October 29, 2010

Should Christians Be Involved in Politics?

Should Christians be involved in the political process?  There is a Biblical answer to this question that brings balance between two common extremes.  At one extreme is the idea that politics and Christianity should not mix.  There may be several reasons why one would hold to this viewpoint.  One may hold that the gospel demands the followers of Christ to withdraw from human government.  One may hold that since the end is predetermined that human politics is pointless.  In the end, who one votes for really doesn’t matter.  Or, one may hold that the political forum is so corrupt, and the kingdoms of the world under such influence of Satan, that politics could not possibly be a proper place to spread the gospel.  Similar to this view would be those who hold that the nature of politics compromises the gospel message, thus making the political forum an invalid means of evangelism.  Finally one may hold an anti-Christian position, that since many people in America are not Christian, Christian values should not influence the way people are governed. 

My response to this line of reasoning, that Christians should not be involved in politics, is simple.  Christianity is a valid worldview.  As such, if one is a follower of Christ he or she cannot possibly evaluate candidates, political journalism, or political movements without doing so through the lens of Scripture.  As a worldview, the Christian faith calls for believers to bring the world into subjection to Jesus Christ.  Christians should desire government to reflect its God ordained purposes and influence it to do so.(1)  God does not separate Himself from influencing government.(2)  If God has not withdrawn His hand from politics, why should His people do so?  Biblically, Christians have no warrant to withdraw.  To the idea that many people are not Christians and therefore Christians should not influence government, it is imperative to realize that politics is not ideologically or theologically neutral.  I am not a socialist, but socialism influences government.  I am not a homosexual; and percentage wise, homosexuals represent a very small minority of America, yet homosexuals strongly influence government.  To say that Christianity should not influence government because many people are not Christian is dishonest, misleading, or at the very least extremely na├»ve.

The other extreme of Christian political involvement is to equate a certain political party, or a certain ideological value, such as conservatism, with the gospel.  The Republican Party, in being more socially conservative, may better represent some Biblical values, but the Republican Party is not purposed to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  A more conservative America is not necessarily a version of America that fully pleases God.  Christians should not substitute political involvement for the full call of the gospel.  Christians should also avoid making the mistake of wholly endorsing a candidate who claims to be a Christian over one who does not.  Not every candidate is a Christian.  Some candidates claim to be Christians but represent none of the Biblical values.  If a candidate attends church, reads the Bible, and claims Christian faith, but proposes to uphold Roe v. Wade or homosexual marriage, I would not vote for that candidate.(3)  If a candidate runs in opposition, claims to be Mormon, and upholds Biblical values, I would vote for that candidate.(4)
  
What is the balance and where does it leave the Christian voter next Tuesday?  We cannot separate ourselves from the Bible when we vote.  Many things that are shaping our laws are antagonistic to Scripture.  Homosexual marriage should not be endorsed or encouraged.  Children in the womb are people and should not be killed.  People who have no mind to work should not be financially rewarded.  Evolution should not be taught in public education as scientific fact.  Freedom should not be compromised.  These sorts of issues are non-negotiable.  They are Biblical no-brainers.  Christians are called to stand against these ideas.  Involvement in the political process through campaigning, running for office, activism, or voting are legal, valid, and effective ways of opposing anti-Biblical ideas.
 
There are other issues, that when evaluated scripturally, may lead one to believe certain ideological directions are poor choices for our country.  Scripture teaches that humans are intrinsically flawed and evil.  The consolidation of power that we are witnessing in our country is extremely dangerous.  The governmental takeover of banking, health care, education, free trade, small business, and the abolition of state’s rights has historical precedent that serves to warn us.  In every historical example this type of tyranny has led to violations of human rights, free speech, and freedom of religion.  For example, health care is a critical issue in this mid-term election.  If the health care system is left to be controlled by people who hold to evolutionary science, economic socialism, and a non-Biblical view of the value of human life, every family in our country will suffer, with the exception of an elite few who control the system.  Again, there is plenty of historical precedent that bears this out.(5)
 
This mid-term election is critical to the future of our country.  Christians cannot neglect to vote.  At the same time, going forward, Christians cannot step away from influencing the political process.  As salt and light we are called to engage the culture.  Politics is a critical forum through which we should exercise our God given rights and exemplify the gospel mandate of bringing society under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.     
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1 In his article, “Evangelistic Politics” (Global Journal of Christian Theology, Jul 2008) Bob Lockhart writes that Christian involvement in politics helps it evangelistic enterprise by helping “law and government fulfill their role for which God designed them.”  He goes on to say, “If the laws of the United States, or of any nation, were to be based clearly and unambiguously on principles contained in Scripture, then the people would be more likely to see themselves as violating, not just the laws of the land, but also the laws of God. When people see themselves as violating the laws of God, they will be more likely to see their need for salvation, and the law will have fulfilled one of its primary purposes.”  It could certainly be said that American’s once made this intrinsic connection between God, morality, and law.  Yet as America becomes increasingly secular this connection is lost. 


2 The Bible teaches that God influences the hearts of kings, causes nations to rise and fall, and is replete with examples of God’s judgment of the nations. 

 3 Both the Democratic and Republican parties house numerous examples of this type of candidate who appeals to the “Christian” vote simply be claiming to be Christian while demonstrating no Biblical values in their voting record.  If a person claims to be a follower of Christ they should be expected to govern in a way that demonstrates Biblical values, doctrines, and convictions.  Those that are Christians who are governed by them should hold elected officials accountable to their faith.


4 I should distinguish here that I do not believe Mormonism is a Christian denomination or a Christian expression of faith (hence my use of a Mormon candidate as an illustration).  Mormonism holds to a view of God and the deity of Christ that is heretical to Scriptural teaching.  



5 The health care for the parliament in England is much better than that of the common citizen.  Fidel Castro gets better health care than the common worker.  Without the Biblical teaching that every life is valuable, an elite few are left to decide whose life is more valuable and worth saving.  It is a slippery slope.  I agree that the health care system should be changed.  The gospel would not have us neglect those who are suffering.  I do not have all the answers, but I do not believe the present course of change is the answer. 

4 comments:

Your posts on Christian involvement in the political process are for me timely articles.

Prior to my conversion many years ago from communism to Christ I was actively involved politics.But after I was saved I concentrated on getting to know my saviour better, and for years my ministry was evangelism. I was compelled to tell the world about my Saviour.

However I have been burdened for a wee while now to get back into politics,so thank you so much for your thoughts on the topic they have been a huge help.

Being from the other side of the Atlantic I confess to being ignorant re USA politics. One of the topics that confuses me given what I have read of Christians response is that there is amongst Christians a negative vibe regarding the changes to your Health care provision. Again forgive my ignorance, but if your government wants to bring free/affordable health care to the poorest in society, why would Christians be against that?

In the UK we have have had our "NHS" (National Health Service) since 1948 free health care at the point of service, albeit we pay for it from our taxes, it just seems to me at least that this is the best way. We get excellent health care regardless of income. I can't get my head around why some American Christians are not shouting for joy for the poor, rather than being negative about it. Again my apologies for being ignorant of the cultural differences between our countries.

Gods Blessings on your ministry brother

Hughie

Hughie my own opinion is not so negative about the concept. As you stated, what Christian wouldn't want access to healing for all? The problem for me is two-fold:

1) The way it is being done represents a massive economic shift for our country which I think will cause greater suffering.

2) My biggest opposition has to do with some of the ideology behind it (widespread ignorance of what it really entails as it was "shoved" into legislation and from what I have been able to investigate of it I would question its Biblical ethics and sensitivity to the value of human life).

Dear Brother,
Many thanks for the reply, lest I came over being critical of you, that certainly wasn't my intent my sincere apologies if I have caused offence

I was making a generalization given what seemed to me at least extreme views re health care from various American evangelical Christian speakers.

Given my experience of devious politicians I fully understand that the "devil" is indeed often in the hidden detail.

I sincerely pray that the outcome of your election is one that is beneficial to some degree at least to believers in the USA.

We are urged to pray for those in authority, wise counsel indeed from our Heavenly Father

God Bless you and all the saints at Ridgecrest Baptist church.

Hughie,
Scotland UK

No offense Hughie, but I wanted you to know why most conservatively minded Americans are upset with the "Obama-care" package.

Thanks for reading and sharing your comments.

BB, Gal. 2:20

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