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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ortberg's Thoughts on Preaching, the Church and Politics

See the entire article at Christianity Today.
Imagine that we elected all the right people to all the right offices—President, congress, governors, right down to school board, city council members, and dog catcher (is that still an office anyone gets to vote for?).

Let's imagine that all these ideal office holders instituted all the right policies.

Let's imagine that we got all the propositions right. (In California, we vote on lengthy and complicated propositions for everything you can imagine. Nobody understands them all.) Every piece of legislation—from zoning laws to tax codes to immigration policy to crime bills—is just exactly the way you know it ought to be.

Would that usher in the kingdom of God?

Would the hearts of the parents be turned toward their children?

Would all marriages be models of faithful love?

Would greed and pride be legislated out of existence?

Would assistant pastors find senior pastors to be models of harmony and delight?

Would human beings now at last be able to master our impulses in areas of sexuality and anger and narcissism?

Let's get a little more personal.

Would you finally become the woman or man you know you ought to be?

In the words of theologian Macauley Culkin: "I don't think so."

Because no human system has the ability to change the human heart.

Not even democracy, or capitalism, or post-modern-emergent-ancient-future-missionalism.

T.S. Elliot summed up our quandary brilliantly: "We want a system of order so perfect that we do not have to be good."

Systems are important. But they're also complicated. Historian Mark Noll notes that evangelicals often fail to add value in politics because we like simplicity: good vs. evil; right vs. wrong. Political and economic arrangements are full of complexity and nuance. Well-intended legislation may lead to poor results.

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