Just what we need, another prominent evangelical making it theologically easier for Christians not to get involved in the political process. Franklin Graham begins his article on "Christians must focus on God, not politics" with the obligatory acknowledgment that he has "always used whatever influence and platform [he] had to urge everyone to vote." Then comes the inevitable "but": "But as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have a higher calling than getting out to vote or ‘getting out the vote,’" Graham wrote. Is a “minister of the gospel” the only higher calling? It seems to me that politics is also a high calling. More about that in a moment. I wonder what Graham might say ten years from now when new laws could be passed to keep Christians from preaching the gospel because they didn’t get out to vote because everyone was involved in their higher calling to the inclusion of everything else God considers to be important?
Christians are ministers of the gospel, he reminds us, and therefore we are obligated to "offer the message of the Gospel . . . to people of every race, creed, age, walk of life and political persuasion." He goes on to argue, "It is ultimately God who saves and prospers us. He is our hope–not Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives." Who says otherwise? A similar argument was made by John MacArthur in his book Why Government Can’t Save You. Whoever said it could?
Graham goes on to exhort Christian leaders to keep their focus "on our true calling, which is spiritual, not political." Let’s play fill in the blank using the title to Graham’s article:
- "Christians must focus on God, not economics because economics is not spiritual."
- "Christians must focus on God, not education because education is not spiritual."
- "Christians must focus on God, not work because work is not spiritual."
- "Christians must focus on God, not outlawing slavery because working to abolish slavery is not spiritual."
The list could go on. But we know that the Bible has a great deal to say about economics, education, work, and slavery. When we focus on God, we get a right perspective on all of life. God wants us to do the right thing in economics, education, work, and politics because they are all spiritual endeavors.
Contrary to Graham, spirituality is not an abstraction, the unseen and ethereal realm above us cut off from this world. Has he not read Francis Schaeffer? To be spiritual is to be guided by the Holy Spirit in the here and now; therefore, we should study God’s Word to learn what it says about everything, including politics. Dividing life between spiritual and secular has created the mess we are living in at the moment. God created this world for our good (Gen. 1:31). The civil magistrate is a "minister of God . . . for good" (Rom. 13:4). You can’t get any more spiritual than that!
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Christians spend more time on the job and in the classroom than they ever do in a lifetime of politics. We vote every two years. It takes 30 minutes to learn what candidates believe. It may take another hour to go to the polls and vote. Why not tell Christians to give up their jobs and quit going to school so they can focus on preaching the gospel? Talk about time killers.
When a warning is raised that a thief is about to come in and steal from you, or that a murderer is on the loose, you better drop everything and get busy protecting yourself and your family. Civil government is stealing from us in the way it taxes our income. Civil government has made killing preborn babies a legal right. Civil government has created a near educational monopoly that is making children subjects and wards of the State. Civil government has created a perpetual underclass, a form of institutional slavery, through confiscatory taxation and wealth redistribution.
Graham is the CEO and president of the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. It does good work in helping to relieve poverty in third-world countries. The main reason there is poverty in these countries is due to the sinful misuse of politics. It’s typical of missionary enterprises to meet the “spiritual and physical needs of hurting people around the world,” as Graham’s organization does. But they fail to deal with what’s actually causing the poverty. If you want to help the poor, get government out of the poverty business. But you can’t do that if Christian leaders are minimizing the effects politics is having on our lives.
It’s the fact that Christians are focused on God that we are involved in politics so we can work to put these ungodly and debilitating actions to an end. Graham and his organization can put all the money they can get their hands on their relief work, but it will never alleviate poverty. Being a new creature in Christ must lead to the "renewing of the mind" (Rom. 12:2) and the hand (1 Cor. 4:12). That is, it’s not enough to get people saved; they must understand how God’s Word is applicable to every facet of life, including politics! What’s a Christian teenager to do with the next 70 years of his life? Simply preach the gospel and view any other endeavor as a distraction? Who will make the food to distribute to the poor? Who will make the bags and boxes to hold the food? Who will build the trucks to haul the food? Who will drill for the oil to be refined into gasoline to drive the trucks? You get the picture.
Graham ends his muddled article with this obvious claim: "God . . . doesn’t need our vote." If Christians don’t stay involved in the political process, I can guarantee you that the State–our new god–won’t need our vote either. We’ll end up under a dictatorship where Christians will be denied the right to vote and the freedom to preach the gospel. It’s happened before, so don’t say it can’t happen here.
To focus on God is to preach the gospel and apply God’s Word to every area of life. Anything less, and we are less than Bible-believing Christians. We might as well capitulate to the secularists who claim that religion and life should be separate.