it doesn’t consider those “political things”
I needed a bit more context to make sense of that quote.
“For us, we focus on policy things,” he said, adding that while Apple is “pro-environment, pro-immigration, capitalist, and strong believers in privacy,” it doesn’t consider those “political things.”
You know I was actually thinking about something v similar yesterday after reading a report on Islamic Finance. IF invests in companies and then puts pressure on them to adopt Islamic standards, through this and other processes they’ve ensured that 25% of the UK’s food is halal while the current muslim population in Britain is around 6%. It would be nice if we could similarly get the church mobilised to think strategically about investments that would push companies towards abiding by the law of God, stop Sunday trading & promoting degeneracy. Then again we don’t have an equivalent to Saudi Arabia to get such an initiative kick started.
You are right we need to be smart. I’m very skeptical about taking cues from Muslims, tho. They do that kind of thing all over the world, and I hate it. They lead with their money, in other words, and I think it’s gross.
I prefer the way some entrepreneurs in our community have done it – they’ve built businesses and been intentional about using them to bless the church and the broader community with employment. They use money as a weapon for the kingdom, but a spiritual weapon, not a carnal one. Here’s an example (start at about 19:00 for the meat of the story):
Brother, I am having a hard time determining whether or not you are being sarcastic. I am hopeful that you are. Christ has no fellowship with Belial, so as to take cues from him. There is nothing for the church to learn from Islam.
Our mission is not to go into all the world and try to coerce men, through use of earthly power (e.g. money or the sword), to keep law. This is Islam’s approach because law and coercion is all that Islam has. Righteousness, in Islam, has to do with the outward submission to laws and statutes. But this is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity.
As Christians, we believe man is utterly fallen, and incapable of producing righteousness in and of himself. We know that sin is a not ultimately an issue of our external actions, but an issue of corrupt desires. As Christians, we know that the wicked fruit that manifests in our external actions is merely symptomatic of the underlying corruption of our hearts. Thus the Christian remedy for sin is not law, but rather new birth. We must be born again.
So we don’t go around trying to coerce men to live more moral lives. The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Rather, our mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, and command men to repentance. The only obedience to God’s law that we are interested in is the obedience that comes from faith (Romans 1:5). Our interest is not to make men become zealous for a law which they are, in themselves, incapable of keeping, but rather that men may be born again of the Spirit, being transformed by faith to walk in newness of life.
Men may be coerced to do many things against their will. Those things may even be good for the common grace well-being of society. But it is not Christianity. Whatever outward obedience a man may give to Christian ethics does not make him a Christian, for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Apart from faith, it is impossible to please him.
Our interest is not to coerce the world to submit to Christian ethics. Our interest is to preach the truth, and speak to men’s consciences concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. It is the Spirit’s work through the preaching of the gospel that will transform men to walk in obedience to God’s law.
If we want to transform society, we must make our only weapon to be the proclamation of the lordship of Jesus Christ. Because we are those who have passed from death to life, and we know that no other weapon will do. The kingdom of God will not be built by the earthly tools of force and coercion.
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:2
I agree with you in principle, @jander.
But do you see no place at all for boycotts?
Isn’t that well-being, both of society and of the Christian particularly, the point? Were the laws in this nation against commerce on Sunday a Bad Thing?
I agree with the general principle of not coercing people with money like the Muslims in Europe are doing or losing focus on the new birth by focusing on externals, however, all laws of a nation are, at least to some extent, coercive. Sunday work laws, and other so called blue laws, were largely an application of the 2nd use of the law. Application of passages like 1 Timothy 1:8-11 and Deuteronomy 13:6-11. It also helped helped to prevent Christians from being asked to violate the Sabbath or go against their conscience, encouraging the proper 3rd use of the law.
This is essentially the definition of the 2nd use of the law, to restrain evil and protect the righteous from the unjust.
Boycotts have to do with the deliberate withdrawal from participating in a thing for the purpose of protesting a point. And yes, I do think there’s a place for the Christian to boycott. There are times when it is appropriate to say, with our money, that we’re not going to bow down to this or that golden image in exchange for goods or services.
But I think there are many silly boycotts that Christians engage in. For instance, I think it’s a ridiculously sad thing when Christians boycott stores for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” We make the so-called “war on Christmas” into some sort of proxy war to avoid participation in the actual war of preaching Christ to a lost and crooked generation. It is really nothing short of Christians getting wrapped up in their sentimental ideas of what society should look like, instead of actually taking up the substance of the gospel. Why do we act so surprised that a depraved and Christless culture would not appreciate Christmas?
Nevertheless, we weren’t talking about boycotts. We were talking about investing in companies in order to seize control of them and force them to adopt Christian ethics. I see these as two very different things.
In the sense that I described this – which was speaking of the common grace well-being society – no, that is not the point. Our point is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, not to merely ban people from working on Sundays.
I do think there is a place for the Christian to engage in political activity. I am grateful, for example, for the Christians who have gone before me in my state to appeal to the governing authorities to legalize homeschooling, and make great provisions of liberty for my family. I see these sorts of efforts as consistent with 1 Timothy 2:1-4. By proclaiming simple truths regarding the place of the family, the authority of the parents, and the intrinsic nature of education, and calling the governing authorities to submit to those truths, homeschooling advocates have advanced the ability for Christians like me to pursue a peaceful and quiet life as I raise my children.
But that peaceful and quiet life for the Christian is not an end in itself. Rather, the peaceful and quiet life of the Christian is in pursuit of proclaiming the gospel, because God desires all men to be saved (again, 1 Timothy 2:1-4). We are not interested in merely creating a world where Christians can live comfortably in a society that they control through political or economic brow-beating power. We are pilgrims and exiles here. We are citizens of a city that is to come, a city whose builder and maker is God, by the Spirit.
But again, we weren’t talking about making truth appeals to government officials. We were talking about commercial investments as a tool to seize power.
Right ok. Going to need to say something to this…
I agree with the first sentence but the second doesn’t follow. Jesus tells us the imitate serpents (Matt 10:16).
I agree entirely with this. I hold to a classical protestant sharp distinction between the law and the gospel. Nevertheless the gospel doesn’t abolish any of the three uses of the law and that includes its first use.
Here you seem to totally reject the first use of the law, thats quite radical and not orthodox. Taking your point to its logical conclusion means we should have no interest in the affairs of the state…or for that matter parenting children if we aren’t sure they’re converted.
Nonsense. What is good for the well-being of society is what gives us space to preach the gospel clearly. In a fatherless society it becomes harder to preach of Gods fatherly kind care. In a society where the state calls good evil and evil good it is becomes harder to convict men of their sin and need of a saviour. Its harder to get folks to church on Sunday if they are all working!
I’ll finish with a random quote from Luther which I happened to be reading yesterday, although quotes from any of the reformers could be multiplied no end.
“The first use of the Law, then, is to bridle wicked people. For the devil reigns throughout the whole world and forces people to do all kinds of horrible wickedness. Therefore God has ordained magistrates, parents, teachers, laws, shackles, and all civic ordinances, so that, if they cannot do anything else, they at least may bind the devils hands so that he does not rage in his slaves as he wants to do. This civil restraint is very necessary and appointed by God, both for public peace and for preservation of everything, but especially so that the course of the Gospel should not be hindered by wicked people.” Luthers Galatians commentary.
My point is simply that it would help the culture if we thought christianly about our investments and in doing so we could hinder that which hinders the course of the gospel. Perhaps people are triggered by my reference to Islam. Believe me I know all about the satanic nature of Islam.
I’m talking about the point in the context of this discussion:
You keep trying to shift it to one of what the essence of the gospel is. If there is no place for discussing good things to do other than gospel proclamation, then there is no place for any secular employment at all. All must be full time evangelists.
Well said. This is something people often forget, that life is interrelated. This is why all of life can, and should, be done to the glory of God. Diligent work allows me to support my family, allows my wife to be a homemaker and homeschool, allows my children to be, Lord willing, brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It allows me tithe, to support missionaries, support local institutions that feed the homeless, numerous other activities that, although they may not be direct evangelism, support the spread of the gospel.
Although noone in this discussion has said that full time evangelism is the only option, there are people who will prioritize the spread of the gospel to such an extent that they start to claim it is the only option. I once listened to a sermon by a fairly well known fundamentalist baptist preacher who said farming should be left to unbelievers, because it was such a time consuming occupation that they would have no time or energy for “soul-winning.” This is an extreme example, but is the logical end to the point @jtbayly made.
I’m even someone who believes far more of us should and could be full time evangelists. Why not have more evangelists while thinking strategically about all of life.
Thanks for the continued responses. It seems I have some work to do to clarify what I’m trying to convey.
It sounds like ya’ll are hearing me say that we should all be out evangelizing all the time, and that all involvement in the civil arena or secular employment are wastes of time and Christians should prohibit themselves from engaging in them. I don’t believe anything of the sort. I, too, have heard preachers speak in such a way as @Jesse outlined, and I think we will all firm that such reasoning is horribly flawed.
I am in no way arguing that parental rule in the home, or government’s restraining sin through the law, etc., are not good and God-ordained. But these do need to be kept in their proper light. While it’s good for my children that I, as their father, would restrain their sin and require obedience of them, this should not be understood as an end to itself. My great aim as a parent is not merely to produce children who are generally respectful and submissive to authority. I’m not just trying to produce good members of society. My great hope is that through the discipline and instruction they receive as my child, they might learn their need for a Savior, and come to new life through faith in him.
This is what I mean when I say that our interest isn’t to coerce the world to adopt Christian ethics. Perhaps it would have been clearer if I said our interest isn’t merely to coerce the world to adopt Christian ethics. I don’t know. But I trust you understand what I am saying.
But I digress on that point. It isn’t the main thing I want to talk about.
What I set out to criticize was the proposed strategy of investing in companies in order to seize control over them, and then force Christian ethics upon them. I didn’t set out to oppose all dealings with the world or anything like that.
Calling governments to repentance and to appeal to them by arguments about the truth of the world God made is one thing. Refraining from doing business with organizations that are diametrically opposed to what we stand for is one thing. But to propose that we should clandestinely plot to like, invest in Disney, so we can take control of 51% of their stock to ensure there will never be a gay princess; or to take control of Walmart so they will close on Sunday? Stuff like that is just sneaky, and exposes a desire to simply craft a Christianesque society apart from actually converting people or appealing to them on the basis of truth.
Maybe that isn’t what you were proposing, but that’s what it looked like to me.
As far as I know, a “boycott” always has a goal, being sought through financial… well… “coercion” isn’t quite the right word, but it certainly is close. Financial “influence” might be better. The bigger the group boycotting the more like coercion it is.
I’m sympathetic, but I don’t think you’ve adequately answered the previous points about the uses of the law. What if it wasn’t sneaky? Does that change anything? Suppose a country with majority Christians. Are blue laws problematic in your mind?
Actually, they lead with slaughter and I think it’s deadly. Love,
Sounds like there are a couple of references in this thread to the traditional reformed threefold use of the law.
I try to avoid making assumptions so for the sake of clarity can @ascryans or @jtbayly (or anyone) please make clear what you mean by first use of the law and how you see it applying to this conversation. It would be much appreciated.
@ascryans already gave a fairly detailed explanation that included this quote from Luther’s commentary on Galatians:
“The first use of the Law, then, is to bridle wicked people. For the devil reigns throughout the whole world and forces people to do all kinds of horrible wickedness. Therefore God has ordained magistrates, parents, teachers, laws, shackles, and all civic ordinances, so that, if they cannot do anything else, they at least may bind the devils hands so that he does not rage in his slaves as he wants to do. This civil restraint is very necessary and appointed by God, both for public peace and for preservation of everything, but especially so that the course of the Gospel should not be hindered by wicked people .”
Does that not answer your question?
With respect, no, it doesn’t. I was going to ask the same clarifying question that Chris did. I thought maybe you were referring to Calvin’s “Threefold Use of the Law,” (link to Sproul summary). Is that what you’re referencing? Or did Luther have his own order of talking about it that I am unaware of? Or are we talking – as I thought we were – about the Christian use of human law, as in, how ought Christians seek to employ the influence of government force as a vehicle to influence the world (with God’s law) for the kingdom of God?
Joseph, you earlier said that you believed I was trying to shift the conversation, but are you sure you aren’t the one doing that at this point? The present discussion arose from the specific proposition that Christians should invest in companies in order to assert Christian influence in the world. So, unless I’m missing something, we weren’t originally even talking about the use of government influence and human law to restrain the evildoer. We’re talking about weaponizing our money to supplant sinful institutions, but doing so in such a way that bypasses actually appealing to persons to repent and believe the gospel. And I think we should have a big problem with that.
I think of Acts 19, where the silversmiths – who made their living through crafting idols – had their livelihood threatened. This was a case where Christianity was indeed having a direct economic influence. But how did it come about? Did Paul appeal to a few rich Christians to scheme and plot to penetrate the silversmith industry and take it down from the inside? No. He preached the gospel. And as people were being saved, the economics took care of themselves.
About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” - Acts 19:23-27
Paul appealed to persons concerning their sin and idolatry, and compelled them to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. Economic scheming is not the Christian way. Working over the politicians through flattery, bribing, and blackmailing is not the Christian way. Rather, we appeal to all men with the truth.
Now, if the truth should persuade government officials or business owners to enact justice within their spheres of influence, then so be it. Praise God. But it is the truth that must compel them to do this, not our schemes.
Edit: I’ll certainly go back and read Luther’s Galatians commentary, I just get the sense that we’re having two different conversations now.
Well worth it, but that’s a big commitment you just made. lol. More tomorrow.