On a website called “For the Sake of the Gospel,” (FTSOTG), some Christian leaders—led by Jerry Johnson, John Ankerberg, and R.C Sproul, Jr.—have sounded a clear warning for Christians to distinguish Biblical (and historical) Christianity from Mormonism.
The purpose of this call to evangelical Christians and leaders is two-fold:
To protect the purity and integrity of the Biblical Gospel.
To seize the opportunity to educate the America Public and Christians to the fundamental differences between historic Christian faith and that of the Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
To use Romney’s candidacy as a golden opportunity to proclaim the glorious gospel of Christ is brilliant and forward-looking.
To use this defense of the gospel as an opportunity to subtly support Romney’s candidacy is wrong-headed and blind:
For the sake of the Gospel, we, the undersigned, call upon Christian leaders and their respective ministries and organizations, if you plan on endorsing Governor Mitt Romney for the office of President of the United States, do so by clearly and unequivocally distancing yourself and Biblical Christianity from his Mormon beliefs.
Do gospel ministers fulfill their duties if they imply it is okay to embrace the leaders of false religions for political office (as long as they offer some thin warning about the false doctrine that leader proclaims)?
Coming from Jerry Johnson—who once eloquently explained why he would never vote for a Mormon—this document sounds a lot like the advice some foolish parents give: “I don’t want you to have sex outside of marriage, but if you do…protect yourself”
By putting this declaration in the context of voting (which was totally unnecessary), the group provides cover for those who would vote for Romney in violation of God’s Word. Why not rather just come out with a document that says, “In light of having a Mormon nominee in the GOP, this is a good opportunity for us to remind Christians that Mormonism isn’t Christianity”? Why suggest that they may want to vote for Romney at all?
As far as I can tell, this group has provided no such document for Christians who would vote for Barack Obama (even though 24% of Evangelicals voted for Obama in 2008). There are no warnings about Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s embracing of pluralism, and his apparent liberation theology. Why is this so? Because it is clear that, as a whole, this group intends to vote FOR Romney, whose election would quite possibly do more harm to the professing church than four more years of Obama, though many Christians think Romney presidency would be better for the country than Obama. I doubt if you will find a single signer who is going to vote for Obama. The website is more about politics than religion, I am afraid.
I briefly address the issue of Mormonism in my book, With Christ in the Voting Booth, but I am clear that it would be wrong to vote for an unbeliever of any kind, not just Mormons. I am also concerned about the devastating effect of politics on religion in our culture. In other words, professing Christians are succumbing to the temptation to sacrifice principle and truth in order to gain seats of power.
When FTSOTG suggests voting for an unbeliever is only a matter of personal conscience they have lost nearly everything they tried to gain. The Bible tells us that magistrates must Fear God and Kiss the Son. Timothy J Hammons typifies the flippancy towards the issue of voting for unbelievers and the incongruity of the document when he states: “Vote for Romney in the fall, worship in a true church this Sunday!”
Suppose a man has forbidden his daughter from marrying the cad down the street. Does it make sense for him to then allow the young man to come a-courting every week, having unsupervised time with his daughter? Or suppose a congregation is about to vote on deacons or elders for its church; is it sufficient to remind the congregants that only experienced believers may serve as elders, if you allow unqualified candidates to be put on the ballot?
May I Vote For Someone Who is Not a Christian?
One from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. Deuteronomy 17:15b
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him. (Psalm 2:10-12)
Though it may be argued that the first passage applies only to ancient Israel and the required appointment of ethnic or national Jews, the second text requires that all civil leaders must fear God and kiss the Son. The Bible also teaches that there is no fear of God before the unbeliever’s eyes (Romans 3:18, Psalm 36:1). Adrian Rogers made a great case for only voting for Godly leaders (though it seems to be in conflict with his view that Christians must vote)
When it comes to this question, Christians are sometimes challenged with a quote from Martin Luther which usually goes like this: “I would rather be ruled by a wise Turk (that is, a Muslim), than a foolish (or stupid) Christian.”
I would like to make several observations about this quote. First, there is strong reason to believe it has been falsely attributed to Martin Luther, for it is contrary to much of what Luther wrote about the rule of Turks.
Second, let us look at a genuine quote from Luther, who was arguing that the clergy should not take up arms:
I say this not because I would teach that worldly rulers ought not to be Christians, or that a Christian cannot bear the sword and serve God in temporal government. Would God they were all Christians, or that no one could be a prince unless he were a Christian! Things would be better than they now are and the Turk would not be so powerful.
As an early reformer, Luther recognized that the gospel was severely restricted in lands ruled by Muslims, especially Turkey. Later he wrote:
For although some praise his [the Turk’s] government because he allows everyone to believe what he will so long as he remains the temporal lord, yet this praise is not true, for he does not allow Christians to come together in public, and no one can openly confess Christ or preach or teach against Mohammed. For it is misery enough to be compelled to suffer the Turk as overlord and to endure his government; but willingly to put oneself under it, or to desire it, when one need not and is not compelled – the man who does that ought to be shown the sin he is committing and how terribly he is going on.
Noah Webster also wrote:
“When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted.”
David is currently an adjunct instructor of Composition and Speech at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. His wife and he have also owned a business selling antique and collectible postcards on eBay since 1999. David was an activist with Operation Rescue in the early 1990s. He is a member of Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church in Johnston, Iowa.