Competent Turks

"Things would really be different if we could just get more Christians elected to office." I can't tell you how often I've heard people say that. They seem to think if we could fill Congress with born-again believers, we'd straighten out the country in a hurry. Now, I'm all in favor of Christians running for political office. Christians are called to apply biblical truth to all areas of life--and that includes government. But it's be a big mistake to think just electing Christians to office is going to solve all our nation's problems. We also have to make sure candidates understand biblical principles of government. Remember 1976 when headlines across the country announced that Jimmy Carter was born again. The news electrified Christians. What a difference it would make to have a Christian in the Oval office. Then in 1980 the Moral Majority announced that it would work to get Christians into government to reform the nation's moral values. Well, in both elections Christians got the candidates they wanted, but how much difference did it make? The nation has continued its slide into moral relativism. You see, sometimes even Christian candidates are stymied by the bureaucracy once they're in office. Sometimes they change their views. And sometimes they don't have a solidly biblical understanding of government to begin with. Take an example from history. In the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck forged several minor states into the nation of Germany. Bismarck was a committed Christian. His private correspondence shows that he experienced a real conversion, that he prayed and read the Bible regularly. But Bismarck saw no connection between his faith and his politics. For him, there were no transcendent ideals guiding politics--only crass national interest. Today he is best remembered for his ruthless power politics. A true Christian statesman must be both a Christian and a statesman--someone who has a personal faith in Christ but who also knows how to manage government on the biblical model. Remember the story of Jethro, Moses's father-in-law. He advised Moses to appoint judges for Israel--men who, in his words, feared God and were competent--men with the ability to judge wisely. Think of it of this way. A few years ago, I had to have surgery. I would have been overjoyed to find a Christian surgeon to perform the operation. But that wasn't my first concern. My first concern was to find the most competent surgeon available. The same rule applies in politics: What we need is people who will do the best job. Martin Luther understood this. That's why he said he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk than by an incompetent Christian. The Bible teaches objective principles about the proper tasks of government: to promote justice and restrain sin. Sometimes non-Christians are simply better trained in how to carry out those tasks than Christians are. So it's not enough just to elect Christians to political office. We also have to look for people who are able, as Jethro said, to do the job--who understand the biblical principles of government. That's what I'll be talking about tomorrow, here on this station.


Chuck Colson


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