The Why of the Church

What Scripture says about Christians’ Engagement in the Public Square

Katie Fruge

“For Christians to withdraw themselves from the world of politics is poor strategy. It leaves the salt in the saltshaker. It is good salt, yet it is never used for seasoning.” – Phil Strickland. 

Engaging in the public square is a tricky business. We can be canceled for the truth, go viral with a well-phrased lie, or become a cultural influencer without offering much culture or influence. For all of the dangers that follow taking a stand, we inevitably find ourselves returning to the public square to learn, connect, and discuss. 

To engage or not engage in the public square is rarely the question. We are naturally drawn to the meeting places of our communities to discuss the issues that matter the most. The meeting places change, but from Mars Hill to Myspace to the metaverse, we continue to meet. Scripture is far less concerned with telling us to engage in the public square (although we should) but rather on how to engage in the marketplace of ideas and why.

How Christians Engage in the Public Square

In Matthew 5, Christ lays out a guide for how his followers are to engage in the public square to reflect His kingdom and priorities. Through his teaching, we see that believers are to engage with purpose, passion, and priorities. 


Just as salt serves a specific function to enhance and complement its surroundings, believers serve and minister in the public sphere with intentional purpose. Engagement in the public square cannot be haphazard or sloppy. In a world of polarization, ideological grandstanding, and outrage, a Christian’s involvement in the public square should be intentional, purposeful, and meaningful. 

When we take stands, are they for the glory and honor of God and his kingdom, or do they merely add to the white noise of debate or outrage? Salt of the earth Christians engage in the public square with purpose, knowing well the potency of their impact and wielding that responsibility with careful consideration. 


As a city on a hill or a lamp shining in dark places, we cannot lessen the nature of who we are. A fire cannot dim its blaze; a city on a hill cannot be less visible. We engage, advocate, and dialogue with passion because that is the very essence of who God created us to be. 

As Christians engage in the public square, we do so with full confidence in the truth of who we are (followers of Christ) and our message (the gospel of Christ). Christian passion is not in distinction to the command to engage with civility, respect, and dignity, but rather a manifestation of it (1 Pet. 3:15-17). 


There will never be a shortage of issues the human imagination can come up with to discuss and debate. However, as ambassadors of Christ in the public square, our priorities are clear: the building of the kingdom of God so that others would see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16). 

A mature engagement in the public square understands the issues that are worth struggling through and when to step away from foolish and ignorant arguments (2 Tim. 2:23).

It seems absurd to wonder how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (the infamous query of medieval scholasticism), but deciphering the modern equivalent is difficult. Social media and the rise of online platforms have made prioritizing issues to engage with more challenging. Across a spectrum of polarized opinions, how do we factor in James’ command to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19)? To what extent do we contest with conspiracy theories, fake news, or misinformation? 

One key to anchoring our understanding of how and when to engage on these issues is to remain steadfastly committed to why we ought to engage in the first place. 

The Priority of the Church

The why of the Church has been, and always will be, the person and work of Jesus Christ. 

We do not engage in the public square to build our own platform, notoriety, or influence. The message of the gospel of Christ is not a weapon to be wielded for personal gain. When the gospel is weaponized for political or partisan gain, it is irreversibly compromised and no longer the life-giving, truth-speaking message of the King and kingdom of heaven. Certainly, we are to engage in truth and power, but only so that others would come to know Christ and him crucified. 

We engage in the public square because Christ has commanded us to (Matt. 28:18-20), yet as disciples of Christ, we operate from a different value system (John 15). As many have said before, the gospel is innately political, but it is not partisan. We engage and even civilly disagree, but always so that others may see our works and glorify the One who created all. 

Christians have an ancient charge to care for the poor and vulnerable, be an advocate for God’s justice, and speak truth against systemic evils and concerns that are contrary to the kingdom of God. In our modern context, many of these issues are laced with partisan adherents. But God is not limited to the elephant or donkey—we serve the Lamb, and the priorities his church has followed for over two millennia. 

We engage in the public square recognizing that our enemies are not flesh and blood, our battle is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12). We battle for Christ’s truth and priorities in order that we may share the liberating and love-filled truth with individuals lost in darkness. 

As salt and light, we engage in the public square with purpose, passion, and priorities—but never divorced from our ancient bond to Christ and His transformative gospel. Part of discipleship under Christ and His Church is deciphering between hasty engagement and being afraid to stand up for the truth of Christ. Standing aside, not engaging, or engaging poorly leaves the salt in the shaker.

Katie Frugé is a stomach cancer survivor, special needs parent, amateur baker, professional theologian, and human rights advocate.  She has a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology, her primary area of interest is the imago Dei and human dignity. She serves as Associate Director for the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Katie loves a good cup of coffee, a good run, and a good musical.

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24