How Would Jesus Vote (And is that an appropriate question)?

That’s the provocative question asked in a new special issue of Modern Reformation magazine. It’s so new and special that it isn’t on the website yet, but you may call them (800 890 7556) or contact them online for more info. This special political issue features an essay by Mike Horton, “Church or Political Action Committee?,” a transcript of the excellent roundtable discussion featuring Mike, Darryl Hart, Dan Bryant, and Neil McBride, an essays by David VanDrunen, “Life Beyond Judgment,” Michael Glodo, “A Tale of Two Kingdoms,” and brief essays by Timothy George, Don Eberly, and William Inboden. This is an outstanding resource for those looking for an alternative way of looking at politics that is faithful to the faith, thoughtful about politics but doesn’t confuse the two.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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25 comments

  1. I must disagree with the interviews being “outstanding”. There is no way an honest Christian could be a member of a party that has as its platform the murder and annihilation of unborn images of God.

  2. I must disagree with Benjamin. There is no way an honest Christian can be a member of a theological party that fundamentally misses messianic fulfillment and joins in the cultural wars.

  3. The VanDrunen essay is a cogent explanation of the relationship between the doctrines of the ordo salutis and two kingdoms. Neither the elephant or the donkey are mentioned. Not sure what your point is, Benjamin.

  4. Christ the Center was excellent as usual this week.

    Stephen,

    You do know that a platform of the Democrat Party is the proliferation of clinics of murder? So how could a Christian willingly vote and or/or be a member of a political party that advocates the violation of the 6th commandment as the Democratic strategist Neil McBride claims to be? Of course as Zrim says I “miss the point”…

    Enjoy your cloistered Calvinism.

  5. Benjamin,

    So, to disagree with you is dishonest? Neil McBride is dishonest? Could one not be a Democrat and reject that tenet of the platform? Do you think that McBride accepts that tenet of the platform?

    As to what is “outstanding,” you imply there could be no outstanding presentation of ideas with which you disagree?

  6. The Elephants are on record promoting the “new reality” of perpetual war for perpetual peace. But its all good, because their aims are noble… they told me so.

    And besides, its all a glorious faith-based initiative. There will finally be Christians in Iraak, now that our short-term mission trips can get over there! Baptize sum folks–dunkum in the Yewfrateez! Yee ha!

    Christians all know the deal: abortion is evil; just war theory is passe, naive.

    Vote for the “party-of-life”. C’mon, you can trust them to be good judges of whose lives count. Be good, and perform your sacrament–pull the leveRRRR. It’s the Christian thing to do.

  7. Dr. Clark,

    As a “fan” of Stoic philosophy I can appreciate Marcus Aurelius and find him an engaging and “outstanding” thinker without becoming a Stoic. One of the reasons I a member of no organized political party is because by making yourself a member of said party you implicitly accept the tenets of that party. To be a member of the Democrat Party one has aligned themselves with an organization that has as its goal the proliferation of the murder of the unborn, which is completely unacceptable. I heard or read no mention by Neil McBride of any attempt as to reform the Party’s platform in this regard or any critique thereof. On a separate note his support for “what Rick Warren is doing” and his critique of the pro-life movement as “being obsessed with the first nine months of life that we [don’t] really have much to say about the next eighteen or seventy years”(which Dr. Hart quickly dismissed in his following answer) is troublesome. By the way I am not sure where you get one must agree with me to be “outstanding”? The point is Dr. Clark that integrity matters. It matters who you associate yourself with (which was my reason for leaving the Republican Party) and the goals and ideologies of that organization. Do you know Mr. McBride’s ecclesiastical affiliation, because in MR it was not disclosed.

    Look the interviews were great listening and I was able to be learn much from them, to label them “outstanding” is a bit much. I receive Modern Reformation magazine so I was able to both listen to them and read them as well as Dr. VanDrunen’s excellent essay. Is it not okay to critique WHI or MR? If not then I will not do so anymore here.

  8. Given Rick Warren’s recent urging of public support for Prop 8 in California, I presume he’s a good example of two kingdoms confusion?

  9. “There is no way an honest Christian can be a member of a theological party that fundamentally misses messianic fulfillment and joins in the cultural wars.”

    Obviously the Reformers, Puritans and Covenanters forgot Zrim’s words of wisdom.

  10. MB,

    This is a difficult one. OTOH, it seems clear that God’s law forbids same-sex relations and same-sex marriages. Christians are certainly free and even have a duty to apply God’s creational, moral law to such issues. Even pagans can tell that same-sex relations are against nature and an abomination to God. Paul makes this clear. Whether ministers ought to speak to a ballot proposition is another matter. A minister may and ought to speak to the moral, creational questions of sin and righteousness, but as to telling folks how to vote, that’s more problematic. Is he speaking as a minister or as private person? Yes, I know there’s a long history of ministers preaching election-day sermons and speaking out on such issues, but were they right to do so? Personally, I would very much like to speak my mind about this but I am constrained by my ordination to preach the law and the gospel and from speaking what has now become a political issue. Were it a bi-partisan matter perhaps a minister might speak to it. Should a minister run for city council or should he resign his ministerial calling before entering the service of the civic kingdom? Again, I’m very unhappy about the way my city government functions. Sometimes I think I should do something about it but I am ordained to the service, in this world to be sure, of a transcendent kingdom, and as an officer in that kingdom I need to keep my civil and political opinions to myself lest I injure my credibility relative to the gospel and, as you say, confuse the two kingdoms. It is unjust for a minister to attempt to transfer the credibility he might have (ought ot have) as a minister of Christ to this or that social issue. The gospel is too valuable to risk it.

    Daniel,

    The Reformers and their successors in the 17th century were mostly theocrats and they were wrong. They were mostly geocentrists and they were wrong about that too.

  11. Ben,

    Do all members of all political parties necessarily accept all the tenets of that party? Really? So Bob Casey accepted all the tenets of the Democrat Party? No, he didn’t. Clearly the current Republican candidate doesn’t accept all the platform of his party. There are Libertarians who don’t accept all the tenets of that party.

    This premise is essential to your argument but it’s the weakest premise of your argument.

  12. “The Reformers and their successors in the 17th century were mostly theocrats and they were wrong. They were mostly geocentrists and they were wrong about that too.”

    Prove the final point, and prove that it was based on Biblical exegesis.

  13. Daniel,

    I let your post remain just for fun, but you write one of the more, shall we say, pointed pro-theonomic blogs in the Reformed universe.

    Why do you hang out here and why do you waste my time? You know what I think and I know and have read what you think. You feign civility here but you sling rocks and mud over there. I’ve been hard on the theonomists, okay, so perhaps I deserve it. Somebody has to stand up and speak about the damage that the theonomic and reconstructionist movements have done to the NAPARC world (and beyond).

    I don’t understand what game you’re playing. My views on theocracy and theonomy are easily discoverable. I just published a volume in which I discuss them. I’ve been writing them on the HB for a couple of years. This blog isn’t a forum, however, for the promulgation of theonomy and theocracy. If anyone cares to read your opinions they may do so at at their leisure but not here. You may say what you want about me at your place and I’m sure you will, but not here.

    For those who are interested:

    Theonomy and Federal Vision: Separated a Birth?

    Evangelicalism and the Reformed View of the Law

    Resources on Natural Law

  14. “I must disagree with Benjamin. There is no way an honest Christian can be a member of a theological party that fundamentally misses messianic fulfillment and joins in the cultural wars.”

    Classic! See you in Rhode Island (historical joke)

  15. Dr. Clark,

    Is not the difference between us really whether or not we believe being a member of a political party requires you to hold to their stated “confessional” positions in a quai manner as opposed to a quatenus manner?

    The example of Bob Casey, Jr. is a weak one in my opinion. I live in PA and his voting record shows him to be a pro-choice supporter, regardless of what he claims to hold personally. But whether or not one’s personal religion should influence his/her vote is a different matter to speak about in these times.

    Blessings,

  16. Benjamin,

    1. I think you want quia (because) rather than “quai.”

    2. Isn’t there a great difference between a political party and a religious confession? A Reformed church confesses what they do because it’s biblical, but here we’re dealing with ultimate questions, with redemption, and the kingdom of God. With a political party, we’re dealing with penultimate things. Yes, abortion is a matter of life and death but so is the death penalty and so is just war theory and so are other things. Life and death is very important and citizens ought to think abut these things according to the law of God as revealed in creation and as written on their consciences.

    Political parties and partisan politics, however, are more about policy and the way or the means by which one achieves certain policies. One may not compromise about things like the gospel, but compromise is inherent to politics and policy. One has to take into account a variety of factors when evaluating one’s political affiliation or voting choices.

    We have intentional, special divine revelation that governs the faith and life of the church. We do not have such intentional, special, divine revelation that governs our civil life with the same specificity. We are not national Israel. We are not in national covenant with Christ. The national covenant has been fulfilled by Christ. National Israel has expired. The national, civil, penal laws have been fulfilled and have expired.

    In the absence of such special civil revelation, in light of the end of the national covenant, in the light of the manifest imperfections of all political parties and their platforms are contradictory, one may certainly make arguments and have strong preferences, but to equate them to an ecclesiastical confession regarding the kingdom of God, the gospel, and the sacraments, seems exceptionally difficult and perhaps even unwise.

  17. “Why do you hang out here and why do you waste my time? You know what I think and I know and have read what you think.”

    Because I actually think you have some useful things to say on other issues.

  18. Dr. Clark,

    1) Slip of the keyboard. I type faster than I think.

    2) I was not equating a 21st-century political platform and 16th-Century confession, at least I hope you did not think I was trying to say they were the same thing.

    3) It may be difficult on some issues and good Christians can disagree on issues like tax policy, border control, etc.. but one cannot compromise on the murder of the unborn. Anyone who supports Abortion by voting for those who do is condoning the actions of the active violators of the 6th Commandment.

  19. Benjamin,

    Why do the rules for liberty change for one particular issue? I assume you have moral grounds. But do not tax issue and border control concerns also have moral aspects to them?

    Honestly, I personally have little to no sympathy with either natalists or feminists on this one. (When it comes to whose individual rights should win the day, I’m a states’ rights sympathizer.) But I have an easier time with natalists and feminists who don’t go so far as to bind my states’ rights conscience by cordoning off true piety the way you do. To be honest, I suspect that this high-octane natalism you display owes much to the modern spirit that seems to think children are special creatures who deserve special treatment. Thus, when it comes to certain legislation that involves them, the rules are re-written to serve a hands-off posture.

  20. Zrim,

    I actually just like kids to be allowed to live and not murdered, but whatever floats your boat.

    But seriously do you the murder of the unborn is a morally neutral thing Zrim?

  21. Dr. Clark,

    I appreciate the thoughtful response. Thank you. If we all focused our attention every week entirely on Christ and him crucified, we wouldn’t have time to get around to these ancillary issues, whatever their merit.

    Mike

  22. Benjamin,

    Short answer: No, it is not morally neutral. The psychology of theonomy truly is a thing to behold.

    Extended answer: Let me briefly unpack my own views and show that I do in fact have a conscience in order to perhaps circumvent the next charge which will be some form of antinomianism.

    To my admittedly dim lights, the question is not “may she or mayn’t she” but “who gets to decide?” The national debates, pre-dominated by natalists and feminists alike, are typically framed by the former question. Despite what most natalists seem to assume the “reversal of Roe” literally means a return to states’ rights, not a federal ban on abortion. If it helps you, when the question is cast in the former, I say she mayn’t. But it’s not because I think children are “innocent” and “deserve” rigorous protection against the injuries of life the rest of ours aren’t afforded by virtue of being in vitro. It’s because I just don’t see why one segment of the human population should be able to hold sway, at whim, over the life and death of another segment simply by virtue of the fact that they house those in vitro. (I also don’t make the usual caveats for sexual violence against women, which I like to think is even more conservative than the typical conservative.)

    However in my opinion, just like the feminists who invoke a lot of oppression- and patriarchialism-speak, when the language of “murder” and “baby killing” and “holocaust” is used by natalists, or they make absurd connections to human slavery and racism, the conversations predictably shut down; they become more the ideological rants of moralists.

    But back to the larger point, the irony about your initial comment is how, instead of theological devotion, theonomists make ideological conclusion the measure of truer piety, casting someone out merely because of his political affliations or devotions; this from those who suggest that OT law has to be re-invoked as if Jesus was less than a full Messiah (the reverse of some forms of Dispensationalism). What’s perhaps worse is that the rank and file in Reformed environs don’t bat an eye at comments like yours, which indicates to me the most deadly form of theonomy–the strong, silent type. In other words, if it’s religious intolerance anyone is after it ought to be against theological views which do violence to the biblical witness, not those of a disputable ideological character.

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