At Work & Theology 101

Why Work Towards a Common Goal with Unbelievers

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We often meet people who are not Christians but who agree with a Christian stance on a certain cultural issue, and therefore they are willing to work together with Christians toward resolution. We should be open to working with them for a common goal.

Francis Schaeffer popularized the use of the term co-belligerence to express the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. He explained, “A co-belligerent is a person with whom I do not agree on all sorts of vital issues, but who, for whatever reasons of their own, is on the same side in a fight for some specific issue of public justice.” (Plan for Action, 68)

Schaeffer emphasized the importance of avoiding the extremes of separatism on one side and compromise with non-believers on the other side.

Christians must realize that there is a difference between being a co-belligerent and being an ally. At times we will seem to be saying exactly the same things as those without a Christian base are saying. . . . We must say what the Bible says when it causes us to seem to be saying what others are saying. . . . But we must never forget that this is only a passing co-belligerency and not an alliance. (Complete Works, 30)

Daniel Strange, a theologian at Oak Hill Theological College in London, suggests in an essay entitled Co-belligerence and Common Grace that, “We must be careful though that we do not become a stumbling block for other Christians, and that our co-belligerence does not communicate to a watching world the possibility of neutrality and the dilution of the exclusivity of Christ and the gospel.” Yet, we must not miss opportunities presented to us through God’s providence to further God’s Kingdom.

According to Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,

We must be ready to stand together in cultural co-belligerence, rooted in a common core of philosophical and theological principles, without demanding confessional agreement or pretending that this has been achieved. We must contend for the right of Christian moral witness in secular society. We indeed need to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves to know how to contend for Christian truth.

It is the doctrine of “Common Grace” that makes this powerful strategy possible.

Question: How do you work with unbelievers at your work or in your community involvement towards a common goal? 

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