Christian Community and Political Tensions

With regard to the political tension surrounding the presidential election…..What is your opinion of the following scripture:

“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”
1 Peter 2:17 (NASB95)

Four things are said…how would you apply these during this election process?
Is there an interdependence of this four things?

What instructions/counsel would you give to followers of Christ in these days?


61 Responses

  1. No matter which party is voted into power the responsibilities of the christian community remain the same. Rome was certainly a corrupt and anti-christian government at the time of this scripture’s writing. But the hope of the believer is not in government. Psalm 146 reminds us not to put our trust in princes but in God. In my county voting began today and in yesterdays sermon I gave these instructions to my congregation.

    1. Pray – The outcome of this election is not hidden from God. He has a plan and our job is to align ourselves with his will when known and to pray for guidance when unknown.

    2. Vote your conscience – Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. If you have to hold your nose to vote for someone then you are better off to leave it blank.

    3. Constitutional issues have a longer shelf life than office seekers. Write the vision and make it plain so that a runner can read it. Whenever we have the opportunity to strengthen the foundations we need to take advantage.

    4. Campaign with integrity – use all your might to persuade people if you have a strong conviction, but do not malign someone’s name based on misrepresentated facts. Make sure you know the truth. Scripturally to kill someone’s name is as bad as killing their body.

    5. God deals with nations according to their leadership – once the results are in, whomever is elected is now your leader. Regardless of whether you voted for them you are now obligated to uphold them in prayer and petitioning God to guide them and use them for the benefit of the nation.

    6. Christian integrity is needed now as never before. Jonah did not like Nineveh, in fact he did all he could to let that nation enter into judgment. But once he began to preach what God told him to preach instead of what he wanted to preach (now there’s a sermon for ministers) a great revival was birthed. In the words of the King of Nineveh ” Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger so that we may not perish” (NKJV)

  2. This election has had unprecedented coverage across the world, so I hope I’m not intruding in offering my perspective as an outsider looking in.

    I am amazed at how politically partisan many Christians are. The bitterness and hysteria I have seen expressed by members of my own denomination (not to mention the willingness to believe lies about their opponents) has staggered me. Europeans have seen too many wars caused by such partisanship. Therefore most Pentecostals and Evangelicals tend not to identify themselves with one particular political party. Our primary allegiance is to Christ, and political affiliation must be subservient to that.

    Another point of interest for me is how ‘socialism’ is used as a dirty word. In my part of the world ‘socialism’ is not seen as inherently evil or dangerous. Many European Evangelicals and Pentecostals (including myself) would like to see our governments do more to help the poor and we would be happy to pay more tax to help make that happen. In my country, for example, College tuition is free – and any government that tried to change that and lower taxes would be instantly voted out of office. Even our last Prime Minister, a committed capitalist, had to label himself a socialist at one stage to reinvigorate his poor rating in the polls!

    I don’t expect many of you to agree with me – but I think the inflammatory speech of many Christians when it comes to your elections will do more damage to the Kingdom of God than the outcome of the election itself. After November 4th many of your churches are still going to be trying to evangelize those whom other Church of God members (and even pastors) have labelled as demoncrats, liars and baby killers.

  3. I think that one of the major contributing factors relating to the church and politics is our (American) two-party system of government. And because each party wants to distinguish itself from the other party, the search for middle ground is lost.

    The Democratic party, in my opinion, has moved much further to the left Where are the leading moderate democrats? And the Republican party has had an extremely effective right wing. It is no wonder that McCain can where the name “maverick”.

    If there were a viable third (or even more) political party, it would certainly help us fight against the tendency to polarize things into “nice and neat”, black-and-white catagories.

  4. My thoughts on the 1 Peter 2:17 is simply to obey what God would have us to do even when we may not want to in the flesh. However, I think the focus of God in control of all things should be recalled. It is powerful to know that God is eternal and that this world will one day pass away as we know it. Just recently I was reading in Mark and I had a few thoughts about what Jesus said to His disciples….

    After the feeding of the 5,000 and after the feeding of the 4,000 and after all the bread of life talk found in John chapter 6 Jesus throws a warning out to his disciples as they are crossing the sea once again.

    It’s an interesting passage that I’ve been thinking about a lot. The passage is found in Mark and in Matthew. In Mark 8:13-21 you will find the story. Anyway, Jesus says to the men in verse 15, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

    He lets them ponder the statement for a little while and then is amazed that they still don’t get it. He then hits them with many questions to raise the level of awareness of just how clueless they are.

    Next, He reminds them of the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000. He ask them if they remember how many baskets where left over and of course they answer right. The lesson taught to them that day is an interesting one and I’m sure its much deeper than I can ever imagine but here is what I walked away with…

    On one side you had the Pharisees. They made so many rules people could not even get to God. They were religious but had no relationship. Their teaching was elevated above God’s word and so therefore people could never get to Christ. Jesus warned them so they would understand that traditions will never get you to God. You will always be left unsatisfied.

    On the other side Jesus warned of the doctrine of Herod. In other words…the political side of life. He was teaching the men that political power will never heal anything in the end. Powers will come and earthly powers will fall and they will always leave you unsatisfied and wanting more.

    Finally Jesus by asking them to remember the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000 sends the message that He alone is the way, the truth and the life. He is the true and only bread that will last and that will heal forever. That is why in each feeding there was some left over. He always has more than enough and then some. He was simply says to the men…you are in the boat with the answer so stop looking to traditions and politics for the cure.

  5. I think the core problem here is that we have two groups in the U.S. who regard each other as an existential threat. And, as Tom points out, our political system doesn’t help either. If we had a parliamentary system, such as exists in the UK, Ireland or even Israel, Evangelicals could have their own party. But, alas, that wouldn’t be very evangelistic, would it?

    A good place to start to cut this Gordian Knot would be to consider things such as these:

    One thing I’d like to note concerns government action regarding the economically disadvantaged. Governments do this for entirely different reasons than churches do. Churches do it because Jesus Christ taught us to. Governments do it to avoid social unrest. Otto von Bismarck enacted Germany’s much vaunted social system to head off revolutionaries such as Karl Marx. The French Assemblée Nationale did so with the cries of “Germinal!” from the workers echoing in the background. The British are unfathomable as always, but I suppose they finally realised that they could not export those unhappy with the system to North America and Australia indefinitely. That’s why I don’t uncritically support expansion of government programs as a Christian. (My years in a really liberal church underscored that.) The church mustn’t forget that such things are part of its mission, too.

  6. In response to Nick Park – the reason socialism is considered an evil, or dirty word in the US is because the law of the land for us in our Constitution, and Socialism is completely opposite of what our founding fathers wanted for our country. There is no where in our US Constitution that directs the government to be an entity that asissts those in need. The US Constitution is quite clear…..and though our government is already involved in many affairs that are illegal and unconstitutional and wrong, i.e., federaly funded education, Social Security, Medicare, Housing agencies, etc…..that doesn’t mean we should enjoy the slide on down the slippery slope.

    I as a Christian want to see the church step up to the plate in the part of benevolence. Scripture teaches benevolence and help on the part of us as individuals and as a body of believers, not on the basis of a nation…and not from a goverment. There is no Biblical model for socialism.

    I will pray that God’s will be done in our elections here, but the fact of the matter is that we are in perilous times. There is no hope in any leader, other than Jesus. And things will have to get progressively worse for us as the church to fulfill prophecy and get us ready for the catching away of the church.

    I am grieved over the options we as Holiness Christians have before us. One man who was a member of a church that preached the Liberation Gospel for over 20 years and he never bucked at it until it became politically expedient, and the other….someone who wants to hand amnesty to criminals that illegally invade our borders and puts a woman as the VP running mate.

    With choices like that…I can’t have any hope in either of them winning and making a difference for the positive.

  7. Brother Rosson, why should be find middle ground? That’s what has gotten us to where we are today….a compromised society, with no standards, attempting to appease everyone, and no one standing for what is right.

    I’d rather see a liberal be a liberal and stand for what they believe in, and us conservatives take our stand…than everyone come together for the sake of “harmony” and in the end stand for nothing.

    I’m sick of the appeasement, sick of the compromising, and sick of everyone being afraid to stand up for what is right!

  8. Glad to see Tom posting again. I always enjoy your views on the issues and your pursuit for truth.

    As a Christ-follower, there are issues that I identify as a republican (sanctity of life regrading abortion, sancitity of marriage as between a man and a woman, smaller government, fiscally conservative). But I also identitify as a democrat (sanctity of life regrading public health and death penalty, willingness to invest in programs that assist the poor and needy).

    I live in Baltimore City where Democrats are approximately 7 to1 over Republicans. Most evangelicals are republicans over the abortion and marriage issue only. 48% of the households in my community make less than 26K a year. I see first hand the effects of gov’t programs on the poor. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I have seen it work and fail miserably. At times it makes me lean to the democrats and at times it makes me lean away from the democrats.

    It is my opinion that deciding democrat or republican should not always be so easy.

  9. Todd – What is your objection to a woman holding political office?

    Nick – Many Americans are inherently distrustful of government “help”, historically such help has generally been designed to enfranchise the party offering the help with a perpetual voting block (i.e. unions, right to life…etc) without actually making their condition better. The attempt by many to “Europeanize” the American social, political and economic culture is viewed with suspicion and outrage by most conservatives. It is, however, very interesting to see that when faced with a supposed “crisis” many conservatives immediately lookd to Washington to fix it. In general it seems that the current problems in our nation are conveniently timed to ensure the election of the most socialist candidate ever to win nomination. (Not that I’m crying conspiracy) If anything I see the hand of God allowing Amercia to experience the consequences of her sins and fall into a place of weakness and vulnerability which will feed directly into globalization and the rise of the Antichrist. Now from my point of view that is not a bad thing, (eeven so, come Lord Jesus), but regardless it is still our duty to uphold righteousness and stand for God even in these final hours.

  10. Brother Alldredge – My objection is to a woman with 5 kids, one that is special needs, and an infant, hauling herself off to run after her own ambitions of power and glory, when she should be at the house raising those kids as God intended her to be. She needs to set her priorities, and her hands would be full being at the house if she would be the mom she needs to be. I’m old school man, in my book – – – women don’t work unless there are no kids, the kids are grown, or she’s a single mom, and even then the church needs to help her so she can be at home. And I do not believe women should be in places of authority like the president or vice president, or even congress…just a personal view.

    And in regards to your other comment…..there were some of us conservatives that were beggin Washington to not do a dadgum thing. Let the free market work. If people took loans they couldnt’ afford, then they should lose their house. If people gave loans they knew they shouldn’t, then they should be jailed….and if companies can’t remain solvent, then they should close. I’d rather have a depression, than have government intervention like this.

  11. Todd – Do you extend your “personal view” to all positions of authority? What about judges, police, teachers, school board, business owners or managers? Not trying to provoke you, just curious about how you came to your point of view.

    In regards to the current state of the conservative movement I grant you that some did object to the bailout, but it remains that the greatest expansion of government power and spending since the civil war took place in the last 7 years under a “conservative” president. Our (conservatives) history is one of getting elected by promising smaller government then spending like drunken sailors once in power. The time has come for the church to “come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues”. Whoever wins this election may very well regret it in a year or two. If we are at the brink of the rapture then no political party or program is going to be able to forestall the disintegration of our economic, social and political systems.

    I understand your anger and the temptation to allow our neighbors to “suffer the consequences” but we are called to compassionate intercession. The Samaritan did not stop to ask if the man got what he deserved, but acted out of a heart of grace realizing that but for the grace of God it could have been him. To us to whom much has been given, much is required. I don’t know your personal history but I do know that based on what God has done for me in my life, I am in no position to turn away from anyone in need.

  12. So where in Scripture does it say it is the Church’s responsibility to care for the poor thus absolving the State from any responsibility?

  13. Todd – how do you know that God hasn’t raised her (Sarah Palin) up specifically for this time in our nation’s history?

  14. As far as helping the poor – I believe that it’s the responsibility of BOTH the church and the government. The government, from what I’ve seen, usually helps the poor by giving handouts. Handouts are helpful sometimes, but – in the long run – they hurt more than help. What we, as the church, should do is develop programs that help with current needs but also empower the less advantaged to change their situation (i.e. education, training, jobs, etc.). I’ve seen some government programs like this – but the church has a specific advantage here. Why? Because real change begins with God… always.

  15. Nick, since I don’t think you’re saying that the Church has no responsibility to help the poor, let’s turn to the issue of the responsibility of the state. I don’t see that the New Testament explicitly requires the state to help the poor, but there are other theories out there to fill that void.

    The first is the “Christian state” idea, and by that I mean it in the European sense, i.e., state church/official religion and everything that goes with it. But Evangelicals on both sides of the Atlantic have objected to that concept, and over here we actually made that objection stick. Today of course we still have state churches (CoE, etc.) but to characterise any state in Europe as more than nominally Christian is difficult.

    The second would draw the responsibilities of the state based on the Old Testament and Israel. We see a good deal of that kind of thinking over here amongst Evangelicals, and people such as the “Emergent Church” really emphasise that. But that gets tangled in a whole raft of issues including theonomy and the relationship between Christianity and Judaism.

    The third is the product of Christians coming into government and living out their faith, and in doing so helping the economically disadvantaged. But that can be a rocky road too. The biggest problem comes when people, well intentioned going in, are corrupted by what goes with being in power. That’s a large part of the reason the Republicans–and the Evangelicals in the mix–lost control of Congress in 2006.

    I still believe that direct action by Christians and the church is the highest and best form of social action of any kind.

  16. So many questions…so much to say, lol.

    Brother Alldredge – Yes, my view is to all positions in management etc. It is a personal view of mine that I’ve stated on here before. I believe it is scriptural, and by no means believe I could convince anyone that I’m right, therefore I won’t go into details and only provoke an argument…but yes I extend it across the board. George Bush never claimed to be conservative, he claimed to be Republican…the two are not the same. He has many times said he was a centerist (sp?).

    Brother Park – The guide for operation of the church is scripture…..the guide for operation of the government is scripture and for us in the United States, the Constitution. Paul wrote in Romans 13:3, the purpose of government is to serve as a terror to evil. And the constitution of the United States (I recommend you read it) does not grant the federal governement the power to do any benevolence at all…no social programs. That power is granted to the individual states. That is where the power should lie, and the voters of each state should have a say in what they decide to do.

    Brother Walker – Think of your question…If I believe that scripture admonishes against women being in that type of leadership, then I don’t believe God will compromise or violate Scritpure. See,you believe he might raise Palin up, cause you think Scripture okays that….but I don’t believe Scripture supports God would raise a woman up for that type of leadership. In regards to the government helping the poor, which government, local or federal? Where in our US Constitution is the federal government given that power? If it isn’t in there, then the federal government does not have that power….now, when you come to local and state, that’s different.

    In response to Brother Warrington’s post, I still believe the closer to an Individual responding to need, is better than a beauracracy responding. And the statistics speak for themselves, give people more of their money (cause that tax money is mine), and I know how to spend it better, more effieciently and smarter than the goverment does.

    When I hear people talk about government reaching out with Christian benevolence and meeting the needs of the hurting….well, that just sounds so much like Kingdom Now Theology to me…..

  17. Toddbe

    I agree that we should be strong in those things mandated by Scripture. But there are many things in life that are not simply in black or white; there are many colors.

    Why are Pro-Life Republicans also pro capital punishment. Why is the party that champions the rights of minorities (civil rights) neglecting the rights of unborn children?

    The two party system creates the environment to polemicize all issues for the sake of developing a profile. It is precisely the need to make polemics for political gain that undermines the integrity of the political process.

    Example: Socialized medicine. From a biblical standpoint, there is no right or wrong. It is simply a philosophical and to a certain extent economical debate. And there are a wide range of options – from one extreme of no health care for the poor to government regulated and mandatory insurance for all. Is there ground in the middle? You betcha.

  18. Todd – I appreciate your point of view and I agree the scriptures can be interpreted in that way. I guess where we differ is I believe that many women can do more than just one thing. I have met many women in my life who have gifts of teaching, preaching, leadership, administration and so forth. From whom did they receive these gifts if not God? Did he give them these gifts just so they could be better wives and mothers? Is a woman using her God-given abilities outside of her home a violation of scripture? Again, my approach is not intended to provoke or offend, just expressing an honest curiousity about an issue which is not going to go away from our society or our church anytime soon.

    In regards to republicans and evangelicals I now believe that there was never any genuine intention on a party level to push an evangelical agenda. We are just another voting bloc to be appeased during campaigns then forgotten once the election is over. At this point we are too divided among ourselves to present any kind of unified front to government. The best I hope for is a kind of “do no harm” approach from Washington. That said, I do believe that government is an instrument for good, that it is ordained by God and our particular form here in America was at least partially inspired by the scriptures. I might feel better about Nick’s comments if I could name one socialist society that retained its christian vibrancy. It seems that in most of Europe the church has been replaced by the state. While the church in America is hardly what it was I still believe we remain the most powerful force for the spread of the gospel in the world. That is changing as we speak and if this election empowers those who would socialize our economic, education and health-care systems further then we may not be able to recover.

  19. Rick Warren says “voting” tends to create conflict. How true is that statement today? A Republic, our form of democracy has both helped the church and hindered the church. We have certain freedoms in America that are amazing, and other freedoms that criple us.

    I wonder what would happen if Evangelicals would organize a third party as to eliminate the two party system in America. I believe we would be suprised at how powerful a voice we could be in America on the federal, state and local level.

  20. I have been following the posts daily…thanks for the response…

    However, I would still be interested in commentary on 1 Peter 2:17 relative to whether it or not it holds any point of instruction to believers during these times.


  21. James, I think that a closer look at the history of Europe demonstrates that Christian vibrancy has declined no matter what political system has been followed. This is because almost every European State has gone down the route of having a State-sponsored Church. The US has been pretty unique in its separation between Church & State. This allows for a religious free market where more vibrant forms of Christianity win our over effete and dying churches.

  22. Brother Rossen – As you can tell from most of what I type, I am a very Black and White person in life. And what I do is first hold political issues to the test of scripture and then secondly the Constitution. For me, PLEASE REMEMBER, I am not Republican, I am Conservative…there is a huge difference. As far as party affiliation, I am a member of the Constitution Party, as I believe they do the most to defend Freedom, and Religious Rights for all.

    In regards to the one item you cite, to me New Testament Scripture supports, Pro Life for unborn babies as well as capital punishment. The pro capital punishment is a way for the people collectively to deal with evil doers. God deals with us as individuals differently than he does as a nation or a people, and the two don’t contradict. For me to kill or take justice in my hands is wrong, but as a collective nation, there is no issue there.

    Socialized Health? To me, I see all through scriptures the push for Personal Responsibility, benevolence and care for the hurting from me or the church, not through a governmental entity. Healthcare is not a right, because our rights are granted by the constitution. Ultimately Freedom is even the freedom to fail and make bad choices. If someone doesn’t want insurance, then they shouldn’t be made to take it….and if a hospital doesn’t want to provide healthcare to someone for inability to pay, then they shouldn’t have to provide it as long as they don’t receive government funds. There will be churches and caring people who will ban together privately to help those that can’t help themselves, but not through the government….and I believe scripture does support that view. I say again, Paul stated the purpose of government is to be a terror to evil…that’s it.

    Borther Alldredge – Just because a woman can do it, doesn’t mean she should. Women are not equal to men…they aren’t inferior, but they aren’t equal…they have different responsibilities and roles than we do. They need to stick to their stuff and us stick to ours. To me a woman trying to live like Sarah Palin does, and profess to be a born again new testament believer is a contradiction……to scriptural principals.

  23. Tom,
    I know you are trying to refocus the conversation so I am going to try to stay on point. I think it is significant that these four things are together in the same verse because we like to conveniently leave one or two out especially when dealing with politics.

    Like all of you, I have my beliefs and convictions. I have things and people that I am going to vote for and vote against. But I think as a leader my first responsibility is to fear God (respect God) and trust that He knows best, so I should ask for His direction.

    OK that was the easy part, now onto the honoring. We can’t confuse honoring or loving with agreeing. Whether it be people, the brotherhood or a king we don’t have to agree but follow out part 1b of the greatest commandment, love your neighbor, regardless of political opinion…even if it is wrong. If God love us based on action as opposed to who He is… you get the point.

    I challenge our people to get educated, pray and vote. Then maybe pray again… Why, because you can’t honor the men and women that sacrificed for our freedoms if you don’t vote. You can’t honor the candidates if you don’t know the truth about them. As a side note, even if the truth about them stinks, they are still Senators and thus have authority over you and I, so are still worthy of honor. And as mentioned above, you can’t honor God if you don’t ask His direction.

    Tom I did good but I have to ask…
    Should women be allowed out of the kitchen to vote?

  24. Brother Griffis – it’s obvious you think making fun of someone else’s belief is okay. I thought people could post their honest feelings and convictions here without believing they were going to be made fun of. No where did I make a comment about women staying in the kitchen, so for you to make your comment is just obvious of you making light of something that is very important to me.

    So that’s acceptable, since you find my beliefs rediculous, you discount me overall publicly by making fun of me and my sincere beliefs…..okay. Just wanted to make sure….still trying to get ahold of what’s acceptable in this contemporary church age…..I actually thought respecting others beliefs, especially a brother in Christ was still important, but making fun of someone probably is much more fun.

  25. Tom:

    OK, I’ll wade in and see where it goes 🙂

    The grammatical construction of the verse (1 Pet 2:17) suggests that the four are intertwined or interconnected. Each of the four verbs (honor, love, fear, honor — note the “bookends” of honor, with love and respect being the center of the construct) is in the imperative mood. All are also second person plural (all of you).

    These are not suggestions or ideals to which we should strive. They are “pro-active” commands that are to be carried out — period. It is not simply a matter of like or dislike for the person, but rather honoring (timaw – ascribe worth to someone, respect, revere) the position that each holds in the community and/or our lives. Ironically, the verse was written during a time when the “king” was not very kind toward Christians.

    Interestingly, the verse is encased between two verses that remind us that we are servants of God (v. 16) and in whatever form the relationship may take, also of humanity (v. 18).

    As you know from our discussions, I believe that “righteousness” involves at least two dimensions — the vertical (our relationship with God) and the horizontal (our relationship with God’s creation, including humanity). It is impossible to be righteous with God and unrighteous with humanity, even political leaders.

    My take: while I may not agree with the politics of the person in charge, I must respect them as a human being, created by God, and — if I believe in the sovereignty of God — placed in the position through his will or at least his permission.


  26. Brother Sterbens – In regards to the scripture, I too also believe all these items listed are commands that every child of God are to carry out as part of their being the body of Christ on earth. And I believe this is a command to the church, as individuals as well as a corporate body, but by no means believe it is to be carried out through a governmental body. I just don’t see that in the New Testament church Scripture.

    In regards particularly to “honor the King”, I do believe it is our responsibility to honor the office, even if the person in that office isn’t respectable or a person who conducts themself worthy of that respect. Just like Pastors who are lazy and sit around not feeding the flock, still the office deserves respect.

    Never from the pulpit did I ever malign Bill Clinton or George Bush, even though both of them have conducted themselves in a manner that is short of what the Oval Office deserves.

    But in that same vein, I don’t believe taking issue with their conduct, or policies disrespects them or is short of giving them honor. Bill Clinton did a great number in taring down our moral fiber, and George W has destroyed our economy and border safety….if I disagree with that doesn’t mean I’m disrespecting the office………what Saturday Night Live and the comics do is disrespecting the office.

    In next week’s issue of my blog, I intend to address how both major candidates stand in regards to scripture….why? Because we as men of God owe it to the flock…..take where they stand on the issues, and provide the scriptural ruler to our parishioners……and then let them decide.

  27. Do you think that the general disposition of the evangelical community (concerning the potential of Obama being president) is reflective of the same consciousness when Clinton was elected to office?

    Do you see it as fear filled?

    Peter says, “…fear God, honor the king.” Do you think that perhaps we may get it backwards…”fear the king and honor God?”

    For years I have heard and read that 95% of Christians have never lead anyone to Christ (I think I first read it a hundred years ago from Elmer Towns?)…yet I am amazed at how easily we (evangelicals) will get amped up over the political atmosphere.

    We will be most most passionate about who we think God wants seated as president in the White House…yet be seemingly unconcerned that God is not seated on the throne of someones heart…altering their eternity.

    I think the longer I live the more apolitical I become.

    Nathan – thanks for the response to my last post.

    Keith – I have a question about the use of charis in this passage as perhaps disclosing the real pursuit and fruit of our actions…but I’ll post that later or this will get too long.

  28. […] endorsement. Reply to Tom Sterbens on Christianity and Politics27 October 2008, me @ 09:36Tom Sterbens initiated an interesting discussion on Christianity and politics on MissionalCOG.  His “wrap” on it is as […]

  29. Brother Sterbens – I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I am very passionate about souls, and that is my main drive in life, to share the life changing power of Jesus. And in my pursuit of trying to live the life that shows the righteousness and goodness of the Lord, it behooves me to also be passionate about the things that affect my life, freedom, liberty and that of the souls around us that we are stewards of.

    I do believe the “fear” noted in Peter’s writings here, phobeo, is a very different kind of fear than that I experience with Obama, or even McCain to be honest. The fear I have of my God, is a reverence of his Holiness, and Awesomeness. A hesitation even, that before I jump to action in any way, I first search myself, my motives and line them against the character of God to ensure they are an appropriate representation of Him. My fear of Obama, and of McCain is for my freedom as a citizen. I fear their ideology, their politics, and their policies. I am afraid literally for where both of them are taking our country if elected……not just Socialism, but many other ills they carry with their platforms.

    I will say I have greater fear of Obama than I did of Clinton for my part only because I was only 19 years old when Clinton was elected….my concerns didn’t go very far past myself and gas for my car at that point in my life. But I would think that not only Clinton, but Carter taught the older generations so much, they many would be scared to death of Obama….because honestly, if getting McCain is getting another Bush, then electing Obama will be much like electing another Carter.

    Lastly, the word honour here for both all men, and the king, comes from timao – meaning to fix a value to revere. I truly believe we as Christians are to always find value within every living soul, no matter how gastly or horrible their life or actions may be. Even for Barry Obama, or John McCain, though both are men that present a danger to our country and freedom, and both are truly wrong about so many things….I believe they sincerely believe they are doing what is best for our country……it’s just a shame they are sincerely wrong.

  30. No big comment here – just wanted to say thanks, Tom, for the post. That was something that I needed to hear – I’m not usually too concerned with politics – but all of the “amping” lately has been a bit nervewracking for me.

  31. The amazing thing that I continue to come back to is that after a generation of disappointment evangelicals still think that a conservative party in power will translate into a more righteous country. Conservatives, Liberals, Constitutionalists, Greens, Libertarians, Bull Mooses (I know Moose is also a plural, but it just sounded better in my head)….etc only reflect on how a person views themself in their present state. It has no predictive power on what they will do once in office.

    If we have learned anything from history it is that the church thrives best when it is persecuted and disenfranchised. Power corrupts and whenever “we” try to crossover from being the “City on the Hill” to sitting on Capitol Hill it always leads to compromise and the dilution of the gospel.

    In regards to 1 Peter 2:17 the context suggests the idea of an honorable conduct among the unsaved so that our good deeds will defend against slander and criticism of the church as being antisocial and subversive. In this light to honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the king means to publicly demonstrate that the church is a boon to any community and a strong supporter of governmental authority, not a competitor. The following verses emphasize submission to legitimate powers even when those powers are abused. Considering how short of this command we have fallen it is no surprise that many communities are now designed with no regard for any religious institution. In some places it is next to impossible to get permits to even build a church. Clearly the vibe in society today is that churches (and by extension christians) add nothing to a community but rather are a drain (no property tax) on resources. No doubt part of this is caused by the general drift towards the second coming, but there is also a part that we must own. What does our church add to the community it is in? In many cases it may be that our antagonistic attitude toward government and schools and lodges and anyone who doesn’t speak our language has indeed cost us the goodwill of our neighbors.

  32. Chris
    I want to openly apologize for making fun of your convictions. It wasn’t my intention but I have an issue with my mouth running while my brain is out of gear. My intention was to find out where you consider the line to be drawn. What is their “stuff”?

    I am married to a phenomenal woman who is talented beyond belief. There have been very few things that she has touched that have not been successful. She represents the Proverbs 31 woman, which includes a pretty wide list of things that they should do.

    I believe in my heart that she has the potential to impact more people for Jesus than I ever could. Part of that involves some tragic events that occurred in her life that are now a part of a story of amazing grace. So I am of the opinion that by not supporting her to utilize the gifts that God has given her to “speak wisdom” (vs 26) I am in some way not allowing God to “work all things for the good.”

    Now this just one example that is obviously dear to my heart so my opinion is somewhat biased.

  33. James – really compelling…thanks.

  34. Brother Griffis….were you talking to me? My name isn’t Chris….but thought you might be.

    Where did I say women were powerless to share what God has done for them? Where did I even infer that they have no place to make a difference in the world around them?

    And I certainly don’t want to hijack this thread, but Brother Griffis, a woman can have an immense impact on the cause of Christ without being in leadership, management or pastoring. Sarah Palin can make a huge impact on the world around her, without trying to take a man’s place and violate scripture. A woman of God can be a leader spiritually, and share the life changing testimony of Christ without trying to be a man and take the place that God designated for men within the church.

    If you want to know exactly what “their stuff” or better yet, their role is to be within the church, family, and world….look into scripture, it’s pretty plain. Once again, men and women are not equal…at all, but that doesn’t mean either one is superior to the other either.

    And in that vein of thought……the church doesn’t have to try to take over the government, or put evangelical leaders in office to make an impact on the world around us……it’s by “being’ the church they will be able to put a dent in the culture around them.

  35. May God protect, guide, and use our president-elect. May the church be the Bride of Christ it is called to be. May we be the standard of holiness in the midst of a fallen world. Where there is darkness let us shine even brighter. We have an opportunity here to be a light…even if it is in (or because it is in) darkness and persecution. Again, may God protect, guide, and use or president-elect. God’s purposes will be carried out. It does not depend on one man.

  36. My sermon text this week is 1 Samuel 8:1-8, I thought a few notes might be germaine to this discussion.

    1. Samuel’s sons (a type of the church) had lost credilbility with the nation due to moral failure.

    2. The nation no longer trusted God to protect them or provide for them.

    3. Their jealousy of other nations wealth, power and prestige reveals a deep dissatisfaction with the current system of government.

    4. They had more faith in an earthly king than their heavenly father.

    Of course being me there is always a catch and it is this; I am not using this story to illustrate the current election results but to describe the church’s disastrous decision to put our hopes on winning elections rather than winning souls. By staking our reputation on political promises rather than God’s promises it is no wonder that our nation has drifted so far from shore. Righteousness is not the exclusive property of republicans anymore than compassion is the exclusive property of democrats, but both are supposed to be the property of the church.

    We are to be in the world but not of the world. What happened? If I had told you that evangelicals would be crushed because John McCain lost an election 2 years ago you would have laughed at my naivete. The senator was as popular among evangelicals as Michael Moore or Bill Mahre. Are we so desperate for worldly power we will jump in bed with anyone? No wonder we (evangelicals) are now seen more as a political movement than a religious one!

    The point is this, if we believe the scriptures than President-Elect Obama is apparently God’s man for this hour in our nations history. Is he who I would have chosen? No, but that’s why God is God and I am not. Is he more liberal than Johnson, Kennedy or Roosevelt? Probally not and our nation survived those administrations. Does he share our values? Who knows? Most of what is said during a campaign is designed to get a vote and goes out the window once the election is over. (we should know that better than anyone) But our responsibility has not changed, we “are to pray for those in authority”, “to be subject to the governing authorities” and of course “honor all men, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the king”

  37. Since when did the biblical mandate of a pastor include “leading their congregations in an election”?
    The job of a pastor is to take care of his people and preach Christ; his life, death, and ressurection.

    Yes, I am deeply pained that there will be unborn children who die for no reason. However, that wouldn’t have changed if McCain became president. How can the church stand for the unborn? Of course vote, but that’s not the most important thing we can do. We have the words of life… let’s bring people to Christ because people who are changed by Him won’t get abortions.

    As far as illegal immigrants… I pray they fill our churches and we can bring them to Jesus. I can’t imagine a person that would be more receptive to the gospel than a person who has just left their home!

    No president or government is going to bring the true change every man, woman, boy and girl needs… only Jesus can do that.

  38. Todd (I hope that’s okay),

    #1 We’ll have to agree to disagree on what it means to pastor or be a preacher. Paul said in Corinthians that he preached Christ and him crucified, period. I agree with you that pastors are called to equip in every area of life, however, we equip them with Christ in every area of life. I don’t think that means telling a person to vote democrat or republican.

    #2 Do you agree or disagree with this: A person can be a Christian and vote democrat. If the anwer is disagree, than who’s putting God in a box?

    #3 When it comes to harboring illegal immigrants, I guess I’ll be in the company of Paul. He harbored a run away slave long enough to see that his life had been changed by Christ before he sent him back to his master. I think that was against the law of the day. I also live by the law. Love your neighbor as yourself.

    To conclude I agree with your final analysis 100%. We do need Christ in every area of our lives not just the places we want him be apart of.

    Thanks for your insight. God bless.

  39. Would the argument against harboring illegal immigrants also apply to those Christians in an earlier age who sheltered runaway slaves – or even Jews in Germany?

  40. wow – go away for a couple of weeks and see what you miss.

    i had to take a break from some christian message boards and blogs leading up to the election. the hatred, anger and fear was too much.

    it really bothered me that “christians” had become just another sub-group within the republican party. both parties seek their own interests. neither is speaking on behalf of God. be careful who you hop in bed with politically. there’s enough institutional sin to go around.

  41. First, amen to your comment Nick.
    Secondly, Todd, you said: “And these invaders coming across the border are not even close to the equivalent of Jews running from the clutches of a maniac wanting to kill them.”
    Have you been to Mexico? Life there is very very difficult and oppressive. The government is basically a communist government, who takes all of the money for themselves and leaves the poor to starve to death, for all they care. Not only that, but the drug cartel runs rampant. I hear quite a few stories of people finding random heads, detached from the body, just laying on the street. (Not meaning to be graphic, but you get the point.)
    If I had a choice to stay there, or illegally enter this country so that I could make a better life for my family, I would choose to come here. It’s really a simple choice. Remember, too, that the Bible says that the person who won’t take care of his family is worse than an unbeliever.
    Also, we walk a thin line when we start looking at them as “illegals” and not as people. That’s running really close to the crimes we committed against African-Americans during the Civil Rights Era, and the thought process that everyone is the same because they are a certain skin color.

  42. Todd,

    I have a quick question:

    Why are you hung up on inserting “Brother” and the last name as a respect issue towards people you aren’t familiar with if you are going to in turn refer to Barack Obama as the “Dali-Bama” and America as Obamanation?

  43. brother todd – i wasn’t addressing your comments . . . perhaps you were assuming . . . 😉

    I’m not really going to address your comments. It is clear that you and I have a vast difference of opinion. I find your hermeneutic flawed with culturally based presuppositions. I doubt very much that anything I say would be seen as anything other than one more wrong argument for you to feel the need to correct.

    I’m just a “naive and ignorant” person trying to follow Christ instead of a sub-culture. Grace and peace to you on your journey.

  44. What if Travis isn’t called “Brother Travis” or “Brother Johnson” by his own flesh and blood brother and prefers not to be called that by anyone in preference to a simple “Travis?”

  45. Todd,

    If I disagree with your policies or worldview, would it be appropriate for me to coin new words in your direction? If it was, perhaps, I could come up with something like, “Todd-sternation,” which could come to reference the tone you use when calling me “Brother Johnson.”

    I actually have no issue with you making fun of Obama. Do it all day long. I actually find it humorous. I just thought that you making fun of someone’s name whom you didn’t know juxtaposed against the backdrop of you refusing to reference people you don’t know by their first name in favor of “Bother (fill-in-the-blank)” was odd.

    We all have our quirks. I know I’ve got mine. We’ll talk more later.


    Brother T. Christian Johnson

  46. I actually don’t like being referred to as Brother Walker. Would rather just be Kevin. Maybe it’s just a generational thing.

  47. Brother Robbins – Your passionate defense of your point of view is commendable. I disagree with it, but it challenges me to search my presuppositions diligently. Thanks

    Brother T. Christian Johnson – A Travis by any other name would still smell….(I forget how the rest of it goes)

    To those who still believe in the verbal inspiration of the scriptures – Like it or not, the events that transpired over the last 6 weeks were so convienently timed to ensure an Obama victory that you are forced to conclude that either a vast left-wing conspiracy caused them or God did. It remains to be seen if God has raised this man to power in order to rally the church back to prayer and fasting or to judge America for its many sins. Regardless of which point of view you hold to (or both, if you’re like me) I want to remind all of us how great it is to live in a country where we can have conversations like this one without fear of blacklisting, reprisals or arrest. God Bless the USA!

  48. Jesus wasn’t a Patriot. He didn’t serve in the US military. I removed the American flag from our church because this isn’t an American thing.

    With that said, I’m a fiscal and a social conservative. As such, I’m not trying to convert people to a political perspective. I want them to come face to face with the revolutionary Brother Jesus.

  49. Brother Robbins – are you sure its “emergent” churches that don’t emphasize American exceptionalism or perhaps may it be churches that serve multicultural communities (like South Florida)? I have the flags of every nationality of my members displayed with “Old Glory” at the head of the line but I don’t really spend much time on patriotism. Most of my people still consider the land of their birth as “their” country and while they appreciate the opportunities they have been given in the US, they would not appreciate patriotic propaganda disguised as christian dogma. I tend to regard the church as
    “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither male nor female, neither slave nor free, but all are one in Christ Jesus”.
    The church should transcend national boundaries and be a place where all can worship without feeling like strangers and foreigners.

  50. Brother Robbins – I too love my country and thank God for the heritage and ideals it represents. However, I do not confuse american ideals with christian ideals. Democracy is not a scriptural form of government. Majority rule actually works against the principles of the church, which is a theocratic institution. Our constitution, while a remarkable document, does not rise to the level of inspired scripture. The question for me is to whom should my loyalty be first? Those who are my fellow citizens on earth or those with whom I am joint-heirs in Christ for eternity? Just as Paul wished desparately for the salvation of his countrymen it is also my heart’s desire and prayer to God that America may be saved. But the reality is this is not and has never truly been a “christian” nation. There is only one chosen generation, one royal priesthood, one holy nation, one peculiar people and its colors are not red, white and blue. Again let me emphasize that I am an American, of the seed of pilgrims, of the tribe of the Cherokee, a Floridian of Floridians, concerning politics, a conservative, concerning zeal, a Reaganite, but all these things I have counted loss for Christ. I will be all things to all people that by all means I might win some to Christ. I will be a Jamaican to Jamaicans, a Hispanic to Hispanics, a West Indian to West Indians, a liberal to liberals, a patriot to patriots, an immigrant to immigrants so that all may know the glorious riches of the gospel of Jesus.

  51. I think it’s ironic that most here have assumed the Barack Obama is not a Christian and so his election must either be some sort of judgment or a wake-up call to the church (or both).

    What if he is a Christian who holds different values than you?


  52. Mike,

    He has some noble values. His presidency will bring a beautiful healing on some areas where we have gross sin and error in our past. I am thankful for that.

    On the other hand, he has some values that I find reprehensible (the right to die at the hands of another’s thirst for convenience). That’s life (and death in America). With that said, he is my president. He will receive my prayers. I pray God protects him and gives him great wisdom.

    I don’t view him as judgment. I view the advancement of our culture of death as a response to those who have espoused life being unfaithful to their supposed core principles.

    Still, under President Bush, abortions dropped from 1 abortion to every 4 live births to 1 abortion to every 5 live births. He outlawed Partial Birth Abortion. He nominated Alito and Roberts. Honestly, President Bush was probably the best friend to the unborn this country has had since Roe v. Wade was forced on us by 5 unelected activist judges.

    I’m a single issue voter. But, I will pray for my president- even if that singular issue is not valued in the same way by the president and others who elected him like it is to me.

  53. Brother Todd – I didn’t say he was a Christian but he says he is. It’s not really my place to say. I simply asked the question. I’m willing to call you a brother in Christ even though you don’t really look like the Bible I read either. But I’m open to the fact that your motives might be pure and that I don’t have all the answers. I think there is room for diversity in Christ as long as it fits within our core values. I think it’s possible to be wrong about some things and still be a Christian.

    As far as sacrificing one’s children in death for self-preservation and convenience, that discussion could move well beyond abortion into areas of child hunger, sex trafficking and even war. Abortion is heinous but there are plenty of other institutional sins to go around.

    Maybe a good first step in fighting abortion would be for Christians to stop having abortions. Don’t say it doesn’t happen. Ask the clinics in Chattanooga how many Church of God people have been through there.

    Our responsibility to stop abortion does not begin and end with simply voting. The church must be an alternative to abortion not the motive for it.

  54. Mike,

    I think that’s an old wive’s tale. I heard that a lot while I was at Lee. The only problem is that there are no abortion providers in Chattanooga.

  55. Todd,

    I’ll get you squared away in a bit. I’m swatting bees with a baseball bat and my emails are running a little behind.

  56. Question for the board:

    What are some practical ways that you and your church are incorporating prayer for our government and officials into the life of your church?

  57. Well, Travis, I know of someone personally who visited a clinic or “family resource center” in the early 1990’s. It was a couple from Lee who ultimately decided to get married and keep the child but not without a long discussion on what it would mean to them and their families’ reputations in the church. I know of 3 other cases of Church of God girls who DID get abortions (2 of these were in Atlanta – referred by Chattanooga).

    Here are two centers that currently exist in Chattanooga. These may not be the same ones visited in the early 90’s and they may not perform the actual procedure on site.

    The “old wives’ tale” comment was a little condescending and/or dismissive. Perhaps I’m being too sensitive. It seems you used that to dismiss the entire argument of the Church giving an alternative to abortion.

    Do people in the Church not have abortions? Besides voting for a president, what does our church do about it? If the issue is big enough to dominate the decision for president to the exclusion of all other issues, I would hope the issue weighs on our hearts in non-election years.

    Or maybe you guys are right. Just vote and tell your conscience to shut up for four years.

  58. I wasn’t trying to be condescending. I should have said Urban Legend…heard it a bunch while I was there, usually out of the mouths of a Bible and Theology major decrying the wickedness of Lee U. Of course some of those same jokers slept in on Sundays and weren’t really connected to a church or ministry outside of their classes.

    I may be wrong but, I also think that AAA Women’s Services and Choices Women’s Center are both Abortion Alternative Counseling Services and not a Planned Parenthood affiliated abortion clinic or abortion referral service.

    Those two centers do not perform abortions. There aren’t any in Chattanooga. They don’t exist.

    Personally, I think its a convenient argument and a bad argument to say that Christians and Pro-lifers have no room to call or argue for life because they do not do enough for the living, adoptions, war/peace, welfare, health care, etc… I personally consider that argument tripe, especially in light of the fact that there is no famine or real hunger in America, yet there are some 13 million abortions per yr. Famine and real child hunger simply doesn’t exist on any scale remotely comparable to the infanticide we endorse. Food rots in our dumpsters. We are unbelievably wealthy as a people and as individuals- even in our urban and rural ghettos.

    There is no excuse anywhere on this planet for a real, viable human to have his or her skull vacated, collapsed, removed, thrown into a KFC bucket, and be referred to as fetal matter” so that the mom or dad doesn’t have to be inconvenienced with a child who had no choice in the whole out-of-control sex/condom-less/birth control-less sexually self-satisfying short-lived event.

  59. I don’t think I have clearly communicated my own thoughts very well. That’s my fault.

    I don’t mean to convey a position that says if you aren’t picketing in front of abortion clinics or feeding hungry kids then you can’t be upset about abortion.

    I also don’t mean to convey the idea that being killed and being hungry are the same thing. I do think there is real hunger in America but it’s not in competition with Abortion for “worst atrocity”.

    There are lot of good things being done to provide an alternative to abortion by the church or feeding hungry kids. I just think voting for an Anti-abortion candidate might be lower on the list than some of those other things. Just my opinion.

    Another unintentional consequence was getting Brother Travis and Brother Todd on the same side of an issue. You guys really are like brothers now! 😉

  60. Mike,

    Your last line is killing me in more than one way. Happy Wednesday. Carry on folks, there’s nothing to see here.


  61. Recently a teenage girl in our church became unexpectedly pregnant. This has given us an opportunity to put our pro-life theology to the test.

    Some Christians in our community have taken issue with us for hosting baby showers for unwed mothers in our community; they claim we are condoning fornication. We don’t see it that way. My wife stepped in and made sure this young lady found medical care and has taken her faithfully to her doctor’s appointments. We’ve sought Christian counseling for her, and we’re helping her sort through her options–keeping the child vs. adoption.

    This entire experience has taught me that being pro-life is far more than being anti-abortion. I will still vote pro-life (always have) and support governmental restrictions on abortion. But this experience has taught me what is truly needed in my community–for the church to step into the lives of the countless unwed teenage mothers around us and give them the help they need to bring their children into the world and do right by them–whether that’s raising them or finding homes for them. This is the direction I’ll be leading our church to take on the pro-life issue from now on.

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