Besides the errors of government too big and government too small, there is one other growing temptation for the Christian that may have become more common than either of those other ills and is even more deadly: government too important. We have convinced ourselves that gaining the seats of power is the key to spreading the gospel and changing our world. But we have one who already rules everything for our good, the Lord Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of His and our Father.

It has become a mantra that the primary cause of our nation’s troubles is the Christian’s failure to be politically active enough and fulfill the “cultural mandate.” [1]  Therefore, the cure for our ills is more involvement:

A great deal of the blame for the state of the nation must fall upon us. It must be placed at the doorstep of the church. We have failed to obey the Great Commission in this country. We have failed to obey our cultural mandate to be involved in every sphere of social activity. We have retreated from politics, from social involvement, from the media, and from higher education. (emphasis in original) [2]

The church’s singular failure in recent decades has been the failure to see Christianity as a life system, or worldview that governs every area of existence… [and it] has crippled our efforts to have a redemptive effect on the surrounding culture. [3]

Denial of a Christian worldview is unbiblical and is the reason we have lost so much of our influence in the world. Salvation does not consist simply of freedom from sin; salvation also means being restored to the task we were given in the beginning: the job of creating culture. [4]

For many years Christians have abstained from politics, and now they are shocked that the culture around them has deteriorated. [5]

Many “get-out-the-vote” books have already been written, assigning the blame for many of our cultural woes on Christians. David Limbaugh suggests that

By refusing to “get their hands dirty” in the material world of politics, or discouraging other Christians from doing so, they might, unwittingly be aiding and abetting the transformation of our culture and society away from Christian values, irrespective of whether they are otherwise doing their part at evangelizing and serving as exemplary witnesses for Christ. [6]

How is that politics has claimed such a huge position in our lives that we accept the denigration or minimization of the importance of winning the lost and living a holy life, pleasing unto God? I fear that it is because we are tied to this world. We’ve become so earthly minded, we are no heavenly good.

The late D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries seemed itching to get Christians more involved in society in general and politics in particular. In his book, How Would Jesus Vote, he lamented that “many Christians and pastors are out of touch with the current culture” [7]  but cited a study[8]  which actually said that 91% of Protestant pastors and 76% of Christians surveyed consider themselves very or somewhat informed about politics.

Wayne Grudem, Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary, has written a huge book about political issues, and it is clear what he thinks the goal is and how it is to be accomplished:

I believe the Bible’s teachings about politics will bring hope and beneficial change to people in every nation where they are put into practice. When these teachings are put into practice in a nation, it will be good news for those who are oppressed, good news to those who long for justice, good news to those who long for peace, good news for young and old, weak and powerful, rich and poor—good news for everyone who will follow the wonderful paths of freedom and sound government that are taught in the pages of the Bible. The prophet Isaiah extolled the beautiful sound of the feet of a messenger who came running with good news from God himself:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns” Isaiah 52:7 Therefore I hope that as people and nations follow these principles for government, they will begin to see a reversal of the continual decline in peace, civility, liberty, and civic goodness that we have seen in recent decades in our societies, and instead we will begin to see regular progress toward increasingly good, pleasant, productive, low-crime, free, and happy civil societies in which we can live. [9]

Grudem has replaced the true gospel with salvation by good government. Of course, it is not wrong for the Christian to want to live in a land where the gospel is freely preached, or where he “may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1Ti. 2:2). However, Grudem posits a near utopia[10]  for unbelievers that God doesn’t promise and bases it upon conditions that no nation full of unbelievers can attain. The errors are numerous.

First, in the real world there does not seem to be a strong correlation between law and obedience. Men are obstinate. Even when shown “what is best for them”, they resist. Unconverted sinners don’t want Biblical morality, let alone Biblical law:[11]

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. Psalm 2:2f

The people of ancient Israel opposed the commandments of God. In spite of being given perfect civil law, the nation became filled with bloodshed and idolatry. Righteous law cannot save individuals nor can it save nations. Any view of the future that expects a universal age of peace and prosperity apart from the converting power of the gospel of Jesus Christ apparently does not account for the incorrigibility of man. When Stephen reminded the Sanhedrin that the prophet’s message was met with this resistance, they stoned him:

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. Acts 7:51-53

Second, the nations of the world are not promised the kind of prosperity Grudem suggests. The only nations promised any kind of blessing are the nations which make up the church.[12]

Third, and most dangerously, Grudem has taken a passage which plainly refers to the good news (or gospel) of Jesus Christ and confounded it with the Bible’s teachings about law, government and politics. Law cannot save; because we are sinners, it can only condemn. Only Jesus saves. Also, the passage he quotes is a promise to Zion, which regardless of your theology, refers to the people of God, and certainly not to nations like the United States, Afghanistan, Russia or Brazil. Finally, the passage itself ties the preaching of the gospel to recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and God’s sovereignty, not the rule of mere men.

This was the 21st post from the book With Christ in the Voting Booth: Casting Down Imaginations Before Casting You Vote.

[1] “Replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28). It escapes me as to how this passage could be referring to politics, however. It seems to be referring to man’s dominion over animals, not other men.

[2] D. J. Kennedy and J. Newcombe, (2008) Waterbrook: Colorado Springs, p. 8

[3] Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey (1999) How Now Shall We Live?, Tyndale House, pp. xi, xii

[4] Ibid, p 283

[5] Kennedy and Newcombe, op. cit., p 10

[6] David Limbaugh, from the Foreword, Kennedy and Newcombe, op. cit., p. vii

[7] Kennedy and Newcombe, op. cit. In fairness to Kennedy, How Would Jesus Vote was completed after he passed away; so it is possible that he would not have agreed with every conclusion in that book.


[9] Wayne Grudem (2010) Politics—According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture, Zondervan, pp. 15-16

[10] Sadly, some of my fellow Huckabee supporters succumbed to the temptation of thinking that the election of one man would result in a country where there will be “low crime” “stable families” and a place “no one litters.” Perhaps the last idea was tongue-in-cheek, but the sentiment among some was that he would “save our country and the world from spiritual famine.” This is not just a vain hope, I fear it borders on idolatry.

[11] By the moral law, I am referring to the Ten Commandments; by Biblical Law I mean the civil ordinances typified in Exodus through Deuteronomy.

[12] In Chapter 10, I will deal with the relationship between the nations and the Church.


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