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October 15, 2018 3:10 pm
This week on Family Policy Matters, NC Family Pastor Outreach Director Thomas Graham speaks with Bruce Asheford, Provost and Professor of Theology and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. They discuss how Christianity applies to the many facets of public life and how we as Christians can bear witness to our faith in ways that contribute to the common good.
About great grace without truth and grace together, how combination accommodation that our Lord exhibited we wanted to sustain the policy matters. Focus on faith tradition. Thomas Grant passed out each director for NC family join us once a month is pastor Graham shine some light on the intersection between our Christian faith and engaging our culture. Thank you for joining us for this week's focus on faith. Additional family policy matters today are very pleased to have as my just a man who is uniquely qualified to discuss how Christianity applies to the many facets of public life and how we as Christians can bear witness to our faith in ways that contribute to the common good. Dr. Bruce Ashford is Provost and Prof. of theology and culture at Southeastern Baptist theological seminary is the author or co-author of six books, including letters to an American Christian, every square inch. An introduction to cultural engagement for Christians and one nation under God.
A Christian hope for American politics is personal blog Christianity for the common good is full of delightful insight and conversation on this and many other important topics. Dr. Bruce Ashford. Welcome to family policy matters. It's great to have you on the show great great. I look for to talking wonderful, thank you will let me just died in here Dr. Ashford in talking about the intersection of faith in public life. I think it is important to hear and to see stories of individuals and how they have come to be the people they are teller listeners please a little about your life story from childhood to adulthood and particularly the role that faith played in molding you into becoming the man and leader you are today for that question about credit my parents for just a godly parents taught me to love and respect God's word and I think there they are teaching at me in my reading of the Bible really got a hold of me you know when I was a teenager and I think that's what I came to faith early on in college. I was very involved threat intersection Christianity in politics at that time in my life I became very cynical and dissolution because the things that's all happen behind the scenes and I sort of walked away from the whole thing but in recent years, you know, as I've been teaching at the seminary ministry for the missionary got continue to call my heart back to the public square and to show me that when things get tough.
It's not necessarily the right thing to walk away and thought jumped back in to try to honor the Lord in the midst of the very difficult I think public square situation we got here is United States. Thank God that he called me back into it, and thank you for being willing to talk about the things a little bit about the separation of church and state.
So in times like these. Dr. Ashford should Christians turn inward focus only on building individual virtue and like-minded communities to strengthen and fortify their their lives of faith in Jesus Christ, or is there more? He divided it to just talk briefly about what the proper relationship between religion and politics and proper relationship between church and state. I think that's two things are a little bit different at the same question so what is the relationship between religion and politics in the Bible defines religion not essentially as the worship of a supernatural deity that is privileged and fortunate after Christ religion in general is just what everyone does atheists or Christian or Muslim, you name it we ascribe ultimacy someone or something got Jesus Christ to the a lot of Mohammed sex for money or power over all worshipers and the Bible says that whatever it is we worship, we were spent in our heart and the heart of the central organizer of human existence as of the point is, what it would absolutize in our life when we ascribe ultimacy to absolutely gonna radiate outward into our public life. Of course it can affect our politics is what's most important to Christians, we are not to tire Christianity behind our back is actually no reason to do that sometime that we make arguments without using specifically Christian language you know provisionally that helps us to know when the day in a discussion or debate, but it what we ought to allow her Christianity to shape our belief that part of church and state organized church to church in this edition in the dictation of this woman their own line. The government is called to bring justice to the very community perky and it ought to keep its tentacles out of the church's business can't tell us what to teach intelligent talk limitation to the negative pastor vice versa.
The local church is not called to put itself in a coercive relationship with the statement.
What we don't have domination set up the number one denomination in our country and we want to avoid both of the errors but just like you only hurt Christians listen, this is a great trust the Lord has given us that we can vote in this country that we can get on to go to a coffee shop conversation or a Facebook conversation or call-in radio show and make our voice heard. What role do civic virtues play in America and how do they overlap with traditional Christian virtues. Yeah it also civic virtues of virtue that we would hope that all of us as Americans would try to get it in our lives, whether they're Christian or not to mention the sum of all of us should want justice, you know that we want good loss in good order and then people should conform to that law and order. I think we want citizens were honest politicians who are honest and that seems an oxymoron.
Sometimes we like the amount of civility that people misunderstand stability.
Sometimes they think civility needs weakness, not weakness, ability and determination to tell the truth, but while were telling the truth to recognize the people were telling the truth to people that dignity inherent dignity of the created image in lines of God live up until partial truth about them mocking the meeting degraded so you can stay there the moment to be tough. I think in the public square. You think the sum of the civic virtue that others we do our work will work on developing working even when other people are not being purchased for us that the toughest time you are listening to a resource to listen to our radio show online resources have a place of persuasion in your community website, alleging Dr. Ashford when it comes to politics. Many Christians can tend toward a very well as a black-and-white view of the right and wrong way to solve problems. So when we recognize the universality of Christ, truth, are the answers to political questions always just simply black and white unit are not always black and white and 21st-century Democratic Republic where citizens get to argue for the common good and well written versus we are ideologically and in other ways to sometimes politics involves hammering out working arrangements and is working arrangements like to get elected or which log put in place to be messy, yet is usually no single one of us is going to get everything we want, but were just going to have to live in the real world that gave us is that an ideal world, that good is happy I am to live in our nation. This is not heaven, this is not heaven get out. Things are going to be black and white, very true. Very true, Dr. Ashford, much of your work focuses on politics and public life, but you also branch out into the important role that institutions like marriage and activities like working education play in achieving the public good for you.
Just flesh that thought out a bit for us. More believers sometimes protected woman want to see change in our country that all of her eggs in the basket of short-term at work there mechanism is good is not bad but when that's the only thing we get counterproductive because short-term political activism number one limits our witness only to spear politics in the short term means that sometimes will do things in the short term. That hurt us in the long term, though, instead of Atlas ticket Broadview, let's have a significant Christian action witness in the realm of education, marriage and family of the arts and sciences, business and entrepreneurship sports and competition. All of these are arenas in which we can enter into them and say hey what would God want from this cultural institution or cultural activity has been corrupted by sin and how can we bring correction to that which is been corrupted happily take when he gets additions bench twisted by bad worldview by sin how we can enter in and help untwist what's been twisted and this is an exciting and very difficult thing to do, but we need to lock arms and do it for the good of our nation and even more importantly as a witness to our Lord. I couldn't agree with you more. Some Christians have debated in recent elections over abstaining from voting when one thinks that there are no good options. As we approach election day 2018 which is just around the corner. How should Christians view the American tradition of considering voting to be of a duty. Yeah, you know, I agree with that tradition. I think it is a very good thing.
And even at renewed is a responsibility that we live in a nation where our voice and our vote count even for a small voice. All of us are small though in a very large country without a vote, yeah.
And I think usually that is to be given to the major party candidate to make your party founding fathers never envisioned or wanted their major party that we got and usually almost always my vote has been for Canada. One of those parties. There might be a time to vote for a third-party candidate or someone from another party appointed this week the great trust of being a Christian witness and wanting to shape our nation's call solicitation specialist political cetaceans, then voting is absolutely central to that absolutely Dr. Ashford to express your view with respect to pastoral involvement. I know that is a great amount of interest among a good percentage of pastors to be sure that their people are registered to vote and so forth. Now what about bringing this into the local congregation and making it possible for members of the church is to in fact registered to vote and so forth have any experience with having is that something that you feel should be endorsed to question you. The role of the local church. General found out what your question is that a pastor in a pulpit want to make sure that when he said, thus saith the Lord that whatever he said actual word of God. And that's why we teach the Bible and we don't often make application to 21st-century political public policy issues. Sometimes we can make application of public policy at the abortion is a good example of that, but often things are more tricky, more complicated, and are our political opinion about places other than the pulpit and in the local church setting, but you know in getting people to register to vote at you. I don't see that as I don't see that is harmful to the local church and it's not like you're forcing people to register one particular party right now you're just saying hey listen, this is a great way to exercise your Christian faith, the want to register, that all pastors that might be a bit reluctant to engage this way or to encourage this kind of activity would you have a recommended response to these past yeah pastors there will also like it will start at and what thereafter and I don't want the local church to look like a public policy, political, that the action arm of some public policy is to start by affirming that they listen, there's gotta be an appropriate way that you could encourage people to get involved in voting. Maybe you have to sign it somewhere other than the church property. You need to be ready make sure that is not a Sunday morning at another time during the week.
If you're worried about that and encouraging people to vote, you're not being a political party that's excellent, excellent Dr. Ashford. How can Christians approached controversial topics in the public conversation in ways that are well that are winsome and engaging without sacrificing truth in a good rule of that we want to get everything right the same time. When I talk about truth any delivering that content of the Christian worldview. Talk about grace. I mean having the sort of disposition that Christ had that he didn't that mean integrated with him. He discussed and debated.
He treated them with dignity is created image like God even if he had a safe and pretty sharp truth to them. We gotta do that truth without grace political bullies and jerk grace without truth make the nonentity but truth and grace together.
The powerful combination accommodation that our Lord we want to just before we go working on listeners go online to learn more about your work and in your writings on these and so many other important topics. Thank you so much. I mentioned to Clay email@example.com to purchase any of my textbook, especially the most written one letter soon American Christian, which was written for the same people that listen to this podcast. People like you and me letter soon American Christian. The name of the book of all Bruce Ashford.net and I blogging regularly on social, cultural and political issues and how we might shape the light of our Christian faith is so much for being with us on policy matters and for all you do. And God bless you my friend, you've been listening to family policy matters production family to listen to our radio show online, and for more resources and information about issues and to families in North Carolina go to our website and see family.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook