God & Politics: How Should American Christians Approach Elections: 35 Principles We All Should Agree On

In God’s kind providence, we live in a nation in which we have the freedom to elect our leaders. As citizens of a heavenly country, we understand that we are only aliens sojourning on this earth as we march toward the celestial city, the new Jerusalem. For that reason, we do not put our hope in political candidates or election outcomes.

Still, we are also citizens of an earthly nation and have a responsibility to seek the welfare of our city. For that reason, it is right to participate in this government by casting our votes for our good, the good of our neighbors, and the promotion of human flourishing. So, study the issues, form your convictions biblically, consider what will serve people well as a whole, and cast your vote freely. In Texas, you may cast your vote during the early voting period (October 13-30, 2020) or during election day (Tuesday, November 3, 2020). But, whether or not your candidate wins, know that our king is on his throne, and nothing can thwart his will. And one day, King Jesus will return and place all earthy rulers under his feet once and for all (Psalm 2; 8:6; 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

Regardless of your political convictions or election outcomes, then, as ambassadors of Christ, we are to display the manifold wisdom of God in our unified lives together as a church (Ephesians 3:10). That is, unlike unbelievers who make idols out of political candidates and place their hopes in political outcomes, we do not because there is only one ruler who is worthy of our wholehearted allegiance, and his name is Jesus. We did not elect him, but God chose us in him to be a holy nation (Ephesians 1:3-4; 1 Peter 2:9). This biblical outlook empowers us to love one another and encourage one another, living in the unity the Spirit has given us in Christ by faith in the gospel (Ephesians 4:1-6). So, while we may not all agree on specific political issues or policies or candidates, instead of fighting one another, we will fight to maintain Christian unity. How do we do that? We will stand firm in the gospel, focus on the mission the Lord has given us, stand together on what we must agree on, and be charitable with one another on those things in which we are free to disagree.

Below are 35 principles that all Christians can agree on in relation to Christianity, government, and politics. Ben Wright delivered them at an elders’ forum on God and Politics on September 11, 2016. It will be wise to rehearse them once more before November 3, 2020.

Love,

Pastor Juan

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35 principles All Christians Can Agree On

Why do we need to talk about this?
1. We have to because Jesus Christ reigns over all. As his ambassadors, our job is to live as his representatives and declare his message.

What’s government for?
2. Government’s mission is to punish evil and reward good (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).

Should we be favorably inclined toward government?
3. Almost any government is better than no government.

4. Because we are a representative or constitutional democracy, the responsibilities delegated
to government in Scripture fall ultimately to American citizens.

5. We owe government prayer, taxes, respect, and honor (Romans 13:6-7).

6. You are not in sin if you oppose elected officials or their policies. You are in sin if you do not honor them and pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-7).

7. Christians should be engaged in politics and government.

8. Opportunities abound at local levels to engage influentially.

9. It is right to be grateful for how our government has fought evil and promoted good.

10. It is easy for white middle-class people to believe our government did a great job fighting evil and promoting good throughout our history.

11. Whatever era of American history you look back to as the ideal certainly wasn’t ideal for everyone. In every era, people have suffered under injustice that was tolerated, if not propagated, by our government and our culture.

12. It is possible to be both compassionate & treat people with the dignity of divine image-bearers, and at the same time to favor enforcing the law & supporting law enforcement.

13. Government is neither the fundamental problem nor the fundamental solution (Ephesians 6:12).

14. Politicians often identify real problems but propose terrible solutions.

15. We should be grateful but realistic, knowing government officials are fallen humans, just as we are.
 
Biblical truths and prudential warnings to correct our wrong thinking about Christianity & politics:
16. Our membership in a church and our citizenship in Jesus’ Kingdom are more fundamental to our identity than our American citizenship (Philippians 3:20-21).

17. It is possible, if not common, for Christians to prioritize political convictions over the Church’s mission.

18. What happens in elections has zero impact on Jesus’ promise to build his Church and the Holy Spirit’s work to make that happen (Matthew 16:18).

19. Our political opponents are our neighbors, not our enemies. They are people we are sent on a mission to reach, not to war against (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 6:12).

20. Religious freedom is good and desirable (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

21. God doesn’t need religious freedom in America to accomplish his plan (see Acts and Revelation).

22. It is possible to possess righteous anger over government’s failure to fulfill its God-given mission.

23. Other people may perceive real failures of government that are invisible to us, and we should learn from them.

24. Unrighteous anger reveals how shallow is our trust in God (Ephesians 4:26-27).

25. It is dangerous, if not common, to treasure American laws and freedom more than souls being set free from the penalty of sin and power of the devil.

26. It is possible, if not likely, to cast a morally justifiable vote while possessing immoral motivations.

27. People who argue there’s only one choice for Christians to make in this election year are placing a constraint on the Christian conscience that Scripture does not permit (Romans 14:10-23).

28. Disagreements among Christians over how to vote often emerge less from disagreements over principles, and more from disagreements over how we weigh our principles.

29. We need to figure out what principles we really stand on. Until then, we should guard our pronouncements.
 
Conclusions
30. It is possible, if not likely, that in this election Satan is executing a strategy designed to divide the Church & distract it from its mission.

31. From an eternal perspective, we should be far more concerned about the disunity of the Church and distraction from our mission than the disintegration of historic American political principles.

32. Christians need to be people who are committed to work through political issues without allowing them to divide us.

33. The normal standing of Christians is on the margins of society. We should expect opposition and suffering.

34. Anger, fear, and despair over the loss of a privileged standing are not marks of people who understand what it means to follow Christ. They may be marks of people who treasure American citizenship more than citizenship in the kingdom of God.

35. If this election season drives American Christians to dislodge our hope in political parties and presidential candidates and to fix our hope on the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, then this election season will be God’s grace to his Church.

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