Politics?

 

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How can we know as Christians if we should be involved in politics or even care about politics? Does the Bible teach us anything regarding this question? The Bible is our authority “for faith and practice.” So, yes, the Bible does address politics. Which I personally thank God for, because without God’s Word I’d be on the metaphorical back-roads of eastern Kentucky without a working GPS.

What does Scripture teach us? It teaches, “Significant Christian influence.”[1] The Bible does not tell us what exactly each individual must do. However, we can establish principals that help guide us through the maze that is politics. First, we must realize that we all have different callings, we are not all called to be a William Wilberforce. However, we are called to have significant Christian influence. Ok, you may ask, but where do we see this in Scripture. I am glad you asked.

We see many examples of this in both the New Testament (NT) and Old Testament (OT). Most of the prophets in the OT addressed the sin of Israel and even the sin of other nations. Daniel had a lot of influence in a secular government and used it well (Dan. 4:27). Jeremiah told the Jewish exiles to have a good influence on the city in which lived. This would surly mean influencing laws and the government within that city (Jer. 29:7). Remember, also, the role that Joseph had? He had a huge influence on the government (Gen. 41:37-45; 42:6; 45:8-9, 26) and, of course, there’s Moses. We should also note Nehemiah (Neh. 1:1), Mordecai (Esther 10:3 and also 9:4), and Esther (Esther 5:1-8; 7:1-6; 8:3-13; 9:12-15, 20-32). Thus, we see a precedence for political involvement in the OT.

In the NT, we also see political involvement. I think of John the Baptizer and the Apostle Paul for example (Mark 6:14-20; Matt. 14:1-12; Acts 16:35-39; 24:25; 1 Tim. 2:1-4 also see Rom. 13 and 1 Peter 2). Wayne Grudem rightly says, “Influencing government for good on the basis of the wisdom found in God’s own word is a theme that runs throughout the entire Bible.”[2]

The overarching principle we see is that we are called to political involvement, though this is to varying degrees. We are not all called to be the President, congressmen (Excuses me, “congressional representatives,” I should be politically correct here!), or mayor, and I, for one, thank God for that! But that does not mean politics don’t have their place and importance, they do. We as Christian Americans have ample opportunity and thus responsibility to effect good change in this country. And we, unlike Daniel, won’t be thrown into a big furnace for it (yet!).

I, obviously, can’t tell you who or what to vote for on certain things but there is clear scriptural warrant for us to vote since we have the freedom to and to vote in a way that accords with the teachings of Scripture. May we be faithful with the stewardship that God has given to us as Americans who have such freedom, indeed a responsibility, to do good to God’s glory.

For further study I recommend Russel Moore’s book Onward and Wayne Grudem’s book  Politics According to the Bible.

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[1] See Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) esp. 58-62.

[2] Ibid., 61.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :) View all posts by Paul O'Brien

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