Question: Your reluctance to sanction or engage in “Bible-based activism” is baffling to me. Wasn’t Paul one of the greatest social activists of all time? And besides, wasn’t the cultural setting of the Bible much different from that of the modern age, with a different kind of government altogether and different social norms? So, don’t we have to adapt our conduct and involvement in our own society according to biblical principles, and not necessarily according to what someone else did in a different time and place? I believe we are being trained and groomed for rulership now so that we’ll be ready when the Kingdom comes!
Response: The fact that the setting for the Bible was much different than the setting in which we live is really irrelevant. The power of God is not limited to working within a certain cultural or political setting, nor were the heroes and heroines of the faith in either the Old or New Testaments limited by circumstances. Beyond that, I don’t think it puts the US in a different category with respect to social action, because it has a different kind of government, which makes social action easy as opposed to the Roman Empire, where it would have been impossible. As a matter of fact, there were instances of social action in the form of mob action in the early days of the church—but by non-Christians, never by the church. Paul and the other apostles would not have let the difficulty of social action prevent them from engaging in it if it had been the will of God. They were willing to go to prison or to die for the sake of the Lord.
Paul’s declaration that he had fought the good fight, had finished his course, and had fulfilled the ministry given to him by the Lord is evidence that social action was not on the agenda—and that, I believe, holds true today, since we are to follow his example. Paul would let nothing stand in the way of His obeying God—so you may be certain that the lack of examples of political or social activism in the Bible wasn’t due to circumstances, setting, or anything other than the fact that it wasn’t God’s will. I cannot escape this conclusion, though my natural inclination is to agree with you and to join the activists in their good causes.
You say, “...we are being trained and being groomed for rulership now so that we’ll be ready when the Kingdom comes.” Where do you find that in the Bible? Precisely who is being trained, by whom, and how? Activism is not training to be a ruler. Are only the activists going to rule and reign with Christ? What about the saints of past centuries who didn’t have any of the training you say is now in process—will they not reign? As for the Body of Christ becoming an example of godliness for a godless society to follow, that is neither logical nor scriptural. Jesus didn’t have that impact. The church is the ekklesia or “called out ones”—called out of the world and to whom Christ said, “If you were of the world, the world would love his own, but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John:15:19). I sympathize with your position, but I simply cannot find it in the Bible either in practice or precept.