That title, the famous expression of Jacob Spener, the so-called father of pietism, came to mind when I read Richard Doster’s article at ByFaith, “Politics: Why Christians Must Be Involved.” (Thanks to Neoz for the link.) The reminder owes not so much to the contents of Spener’s book (though the connections between pietism and neo-Calvinism are striking — Christianity must make a visible difference on daily life). Instead, title itself, which has something to do with pious desires (or wishful thinking), is indicative of the tone of Doster’s article:
Christians, when rightly informed and motivated, change the character of political debate. They bring the moral standards of God’s kingdom into the civic realm and thereby become agents of His common grace — of His provision for those who believe as well as those who don’t.
“Forgiveness of sins is the central message of the gospel,” says theologian Wayne Grudem. “That’s the only way people’s hearts are truly transformed.” But that’s the opening of a fuller gospel story. The whole gospel, Grudem believes, includes a transformation. God’s grace changes people, and as a result they change everything around them. Families are renewed. Schools are rejuvenated. Businesses reorient their mission and purpose. What’s more, the gospel of Christ, because it changes hearts, changes the course of civil government.
When and where has this ever happened?
I don’t like to pull the expertise card, but I do know a little bit about the history of Protestantism and the record is never as stellar as the whoopers claim. Some good things happened here and there. But some good things happen in my home from time to time. Does that mean that Christianity has the wonder-working powers that Doster claims? And what about the times after the good times? What about America after Witherspoon, England after Wilberforce, Scotland after Chalmers, the Netherlands after Kuyper (not to mention Ephesus after Paul)?
At some point, dreamy accounts like this are going to need to show their homework. Until then, critics of the transformationalists will counter with articles like, “Knowledge: Why Christians Must be Informed.”