It is certainly not news that American Vision encourages Christian to be involved in politics, law, and government. Brother DeMar long ago wrote God and Government as well as Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths for these very purposes. I, for one, have been especially critical of the American pulpit and its failure to preach biblical law, thus abandoning the legacy of the early Americans that made this nation great to begin with. But there is a big caveat to this need, and many evangelicals who heed the call to preach politics create even greater problems by missing it.
It is not enough to “preach politics.” Instead, you must preach politics correctly. That is, you must preach biblical law, and you must preach it radically, fully, faithfully, consistently, without compromise, and without fear.
What we get more often than not, however, when evangelical leaders “preach politics,” is a watered-down version of “Christian principles” that does little more than baptize the establishment parties and serves as a biblical veneer for unbiblical options. Instead of a radical, prophetic declaration to God’s people and the powers that be, such “preaching politics” becomes a means of rendering Christians subservient supporters of the major parties, cowering in absolute fear of the other. No matter how objectionable the characters or policies are from a biblical law point of view, such leaders end up with their fingers to the current political winds to determine what they demand we support.
Take for example, the now-infamous, adamant whitewashing of Trump by Wayne Grudem. Brother Grudem has found himself in the now-unpopular position of having called this character a “good moral choice” when the whole world already knew differently. The wind now tells the finger to push “delete” on his previous post and to post a retraction so stark that Grudem now demands Trump resign from the race.
Grudem’s apology includes the following:
Some may criticize me for not discovering this material earlier, and I think they are right. I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so. If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump.
The problem here is that he didn’t have to do any investigation. Everybody in the world responded to him with “some of these materials” immediately after he posted, making it clear what “moral character” he had just endorsed. Worse yet, Grudem’s own original article (now deleted) in it’s opening paragraph acknowledged Trump “has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages” as a particular flaw (read: sin).
So what, repeated marital infidelity and bragging about it can be overlooked, but bragging about grabbing a woman’s pussy cannot? Some sexual sins are tolerable in a presidential candidate, but others are not? Note: the difference here is not one of a biblical law principle, but only of degree of coarseness and social acceptability. By what principle does Grudem draw such an arbitrary line for qualifications of a godly civil ruler? Worse, the acknowledgement betrays the fact that he did know some of Trump’s views of women, he just chose to overlook them while there seemed to be a small window of acceptability to do so.
Further, because the only difference here is in the degree of the sin, in reality all of the arguments Grudem made in his previous post, overlooking sexual sin, still stand. Thus, even though he pulls his endorsement, his new apologetic article still leaves it as a likely possibility that he will be voting for Trump anyway!
The multiple ironies and inconsistencies are mind-numbing, but Grudem’s underlying theology of government makes them understandable. When you reject the clarity given by biblical laws and how they are applied in the New Covenant, you end up having to make up your own definitions and standards for how things like “love your neighbor” and “thou shalt not covet” and “homosexuals shall not inherit the kingdom,” etc. What almost always ensues is some form of conservative “Christian” tyranny in an attempt to stop some form of leftist tyranny, in areas biblical law would strip the civil governments of power to be begin with. Or, when the power is not actually in one’s hands to impose such conservative “Christian” tyrannies, preachers and theologians stoop of all kinds of pragmatism in order to obtain it.
Such a venture inevitably leaves such leaders, once in a while, in the embarrassing situation of having prostituted their few assets—discernment, critical thinking, reputation, and voice—in service of scoundrels.
So, we find Grudem opening his new piece, “I now regret that I did not more strongly condemn his moral character.” Not only did he know better to begin with, but this returns us to our main point: Christian leaders getting involved in politics is not enough. You have to do it right: according to biblical law and without compromise.
Yes, Wayne, you should have condemned his moral character more strongly, but something about your perception, your theology, and perhaps your fears and hopes at the time prevented you from taking that step—a step that would certainly have undermined your whole purpose in endorsing Trump to begin with. And you, and all preachers like you, should also have done so in a thousand other instances that they didn’t.
Just as you should have condemned his moral character more strongly, but remained silent about it while you endorsed him, so you should consistently be condemning the idolatry of Mormon candidates, the warmongering of others, the theft and socialism of public education, welfare, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, property taxation, federal income taxes, standing armies, administrative courts, the counterfeiting of fiat money and fractional reserve banking, police abuses, immunity for police and prosecutors, judicial double standards, the erosion of not only free speech and religious liberty, but of Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights for the accused, the weak, the marginalized, minorities, and all others who are more vulnerable. You should more strongly condemn the judicial-prison-industrial complex, the War on Drugs, the TSA, the police state, the medical-industrial complex, apathy and complacency on abortion and the pro-life industrial complex, etc., etc., etc.
The same process plays out everywhere preachers and theologians depart from strict applications of biblical law, yet justify it in the name of the Bible, “biblical principles,” “wisdom,” or even worse, some vague “common good” to which Christians are allegedly obligated.
When you allow biblical law to define your bounds of love, then you’ll have no problem refusing the evils entirely, and leaving the inevitable judgment of the wicked establishments in the hands of God. Modern Christians are just like the ancient Israelites who had God’s explicit promise to be with them and protect them from their enemies, yet they chose to reject God’s law and erect a wicked military establishment patterned after their pagan neighbors, assuming this would protect them better than God (1 Sam. 8). Christians today have God’s explicit promise that the church cannot fail in her great commission, it will destroy the gates of hell (Matt. 16:18–19), and that He will be with us always (Matt. 28:18–20), and that He shall reign from his heavenly throne until all His enemies are under His feet (1 Cor. 15:24–26; Heb. 10:12–13); yet we act and vote like we don’t believe any of these promises from God, or indeed like we reject God completely in exchange for methods and standards of government patterned after the pagans around us.
In short, preaching politics is not enough. When you reject the restraints of biblical law, preaching politics is not much more than aiding and abetting the enemy in his quest to destroy the dominion of God’s law in society. You may do so with good intentions and in the name of the Bible, but without the very substance the Bible gives for this purpose, you undermine and blaspheme the cause and its Author.
Be clear: this is not just about the embarrassment of having to retract your endorsement. It’s about the danger you pose to society when you try to promote Christian influence without biblical standards to do it. It’s one thing to embarrass yourself before men. It’s quite another to mislead a whole nation before God.