I read an op/ed written by Dr. Wayne Grudem who teaches biblical studies and theology at Phoenix Seminary. Prior to that he was at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I read the op/ed with interest as he rarely enters the political fray. In this op/ed he wanted to address pastors making endorsements from the pulpit, in particular, the Alliance Defense Fund’s encouragement to churches to do that very thing. Grudem writes:
ADF is not recommending that pastors should routinely endorse or oppose various candidates in political elections. Many pastors might decide never to do this. But whose decision should it be? There may be times when the moral and religious issues on which candidates differ are so blatant and so clearly supported or opposed by biblical principles that pastors should have the freedom to speak out on various candidates when they believe it is wise for them to do so. The pastor, with wise counsel from mature leaders in the church, should be the one to make that decision. It should not be made by the government…
…Some Christians might object to intentionally disobeying the IRS regulation in this way. After all, the Bible tells Christians, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1), and therefore Christians generally think they should obey the laws. But in this case, I think these pastors are obeying Romans 13:1. They are being subject to the authority by using the proper legal process to appeal to the highest authority in the land, the Constitution. Because of the peculiar status that tax law has in the United States, bringing such a “test case” is the only effective way that ADF lawyers can challenge the constitutionality of such an IRS rule
ADF hopes that the IRS will follow through and try to revoke the tax-exempt status of one of these churches. If the IRS does so, ADF will immediately file a lawsuit to test the constitutionality of the Johnson amendment. If this ever comes to trial, ADF attorneys are confident that the amendment will be struck down as unconstitutional.
Grudem is right. Romans 13:1 in this case would mean practicing civil disobedience when we feel the circumstances call for it because in this case we are appealing to the Constitution, not the Johnson Amendment. To those in Iowa, the circumstances surrounding the judicial retention vote on the Iowa Supreme Court Justices Marsha Ternus, David Baker, and Michael Streit, as well as, District Court Judge Robert Hanson call for it. The stakes are high and we should send a clear message. Pastors be bold encourage your people this Sunday to turn the ballot over and vote no.