Charles Colson on Christian Patriotism
Tomorrow night, I’m giving a lecture for the First Tuesday Lecture Series at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. My topic is “Does God Care How I Vote? The Relationship between Faith and Politics.” As I’ve been preparing the lecture, I’ve been thinking about some of the thinkers who’ve most influenced my own views on this question.
Over the years, I’ve been particularly influenced by Francis Schaeffer, J. Budziszewski, Richard John Neuhaus, Robert George, and Russell Moore. I’ve also had lots of helpful conversations on this topic with friends such as Micah Fries, Doug Baker, Bruce Ashford, and Benjamin Quinn. But before I read or met any of these men, Charles Colson first inspired me to think more deeply about the relationship between Christian faith and political engagement.
One of my favorite Colson quotes on this topic comes from his classic book Kingdoms in Conflict: An Insider’s Challenging View of Politics, Power, and the Pulpit (Zondervan, 1987):
Christians who are faithful to Scripture should be patriots in the best sense of that word…. Not because they are forced to or even choose to, not out of any chauvinistic motivations or allegiance to a political leader, but because they love and obey the King who is above all temporal leaders. Out of that love and obedience they live in subjection to governing authorities, love their neighbors, and promote justice. Since the state cannot legislate love, Christian citizens bring a humanizing element to civic life, helping to produce the spirit by which people do good out of compassion, not compulsion (p. 246).
Good stuff. I’d also highly recommend you read Timothy George’s recent Baptist Press article, titled “How Should Christian Voters Decide Whom to Support?”