At the Worldwide Classroom.
C. S. Lewis once wrote that there are theologians in the bottom of hell who are more interested in their own thoughts about God than in God himself. For that reason it is important that a dogmatician should also preach regularly. He will then create a counterweight to his intellectual preoccupations.
– HENDRIKUS BERKHOF, Introduction to the Study of Dogmatics
I am aware of course of the failure of Christians to act as salt and light in the world, as well as of the tendency of some churches to withdraw from engagement or interaction with contemporary social problems or issues, opting instead to concentrate on the tasks which they are most comfortable and familiar with; namely, preaching, evangelizing and prayer. But I simply do not have the competence to say that the church ought to engage in this or that particular political or social action, as a matter of Christian duty. In fact I am wary of the church as the church being involved in politics and the like. This is not because I think the church should not care about social problems, but rather because I think the church is a specialist institution tasked with specific primary functions which other institutions are not equipped to do: the preaching of the gospel, making disciples, prayer and the like. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. In any event, social progress without spiritual regeneration is in the final analysis still vanity. The Pax Romana is not the kingdom of God. We recognize that there is such a thing as sinful societal structures, but the root of all that is still sin in the human heart. Until sin itself is eradicated only then will there be true world reformation. But that will not materialize until the Lord himself descends once more upon the earth and subdues all his enemies under his feet. At present all we can realistically offer to the world is a foretaste of the coming kingdom. Jim Collins, author of the management book Good to Great, says something about “pockets of greatness” scattered throughout society. That is an idea which the church is entitled to appropriate in the course of disciple-making:. We hope to create pockets of holiness scattered throughout society: Christian homes, Christians in the market place, in the government, in the schools, Christians who by their godly lives and influence will not only arrest but even reverse, both on the individual and societal level, the corruption that sin entails. But after all is said and done, it all begins with individual change.