Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why Religion has Everything to do with Politics (John Mitchell Mason)

In a sermon in 1800, American pastor John Mitchell Mason (1770-1829) said this about religion and politics:

That religion has, in fact, nothing to do with the politics of many who profess it, is a melancholy truth. But that it has, of right, no concern with political transactions, is quite a new discovery. If such opinions, however, prevail, there is no longer any mystery in the character of those whose conduct, in political matters, violates every precept, and slanders every principle, of the religion of Christ. 

But what is politics? Is it not the science and the exercise of civil rights and civil duties? And what is religion? Is it not an obligation to the service of God, founded on his authority, and extending to all our relations personal and social? 

Yet religion has nothing to do with politics! Where did you learn this maxim? The bible is full of directions for your behaviour as citizens. It is plain, pointed, awful in its injunctions on rulers and ruled as such: yet religion has nothing to do with politicsYou are commanded "in all your ways to acknowledge him." [Proverbs 3:6a] "In every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to let your requests be made known unto God," [Philippians 4:6b] "And whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." [Colossians 3:17a]

Yet religion has nothing to do with politics! Most astonishing! And is there any part of your conduct in which you are, or wish to be, without law to God, and not under the law of Christ? Can you persuade yourselves that political men and measures are to undergo no review in the judgment to come? That all the passion and violence, the fraud and falsehood, and corruption which pervade the systems of party, and burst out like a flood at the public elections, are to be blotted from the catalogue of unchristian deeds, because they are politics? Or that a minister of the gospel may see his people, in their political career, bid defiance to their God in breaking through every moral restraint, and keep a guiltless silence because religion has nothing to do with politics? 

I forbear to press the argument farther; observing only, that many of our difficulties and sins may be traced to this pernicious notion. Yes, if our religion had had more to do with our politics; if, in the pride of our citizenship, we had not forgotten our Christianity: if we had prayed more and wrangled less about the affairs of our country, it would have been infinitely better for us at this day.

John Mitchell Mason, "The Voice of Warning to Christians," 1800. 

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