Towards a Free and Virtuous Society - North Bend, WA 2003

Becoming Salt and Light in the World

by Steele Brand

God reigns as sovereign Lord and King over the universe. His dominion extends to the entirety of creation, encompassing the heavens and the earth. In response to God’s sovereign dominion, creation owes the Creator complete reverence and allegiance. In my opinion, total obedience due the Creator demands that not only should every feature of every individual’s life be subservient to God, but it also follows that every feature of every human institution should adhere to his authority. The world and the lusts therein contest this truth, and tragically, too many times so does the church. We often limit the sovereignty of Creator King by withholding from him those matters deemed “secular.” We argue that God is chiefly concerned only with the “spiritual” or “religious.” This compartmentalization claimed by many within and without the church is nothing less than a direct challenge to God’s universal reign.

The Acton Institute contends with this mistaken philosophy and trumpets the biblical and theological truths demanded by an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent Creator King. The Acton Institute’s Toward a Free and Virtuous Society challenges the mistaken philosophies of secular orthodoxy by refining the minds of those whose purpose is to be salt and light in the world. Because Christ’s revelation is truth, it is natural and rational. This demands that Christians engage their culture fully equipped not only with soul and heart, but also with mind.

The Toward a Free and Virtuous Society conference provides aspiring and present academics, ministers, politicians and laypersons the resources to expose their minds to biblical political and biblical economic truths. These truths stem from the knowledge that God is Creator, and he created man in his image, a sacred and unique creation. Freedom to life, liberty, happiness, and property are not distant concepts fabricated by philosophers; they are instead timeless truths fashioned by God and written on the hearts of men. As the speakers at the FAVS conference explained, God’s truth does not merely minister to man’s spiritual needs, but also to his physical needs because man reflects both the spiritual and material goodness of his original creation.

The conference was composed of a lecture, eight teaching and question sessions, and two panel discussions. Interspersed throughout all of these were times for the attendees to interact and engage one another about the issues raised. We first explored the foundational questions. What does it mean to be a human being? How should a human being construct church and civil society? What form of government or what economic system should a Christian advocate that is most consistent with his humanity and God’s sovereignty? We then moved beyond the vexing questions of principles and were confronted with the questions of particulars. How must Christians confront poverty, the scarcity of human resources, the sanctity of human life, and the maintenance of private property? What should an entrepreneur aspire to achieve as an image bearer? What is the Christian’s duty in a world confronted with the benefits and dilemmas of globalization? Simply put, it was an opportunity for scholars to train future scholars. It was an opportunity for us to wrestle with subjects to which the world demands answers. It was an opportunity for us to grapple with the truth and demands of our existence--an existence longing for eternal truths that unify every facet of the world in which he lives.

The conference is a blessing to any who seek God’s insight into political and economic principles. Some first encountered these principles, some were challenged by these principles, and some greatly furthered their understanding of them. We must allow the truths found in scripture and expounded by Acton to permeate our lives. Ministers, scholars, statesmen, and teachers must permeate both church and civil society with Christ’s teaching so that our worldwide evangelism may be coupled with a truly Christian culture.

Ours is a culture utterly confused by the dilemmas which vex our world. The church is the vessel through which God has provided the truth, and scripture teaches that truth will set us free. However, as indicated by the conditional statement in John 8:31-32, we must know truth cannot set us or our culture free unless Christ’s teaching invades every aspect of our lives and our institutions. This is the mission of Acton’s Toward a Free and Virtue Society--to revolutionize our societies so that the revelation of Creator God may bring a truth that brings freedom to all men in all cultures.