Should the President of the United States be seen as theologian-in-chief? That might be one way to understand Bryan Fischer’s claim that “we are in fact choosing a minister when we select a president.”

I explore some of the dimensions of understanding politicians as “ministers of God” in this week’s Acton Commentary, “Ministers of Common Grace.” It strikes me that those who seek salvation from politicians are making a significant category mistake. Politicians cannot save because politics cannot save. Politics cannot save because it is an arena of common or preserving rather than special or saving grace.

So it’s important to see politicians, as well as businesspersons, artists, scientists, teachers, and line workers as “ministers” in a broad sense: in their work they are means or channels of God’s common grace, his blessings on all people. This is an important insight into how God’s purpose for our lives finds expression in our daily lives. (A great source for exploring common grace in the areas of science and art is the recently-released Wisdom & Wonder by Abraham Kuyper.)

But it’s equally important to distinguish between common and special grace and see how the two relate. And this is one of the things that makes the institutional church and its ministers unique. The church is where we hear, see, touch, and taste Christ, proclaimed in the Word and sacraments. That’s why the Belgic Confession contends, for instance, that “every one ought to esteem the ministers of God’s Word and the elders of the Church very highly for their work’s sake.”

  • http://naturalaw.failuretorefrain.com jurisnaturalist

    We ought to be even more skeptical than this of politician’s capacity to exercise common, preservative, grace.  Law derived from efficient processes may be sufficient for this preservative function, even in absence of legislation, and therefore legislators.  Further, we can emphasize the creative nature of special grace.  We participate in the act of creation – the positive generation of new good – when we operate in responsiveness to the Holy Spirit.  And, of course, this capacity is available to all ministers of God, that is all believers in their respective callings (occupations), not just those holding church offices. 
    If believers would adopt this latter view of occupation it might help dissolve some of the mystique attached to common grace ministers (politicians).  Is there some way to effectively de-cloak the politician?

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