Should Christians Avoid Politics?

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head in the sandFrom the archives. First appeared on 2/27/09. (Original discussion thread.)

If recent polls may be believed, most Americans now see their country as seriously troubled. For conservatives the times are especially disturbing. We are deeply opposed to the political philosophy now in power but are also alarmed at the resulting economic policies. We believe the solutions now in progress will be more damaging than the problems they are supposed to solve.

Among principled conservatives feelings about the situation range from intense frustration to utter futility. To many, the segment of Bible-believing Christendom that eschews politics is looking more and more like home. They are eying the creed that participation in politics has little or nothing to do with our responsibilities as followers of Jesus Christ and finding it increasingly attractive.

Over the last few months, I have also felt the appeal of tuning out. But certain realities have doggedly called me back to the belief that in a nation such as ours Christians can and must be involved in politics. And we have this responsibility even if—perhaps especially if—it appears we will accomplish nothing.

God cares what nations do

A principle feeding my conviction that believers should be involved in politics is the fact that God has expectations of nations. He is not “judge of all the earth” in a solely individualistic sense, nor is He concerned only with the salvation (and transformation) of individuals. Consider, for example, God’s rebuke of the nations in Amos 1:3-15. Here He finds fault not so much with how individual citizens have behaved but with how they have acted collectively as a nation. And they are judged accordingly.

Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron.” (NKJV, Amos 1:3)

What’s more, at least once in Amos the judgment of a nation has nothing to do with its treatment of Israel or Judah.

Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime. But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting and trumpet sound. And I will cut off the judge from its midst, and slay all its princes with him,” says the Lord. (Amos 2:1-3)

Here God holds the national entity called Moab to an ethical standard which it had violated by its handling of the remains of the king of Edom (a nation condemned for sins of its own in Amos 1:11). Apparently, God has ethical expectations for what nations do when acting as nations. In other words He cares about national policy.

Given the fact that policy in America is shaped by the involvement of the electorate, we cannot separate policy from politics. If God cares about what nations do as nations, He cares about what the United Sates does as a nation, and He cares about the politics that shape what we do.

We are the government

Amos and other prophets show that God expects nations to treat other nations properly. Similarly, Romans 13 reveals that God expects nations to govern their own citizens properly, and He assigns specific responsibilities to government. Verse 4 indicates that the governing authorities “bear the sword” and serve as diakonoi (servants) and ekdikoi (justice givers or punishers) for God. The words good and evil appear repeatedly in the passage, emphasizing that government’s duties are ethical and moral.

It’s impossible to take these verses seriously and conclude that God does not care what happens in Congress or in my state assembly. But the implications of the passage for a society such as ours extend much further.

By design, the United States is a nation of laws shaped by the influences of representative democracy. The founders did not aim to give every man an equal voice in state or national policy, but they did aim to give every man an equal voice in whom he would send to act on his behalf (not necessarily to vote as he would vote but to build policy that protects the best interests of his family and his nation). Regular elections—coupled with the right of public protest—were built in to ensure that policy-making is never wholly separated from the citizenry.

To say it another way, in America the difference between government and the governed is intentionally blurred by law so that citizens have governing responsibilities (policy-shaping responsibilities), whether they want them or not. To be a citizen is to be an indirect policy maker. In that sense, we are all “the government.”

The fact that we are all legally entangled in the policy-making process means that the question is not “Will I be involved in politics and try to shape policy?” but rather “Will I shape policy well or will I, by passivity and silence, shape it poorly?” What we commonly refer to as “not involved in politics” is just a way of saying “not putting any effort into policy-making responsibilities.”

Because our government is structured the way it is, the moral and ethical responsibilities of government in Romans 13 are our moral and ethical responsibilities as citizens. The only difference is that, for most of us, our involvement is that of indirect influence rather than direct execution.

The place of prayer

I have often heard that the role of the Christian in earthly politics is simply to pray. Isn’t this what we are commanded to do?

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. (1 Tim. 2:1-2)

What the Scriptures require here is clear. Believers must pray for and about those in power and do so with the goal that they will essentially leave us alone.

The passage might seem to imply that we should also leave them alone, but that view extends the passage beyond what it actually says. Rather, prayer is never a substitute for action in Scripture, just as action is never a substitute for prayer. For example, Jesus commanded us to pray that the “Lord of the harvest” would “send out laborers” (Luke 10:2), yet He still commanded us to “go into all the world and preach” (Mark 16:15). The apostle Paul said it was “his prayer to God for Israel that they may be saved” (Rom. 10:1), yet he included outreach to Jews throughout his ministry. Likewise the call to pray for “all who are in authority” does not preclude acting deliberately to influence them.

Taking action when we have neglected prayer is foolish and irreverent, but praying when we ought to be acting is foolish and irresponsible. Imagine that fire fighters have been summoned to the site of a burning apartment complex. They arrive, take positions, unpack the hoses, and connect them to hydrants. But rather than douse the flames, they pull out their cell phones and repeatedly dial 911 as the building burns.

The analogy is imperfect. God possesses the power to intervene directly in the affairs of men and “put out fires” in response to prayer alone. But should we assume that direct intervention by Himself alone is His intention when He has not said so and has given us the means to attack the flames ourselves?

Morality shapes everything

A final reality that keeps me from adopting the “politics is none of our business” stance is the fact that the moral condition of a community impacts everything else in it. I cannot fulfill my responsibilities as husband and father as effectively in Sodom as I can in better surroundings. And if Lot chose poorly in going to “the cities of the plain” (Gen. 13:12), am I not choosing poorly if I allow “the cities” to come to me? What’s certain is that we and our families cannot be unaffected if moral decadence descends all around us (2 Pet. 2:7-8).

Proverbs underscores this principle.

A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back to pervert the ways of justice. (Prov. 17:23)

The proverb describes a perilous situation. A morally corrupt man influences or makes policy but does not do so according to principle or law. He perverts “the ways of justice” by seeing that someone is punished arbitrarily rather than for wrong-doing. As this blight spreads in a community, people see less and less relationship between their behavior and what government does to them. Lawlessness increases, and eventually no one anywhere is safe.

If I live in such a place, I can only successfully protect my family and my property (God-given responsibilities) as God intervenes to prevent what is otherwise the inevitable course of nature. But will He intervene in that situation if I could have stemmed the tide of lawlessness years earlier but chose not to?

Just as declining morality ruins the relationship between law-abiding behavior and personal well being, it also ruins the relationship between labor and personal prosperity.

Much food is in the fallow ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste. (Prov 13:23)

This proverb can be taken to mean that lack of justice has allowed the poor to be robbed, but the view that answers best to the evidence is that injustice has somehow led the poor to let their land lie idle. This meaning is more clear in the ESV.

The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice. (ESV, Prov 13:23)

The proverb describes a situation in which the land of the poor could have been producing abundance, but bad policy (or poor execution of good policy) made waste more appealing. The poor here probably feel that growing the crops will do them little good because the fruit of their labor will be taken away, either by robbers or by oppressive taxation. Either way, immoral policy has guaranteed that citizens and their families see little relationship between hard work and food on the table. As that relationship deteriorates in a community, production falls off. Soon there isn’t enough of anything.

We’re foolish if we believe that bad policy and moral confusion can spread indefinitely without eventually hindering our own ability to live and serve God. Yes, God can intervene to spare His children from the worst that lawlessness and want bring on a society, but should we assume that He will do so if we have the means to influence policy and morality for good but choose instead to “avoid politics”?

Some may object here that we “cannot legislate morality.” But in reality government exists for no other reason than to punish “evil” (what is morally wrong) and reward “good” (what is morally right). To the degree Christians can influence policy toward effectiveness in that purpose, we are wise to do so. To do less is to welcome a future of violence, chaos, and poverty from which God will have no obligation to deliver us.

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

Alex Guggenheim's picture
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Since 6/2/09 04:58:18
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Ed, You are clear I suspect

Ed,

You are clear I suspect some people simply are not listening. You are not saying one cannot make the argument for their conscience or even why participating in politics is a biblically principled thing, rather that the force of the language may not be carried by an implied divine command which is the language that has been used.

Take some of this same group and talk about "Christian music" and watch them suddenly lose their interest in principles so great they license the force of "ought" or implied divine command.

edingess's picture
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Precisely Correct Alex

You are absolutely correct. I was beginning to wonder if I was as poor a communicator as the replies seemed to indicate.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
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Line of reasoning

Here's a simple line of reasoning

(non controversial) Governing authorities ought to lead countries well.
(apparently controversial to you) American citizens are part of the American governing authority structure in their positions as voters and members of society.
God would like American Christians to exercise good governing authority. (If a majority of citizens votes out a US Congressman, he has to leave. He is to obey his voters in a sense.)
By not voting (at least the basics) American Christians are failing to exercise good governing authority in ways they can impact their country for the better. (None of this is to the exclusion of other means.)

If you won't accept that Americans are part of our government, then you won't accept this line of reasoning. But get off your high horse about standing with Peter and Paul.

edingess's picture
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Untennable

Quote:
(apparently controversial to you) American citizens are part of the American governing authority structure in their positions as voters and members of society.

The fallacy in your argument is that it begs the question of how Christian Americans can best influence governing authorities. I am pretty sure Paul had this in mind as did Peter when they penned Scripture. According to them, the best way to influence governing authorities was to obey, submit, seek peace, and to pray. Of course this goes hand in hand with preaching the gospel, evangelizing those governing authorities, baptizing converts, and making disciples.

I would argue that Americans are not really "part" of the governing authority structure in America. I would argue that we have a voice in who is part of the governing authority in America. However, I firmly believe that true Christians have no real voice in what takes place. We are far too small to matter. There simply isn't enough of us. But if you throw in the hypocrites and imposters, I suppose you might have a little bit more of a voice, but still too small to effect much. The best approach is lifting our voice and preaching the gospel, obeying the laws of the land, setting moral examples in how we hold one another accountable and in how we love one another and praying for those who are in authority. Look at who we elected. And he seems poised to win again.

I wonder what would happen if churches spent the same amount of time on basic doctrine, evangelism, good works, and discipleship as they do on politics. We have politicians who are supposed to be Christians and who engage in wicked leadership every day. And those churches know it and do nothing. The Catholic church is a perfect example. Why does she not excommunicate politicians who she knows for a fact are for abortion?

Should I vote for Obama? Should I vote for Romney? Can a true Christian ever give their approval for leadership to man they know hates God? By voting, I am approving that man's principles, am I not? The church is worried about gay marriage and yet over 50% of marriages in the church end in divorce, just as high as the world and some say slightly higher. Let me give a real life example from a PCA church that I am intimately familiar with.

A woman and man got married. They courted for about a year, neither of them spring chickens, middle-aged. For some reason, the woman got cold feet, AFTER the marriage. She thought maybe she sinned because her previous divorce may not have been proper. Her pervious husband was an unbeliever who refused to reconcile after a separation. Anyhow, the next thing I know is this woman and man are living separately. She thought she made a mistake marrying him and that God understands that people make mistakes and He is very merciful. The elders did very little. No charges, no nothing. People knda just wondered what was being done about it because no one knew. Then the man left the church. And then, without warning, the woman left also. Come to find out the man filed charges against the woman for illicit divorce and the elders refused to discipline her. They told the man she could repent without having to reconcile. The man filed a greviance with the Presbytery only to be told that his former spouse resigned the church and it was a moot point. No one did anything. If this kind of nonsense goes on in conservative churches like the PCA, can you imagine what happens in less conservative groups? The church needs to get busy doing the things Christ has called her to do. When the church recovers the gospel, starts discipling people again, and begins to exhibit the true marks of a church, maybe we can talk about politics. Until then, I intend to spend my time talking about the things that I think really matter: the gospel, conversion, evangelism, good works, discipleship, discipline, doctrine, holy living. In case you haven't noticed, we are missing most of these elements in most of our churches while everyone is busy playing with Washington Politicians.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
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Smoke screen

Quote:
According to them, the best way to influence governing authorities was to obey, submit, seek peace, and to pray. Of course this goes hand in hand with preaching the gospel, evangelizing those governing authorities, baptizing converts, and making disciples.

Where is it that Peter or Paul said they were trying to influence their government by making these commands. No, it was for a "quiet and peaceable life." Merely obeying is not complete influence in our context. It's the first step towards influence, but it's just that.

Quote:
I would argue that Americans are not really "part" of the governing authority structure in America. I would argue that we have a voice in who is part of the governing authority in America. However, I firmly believe that true Christians have no real voice in what takes place.

This is an assertion, not an argument. You're saying you would argue it, so argue it. You don't appear to in the rest of your post. We have a voice, but it's not a real one? Huh? In voting, you never really know if your vote will make a difference until after they're counted.

It seems that by your many words, you're avoiding supporting your assertions with arguments, and when I google you on the rest of the interent, this seems to repeatedly be the case, and the frustration of many.

edingess's picture
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The Sin of Judging & Political Engagement

Let's suppose that those who assert that (1) Christians "ought" to be politically involved, that (2) Christians "must" be politically involved and that (3) Christians who are not politically involved are irresponsible, bad citizens, and sinning against God and country, are actually right for arguments sake. That is where we land after all. Either it is a sin not to be politically involved or it is not. Either Christians are going to stand before Christ and given an account for voting or they are not. There is no middle ground. After all, if Christ will not have anything to say to non-voters for not voting, then this whole discussion is useless. So, that being said, there are a few more issues that emerge; hundreds is more like it.

1. Can I vote for a president who is for abortion because I like his tax policy? Would that be a sin?
2. Can I vote for a president who is for higher taxes because I like his abortion policy?
3. Can I vote for a president who is eliminating certain benefits from seniors and unwed mothers and their children because I like his abortion and tax policies?
4. I have some extra time on Thursdays and Saturdays and the local democrats or republicans need help signing people up to vote, am I sinning by not doing my part?
5. I have never made a political contribution, is that a sin?
6. Can I refuse to vote for a conservative president because I don't like his illegal immigration policies.
7. Which party is "more" Christian, democrats or republicans?
8. How do I vote for a president who is liberal on abortion but conservative on the other issues?
9. Is it a sin to vote for a politician who is for gay marriage?
10. Is it a sin to vote for a conservative politician if he is an atheist?

If this argument is true:

It is a sin not to be a good citizen
All good citizen are politically involved
Therefore, it is a sin to be politically passive

Then so is this one:

It is a sin not to be a good citizen
Good citizens know the best path for the country's policies & laws
Good citizens engage in the polical behavior that will move the country down that specific path
Therefore, it is a sin for Christians not to be politically engaged in those specific activities that move the country down the path that is best for its well-being and future health

This would mean that it is a sin to vote for any politician who holds a view that may move the country down a path that is bad for the country.

Okay, now we have to figure out what is bad for the country.

So now we have this thorny little issue facing us. If it is true that being a "good citizen" means "x," and the Bible commands us to be good citizens, then it naturally follows that if we neglect "x" we actually sin against God. When we allow "others" to define what a good citizen is, as opposed to exegeting that information from Scripture, we are now in a position to create rules and standards that are firmly extra-biblical. Of course we have not even approach the question regarding who gets to define what a good citizen really is. That must be answered since the avoidance of sin depends on it.

This is why we should search the Scriptures to see if they give us any help understanding what a good citizen is, what God expects in terms of our relationship to governing authorities.

1. A Christian citizen is to be in subjection to civil authorities.
2. A Christian citizen is to recognize civil authories are ministers of God.
3. A Christian citizen recognizes that resisting civil authority is resisting God.
4. A Christian citizen pays their taxes.
5. A Christian citizen prays for the civil authorities.
6. A Christian citizen submits to civil authorities, kings, and governors for the Lord's sake.

Paul says we do this, recognizing the authority as a minister of God as well as for conscience sake. Peter clearly tells us we should be good citizens for the sake of the gospel. The Christian interest in society is the gospel. We seek to do all we can to be the most capable witnesses to that gospel that we can be. When civil authorities look at the Christian community, it should be as a very narrow religious entitity with a religious interest. They should not see us as one more group to pander to.

Christianity became the official state religion under Theodosius (378-395). I strongly recommend that anyone who is truly interested in the question concerning church-government relationship begin with Scripture that actually addresses that issue specifically and then jump over to this period in church history and take a look at what resulted once Christianity began to become politically aware and involved. I will submit to you that since the late fourth and early fifth century, it has been utterly devestating. There may be an occassional bright spot, but only occassional. On the grand timeline, it looks quite dismal.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

edingess's picture
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Shaynus wrote:Quote:

Shaynus wrote:
Quote:
According to them, the best way to influence governing authorities was to obey, submit, seek peace, and to pray. Of course this goes hand in hand with preaching the gospel, evangelizing those governing authorities, baptizing converts, and making disciples.

Where is it that Peter or Paul said they were trying to influence their government by making these commands. No, it was for a "quiet and peaceable life." Merely obeying is not complete influence in our context. It's the first step towards influence, but it's just that.

Quote:
I would argue that Americans are not really "part" of the governing authority structure in America. I would argue that we have a voice in who is part of the governing authority in America. However, I firmly believe that true Christians have no real voice in what takes place.

This is an assertion, not an argument. You're saying you would argue it, so argue it. You don't appear to in the rest of your post. We have a voice, but it's not a real one? Huh? In voting, you never really know if your vote will make a difference until after they're counted.

It seems that by your many words, you're avoiding supporting your assertions with arguments, and when I google you on the rest of the interent, this seems to repeatedly be the case, and the frustration of many.

One, the whole idea of tanquility is related to the activity of civil authorities in this context. We pray, God moves in civil authorities (should He will), and this results in conditions leading to peace.

Two, your statement that Americans are part of the governing authority structure was no less an assertion than mine.

Three, if you believe there are enough genuine Christians in this country to vote our way out of the conditions we are in, then I have nothing else for you. I know of no one who actually believes that. You may have a little more strength when you throw in the hypocrits and the imposters (as long as your ok rubbing shoulders with them), but even still, the numbers don't and won't add up. This comes down to trust and faith in God, not trust and faith in the church's ability to transform culture through political involvement. Nonsense! The minute politics entered the church they began corrupting her and so far as I can tell, they have not ceased.

You refer to JP Holding on your google inquire. Mr. Holding is an interesting individual. I actually think he may have been kicked off SI because his tactics are quite outside the bounds of Christian charity. He has posted false information about me because I opposed Licona's recent treatment of the resurrection and insisted that he (Holding) not refer to people who disagree with him as stupid, morons, idiots, etc. If you wish to line up with JP, that is your decision. Obviously my views trouble you quite a bit. It is not my goal to frustrate you or to offend you. I only wish to talk about the truthfulness of the things that are being suggested here in the spirit of Christian charity. I think my position on the matter is pretty clear. It also seems clear to me that your objection is not quite hitting the target you intend. I have been there before. I remember my path out of a quasi-charismatic background as a young Christian and then my move from Arminianism to Calvinism. My objections we being answered with ease repeatedly and I was constantly facing objections I could not asnwer. Today, I am a five-pointer. When we are threatened by Scripture, that is when change is ripe and truth is discovered. Only let us walk in the truth once we see it.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
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I have no idea what you're

I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm actually not standing with anyone or against anyone. I'm just observing that I'm not the only one frustrated with your lack of argument. Maybe it's time to reflect on how you come across on the internet. That's all.

Quote:
Two, your statement that Americans are part of the governing authority structure was no less an assertion than mine.

True, but you're the one in the relative minority here on this subject. Your entire argument hinges on this one point, and you can't even set forth an argument about it. Still waiting. I want to see what you can positively put forth positively to prove your statement, because I don't think you've really thought it through.

Above, I talked numbers. I've attended meetings in the US Capitol of pollsters and researchers who look at how many Christians vote and how. We basically track the rest of the population in voter turnout, which is about 40-50% of eligible voters. Just given the sheer numbers, if Christians actually used their voice, there could be huge ground-shifts in who is elected. Assuming all Christians voted in the 2008 Presidential election, and 70% of them voted for the pro-life candidate John McCain, who would have appointed conservative justices to the US Supreme Court. There would be about an extra 16 million votes for a pro-life candidate. John McCain lost by about 10 million votes in the popular vote. The electoral vote is even more telling. Your own state of North Carolina barely went to Obama by a mere 14,177 votes, or .3%. I think you Christians in NC could have worked a little bit found a few more Christians to get out and vote. President Obama went on to appoint two justices to the US Supreme Court who will ensure more years of the evil of abortion. Christian voices and votes really really matter, but we just don't use them. God judges us not only for our actions, but for our inactions, and the foreseeable effects of our actions.

edingess's picture
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Since 8/13/11 09:56:36
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Wow

Thank you for giving me a glimpse into your world. Suffice it to say that you are no doubt speaking from extreme bias due to where you live every day.

Jesus was in the minority as well. That didn't seem to stop him from possessing the truth about, well, everything. This thinking is very consistent with how politically oriented people think. I have more than you, that must mean my view is valid, credible, or even truthful. This is not so in the Society of Christ.

The last time I checked, I never participated in legalizing abortion. But the civil authorities sure did. Federal judges are appointed for LIFE my friend. I have no say over their judicial activism whatever. And even if I vote for a conservative, I still have no say over who he will appoint to the courts. Recent history proves that. We have a voice and even that voice is extremely limited. Moreover, lets suppose I vote for a conservative who then changes his view on an issue or even changes parties. Then what? Vote him out? Okay, but in the meantime he works to legalize gay marriage and I am partly responsible because I helped put him in. Give me a break!

Why is it a sin to vote for one man who is for abortion and not a sin to vote for a Mormon? Why is it a sin to vote for one man who is for gay marriage and not a sin to vote for another man who will install programs that will remove benefits from poor widows, unwed mothers and their children when he gets the chance?

Taking Scripture alone, you know, sola scriptura, tell me why it is sinful for me to vote for Obama, but not sinful to vote for Romney? I know Christians who have always voted, but will likely sit this one out because they cannot, in good conscience vote for a Mormon. Am I to judge them? Am I to say to my brother that he is sinning? ME GENOITO! Who are you to set up this "ought" and place it upon the backs of Christians and then leave them dangling as to how they should carry out the "ought." IF you are going to declare that everyone not voting is sinning and being irresponsible, then I demand explicit representation from Scripture, rightly interpreted, and clearly presented. And on this matter, Scripture MUST be clear. Scripture is never obscure when it comes to sinful behavior! I think that is called the doctrine of perspecuity.

Are you telling me that Christians "ought" to have voted for John McClain rather than Obama? We just keep getting deeper and deeper into foolish legalism here. Of course I did not vote for Obama. When I was younger and less reflective about my views, I also judged people on these issues. I have since learned better and have repented. What I have learned is that if you disciple people properly, in the word, you won't have to tell them who to vote for. They will review their principles and vote from their worldview. What are we really after? What is our goal? If we could snape our fingers, as Christians and fix "it" tomorrow, what would "it" look like tomorrow? No abortion? But still divorce rates at rediculous levels? No gay marriage? But still homosexual behavior all over the place? Small government and low taxes? But still the church not engaging in the good works she is called to? Conservative politicians? Yet no or very little evangelism and true gospel preaching taking place in the community and the churches?

It is just as sinful and ungodly to be pro abortion as it is to be a Mormon my friend. Its like boycotts. You simply can't win for losing. How does one determine the right path? You whole argument hinges on the assumption that the old American way of living and thinking is the right way. Can you make a case for that from Scripture? Are we as Christians called to create governments and then ensure that they remain on track? Is that our calling? There are so many issues in this topic that we could spend a year examining it and be no closer to a solution.

I abhor your idea that God is going to judge Christians for not getting more Christians out to vote. You have no Scripture whatever to make such a legalistic claim and you seem to do so with great comfort or any hesitation. Personally, I think this is a big part of the problem in the church and certain large denominations are little help in that regard. Moreover, the idea that there are that many real Christians in NC is far, far off the mark. Most of these people could give a rip about the gospel, sanctification, heaven, hell, the bible, etc. They are nothing short of moralists running around with the Jesus label stamped on their head because it makes them feel good. And we don't hesitate to use them when we want to push through our own agenda, which may or may not even be biblical. The world sees the church as a political front. They think that most Christians just use religion as a power play to get their way in Washington. And the more political we become, the more we give credence to that view. It is almost to the point that when the culture hears the word Christian, politics comes to mind before Jesus does. I wonder why that is.

Finally, I have no idea who these men are. None! I don't know them. I do not know their character or anything else about them. All I know is what I hear. Yet, God is going to hold me responsible for voting for a man that I know absolutely nothing about, really and truly. So what I know his position here or there. When we place elders in position, we know them very well. One could make the argument that since you really don't know these men you should not endorse them at all because they will reflect on you as a believer. You will be blamed for thier misgivings and poor leadership! I don't make this argument, but it sure seems to me that it could be a valid one.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

edingess's picture
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Greater Risk

When the church is seen to endorse a specific candidate, she must live with everything that candidate does after taking office. If that unbelieving candidate entangles himself in wickedness, guess who else is culpable by the worlds account? Thats right, the church. We put our own reputation on the line when we so visibly endorse certain candidates. And if the media is good a protraying those candidates in a certain light, they drag the church with them, good, bad, or indifferent.

There is more at stake here than most people realize. I care about the gospel. I love the church. If we are to be hated, and we are, then let us be hated for Jesus sake, not for the sake of some politician the world perceives represents the beliefs and views of the church.

I pray for God's grace and mercy.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Jesus and Paul Vote for Mormon

I suppose I am left to believe that not only would Jesus and Paul haved voted, they would have voted for a Universalist (W), a Catholic (McCain), and now a Mormon. I wonder about that. I am not saying Jesus would NOT have voted. But I am very clearly wondering IF He would have and who He would vote for this November. I just have a hard time seeing Jesus vote for a baby killer or a Mormon. Maybe its just me.

Would Jesus have sent out His twelve apostles with voter registration cards in hand to sign us up? Would they have insisted on a specific party? Good questions and worthy of an answer I think. Well, maybe not. Smile

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Since 6/2/09 13:04:13
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I am going to spare myself

I am going to spare myself the agony of carefully reading and responding to everything and jump straight to an easy part.

edginess wrote:
By voting, I am approving that man's principles, am I not?
Not necessarily and not in it's entirety. If this were true, we could never vote for anyone. I don't even like my own principles sometimes. Like your later questions, this fails to recognize that, because of sin, we live in a complex world. And we have to live here. So let us live wisely, and at times, that means a vote for the person who will do the least harm in hopes of saving something for the future. As I have commented before, your approach seems like the guy who turns down $100 because he can't have $1000. There is someone who will gladly take that $100, and they will use it against you. And that is what left us with Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotamayor, two reliable pro-abortion votes for the next two to three decades. Would McCain have appointed anybody differently? Perhaps. One thing is for sure: They wouldn't have been worse. And wisdom means sometimes you take the path of least evil or best chance, even when that chance is slim.

Very few will turn down radiation and chemotherapy for cancer because there is only a 25% chance of it working. We recognize 25% is better than nothing, so we take that chance. Perhaps we should exercise the same kind of desperate wisdom in other areas as well.

How visible we should be in politics is one thing. I think the church should be completely invisible in politics. No church, and no pastor, should be known for their political opinions. Christians can do what they want, I suppose.

Should Christians avoid politics? (The article title.) No, not necessarily though in some contexts it is probably wise. I routinely avoid politics, though I was sorely tempted to jump in this week when I heard a guy making $3000 a month (according to him) claiming he pays more in taxes than millionaires. That is simply wrong on all counts. But I stayed out of it.

Asking whether Jesus or Paul would have voted isn't really the issue. It is an unanswerable question. What we can give some answers to is which is the best direction, given available options, for our country. It would be nice to have a perfect man to run for office. However, politicians and religious leaders killed the last one though he will certainly get his revenge soon enough. Until then we are instructed to live wisely in this present world, and that includes the way that we vote.

There is a kind of voting called "plunking." It is when you are facing a vote for some office (such as school board) which will take the top two vote getters. Plunking means you only vote for one, thereby helping your candidate by denying a vote for someone else. It is the same principle used when voting for someone that we might not fully support, but we vote for them to cancel out a vote for a worse candidate. And that is a wise way to vote at times.

Quote:
The church is worried about gay marriage and yet over 50% of marriages in the church end in divorce, just as high as the world and some say slightly higher.
Bad statistics don't make good points. Here, Google is your friend, and if you have internet access it is free. So use it and recognize that this is a bad statistic. So let's abandon it. Furthermore, let us also recognize that gay marriage is a legitimate issue even if divorce happens at any rate (be 1% or 100%).

Quote:
Let me give a real life example from a PCA church that I am intimately familiar with.
Let us also recognize that anecdotes don't make good policy informers. There is enough missing in your story that we are unable to make an informed judgment about it. Even you say, "The next thing I know ..." which should leave us all wondering what happened in the meantime and what you don't know. And since there is probably some stuff you don't know, that should serve, IMO, as a caution to using the story for any sort of point, aside from the difficulty of knowing things.

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Ed, Quote: Thank you for

Ed,

Quote:
Thank you for giving me a glimpse into your world. Suffice it to say that you are no doubt speaking from extreme bias due to where you live every day.

Why do you say I'm biased? Because I know about politics and voting? By the way, that's called "name calling." It's yet another logical fallacy you can't help but unconsciously give to try to support yourself. You know nothing about where I live every day. Do you know what I do for a living? Where I work?

Would you say it's a good thing to be knowledgable of candidates and vote?

Quote:
Are you telling me that Christians "ought" to have voted for John McClain rather than Obama? We just keep getting deeper and deeper into foolish legalism here.

Nope. But I would say God will judge us all for reasonable outcomes of our votes. He calls us to make judgement calls, and because we part of the government system in the US, he holds us accountable for our judgement calls just like he would a king over Israel, even if in a diffused, general way.

Quote:
Finally, I have no idea who these men are. None! I don't know them. I do not know their character or anything else about them. All I know is what I hear. Yet, God is going to hold me responsible for voting for a man that I know absolutely nothing about, really and truly.

Did Soloman have to really and truly know the two mothers fighting over the baby? No, he made a judgement call based on the evidence before him. If we are to be wise judges of our candidates, we have to educate ourselves about them. God will hold each of us accountable differently according to the information we have and other influences. I couldn't say it would be a sin to vote for Barack Obama, or a sin to not vote based on conviction. But God will judge us for that. But willfully turning a blind eye towards your responsibilities as a citizen (and advocating that others do so) is a sin of not exercising judgement.

'You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly." Lev 19:15

This brings the question "what is judging my neighbor fairly?" God calls us to judge each other in a sense. To size up a candidate and weigh positives and negatives is a good thing. It's imaging God. He does the same thing.

Quote:

When the church is seen to endorse a specific candidate, she must live with everything that candidate does after taking office. If that unbelieving candidate entangles himself in wickedness, guess who else is culpable by the worlds account? Thats right, the church. We put our own reputation on the line when we so visibly endorse certain candidates. And if the media is good a protraying those candidates in a certain light, they drag the church with them, good, bad, or indifferent.

Again, you make the mistake of mixing up categories of what the church is. No one here, including me, is saying the church (or individual churches) as an institution should endorse a candidate. Far from it. But I have faith in God that, given good teaching from the pulpit about things like life, marriage, fairness ect. that most Christians will make a good judgement on a candidate.

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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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@Ed

Ed wrote:
Finally, I have no idea who these men are. None! I don't know them. I do not know their character or anything else about them. All I know is what I hear. Yet, God is going to hold me responsible for voting for a man that I know absolutely nothing about, really and truly. So what I know his position here or there. When we place elders in position, we know them very well. One could make the argument that since you really don't know these men you should not endorse them at all because they will reflect on you as a believer. You will be blamed for thier misgivings and poor leadership! I don't make this argument, but it sure seems to me that it could be a valid one.

Ed, are you saying that because you don't know anything about Obama, Romney, Paul or others that you aren't going to vote? And then following it up with a statement that God will not hold you responsible since you didn't vote because you can't know what's going on in their heads? You don't know what they value even though they're giving speeches and outlining political positions every day until Nov. 2? Obama's been in office for four years - that doesn't give us enough knowledge to vote for or against him?

Yikes.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
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Selective Judging

I mean, if you can judge my biases without ever seen me say anything at all, and yet you can't figure out the President, well that seems like selective judging ability.

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Selective Readiing

I never said I was not going to vote. I will vote. I always vote. I refuse to judge people on whether or not they engage in politics, voting or otherwise. I don't judge them for voting, not voting, or even who they vote for. I do not think it is safe.

Let me make this a little easier:

Read this book with an open mind and ask yourself some critical questions about Christianity and America:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0801013186/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=5785412697&h... ]Christless Christianity

What we see in American evangelicalism is really therapeutic utilitarian deism. The gospel of Christ has been displaced with the gospel of capitalism in the name of Christ.

Horton nails it when he says, "As this new gospel becomes more obviously American than Christian, we all have to take a step back and ask ourselves whether evangelicalism is increasingly a cultural and political movement with a sentimental attachment to the image of Jesus more than a witness to "Jesus Christ and him crucified."

I never said I could not vote for someone because I don't know them. I only said that fact is problematic when you think about it. I said that such an argument would not be easily answered. It could be far more correct than we think. It deserves attention. In my mind it is time for the true church to distance herself from her previous American identity. We need to see ourselves as Christians, disciples of Christ, not American Christians or even Christian Americans.

I oppose any view that says Christians must be involved or must not be involved in the political process on any level. Scripture does not support such view outside of what I have already mentioned. At the same time, I do think those who give more time to politics than they do Christ have misplaced priorities. It is a sin to be distracted by temporal causes when those causes lead to the neglect of more important eternal matters.

I am not juding your biases. Rather, I am noting that they come through in your posts, and it is no surprise to see that you are as heavily involved in politics as you are. I think it is fair to consider that your built in bias is more responsible for your position than biblical exegesis. I, on the other hand, use to think as you do. But a more critical exegesis of the text, coupled with a willingness to admit that perhaps I was too American has caused me to rethink my identity in Christ.

Another example of rank hypocrisy that is no doubt more common than not:
One church member boasts about getting several people to register to vote for the marriage amendment in NC. This same man knows of an illicit divorce that took place in his church against Scripture where disicipline should have taken place. Because he was able to get all these people to register to vote, he thinks he really did Christ a service. At the very same time, he displayed his dispising of Christ by refusing to heed Matt. 18:15-18 all in the name of individual privacy, a very American idea that is antithetical to Christianity on several levels. The sad thing is that this poor brother thinks God is particularly pleased with his actions. The truth is that God has something against him.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
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Quote: I am not juding your

Quote:
I am not juding your biases. Rather, I am noting that they come through in your posts, and it is no surprise to see that you are as heavily involved in politics as you are. I think it is fair to consider that your built in bias is more responsible for your position than biblical exegesis.

But you wrote.

Quote:
Thank you for giving me a glimpse into your world. Suffice it to say that you are no doubt speaking from extreme bias due to where you live every day.

What double-talk (which by the way, is a sin). That's just it, I'm not heavily involved in politics. I work in IT at a very non-political job and don't get heavily involved beyond voting and random political discussion. You seem to have "no doubt" about me, but unable to make basic character appreciations about Barak Obama or Mitt Romney.

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Wow

You do realize there is a differnce between someone being able to recognize bias and the actual judging of that bias, right? I have judged your comments to be biased. I have not judged the bias of your comments outside of the "ought" that exists in your view around politics. I don't think it is ipso facto wrong to be involved or not to be involved. I do think it is wrong to judge people who do not take your particular view on the matter of poitical involvement. Is that too difficult to discern? I don't think I can say it much clearer than that.

Read "Christless Christianity" and think about the issue some more. That's all. No reason to beat each other over this.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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You'ved judged my comments to

You'ved judged my comments to be biased based on what information? Please speak plainly. Because I think if you did tell me, you'd reveal your own biases. I await your answer to my question. Thanks.

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Bias

Quote:
Above, I talked numbers. I've attended meetings in the US Capitol of pollsters and researchers who look at how many Christians vote and how. We basically track the rest of the population in voter turnout, which is about 40-50% of eligible voters. Just given the sheer numbers, if Christians actually used their voice, there could be huge ground-shifts in who is elected. Assuming all Christians voted in the 2008 Presidential election, and 70% of them voted for the pro-life candidate John McCain, who would have appointed conservative justices to the US Supreme Court. There would be about an extra 16 million votes for a pro-life candidate. John McCain lost by about 10 million votes in the popular vote. The electoral vote is even more telling. Your own state of North Carolina barely went to Obama by a mere 14,177 votes, or .3%. I think you Christians in NC could have worked a little bit found a few more Christians to get out and vote. President Obama went on to appoint two justices to the US Supreme Court who will ensure more years of the evil of abortion. Christian voices and votes really really matter, but we just don't use them. God judges us not only for our actions, but for our inactions, and the foreseeable effects of our actions.

Um....this. The average person would not know this nor would they attend such meetings. Obviously your interests here are not typical.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
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So bias equals above average

So bias equals above average knowledge or interests? You've redefined the term.

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Rabbitt Holes

Quote:
So bias equals above average knowledge or interests? You've redefined the term

One of the phenomena I see happen in forums constantly is the proverbial rabbit hole. I am not a rabbit, so I will not nibble on this one. My case as it stands is clear and should you want to demonstrate, with Scripture that I am wrong, I am willing to continue the discussion. Here is the general conviction I bring once more:

It is not a sin for Christrians to be politically engaged -or- unengaged so long as they are obeying civil authorities where possible, viewing civil authorities properly, and praying for these civil authorities. Since these are the explicit instructions of Scripture, this is what I believe to be unambiguously true.

A principle of interpretation is perspecuity. On matters of profound importance, and sin would be one of these, the Scripture is clear. For anyone who wishes to place an "ought" on the backs of American Christians in the area of political involvement, the burden to show that Scripture clearly teaches this is on YOU! Once more, if Christ demands I answer for what I am saying, I shall point to Peter and Paul's words and pray for mercy.

This being said, do I think Christians in modern times are too political? Yes I do. I think we spend too much time on political issues and nowhere near enough time on spiritual issues. Most people who ramble on and on about politics in the church and how the church MUST be involved have never even seen on instance of Church discipline and some of them have been around 40+ years in the church. Is that a problem? It is a monumental problem. We spin our wheels about politics all the while, EC nonsense, comtempative prayer, meditation, experiencing God, purpose-driven garbage is hitting like tidal waves. We abandon the basics of Christian teachings, to include the gospel, and spend out time on politics, thinking we are saving our country. Donald Grey Barnhouse preached a sermon about what would happen if Satan were in charge today. He did this over half a century ago. "Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, "Yes, sir" and No, ma'am," and churches would be full every Sunday...where Christ is not preached."

The church is called to preach the gospel. In case you have forgotten, that is a very big job and we haven't a lot of time left. Let us be about the business of the kingdom of Christ and of God, not of America.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Good citizens

Christians are not commanded to be "good citizens" as defined by secular governments. Christians are commanded to be "good citizens" as defined by Christ! For most secular governments, one must cease being a genuine Christian in order to be a "good citizen." And that is true in America as well. Secular government says good citizens are tolerant of abortion and the gay lifestyle. Otherwise, you are a bigot and a threat to freedom. To make the case you wish to make, you must establish what a good citizen is outside of how American culture defines it. I would be interested to see how such a case in put together if indeed anyone has the time to construct one.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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One more thing

Since men are arguing that Christians MUST be involved in politics and that God expects it, then it is our duty and responsibility, then it must be a sin not to be involved. Since that is the case, I wonder how many cases of rebuke and discipline these same men have engaged in when they witness people refusing to do what they say Christians MUST do. If you see your brother sinning, you must go to him and show him his sin. If he does not listen, you now have to proceed along the course of Matt. 18:!5-18.

Some will say, well, it isn't that serious. Sin is always serious. If it is a sin not to engage politically, then confrontation is necessary. If it is not a sin, then what in the world are we doing wasting all this time on the matter. If it is not a sin, my point is made because that IS MY POINT.

I know, we want out cake and eat it too. I think not. You are either all in on this one or your not.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Shaynus wrote:So bias equals

Shaynus wrote:
So bias equals above average knowledge or interests? You've redefined the term.

The old quote the person and utterly ignore the question. . . I'll try again. This isn't about a rabbit hole, it's about your integrity and ability to argue correctly. To call someone "extremely" biased without being able to back it up is slander (which is also a sin). You're so concerned about the judgmentalism of other people, but can't see your own.

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INTERGRITY?

Shaynus wrote:
Shaynus wrote:
So bias equals above average knowledge or interests? You've redefined the term.

The old quote the person and utterly ignore the question. . . I'll try again. This isn't about a rabbit hole, it's about your integrity and ability to argue correctly. To call someone "extremely" biased without being able to back it up is slander (which is also a sin). You're so concerned about the judgmentalism of other people, but can't see your own.

I will not engage in a discussion with anyone who begins engage in this kind of language. I provided you my justification for concluding that your interest in politics are far more than the average person. I suggested that your own "higher-then-normal" interests may be fueling your position more than a simple exegesis of Scripture.

If I am wrong, then just say so. If my judgment has missed the target in that very minor point, then it misses the mark. If that is the case, then it must be something other than your above average interest in politics causing you to take the postion you do. If you want to claim it is based on a straightforward exegesis of Scripture, then present your exegetical evidence for examination. Either way, the reason for your position is no where near as relevant as its truthfulness. How one gets to error is not as important as the fact that they are in error. I am not saying it is never important or even that it is completely unimportant. There are times it can help to know the "how" because this may help us fix it. Anyways, I ramble.

Lets either get back to the topic or just drop it altogether. I have made some pretty strong statements and you have not interacted with them. I would like to see how you view some of these positions.

Here is a question for you: A brother asked me this morning if a Christian could EVER vote for a condidate who is pro-abortion. What do you think? Have you ever voted for a universalist? What about someone who believes there is nothing wrong with homosexuality? What about someone who thinks it is alright to divorce for reasons other than adultery? How many principles of Scripture does one have to disagree with before you decide you can't vore for them? And why does it take that many? Why does it take 5 versus 3 violations? Or whatever the number might be.

I think people who argue that Christians "ought" to vote, "must" vote, etc. are completely unprepared for a discussion of this type. No one seems to want to dive into the deep end of the pool. I don't blame them. I wouldn't want to have to answer these questions either.

What was my answer? I said we must first ask the questions "how" or "if" Christians should be involved in the first place. But I will be thinking more about his question because it deserves attention.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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What is worse

A man who endorses the murder of innocent babies or the man who dismisses the one God by claiming that we all serve and pray to the same God? Why is it better to vote for a pro-abortion candidate than it is to vote for a universalist?

Are Christians really called to shape the morality of the culture?

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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If higher than average

If higher than average interests in a subject is bias, then your higher than average interest in this subject is also the product of bias. Thus, you can't hope to be objective if your definition of bias is high interest in a subject. It seems your bias is really against anyone who has real interest in politics.

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adding to the mix

From http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/03/30/not-your-religion-in-politi... ]Not Your Religion in Politics, but Mine by Michael Horton

Quote:
The rhetoric of a reinvigorated Christian right has turned off a lot of Americans who see evangelicalism more as a voting bloc engaged in identity politics than as a witness to the liberating King who has founded his own empire in his own death and resurrection.

from http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/03/31/in-gods-name ]In God’s Name again by Horton

This question is asked and Horton responds in the article:

Quote:
How much involvement should a Christian have in political discussion and engagement?

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

edingess's picture
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JohnBrian wrote: From Not

JohnBrian wrote:
From http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/03/30/not-your-religion-in-politi... ]Not Your Religion in Politics, but Mine by Michael Horton

Quote:
The rhetoric of a reinvigorated Christian right has turned off a lot of Americans who see evangelicalism more as a voting bloc engaged in identity politics than as a witness to the liberating King who has founded his own empire in his own death and resurrection.

from http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2012/03/31/in-gods-name ]In God’s Name again by Horton

This question is asked and Horton responds in the article:

Quote:
How much involvement should a Christian have in political discussion and engagement?

Thanks John. I will certainly give this one a read. I closer to the beginning of these questions than I am to the end. At a minimum we should be askng them.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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From

From Horton:

Quote:

Distinguish between the church as institution from the church as its members. Abraham Kuyper expressed this distinction in terms of church-as-organization and church-as-organism. In the former sense, the church is Christ’s embassy of saving grace through the ministry of Word and sacrament. In the latter sense, it is believers-saved by grace-who are scattered into their worldly callings as salt and light. The institutional church is entrusted with the Great Commission, with no calling or authority to reform the world. Being shaped decisively by this Word, believers are called to serve their myriad neighbors in the world. Sometimes this provides opportunities for newsworthy impact, but that is not our concern. Our calling is to be faithful at our posts. Where the state has accrued a dangerous monopoly on cultural activity, politics is seen as the most significant sphere of activity. However, Christians can testify by their quiet faithfulness at their posts how essential are the daily and often mundane gifts. Ambition to make a noticeable difference in the world may be a God-given purpose and calling, but it can also be an expression of our pride and self-righteousness. It is easier to abandon the callings where God has placed us to love and serve our neighbors in order to “be somebody” and to be remembered for our “legacy.”

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Response

Shaynus wrote:
From Horton:

Quote:

Distinguish between the church as institution from the church as its members. Abraham Kuyper expressed this distinction in terms of church-as-organization and church-as-organism. In the former sense, the church is Christ’s embassy of saving grace through the ministry of Word and sacrament. In the latter sense, it is believers-saved by grace-who are scattered into their worldly callings as salt and light. The institutional church is entrusted with the Great Commission, with no calling or authority to reform the world. Being shaped decisively by this Word, believers are called to serve their myriad neighbors in the world. Sometimes this provides opportunities for newsworthy impact, but that is not our concern. Our calling is to be faithful at our posts. Where the state has accrued a dangerous monopoly on cultural activity, politics is seen as the most significant sphere of activity. However, Christians can testify by their quiet faithfulness at their posts how essential are the daily and often mundane gifts. Ambition to make a noticeable difference in the world may be a God-given purpose and calling, but it can also be an expression of our pride and self-righteousness. It is easier to abandon the callings where God has placed us to love and serve our neighbors in order to “be somebody” and to be remembered for our “legacy.”

Perhaps you might want to read http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=Ar... ]Horton in context and pay a little closer attention to what you read.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Who do you think you are?

So having merely quoted a section of Horton's article, your omniscience led you to understand that I should pay closer attention? Who do you think you are, Ed?

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A little something...

Just realized I'm 40 posts behind in this thread. Somehow didn't notice it was racing on without me. Biggrin

So this observation might not be worth a whole lot at this point but I'll chip it in anyway...

edingess wrote:
To answer your question, Scripture quite clearly commands us to obey the laws of the land. The law states that one must come to a full stop at all stop signs. That is easy enough. It is clearly against the law to litter. Internet Porn is looking upon a woman with lust, and hence, is adultery. Since you want specific interaction with your post, here you go:

You stated that in a nation such as ours (whatever that means), CHRISTIANS CAN AND MUST BE INVOLVED IN POLITICS.


On the first couple of sentences... my point exactly. You had argued that it's "egregious" to say Christians should be involved in politics because the Bible doesn't say that anywhere. My response was that it is an application of principles. Stopping at stop signs is also application of principle (obey the law). Conclusion: the Bible does not have to say it.

As for "a nation such as ours (whatever that means)..."
Your not knowing what means explains much of your response. It's a huge part of my argument--and I'm pretty sure I explained it in the essay to some extent. In any case, what it means is this: we live in a nation where all of the citizens are participants in governance by design, that is by law. The law doesn't say "you must vote" but it does say that we are all participants in governance (legislature and executive are selected by us). It also strongly implies that our public discourse is part of the government as well (it's protected by law in the Bill of Rights).
So my argument here is that we are all "involved in politics" whether we want to be or not. We are citizen governors, so to speak. If we ignore it all, we are being politically unfaithful.
(But the degree of involvement varies according to vocation).

Just a couple of randomly selected points.

Also, for what it's worth, a short laundry list of what I am not saying here (though others may be)...
(1) that we should try to transform society from the outside in by legislation (it's really not about transformation, which is always fundamentally an inside->out process);
(2) that the work of the church is to transform "social institutions," lobby for legislation, endorse candidates, hold demonstrations or any of that;
(3) that every Christian has a duty to be a delegate at a primary or pass out lawn signs or make phone calls for a political party or make campaign contributions;
(4) that people should advocate political philosophy instead of the gospel

I'll probably add a few more after I skim the last thirty some posts.

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Hmm...

Scanned several posts. Things got pretty off track... and a bit ugly.

The whole debate about how to vote in a particular race is another question entirely.
I guess I'll join the fray with a few general points on that question...

(1) A vote for a candidate is not an endorsement of everything he says or does. If that were the case, no Christian could ever vote for anyone (because all candidates are sinners).

(2) Neither belief in sound Christian political philosophy nor skill in governing correlate to whether a person is a Christian or not. (That is, whether the candidate is a Christian--whether he is justified--does not mean he knows anything beyond the gospel. The degree to which he is sanctified is far more relevant. But even the degree sanctification doesn't correlate all that strongly to having a Christian understanding of the ideas that make up a political philosophy. It correlates even less to the unique gifts of competent governing. It correlates strongly to good character, but though governing well requires good character, good character is not enough to enable a person to govern well.)

(3) Every vote has a positive consequence and a negative consequence. The positive consequence is an increase in a particular candidate's tally. The negative consequence is the lack of increase in any other candidate's tally. If one of these others is already ahead, a third consequence is that we have strengthened his lead.

(4) Consequences of votes matter. They are not all that matters (that would be pragmatism), but they matter.

(5) Since consequences matter, "voting your conscience" requires factoring them in (it is not more conscionable to ignore actual results but rather less conscionable).

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Horton

Horton wrote:
We propose a two-fold strategy. First, we will have to clear up this confusion about the gospel and cultural values. Being pro-choice I believe is morally wrong, but it is not heretical. God will never be anyone's mascot and will never allow himself to be worshipped in either the carved image of the donkey or the elephant. We cannot impose our will on the American electorate anymore and we will have to stop it. We'll have to stop shaking our fists at our neighbors. We must call the church to a cease-fire with the world over gays in the military and engage in spiritual warfare for their hearts and minds for the first time perhaps in forty years. Second, we'll not only have to recover gospel proclamation, but we'll have to learn how to interact positively again with our culture.

Above = from Ed's link.

I love to read Horton and like him a lot but he's talking nonsense here... in places. "We cannot impose our will on the American electorate..." Actually he means "we may not" as in "we should not." But he wrote the literal truth: "we cannot." In America, you don't get anything done unless you persuade (not coerce) significant majorities to agree with your ideas. The only way to "impose" a will is to find some way to subvert the system/behave illegally. I doubt it's possible even by illegal means because the division of government into a system of checks and balances makes that sort of stunt very complicated.

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Well, maybe...

Aaron Blumer wrote:
(1) A vote for a candidate is not an endorsement of everything he says or does. If that were the case, no Christian could ever vote for anyone (because all candidates are sinners).

I'm thinking about writing in Jesus for this year's election. Although moving from "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" to President of the United States seems like kind of a backwards step... Blum 3

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Won't need it

Thankfully, the King of Kings will not need a vote.
It is an interesting thing to note that peace on earth does not come until it is imposed by a war... so society apparently can be bettered from the outside in even though individuals are only truly changed from the inside out.

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Just got back into town

As an FYI I noticed one post that was out of bound in my opinion and do not feel it merits a response. I will look at some of the additional thoughts Aaron has contributed and provide a response over the weekend. In the interest of transparency, you should know I am wrestling with this issue only recently, say six months or so. Please endulge me as I wrestle out loud on SI. Smile

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Aaron Blumer wrote: Just

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Just realized I'm 40 posts behind in this thread. Somehow didn't notice it was racing on without me. Biggrin

So this observation might not be worth a whole lot at this point but I'll chip it in anyway...

edingess wrote:
To answer your question, Scripture quite clearly commands us to obey the laws of the land. The law states that one must come to a full stop at all stop signs. That is easy enough. It is clearly against the law to litter. Internet Porn is looking upon a woman with lust, and hence, is adultery. Since you want specific interaction with your post, here you go:

You stated that in a nation such as ours (whatever that means), CHRISTIANS CAN AND MUST BE INVOLVED IN POLITICS.


On the first couple of sentences... my point exactly. You had argued that it's "egregious" to say Christians should be involved in politics because the Bible doesn't say that anywhere. My response was that it is an application of principles. Stopping at stop signs is also application of principle (obey the law). Conclusion: the Bible does not have to say it.

As for "a nation such as ours (whatever that means)..."
Your not knowing what means explains much of your response. It's a huge part of my argument--and I'm pretty sure I explained it in the essay to some extent. In any case, what it means is this: we live in a nation where all of the citizens are participants in governance by design, that is by law. The law doesn't say "you must vote" but it does say that we are all participants in governance (legislature and executive are selected by us). It also strongly implies that our public discourse is part of the government as well (it's protected by law in the Bill of Rights).
So my argument here is that we are all "involved in politics" whether we want to be or not. We are citizen governors, so to speak. If we ignore it all, we are being politically unfaithful.
(But the degree of involvement varies according to vocation).

Just a couple of randomly selected points.

Also, for what it's worth, a short laundry list of what I am not saying here (though others may be)...
(1) that we should try to transform society from the outside in by legislation (it's really not about transformation, which is always fundamentally an inside->out process);
(2) that the work of the church is to transform "social institutions," lobby for legislation, endorse candidates, hold demonstrations or any of that;
(3) that every Christian has a duty to be a delegate at a primary or pass out lawn signs or make phone calls for a political party or make campaign contributions;
(4) that people should advocate political philosophy instead of the gospel

I'll probably add a few more after I skim the last thirty some posts.

On this point I could not disagree more. Obey the law and stopping at stop signs is not really an application of principles any more than obeying those who are over you in the Lord or wives submitting to their husbands in all things. The command could not be more direct. I will read over the rest and respond later.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Definitions

We seem to be working with different definitions.
The definition I'm using for "application" is something along the lines of "the process or result of using principles expressed in Scripture to direct conduct in particular cases and situations Scripture does not describe." Since the Bible doesn't talk about stop signs, obeying them would be application of the principle that we should be subject to the powers that be.

Likewise, the Bible does not say "be involved in politics" but it does indicate that we should do our work well (Col. 3:23, maybe Eccles. 9:10). It's our Constitution (and supporting documents such as the Federalist Papers, the wriitngs of John Adams, etc.) that informs us that politics is part of our work as American citizens.
(This is just one of the arguments that support the involvement idea, but even by itself it's enough.)

But if the word "application" is distracting, perhaps we can agree that the activity of identifying how stated principles must be lived in unstated situations is an important Christian responsibility--and use some other term for it.

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Which one, out of curiosity?

edingess wrote:
As an FYI I noticed one post that was out of bound in my opinion and do not feel it merits a response. I will look at some of the additional thoughts Aaron has contributed and provide a response over the weekend. In the interest of transparency, you should know I am wrestling with this issue only recently, say six months or so. Please endulge me as I wrestle out loud on SI. Smile

Which one, out of curiosity?

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Constitution Not Prescriptive

First of all, it is not MY constitution. It is the constitution of the country in which I was born. It was created 225 years ago by men who's Christian character I cannot ascertain at this point. I am not being anti or even unAmerican in this statement. I am simply providing a more crisp perspective. Should Christians view the Constitution of the United States as THEIR constitution? I do not think that is the business of the church. As far as I know, the constitution does not provide a prescription for the level of political involvement for it's constituents. In other words, there is no imperative in the document around political involvement.

Your view almost seems to imply that a Christian is bound by Scripture to agree with, support, and even promulgate this specific form of governing. I can't even come close to reading the text in that manner. Since the writers of the text knew nothing of the form of government we have in modern America, it seems to be that such a reading of the text is necessarily anachronistic.

Col. 3:23 speaks to the godly attitude that slaves should have as they serve their masters. We too should have the same godly attitude toward those we serve as employees. That is the principle of application for which I think you are searching.

I think that a reference to Ecclesiastics aimed at supporting "Scriptural principles" commanding American Christians to be politically engaged is a serious stretch. One could reply that proclaiming the gospel IS closer to obeying Ecclesiastes than political engagement and there would be nothing with which to respond. I would argue that both would be guilty of misapplying that text. My point is that this text does nothing to help in the discussion and you have not really shown how it does.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Exegetical Fallacy in Application of Principle

Quote:
Likewise, the Bible does not say "be involved in politics" but it does indicate that we should do our work well (Col. 3:23, maybe Eccles. 9:10). It's our Constitution (and supporting documents such as the Federalist Papers, the wriitngs of John Adams, etc.) that informs us that politics is part of our work as American citizens.
(This is just one of the arguments that support the involvement idea, but even by itself it's enough.)

But if the word "application" is distracting, perhaps we can agree that the activity of identifying how stated principles must be lived in unstated situations is an important Christian responsibility--and use some other term for it.

Allow me to provide an example of the subjectivism that your method risks introducing into the exgetical process. Scripture commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Contemporary wives, in American culture who are radically hung up on emotions and romance will ultilize this command to create a principle from which they will manipulate their husbands. For instance, in order to love your wife like Christ loves the church, you must love her on HER terms. What does that mean? It can mean cleaning the house just the way she likes the house cleaned. It can mean taking her to expensive restaurants. It can mean a number of absurd behaviors that have absolutely nothing to do with a man really loving his wife. What you are doing is taking instructions given in a culture very different from our own and overlaying our culture's definition onto those terms. You are engaging in anachronism, in my humble opinion. Now, we all do this and it is admittedly very challenging to avoid. But avoid it we must. We begin with a simple understanding of what the text says to THAT audience and what it MEANT to THAT audience. From there, we avoid as many generalities as possible and move to application in modern culture. In the Mediterranean culture of that day, the laws were different. The command was to obey the laws and submit to civil authority. For us, we obey different laws and submission is slightly different ways. Obedience to the laws is one form of submission. Our good behavior and compliance as Christians can demonstrate that we are not insurrectionists.

Perhaps civil authorities desire to move our form of governing from "A" to "B." For some reason, Christians are being led to believe that it is their duty to preserve "A." Well, who places this duty on them? God or a man? Should we spend time in the Society of Christ debating which form of governing the civil authorities should have and spend energy rallying around one or the other? Is that what we are called to? Is that part of the mission of the church? Is it really the mission of the church to consult or advise civil authorities on the proper form of government? Surely if one works within the civil government and is responsible for such decisions, they must submit to biblical principles in their decision-making process. But that is about how an individual serves God in their secular career and has nothing to do with the question before us. Every Christian must serve their employer according to biblical mandates. It seems clear to me that the church has one clear mission given to her by Christ. That mission is the proclamation of the gospel which results in converts and affords disciple-making opportunities. From my perspective, the church influences morality within a given culture by preaching and living out the truth of biblical revelation.

There is no more effective way by which to influence the moral climate of a culture and to experience genuine change than by the foolishness of the preaching of the cross. Hence, it stands to reason that integrating other methods such as political activism introduces the risk of detracting, not enhancing, the desired result. If preaching is God's method for moral influence and restraint, not to mention genuine change, why default to others?

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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edingess wrote:First of all,

edingess wrote:
First of all, it is not MY constitution. It is the constitution of the country in which I was born. It was created 225 years ago by men who's Christian character I cannot ascertain at this point. I am not being anti or even unAmerican in this statement. I am simply providing a more crisp perspective. Should Christians view the Constitution of the United States as THEIR constitution? I do not think that is the business of the church. As far as I know, the constitution does not provide a prescription for the level of political involvement for it's constituents. In other words, there is no imperative in the document around political involvement.

It's true that there is no single statement that says "citizens should cast informed votes." If you're satisfied with isolating the documents individual statements from the ideas that are its foundation--and that are everywhere assumed in it, that's an option. But others approach the question in light of the question "Why is our government structured so differently from the monarchies of the era--and yet also quite differently from the notions of the French radicals?" The answer, in part, includes the fact that is was designed the depend on the informed participation of its citizens.
But it really is less difficult to see even than that. The Constitution refers to voting and this is, by definition, citizen participation in government. If everyone said "Oh, that's for other people to do," the government would rapidly collapse.

edingess wrote:
Your view almost seems to imply that a Christian is bound by Scripture to agree with, support, and even promulgate this specific form of governing. I can't even come close to reading the text in that manner....

I don' know where you're getting that impression. What we're bound to do is support the government that we have... and the one we have is the one I'm talking about.

edingess wrote:
Col. 3:23 speaks to the godly attitude that slaves should have as they serve their masters. We too should have the same godly attitude toward those we serve as employees. That is the principle of application for which I think you are searching.

What basis do you have for excluding the work of governing? First, the text does not say "employees." It says "slaves." We apply it to the employee relationship. It's the law of our land that informs us that governing is part of the work that is ours as citizens. But I think I'm getting pretty repetitive on that point.

edingess wrote:
I think that a reference to Ecclesiastics aimed at supporting "Scriptural principles" commanding American Christians to be politically engaged is a serious stretch. One could reply that proclaiming the gospel IS closer to obeying Ecclesiastes than political engagement and there would be nothing with which to respond.
The argument there relies, once again, on a false disjunction. There is no reason to suppose that one form of work excludes another. We all believe we should evangelize and mow our grass. I'm simply saying that we should evangelize and do our share of the work of governing (... and still mow our grass, unfortunately).

As for the hermeneutical process I'm using... I think I'll just leave it to readers to judge whether they think your analysis is accurate.
Just one point from that...

Quote:
Perhaps civil authorities desire to move our form of governing from "A" to "B." For some reason, Christians are being led to believe that it is their duty to preserve "A."

Your comment--along with several others--suggests you're not working from a well informed point of view on this. Our "civil authorities" do not get to "move our form of governing from A to B," because they're bound by the law of the land to preserve the form we have and are accountable to the electorate for what they do.

In any case, you're missing some possibilities here.
A) The view that there is no particular form of government that Scripture prescribes
B) The view that all forms of government are equally good
C) The view that Christians have no responsibility to support one form over another
D) The view that Christians in the US have no responsibility to support one form over another in their own country

All of these answer different questions and can be affirmed or rejected independently (though it's harder to isolate B from C and C from D). In any case, I affirm A, reject B, affirm that C would apply to many governments, but reject D emphatically.

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Quote: The Constitution

Quote:
The Constitution refers to voting and this is, by definition, citizen participation in government. If everyone said "Oh, that's for other people to do," the government would rapidly collapse.

That is correct. It would collapse if no one participated. But that only begs the question of "Christian" participation. We make up such a small minority in American culture that our absence would be hardly felt. I speak of genuine Christians.

The right to vote and the imperative to vote are two different matters. Citizens have a right to vote IF they choose to do so. I hardly think that in the establishment of freedom the framers were interested in removing the freedom not to vote.

Quote:
I don' know where you're getting that impression. What we're bound to do is support the government that we have... and the one we have is the one I'm talking about.

Actually, I do not think Scripture binds Christian conscience to support our current form of government. One can certainly be a Christian and contend that our current form of government is misguided. They can even say they think this to be the case. What Scripture binds us to is submission to civil authorities to include obeying the laws of the land. Whether or not Christians SHOULD support or oppose our current form of government is actually bound up in this discussion. I think a Christian can support or oppose our current form of government without sinning. That is my point. There is no divine imperative that we do either. The divine imperative is a submissive and respectful attitude which inlcudes obeying the laws.

Quote:
What basis do you have for excluding the work of governing? First, the text does not say "employees." It says "slaves." We apply it to the employee relationship. It's the law of our land that informs us that governing is part of the work that is ours as citizens. But I think I'm getting pretty repetitive on that point.

I did not exclude the work of government from the perspective of government employees and public servants. In Greco-Roman culture, employees were slaves for the most part. You either owned your business, were involved in a trade, such as fishing, farming, tent-making etc., your were rich, or you owned your business. The role we relate to most from that culture as an employee is one of master-slave. The attitude of the Christian slave, servant, employee is important. By applying their heart to their work, they witness to the glory and presence of God within. Do you think I am off base. Yes, this is an excellent eample of the principle of application at work in exegesis.

Quote:
Your comment--along with several others--suggests you're not working from a well informed point of view on this. Our "civil authorities" do not get to "move our form of governing from A to B," because they're bound by the law of the land to preserve the form we have and are accountable to the electorate for what they do.

I think you are missing my point. What IF the civil authorities decide to move against the constitution? What then? Do we as Christians have some sort of moral imperative to step in and turn the tide? Take up arms? Engage in civil war? I well understand the legal frame of our system, at least enough to have an intelligent discussion around it. Are you saying that federal judges never legislate from bench ignoring constiutioinal law all the while? The logical end of your argument is that Christians are "protectors" of the current system of government and as such, we have a moral responsibility to react to any threats to that system, whatever their nature. My thesis is that Scripture places no such obligation on the Christian nor the church as an institution.

Regarding the different forms of government, my point is that everything being equal, such as justice, morality, treatment, etc., should Christians support one form over another? Of course I believe that Christians must oppose governments that are brutal, unjust, immoral, and unfair in how they treat citizens. The form of that opposition must come through the public proclamation of the gospel as the church of Jesus Christ, not as a political agent. The interest of the church is the kind of change spoken of in Scripture. The church should not be interested in moralism or moralizing a society using Christian principles. We don't want men to be moral, we want them to repent and place their faith in Christ! It is clear to me that the church is neglecting her core mission and in its place she is busy entertaining, engaging in self-help nonsense, non-exclusive and non-offensive social work, and political activism.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Not about the church

Just a reminder: this is not about "the church." It's about Christian living in a particular kind of society, the one we live in in the US.

When civil authorities act to "change our form of government" they are acting illegally. All citizens should oppose that. Since--as you've granted--Christians are obligated to obey the laws of their country, they should oppose it more vigorously than we would expect of the general population.
(Theoretically, there is a way to legally advocate for replacing our govt. w/something fundamentally different, but the question is so off-topic. This is about life under the laws we now live under.)

Whether our current form of government is superior to others is a completely different question from that of the OP. When I'm ready to take that one on, the title will certainly not be "Should Christians Avoid Politics?" As it is, the question indicates the thesis: they should not. ...nothing about the church, nothing about the relative superiority of one system over another. These are all distractions.

I've already repeatedly acknowledged that there is no legal requirement to vote but that the design and structure of our nation essentially deputizes its citizens. We are government whether we like it or not. The law just basically says its up to us to choose to do what we ought to do. What is legally required and what is morally obligatory are distinct, though overlapping categories.
(All that said, it's perfectly fine with me if everyone in America who is poorly informed abstains from voting. If only! It's just that it would be far better to be both well informed and vote.)

It's probably obvious to most people that it would be tragic and wrong for Christians to leave all the work of governing to the unregenerate. But, since Christian ideas are not exclusive to Christians, there would still be some Christian influence in government... for a while. But to withdraw influence entirely is to say...
(a) It shouldn't matter to us what our responsibilities are as citizens in this kind of society
(b) It shouldn't matter to us what kind of society our children, grand-children and neighbors live in
(c) It shouldn't matter to us that God cares what nations do

I haven't yet seen a biblical case for that kind of attitude.

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Continue to Miss the Point

I have said (ad nauseum) that your argument is invalid because the conclusion does not necessarily follow from your premise. You say we should influence. You say we should engage. You say we should engage the culture. I don't disagree that Christians should engage their culture. I wholeheartedly agree. The problem is that you insist on a very narrow "type" of engagement, i.e. a political one. That conclusion does not follow from your argument and there is little by way of exegesis that you have offered to show that it does.

You state that obeying the laws of our land demands that Christians oppose, even more vigorously than others, any attempt by civil leaders to circumvent legal change in the form of governement. I could not disagree more. Obeying the laws of the land and opposing those who don't are two separate behaviors. There is no law, to my knowledge, requiring me to vigorously oppose law-breakers. We have law enforcement and a judicial system for that work. If I take your position, then it is perfectly acceptable for Christians to behave the way they have in the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case. And I do not think it is. See http://reformedreasons.blogspot.com/2012/03/trayvon-martin-george-zimmer... my blog for what I believe should be the Christian guidance around that issue.

Finally, it is about the church. It is about the American church.

Our responsibilities as Christians are to be the light He called us to be in the culture that He placed us. Our concern is not influencing government, it is not even creating a moral environment and it certainly isn't running government. We have plenty of ungodly moralist running around in the name of Christ and they live in darkness. Our concern is the eternal condition of the unregenerate. And that concern produces gospel proclamation. The church influences her respective culture and immediate community by being a faithful witness to the truth of Jesus Christ in her message, with her life, and in her praxis as a community within a community. She lives this way for all to see and hence, she is a city set on a hill, a light that cannot be hid, shinning her light in the darkness of a wicked, godless culture and a government that is governed by godless and wicked men.

It is a stinging indictment and a foolish non-sequitur for you to say that anyone who disagrees with your idea of political involvement doesn't care that God cares about nations and what they do. When a believer submits to the civil authorities, they are being responsible Christian citizens. That is all Scripture requires. When a believer prays for civil authorities, obeys them, and preaches the true gospel to them, they are showing concern for the society in which they live. And when a believer obeys God's commands regarding how they should relate to civil authorities in obedience, submission, respect and prayer, they demonstrate that God's concern for the nations is also their concern.

It is egregious legalism for you to claim that the only way Christians can be good, responsible godly citizens who care about the cutlure, the country, and the future of their grandkids is to be engaged in political activism to some degree. In so doing, you indict those who refuse to vote because they object to a godless culture and a wicked system that seems to continue to preserve American hedonism to the extreme.

The holy grail of Americanism is actually the Achilles Heel of the Church: autonomy - independence. The more we think like a true American in that sense, the less we think like a believer. The American worldview is antithetical to the Christian worldview. I blame most of the problems in the American church on American culture. The condition of the church is not the result of a lack of political involvement. It is a complete and wholesale abandonment of true pastoral responsibilities to disciple and discipline those for whom they shall give an account. Our problem is sin and that sin is mostly entering our ranks via cultural ideologies that are staunchly American in nature, top to bottom.

Satan once appeared to man as a serpent. Ever since, he has mostly appeared to us as clergy. In America, he appears to us as clergy pretending to care about all sorts of social and poitical causes but who don't preach the cross and who are too busy being politically engaged to manage the spritiual growth and sanctification of their own congregation. If you care about your grandkids at all, show them what it looks like to love Jesus with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. If God opens their eyes to the truth, it won't matter what culture they find themselves in, they will be fine.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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Missing who's point?

Well, I think I'll concede that I'm missing your point. Not missing my own, though. Biggrin

Quote:
I have said (ad nauseum) that your argument is invalid because the conclusion does not necessarily follow from your premise. You say we should influence. You say we should engage. You say we should engage the culture. I don't disagree that Christians should engage their culture. I wholeheartedly agree. The problem is that you insist on a very narrow "type" of engagement, i.e. a political one. That conclusion does not follow from your argument and there is little by way of exegesis that you have offered to show that it does.

Well, it continues to look like you're not actually seeing my argument. I never said, "engage the culture," for example. That topic was simply not on the table.
Anyway, here's another summary for what it's worth.

Conclusion: Christians should not abandon politics.
Premises (yes, there are more than one):
1. Because God cares what nations do (and we should care what ours does)
2. Because our government is structured so as to make us an inherent part of it (and we should our part well)
3. (A defensive point): Prayer is not substitute for action or vice versa (so prayer is not an "out")
4. Because our involvement shapes what sort of world our neighbors and children live in (so we should act in the interests of our neighbors and offspring)

As for "little by way of exegesis," the essay supports premise 1 from Scripture. Premise two is not a biblical argument. Premises 3 and 4 both have several supporting Scriptures briefly interpreted.
In the discussion I've mentioned several other passages that fit into the overall argument in one way or another.

As far as I can tell, the actual argument of the piece is holding up pretty well. Unless I missed it, there hasn't been any biblical case here for the idea that God does not care what nations do (as a that reason we shouldn't care either). Haven't really seen a historical or political-theory argument that our government is not structured in such a way that we're all included in it. The other premises have been similarly passed by, for the most part.
Most of the counterargument has had to do with points that are not in dispute or not directly relevant, or both (like what the church's mission is, for example).

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Begging the Question

1. God cares about what nations do.
2. We should care about what nations do.
3. The only way for us to care about what nations do is political activism.
4. Therefore, Christians must engage in political activism.

This is your argument. I agree with 1 and 2. But as you can see, 3 is clearly open to challenge. It is where your argument fails. If you admit that Christians can care about what nations do in ways other than being politically active, then your argument collapses entirely. And I think that case is easily made. If it was possible for Paul to care about what the nations did without being politically active, surely it is possible for us to do the same. Were there groups in the Greco-Roman world who engaged in their brand of political activism? Of course. Did these include genuine Christians or better yet, were these methods officially blessed by the Church or endorsed by the apostles? Not that I can see.

We are not part of the government. The government is one that is created of the people, by the people, and for the people. I am not part of the US government, nor are you. You are part of a country that affords you a certain level of say in who actually is part of that government. There is a big difference here. It follows that this premise, which appears to me to be a major one, one necessary in order for your argument to remain valid, fails.

Pray is not a substitute for action. Prayer IS action. Praying for the civil authorities IS action. I fail to understand why you think praying is not doing. Perhaps our theology of prayer is fundamentally different. I am consistently reformed in my views, to include my views on prayer. God accomplishes His purposes in the earth through a variety of means, prayer being one of them. According to Paul, we pray for civil authorities SO THAT we may lead a tranquil life. In other words, one means by which the believer is able to lead a tranquil life in this world is by praying for the civil authorities according to the will of God.

Premise four seems to assume or even demand a certain kind of involvement that you continue to put forward, while at the same time failing to make a sound case for why "that kind" of involvement is the only or even the best kind of involvement. You also continue to imply that there are enough of us in this nation of hedonistic narcissists to actually make a difference from a temporal perspective. I think such a position is untennable from the start.

Perhaps we should turn to your exegesis specifically and discuss your methods and conclusions so that we can once for all settle the fact that your argument has, in my humble opinion, no real exegetical support whatever to support it.

Since you are the one laying this burden on the believer and you have taken up the positive side of the debate, it is up to you to make a positive case for your assertions. If I can show that your premise is faulty, weak, or false, your argument becomes suspect, or perhaps false. Your claim is that believers are obligated to be politically involved and that Scripture, rightly understood, strongly supports this view. My counter argument is that a proper exegesis of the text does nothing, absolutely nothing, to support your argument. Therefore, the more dogmatically you hold to the view, the more dangerously close you come to holding a legalistic view of political engagement.

Since God cares about what nations do, all the nations, why is it that we as believers should not care about what ALL the nations do and engage in global politics to produce the kind of change that biblical ethics would mandate? You continue to look through the grid of Americanism in your exegesis in order to prop up your argument.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. III John 4

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