12.30.2007

Christian Liberty, Church Wear, and Voting

I have a pet peeve. That peeve is when Christians demand other brothers and sisters in Christ to do something that is not mandated by Scripture. I am a firm believer of Christian liberty and I rejoice that the writers of the Westminster Confession included an entire chapter to this subject. I know a few people who would say that drinking is a damnable action, I know others who will say that if you don't dress up for church you are not showing God respect. I personally wonder where that thought ultimately leads... would you say you are a better Christian than they for dressing up? is there pride? Those are things for me to talk about with my dear friends who tell me to dress up more for church.

But here is the idea I ponder, does the Bible tell us how to vote? Does Christian liberty apply to how believers vote?

I have read an account by Anne Rice, a Catholic and a novelist who is a pro lifer, yet is supporting Hillary Clinton. Rice believes that abortion will be overcome through the democratic party, she also affirms that she finds the Democratic party to coincide with Gospel teaching. My experience this summer at Light of Life, working with Christian democrats, makes me understand this. Though I ultimately disagree. (If I need to explain this more, I will do my best to share how I comprehend an idea in the comments.)

Another professing Christian, a PCA minister, Lee Irons, makes an argument for Barak Obama because he does not see abortion as the pivotal issue for elections. Instead it is foreign policy. I get that, but I ultimately disagree.

Some men and women who blur the distinction between being a republican and being a Christian. Recently Franky Schaeffer alluded to the fact that his father fought against such an idea, but when others shout Francis' name in their approval. (think A Christian's Manifesto)

I am going to leave it there. I know saints exist who disagree with me in saying that voting is a gray area. I have loved ones who are not single issue voters, but I am. Yet, I must focus on is who the person is before the creator of this universe. I must recognize that they are a child of Grace, called by God, the father himself, and clothed in Christ's blood. That is how I must see them, and speak to them, and love them. We must also ask what is God's agenda for this relationship?

Our testimony to a hurting world depends on such love and grace. As DA Carson winsomely puts it,

We must not stand on our rights. As long as defending our rights remains the lodestar that orders our priorities, we cannot follow the way of the cross. This sort of self denial is easy enough to admire in other believers. One can formulate all sorts of interesting theological lessons deriving from Paul's treatment of what to do about meat that has been offered to idols. But the power of this position of principle becomes obvious only when we are called upon to abandon our rights. (The Cross and Christian Ministry, pg. 129)
Please leave a thought.

9 comments:

Tim said...

I looked at the blog of that guy who supports Obama. Wild guy. Dr. Gordon must love him. (I see Dr. Gordon wrote in his defense.) -Tim

James McCullough said...

Surely Christians should definately not vote for non-christians? And with Christians think the most important aspect to consider is their views on the kingship of Christ over the nation.

Robbie said...

I am playing the role of a devil's advocate, and asking tongue in cheek as well, (makes it harder for you to pin me down).

Where in the Bible does it say support other Christians? Would not the most important issue for leaders be a proper understanding of human life? Is it a sin to condemn those who do not agree with you?

Something I would love a wiser and more astute biblicist is to study the following question: is the godly role in politics determined by one's context? Certainly Jerry Falwell was involved with the American system, Paisley with the Brits, and Paul with the Roman empire... Could it be, in part, an issue of contextualization?

James McCullough said...

I think the key is myth of religious neutrality which many politicians strive for. A non-christian is by definition defying God and cannot have a proper understanding of human life. The further question this discussion leads to is Is Democracy Biblical? If its not should we be voting for people who have no intention of changing the system or the constitution to give proper acknowledgement to the Kingship of Christ?

Robbie said...

The state is not to be confused with the church. Luther got it right that the state is to protect the church (and the citizens). Paul lived in an era on the verge of global persecution. (See Rodney Stark's The Rise of Christianity for more detail) But never did he condemn the empire, never going into those polemics (unlike Tertullian's slander, or Eusebius' love and admiration). This is seen clearly in Romans 13. The tone of biblical theology is to submit to the authorities. The Bible never sets up a paradigm for secular government.. to say otherwise wreaks of theonomy.

James McCullough said...

That was not my intention. Paul however didn't have a say in politics and the political system the same way we do through a vote and therefore isn't directly comparable with our liberal democracies. Would the historical position of the Covenanters support democracy as a system of government? Richard Cameron talked of his desire to see a "Christian Republic".

Robbie said...

Paul did use his rights as a Roman citizen. On varied occasions he claimed his special status as such a person. By acknowledging this method of his in proclaiming the gospel, he teaches us to do the same in our gospel proclamation.

At the same time our Lord said, "Be in the world but not of the world." Again he said, "you are the salt of the earth... you are the light of the world." Does this mean that we are to be the light and salt in every area of life, except voting? I think not. Christ certainly teaches us to be involved in politics, not refrain from them. And in every society politics are different, having their own stories and language, with this in mind... is not this an issue of contextualization?

James McCullough said...

Yes I think Christians should vote but surely their vote must go to those who want reform in the godless constitutions of America and Britain? Can we vote with good conscience for someone who is happy for the people to continue to be the ultamite source of authority as is the present case in our nations?

Robbie said...

Dead on. Christ is certainly King. We must vote according to biblical principles and have a consistent witness to a dying world. But one needs to flesh that out more. I believe one gets in a fight over the limits of a government. If you say the state must be a Christian witness, then will there be laws about the sabbath, marriage, abortion, etc. What will those penalties be? But then you can have a solid biblical argument for a limited government (libertarianism).

I am not a theonomist, therefore I do not think that the Israelite monarchy and the laws that coincided with the Israelites are analogous to Americans. Instead I think it shows a good model... something we need to reflect on. But those laws are not binding today.