- Focus on the Family’s yea-nay approach to Christian citizenship
- Is breaking faith the Christian citizen’s way to victory?
- Faithful Christian citizens seek victory that counts
The yea-nay approach to Christian citizenship, Part II
FOR THE LORD’S DAY
In my last post, we learned that Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery is calling on Christian Americans to vote for candidates who do not give priority to God’s authority, as Christ requires, and as America’s founders did. Yet he also has Christian Americans teaching others “about the importance of basic moral principles that create the sense of ordered liberty which is so important to our country”.
This stance forces us to wonder: When Mr. Minnery refers to “moral principles”, what is he talking about? If the “order” in the “ordered liberty” he speaks of is not ordered by the Creator, God, as the Declaration of Independence says it is, then who or what is giving the orders? If it is ordered by God, why should Christians vote for candidates who do not give priority to respecting His authority?
The word “principle” takes root from the Latin seed word “princeps”, referring to the first one, or in general to that which comes first in time or order. A principle is therefore that which comes first, in time or reason; or in order of priority for thought and action. In this respect, Christians heed the words of the Scripture, which say that the Creator, God, comes first in time and order, as the first words of the Bible declare: “In the beginning God created…, etc.’ (Genesis 1:1). As for rulership, Christians heed the command of Christ, when he said: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness [justice], etc.” (Matthew 6:33)
According to our Christian understanding, therefore, God, and His authority are the first principles of justice [righteousness, rights]. They are therefore the first moral principles in human affairs human affairs, and the starting point for all reasoning about law and government.
From this starting point, the American Declaration of Independence begins its summary of the basis and aim of just human governments. Does Tom Minnery mean for us to back away from the self-evident truths which constitute our common identity as “the people of the United States”? As such, the people of the United States first declared their independence in order “to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”.
These words acknowledge God as the principle (i.e., source and first beginning) of law (i.e., the rule for right action). The Declaration of Independence goes on to acknowledge that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Since when is it rigid and uncompromising for Americans to adhere to and act upon this definitively American respect for God’s authority?
Does Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery think that, as American citizens, Christians should act as if we reject both the Scripture that informs our identity as Christians and the Declaration that informs our identity as Americans? God, reason and patriotism, altogether forbid us thus to testify against God, our faith, and our country.
Christ commands Christians to show love toward one another. It hardly seems consistent with obedience to his command to call on fellow believers to tempt God’s wrath with our vanity, our ingratitude and our scandalous betrayal of the Gospel we are supposed to preach, by word and good example.
Christians who follow Minnery’s path will have to become “double-minded”, purporting to apply God’s standard to their life of “faith”, while following an ungodly partisan standard in their life as citizens . Minnery says they should do this in order to win political victory. We have to wonder, however, whether politics is the only walk of life where “Christian Leaders” like Tom Minnery think Christians must abandon God’s standard in order to succeed.
Should people in business abandon God’s standard for the sake of profit? Should people competing in sports do so for the sake of winning? Should people who are doctors, teachers or bureaucrats do so in order to advance their professional careers? Should heretofore Christian ministries do so as they profess to do works of mercy in Christ’s name?
Where does it end, this double-minded Christianity? It seems that it must spread until it engulfs every area of life. Will even the pulpits be spared, or should they also depart from God’s standard in order to increase their congregations? This latter would at least explain why someone associated with what was once presented as a Christian ministry would now be openly advocating the sacrifice faith to the idols of political ambition.
Wasn’t this general degradation of Christian faithfulness what the Apostle James had in mind, when he said: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”? As they embrace the double mindedness the Apostle warned against, don’t Christian Americans become part of the dissolution of the nation’s moral fabric, which they otherwise purport to decry and lament?
But according to the Scripture, they are more than part of the problem. The apostasy of Gods’ people may be what cuts their nation off from the Grace of God, in which alone lies hope for its recovery. For God has said (in words that Christians often quote in these troubled times):
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
If, instead of this humble prayer of repentance, Christians follow vanity and become vain, voting for those who seek to enforce respect for unrighteousness by force of law; applauding them and cheering for their victories because of the Party label they wear; what will become of us? The Lord will not hear us, for he said,
Not everyone who says to me. ‘Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day…will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness…. (Matthew 7:21-22, 23)
Rather than being exposed to God’s mercy by the blood of the Lamb, such Christians will be like the Israelites, to whom God spoke through the prophet:
When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; Your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:15)
When Christ speaks of “lawlessness” the word he uses refers to those who knowingly act carelessly, without regard for law, not just those who willfully violate it.
So too, in Romans 1:18, when the Apostle refers to the “unrighteousness of men” the word he uses refers not only to those who violate God’s standard of justice, but to those who know what the right standard is, but act without taking it into account. For anyone who believes that eternal salvation depends on being recognized by God in Jesus Christ, what political victory is worth being counted among those he does not know, who will therefore be parted from him forever?