Justice Sunday II

Tonight was Justice Sunday II, hosted by Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville. “God Save the United States and this Honorable Court!” This announcement that is made when the Supreme Court sits in session was the theme for JSII.

Joe Carter of the Evangelical Outpost blogged live from the event. Here is one of my favorite comments from his report:

5:50pm — After thirty years as an American evangelical you’d think I’d be used to seeing an American flag in the church. But while I respect the symbol of our country, I’ve never been comfortable with an object that inspires patriotism sharing the stage with the symbol of our Savior’s sacrifice. So I feel a bit uneasy seeing the two flags flanking a cross with a plaster statue of the Ten Commandments centered in front, used as the backdrop for the speakers. The cross is sufficient for salvation. Why is it not sufficient for the church?

Why indeed?

I met with others for worship tonight, so I was not able to tune in for the show. Other than what I read at the EO, I do not know how the program came off.

These kinds of events strike me as David trying to combat Goliath by using Saul’s armor. He had sense enough to realize that it wouldn’t work. Many evangelicals seem to think that encouraging churches to engage in political activities in order to attain desirable moral goals is a wise strategy. I think it is wrong-headed and self-defeating.

The church has been given a mission and it has nothing to do with exerting political pressure. Impact on culture and political structures has been most signiificant when it has come as a by-product of that mission being pursued with zeal and passion. If evangelical Christians want to see the moral degeneration of our culture reversed then they must become more serious in preaching and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their churches.

The best thing that the church can do for the world is not to try to influence who gets appointed to the Supreme Court but to be the church. Well-ordered, Gospel-saturated, Christ-centered churches are a far greater need in our country than are the right kind of judges.

I am not at all suggesting that Christians should not care about the political process. I am suggesting that a church as a church should never allow itself to be confused with a political action committee. Hosting a political rally does exactly that.

Our churches are filled with people who give no signs of regeneration, who cannot even recite the ten commandments, who do not know the Gospel and who do not live any differently from their unconverted neighbors. What we need is biblical reformation. Political activism is much easier and may well rally and excite the masses of unregenerate people in many churches, which means that the success of such theopolitical efforts may prove more deadly than their failure. Anything that keeps us from facing up to our greatest need, no matter how much “good” it may apparently accomplish, is spiritually deadly.

That is one of my greatest fears in all of this: that JSI and JSII and all the future JS gatherings may actually be politcally effective. If they are, then look for more of the same which will mean that we will continue traveling further and further from what Christ has called His church to be and do.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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