then do what is right and he will
commend you. 4For he is God's servant to
do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid,
for he does not bear the sword for nothing.
He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to
bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

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Submission, Not Subordination
 Rom 13:5-7
5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the
authorities, not only because of possible
punishment but also because of conscience.
6This is also why you pay taxes, for the
authorities are God's servants, who give their
full time to governing. 7Give everyone what
you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if
revenue, then revenue; if respect, then
respect; if honor, then honor.

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Submission, Not Subordination
 1 Pet 2:13-17
12Live such good lives among the pagans that,
though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may
see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he
visits us. 13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to
every authority instituted among men: whether to the
king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors,
who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong
and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God's
will that by doing good you should silence the
ignorant talk of foolish men. 16Live as free men, but
do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live
as servants of God. 17Show proper respect to
everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear
God, honor the king.
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Submission, Not Subordination
 1 Pet 2:15
For it is God's will that by doing good you
should silence the ignorant talk of foolish
men.

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Submission, Not Subordination
 1 Pet 2:12
Live such good lives among the pagans that,
though they accuse you of doing wrong, they
may see your good deeds and glorify God on
the day he visits us.

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Submission, Not Subordination

b. A Christian’s civil obligations

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Christian civil obligations
 1. Do not curse our rulers - Ecc 10:20; Ex 22:28,
quoted by Paul in Acts 23:5.
 2. Submit to them, honour them, respect them –
Rom 13:1; 1 Pet 2: 13,17; Tit 3:1-2
 3. Pray for governments: 1 Tim 2:1-3
 4. Pay your taxes: Mt 17:24-27; 22: 16-21; Rom 13:
6-7.
 5. Do what is right, obey the laws, do not rebel –
Rom 13:2-3; 1 Pet 2:14.
 6. Accept the punishment when we do wrong: Rom
13:4; 1 Pet 2:14
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Submission, Not Subordination
 Rom 13:1-2,4
1Everyone must submit himself to the
governing authorities, for there is no
authority except that which God has
established. The authorities that exist have
been established by God. 2Consequently,
he who rebels against the authority is
rebelling against what God has instituted,
and those who do so will bring judgment on
themselves….4For he is God's servant to do
you good.
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Submission, Not Subordination
 Tit 3:1-2
 Remind the people to be subject to rulers
and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to
do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be
peaceable and considerate, and to show true
humility toward all men.

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Submission, Not Subordination
 1 Tim 2:1-3
 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers,
intercession and thanksgiving be made for
everyone— for kings and all those in
authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet
lives in all godliness and holiness. This is
good, and pleases God our Savior

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Submission, Not Subordination

c. A challenge to be involved

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Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits

a. The separation of State and religion – a


proper understanding

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Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits

Violations of the boundaries


 State forbids Religion
 State prevails over Religion
 State favours Religion
 State defers to Religion
 State subordinated to religion
 No visible boundaries
 Religion abolishes State

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Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits

b. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and


to God what is God’s

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Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits

c. The limits of civil obedience and civil


disobedience

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Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits
1. Speak from knowledge and facts.
2. Do not speak in a shrill, strident voice.
3. Do not take aggressive stances.
4. Offer sound ideas, take reasoned and
reasonable positions.
5. Work within the system, rather than break
the law.
6. Don’t be self-righteous.
7. There is no need for self-inflicted
martyrdom.
8. Be truthful and honest – always. 25
Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits
Jn 7:18, Tit 3:1-2,
Rom 12:3, Rom 12:17-19,
1 Cor 4:12-13, Eph 4:25,
2 Cor 13:1, Heb 13:17,
Col 4:6, 1 Pet 2:20, 23

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The Rest Is Up To You
 Jer 29:4-7
This is what the LORD Almighty, the
God of Israel, says to all those I carried
into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
“… seek the peace and prosperity of
the city to which I have carried you into
exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because
if it prospers, you too will prosper."

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