Is Politics Outside the Scope of the Christian Worldview?
There’s a scene at the end of the film The Martian where Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) lays out what is inevitable in space travel. It’s a lesson that can and should be applied to every area of life:
At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… Everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, questions?
A number of readers of the material published by American Vision often ask why we spend so much time on eschatology. Matt Damon’s brief speech is one reason why. Of course, it’s much more comforting to Christians if there is a “rescue in a rapture” than to die with no Earthly or Martianly hope.
Let’s get a few preliminaries out of the way concerning Christians and politics.
First, there is no doubt that there are few differences between the two major parties. When both Houses of Congress were owned by the Republicans, one would think that the claimed differences would have come out and the GOP would have fought for the principles they claim separate them from the Democrats.
This leads to the second observation. Many Christians believe their vote doesn’t make much difference even when their guy wins because their votes are overwhelmed by the GOP establishment majority that dilutes the effectiveness of the Constitutionalists.
Third, they are tired of sending people to Congress who promise one thing and then break that promise and offer political excuses for the votes they make. This happened in my district in Georgia in 2016. Rep. Barry Loudermilk voted for the 2000-page Omnibus Appropriations Bill even though it continued to fund Planned Parenthood to the tune of $500 million. There was so much pork in the Omnibus Bill that a devout Muslim wouldn’t touch the paper it was printed on.
Here’s how a letter-to-the-editor writer praised Loudermilk’s vote:
“But you can’t beat something with nothing, so our delegation used the only currency they had [to get specific issues related to Georgia passed]: their votes for or against the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Thankfully, Representative Loudermilk and the Georgia Delegation put their districts and state’s interests first, and harmful provisions were defeated as a direct result of their efforts.”1
Disillusionment sets in. But we don’t give up. We look for a better candidate. We raise up a more informed generation of Christian statesmen.
I am thankful that Donald Trump won in 2016. He has shaken up the Establishment in both parties and shamed many Republican “conservatives.” Trump is not perfect, but neither was King David. Every Democrat hates him and so do a lot of Republicans like Bill Kristol, Michael Steele, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband and his anti-Trump super PAC. Because Never-Trumpers profit from an ever-expanding national government and a corrupt alphabet soup of Federal agencies.
Fourth, millions of Christians are uninformed on issues like economics, education, and foreign policy. They’ve never been taught the foundational principles of the free enterprise system that’s based on the biblical law of “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15), even if a majority of people believe it’s OK.
Fifth, the following are some of the theological reasons many Christians do not get involved politically. They believe there are sound biblical reasons why they should avoid the endeavor altogether:
- We should just preach the gospel: Paul told the Ephesian elders that he did not shrink from declaring to them the “whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27). Being a new creature in Christ is the first step in a whole new life. Being born again does not stop at infancy. We are to grow up in the faith so every area of life is impacted by God’s Word (Heb. 5:11-14).
- Politics is dirty: What isn’t dirty? Our job is to clean up the things that are dirty. Diapers are dirty, and we change them. If a politician is dirty, then change him or her.
- Jesus didn’t get mixed up in politics, so why should we?: There are many things Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t get married, have children, or own a home. Should we follow His example in these areas? The civil magistrate is said to be a “minister of God” (Rom. 13:1-4). It’s the same Greek word ( διάκονός) used to describe a deacon in an ecclesiastical setting (1 Tim. 3:8-13). In neither of these governmental offices are these ministers to “lord it over those allotted to [their] charge” (1 Peter. 5:3; see Matt. 20:25-28).
- Our citizenship is in heaven: We have multiple citizenships (commonwealths), with our heavenly citizenship being a priority (Phil. 3:20; see Acts 5:29). The fact that Paul was a citizen of heaven did not stop him from claiming his Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25-29) and appealing to Caesar (25:9-12).
- There’s a separation between church and state: The Bible teaches that there is a jurisdictional separation between church and state, but there is no separation between God and government, and that includes civil government.
- Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world: God’s kingdom does not derive its power and authority from this world, but His kingdom is in and over this world whether people acknowledge it or not. We are to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 7:10). Doing God’s will is the manifestation of kingdom living.
- Politics is not spiritual: If civil government has been ordained by God, then it is spiritual as is every area of life when governed by the Word of God.
- Satan is the god of this world: Satan is no more a god than a person’s stomach is a god (Phil. 3:19). Paul is describing what some people choose to be their god, a limited creature who has been defeated.
- We’re not supposed to judge: We are admonished by Jesus to be consistent in judgment (Matt. 7:1-2) and to “judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
- We must render to Caesar what’s Caesar’s: We don’t live under Caesar. We live under a Constitution, and we can remove and replace people in office and “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The people in Jesus’ day could not. We do not have to settle for the political status quo.
- Christians should remain neutral: Neutrality is impossible. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matt. 12:30; also see Rev. 3:16).
- We can’t impose our morality on other people: All law is the imposition of someone’s view of morality. The question is, What areas of life is the civil magistrate given the authority to do?
- We’re living in the last days and Jesus is coming soon to rapture His church so why polish brass on a sinking ship?: How many times have we heard this claim? Even today Christians are pushing the canard that the “rapture” is near, that the antichrist is on the brink of revealing himself, and there is no reason to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titantic. Those in the world are wiser. Ship building did not stop with the sinking of an unsinkable ship. sometimes “the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).
There’s so much more that could be said on this topic. I’ve covered the above topics and more in my book Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths: How Misreading the Bible Neutralizes Christians and Empowers Liberals, Secularists, and Atheists.