Summit Ministries’ Dr. Jeff Myers Dispels Myths About Christianity, Faith, Politics and Government
** Editor's note: This is part of a press release The Gadfly Press obtained and felt should be read by a larger audience. The Gadfly Press will attempt to follow up with Dr. Jeff Myers on the issues raised in this release. We DO NOT endorse the following manuscript; we are publishing it for its instructive and informative value.**
Since 1962 Summit has been the quiet leader in preparing young adults to champion a Christian worldview. Christian leaders such as Dr. James Dobson and Josh McDowell have trusted Summit to help train their own children to think and act from a Christian worldview. Influencers like Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, pro-life activist Lila Rose and author Joshua Harris are just a few of those who have attended Summit ’s training courses and have utilized their education to produce life-changing results across the U.S. Summit has produced books and worldview training materials that are widely used in Christian day schools, churches and by homeschool families. These resources include Noebel’s text Understanding the Times, which has become the best-selling worldview text of all time.
It’s been said that religion and politics are the two topics that should never be discussed in polite company. So what happens if we talk about religion and politics together? Summit Ministries President Dr. Jeff Myers says that is exactly what the rising generation of Christians – in its desire for practical ways to express faith – hopes we will do.
In an age when people have lost their faith that government can make the world better, Myers says there’s never been a better time to talk about faith and politics:
“Misrepresentations about religion and politics, coupled with the increased complexity of the political, economic and social reality in 21st century America, almost certainly explain why many in the rising generation slink away from conservative positions and take up the rhetoric of the religious left,” Myers said. “At Summit , we start with scriptural principles to form a biblical worldview of politics. This critical task is one we undertake in all our programs, and it is all the more important as we approach both state primaries and the November elections. If the biblical worldview correctly depicts how the world works, then Christians should consider it entirely valid to study the Bible to discern the proper role of the state, the government’s relationship to other spheres of culture, and the nature of true justice.”
In its recent strategy newsletter, The Summit Journal, Summit listed four myths that Christians on both ends of the political spectrum often believe:
Myth 1: Politics is evil. Politics is simply the management of the affairs of the state. From a biblical viewpoint, politics is part of the cultural mandate to steward and exercise dominion over the created order. If creation made political culture prudent, the fall made it necessary; humans needed a system by which sin could be restrained. James Robison and Jay Richards explain in their new book, Indivisble, that government was also meant to foster a society with ordered liberty, pushing us toward a “freedom for excellence” and “rules that allow us to become what we’re supposed to become—to do what we’re supposed to do.”
Myth 2: Jesus didn’t deal with politics. As the creator of all things, Jesus has a lot to say when it comes to our own governance. Christ established distinctions as to where our allegiances should fall. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s,” is unarguably an instructive political statement, as well as a general framework for life—everything is God’s and God cares about everything. Three present-day issues with which Jesus would certainly be concerned are: the protection of life, the biblical view of marriage and religious liberty.
Myth 3: It is easy to discern a biblical view of politics. Some biblical positions, such as the value of human life, are easy to discern. Others aren’t quite so clear. Some say that the term biblical has been applied to some policies too broadly. For example, determining what Jesus would cut from the budget over-simplifies complex quandaries and extracts from Scripture what is not there. Religious conservatives can be tempted to do that as well. True, there is no tax policy spelled out in the Bible, but there are scriptural ideals that we should follow when creating policies—and in defending them.
Myth 4: Government is the primary way to exercise biblical compassion. Some of our problems are so big that many assume only a big government could adequately solve them. Take poverty elimination, for example. Scripture does advocate compassion toward the impoverished, yet it delineates no strict public policy mandate for governments. Christians must carefully discern which policies are most grounded in truth revealed in Scripture. Regarding the poverty debate in particular, political parties often argue over which entitlements get increased budget allotments and how to shrink the growing gap between the richest U.S. citizens and the poorest. If God designed us to order and create culture, shouldn’t our public policy reflect that? Do policies geared toward helping the poor affirm the imago Dei and encourage citizens to be producers of culture, not mere consumers waiting for a handout? And what policies will propel a society toward the prosperity and culture creation alluded to in Scripture? The fact is virtually all federal and state poverty programs treat the problem as merely financial, they regard humans simply as consumers. Poverty in the U.S. , where access to necessities is rarely the root problem, is typically caused by broken relational and vocational habits—not merely financial.
So what is the proper role of government?
“ A biblical view of politics and government starts with discerning the proper role of government itself,” Myers said. “Scripture is clear that the most basic function of the state is to do justice—to protect its citizens and punish those who harm others (Romans 13). The state must administer justice properly in order for a virtuous citizenry to flourish. But how is this done? Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper theorized that society is ordered in spheres of culture, arguing that the cultural mandate God pronounced in Genesis positions human identity in more than just nationality or political affiliation. Our identities are also bound up in our roles as children, siblings, spouses, parents, church members, workers, club members, athletes, local community citizens, etc. Most important of all, we are humans created in the image of God, owing allegiance to him. As such, each of these spheres of identity falls under the authority of God, including our role as citizens of the state. Therefore, the state has no authority to usurp the sovereignty implied in each of those particular roles. In addition, the state’s authority is subject to God’s authority. Kuyper’s view, then, is that justice is done by properly ordering the spheres of family, church and state and ensuring that none of them is institutionally permitted to usurp the authority of the others.”
For more information on Summit Ministries, Dr. Jeff Myers or Summit’s many resources, go here.