Is involvement in politics a worldly pursuit, a Christian responsibility or somewhere in the middle? It seems at times that there are as many opinions on this subject as there are people. Some believe that our time should be spent worshiping God and in fellowship with other believers and that politics only distracts from more important things. Others believe that while we should vote and have minimal participation in politics, moral battles should be fought within the church (through teaching and preaching God’s Word) rather than through the political arena. My late grandmother used to decry politics as being “dirty” and didn’t understand why we would want to be involved with such a thing.
It is my opinion, however, that political involvement is an essential part of being salt and light in a free country. The answers to the following questions lead me to this conclusion:
- Were America’s founders Christians who established our nation on Judeo-Christian principles or Deists who intended for America to be purely secular?
- What does God’s Word have to say about the mixing faith and government?
- Has Christian involvement in politics ever made a difference in the world?
First, was America founded as a Christian or Secular nation? Revisionist history, which began as a tool of the Progressive movement, claims that our founders wrote a “godless constitution” and that their intent was for a strictly secular nation. The foremost example of this is the propagation of the myth that the vast majority of our founders were Deists. This, along with every other revisionist lie, is easily debunked using original documents and writings as well as the founders’ own words. David Barton points out several facts that dispute the “Deist” propaganda:
- Benjamin Franklin’s plan of education for public schools urged the “necessity of a public religion….and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.” He proposed a Biblical inscription for the United States Seal, chose a New Testament verse for the motto of the Philadelphia Hospital, advocated for a paid chaplain in Congress, and dedicated a college that he helped found and that bore his name as “a nursery of religion and learning….on Christ, the Corner-Stone.”
- George Washington said that children need to learn “above all” the “religion of Jesus Christ,” told his soldiers that “it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian,” and declared in his farewell speech that, “without a humble imitation” of “the Divine Author of our blessed religion” we “can never hope to be a happy nation.”
- Alexander Hamilton worked with Reverend James Bayard “to form the Christian Constitutional Society to help spread over the world the two things which … made America great: (1) Christianity, and (2) a Constitution formed under Christianity.” When Hamilton was preparing for his duel with Aaron Burr, he met and prayed with Reverend Mason and Bishop Moore and reaffirmed his readiness to face God if he were to die, declaring his “lively faith in God’s mercy through Christ.”
- The accusation that Jefferson omitted all miraculous events of Jesus from his “Bible” was false as it was never his intent for the book that he made to be considered a Bible but rather, “a primer for the Indians on the teachings of Christ (which is why Jefferson titled that work, ‘The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth’)…..in order to introduce the Indians to Christian morality.” Jefferson also signed a treaty with the Kaskaskia tribe where he used government funds to send Christian missionaries to the Indians and he declared of himself, “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”
- James Madison (the father of the Constitution) was trained for ministry by John Witherspoon and writes frequently of his faith in God and Christ. In a letter to Attorney General Bradford, he said that public officials were not bold enough about their Christian faith in public and that they should be “fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.” In one of his writings about a “wall of separation” he explained that the purpose of the “wall” was to prevent Congress from establishing a national religion. (Read more here.)
There is an abundance of information available to prove that our founders were Christians and not Deists and, while our founders did not want a theocracy (that is what they were resisting with King George, the head of the Church of England), they did intend for America to be a Christian nation based on Biblical principles. If you would like to read more, I recommend my article, The Faith of Our Founders, as well as Myth #15: The Founding Fathers Were Deists/Atheists/Not Christians, and George Washington, A Deist? and A Few Declarations of Founding Fathers and Early Statesmen on Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible.
Religion and Politics – The Biblical Standard
Next, what does the Bible have to say about the mixing of faith and government? Does God expect us to be involved in politics or is it a worldly pursuit that keeps our focus off of Him?
While some take scripture out of context in order to prove that God appoints all political leaders and that all leaders are there because of God’s design, scripture teaches otherwise. The first government of Israel was established by inspiration from God as recorded in Exodus 18, and is the basis of our own Republican government.
21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.” 24 So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people: rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 So they judged the people at all times; the hard cases they brought to Moses, but they judged every small case themselves.
Moses was the spiritual and political leader of Israel. He sat as judge from morning until evening daily and his father-in-law knew that he would wear himself out if he continued. So, he wisely advised Moses to appoint rulers over “thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” But, unlike the academic qualifications that we look for today, Jethro said that Moses should choose “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness” to rule Israel. When Moses was giving the law to the people, these guidelines were reiterated,
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 16:18-20, NKJV)
The people of the nation of Israel were instructed to choose or appoint rulers for themselves that were righteous, just people who feared God. Yet, most American Christians believe one or more of the following:
- We should not be involved with politics at all and whomever is elected is God’s will.
- Politics should take a very minimal role in our lives.
- The religion of a candidate does not matter, but only whether or not he/she has the qualifications to effectively run our government and Christians should just choose the lesser of two evils at the voting booth.
While God is sovereign and will work through any circumstance (and indeed, wicked rulers are often an instrument of God’s judgment on a nation), the belief that all government leaders are there by God’s design is contradicted throughout scripture, one instance being when Israel decided that God’s government was not working for them and that they should have a king like all of the other nations of the time. Samuel, was grieved by this, but God told him, (1 Samuel 8)
“Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”
Then, in Hosea 8, God declared that the people had set up kings and princes that He did not choose,
Israel will cry to Me, ‘My God, we know You!’ Israel has rejected the good; The enemy will pursue him. “They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them. From their silver and gold They made idols for themselves– That they might be cut off.
All of this should bring us to the conclusion that God does care about government and expects us to not only be involved, but to use Biblical principles when selecting our leaders. Our nation’s founders knew this and warned the people to use Biblical principles in determining whether a candidate was worthy of their support. They entrusted us with a Constitutional Republican government of the people, by the people and for the people and, as Chuck Missler explains, we are “accountable before the Throne of God for our stewardship of the distinctive mandate that has come to us through the prayers and diligence of our founders and patriots of our unique heritage.”
In my next post, I will discuss how God’s people have affected the world through political involvement throughout the millennia. Thank you for reading and I pray for God’s wisdom as you consider your ballot this November.