Christians often struggle with Romans 13:1-5, which talks about a Christian’s duties to the state.

“Everyone must submit to the governing authorities,” the passage reads, “for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.” After reading that passage, some ask “why, then should we be involved in politics, support wars, or campaign for human rights?“ If we stop reading there, it is easy to conclude that not only is it unimportant but that it is actually wrong for Christians to be active in politics, whether through grassroots electoral efforts, lawsuits protecting religious freedom or questioning the government.

Eric Metaxas, author of the celebrated, comprehensive biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer shed some light on this tension on my radio show this week.

“God forbid that the church would just hide in little religious issues and say, you know, ‘That’s not my business, I can’t get involved in politics,’ ” Metaxas said. “Not getting involved in politics is just as bad, just as heretical, as making an idol of politics.”

How do we get from Romans 13:1 to calling the church’s political silence heretical?

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