Dominic Perrottet

What Role Should Christians Play in Politics?

11 November 2021

4.1 MINS

The recent rise of Dominic Perrottet as NSW Premier prompts us to ask: what role should Christians play in politics? To answer this, we must distinguish between ‘political Christians’ and ‘Christians in politics’.

The attacks on the recently elected NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet have once again highlighted media bias against Christians in politics. The Premier’s religious conviction is another example of the radical secularism that is trying to purge people of faith from public life.

For me, and I suspect many readers, it is fantastic to see a man of faith like Dominic Perrottet elected as a leader of the nation’s largest state.

There needs to be a distinction made between ‘political Christians’ and ‘Christians in politics’. The former is a person who uses his or her ‘Christianity’ for political. The latter, however, is a person who wants to ensure that a Christian worldview is heard in political discourse.

The relationship between Christianity and politics is a historically complex subject. It is a frequent source of disagreement throughout the history of Christianity, including in modern politics — particularly between the Christian ‘right’ and Christian ‘left’.

Should Christians Run for Political Office?

Whether or not Christians should run for political office is one of those hot-button issues that provokes a strong response on both sides of the issue. There are no direct references in the Bible to Christians running for political office. But there are Christian principles we can bring to bear on the decision whether to seek political office.

There is no doubt that countries where Christians who are elected are countries that promote freedom, family, and faith — as do groups like FamilyVoice Australia and the Canberra Declaration.

Unfortunately, Christians in many countries in this world are oppressed and persecuted, suffering under governments they are powerless to change and governments that hate their faith and silence their voices.

It is sad to see similar trends gaining ground here, as in the case of Dominic Perrottet and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. This is not new. The Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC has attracted substantial ridicule, media persecution and social abuse over his 40 years in NSW parliament.

On Church and State

I am convinced that Church and State are inseparable. To see this, we only have to look at the impact the Church has had in the history of political liberty. Whilst Christianity is not a political program, it nevertheless gives us a certain way of thinking about the state and the role of politics.

It is important to note that a Christian vision of government is not simply a secular vision of government with religion sprinkled on top. Secularism is not neutral.

A Christian vision of government is grounded in key theological and philosophical ideas — including the nature of God and reality, the importance of justice and the value of freedom. Such a vision also takes into account the role of the family and a rich understanding of the human person as created in the image of God — made for flourishing, and called to an eternal destiny.

Some ‘left-leaning’ Christians will indeed ask why do we need a ‘Christian’ political party if we have Christians in politics? Simply, because a Christian politician is one voice in government whilst a Christian political party is a voice both in government and the public square. The public square needs such bold Christian voices that will speak up on issues of faith, freedom, and family.

Looking at New South Wales

In NSW, Dominic Perrottet has become the leader of a party and a government that has been anti-Christian in its recent legislation. It has:

  • allowed gender-fluid ideology into our schools
  • banned prayer outside of abortion clinics
  • decriminalised abortion
  • partnered with the radical Nationals Party that is championing legalising euthanasia and ‘voluntary assisted dying’ (which is a misnomer, since it is actually ‘forced assisted suicide’)

The politicians we elect have a great influence on our freedoms. They can choose to protect our right to worship and spread the gospel, or they can restrict those rights. They can lead our nation toward righteousness or towards moral disaster.

Clearly, the more Christians that are part of government—whether at the local, state, or federal level—the more our religious freedoms will be guarded. Christians in politics can promote desperately needed changes in a culture that is becoming increasingly secular.

Let’s not forget William Wilberforce, a 19th-century English politician who campaigned for decades to end the abominable slave trade that flourished at the time. His campaign was eventually successful, and he is lauded today for his courage and commitment to Christian principles.

The Christian’s Ultimate Calling

I am grateful for my experience in politics as a former Deputy Mayor, a federal candidate, and a senior adviser in the first term of the Howard government. In that time it became clear to me that there is a great danger for Christians who are involved in a worldly political system. Great care must be taken to be ‘in that world’ but not ‘of the world’. We must ask ourselves if we are trying to please God or man. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

The kingdom of Christ is not connected with earthly political systems or governments, all of which are ultimately in rebellion against God. Christians in politics must be concerned with the spiritual realm, not merely the temporal.

There is nothing wrong with Christians being involved in politics, if we remember that we are to be ambassadors for Christ on earth. That is our primary job description — and our goal is to appeal to others to be reconciled to God through Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20).

So should a Christian run for political office? For some Christians, the answer is a definite no, for others, a definite yes. This is a personal decision that requires prayer and the wisdom that only God can provide. Christians in politics must remember that their duty to the Lord must take precedence over the duties of their office without compromising Christian principles.

A Christian Vision of Government

The Christian vision of government centres on the belief that the human person is created in the image of God. The purpose of politics is to serve man, not for man to serve the state.

The Christian vision of government places politics in the context of our human freedom, the call to human flourishing, and the light of our eternal destiny.

With this in mind, take some time pray for all Christians in the NSW Parliament and parliaments around Australia. Veritas vos liberabit.

Image by Andrea Piacquadio at Pexels.

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