The Mission Field of Politics

John C. Rankin

When I moved from pastoral ministry into public-policy ministry in late 1983, and finished my M.Div. degree at Gordon Conwell shortly thereafter, an elder in my church challenged me. He asked me why I was wasting my time on “politics,” when I should be preaching the Gospel instead. He maintained that the world was going to hell anyhow, and we should concentrate on “saving souls,” not reforming an unreformable culture.

I gave him a hypothetical. Imagine if I were to plaster a large state university campus with posters advertising a meeting where I would give a list of evidences for the resurrection of Jesus. How many students would turn out? I conducted a scientific survey in my imagination, and I concluded that the number would be exactly 37. Thirty-five members of the sponsoring college ministry group, and two of their quasi-willing roommates.

But when I address forums on controversial topics such as human abortion, same-sex marriage, church and state, race relations, pagan religion, atheism, Islam and etc., and with interlocutors as often as possible, many more people turn out. As well, such issues bring out real passions among people struggling with life-affecting questions, and the opportunity for the Gospel to shows its reality and mercy multiplies.


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House of Lords 17 October 2017

Text of John Rankin’s address on the occasion of the 500th annive5rsary of the Reformation.