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This entry is part 12 of 13 in the series

"Citizens and Exiles"

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The Bible does not give the church a social mandate, but as we saw last week, churches should equip their people with how to live Christianly in whatever cultural sphere God has called them.

This does not mean churches will have no impact on the society at large. Churches may indeed have an effect upon culture due to the fact that the Holy Spirit of God is active in the world through the church in a manner unique to this present age. Paul teaches in 2 Thessalonians 2:6–7 that the Holy Spirit is currently restraining “the lawless one” through his indwelling ministry in the church. This also relates to Christ’s description of his follower as “the salt of the earth,” those who, through living in “peace with one another” can serve to preserve righteousness in the world (Matt 5:13; Mark 9:50). With this perspective, the church may have a restraining or preserving influence on broader culture to one degree or another, but this is through what James Davison Hunter calls “faithful presence” within the world. Rather than this being a particular political strategy or set of cultural programs, this kind of restraint or preservation is accomplished by churches discipling believers to live Spirit-controlled lives, and through Christians submitting to the sanctifying work of the Spirit in every aspect of life, simply living in unity together as separated Christians in society. In this way, Christians are salt and light, helping through example and act to restrain human depravity in the surrounding culture. They are participating as citizens in the human institutions created by God in Genesis 9 for the purpose of ordering the natural world and providing restraints upon human sinfulness, not accomplishing “redemptive kingdom work.”

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About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.