A conversation following a Grudem article

I have taken exception to Dr. Wayne Grudem’s notions on government before, and I did so again within the last two days.  The following conversation is taken verbatim from the comments section on this new, lengthy essay.  What I share below is not necessarily a “great discussion,” and I will probably post another one soon that is deeper, but this one is indicative of quite a few conversations that I tend have with sincere, earnest souls who have major concerns rising up in their hearts.  While my human side tends to resonate with similar set of concerns, for me, other interests—namely, those central in the Kingdom of God—are in a completely different, more prominent class.


Brian Casey:  Concern for a country’s direction and reasoned approaches like this one are understandable and admirable. What is not good is if Christians fiddle with politics and an egocentric type of nationalism while Rome burns. By that I mean we ought all to hear the upward call and remember that we are pilgrims in service of an eternal King. Personally, as a very committed, Bible-based Christian, I reject the Religious Right and the false claim that political conservatism is inherently aligned with Christianity. I also reject the idea that the goal of treating all people justly and kindly necessitates aligning myself with liberals. This world is not my home, but I’ll try to make the best possible decisions while passing through it. I urge believers to consider another point of view — that participating in the political process MAY indicate misplaced priorities. I am a conscientious nonparticipant myself.

 

ShockImmuned:  The very idea that Christians sit on the back burner is the reason we have moral decay today. Christians, like you, it sounds, don’t get involved and vote for the lesser of the two evils. Christians, who came to this country, and fought for this right of worshipping freely, understood all about sacrifice. We have lost that. We stand up for nothing. We don’t want to say that anything is wrong (in a nice way), because we will offend. Wishy washy Christianity and I believe the Bible says God would rather us be hot or cold and not lukewarm. Spew us out of His mouth, I believe it goes.

 

Brian Casey:  The purpose(s) of other people in coming to this land is a moderately interesting historical question. I personally have no interest in passivity, but neither do I have goals related to political aspects of this world’s systems. In large measure, my convictions are founded on ideals related to the Kingdom (rule and reign) of God as revealed in scripture. I probably should not feel uncomfortable around other Christians, yet I often do. I have yet to find a convincing scripture- or Jesus-based argument that bolsters participation in government and war. (The better pro-participation arguments are based on other things.) To believe that a Christian is better off not participating in the government machine is to be in harmony with important aspects of biblical Kingdom theology and with many esteemed voices throughout Christian history—including a nearly universal slate of the earliest Christian witnesses, Anabaptists, 19th-century reformers, and, for one scriptural instance, the gospel of Matthew as that document presents the work and words of the Lord Jesus.

I acknowledge that It is a radical worldview that sees the reign of the King as determinative both now and forevermore—really, as the only kingdom that ultimately matters. No earthly kingdom may receive the believer’s ultimate loyalty. Each individual conscience, as well as it can, must harmonize personal decisions with scriptural principle and whatever is known of Jesus and his Kingdom. A pilgrim disciple’s efforts to engage with the world ought always to be subsumed under Kingdom goals.

No matter whether another believer ultimately takes positions contrary to my own, it is my desire in all to give allegiance to the One Lord who reigns in all my believing brothers and sisters—those who, as subjects of the Kingdom, submit to His rule.

 

ShockImmuned:  Whether you believe how and why America started, you cannot neglect that the people who did start our country were God-fearing people. They believed in God or were agnostic and believed in Something higher than themselves. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and our Constitution and Declaration show that. Are they the Bible? Of course not, but our very laws, originally, were based upon the 10 Commandments and also, Jewish law.

Also, the pilgrims, and before that the Ana-Baptists, the Waldenses, were all a part of furthering the Gospel. And there was a price for standing for the Lord. To vote for a man that mocks anything Godly, or for a woman, who grew up in a Methodist family, and instead of adhering to Godly ideas, she is just the opposite. Neither of them are qualified and I get that from the discernment God has given me. It goes against my very grain to vote for either. This election will be a vote of conscience and whether you vote or not, like many say, you won’t be able to complain later, but to further the principles of the Bible is what I consider my vote. Which supports or has supported abortion? Which supports the death penalty? Which supports religious freedom / freedom of speech? Which supports the right to have a gun? Which supports sodomy? Those are some of my qualifications as I see them from the Bible.

 

Brian Casey:  My apologies if I was unclear about origins of this country: I have no trouble giving assent to the fact that many (probably most) whose arrival led to the Colonies and then to the Constitution, etc., were “God-fearing people.” That is not at issue here. I also take as a given that the Constitution and Declaration are connected to biblical history. I just don’t happen to think those facts are that important to God.

God, of course, is not the God of any one geopolitical nation. Not that I think anyone here thinks that, necessarily, but at times the rhetoric of Christian political activities seems to lean in that direction. I would assert that, from at least the time of Constantine and Theodosius in the 4th century, there has existed a false connection between so-called Christianity and human government. The legalization and coercion of “Christian” faith resulted in a travesty: the unauthorized, contradictory union between and Empire and Christian believers. The further results would seem to have been a hindrance to authentic discipleship. Ancient Israel had a theocracy of sorts, but it is something between ludicrous and blasphemous to claim God is interested in military or political victories like Constantine’s or the Rev. War or the Civil War. He is interested in every soul in every nation — and because of that, He is interested in moral choices of individuals, not the principles of human government.

One concern I do have is the false presumption that a political scenario has anything (necessarily) to do with furthering the gospel. We must not be so weak in faith as to presume that a vote for an anti-abortion candidate is strengthening Christ’s cause. That said, I certainly am concerned with deteriorating moral fiber in the land in which I live. I hope to live in peace and dignity (1 Tim. 2:2), but I serve only one Master (at my best) — compare the converse in 2Tim 2:4.

This essay points up more of the negatives that come from mixing God and government:  https://subjectsofthekingdomblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/of-thee-i-might-or-might-not-sing/

My book on the Kingdom of God (and conscience and government) provides more support and details from a historical, theological, and practical vantage points.  It also offers documents from various centuries and more.

You are right, I’m convinced, that the Anabaptists, the Waldensians, and others, have been a part of furthering the Gospel — and that many of them paid a price for their discipleship. Although nothing in humanity is absolute, I suppose, except our sinfulness, I would think it is a false characterization that paints *all* of those 16th-century pilgrims and their descendants as outside human government. However, it is true that their histories and documents portray a group of people committed to the Way of Jesus, not to the governments of men.

 

ShockImmuned:  Disagree with your first paragraph in that I believe God cares very much that we include Him in everything. “Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” You’re not the only one that has mentioned the idea that we need to separate our Christian life with our choices for president, clothes to wear, music to listen to, etc., when in all actuality, our relationship and love for God will align ourselves with what God wants, because He really does care.

The principles of “human” gov’t should be based on the Bible and Godly principles. Not based on what man thinks as he is finite, #1, and then, there is always room for error with man, #2. With God, and God’s knowledge and wisdom, and using that to make our decisions, we march forward with confidence that it is the right thing to do as God has lead it all the way. The Framers had God’s help and wisdom as they seeked it often. You think Don really seeks God’s help?

Our principles as a country have gone down the drain. Look at gov’t now, there is so much corruption. The Maryland case of those policemen and Freddie Gray. – corruption gone rampant, and other cases, but our gov’t needs to turn back to God. The people of America need to turn back to God or we will be much like Rome and burn and this will end our society.

The gov’t, if they close religious freedom (isn’t that what all these set-up sort of situations have been all about – sodomites being able to do business with whomever they want? – ultimately, to make a decision for those that believe in God that they cannot bring their God into the business.) it will be for those that spread the Gospel and what the Bible says. The Catholics, who spread a man made religion based on works, will spread like fire because they will bow to the “state”. For Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, different branches of Christianity that still visit people and invite them to church and most of all are concerned about their eternity, they will be shut down. How could they be shut down? The gov’t. Freedom of religion and freedom to possess a gun are constantly being battled in this gov’t. I could add freedom of speech, as well.

As to your last paragraph, it is the gov’t who we will be running from, hiding our Bibles from, hiding people from in the years to come. Commentators talk about storing food and gold, but we are going to be a society without morals. If you do have food, gold, people won’t mind breaking in your house and getting it or maybe killing you to get what they want. A society without God is an immoral society and anything goes. The society, which has a gov’t, if it does not believe in, fear, love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, God will not bless that society. I believe that is what we are seeing right now. Actually it has been building up but it is def. getting worse instead of better. Do we have sodomites knocking on the door, as Lot did? No, not yet. But we do have people stealing children to sell to sodomites for pleasure. We are a sick and perverse nation. Not an example anymore and I believe Christians are to blame for standing up to what is right but instead just going along to get along. Some want peace, like you mention, but their will be no peace until Jesus comes. I do not expect peace, nor do I want to cause wars, but we know there is a time for war and a time for peace. I just think that the time for war is now, peace comes when Jesus comes.

Sodomite perversion provokes other perversions, then comes the unwanted babies from fornication, children without the father or the mother in the house and not because of death but because they just never married.

The gov’t should set a good example of justice and goodness. It does not. Instead of promoting the idea of work! (go to the ant, thou sluggard!), no, the gov’t gives money to people to stay at home. Gives $ to unwed mothers to have more babies to get more $. Our gov’t is all cockeyed! Why? They do not believe the Bible. If they did, if they practiced those principles found there, we’d be a different nation. Instead of being a nation to lead in good morals in every aspect of our lives, we are an example of apathy towards God and it is showing in every aspect of our society.

You have been so kind, I appreciate that. You, also, are at an educational level that I am not. I learned some new words. I have not checked out your two sites, but will. I promise. Appreciate you sending them. I love God, I am not perfect, but I want my kids to live in a country that I got to live in when I was a child, as imperfect as it was then, I do remember abortion was not rampant, sodomites were in the closet and with those two things out of the way, where I lived I grew up with fornicators and adulterers, and it was wrong that someone was “shacking” up with someone else. The community looked down on these people – usually they ended up getting married (because of the pressure?, I don’t know), or they separated. If a teen girl got pregnant, she was taken out of school until the baby was born and usually, if the girl was too young, the baby was given up for adoption. Sin brings consequences.

If the people turn to God, whether they work in the gov’t, as a garbage collector or at a daycare, they will do their jobs differently. They will move ideas that are based upon God’s word. So, in one respect, I agree, we don’t commit to the gov’t, but we commit to God. Yet, with a country so far from God in so many areas, God may have already withheld His hand from us as the Christians are succombing to the world instead of standing for God.

 

Brian Casey:  Thanks for all your thoughts. I have read them all. Here are a few clarifications and further thoughts from my side . . . .

I also believe that God cares that we include Him in everything. (I find no scriptural reason or primitive-faith principle that leads believers toward involvement with government at all, but if there were one, I would believe God should be “included” in that, too.)

I think you’re on logically and historically shaky ground in claiming that principles of human government have been, or should be, based on the Bible. (Things were different with the theocracy of ancient Israel. Back then, yes, it was all supposed to be under God.) It’s nice, temporarily, when government takes some guidelines from the Bible, but it’s short-lived. I’m no constitutional or American history scholar, but I have come to believe that the connection between God/Christianity and the “framers” has been exaggerated. As believers, we don’t need to be in the position of forcing others to accept our moral convictions. Such ideas, when they get out of hand, result in things like the “Christian” Crusades, Constantine’s and Theodosius’s military victories “in the name of Christ,” and Muslim sharia law.

In general, I would agree with you that morally, the U.S. is moving in a downward direction. That makes it all the easier to see who God’s people are. It may get increasingly difficult to be a Christian in this country. God will ultimately favor those who are His, but I don’t look for Him to establish any sort of godly government on earth.

I don’t generally pay attention to the “stand your ground” or the stockpilers, whatever they are called. I doubt the government is going to take people’s guns. If things get really bad in this country, they may live a few weeks or months longer than I do, but that’s OK with me! 🙂

I love your humility and your concern. I take it as very sincere. And I love your connection of God to living in the world. Yes, if an individual turns to God, he will collect trash differently, serve people at a checkout counter differently, bank differently, telemarket differently, etc. I am a teacher by training and gift, and when I am at my best, I teach differently because of Jesus. I don’t think we are doing these things so that the world’s systems become somehow “Christianized,” but I do think that each person’s discipleship can make a difference for other individuals.

I also appreciate very much your reading my thoughts. Like you, I am seeing that your kids and grandkids (and mine) will not likely have an earthly country like the one you or I knew as a child. I am too old to have a 7-year-old, but I do, and I saw him with a friend in our neighborhood the other day. They were exploring and looking at a dead mole in a drainage ditch. Sharing a bike ride and learning about life and the world. Ours is a generally safe neighborhood, and we don’t mind his riding his bike out of our sight a bit. I had far more freedom than that when I was a child, and I wish his world were more like mine was. But I’m far more concerned that my boy learn to love and live for Jesus. That way, he will have eternal life.

 

ShockImmuned:  2nd paragraph: I have never seen anything directly saying we must be involved with gov’t, but it seems with our uninvolvement, we are where we are.

3rd paragraph: I was talking of the US gov’t only. I do know some of the gov’t where we live, but it is so corrupt, you really have to dig and delve to find a good man. Most presidents in this country have been killed. Not a post anyone really wants to hold unless they are willing to play the game.

Maybe America’s history of Christianity has been exaggerated but if you look around the world, America is unique. It’s beginnings are unique. Some Americans want to talk as if America started for dark and deceptive reasons, but I don’t put too much faith in conspiracies nor do I listen to Alex Jones/Info Wars. Some of it is so ignorant and holds hatred. I went to a public school from 1st grade to my last senior year. Our history was that of the pilgrims, escaping religious persecution, they fled to America and started our great nation. In a nutshell. It makes you feel so very thankful to have been born in America. We were all very, I hate to say prideful as in thinking it had something to do with us, but it was everyone that struggled, fought, and died who had gone before us that we hold in such admiration and thankfulness. We are truly thankful, and still are for the military fighting for us and those that still stand for convictions, principles and morals. Yet this group is getting smaller and smaller.

If you mean a humanistic gov’t, that is where we are now. Without the Bible. Maybe I’m sentimental, but it gives me goosebumps to sing our National Anthem. It could be because we live in a dif. country and there is no patriotism here only on their day of “independence” which is nothing compared to America’s. It is actually fake as it happened on another day and in dif. circumstances. So, I see a country that wants to put forth some idea of patriotism and love of country, but when you know the beginnings, it is a dif. story. And, we miss being in America as it still is a country where you can find kindness just at the grocery store or gas station. Kindness comes from God.

When you say a “godly gov’t”, I hope you don’t think that I think we are going to have a gov’t full of Christians who believe every jot and tittle of the Bible. I do not believe that. We all believe dif., even though we might read the same Bible. The gov’t is made up of people, and if those people would turn to God, God might heal our land. But as a Christian, in spite of what BHO says, these could be the last days as the morals are falling quite fast. Almost anything goes.

We don’t stockpile as there is a promise from God that He will take care of us. We remember the turning of the century and people got all this food together, ammunition, etc., and we thought, not like we’ll not do it just to prove that God will take care of us, but we didn’t do it because it seemed a little strange the whole idea that everything would go berserk just because we are going from 1999 to 2000. Yet, I can’t help thinking with the falling away from God and the “new religion” of worshipping God but not in the manner He wants us to but in our own manner, will bring our destruction as a nation. Not because of Y2K or some computer glitch or electric grid, although all of that might play a part, but it is because we’ve turned from God and His hand of blessing is gone.

If you read anything about past revivals, there were whole towns that turned to God. The bars were closed because there was not enough business. It is possible to get more of God into the gov’t, but it would have to be God at this point as Christians are not doing their job.

We were just reading in Deuteronomy 6:7 about when and what you should teach your children, the main point of the message was Christian education and how the parents are truly responsible for the teaching and training of their kids, not the public schools. And if we teach our children, and others, of course, about God they will have a different way of thinking. Loved the story of the mole in the ditch. It is good to explore, even death is part of life. But Christians must stand for what is right, not in a bandwagon type of scenario, but because Paul did, the Waldenses did, the pilgrims did. It is our time to do the same. For such a time as this. .

 

Brian Casey:  Thank you for clarifying and communicating more.  Your ponderings about Y2K and such were helpful.

I agree that “we are where we are” because of who’s in, and who’s out of, politics, judgeships, and more.  I accept this status quo as just that — the way things will be.  There is nothing that will ever redeem human government as a whole.  We might agree on which are the better leaders and worse leaders (based on moral or practical considerations), but no matter how “good” a political leader is, s/he is only a political leader, destined ultimately to become dust, along with this present world system.

Since you live in another country (one in which government is more obviously corrupt and physically dangerous), I can understand your greater appreciation for U.S. govt.  (Our national anthem is another topic that I won’t take up here.)

Has the U.S.A. turned from God?  In some important senses, yes, I’d have to agree.  But my goal is must not be that the U.S.A. changes.  My goal is that individual hearts change and submit to God.  (Some will, and some won’t.)  No matter how much this or that founder did or didn’t believe in God, and how biblical or non-biblical that faith was, the U.S.A. is not God’s country any more than any other country.  His hand was never with us as a nation, nor should it ever have been.  We do not have any sort of God-ordained right to be.  The only “nation” that was ever God’s was ancient Israel.  That was a theocracy, back then.  It has not been so for nearly two millennia now, and I don’t believe it ever will be again.  Redemptive history changed in the 40-or-so years after Jesus was crucified.

I don’t really know anything about the Waldensians, and only a little about the Pilgrims.  I know a lot more about Paul, having studied his chronology and many of his texts in great detail.  I would assert that he never once made any sort of political stand for any purpose other than the eternal purpose of God in spreading the gospel message.

I do not accept for a moment that I, as a Christian, am “not doing my job” if I am not politically active, seeking to reform government and society as such.  I accept that you believe it *is* your job (if you’re in a country that allows it, that is), but I ask you to consider soberly that believers should always keep national goals subservient to eternal ones.

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