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Reformed Theology and Public Policy in Practice


From a recent interview with Senator Ben Sasse . . .

How did you become theologically Reformed? In college I was very involved in evangelical and parachurch groups—Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade (my wife is a former Cru staffer). Although I grew up in the Lutheran tradition and was very involved in FCA in high school, I didn’t have a lot of clarity about the differentiation of theological views inside Protestantism. In college I became a part of evangelistic groups that were very action-oriented and not always very theologically reflective. There were things that I couldn’t make sense of about the connection between faith and practice. So I started reading theology on purpose to make sense of things I was wrestling with and to try to understand the text better. I started reading a lot of Luther and read some B.B. Warfield. Bob Godfrey (president of Westminster Seminary California), Mike Horton (White Horse Inn media and Modern Reformation magazine), and R.C. Sproul were all really influential in my college clarification of being Calvinistic, Reformed.

How does your faith and theology inform policy fights and discussions? Three thoughts: First, a basic Christian orientation to living in the world. We live in the already and the not-yet, so as a Christian I am convicted of my sin and aware of Jesus’ salvific work both by imputation and by atonement on my behalf. Now I get the chance to live out a life of gratitude to God by trying to serve my neighbor, and politics is one of many secular callings—like building good shoes or speedboats.

Second? The American system is a glorious inheritance, because it is an anti-statist tradition. The purpose of American limited government is to make a broader, affirmational claim about human dignity and natural rights. Government doesn’t give us rights. We get rights from God via nature, and government is our shared project to secure those rights. The American system is a wonderful place for Christians to labor. We don’t have the challenges that Daniel had. We’re not being asked to bend the knee and worship Caesar. That is a glorious thing that we get to live in a state that doesn’t try and require idolatry. We should understand, affirm, and pass along that free tradition.

And third. People of goodwill are going to argue about policy. That is a good and healthy thing. We, as Christians, have a responsibility to do it in a way that doesn’t violate the Ninth Commandment. We don’t want to bear false witness against our neighbor, so we should assume our neighbor means well and try to characterize their position accurately, not beat a straw man. As it turns out, really believing in the dignity of your neighbor and loving your neighbor means that you want to try to refine and shape their best argument. Sometimes I’m going to be converted. There’s going to be a policy issue where I thought I knew the answer and somebody else has a better argument. I should be humble enough to actually be persuadable. If I’m going to try to persuade them, I want to do it by not misrepresenting their view. Some debates are genuine, where you’re actually open to wrestle with another idea. Other debates are faux, where all you’re really trying to do is beat someone. It turns out the latter is not only unpersuasive and ineffective—it’s really boring. It’s also dishonest.

To read the entire article, Ben Sasse -- A Reformed reformer

h.t. Brad Frank

Reader Comments (1)

I wish I could vote for Sasse this year.
October 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

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