Should Christians Avoid Politics?

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]

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Jim's picture

Caveats ... the church as a citizen

  • The church has a teaching role to instruct its citizens / members about how to be submissive to government (one of many examples would of course be Romans 13)
  • The church has a role to instruct its citizens / members to lead quiet, godly lives. The best citizen is one who pays taxes and does not aggravate society. The outworking of this could be as simple as being a good neighbor or to not steal (Ephesians 4:28, " Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need"). (In a very simple way ... this defines good citizenship: he works ... he provides for himself (not a "suck" on society) ... he follows the law .... AND he contributes!). A relevant http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/74987.html contemporary quote would be: "
    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that the U.S. is turning into a “paternalistic entitlement society” that will bankrupt the country financially and morally because “we’ll have a bunch of people sittin’ on a couch waiting for their next government check.”

And so the church influences society through her own citizens.

Now there is a sense that the church is a citizen (I sense that this was to a much lessor degree in the 1st century that it is today):

  • The church-corporate owns property and
  • Consumes resources
  • It literally has a large "footprint" in the world

AND So

  • The church-corporate has to obey the laws (it could be something as simple as a camp rule in Wisconsin. You cannot put a milk pitcher on the table at camp!)
  • The church-corporate is a beneficiary of multiple government benefits. To list a few:
    • The housing allowance for Pastors
    • Does not pay property tax. A small Montessori school near my home pays (last time I looked) over $22,000 a year in property taxes. I think they have about an acre and half of that is swamp. My church has over 20 acres and pays no property taxes
    • Tax deducatability of donations. That's a huge benefit to me ... and to the church!

Relevant Church-corporate obedience examples:

Greg Long's picture

I wrestle with this issue quite a bit and go back and forth. I agree with the points Aaron made. And yet I see where Ed is coming from as well. When a Christian has no problem talking politics with unsaved people but is hesitant to share the Gospel, something is wrong. When a Christian will put a sign in his yard supporting a politician but hasn't shared Christ with his neighbor, something is wrong. Somehow many Christians do seem to be more interested in changing our nation through the political process than through the power of the Gospel. Of course it doesn't have to be either/or, though.

Phil Johnson wrote a series of articles on this on the Pyromaniacs blog a while back that come out pretty strongly against churches getting involved in politics or even emphasizing that their members make it a priority.

Part 1: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2008/06/foolishness-of-preaching.html The Foolishness of Preaching
Part 2: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2008/06/if-righteousness-could-be-gained.html If Righteousness Could Be Gained by the Law...
Part 3: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2008/06/lets-stay-on-message.html Let's Stay on Message
Also: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2008/06/addendum-on-church-and-politics.html An Addendum on the Church and Politics
And: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2008/11/familiar-can-of-worms.html A Familiar Can of Worms: Why Not Both/And?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

edingess's picture

RESPONSE TO JEREMIAH 29:7 Why does seeking the peace of the city have to involve political engagement? Christians are to be at peace with all men where it depends on them and is possible. By fostering an atmosphere of peace yourself, you will benefit from it. However, foster an environment of hostility and trouble is sure to find you. I find your reading of Jer. 29:7 anachronistic, not to mention far, far out of context. This letter was written specifically to the exiles for a very specific purpose. Is it a promise? Obviously not! Millions of peace-seeking obedient Christians have been brutally murdered for the faith.

RESPONSE TO

Quote:
I'm frustrated by your insistance that thinking about politics is a waste of time, and will detract from evangelism when it doesn't have to. I've proved it in my own experience.
Where did I say that thinking about politics is a waste of time? I don't order my life by the experience of others, nor should the church, and believe it or not, nor should you. I have NOT said that Christians should not engage in politics. I have said it is unbiblical for us to say they should. When you tell me that I SHOULD engage in politics, I am going to demand that you show me where Scripture commands me to do so. If you can provide simple exegtical proof that I am commanded, as a Christian, to engage in politics then I will.

Back to your "seeking the welfare" point: please understand that I can seek the welfare of Charlotte NC by obeying its laws and by giving it the gospel. In so doing, I benefit from the peace that I create. However, this is by no means a universal promise. I would recommend you not use specific letters from the OT that are very specifically addressed to a very specific group of exiles in Babylon. It is not that these are useless. May it never be! They are very useful, but only insofar as we take them in context. Just like Jer. 29:11 is not a specific promise for you, neither is this verse specific direction for modern American Christians to engage in political activism. You can't even argue that that was the meaning then, let alone now.

The anabaptists are an excellent example of what Paul was doing in Romans 13. Christians get the idea that since we are not of this world, we don't have to obey civil law. We do! With all due respect, if I had your argument I would be frustrated too. No offense, but so far, the arguments for an "ought" around Christians being politically engaged are without merit at this point. If a Christian wishes to be engaged, I have nothig to say. If they wish NOT to be engaged, I have nothing to say. I contend that anyone saying Christians "ought" to be engaged are wrong. I also contend that anyone saying that Christians "ought not" to be engaged are equally wrong. There is no "ought" in the text either way! Well, sort of. The biblical relationship that IS revealed to the believer is that we must obey civil law, respect government leaders as God's ministers, and pray for them in the hopes that we may live a tranquil life. This is the advice of Scripture and as far as I know, it is the only advice I can find. Therefore, it is the only advice I feel safe and comfortable giving.

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

Jim's picture

Back to my "symbiotic relationship". Simply

  • I need the government
  • The government needs me

On the government needs me (besides the taxes and good citizenship already mentioned):

  • The government needs workers for national defense ("rulers are a terror to evil [works ]" (Romans 13). Probably WWII is the closest example I know of of good vs evil (the Nazis / or the Empire of Japan (consider http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre ] the rape of Nanking ). You had some pure evil there! Or al-Qaeda and Islamofascism!
  • Consider the contributions of many fine Christian goverment workers in places of authority (too many to name but I name 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ashcroft ]John Ashcroft and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Grassley ]Chuck Grassley ). I appreciate that these men served the government as Christians!
Shaynus's picture

Let me explain why you're so confusing.

Quote:
If a Christian wishes to be engaged, I have nothig to say. If they wish NOT to be engaged, I have nothing to say. I contend that anyone saying Christians "ought" to be engaged are wrong. I also contend that anyone saying that Christians "ought not" to be engaged are equally wrong.

MP1: You claimed that church involvement in politics distracts from evangelism and wastes time.
(My implied premise from scripture) MP2: Clearly we shouldn't waste time according to scripture.
MP3: We should obey scripture
Therefore: Church involvement in politics wastes time, and we shouldn't be involved.

Even though you SAY you're not saying this, you're not using good logic to make yourself clear. I don't think "ought" is as strong a word as you claim, and maybe that's the problem. Really this is an issue of conscience that is up to the individual believers that you clearly want to leave up to the individual. But even in issues of conscience, we can debate the wisdom, goodness, and "oughtness" of the issue of conscience.

edingess's picture

1. It is egregious to command people to do things Scripture does not command them to do.
2. Scripture does not command people to engage in politics.
Therefore, it is egregious to say that Christians "ought" to be engaged in politics.

Ought means to obligate. When one says that Christians ought to engage in the political process they are saying that Christians have an obligation to be involved. Obligation from whom? If such an obligation exists, then how exactly should we engage in that process? If we are all Christians, following the very same commands, does this mean we all vote indentically? Do I sin if I support ObamaCare? Perhaps I sin if I don't support it? Neutrality is a fleeting myth. Once we obligate Christians to vote, as leaders we become responsible for teaching them all the ethics on voting. In reality, we have in fact used up a great deal of time doing this very thing in the church all the while forgetting basic doctrine to the point that most Christians can't even articulate the gospel. In addition, much of the culture hates Christianity, not because of Christ, or even the gospel, but because the church has created the perception that she is really a cleverly disguised political agent seeking to control their lives through political power. Is that really the perception we want? Now, I know the world hates the true gospel. I only want to make sure that the world hate us for the right reason. The same reason Jesus said it would.

Do I think the church is too involved in politics in this culture? I do. It seems to me that the church thinks she is the one who is to change governments and the world through political involvement. She thinks she will bring about God's kingdom by her political influence. Or so it seems. She spends lots of time jumping from one political issue to another. Pastors don't have time for discipleship programs and community evangelism, but they sure can get involved in the spotlight that politics afford. I wonder why that is. Is it that we want to take some credit for making a difference? Is it possible that we want our name attached to political victory because in some vain way it feeds our ego? I don't know. I cannot answer that question, but those who are steeped in political engagements need to answer it. If my comments have provoked additional thoughts on this subject then I consider that a win. Critical thinking is always a good thing. I would never divide over such an issue. I also hope no one has thought me to be insulting or demeaining in any way. If so, I apologize immensely. That is not my goal. My goal is push the nose back to the text for deeper reflection. I am not so dogmatic about this view that I am beyond changing my mind. As you can tell, changing it would take some doing. Smile

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

edingess's picture

Dever listed five truths that are frequently distorted and attacked: God's judgment is coming, we should be judged by God, our only hope is in Christ, we don't see the fullness of our salvation in this life, and we can deceive ourselves and others about our relationship with God.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/false-conversions-are-the-suicide-of-t... False Converts

Very alarming, very disturbing, and very true.

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

Shaynus's picture

You mean my former pastor Mark Dever that urged support for the Federal Marriage Amendment to his congregation? Wink Sorry, I think you must have meant to post that somewhere else.

Shaynus's picture

edingess wrote:
1. It is egregious to command people to do things Scripture does not command them to do.
2. Scripture does not command people to engage in politics.
Therefore, it is egregious to say that Christians "ought" to be engaged in politics.

Ought means to obligate. When one says that Christians ought to engage in the political process they are saying that Christians have an obligation to be involved. Obligation from whom? If such an obligation exists, then how exactly should we engage in that process? If we are all Christians, following the very same commands, does this mean we all vote indentically? Do I sin if I support ObamaCare? Perhaps I sin if I don't support it? Neutrality is a fleeting myth. Once we obligate Christians to vote, as leaders we become responsible for teaching them all the ethics on voting. In reality, we have in fact used up a great deal of time doing this very thing in the church all the while forgetting basic doctrine to the point that most Christians can't even articulate the gospel. In addition, much of the culture hates Christianity, not because of Christ, or even the gospel, but because the church has created the perception that she is really a cleverly disguised political agent seeking to control their lives through political power. Is that really the perception we want? Now, I know the world hates the true gospel. I only want to make sure that the world hate us for the right reason. The same reason Jesus said it would.

A couple of things, since you mentioned Mark Dever. As a former member of his church, he might be a great example to look at. Do you think he or his parishioners have lost his focus on the gospel? No. His church as members have been intensely politically involved. When I attended you could find a sitting Republican congressmen on the same pew as a Democrat committee staffer. I won't forget Mark Dever baptizing a staffer for Sen. Hilary Clinton! You see his church members as Christians were very politically active. But the church itself is about as a political as you could get. That's what I was saying earlier about Christians acting rightly in politics as individuals, but differently as a gathered church. The members of Capitol Hill Baptist have no problem articulating the gospel, and also are well versed on the ethics of voting. You seem to think it's either/or. It doesn't have to be that we have to choose. You're setting up false conflicts where there are none.

You might enjoy this sermon that deals with politics. http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/audio/2010/09/jesus-paid-taxes-mark-12...

edingess wrote:

Do I think the church is too involved in politics in this culture? I do. It seems to me that the church thinks she is the one who is to change governments and the world through political involvement. She thinks she will bring about God's kingdom by her political influence. Or so it seems. She spends lots of time jumping from one political issue to another. Pastors don't have time for discipleship programs and community evangelism, but they sure can get involved in the spotlight that politics afford. I wonder why that is. Is it that we want to take some credit for making a difference? Is it possible that we want our name attached to political victory because in some vain way it feeds our ego? I don't know. I cannot answer that question, but those who are steeped in political engagements need to answer it. If my comments have provoked additional thoughts on this subject then I consider that a win. Critical thinking is always a good thing. I would never divide over such an issue. I also hope no one has thought me to be insulting or demeaining in any way. If so, I apologize immensely. That is not my goal. My goal is push the nose back to the text for deeper reflection. I am not so dogmatic about this view that I am beyond changing my mind. As you can tell, changing it would take some doing. Smile

I agree the church as an institution is prone to be too beholden to power politics. Again, allowing the Christians as individuals to work out on their own how they'll be involved allows for both intense political involvement, while not compromising the true role of the church.

edingess's picture

First, I will say it one more time. I am not prescribing a prohibition against political involvement. If Dever says Christians "ought" to be politically involved, I simply disagree. Second, perhaps location, location, location has something to do with the background of Dever's church. Finally, I posted the article because I thought it was so good others might find it stimulating and I was too lazy to find a more appropriate place for it. Smile

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

Alex Guggenheim's picture

A Christian ought to be a good citizen. That is clear in the Bible. How that is determined with each conscience with the Word of God is a matter of liberty. From there Mark Dever can make the case for his conscience and those of others who share his view using Scripture why he believes he ought and make clear that while he must fall short of "thus sayeth the Lord" he does not have to relax his own view which he believes is based on the maximum amount of Scrptural analysis and application and invite others who may disagree to debate. And Dever may rightly believe the others err in falling short of the maximum consideration of Scripture but as Ed points out and is a basic truth specific acts of being a good citizen, if not specifically prescribed in the Bible, may not have added to them the signature of a Divine command.

Aaron Blumer's picture

edingess wrote:
1. It is egregious to command people to do things Scripture does not command them to do.
2. Scripture does not command people to engage in politics.
Therefore, it is egregious to say that Christians "ought" to be engaged in politics.

This argument doesn't hold up.

First, where do the Scriptures command us to stop at stop signs, eschew internet porn, refrain from throwing trash on the ground, or smile at strangers? Yet nobody would think it strange if I attempted to make a case that believers "should" do these things. Application is all about taking what Scripture says and arriving at "shoulds" that it does not say.

Second, "should" is not a command. "Command" is a term of authority. What I aim to do in my writing is persuade people of ideas--people over whom I have no authority to command.

Third, you've mostly ignored my biblical arguments, though in this particular article, I'm not really aiming to make a thorough biblical case. I've focused more on that elsewhere.
But the case rests on a combination of biblical principles, observations of the sort of nation we live in and reasoning from the two. In short, it's application.

edingess wrote:
I would love to have a morally high culture. I just think two things are required to get there: 1. Biblical preaching and 2. Divine intervention. I deny that political activism is going to accomplish much of anything in and of itself.

Some points of agreement here! I also believe it will require biblical preaching and divine intervention and do not believe political faithfulness ("activism" is not what I'm talking about) by itself is enough.
But a couple of factors that are important to seeing the situation clearly:
(1) Our culture is already "morally high" compared to much of the world and compared to how low it could yet sink. So we're not just talking about aiming to improve the society we live in; we're talking about keeping it from getting worse or at least slowing the decline.
(2) Continued decline is certainly inevitable without lots of genuine conversions, new births. However, even lots of the latter will have minimal results if converted, well-discipled people leave the running of things to those who are unregenerate and/or poorly taught. But it's also true that a society of virtuous people needs far less governing in the first place.
(3) Even if continued decline is certain, it doesn't follow that we should refrain from slowing that process if we can.
(4) And this is the biggest: part of teaching a society to behave decently (as in, teaching it to believe in moral principles) is requiring it--to some extent--to behave decently. I don't have time at the moment to develop this one alot, but it isn't really all that complex. Sin breeds sin. Depraved behavior increases moral confusion and, as a result, produces more and more depraved behavior. On the other hand, common grace is such that using legitimate authority to prevent bad behavior helps people avoid the negative results--the snowball effect of the alternative.

edingess's picture

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. So, lets be crystal clear on this. Your statement is unambigious and there can be little doubt that grammatically speaking, you are in fact placing an obligation on the believer. There is no other way to take this sentence. And I could not disagree more. Have you made your case biblically as you continue to claim you have by stating that I have not sufficiently interacted with your argument?

You begin you argument by stating that God cares about what nations do. This statement is so obvious that no one could ever argue with it. God also cares about what demons do. So what. This is a non-sequitur. How does one link the fact that God cares about what nations do with the moral imperative that Christians in America can and MUST be involved in politics? God commands all nations to repent of their sin and to follow Him. Politics are absolutely unnecessary for God to care about what nations do. The proclamation of the gospel is a much more viable answer to how God addresses the sin of the nations than political involvement. Why default to politics when the church is called to address the sin of the nations and cultures through preaching?

You seem to have a misplaced understanding about who "we" are. You entire premise depends on the undying loyalty of Americanism. We are Americans! I have a different view that has not been easy to adopt because I am one of those good old country boys who bleeds the red, white, and blue. I am a staunch conservative, and more recently a very troubled and disturbed republican. But we are Christians! Our loyalties our elsewhere. America is a godless nation. In fact, you would have to search long and hard to find a more hypocritical nation than ours in terms of Christianity. My concern with you starting point is that you begin with America, not Christ. Your idea of a good citizen is the old American idea of a good American. They are involved, they vote, etc, etc. Yes, God cares about what nations do. The church should care about what its culture does and stand firm on the proclamation of the gospel as a means to counter the rebellion. Your first point adds no weight to your proposition that Christians MUST be involved in politics.

Yes, the USA is a representative democracy. The people get to have some say in who represents them. Again, yes, God has somethingt to say to these men about obeying His law. How does the church communicate God's message to these civil authorities? By manipulation, threat, and a variety of other political tactics? I think not. She communicates by preaching the gospel, and by showing the civil authorities how to deal with affairs from her own example. She repects the authorities, obeys them, lives peacefully with them and instructs her group to submit. She prays for them. She preaches the gospel to them from love but with passion, conviction, and fear.

We are not all the government. That is a major leap on your part. We have a voice. We have a say. You throw the word responsibility around as if Christians, by nature of being Americans are being irresponsible, and therefore sinning if they are not engaged in political process. This, I contend, is the result of Americanism being placed upon Christianity. I call it the Americanization of Christianity. We are not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. You state that Christians are ethically and morally responsible for governmental decision by nature of the type of government we have. Hence, it seems to me that you have gone beyond what Scripture teaches and are preaching an American, democratic, Christian message rather than a simple Christian message. Suppose a Christian living in American finds the "type" of government objectionable from an ethical perspective. Suppose a person concludes that the American system is designed to support the ideas of radical autonomy, greed, and hedonism at its foundation. Are they free to reject any participation in politics outside the biblical instructions of obedience, submission and prayer? The American way of thinking is part of the problem with Christianity in America. The church has adopted a hyper-inidivual philosophy. This is contrary to Scripture. The most important idol is our independence and freedom. This thinking carries over into the church and we have millions of imposters parading around as Christians. They do their own thing. If they don't like what is taught, they hop to the next church. This is America, we are free to do so! They run their churches by proxy. Whatever the biblically inept tithers want, they get. We are NOT the government even if we do have some say in its leadership. To say we have liberty to voice does not mean that Christians must use their liberty to engage in politics. That isn't liberty after all. It is bondage. I find your view would quite easily lend itself to a legalistic approach to voting.

I find it interesting that you explanation of 1 Tim. 2:1-2 warns about extending the passage while it seems painfully clear that you do that very thing with Romans 13. You are right that the passage does not contain any prohibitions to political engagement. However, it seems that Paul had several opportunities to make clear what you seem to have no problem making clear and rather than CLEARLY command the church to get off their duff and do something other than pray, he did not. Everytime a NT author mentions civil authorities they have two primary concerns: 1. Submit and obey; 2. Pray for them. They leave it there every time. That is where I choose to leave it as well. I feel pretty safe doing so.

You say that

Quote:
praying when we ought to be taking action is foolish and irresponsible.

Again, you seem to think there is only one sort of action the church should take: political activism. Praying IS TAKING ACTION, Aaron. Obeying and submitting IS TAKING ACTION. Preaching, evangelizing, making disciples, caring for widows and orphans IS TAKING ACTION. Just because it isn't the kind of action you want does not mean it is NOT taking action.

You say that you

Quote:
cannot fulfill your responsibilities as a Father as effecively in Sodom as you can in better surroundings
.

Am I left to conclude that persecuted Christians or Christians living in more decadent cultures are less than I? If they cannot be as biblical a father as I can, then I have no choice but to conclude this. That is way out of bounds and completely unsupportable. And clearly, you offer little to prop it up other than a fireman's analogy.

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

edingess's picture

You say that

Quote:
we are foolish if we think that bad policy and moral confusion can spread indefinitely without eventually hindering our own ability to live and serve God.

Yes, persecution is on the rise. The more the church distinguishes herself from this godless and hypocrical culture, the more presecution will increase. Did not Paul instruct us that all those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus WILL suffer persecution. We want to use political agency to avoid what God has promised us: trials and presecutions. I am not sure what you mean by hinder or by the words "live" and "serve." If you mean it will make serving God more difficult in the sense that we will suffer for that service, then I agree and I think leaders should be preparing the church for this state. I think it is only a matter of time because we see it in full bloom. And I don't think any amount of political involvement will stop it.

1 Tim 3 reads:

1 But realize this, that ain the last days difficult times will come.
2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.
9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,
11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!
12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Notice that Paul never provides Timothy with advice around political strategy or advice. Given all the problems, one would think he would have. He did not. In fact, a cursory review of church history would actually lend itself to the conclusion that political involvement contributed to mass apostasy in the church. I am not making a necessary connection here, just making an observation and I do think such a conclusion is quite defensible.

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

Shaynus's picture

Quote:
You begin you argument by stating that God cares about what nations do. This statement is so obvious that no one could ever argue with it. God also cares about what demons do. So what. This is a non-sequitur. How does one link the fact that God cares about what nations do with the moral imperative that Christians in America can and MUST be involved in politics? God commands all nations to repent of their sin and to follow Him. Politics are absolutely unnecessary for God to care about what nations do. The proclamation of the gospel is a much more viable answer to how God addresses the sin of the nations than political involvement. Why default to politics when the church is called to address the sin of the nations and cultures through preaching?

In America, citizens influence policy by voting and advocacy. In a sense, we are the government. If God holds nations and governments accountable, then he would also hold those who influence government (or choose not to). There are sins of omission and sins of commission. This is the crux of the difference between you and the most of the rest of us in this thread. You think we aren't responsible in any way for what the government does. You're wrong. In 2002, only about half of Christians in the US bothered to vote. If they had voted, there would be about 20 million extra votes in congressional races, local elections ect. Let's say 70% of these Christians would have voted for pro-life candidates. That's a net of 14 million extra pro-life votes. Who knows the kind of impact that could have had in government policies such as abortion funding, appointing judges. We could have more children alive right now, if more Christians simply decided to get off their rear ends, take a little time to get to know candidates, and cast a vote for life. Why would you decry abortion from the pulpit, and not urge people to actually do something about it with a moral imperative. God holds us accountable for our actions, and the foreseeable effects of our actions.

Quote:
We are not all the government. That is a major leap on your part. We have a voice. We have a say. You throw the word responsibility around as if Christians, by nature of being Americans are being irresponsible, and therefore sinning if they are not engaged in political process. This, I contend, is the result of Americanism being placed upon Christianity. I call it the Americanization of Christianity. We are not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. You state that Christians are ethically and morally responsible for governmental decision by nature of the type of government we have.

I think the burden of proof is on you to show how Americans, specifically Christians, should not be held accountable for our actions in the political sphere. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are not of this world. Great verses quoted out of context. We are not of this world, but we are in the world.

Jay's picture

JT Hoekstra wrote:
Should we join the Black Robe regiment as our forefathers did?

http://blackroberegiment.ning.com/ BRR


I would be very, very careful when considering joining such an organization, and don't think I would join the BRR.

We are to seek the good of the city, as others have cited, but I do not think that we should fight to preserve "our nation" simply because it's "our nation". Our true allegiance is to God, not to the US (as much as it pains me to say that!). We are commanded to uphold divine law when state law contradicts it (eg abortion).

Insomuch as we can and should work for the good of our society, we should do so. We are commanded to be obedient to divinely appointed rulers (Romans 13), to be salt and light to others (Matthew 5), and to love our (political!) enemies (Luke 6). We are told to be good citizens, but there are times when being a good citizen will conflict with US (or state) policy. In those cases, obedience to God trumps political allegiance to Democrat or Republican or Independent. It certainly trumps attempts to purge 'the ungodly' from government, and indeed provides them with a perfect excuse to crack down on Christianity and Christian beliefs.

We (generally) think that by voting Republican, we can 'save' America...we can't. Only God can save America, and I am convinced that any kind of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Quixote ]Quixote-like quest to 'save America from the Liberals' (or whomever) or to 'preserve the second amendment' or to police 'the national boundaries' - as noble as those goals may be - is counterproductive at best and wasteful of the limited resources that God has entrusted us with at worst. If God gives you license in your conscience to work in some way as a politician or something - go for it! Support the politicians you think will be best! But fighting to save 'the nation'? No, leave me out of that. I've got God's work to do.

Peter wrote this, and I think that it's a passage that merits discussion:

Quote:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Submission to Authority
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

"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

edingess's picture

Quote:
I think the burden of proof is on you to show how Americans, specifically Christians, should not be held accountable for our actions in the political sphere. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are not of this world. Great verses quoted out of context. We are not of this world, but we are in the world.

Nowhere have I hinted that Christians should not be held accountable for their political behavior, whatever it might be. We should and we will. My point is that what holds us accountable is Scripture, rightly interpreted. That is the WHOLE point. Moreover, those who attempt to manipulate Christians to behave in a specific manner politically, will also be held accountable. Those who judge Christians as irresponsible and sinful for not voting will be held accountable. Those who say that Christians should NOT vote or be involved politically will be held accountable. I say neither if you have been paying attention. Basically I say it is up the believer to determine the nature and scope of the political behavior, not me. I say this because Scripture neither commands engagement nor passivity. And yes, I will be held accountable for my advice. What is my advice? At the risk of turning blue in the face, my advice is as follows:

1. Obey civil authorities as servants appointed by God.
2. Submit to civil authorities.
3. Keep the peace where possible.
4. Pray for civil leaders to the end that we may lead a tranquil life.

Since this all that Paul and Peter said about the issue, it is all I am going to say about it. If you wish to indict me for not going as far as you like, please include the apostles in that indictment for consistency sake. And I really like that kind of company.

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

Shaynus's picture

edingess wrote:

Since this all that Paul and Peter said about the issue, it is all I am going to say about it. If you wish to indict me for not going as far as you like, please include the apostles in that indictment for consistency sake. And I really like that kind of company.

This is logically fallacious. What if the rest of the Bible says other things? You appealed to context earlier. Paul and Peter weren't talking to a culture in which the average person had any impact on the government at all. It's no wonder they didn't tell them to vote, since they couldn't. We can deduce from scripture that all kinds of things are wrong or right, without Peter or Paul saying them.

edingess's picture

I am not the one telling people that they should be involved in politics nor am I the one saying that people should not be involved in politics. I am saying that the only guidance Scripture gives on the matter is what I have already stated. If you want to assert that Scripture says that believers must be involved or that they must not be involved, it is up to you to provide Scripture, rightly interpreted, to that end. My burden was to establish that "ought" ought not be part of the discussion. And I think Sripture's lack of "ought" supports my position that "ought" ought to be dropped from the discussion. Smile

If you think there is a positive case for "ought" and that a moral imperative exists in the text, I would love to see you make it.

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

Alex Guggenheim's picture

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

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

Shaynus's picture

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

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

Shaynus's picture

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

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

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

Shaynus's picture

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

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

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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