As a pastor who has been arrested for pro-life rescue, I appreciated your April issue, which makes three crucial points concerning Christian civil disobedience. One, it should arise from the church, not from one lone ranger (“What Reconciliation Sounds Like,” Mark Galli). Two, it is a tool of last resort, but must always have a place in the Christian toolbox (“Consider Civil Disobedience,” David Koyzis). And three, when we make the difficult choice to act in civil disobedience, we must be careful to “Be angry, and yet do not sin” (“The Shaken Conscience of a Pro-Life Activist,” Karen Swallow Prior).
Because the church I serve is within three miles of one of the abortion clinics of the doctor who invented the grisly procedure known as partial-birth abortion, I felt compelled to respond. However, the civil disobedience that was appropriate in 1988 does not seem appropriate in 2016. As your writers would no doubt agree, wise and prayerfully determined tactics should fit our current times and circumstances.
I received the April edition of CT in my mailbox this week. Wow, what an outstanding issue.
Every issue is special, but this one excels in so many ways. The issue of civil disobedience is handled with enormous skill by David Koyzis (“Consider Civil Disobedience”). And the essay from Leith Anderson and Ed Stetzer on a new way to define evangelicals is incredibly timely (“A New Way to Define Evangelicals”).
I found the essay by Karen Swallow Prior to be one of the most engaging, heartfelt, and honest pieces I have read in a long time (“The Shaken Conscience of a Pro-Life Activist”). My respect for her is off the chart. She’s a courageous person whose reflections should be of great value to the body of Christ on this divisive issue.
Executive Director, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
While I appreciate the tenor of David Koyzis’ article on civil disobedience, I was astonished that he made such limited reference to the momentous contribution of John Calvin to this debate in his Institutes.
After arguing that individuals should not rise up against unjust rulers, Calvin warns that if local magistrates neglect their divine duty to protect the freedom of the people, then that would amount to “nefarious perfidy” (wicked betrayal or treachery). When commenting on Daniel 6:22, Calvin goes further, proclaiming ungodly princes to be inhuman. He urges complete defiance. We should rather “spit upon their heads” than obey them!
Henry I. Lederle
God doesn’t need anyone to stand up for him. People need you to stand up for them.
I was disappointed that most of Koyzis’ article dealt with when Christians should not submit to the governing authorities, [rather than] when they should. It is accepted practice that Christians ought to obey the laws of the land except in certain instances. Those “exceptions” become crystal clear when many believers get behind the steering wheel. Then otherwise law-abiding Christians break the speed limit with impunity, dart in and out of traffic with abandon, and drive just as their nonbelieving neighbors do, with one key difference: they have an ichthus symbol plastered on their cars to emphasize that they are different from the world. Really?
Winter Haven, FL
The only time Christians are commanded to disobey is when man’s laws violate God’s laws.
Comparing the actions of Bree Newsome and Kim Davis is a very poor example of the juxtaposition found in civil disobedience. Kim Davis is an elected official. Her personal stance as a Christian does not negate her role and responsibility to the people of Rowan County. If her job duties negate her religious beliefs, she should step down from that position. That would be a true act of civil disobedience—taking a stand for her beliefs, not stubbornly refusing to do the job for which she was elected.
Well thought out and written. Huge implications on how we approach justice and mission. Thanks for the challenge.
I enjoyed this article. When I was a kid, I “saw” Jesus the way Western artists tended to depict [him].
Just read @LoveLifeLitGod’s piece on abortion protesting. Powerful stuff and worth reading. Be careful with your words.
If you’re pro-life but have issues with some tactics of the movement, this is for you. Thankful for @LoveLifeLitGod.
Complexity, vulnerability, and conviction stand together in this piece. That is good writing. Thanks @LoveLifeLitGod.
The four core belief statements presented by Leith Anderson and Ed Stetzer as the key factors for identifying an evangelical American were spot-on and well-written. Any evangelical church or parachurch organization working on their doctrine of faith could use these to ensure they are incorporated. I also wonder: Should there be a fifth core belief statement in support of the Creation, such as, “The first human beings became alive as a direct creative work from God and are a unique species made in his image”?
If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of who evangelicals are, this
@CTmagazine essay is a good start.
In this political season especially, we need a better definition of “evangelical.” Here’s a good one.
A good article. Our hope is not another type of existence, but the resurrection of all God originally intended!
As we anticipate the resurrection of Jesus and await ours, please take time to read this. It is simply one of the best articles I have ever read on hope as the Bible describes it.
Consider what Ben Witherington III from Asbury Theological Seminary has to say on this difficult topic. For those who’ve lost loved ones, may his perspective be a hopeful one.
Cindy Haughey helpfully and sensitively explores the issues involved in their family’s decisions regarding pregnancy and the risks of the Zika virus—something that is a very live issue for many of our missionaries! Please pray for our Central and South American missionaries who may be affected by the spread of this virus.
Rory Tyer Pontotoc, MS
Vice President of Marketing, Global Outreach International
These kinds of decisions are so hard and so frequent living overseas.
We have wrestled with making decisions about visiting mission teams over this. I had not considered that many families that we serve with in Honduras (and other areas of the world) are praying and wrestling with these decisions as well.
Great example of how to write a charitable and thoughtful review by @JasonByassee.
[Piper] arguably fails to recognize the historical, theological, hermeneutical, and sacramental frame that surrounds the Bible. For example, the reader needs to understand genre context of each book of the Bible. The Four Gospels are true, but you should not read them as you might read a modern biography. Revelation needs to be recognized as being written in apocalyptic language and not literal language. Reading the Bible in a vacuum clearly invites heresies.
This excerpt from @james_ka_smith’s new book is spot on. Learning this in our family.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.