I have been thinking about police power reform in Chattanooga and the forces arrayed against it. These are not forces active against it, but forces that are a picture of inertia, indifference among churches and members of churches.
And callous indifference on the part of public officials such as Sheriff Jim Hammond, who after a year still had not read transportatation administrative notice filed in person upon his department.
The arguments against reform amount to the following. The status quo in culture and government and society are morally neutral. Christians are not out to reform anything on the Earth. They care only about individuals. We are not able to stop the slow rot of culture which is getting worse and worse.
There is no time for reform, there is time only to care about individual souls whom God in his providence has put into our way so that we might encourage these souls to repent and become Christians. To care about justice and courts and abusive systems of government is to neglect individual souls and to consign them to hell.
There is nothing in culture and society for which we must work. All of our work, all of our prayers, all of our mission efforts, all of our assignments as Christians are to the individual. Any attention to larger society is doomed to failure, and has no point.
There is no point in talking about defending rights of people, defending their property, defending their persons, defending their livelihoods and their relations. There is no point in defending those things such as free markets because all such efforts are not about individual salvation and they are worldly.
This perspective looks at rights through binoculars backwards. Rights are small and insignificant. Rights shrink in the view of this perspective.
Society is morally neutral. The work of Satan and the work of Jesus Christ are indistinguishable in larger society. The kingdom of the wicked one rules the world, and the work of Jesus Christ cannot be made manifest in any sense except that of individual salvation and individual obedience and piety.
We will waste no labor in any area where one cannot discern our savior and the fruit of his kingdom or the enemy and the fruit of his.
So say many Christians, more or less, though I wonder if any devout believer would concede to the position I ascribe to him here.
In the alternative
However, my argument as journalist and Christian is that we in my hometown (and you in yours) have a duty to make the people in the world with whom we have contact love Lord Jesus Christ, love his Kingdom, serve his Kingdom, expand his Kingdom and transform not just individuals, but friendships, private relationships, families, neighborhoods, city districts, entire cities, counties, entire states and entire countries.
The police powers and judicial reform argument made here has in view not just police abuse and not just degenerated legal and political systems but also larger society.
If these hindrances and tyrannies are eliminated by godly action over time, God will bless the city with a richer society, a more prosperous and optimistic and empowered people.
The end of external oppression by the mighty of the poor, the alien and the minority will encourage repentance and create an easier return for the gospel message. It will bring warmer relations between the races, and among the haves and have-nots.
And all eyes were upon Him
The police reform perspective believes God’s law is valuable and that there is an evangelical purpose in the law of God. The law is an apologetic for God’s character and interests. If traffic stops are oppressive before God — and even outside the scope of manmade law — surely we must work to halt them.
➤ When God gives his law to Israel, he intends it to be obeyed by all peoples. If not obeyed, then at least admired and respected. “Therefore, be careful to observe them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear of all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Deut. 4:6. In old Israel there were judges — but no executive or legislative branch, and a remarkably free common-law society with no group given control over another.
➤ “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice *** . ” Isaiah 9:7. In other words, human progress, growth of the kingdom of God among peoples and nations.
My racial reconciliation project is in keeping with Christ’s mission of liberation — from sin, first, then from the fruits of sin, namely tyranny and oppression. Here’s a scene from Luke’s gospel. “And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.” (Luke 4:17-20)