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:
“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.
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.
“For our vote is a unique privilege and responsibility that God has entrusted to us by his grace, and God calls us to use every means of grace he grants us to love him above all and love our neighbors as ourselves.”
"The church is not for Trump, and the church is not for Biden. The church is for Jesus, because He alone is worthy of our trust, allegiance, and hope, and His glory alone is always our aim, not the promotion of a political candidate or party."
Many Christian leaders have said they understand when people cannot vote for either candidate. But they have a problem with a self-identified pro-life, pro-Bible Christians voting for Biden and the Democrats.
The Transformation Debate
Dr. Michael Brown said the following in an interview with Mike Huckabee: from the transcript: “Four years more of Donald Trump is a wedge in the door before it collapses, so the church can wake up and get about doing what we're called to do cause that's the only hope of the nation.”
Here is the video.
Dr. Brown said recently one of my evangelical colleagues wrote to him last last week, saying, “The gospel witness has been destroyed, especially among the younger generations. The final straw was the support of Donald Trump by these groups. The non-believing world is appalled by the hypocrisy. The only folks who don’t see it are most of the Evangelical world.”
This is true to some extent, and it echoes John Piper’s concerns." Article link here:
Americans are perfectly free to say, “Trump’s boastfulness offends me and I don’t want to act that way myself.” But they support his platform.
Many also state there has been no increase in boastfulness or sexual immorality in the United States as a result of people imitating Donald Trump’s behavior. Donald Trump was unfaithful several years ago which he admits. Such actions have been universally condemned by leaders in both political parties and they have hurt, not helped, Donald Trump’s reputation.
Lets be real, we as a culture, as Christians have become so used to/numb to/desensitized to adultery, fornication, rape, murder you name it as entertainment for so long perhaps we are accepting to all of this and its ok, just another TV show right?
Albert Mohler recently said in an article (link here): "I truly believe that this presidential election, with the control of the Senate also clearly at stake, is likely to be transformational. The stakes just keep getting higher. The difference between a Trump administration and a Biden administration will shape a generation and have a very great deal to do with the future of our nation."
The transformation point of view has a timeline of the next four years. As Dr. Brown said If we can put a wedge in the door to hold on four more years hopefully the church and the culture will wake up. Otherwise we will be forced to choose the “lesser of two evils” in all future elections.
But here's the problem, the weakness of the transformation position. The trade-offs people have to make to support Trump, sacrificing the “character issue” not only from this current presidential election but also for every election for at least the next generation. This position has so lowered the character bar to make it virtually impossible to justify requiring character to be used as a criterion for almost any vocation outside of the pastorate. How low are you willing to go with a persons character to get what you want in policy?
The Devil Made Me Do It!!
During November 21, 2019 interview with Graham, Eric Metaxas, a Salem Radio Network talk-show host, asked the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, “What do you think of what is happening now? I mean, it’s a very bizarre situation to be living in a country where some people seem to exist to undermine the president of the United States. It's just a bizarre time for most Americans.”
Graham responded to the question from Eric Metaxas with, “Well, I believe it’s almost a demonic power that is trying—” Metaxas interrupted, “I would disagree. It’s not almost demonic. You know and I know, at the heart, it’s a spiritual battle.”
Do demonic powers then explain opposition to all politicians supported by Graham and Metaxas, or to Trump alone? Does this mean that all Christians (and non-Christians) who oppose Trump are under the influence of Satan or some demon? Is the Devil behind the fact that many Americans have another opinion than Graham and Metaxas on issues like gun control, tax cuts, charter schools, federal judges, climate change, foreign aid, criminal justice/ incarceration, Medicaid reform etc.?
Are we then to assume that any criticism from Christians are not their own opinions but those of demons in disguise?
Both Metaxas and Graham portrayed those with whom they disagree politically as under demonic influences, which for any Christian is a serious accusation. The implication then is that those in opposition to Trump are the embodiment of evil, the “enemy,” anti-God, a kind of anti-Christ. So you see that many people are making claims about reality. There is a lot of fear-mongering on all sides of theses issues. There is no doubt we are involved in a spiritual battle but that is always the case in our fallen world.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Mark Murkey recently made this observation at the end of an article for The Seattle Times:
God help us: Religion’s influence on the 2020 presidential election
“America has always had religious forces that have been both healthy and unhealthy; grounded in a steely-eyed realism and in the worst of magical thinking; thoroughly integrated with high-minded Republican and civic virtue, and pining with nostalgia for a U.S. Christian theocracy that never existed. American religion has appealed to the nation’s highest angels, inspiring us to move beyond everything from slavery and Jim Crow to the rights of those on the margins of society. But, it also has provided source material for the nation’s lowest impulses, including white-supremacist organizations and groups fomenting every imaginable prejudicial movement, particularly anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Hindu phobia, and a general suspicion and demonization of anyone perceived as an “other.”
If this election proves nothing else, it demonstrates that Americans need to talk more about the role of religion in our society. If we can do so, perhaps at Thanksgiving dinner, on the other side of this exhausting election, we can experiment with civil conversations about the things that shape our inner and outer world the most — religion and politics. “
Mark Markuly is Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University.
The election is a few days away in which either Democratic nominee Joe Biden will have a landslide victory, or eke out a narrow win, or the race will be too close to call, or no winner on November 3 and the election will descend into chaos, or President Trump will win reelection. Which version will come true?
And then the question begs if Joe Biden gets elected is that God's will as well or does it become another demonic incursion into society? It is also realistic to acknowledge that many Christians cannot stomach a vote for Trump. The reply from many Eric Metaxas is even if you hate Trump vote for him anyway.
Much of what we wring our hands over is human viewpoint. If many consider Trump to be the Cyrus, God's chosen one then he will be reelected regardless, yet we must do our part.
Chuck Colson famously said that the Kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One.
The election will not change the divisions in our society or the church - the Body of Christ, the pandemic will keep spreading and our economy will remain in dire straights.
American culture is in crisis not because half the country isn't “pro-science or pro-Trump.”
The crisis is that our culture, our public square is creating resentments, fear and despair more efficiently than it’s building character or values in the people. Character comes from many things. Living a Godly life is our goal, yet we are sinners and need our Lord to live rightly.
With the Church being us, the people and not a place will WE turn back to God, will WE make him the focus of our life, of our day or has politics and the Cult of Trump taken the place of our Lord?
God remains sovereign even when we as Christians act like he isn’t.
Pray for President Trump and his staff, pray for Joe Biden, staff, and family. Pray that our nation would be Christ like and have peace in the difficult days ahead.
Be humble, pray more, read God’s Holy Word. Instead of speaking be silent.
As members of the family of God we can disagree. But in the end we must come together and reconcile in some way to the Glory of our Sovereign Lord Christ Jesus!