- - Thursday, May 26, 2016

Recently, as I was doing some biographical research about the late C. Everett Koop (1916-2013), Surgeon General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan, I was reminded that Koop was a member at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

So, in addition to Koop’s friendship with theologian and apologist Francis Schaeffer, he also was spiritually influenced by the weekly, verse-by-verse expository preaching of James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000).

Circling back around to my original question prompting the research—”What influences shaped Koop’s understanding of the role of a Christian in the public arena?”—I pulled a Boice book off my shelf that addresses that very question.

Two Cities, Two Loves: Christian Responsibility in a Crumbling Culture (InterVarsity Press, 1996) celebrates its 20th year anniversary this year. The material has aged well, as Boice in his trademark fashion depended mostly on explaining and applying the Bible itself. It really is a fantastic book, one of the best books on the topic

If I were the publisher, I would consider re-releasing the book on its anniversary. Perhaps Senator Ben Sasse would consider writing a foreword, for two reasons. First, his own career embodies so much of what Boice puts forth in this book. Second, Sasse was working alongside Boice in 1996, as the Executive Director of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.

Here is one excerpt from the chapter nine, “God & Caesar”:

“Government must be concerned with moral issues, then. But this is not the same thing as saying that the government can develop morality in its citizens, for it cannot. It can proscribe penalties. It can enforce them and thus perhaps also restrain evil somewhat. But it cannot change the people involved. The only thing that ever changes people at a fundamental level is the power of God working through the Gospel. 

If government cannot develop morality in its citizens, then morality must come in another way and from another source. What is that source? Where can morality come from? There is only one answer. It comes from revealed religion, and it must work its way into national life through those citizens who know God through Jesus Christ and who sincerely desire to please him.

Religious people are the best thing a country can have and the only citizens who will actually advance the nation in the direction of justice and true righteousness. Today the need is not for more laws. If we do not have a moral citizenry, even the laws can be used immorally. They can be used to get out of paying one’s debts, escape a prison sentence, cheat the innocent, oppress the poor and many such things. What we need are people who know and are willing to live by the moral laws of God.

Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14. That great Old Testament text does not offer healing for a nation through the election of a better president or the ouster of an old one. It does not even recommend passing better laws. It calls for renewal through the repentance of God’s people. It says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 

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