Politics Spurgeon

Published on October 24th, 2012 | by Dr. Joel McDurmon

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Charles Spurgeon on Elections and Voting

With the return of election season, we are bombarded once again with political rhetoric touting the most important election ever [since the last one, of course]. With tough-sells like socialists, liberals, and Mormons smiling and advertising away, and Christian leaders arguing away, many evangelical and Reformed Christians are caught in somewhat of a confusion as to how to proceed and what to expect.

At such a time, it behooves us to seek the wise advice and counsel of our greatest preachers and theologians. We have already received election advice from John Calvin. Now it is time to seek the soundings of perhaps the most famous Baptist preacher in modern history, Charles Spurgeon. And he does not disappoint!

Contrary to some modern Baptist and evangelical sentiments, Spurgeon was not afraid to wade waist-deep into the middle of the political sphere and give it all the Gospel straight talk for which his famous Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit was famous. Indeed, often he used that very pulpit to preach it.

Beliefs and Offices, and Principled Voting

Spurgeon’s “autobiography” relates that “staunch Liberal and ardent admirer of Mr. Gladstone as he was, Mr. Spurgeon was by no means a blind follower of any earthly leader. He protested very emphatically against the appointment of the Marquis of Ripon as Viceroy of India. . . .”(1) And why?

For the sole reason that the Marquis was a Roman Catholic. Thus, Spurgeon reckoned, he had an allegiance to the Pope that transcended his civic oath. In a mainly Protestant nation, such a competing loyalty was dangerous. Competing creed, competing loyalty.

From this it would seem that, for Spurgeon, any candidate for office must hold a creed compatible to those he represents.

Spurgeon goes on extend this principle to non-traditional sects, making it clear that a biblical Christian should not look with favor upon unorthodox faiths in civil offices. In a reply letter to an old friend, Mr. J. S. Watts, on June 19, 1880, Spurgeon made this clear:

I should not allow a Mormonite to be Judge in the Divorce Court, nor a Quaker to be Commissioner of Oaths, nor an atheist to be Chaplain to the House of Commons; and, for the same reason, I would not have a Roman Catholic, sworn to allegiance to the Pope, to be Viceroy of India. Mr. Gladstone said this himself when writing about the Vatican; but the way in which he eats his words, and puts on a new form so soon as he is in power, does not increase my esteem for him.(2)

Now it may be of note that Spurgeon here pairs particular sects known to be at odds only with the particular issues he mentions for each. Thus, one may allege, he would only oppose them in public office if they were put in positions pertaining to such issues. Whatever may be said about the merits of this observation, even were it to hold, it would simultaneously invalidate those same men for any office higher than those listed, for such higher authority acts on everything below.

Thus we may presume with some certainty that if Spurgeon would not have countenanced a Mormon (to select an example at random) sitting over divorce court, he would therefore also not have supported a Mormon as his President or Prime Minister.

It is interesting also that Spurgeon noted the hypocrisy of Gladstone in this regard. He who once held the same view as Spurgeon changed after being in office. So often does the heat of political expedience melt the resolve of those who stand on principle, and seep them into the drains of compromise. The Christian, Spurgeon implies here, ought to have backbone enough to uphold his precious principles in all circumstances. Let us not out of immediate convenience make decisions we may regret later.

Spurgeon was particularly keen on two issues related to voting. First, voting must be done as if God were standing in judgment over us at the very moment. And second, Christians are accountable for the later flip-flops of the flip-floppers they vote into office. Early in his career (he was but 22 years old), he preached this to his congregation:

Let us whenever we shall have the opportunity of using the right of voting, use it as in the sight of Almighty God, knowing that for everything we shall be brought into account, and for that amongst the rest, seeing that we are entrusted with it.

And let us remember that we are our own governors, to a great degree, and that if at the next election we should choose wrong governors we shall have nobody to blame but ourselves, however wrongly they may afterwards act, unless we exercise all prudence and prayer to Almighty God to direct our hearts to a right choice in this matter.(3)

In sum, the issue here is accountability for our voting actions. Spurgeon would have us realize that accountability both in the next life and here in the world—in living with the consequences.

Moses and the Temptation to Compromise

Toward this end, therefore, Spurgeon had lots to say about choosing good over allegedly necessary or convenient evils. Is it acceptable for Christians to compromise in some areas? When times are particularly difficult? What about at crucial moments in history? What if some good could come out of such a compromise? What if it seemed like there was no other viable choice, but that providence had led us to such a position?

[product id="1493" align="right" size="small"]Preaching on the verse, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24-25 ESV), Spurgeon denounces all of these temptations.

First, Spurgeon responds that Christ must never be compromised, and that it takes integrity and a backbone for Christians to assert that fact publicly. Sadly, he preaches, too many Christians “must be respectable, they must vote in the majority”:

A great many would say—What a fool he was to give up what others covet! I fear that many of you professors would not lose a situation for Christ. Some of you could not lose a shilling a week of extra pay for the Lord. Ah me, this is a miserable age! Go with a lancet throughout these Isles, and you could not get enough martyrblood to fill a thimble. Backbones are scarce, and grit is a rare article. Men do not care to suffer for Christ; but they must be respectable, they must vote in the majority, they must go with the committee, and be thought well of for their charity.

As to standing up and standing out for Christ, it is looked upon as an eccentricity, or worse. Today if a young man proposed to sacrifice his position for Christ’s sake, father, and mother, and friends would all say: “Do not think of such a thing. Be prudent. Do not throw away your chance.” Once men could die for conscience sake: but conscience is nowadays viewed as an ugly thing, expensive and hampering. No doubt many advised Moses to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but he steadily refused. He deliberately divested himself of his rank that he might be numbered with the down-trodden people of God.(4)

He was just getting started. What about those tough questions? Spurgeon goes on, “For a moment, I will show you some of the arguments which Moses must have had to meet. In his own mind, when having come to years, he began to think the matter over, many arguments would arise and demand reply.”

So what about the natural affections we have toward those who can do us good, or do good for our causes or values, even though they themselves are of an anti-Christian confession? Spurgeon adapts the “unequally yoked” idea from Moses’ own personal situation:

The first argument would be, “You will be acting very unkindly to your adopted mother—What will she say? She drew you out of the water when you might have been drowned; she took you home, she saw that you were nursed and cared for, she has had you trained and educated. She has spent no end of money on you; there is nothing you could wish for but what she has supplied it: her heart is entwined in yours: and now, having come to years, if you refuse to be called her son, it will be a very sad return for her love.” Natural affection has often proved a serious difficulty in the way of grace. The Lord Jesus has said,” He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and many are thus unworthy.” In the case of Moses, a sense of honor would join with affection. He knew that it was right to refuse to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; but still, there was something to be said on the other side; for how could he disown a tie which the hands of love had fastened? Could he rend that fond connection? Could he persist in saying, “I am no Egyptian”? I doubt not that he felt, “I should be playing the hypocrite if I professed to be of Egypt, and I must tell the princess as gently as I can, but still most firmly, that I cannot be called by her name; for I am the son of Amram, of the tribe of Levi, of the seed of Jacob.”

Moses was an Israelite indeed, and he would not conceal his nationality nor renounce it by becoming a naturalized Egyptian. Though it should tear the heartstrings of his fostermother, and be even as a sentence of death to himself, yet he would take his stand. Moses thus proved his faith to be stronger than that of many who are mastered by family ties, and held captive by the bonds of earthly love. Unequal yoking is the ruin of thousands. The friendship of the world is the blight of piety. Happy are they who love Jesus more than all!(5)

But what about accepting the hand of providence in all of this? Spurgeon tells us not to deceive ourselves so easily:

Next, there would come before the mind of Moses the plausible argument, “Providence has led you where you are, and you ought to keep your position.” When Moses looked back he saw a remarkable providence watching over him in the ark of bulrushes, and bringing the Egyptian princess down to that particular part of the Nile to bathe. How singular that she should see the ark, and save the life of the weeping babe! Could he fly in the teeth of providence by relinquishing the high position so specially bestowed? Thus would flesh and blood reason. How often have I heard people excuse themselves for doing wrong by quoting what they call providence! Arguments from providence against positive commands are ingenious deceptions. Providence is of God, but the lesson which we draw from it may be of the devil. When Jonah wanted to flee to Tarshish he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish. How providential! Nothing of the sort. When Cain killed his brother Abel was it providence which found the club?

Whenever a man wants to do wrong he will find opportunities at hand; but let him not excuse his wickedness by the apparent opportunity for it. Be afraid of that kind of providence which makes sin easy. When a providence comes across you in doing right, do not give over your gracious purpose, but know that it is sent to try you, whether you can serve the Lord under difficulty. A providence which chimes in with your natural inclination may be a stone of stumbling by which your hypocrisy will be made clear. Moses felt that providence did bring him into Pharaoh’s court, but he also felt that it brought him there that he might be put to the test to see whether he would come out of it for the Lord’s sake. Do not believe in the reasoning which suggests that providence would have us slide along an easy, though evil, way. Providence, if it be read aright, never tempts to sin, though it may put before us trials for our faith. Our rule of life is the commandment of the Lord, not the doubtful conclusions which may be drawn from providences.(6)

But the critics are tough. They would press, “I am confident one guy is less evil than the other, and thus some good may come in making this compromise, even if it is simply stopping the other guy!” After all, we’ve gotta have people on the front lines, in the trenches, right? Spurgeon will not have it:

Yet another argument may have met Moses, for it is one which I have heard repeated till I am sick of answering it. Moses could do a deal of good by retaining his position. What opportunities for usefulness would be in his way! See how he could help his poor brethren! How often he could interpose at the court to prevent injustice! Moreover, what a bright light he would be in his high position: his example would commend the faith of the true God to the courtiers and great ones; nobody could tell what an influence would thus be exercised upon Egypt. Pharaoh himself might be converted, and then all Egypt would bow before Jehovah. Thus have we met with brethren who say, “Yes, I am in a church with which I do not agree; but then, I can be so useful.” Another cries, “I know that a certain religious Union is fostering evil; but then, I can serve the cause by staying in it.” Another is carrying on an evil trade, but he says, “It is my livelihood; and besides, it affords me opportunities of doing good!”(7)

Spurgeon could easily have applied this as well to Christians both teaching in and sending their kids as “missionaries” into government schools. Or voting for godless representative and rulers. At any rate, he thinks the argument stinks:

This is one of the most specious of those arguments by which good men are held in the bonds of evil. As an argument, it is rotten to the core. We have no right to do wrong, from any motive whatever. To do evil that good may come is no doctrine of Christ, but of the devil. Fallen nature may maunder in that way, but the grace of God delivers us from such wicked sophistry. Whatever good Moses might have thought that he could do in a false position, he had faith enough to see that he was not to look to usefulness, but to righteousness. Whatever the results may be, we must leave them with God, and do the right at all cost.(8)

Oh I see. We’re just being “holier than thou,” right? You’re one of those puritanical types holding out for perfect candidates, right? You don’t realize the near-term gains that could be made by a well-conceived compromise. Spurgeon:

But, dear friends, do you not think that Moses might have made a compromise? That idea is very popular. “Now then, Moses, do not be too strict. Some people are a deal too particular. Those old-fashioned puritanical people are narrow and strait-laced: be liberal and take broader views. Cannot you make a compromise? Tell Pharaoh’s daughter you are an Israelite, but that, in consequence of her great kindness, you will also be an Egyptian. Thus you can become an Egypto-Israelite-what a fine blend! Or say an Israelito-Egyptian- with the better part in the front. You see, dear friends, it seems a simple way out of a difficulty, to hold with the hare and run with the hounds. It saves you from unpleasant decisions and separations. Besides, Jack-of-both-sides has great praise from both parties for his large-heartedness.

I admire this in Moses, that he knew nothing of compromise; but first he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and secondly, he made a deliberate choice rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” My hearers, come out, I pray you, one way or the other. If God be God, serve him; if Baal be God, serve him. If it is right to be an Israelite, be an Israelite; if it is right to be an Egyptian, be an Egyptian. None of your trimming. It will go hard with trimmers at the last great day. When Christ comes to divide the sheep from the goats, there will be no middle sort. There is no place for trimmers. Modern thought is trying to make a purgatory, but as yet the place is not constructed, and meanwhile you border people will be driven down to hell. May God grant us grace to be decided!(9)

Long ago, it seems, were days when this issue merited threats of eternal punishment. To those who would pressure us out of political fears, Spurgeon thus responded with a higher fear—the fear of God. And he points us to Moses, again, as an example of principled decision making:

Notice the lot which Moses chose. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but he chose to take his portion with the oppressed, reproached, and ridiculed Israelites. I want you to see the terms in which his judgment is expressed; for no doubt the Holy Spirit tells us exactly how Moses put it in his own mind. He chose rather to suffer “affliction with the people of God.” Does not that alter it wonderfully? “Affliction” nobody would choose; but “affliction with the people of God,” ah! that is another business altogether. “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” I choose the “great tribulation,” not because I like it, but because these came out of it, and have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” “Affliction with the people of God” is affliction in glorious company.(10)

Indeed, principled decisions often mean self-sacrifice. Loyalty to Christ and His people often means real sacrifice. And this only comes when Christians see the convenient compromise they are about to make for the darkness it really is:

Note the next expression: “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” . . . Thus Moses placed things in their right light, and they seemed to undergo a complete change. Now; notice what he said about the baits upon the other side: “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” See! he calls the pleasures of the court “the pleasures of sin.” Why, Moses, you need not fall into vice. You could be an Egyptian, and yet be chaste, and honest, and sober, and just, and good. Yes, but he regards his proposed life as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter as full of “the pleasures of sin.”((“Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:465-6.))

To those who demand such compromise as a matter of civic duty, Spurgeon responds with a higher duty:

Now, mark this: If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, it becomes your duty decidedly to come out and stand on his side; and if you do not do so, the pleasures derived from your sin of omission will be the pleasures of sin. You are living a life of disloyalty to Christ, and that is a life of sin. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin”; that is to say, if you have not faith that you are doing right, you are doing wrong; and as Moses could not feel that he was doing right by being an Egyptian, whatever pleasure he might have gained from his remaining at court would have been “the pleasure of sin.”(11)

To those who would stoke us with fears and demands for near-term gains, Spurgeon returns that higher fear once again, and a warning that what is to be done must not be measured in the short term, for these  apparent gains are fleeting, while God’s standards are not:

Then note the word, “For a season.” Did you hear the tolling of a bell? It was a knell. It spoke of a new-made grave. This is the knell of earthly joy—“For a season!” Honoured for doing wrong—“For a season!” Merry in evil company—“For a season!” Prosperous through a compromise—“For a season!” What after that season? Death and judgment.(12)

Let us, then, understand Spurgeon to be saying that compromises made in the name of short-term gains are nothing more than “new-made graves.” In short, with such near-sighted goals, we are waxing merry with evil company, and digging our own political graveyard.

A General Theme

For Spurgeon, such teaching was nothing more than an application a very general theme by which Christians should always abide: no compromise. Compromises are nothing but allowing “some lesser evil” into our lives. This process, Spurgeon warns, allows a “lesser sin” to open the way for greater ones:

When a thief finds that he cannot enter the door of a good man’s house, and that the windows are so barred up that there is no entrance for him, what does he but, finding that there is a little window through which a child might creep, he fetches a boy and passes him through the narrow opening, and then the child opens the door to the man, and the house is plundered. Even so, when Satan cannot overthrow a believer with the gross sins of the flesh, he is certain to find some lesser evil which he introduces through an unguarded place, and then the lesser sin opens the door for the next.(13)

Spurgeon calls this the “process of the wedge.” While we may justify our little compromises by arguing that we are able to make small gains, little by little, in reality we are giving up dominion to evil in the name of that “lesser evil”:

You know the process of the wedge. Try to put the blunt end of the wedge into the timber, and how useless it would be! but put in the thin edge first, give it but a gentle stroke with the beetle, and then again, and again, and again, and see how it cleaves its way, widening by little and little. So some professors begin with a little conformity to the world. “Oh!” say they, “I cannot see the harm of it,” though others of their fellow Christians are grieved thereby. Then they come to the next, and the next, and the next, and so by slow degrees they give up virtually all the truthfulness of their profession, and make shipwreck of faith and are castaways. . . .(14)

And the end result of Christians allowing such compromises to rule their political choices is a society and a government in which Christ Himself is not welcome. Preaching during Advent on the theme of “no room in the inn,” Spurgeon said,

There were other places besides the inn which had no room for Christ. The palaces of emperors and the halls of kings afforded the royal stranger no refuge? Alas! my brethren, seldom is there room for Christ in palaces! How could the kings of earth receive the Lord? He is the Prince of Peace, and they delight in war! He breaks their bows and cuts their spears in sunder; he burneth their war-chariots in the fire.

How could kings accept the humble Savior? They love grandeur and pomp, and he is all simplicity and meekness. He is a carpenter’s son, and the fisherman’s companion. How can princes find room for the new-born monarch?

Why he teaches us to do to others as we would that they should do to us, and this is a thing which kings would find very hard to reconcile with the knavish tricks of politics and the grasping designs of ambition. O great ones of the earth, I am but little astonished that amid your glories, and pleasures, and wars, and councils, ye forget the Anointed, and cast out the Lord of All.

There is no room for Christ with the kings. Look throughout the kingdoms of the earth now, and with here and there an exception it is still true—“The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.” . . .

But enough of kings, what about elected representatives? This simply compounds the issue of politics with the follies and fake smiles of politicians:

But there were senators, there were forums of political discussion, there were the places where the representatives of the people make the laws, was there no room for Christ there? Alas! my brethren, none, and to this day there is very little room for Christ in parliaments. How seldom is religion recognised by politicians!

Of course a State-religion, if it will consent to be a poor, tame, powerless thing, a lion with its teeth all drawn, its mane all shaven off, and its claws all trimmed—yes, that may be recognised; but the true Christ and they that follow him and dare to obey his laws in an evil generation, what room is there for such?

Such lip-service to religion abounds among these types; but talk about a principled biblical worldview and biblical Law, and now you’re a outcast, a puritan, a idealist, out of touch—the kind of guy they don’t want to invite to the debates:

Christ and his gospel—oh! this is sectarianism, and is scarcely worthy of the notice of contempt. Who pleads for Jesus in the senate? Is not his religion, under the name of sectarianism, the great terror of all parties? Who quotes his golden rule as a direction for prime ministers, or preaches Christ-like forgiveness as a rule for national policy? One or two will give him a good word, but if it be put to the vote whether the Lord Jesus should be obeyed or no, it will be many a day before the ayes have it. Parties, policies, place-hunters, and pleasure-seekers exclude the Representative of Heaven from a place among representatives of Earth.(15)

Is politics dirty, then? Shall the Christian completly abstain? Stay out? Is there no hope?

Our Political Hope

Judging from what else he has said above, Spurgeon certainly does not mean to imply that Christians should stay out altogether. Indeed, he has embraced the idea of voting enthusiastically. But since he says we should do so only in the fear of God, according to His instruction and will, and as if God Himself were standing over us even as we are in the act, the Christian should beware of compromising Christ even in the least bit. Indeed, from this we can only deduce that the bleak “no room for Christ in Congress” view he described can only be understood as God’s judgment upon Christians who have not fulfilled that very duty properly and have embraced “some lesser evil” way too often. In time, the wedge has done its work, and we have arrived at the position Spurgeon describes. [product id="1471" align="right" size="small"]

But Spurgeon was not bereft of hope. Hardly! If partisans could but realize that biblical Christianity has an answer, they would simply see the answer requires real personal sacrifices and private alternatives—but it does have answers. And Christians of all people should naturally recognize this!

Spurgeon was not shy at all about speaking of political solutions, and even of Christ being not just a savior of souls, but the “Savior of Society.” In an article in The Sword and the Trowel Magazine, after having observed the aftermath of the terrors of the 1871 Paris Commune, he wrote,

To what then do we look? We answer, we believe that national peace, and the security of our great cities, can only be guaranteed for a long future, by the recognition of the religion of Jesus Christ, and the wider spread of its principles.

And this means real Spirit-driven change, not surface religion:

We do not mean by this an increased number of clergymen or ministers, or the erection of more churches or tabernacles these, of course, so far as they are necessitated by the main matter; but we mean something more spiritual and potent by far. Let the spirit, the essence, the governing power of our holy faith predominate, and the work is done. Not as a charlatan puffs his nostrum, but with honest and cogent reasoning do we back our eulogism upon the one and only panacea for ills to be dreaded in London, and bemoaned in Paris.(16)

And Spurgeon does not stop with generalities. He argues for real changes from the monied, landed, and owners as well as the poor workers and tradesmen. He knows he’ll have raging critics on all sides, but he rebuffs, “Dost thou sneer, O doubting critic? Sneer on, but hear.”

It would greatly tend to allay all feeling of popular discontent, if all employers acted as true Christians should in the matter of wages. . . .

But the question occurs, “What is just and equal?” It is not always that which the worker asks, or even strikes to obtain, for he may demand what is unjust and cannot fairly be paid without damage to the employer; but one thing is clear as the sun, it cannot be just and equal to give a man a pittance upon which he can barely exist, and which compels him to live in a hole unfit for a dog or a horse. . . .

I may be a heathen and grind the faces of the poor, but a Christian I cannot be. A personal, independent, and upright course of action on this point, on the part of every follower of the Lord Jesus, would go far to influence other employers, and lay the ax at the root of much of the evil which is leavening the community. . . . [Note: no government actions, no coercive force asked for!]

This much being done, the work has only begun; for much is needed on the worker’s side. . . .

The Christian laborer must not be afraid to learn and improve himself, not trust in government programs:

We doubt not that many a working man has imagined happiness to be the product of politics, and so has raved deliriously, who would have found quiet for his mind, and have been a good citizen, had he spent the hours between his daily labors in some intellectual pursuit. . . .

To work industriously and fairly,

When the artisan or laborer becomes a Christian, he is at once removed from the ignorance and excess which are so damaging to social order, and he becomes at the same time an advocate for justice between man and mart. If true to his profession, he gives a fair day’s work for his wage, which, begging the pardon of thousands, is by no means a common thing. He is no eye-server, but labors diligently, doing in his sphere as he would have others do to him, were he their employer.

A despite the prevalence of leftist politics among unions and workers’ associations, the Christian denounces all gain by coercion:

Talk comes to him of forcing the price of work upwards, and he is glad enough of it if it can be fairly done, but he disdains to ask for other than justice, or even to fight for his rights in an unrighteous manner.

And he openly hates class warfare:

He is no lover of agitators who set class against class, and he is man enough to tell them so and to judge for himself and not be a joint in the tail of some class combination. Not that he condemns combination when it aims at a just end, but he loathes it when its object is injustice.(17)

Spurgeon said such a Christian workman would be the “hope of the age.” He concluded his brief lecture of Christianized society with a rhetorical and theological gem which can only be called an expression of Christian Reconstructionism and Dominion Theology:

It is plain, then, that the religion of Jesus, when it creates obedience to its golden rule, becomes the Savior of Society; and as it has other and equally effective modes of operation, it affords multiplied securities for peace and order. Spread it then, as it never has been spread. Educate, but let the faith of Jesus be the point to which men shall be led. Suffer no child to grow up unacquainted with the Scriptures; no adult to die unenlightened as to redeeming love. . . .

Let us, then proclaim a new crusade, and lift again the cross of Jesus. The Ragged-schools must go on till none are ragged. If as yet the people will not come to us, we must go to them, and their fellow workmen must be the missionaries of our churches. We must teach the rich to do right and the poor to do the same, regarding no man’s person in our teaching, but dealing faithfully with all. Our churches, built up of good men and true, of all ranks, must be multiplied, and most of all where poverty abounds.

Let us bring the lever to the load and lift it. Let us cry to heaven for help, and then put our shoulder to the wheel. Heaven and hell are warring with each other for London; may God send victory to his living truth, and give our city to his Son, then shall we fear no carnival of fire and blood.(18)

Replace that last reference to “London” with “America” and every word of it remains just as true. Facing an America that is reaching its last fiscal threads, the types of economic pressure found then in Paris, London, and today Greece, are not far from the surface. Spurgeon warned that “human nature is everywhere very much the same, and it is silly patriotic vanity to suppose our countrymen to be by nature so much better than our neighbors as to be incapable of riot and pillage.”

If we are to survive, we must immediately reject all short term political fixes and the compromises toward “some lesser evil” for which they beg. Such decisions do not befit the Christian, do not exemplify the Christian’s most faithful judgment and stand for principle, do not glorify Christ, and they lead to God’s judgment in society. Those interested in the Savior of Society will shun that sham just as Spurgeon has shown us here.

[product id="1138" align="center" size="small"]Endnotes:

  1. Autobiography 4:130-1.()
  2. Autobiography 4:130-1.()
  3. “Particular Election,” No. 123, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (Albany, OR: AGES Electronic Edition, 1997), 3:212.()
  4. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:461-2.()
  5. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:462.()
  6. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:462-3.()
  7. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:463.()
  8. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:463-4.()
  9. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:464-5.()
  10. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:464-5.()
  11. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:465-6.()
  12. “Moses: His Faith and Decision,” No. 2030, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 34:466.()
  13. “Grey Hairs,” No. 830, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 14:628-9.()
  14. “Grey Hairs,” No. 830, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 14:629.()
  15. “No Room for Christ in the Inn,” No. 485, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (AGES Electronic Edition), 8:883-4.()
  16. “Paris and London: A Warning Word,” The Sword and the Trowel, (AGES Electronic Edition, 1997), 3:137.()
  17. “Paris and London: A Warning Word,” The Sword and the Trowel, (AGES Electronic Edition, 1997), 3:137-140.()
  18. “Paris and London: A Warning Word,” The Sword and the Trowel, (AGES Electronic Edition, 1997), 3:140-1.()
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About the Author

Dr. Joel McDurmon

Joel McDurmon, Ph.D. in Theology from Pretoria University, is the Director of Research for American Vision. He has authored seven books and also serves as a lecturer and regular contributor to the American Vision website. He joined American Vision's staff in the June of 2008. Joel and his wife and four sons live in Dallas, Georgia.



30 Responses to Charles Spurgeon on Elections and Voting

  1. Vance says:

    I will not lose one moment of sleep worrying that I may have committed some kind of sin by voting for a Mormon. I am voting for Romney because I believe a Romney presidency will be better for the country than four more years of Obama. It’s no more complicated than that! Does anyone here REALLY believe that voting in this election is a SIN against God??? Please don’t cite scriptural passages that refer to rulers in a theocracy, and don’t reply as if we’re electing a pastor-in-chief. If pagan idolators can act as “ministers of God” in civil governments (Rom 13), then the claim (or implication) that Mormons, non-Messianic Jews, and Unitarians are by definition unfit for service in “high” government offices is, well, just plain silly. I suspect that a misguided eschatology is the underpinning of McDurmon’s argument.

  2. Cromwell says:

    The fraud that is Joel McDurmon rest in the Chutzpah of posting these thoughts and the logical conclusions they make, while spending the last several years promoting a radically secular and unbilblical Rothbardian Anarchist off as plausible. One which supported Gay Marriage, Gays in Military, doesn’t think Homosexuality is a sin….wants All forms of Marriage legalized, thinks the Abortion Pill is nothing more than “birth control” and is possibly the most undiscerning and dishonest politician in the US on defense issues.

    Yet spends his times trying effortlessly to do nothing more than Promote the Re-Electionof Barack Obama by telling us to “not vote” or vote for an Irrelevant nobody who will not win, we know will not win and will do nothing more than help Re-Elect Obama.

    • Cromwell says:

      I suppose it should be noted, for those reading who don’t ‘know’:

      Gary North and his underlings WANT a Societal Collapse and have been longing and rooting for it for years. They think they will, in the blood and chaos that ensues from it, be able to take Dominion and ‘restore America’….or something.

      If I was hoping for a societal(and global) collapse and blood bath, I’d encourage you to Help Re-Elect Barack Obama also.

    • Arrow says:

      You have no idea what you are talking about. Wake up.

  3. Bob says:

    Now friends, I’d like to make a couple of points on this topic that I believe Spurgeon has missed here — or that are relevant to us in the US and weren’t to him in England/UK.

    This world isn’t all there ever was, and it’s not all there ever will be. Spurgeon was certainly aware of this but didn’t allow it to inform him in the material you have quoted in this article.

    You see, the world now is a world corrupted by human sin, and the effects of sin are restrained by God in such a way that we can see effects of sin and know we need a savior, i.e., to turn to God for help. The full effect of sin is death, but the effect is restrained because God doesn’t want “any to perish.”

    Christians are sent into this world with good news.

    Now how does this impact voting?

    Though God at times reaches into this world and makes changes/miracles, it God isn’t at the moment changing its nature … of course I can’t speak for the next moment when God may or may not change the nature of this world.

    IMO, our voting — and a great many other things we do — need to be done asa mission from God into this fallen world.

    And we can observe from the Biblical examples of God in using several people of other religions in governmental leadership (e.g., Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Ahasuerus, etc.) that sometimes it is advantageous to employ a national leader who is not (at least yet) a follower of the Lord God.

    IMO, the question is which candidate is most likely to follow the Biblically described righteous government, restraining sin, encouraging good character, as described in various Bible texts … e.g., Psalm 72, Romans 13, etc.

    • Arrow says:

      Neither Romney nor Obama show any signs whatsoever of biblical or constitutional tendencies. Both are thorough committed socialists, both support abortion and homosexuality, and both have unholy political ambitions. Romney is probably a bigger liar.

      • mike says:

        arrow, would u mind backing up your assertion that romney endorses abortion and homosexuality. my wife and i are 1 issue voters. if u don’t have enough judgement to stand up for an unborn child, your position on foreign affairs or economic ffairs is irrelevant. your judgemnt is so flawed and corrupt that i could never support you if you promised me 100k in my 401k. i can’t think of a more noble cause to stand for than an innocent child. it’s a pity that in 2012 we have to defend this obvious right to life

    • Though God certainly used Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus advantageously, God expects us not to elect heretics, according to Deuteronomy 17:15.

    • GentleDove says:

      I agree with Arrow and Ian. Also, God is most definitely now (and has been since the Fall) changing the nature of this world as He expands His kingdom through the work of His body (people He has regenerated and indwells) in the world and through providence and through His direct superintendence and miracles.

  4. Nemesis of Empire says:

    Bring back the 17th Century, when a man could be killed for loving the wrong God and women were either property or dead in childbirth or both. It was a far better, far more Godly time, when Heaven was as close as the next sneeze or draw of a blade. We need simpler times, with simpler people in them, and an end to this democracy and voting and ‘America’ nonsense. Once and for all.

    • E Harris says:

      yea, I agree with you “Nemesis”. I don’t think it’s quite that stark. But someone is obviously barking up the wrong theological tree: if they equate the Presidency with a functioning member of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ doesn’t function in a top-down manner, like the lords of the earth. Nor does it stand opposed (in all instances) to the lords of the earth. There is room for a worldly person to be worldly and to convert.

  5. E Harris says:

    “Thus we may presume with some certainty that if Spurgeon would not have countenanced a Mormon (to select an example at random) sitting over divorce court, he would therefore also not have supported a Mormon as his President or Prime Minister.”

    Not necessarily true. Spurgeon’s examples seem to point to how we need to take religious loyalties INTO ACCOUNT regarding the PARTICULAR POSITION they are in. Now, the presidency does have the final vote in deciding a lot of laws and such. However, the LDS has long-since turned from its polygamous roots, and Romney isn’t about to advance the cause of polygamy. C’mon. What specific Mormon belief would conflict with Romney’s efficiency or capacity to make fine choices as CEO of the American corporation? I guess you could make the case that being a Mormon, means that you must be able to fudge, and be wishy-washy with the truth. I guess you could make that case. But one thing you cannot say is that an LDS wouldn’t have AMERICAN interests at heart (and lets remember who his opponent is).

    Let’s measure that over/against the other options, and realize that Obama is the only other politically viable option for the 2012 election-cycle. Romney will certainly disappoint…and we must fight him when he does. But make no mistake: we are BUYING TIME now. This isn’t about having the perfect polity. This is about buying time for the spread of the gospel and the spread of personal responsibility. With Obama, the regular options would slam shut on us and collapse IN THE WORST WAY POSSIBLE, because that’s who he is and the types of choices he will make. With Romney, we may have a better chance at staying afloat (relatively). This is not the time to “stick to our guns” and let the American country simply collapse.

    “So what about the natural affections we have toward those who can do us good, or do good for our causes or values, even though they themselves are of an anti-Christian confession? Spurgeon adapts the “unequally yoked” idea from Moses’ own personal situation…”

    Once again, the American corporation IS NOT the Christian body of Christ. Two different things. Now, are we simply to not vote? Then let’s take a principled stand against VOTING!! But let’s not pretend that we need elect a Christian to office, when we cannot always agree what ‘Christian’ even is! (Would a oneness pentecostal count?) What if Jimmy Carter were running against Romney? WHO a person is in his SOUL (as a Christian) MAY BE much different from their competence in office. Two different realms. The soul and spirit is more important than the outward and political. But they are not the same thing!

    The real question is (and the Christian Reconstruction keeps DODGING THIS by taking both sides): to vote or not to vote? Nobody is perfect. It is ALWAYS an imperfect person, and the office itself is really not optimal. And, according to Reconstructionists, if it’s not optimal, then we shouldn’t even support it at all! The principled Christian Reconstructionist should not vote.

    Does the vote mean that you agree with everything? Does the politician that you vote for represent everything you are, with every little thing he does and says? Or is the vote simply a one-time offering of peaceful advice to a sword-bearing “man”?

    • sawu says:

      You’re way off Ed. To use the imagery from the article: Obama is the blunt edge of the wedge; Romney is the thin edge. THEY’RE BOTH EVIL!

      You state, “Romney will certainly disappoint…and we must fight him when he does.” Yeah, fight him like we’ve fought against Obama? Give me a break!

      “This is not the time to “stick to our guns” and let the American country simply collapse.” Since when is living according to God’s standards letting America simply collapse? NOT living according to Scripture is why WE ALREADY HAVE COLLAPSED! Wake up Ed!

    • E Harris says:

      sawu, you’re a Ron Paul guy aren’t you?

      Anyway. If you think we’ve already collapsed… just wait.

      If the O gets back in for 4 more years, the presidency won’t be worth anything by 2016. Our economy will be so crushed, and our currency so worthless, and our people so dis-spirited and at war with each other… that we will be the prey of China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Yes, Turkey.

      We may as well make our national symbol the Turkey. Our Ben Franklins will be worth a gumball.

      I don’t think that most people who visit this website understand the MAGNITUDE of what is happening now. You’ve spent SO LONG criticizing the dispensational futurists, you’ve forgotten: that it really can get almost that bad without ‘the’ antichrist!!! It CAN get that bad! We may not be Jerusalem, but we have the forces of the world circling our carcass all the same.

      We have a deliberate and calculating group of people who WANT to bring this about for US, and they are already entrenched in power. We have an international coalition forming (Russia, China, and Iran-or-whoever-becomes-dominant in the middle east!) which is intent on OCCUPYING America and taking her energy resources and technological resources!

      Sawu, you think the last 4 years was bad? You haven’t even seen under the surface. We are dealing with people who equate America with Empire with Christianity with the Bible with Evil. And they will stop at nothing, except pure selfishness, pure power, pure destruction, pure hatred. The whole point is to make sure that we keep THOSE PEOPLE from any authority. Romney is not one of those. He is one of the wannabe-mushy-middle who doesn’t understand just how grave the threats are. But he’s close to an understanding. It’s not like it’s that hard to see the obvious. What we don’t want is people like Obama: who will see the obvious threats, and say “yeah! I’ve been waiting for you to rise up! Come and lets finish them off! We can make a feast of these rich Christian oppressors!”

      • Arrow says:

        E Harris,

        You have been badly misinformed on the candidates. You should make a radical change in whatever you are reading and/or listening to.

        The destructive policies that you correctly cite as bringing down our nation were in place before Obama, and Romney promises to continue them. If you think Obama is the cause of all this, you are so far off that your political ideas lack credibility.

        There are tons and tons of political rhetoric on both sides (actually the same side, but people don’t realize that), but a relatively few hard facts demonstrate that there is no significant difference between the candidates.

  6. Timothy Ritter says:

    So Joel, it seems that you and Gary are at odds? He put out an article last month that seems counter to yours. Thoughts?

    • Arrow says:

      Thoughts?

      McDurmon is right and DeMar is wrong. Both are good guys.

      • Mark says:

        Ding Ding! Round 9 of McDurmon vs DeMar……. Joel has Gary on the ropes, but wait, is Gary just pulling a “rope the dope?” Tune in for round 10…….. sponsered by American Vision…..

        The only thing we are missing is the girl in a bikini holding up the round card…….

  7. Greg Barnes says:

    Reserving our vote for only a theologically Biblical candidate may sound good in theory, but the fact is that we do not have such a choice available in this election, at least not one who has any possibility of winning. So we should support the candidate who will be more open to being influenced towards the right position when decisions have to be made. Obviously that is Romney. Better to have someone who will give us a ear than someone who sees us as an enemy.

    • Arrow says:

      If I accept your reasoning (I don’t) then I would say that the GOP must be punished for repeatedly, over and over and over, forcing bad candidates upon us. The problem is that NOBODY opposes the liberal Democrat agenda, because the LIBERALS who run the GOP are able to REINFORCE the liberal Democrats with their very own Republican choices.

      So, if you want more of the same, just keep doing what you’ve been doing for years…validating the GOP bossed and solidifying their stranglehold on politics whereby they are ruining our country.

      Stop blaming “the Democrats” and look in a mirror.

    • sawu says:

      Oh my gosh! Greg, did you read the article? Did you understand what you read? Your comments represent everything that this article says not to do! Unbelievable!

      “Uhhhh, obviously we can’t trust God’s ways. I mean, seriously folks, that would be suicide. Soooo we’ll just vote for someone who might be a good leader and “more open to being influenced towards (sic) the right position…” (even though his own words and voting record already prove otherwise). Yeah, that’s what we need to do. The present status of our country is a great example of how that has worked so well thus far. Wouldn’t want to rock the boat now. After all, this is the MOST important election EVER! Can’t afford to blow it by actually living out our faith in God and siding with righteousness. No way; wouldn’t think of doing that.”

  8. Serenity says:

    The appointment of someone, when the choices are numerous is quite different than voting between two bad alternatives that could win, and causing the worst to win, by a staunch position of only voting for a great candidate – we have few of those in the nation at any level. We must vote the least worse, to avoid the pitfalls of the very worst that has ever been a candidate.
    “Thus, Spurgeon reckoned, he had an allegiance to the Pope that transcended his civic oath.”
    I think that every Christian has an allegiance to the God that transcends his civic oath, so we are all in that situation.

  9. Aaron Mills says:

    This is a great post. I have felt for a while now that I would be doing something immoral and wrong to vote for someone who is openly engaged in wickedness to be the leader of my nation. This article does a wonderful job of describing why someone like me should hold fast to my opinions and trust my judgment.

    • Arrow says:

      Aaron says: “… I would be doing something immoral and wrong to vote for someone who is openly engaged in wickedness to be the leader of my nation.”

      Amen!

      It doesn’t bother most people, though.

  10. Bob says:

    I disagree with the statement here that “such higher authority acts on everything below.”

    In the US at least, the nation I know best, the president is not such a “higher authority.” Each elected official is responsible to the voters who elected him or her, not to the president. Mr. Obama took office and acted at first as though members of congress were his to supervise. He soon learned that they had their own mandates for what they did in office … and that he had to negotiate with them rather than send them his orders.

    In Virginia it is often surprising when the Attorney General acts on his election mandate, rather than having the Governor as a boss, as in many other states and in the US national government. Many folks — even here in the US — don’t seem to recognize what being elected means.

    Our local sheriffs as another example, are quite different from police chiefs in most localities because they are elected … while police chiefs are (mostly) appointed and do not have an election mandate from the voting constituency who elected them but rather serve the one(s) who appointed them.

    Perhaps this authority statement true in England and in other places — I’m pretty sure it is — but in the US our founding documents make it clear that it is the voting constituencies who grant power to the elected officials, not officials or “authorities” of some sort who grant power to those “below.”

    • Joel McDurmon Joel McDurmon says:

      Very good catch Bob. I agree. The statement still applies in all places where positions of authority exist in a delegated hierarchy. This certainly does not apply across the board, but it does exist, especially within the structure of the executive branch itself.

    • E Harris says:

      Exactly, Bob. In America they are called “public SERVANTS” because they serve US. We don’t serve them. They are not our sovereigns. We are not ‘electing’ our own lords and sovereigns. We are not even electing ‘brothers’. We are electing SERVANTS: they can be evil, good, or clumsy. They are not our identity.

      America is simply a corporation which joins all manner of righteous and unrighteous people under one umbrella, who then duke it out for control over an apparatus which is in fact BENEATH their dignity and identity, not above their dignity and identity.

      • Arrow says:

        “America is simply a corporation which joins all manner of righteous and unrighteous people under one umbrella, who then duke it out for control over an apparatus which is in fact BENEATH their dignity and identity, not above their dignity and identity.”

        Not according to God:

        Acts 17:26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

        Ps. 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

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