True Patriotism

October 12, 2009 at 1:35 am (Food for Thought) (, , , , , , , , , )


Chew on this…

“Allow me to say that it excites both my wonder and concern, that a Christian minister such as yourself, should think it worth his while to attempt political reforms.  When I look around upon the present state of the nation, such an attempt appears to me, to be no less vain and foolish, that it would be to paint the cabin-while the ship is sinking!  Or to decorate the parlor–while the house is on fire!

When our Lord Jesus was upon earth, He refused to get involved in disputes or politics, ‘Friend, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ (Luke 12:14)  ‘My kingdom is not of this world!  If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight!’ (John 18:36)  God’s children belong to a kingdom which is not of this world; they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and a part of the Scriptural character is, that they are the ‘quiet in the land’ (Psalm 35:19).

Satan has many contrivances to amuse people, and to divert their thoughts from their real danger!

My dear sir, my prayer to God for you is–that He may induce you to employ he talents He has given you, in pointing out sin as the great cause and source of every existing evil; and to engage those who love and fear Him, (instead of wasting time in political speculations, for which very few of them are competent,) to sigh and cry for our abounding abominations, and to stand in the breach, by prayer, that God’s wrath may yet be averted, and our national mercies prolonged!  This, I think, is true patriotism–the best way in which people in private life may serve their country. ” ~John Newton, excerpt from a letter, era 1725-1807

…and tell us what you think.


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  1. Vanessa said,

    Hmm . . . very interesting. Some good points there.

  2. Renee said,

    I may be mistaken here and only jumping to a conclusion, but is this the John Newton that wrote Amazing Grace, and could this be a letter to William Wilberforce? It just fits the part to me… but if I’m wrong let me know!

    If my assumption is correct, thank God that Wilberforce did not heed this advice, for if he had, England would have missed his influence and work against slavery.

    Regardless of that, though, I think he has some good reminders for us in this quote. I just see this line of logic used quite a bit as a cop-out. “I’m a Christian, the kingdom is not of this world, so I have no responsibility to be involved in societal or political issues.” In my humble opinion, our job as Christians extends to all areas of life, including the public sphere. That being said, not everyone is called to the forefront. We all have different talents, interests, etc.

    Mmmkay well I gotta wrap it up, I could probably write more, but thankfully a 2 week old baby girl is demanding my full attention. Everyone can thank her for calling me off my soapbox 😉

  3. Pearls and Diamonds said,

    And this is why we post these excerpts. 🙂 To get our ladies thinking! Thanks, Renee for some great feedback.

    First, I’ve actually been unable to discover whether John Newton wrote this letter to William Wilberforce. It’s possible, though Newton refers to his recipient as a minister–Wilberforce had considered going into the ministry, but he and Newton had discussed and agreed that his talents could be better put to use in politics. Newton himself wrote some anti-slavery pamphlets and was certainly supportive of Wilberforce’s efforts to end slavery. So, Newton must not be condemned as a man who denounced all political efforts. Rather, I think we must note his emphasis on “sin” being the source of evil, and “political reforms” being wasteful. I am certain he considered slavery to be sin and doing away with it, not a “political reform” but a denouncing of sin as sin. And you are right that Wilberforce did employ himself in doing right in the realm of politics. Here is a link to the entire letter: I would suggest that what Newton is cautioning against (either to Wilberforce or to someone else) is the danger of becoming wrapped up in the idea of “preserving our liberties” (when we are told to expect persecution) and especially in the thought that we can reform government. Scripture makes it clear that things will progress from bad to worse. Moral reformation only lasts for so long…we should be careful that we are not distracted from sharing the gospel, which is what God uses to change men’s hearts. Changed hearts touch eternity. Scripture says “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” As Christians, we should be careful to pick our battles (slavery, abortion, euthanasia are battles that the Lord upholds when he tells us the righteous speak up for the rights of the voiceless). You are right when you say he has some good reminders–it’s easy to get caught up in politics and forget that making the world a better place is a short-lived goal.

    You are right that we use many excuses for not standing up for what is right–when we insist that anything in the realm of politics is unchristian. Jesus made it clear that we are to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s–AND TO GOD what is God’s.” Lives belong to God. Ours and those of the helpless. Taxes…well, they belong to the government. 🙂 I think Newton meant that we should be quiet unless it’s an issue of sin, so that we are not thought of as trouble makers, but as righteous people who speak for God.

    Anyway, that’s what seems to me to fit the person and chracter of John Newton. Here’s a couple more links about the issue. Check them out and let me know what you think. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I’d love to discuss it with you–since I do respect your thoughts! 🙂 Just whenever your little girl is satisfied. 😉


    Abigail @ Pearls and Diamonds

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