A talk (October 16, 2016) at Cherry Creek Community Church providing a biblical perspective on citizenship, and how that perspective ought to affect Christians’ thinking about the 2016 elections. I link to some other helpful 2016 election resources below.
Here is the handout with the message outline: christian-citizenship-and-the-2016-elections (pdf).
Here is the outline of the whole talk. Below the outline are some election resources for the 2016 elections.
This is the outline of my talk “Christian Citizenship and the Crazy, No-Good, Terrible 2016 Elections,” but these principles are the same principles I’ve been teaching for many years, and can be applied to any election, any candidate, any time. Because these are biblical principles, they apply over time.
1. Philippians 3:20: As Christians, our true citizenship and homeland is in heaven.
2. 1 Peter 2:9-10: Our identity as Christ-followers is that we are a special, distinct, and holy people.
3. 2:11: Therefore, wherever we live, we are aliens and sojourners. That is, we are temporary residents, living among the native population wherever we happen to find ourselves.
- Recent research shows that only about 18% of Americans believe Christianity is the one true faith; only 36% of White Evangelicals and African American Protestants believe this.[i] That means if you believe our faith the one true faith, 82% of Americans disagree with you. America is not your true homeland, and Americans are not your true people-group!
- Looking at Christianity worldwide, American Christians (broadly defined, that is Protestants + Catholics + Orthodox) are only 11.3% of all Christians.[ii] 89% of Christians do not live in the US. As American Christians, the USA (as much as I am grateful to live here) is NOT our homeland, these people are NOT our people. OUR people are mostly non-Caucasian and do not speak English.
4. 2:11-12: Because we are aliens and sojourners, our behavior is to be “excellent among the Gentiles”…
- 2:12: So that our actions will not reflect badly on our King and on our people group (see also Matt 5:16; 1 Peter 3:16-17; Phil 2:15; Titus 2:6-8).
- Do you think this command includes our political choices? I think so.
5. 1 Timothy 2: 1-4: Our people are supposed to pray for those in authority.
- What is the ultimate purpose for these prayers (2:4)? So that all people can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is our people’s true mission: spreading the Gospel, making disciples. We shouldn’t ignore political goals, but political legislation is NOT the primary reason our King has us on this sojourn, living as aliens here.
6. God establishes institutions of authority for humanity to govern human behavior, including the civil authorities (1 Peter 2:13-14; Romans 13:1-7; John 19:10-11; Daniel 2:20-21; Daniel 4:17).
- Do you think God already knows who will win the 2016 elections? I do.
- Do you think God has already taken the result into account in his plan for human history? I do.
7. Scripture tells us quite clearly that God has a number of assigned tasks for the civil authorities …
Romans 13:3-5; 1 Peter 2:13-14: Encourage people to live righteously. Punish people for doing evil. Paul and Peter certainly have specific ideas in mind when they refer to good and evil here, not some vague, morally relative, culturally-shifting concept of right and wrong.
Psalm 72, Psalm 82, Exodus 23:1-8 (see also Deut 16:18-20; Deut 27:19; Isaiah 1:16-17; Jeremiah 7:5-7, Ezekiel 34, and many, many more)
- 72:1-2: The ruler’s character is to be righteous and just. Again, scripture is quite clear about what that means.
- 72:3-4, 12-14; 82:3-4: The righteous and just ruler protects and rescues people from affliction, oppression, and violence. Which people? The weakest in society. In the biblical concept this includes the truly needy, and those who cannot provide for themselves and have no provider (usually grouped under the categories of widows and the fatherless).
- These are recurring themes throughout the Old Testament. The prophets repeatedly have the role of proclaiming God’s judgment on the civil authorities (ie, the kings and princes and elders of Judah and Israel) for failing to act righteously and justly, and for failing to protect and provide for these groups, and even for profiting off of their desperate state.
A Checklist for Evaluating Candidates Biblically in any election year, for any political office
This list is based on the points above.
- Prayerfully ask God to prioritize the importance of these items for you. (This list is simply the order in which I presented the material above, and is not in order of the priorities God has laid on my heart.)
- Prayerfully consider whether each candidate’s proposed policies correspond to the biblical principles.
- In the checklist I use the phrase “seem likely” intentionally. We should carefully assess whether the candidate’s promises are credible, given what we know. For example, in the 1980 elections, Ronald Reagan promised Evangelicals that he would appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices. They thought he was credible. Then, when given the opportunity to appoint those judges he ended up nominating Sandra Day O’Connor (pro-choice), Robert Bork (pro-life, but withdrawn), and Anthony Kennedy (pro-choice).
- Do the candidate’s policies seem likely to encourage people to live righteously?
- Do the candidate’s policies seem likely to discourage people from doing evil deeds?
- Can the candidate’s character truthfully be described as righteous and just?
- Do the candidate’s policies seem likely to aid the oppressed and the weakest in society?
- Do the candidate’s policies seem likely to protect the innocent?
- Do the candidate’s policies seem likely to promote treating all people justly and fairly?
[i] Source: 2007 Pew Religious Landscape Survey, my own calculations.
[ii] Source: http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/
Here are some links to 2016 Election Resources for You
See your Michigan ballot: webapps.sos.state.mi.us/MVIC/VoterSearch.aspx
Here’s a Good Quiz for matching your opinions to presidential candidates: https://www.isidewith.com/
Here is a link to what prominent evangelicals have written about their evaluations of the candidates.
Presidential Candidates on the Michigan ballot (in the order they appear)
|Democratic – Hillary Clinton & Tim Kaine www.hillaryclinton.comRepublican – Donald Trump & Mike Pence donaldjtrump.com|
|Libertarian – Gary Johnson & William Weld||www.johnsonweld.com
Pro-choice, legalize marijuana, local education control and school choice, reduce federal spending and deficit, simplified tax reform, scale back US military commitments and spending.
|U.S. Taxpayers/ Constitution – Darrell Castle & Scott Bradley||www.castle2016.com
Very Conservative with focus on US Constitution’s specific division of powers (limit federal government involvement in the economy and areas such as health insurance, education, replacing with state government power). Pro-life, withdraw from UN, lower taxes.
|Green – Jill Stein & Ajamu Baraka||www.jill2016.com
Democratic Socialist. Very Liberal (extensive government planning in the economy, little regulation on moral issues, strong social welfare safety net), abortion on demand, Complete government-funded health care system, , legalize marijuana, focus on environmental issues, create publicly owned utilities and banks, full gay rights.
|Natural Law – Emidio Soltysik & Angela Walker||www.rev16.us/
Socialist Workers Party. All corporations, banks, insurance companies, and natural resources to be publicly and worker owned. Abortion on demand, full gay rights, full social welfare safety net, legalize marijuana. Complete government-funded health care system, steeply graded tax brackets. Full citizenship after 6 months residence, abolition of borders.
|Michigan 6th Congressional District Candidates||Republican Fred Upton: www.fredupton.com/
Democrat Paul Clements: www.clementsforcongress.com/Libertarian Lorence Wenke: http://votewenke.com
Michigan Family Forum Voter Guides: michiganfamily.org/index.php/michigan-online-voter-guide/
- Currently only President (Dem, Rep, Green, Libertarian), MI Supreme Court, MI State Board of Education; Website says Congressional guide is coming soon (as of 10/15)