Grudem begins by challenging five wrong views regarding Christians and government: 1) Government should compel religion. 2) Government should exclude religion. 3) All government is evil and demonic. 4) Do evangelism, not politics. 5) Do politics, not evangelism.
Most helpful to the pro-life cause is Grudem’s refutation of #4—namely, the faulty view that Christians should do evangelism not politics. Sadly, well-intentioned leaders like John MacArthur and Cal Thomas have discouraged pro-life Christians from engaging the culture through politics. They essentially claim that we should just preach the gospel because that is the only way we can change people’s hearts and change our society. As they see it, the church is only called to preach the gospel, not preach about politics. True, each of these authors allows for limited political involvement (what that looks like is never quite spelled out), but the general message to pro-life Christians is clear: Only preaching the gospel will reform culture. Everything else is largely a waste of time.
Unborn humans are at risk because of this faulty view and I’ve challenged it myself elsewhere. Meanwhile, Joe Carter has debunked the idea that Christians spend too much time on politics. Grudem, however, nails the core problem with MacArthur, et al: They wrongly take one of the ways that God restrains evil in the world (changing hearts through the gospel) and assert that it is the only way that God restrains evil (thus rejecting the role of civil government). Truth is, God gave both the church and the government a role to play:
I agree that one significant way that God restrains evil in the world is through changing people’s hearts when they trust in Christ as their Savior (see 2 Cor. 5:17). But we should not turn this one way into the only way that God restrains evil in this age. God also uses civil government to restrain evil, and there is much evil that can only be restrained by the power of civil government, for there will always be many who do not trust in Christ as their Savior and many who do not fully obey him.Exactly. As I’ve said before, pro-life Christians don’t have to choose between preaching the gospel and reforming culture. They can do both.