Voting is Not Self-Expression - Witness vs Transformation

Donald Trump Holding bible
Trump Asks for Prayers

Voting is Not Self-expression!

Today to speak about morality and personal Holiness even amongst Christians is an invitation to vilification. There is extraordinarily little discussion and no baring with each other. Your personal definition of morality, ethics and values rule the day. God gets a nod.

The secular mantle of moral relativism has crept into every area of society and the Church as well, expressive individualism is king. I agree much of the incivility, pride and sinfulness we see today has been growing in our culture in past decades. The pandemic of course has brought much of our sin and behavior out into the open.

Lets look at the two points of view causing so much division amongst evangelicals/Christians.

The Witness Debate

"My God is Trumps Devil"

I have borrowed this title from a Tweet of Theologian Miroslav Volf dated Sept. 7, 2020 in response to President Trump. The post appeared on both Facebook and Twitter, in it he argued that President Trump’s moral compass is based on egoism. To such a person, he said, the idea of people sacrificing themselves for others are “losers and suckers”.

The posts came in response to comments the President allegedly made about fallen soldiers being “losers” and “suckers”. President Trump had previously called Republican rival John McCain a “loser” and suggested that he likes soldiers “who weren’t captured.” Trump was not invited to Mr. McCain’s funeral in 2018. Trump and his campaign have denied he ever said anything derogatory.

Miroslav Volf cites Zygmunt Bauman’s ( Polish-British sociologist and philosopher) description of modernity as the tendency to shift moral responsibility from the moral self toward socially constructed and managed agencies, and of postmodernity as the creation of a climate in which evasion of moral responsibilities is a way of life.

There is no doubt this is our cultural climate now.

Life at the end of the twentieth century presents us with a disturbing reality. Otherness, the simple fact of being different in some way, has come to be defined as in and of itself evil. Miroslav Volf contends that if the healing word of the gospel is to be heard today, Christian theology (and the Church at large) must find ways of speaking that address the hatred of the other. Volf points to the New Testament metaphor of salvation as a way of reconciliation.

Here is a link to the twitter thread:

Miroslav Volf Twitter

“People who embrace “what’s-in-it-for-me” as their rule of life and who, like Trump, can’t comprehend those who reject that principle, live in a different moral universe than I do,” Dr Volf wrote.

“Their god (the orienting center of their lives) is my devil. My god is their devil.”

“What’s-in-it-for-me is the egoists’ principle. As Nietzsche noted, egoists think altruists are stupid for altruists often put even the advantage of egoists ahead of their own advantage. The prime example of such a “stupid sucker” was Jesus. He came to bear the sin of the world.”

“The Gospel of John states unambiguously that Jesus’ crucifixion was his glory. Of course, he shared glory with God before the world began and entered into glory after resurrection. God’s glory in eternity and in time is the matchless glory of unconditional, self-giving and love.”

“The only glory Trump recognizes that of victors who sacrifice nothing because they care for nothing except their own glory. That, and the hollow shimmer of gilded ceilings and the petty roar of a riled-up crowd. It is antithetical to the glory of the one true God.”

In a statement, White House spokesperson Alyssa Farah denied that the President ever made the alleged comments about “losers” and “suckers”, saying that he, “holds the military in the highest regard.”

“He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much-needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veterans’ reforms, and supporting military spouses,” Ms. Farah said.

Character is policy and policy is character - you cant neatly divide or compartmentalize the two.

In his book Exclusion and Embrace Miroslav Volf describes how we must in our own way imitate Christ.

“When God sets out to embrace the enemy, the result is the cross. On the cross the dancing circle of self-giving and mutually indwelling divine persons opens up for the enemy; in the agony of the passion the movement stops for a brief moment and a fissure appears so that sinful humanity can join in (see John17:21). We, the others- we, the enemies – are embraced by the divine persons who love us with the same love with which they love each other and therefore make space for us within their own eternal embrace.”

Pastor John piper came out with a long article about his reasons for not voting for Trump.

Here is a link: John Piper article.

They are:

1. The personal sins of a leader can be as harmful to persons and to nations as morally evil laws.

2. Christians communicate a falsehood when we act as if policies and laws are more precious than being a certain kind of person.

3. The horrible sin of pride leads people to other sins, including defending abortion, and therefore voting for a clearly boastful candidate might also be indirectly supporting abortion.

4. Voting for either candidate would compromise a person’s Christian witness

Piper’s humbly states that he allows that “you need not be sinning if you weigh matters differently,” and adds, “my way need not be yours.” Of course he was immediately seized upon by Evangelicals and others who have dug in and like John MacArthur believe that a TRUE Christian cannot vote Democratic. Piper has been declared a traitor to Christianity by many.

The Witness point of view has a timeline of eternity.

In regards to the damage done by a Biden administration many with the Witness point of view share the same concerns as the transformation point of view. The main difference is in a belief that the damage done to our gospel witness in continuing to support Trump outweighs the possible devastation caused by a Biden presidency.

Many "Witness" supporters cite the “lesser of two evils” choice as being unbiblical, since Scripture calls us to reject every kind of evil. The character of both candidates has made them unfit for the highest office, and that voting for either to be president would violate their conscience. Witness supporters believe Trump has proven to be an example of a person that lives a prideful, overtly sinful life in opposition to everything Jesus stands for—all the while claiming to be a follower of Christ. Therefore turning a blind eye to Trump’s character for the sake of political expediency or a single position like abortion betrays our calling as Christians.

The witness position stands on integrity and faithfulness. They believe that by supporting Trump (or Biden) Christians are sending the message that we’re willing to sacrifice our witness/faith as ambassadors of Christ. Also we’re willing to choose certain evils because it might lead to a preferred political outcome such as the reduction or elimination of abortion.

Pastor and Author David Platt released a new book, titled Before You Vote: Seven Questions Every Christian Should Ask. Among the seven questions are “Does God call me to vote?” “Who has my heart?” “What does my neighbor need?” and “How do I weigh the issues?”

Platt says “In the end, what’s most important, and what I am definitively advocating for based on God’s Word, is the realization that how we use our vote is a matter of faithfulness before God,” Platt wrote.