Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More questions than answers

So to recap, Christians should submit to authorities, pay their taxes and are only able to break the law when it would mean sinning. I suggested that it's the role of government to be the conscience of society, and Christians concerned to restrain evil should play their part in government by standing for office and by voting. These things seem fairly clear.

But, is there any ground for going to court? Any reason to appeal to the authorities? Various reasons seem to be used like...

1. In Acts we see Paul appeal to his Roman Citizenship which means he'll be transported to Rome. That spared him a beating and helped fulfill his ambition to preach in Rome. That seems to be an example of using a priviledge that the law had for him - but time and again before this he was abused by authorities without complaint. How did he decide which way go pursue it? Are there equivilants today? What would constitute the right situation today? Churches or mission teams prevented from being led by Christians? Chrisians denied the right to congregate or preach? International law secures such things so if they're denied us should we not appeal? I can see some ground to appeal on matters that are essential to the advance of the gospel and the existence of the church.

2. The other logic at work today is this: "We have the legal right to express our faith so we should fight for that - Muslims can wear things, shouldn't we also?" Hence the silver ring thing. But here's the thing, a Muslim may be able to justify wearing certain clothing but where exactly in the Bible are Christians given the right or need for external symbols?
This is better than what I'm going to write at the moment >
Adrian Reynolds on the tarnished ring thing.
The Silver Ring Thing court case infuriates me for at least two reasons - firstly, it bring disrepute on the gospel by implying that we need trinkets (whether rings or crucifixes) to show our purity or beliefs - I'd been led to believe that the work of the Holy Spirit was the mark of being a Christian. And secondly, it wastes vast kingdom resources that could be used to feed the poor or set aside an evangelist for a year.

In an individualistic culture I can't help thinking that we should be laying down our rights, while everyone else clambers for theirs. And if we want to fight for rights should we not fight for the rights of others too? Would the testimony of the gospel not be better advanced by Christians allowing ourselves to be wronged and going on living impeccably? Wronged by the system but committed to loving the world.

I can't help but recall the occasion when the (much maligned) Pure course was double-booked with a protest against it... the students running the course fed the protesters breakfast, and then move out of the room to let them use it. That feels like the right approach to be using as the world begins to flex it's muscles against us.