Monday, September 05, 2005

New Link (and more on Government)

I have added a new link today. That link is Probe Ministries. This is from their web site.

About Probe Ministries


Probe's mission is to present the Gospel to communities, nationally and internationally, by providing life-long opportunities to integrate faith and learning through balanced, biblically based scholarship, training people to love God by renewing their minds and equipping the Church to engage the world for Christ.

Ministry Outreaches

National and international youth and adult Mind Games Conferences attended by more than 10,000 participants since its inception.
Probe Radio Program, heard on over 400 stations daily, reaching 1 million people each week.
Probe staff members are interviewed regularly on national and international radio networks with listening audiences in the millions.
World Wide Web site resource with 1200+ articles and biblical perspective, including the ability to hear the Probe Radio program.
On-going research to address today's issues through honest and respected Christian scholarship.

Probe's History

Probe Ministries was founded in 1973 by James F. Williams Jr., who sought to form a ministry that would bridge the frontier between the agonizing questions man asks and the profound answers the Gospel offers. Beginning with the vision and no staff, Probe has grown today to form a working unit of 15 scholars and 10 support staff, along with the service of numerous volunteers. As the organization has served Christ faithfully for 32 years, Probe now stands ready to dramatically expand its ministry for Christ the next 32 years.

I can remember as a new Christian reading Probe Ministries and learning a great deal. I believe my friend Mark showed me this site, and for a while when we had questions about what some other internet ministry was saying, we would check Probe because early on we saw that their information seemed to be fair, balanced, and biblical. Kirby Anderson the National Director for Probe Ministries can be heard quite frequently on the Moody Broadcasting Network "Open Line" radio show, which I listen to occasionally on my way home from work.

Now that introductions are under way, I want to point you to a couple of articles on Probe that I think are informative. The first is titled "Christian View of Government and Law". I think this is a great introductory article that touches on why do we need government, and what is a biblcal view of government. Why does this matter? Well, for starters, the governmnent affects our daily lives, every single day. Shouldn't we as Christians have a biblical view of such a far reaching and ever visible part of our lives? And secondly, as Mr. Anderson points out, the government is established by God. Here's some good quotes.

Since civil government is necessary and divinely ordained by God (Rom. 13:1–7), it is ultimately under God’s control. It has been given three political responsibilities: the sword of justice (to punish criminals), the sword of order (to thwart rebellion), and the sword of war (to defend the state).

As citizens, Christians have been given a number of responsibilities. They are called to render service and obedience to the government (Matt. 22:21). Because it is a God-ordained institution, they are to submit to civil authority (1 Pet. 2:13–17) as they would to other institutions of God. As will be discussed later, Christians are not to give total and final allegiance to the secular state. Other God-ordained institutions exist in society alongside the state. Christians’ final allegiance must be to God. They are to obey civil authorities (Rom.13:5) in order to avoid anarchy and chaos, but there may be times when they may be forced to disobey (Acts 5:29).

Because government is a divinely ordained institution, Christians have a responsibility to work within governmental structures to bring about change. Government is part of the order of creation and a minister of God (Rom. 13:4). Christians are to obey governmental authorities (Rom. 13:1–4, 1 Peter 2:13-14). Christians are also to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13–16) in the midst of the political context.

Although governments may be guilty of injustice, Christians should not stop working for justice or cease to be concerned about human rights. We do not give up on marriage as an institution simply because there are so many divorces, and we do not give up on the church because of many internal problems. Each God-ordained institution manifests human sinfulness and disobedience. Our responsibility as Christians is to call political leaders back to this God-ordained task. Government is a legitimate sphere of Christian service, and so we should not look to government only when our rights are being abused. We are to be concerned with social justice and should see governmental action as a legitimate instrument to achieve just ends.

AMEN! Next quote.

As Christians, we recognize that God has ordained other institutions besides civil government which exercise authority in their particular sphere of influence. This is in contrast to other political systems that see the state as the sovereign agent over human affairs, exercising sovereignty over every other human institution. A Christian view is different.

The first institution is the church (Heb. 12:18–24; 1 Pet. 2:9–10). Jesus taught that the government should work in harmony with the church and should recognize its sovereignty in spiritual matters (Matt. 22:21).

The second institution is the family (Eph. 5:22–32, 1 Pet. 3:1–7). The family is an institution under God and His authority (Gen.1:26–28, 2:20–25). When the family breaks down, the government often has to step in to protect the rights of the wife (in cases of wife abuse) or children (in cases of child abuse or adoption). The biblical emphasis, however, is not so much on rights as it is on responsibilities and mutual submission (Eph. 5:21).

A third institution is education. Children are not the wards of the state, but belong to God (Ps. 127:3) and are given to parents as a gift from God. Parents are to teach their children (Deut. 4:9) and may also entrust them to tutors (Gal. 4:2).

In a humanistic system of government, the institutions of church and family are usually subordinated to the state. In an atheistic system, ultimately the state becomes a substitute god and is given additional power to adjudicate disputes and bring order to a society. Since institutions exist by permission of the state, there is always the possibility that a new social contract will allow government to intervene in the areas of church and family.

A Christian view of government recognizes the sovereignty of these spheres. Governmental intervention into the spheres of church and family is necessary in certain cases where there is threat to life, liberty, or property. Otherwise civil government should recognize the sovereignty of other God-ordained institutions.

Now, I'm not sure that I totally agree with Mr. Anderson (this is starting to sound like the Matrix...:) about the state stepping in to adopt children in cases of child abuse, but this section does speak to the sphere sovereignty or sphere influence. In other words, God has established institutions for the good of mankind in earthly matters, i.e. government and family, in addition to the church. The church's sphere of responsibility is primarily but not totally spiritual, while the other institutions are primarily physical but not totally physical.

The next article is "Politics and Religion". I'll have to comment on that one in my next post. See you then.

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