We posted yesterday on the tendency of Christians to slide toward zealotry in political affairs. For many this leaves them in a position of non-engagement. The binary, all-or-nothing approach means that "nothing" wins every time. They have a hard time coming to terms with the imperfections of earthly kings and kingdoms.
Jim Jordan has written a helpful piece in Gary DeMar's blog for those Christians who are saying, because candidate Romney is not a Christian, but a Mormon they cannot in good conscience support him.
The following essay was written by James B. Jordan. James is a Christian theologian and author who has thought long and hard on worldview issues from a biblical perspective. While the following article does not answer every question; it does offer a perspective that is not often considered in terms of a biblical theology. — Gary DeMar
From time to time we read on the internet some blogger or other writer that he’s not going to vote for Romney because of this or that reason. Sometimes because he’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Sometimes because he’s done X or Y in the past. Sometime because he’s not Ron Paul.
Regardless of details, all of these bloggers make one mistake in common: Americanist political perfectionism.
A friend of mine wrote that he has three reasons to vote for Romney. 1. He’s not Obama. 2. He’s not Obama. 3. He’s not Obama. Well, that’s good enough for me, but perhaps there’s more to be said.
An aspect of this confusion is perfectionism in political life, a kind of political messianism that insists on a churchly standard of belief and of personal morality on the part of its political leaders.
The Bible, however, shows us something different. What the political leader is supposed to provide is . . . peace. In Daniel 7 God raised up a four-fold “beast” (“living creature”) whose purpose was to protect His people as they moved out into the new Imperial Age. Under the Pax Persiana, the Pax Graecia, and the Pax Romana, Jews were able to be the “four spirits of heaven” (Zechariah 2) and plant synagogues all over the empires. It was an added bonus when Nebuchadnezzar converted and when believers like Cyrus and Darius sat on the throne, but it was not necessary.
Paul wrote to Timothy, “I urge that entreaties , prayers, petitions, thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in his position, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Does the ruler need to be a believer? Does he need to do everything right? No, nice as those would be. Rather, he needs to enforce the law and make for societal peace so that the Kingdom of Jesus can advance. And that’s it. Period.
A recent blog-essay includes this statement: “Mitt Romney, a man who openly denies the Trinitarian God of the universe, can offer no hope to America’s ailments.” We may ask, so what? Since when do political leaders heal ailments? That’s the Church’s job. What we want from them is peace. But let’s apply the above mentioned blogger’s argument again in terms of some biblical realities:
- “King Nebuchadnezzar, a man who worships idols, can offer no hope for Judah’s ailments.” Compare that with what God said through Jeremiah. Nebuchadnezzar was just what Judah needed.
Our unnamed blogger cites Gary DeMar:
- “King Antiochus III, a man who worships other gods, can offer no hope for Judah’s enslavement to the Ptolemies of Egypt.” Compare that with what actually happened according to Josephus: the King rebuilt the temple, relieved Judah of taxes for three years for that purpose, permanently relieved Levites from taxation, etc.
“We’re still dealing with an electorate that’s on the government dole. They need Obama to win. There’s not much that’s going to change that except a national collapse. There are a lot of people who think that would be a great idea. It would be horrific. No one will come to our aid.”The unnamed blogger comments:
“No one will come to our aid? Only our Lord causes nations to rise and fall.”
Well, of course. Sure. But that does not mean that Jesus ever promised that He works through presumption and magic. DeMar knows that Jesus rules and can do miracles. But he also knows we are supposed to be grown-ups and take responsibility. When Israel was under the Law only, after Moses, the Lord Yahweh was king and the people were children. When they were old enough, God gave them a kingdom and kings, and told them to rule by wisdom. Miracles are for babies; wisdom is for grown-ups (Heb 5:11–14).
Too often American-ists takes the property of the church and apply it to the State. Was palace servant Obadiah supposed to go into Jezebel’s face and tell her that he and the 100 prophets he was keeping hidden were opposed to her religion and actions? No, that was Elijah’s job (1 Kings 17).
Consider also the Psalms. David has to go to God about the troublemakers (“workers of iniquity”) because there is nothing he can do about them directly. Much as he’d love to deal with vicious Joab, he knows that it would tear up the kingdom to do so.
“Oh, but he should have trusted Yahweh and done what was right. He should have kicked out Joab and put their choice of a king – a ‘perfect’ king – in his place. His pragmatism shows a lack of faith. He should have acted in the State the same way a priest would at the Temple, even if it would have blown up the kingdom Yahweh entrusted to him.”
Really? Then why do the Psalms portray David as a man after God’s own heart? Too often American hyper-”conservatives” are not acting like people after God’s own heart. Like all of us they reject pragmatism, but they use this to refuse to learn from the Bible how to be practical in the area of politics. “Just stand for Christ and let everything blow up.” That is not how Biblical wisdom works.
Some of the problem for us Americans is seen in another statement: “There is a problem when Christians with Reformed worldviews are ready and eager to compromise in hope to gain federal power. The thought of societal progress through a centralized seat is thoroughly pagan.”
Now this would be quite surprising to Joseph, Daniel, Mordecai, and others. In the cases of Joseph and Mordecai, their advice actually strengthened centralized government. No societal progress came through Charlemagne or Louis IX? Not in the view of the Reformation. Like Christians for centuries, Reformation leaders often addressed their works to kings in order to encourage them to use their power to bring about national reformation. Two fine examples are The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin (1509–1564) and De Regno Christi by Martin Bucer (1491–1551). Bucer in particular exhorts King Edward VI to use his power to reform the laws and courts of the land: societal progress through a central seat of power indeed.
Turning now to Mitt Romney, such perfectionists need to ask themselves why long-time paleo-conservatives like Ann Coulter and Emmett Tyrrell support Romney and have all along. Or why people who have been theocratic Reconstructionists for longer than some of these guys have been alive — like Jordan, DeMar, and others — are willing to support him now. (I’ve been reading the American Spectator since it was founded in 1967. I became a Reconstructionist in 1972.) Are we fools? Have we no knowledge of Biblical statecraft?
There are reasons. Unlike Gingrich, who talks a better line, Romney is a one-woman man. He has experience in the private sector as a healer of fallen businesses. He’s a grown-up. As governor of the most liberal state in the union, he was willing to try to get as much as he could. He’s a member of a religious sect that was responsible for defeating queer marriage in California. He’s pledged to act conservatively if elected.
Of course, maybe it’s all a front. Maybe he’ll be as liberal and stupid as George Bush. Maybe it’s a conspiracy, and he’s really a tool of the Bilderbergers and the international Jewish Conspiracy. Maybe.
But we know what Obama is.
Yet, who cares? Let’s stay home and let the country burn to the ground. Let’s stay home and not vote, trusting like fools that King Jesus will actually honor our manipulations and do a miracle for us. No guys. I don’t think Jesus likes being manipulated.
I’m voting for Romney. I’ll put up a sign for Romney. I hope Romney wins. Why? Because as a Biblical Christian I vote for the person who best provides peace and room for the Church to act and the gospel to go forward. I don’t look to the State for the things only the Church can do. If Romney is moving “right” for “merely pragmatic reasons,” then hurray! So what? Romney will provide more peace and freedom for the Church than will Obama. And from a Biblical standpoint, that is the ONLY* thing I ask.
James emailed me and wanted to change this to: “And from a Biblical standpoint, that is the FIRST thing I need to be concerned with.”