Fellow contributor to Caffeinated Thoughts, Adam Graham, has issued a challenge to my recent post about whether Christians should vote for unbelievers such as Mitt Romney, and whether principled pluralism is a good thing. I appreciate a good volley, and Adam is a worthy opponent, but I must reject his arguments on several grounds.
Mr. Graham spends a considerable amount of time attempting to make the argument that the experiment of principled pluralism has proven to be an unassailable victory for mankind over inter-Christian warfare, as if that kind of “warfare” has been the predominant kind of war in history. He even seems to paint the Protestant Reformation as the key turning point leading to what he calls fratricide:
“Then once came the reformation, we began beheading and killing each other in the name of Christ, Christians used the state as a fratricidal weapon to murder each other in the name of the Bible, in the name of God. That is the history of much of the reform and counter-reformation, of Kings and Queens being killed, of the persecution of Anabaptists, Puritans, separatists, Catholics, and a wide variety of dissenters…. However, I will cast my vote in the finest American tradition that has allowed our nation to become an unprecedented source of missionaries and missions across the Earth while at the same time avoiding the religious strife and bloodshed that has dominated much of the Earth”
This Readers Micro-Digest version of history ignores the fact that persecution has always been the plight of the church and that early Protestant pre-reformers such as John Hus, John Wycliffe and William Tyndale all suffered under Catholic persecution prior to the Reformation. The record of secular or atheistic governments has been much worse. The 20th Century was long history of bloodshed by the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and Vietnam, to name just a few. We have not avoided that bloodshed in spite of what Graham says.
If the practical results of having a Constitution devoid of Christianity were the most important argument, I would simply point out that this godless document has not prevented the murder of millions of unborn children and perhaps has sustained it. If Christian lawyers had been able to appeal to a document truly based upon Christianity, perhaps the killing would have been stopped in its tracks years ago. (The same will be true when the high court eventually upholds homosexual “marriage” as it will likely do).
But the practical results are not all that Graham proffers in order to defend his plan to vote for Romney.
“David Shedlock is concerned about the effects of a Mormon President on our country. I would note that we once had a President who literally rewrote the Gospel to exclude the resurrection of Christ. Somehow, we survived that. The Gospel and the Church are not so weak as David Shedlock would suggest.”
I don’t recall lamenting that the church could not survive a Mormon presidency, nor did I say the church is weak, as Graham intimates. In my book, I instead suggested that “I’d rather sit under a thousand Mormon presidents than hear one more minister deny the gospel by affirming that Mormonism is a Christian religion.” Indeed Christians have thrived under the most pagan of rulers. It is not the power of a Romney presidency and Mormonism that bother me. It is the rank disregard of any Biblical guidance in voting by professing Christians that is so disturbing.
Graham does not deny that Psalm 2 gives us the qualifications of kings; he only implies that we voters are allowed to vote for kings that do not qualify. He also seems to limit these qualifications to “pagan” kings in Communist or Islamic countries, as if unbelieving kings in a Western culture are okay. He by extension seems to imply that Obama and Romney are not pagans, though the one believes that all “gods” are equally god, and the other believes he shall become a god, like he believes many others shall.
There are many passages which deal with qualifications besides Psalm 2:
Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.
I have written elsewhere, “How will the fear of God make governors more able to carry out their duties? First, it will make them rule justly (1Sa 23:3). It will also keep them from ruling with an iron fist or with cruelty (Neh. 5:15), make them personally generous (Acts 10:2), give them respect for the disabled and the aged (Lev. 19:14, 32) and help them to see the plight of the poor and the immigrant (Lev. 25:35f).”
Proverbs 29:2 2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
Proverbs 16:12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
Proverbs 31:8 (A Proverb for Kings) Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. (Note that this says “all”, and I believe this disqualifies candidates who believe it is okay to kill some unborn babies, such as Romney, as well as those like Obama who would defend none of the babies)
Graham says that Christians must live peaceably with whomever God places in office, which I agree with wholeheartedly. But this is similar to the command to live peaceably with the unbelieving spouse that a new believer finds him or herself living with:
I Corinthians 7:15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace
But the Scriptures teach that they are not allowed to seek such an unbeliever as a husband or wife, for it is wrong to be “unequally yoked”. How much less should believers seek to be bound to an unbelieving civil magistrate? If Romney becomes president, I will honor him in that position. I will not mock him any more than I did Barack Obama. But I cannot ask God to place over me a pagan king.
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.