As mentioned in the preface of last month’s article by Barbara Thompson on the Bruderhof, which focused on that community’s understanding of the place of the Christian within the nation, the initial presentation of the Christianity Today Institute will address the subject of “The Christian As Citizen.” Featuring the insights of evangelical scholars and practitioners, this special institute supplement will appear in the April 19 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

In anticipation, the following article by Stephen Monsma, who was himself a participant in the first meeting of the institute, deals with the relationship between faith and political decision making, politics and government, from a Reformed perspective.

“Dirty politics” is a phrase that is almost as common as “Merry Christmas.” In fact, we have a whole stable full of terms with negative connotations that we often use to describe political phenomena: “smoke-filled rooms” instead of “conference rooms,” “political hacks” instead of “political organizers.”

From my own experience as a legislator in both the Michigan State House and Senate, I can testify that the political process is often seamy and even sordid.

The problem is that the system, with its interlocking network of attitudes and expectations that permeate our political institutions and practices, creates an atmosphere where such ideals as justice, righteousness, order, and servanthood are absent. Thus those who struggle for these ideals do not face their biggest challenge from some particularly dramatic, clearly labeled evil, but from nebulous, all-pervasive attitudes and expectations. Evil is everywhere and nowhere. It is ...

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