There has been a great deal of confusion about the mission of the Church and the responsibility of individual Christians in regard to political, social, and economic involvement. A popular sport in some circles has been that of berating the evangelical wing of Christendom as though it had no social conscience, and as though it advocated Christian non-involvement in the problems of Caesar’s kingdom. This idea has embedded itself solidly in the thinking of some critics of evangelical Christianity and will not easily be dispelled in closed minds. But it has no substantial foundation in fact.

It seems to some of us that, for those who are really seeking the truth, the problem arises largely from a failure to understand the distinction evangelicals make between what the Church as Church ought to do and what Christians, as members both of God’s kingdom and of Caesar’s kingdom, ought to do. Evangelicals emphatically affirm that there are some things individual Christians cannot and ought not to do because these things are within the sphere of the Church’s mission. Likewise evangelicals insist that there are some activities that fall within the compass of individual Christian responsibility and are not part of the mission of the Church as Church.

Baptism, for example, obviously belongs to the Church. Individual Christians have neither the biblical basis nor the personal right to go about baptizing people, no matter how strongly they feel that people ought to be baptized. Baptism is a function of the Church, not of the individual Christian. So also with the sacrament or ordinance of the Lord’s Supper; this belongs to the Church, not to the individual Christian.

Ordination to the gospel ministry is a church function, too. Whether one ...

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