Must We Change Our Theology to Vote for Mitt?

Veteran readers of the HB may remember that I expressed concern in 2009 over a comment by William Evans, The Younts Professor of Bible and Religion at Erskine College, about what he called the need for a “decisive break with the ordo salutis thinking.” At the time I interpreted his apparent rejection of virtually the entire history of Reformed theology as over enthusiastic support for an idiosyncratic, revisionist view of the doctrine of union with Christ.

Now, however, it seems as if that earlier statement of program might have been more significant than I realized. In a recent post on the Aquila Report, Evans attempts to work through the problem of Christians voting for Mormons. He points to a an article by Vanderbilt historian Kathleen Flake that notes the links between historic Christianity and Mormonism, which notes that Mormonism is “profoundly adaptive of historic Christianity’ theological traditions.” He continues by observing the commonalities between Mormonism and Christianity, that both affirm the need for salvation through Christ, the reality of divine grace, while observing the different functions of grace and Christ in historic Christianity and Mormonism. He notes that Mormonism denies the doctrine of the Trinity and that Mormonism has a “much more dynamic” view of the deity than does Christianity. Thus, he writes, Mormonism is not “Christian” in the “ordinary language” sense of the term.

Reformed folk, he writes, need to remember that Mormons are not precise, creedal people. They are people of a story, of a book, who are enthused about their own participation as North Americans in the history of salvation, which the Mormons extend to this continent via claims of special revelation. Thus, despite the very significant differences between Christianity and Mormonism, Evans says,

I also have little doubt that there are Mormons who are looking in faith to Christ for salvation. In addition, the argument can be made that Mormons are closer to biblical truth on some issues than many liberal Protestants.

As a creedal, catholic, Reformed Christian my first reaction is to think of the language of the (7th century) Athanasian Creed, the first lines of which say:

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity.

For good measure, the last line of the creed says:

This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

In light of this language, it would seem that the church has not historically shared Evans’ confidence. Is it possible to deny the Trinity and look to Christ in faith for salvation?

Then, one also thinks of Cyprian’s dictum,

Outside of the church there is no salvation (extra ecclesiam nulla salus est).

Before we get too excited about using Cyprian as a measuring stick for Reformed orthodoxy, let us recall that both the Belgic Confession (1561) and the Westminster Confession (1648) repeat it. Belgic Confession article 28 says:

We believe that since this holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation apart from it, no one ought to withdraw from it, content to be by himself, regardless of his status or condition (emphasis added).

Article 29 confession defines “true church” as that assembly that bears the marks of a true church:

  1. The Pure Preaching of the Gospel
  2. The Pure Administration of the Sacraments
  3. The Use of Church Discipline

Heinrich Bullinger’s Second Helvetic Confession (published 1566) articulated the same view:

But we esteem fellowship with the true Church of Christ so highly that we deny that those can live before God who do not stand in fellowship with the true Church of God, but separate themselves from it. For as there was no salvation outside Noah’s ark when the world perished in flood; so we believe that there is no certain salvation outside Christ, who offers himself to be enjoyed by the elect in the Church; and hence we teach that those who wish to live ought not to be separated from the true Church of Christ.

Eighty years later, the Divines reiterated this view in Westminster Confession Faith 25.2:

The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation (emphasis added).

The obvious plagiarism of the Holy Scriptures by the Mormon sect notwithstanding, the Mormon faith is not the Christian faith. Neither the Mormon Temple nor any Mormon stake is a Christian congregation. No Mormon assembly has the marks of true church. Mormonism denies the gospel. Mormonism has no true sacrament. These are marks of a true church. Ergo, Mormonism is not a church. Outside of the church there is ordinarily no salvation. To say anything about eternal fate of Mormons is speculation but nothing in the catholic creeds and the Reformed confessions is encouraging.

This post reminds me of the approach that Chuck Colson took during the ECT negotiations. In this case, as in the earlier, there is no need to blur the boundaries between Christianity and Mormonism or to find a way to get Mormons into heaven, as it were, in order to justify voting for a Mormon candidate. All we need do is to distinguish between two spheres under the sovereign rule of Christ. In those two spheres Christ rules both by different principles. The temporal sphere is essentially governed by the law principle.

Yes, we want mercy from the magistrate but but chiefly we want the civil magistrate to enforce the law, to fulfill his constitutional duties. Can a Mormon fulfill his constitutional duties? Yes. We have had Quaker presidents (Nixon) and Roman Catholic presidents (Kennedy) and a good number of presidents who likely had no religious faith at all. A candidate’s religion is of general interest as we evaluate his ability to fulfill the duties of the office but it’s hard to see how it’s definitive or otherwise such that we need to re-define the relations between Christianity and sects in order to justify voting for a sectarian.

The spiritual sphere operates with both law and gospel. In its pedagogical use the law drives sinners to Christ. In its normative use the law structures the Christian’s life, lived in union with Christ, by grace alone, through faith alone. The good news, viewed prospectively or retrospectively, is the announcement of the accomplishment of salvation for Christ’s people and given freely to sinners and received by God’s free favor alone, through resting on and receiving Christ’s righteousness alone, on the basis of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness alone.

The church is the one divine institution that is charged with administering that grace and that message. To the magistrate belongs to the civil use of the law. If we make a basic distinction between the two spheres under God’s providence, it would seem that Christians may vote for candidates who disagree with us theologically, who may be members of a sect or members of no religious association at all, who nevertheless give evidence of the necessary ability and will to exercise their office in accord with basic American principles embodied in our founding documents.

As citizens of the heavenly kingdom (Phil 3:20) and as citizens of earthly political communities simultaneously (Rom 13) we do best to let Christianity be what it is, with all its offense to Jew and Greek alike, to let Mormonism be what it is, and to resist the temptation to shave the differences in the interests of our earthly political communities.

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  1. Hey Dr. Clark!
    Just letting you know, I got your RRC from interlibrary loan and plan to pick it up later at the local library.

  2. Your question only applies to some, but not everyone on the Christian Right. I am reminded of one well known pastor in Texas that initially supported the governor of Texas. I heard him say that if governor Romney wants people to vote for him, he should stop talking about his Mormon faith. Basically the more the Romney campaign talks about Romney’s faith, the more Christians will respond and say that Mormonism is not Christian. I am not saying this is good or bad; I am just repeating what I have heard.

    One thing I do find beneficial about a Mormon in the White House is that it will make some on the Christian Right more two-kingdom like. I have a hard time believing that Christians that are serious about theology will pray with a Mormon. I don’t think many of those Christians will like the idea of a Mormon leading people in things like national prayer. This is what I essentially sensed in the Texan pastor, and I like this. I no longer want to hear prayers at the inauguration, hear the Bible read there, or see the president in the National Cathedral for national services.

  3. Because I am a staunch 2ker, it gives me the liberty to endorse Romney. I think (if he gets voted in) he will prove to be the best president since Reagan.

    As a Christian, I pray for the salvation of Romney. He seems like a great guy and a real nice family to boot.

    Alberto – Very good points on Romney and forcing folks to look at the two kingdoms.

    By the way, Pastor Riddlebarger is working on a new book on the two kingdoms.

    • Lloyd,

      I couldn’t agree with you more with respect to your 2k liberty, but choosing between Romney and Obama is to me about like choosing between beets and brussel sprouts… kind of stomach turning either way. I’ll either vote for Gary Johnson or Donald Duck, but I am admittedly pessimistic ove the whole notion of American politics at present.

  4. Nice to see you back in the blogosphere prof Clark. I’ve always found R2K to offer perceptive advice on issues like this, if only because of its clarity in the nature of the gospel, justification, sanctification, etc., as well as its clarity in ecclesiology and the role of these doctrines in public life. Soteriology does not tell me how to vote…political theory does. However, living in the two worlds of the OPC/a student of theology, as well as grad school in philosophy, what has long baffled me is the lack of Reformed scholars working on or informed in ethics, political philosophy, or moral psychology. Kloosterman and DVD write on natural law, for instance, but virtually never interact with actual natural law ethicists (much less with ethics in general). Watching such debates unfold is like watching English professors debate about Puritan theology when the have only ever read Edwards’s “Sinners,” e.g. The examples are endless IMO. But more relevant to your post, almost every political theory on offer fails to provide justification for many of Romney’s policies. Maybe it is just a function of who I know, but that is not a debate that is either going on or could go on in the Reformed world, because so few bother to read outside their tradition.

    • pa, out of curiosity, which natural law ethicists or moral psychologists should they be citing?

      I dunno, perhaps they haven’t been referencing secular material so much because of the limited usefulness in the prescription for the church? After all, I’ve never felt the need to bring out Weber, Durkheim, or Eliade when teaching or debating the Christian religion among Christians (though you almost have to if you’re discussing religion in the social sciences).

  5. First off, I fought aggressively against Romney’s nomination. I believe he is a liberal Republican, I believe he is a lifelong supporter of abortion (along with his mother all the way back to the Michigan governor’s race in the 1970s) who changed his position not out of personal conviction but merely because poll data showed a pro-abortionist could never win the Republican nomination, and I believe he was virtually the worst possible candidate to win the Republican nomination.

    I’m not going to criticize fellow Christians who believe they cannot in good conscience vote for Mitt Romney. His history of support for abortion raises legitimate Romans 13 questions since he has a decades-long history of refusing to use the power of the government in defense of the unborn. I can see why Christians could say they cannot vote for Romney no matter how bad his opponent may be.

    Having said that, “Two Kingdoms” people do not have a monopoly on saying believers can support unbelievers in public office. The supporters of King Cyrus, King Henry VIII, and William of Orange, to name just a few, were certainly not unaware of the fact that these people were doing good things for the church politically while having personal lives that ranged from avowed pagan unbelief to gross immorality to personal moral problems that should have been unacceptable for a Reformed church member.

    I believe Kuyperian principles of sphere sovereignty are quite effective in making clear that the Romans 13 standards for the role of civil government are not the same as the I Timothy and Titus standards for selecting elders and deacons. The Reformation was accomplished in significant measure because unbelieving civil rulers used the destruction of the political power of Roman Catholicism for their own political ends.

    Anyone in evangelical circles who minimizes the seriousness of Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs is making a very major mistake. Frankly, the 2012 election may well be a sign of God’s judgment upon America by giving us two candidates who are both obvious opponents of the cross of Christ. The selection of Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee says at least as much about the problems of the Republicans as the selection of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 says about the problems of the Democratic Party.

    • Darrell,

      I thought William of Orange was a Christian and a proponent and defender of Reformation theology. I know there are thoughts that he was homosexual, but I have also heard that this is unfounded and probably not true. Certainly, he was a great deliverer and help to the Reformed. I’m not sure why someone would do this if he (or she) didn’t love the Reformation himself…

      Could you (or anyone who reads this) help me have more information on him regarding his faith, sympathies with the Reformation, etc.?

      Chuck Fry

    • Chuck, the short version is that William of Orange supported the Reformation for very mixed motives. Think Henry VIII, or a fair number of the Protestant princes of Germany, without being as extreme. The reality is that a number of civil rulers in Europe of the 1400s and 1500s were men of low personal morality. William of Orange’s life was nowhere near as bad as many who were defenders of the Reformation.

      More could be said, but he was not someone most of us would accept into membership of our churches without some very serious conversations.

      My point was not primarily to attack William of Orange, but rather to say that even some the Reformation leaders whose lives were not publicly notorious had significant issues. I was trying to cite three categories of people who God has used in the political realm — open unbelievers like King Cyrus, grossly public sinners like King Henry VIII, and people of more ordinary levels of sinful behavior that most of us would not tolerate in our churches today.

      God can and has used people to advance his kingdom who do not meet the standards we would expect of church officers or even of church members. There are people who romanticize and idealize the Reformation and demand standards of perfection that simply were not present at the time of the Reformation except in sectarian extremist groups such as the Anabaptists.

      That is a factor we need to consider as conservatives. There is a time to secede and say we cannot continue walking together with wickedness, but our Reformed forefathers preached against and fought against things which would cause many modern conservatives to throw up their hands in disgust and simply quit in frustration. Our goal must be a true church, not a pure church, and there is a very important difference between those two goals.

    • Chuck, I just realized you may be thinking of a different William of Orange, the one who ruled the Netherlands as William III of Orange and later became King of England. I’m referring to the earlier William the Silent who was largely responsible for preventing the Roman Catholic destruction of Calvinism in the Netherlands.

      As much good as the first William of Orange did for the church, he had at least one illegitimate son, divorced one of his wives for reasons most conservative Reformed churches would consider insufficient, and only left the Roman Catholics and joined the Reformed Church years after the Dutch revolt began. After his assassination, his second successor, Prince Maurice, never married but had multiple illegitimate children and was an alcoholic who died of alcoholism. Despite those personal problems, his military prowess was key in securing Dutch independence.

      I freely grant that by the standards of the time, their personal morality was a lot less bad than many of their contemporary civil rulers, and that is perhaps why their personal lives are less well known than those of the Medici popes or of Henry VIII.

      However, I can’t think of any URC congregations where people with such backgrounds would be allowed to serve in office, and many would not let such men join as members.

      We need to be realistic about our history. Some very crooked sticks were used by God to draw straight lines that made the Reformation possible.

    • Hi Darrell,

      Thank you for your answers. They are helpful and I appreciate you taking time.

      The William of O I was thinking of is of the “William and Mary” fame. I did not realize there were two of them!

      Once again, thank you.


    • Glad to help, Chuck.

      Our Reformed history is messy. As Calvinists, that shouldn’t surprise us because God uses messy and sinful people to accomplish His sovereign will. I think it’s important to be realistic rather than romantic about our history, while not acting as if civil rulers in the 1400s and 1500s were pure pragmatists who merely used religion for secular goals.

      A European civil ruler five centuries ago cannot simply be assumed to be a Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum in old-fashioned clothes — never mind that the most pious Protestants and Catholics from that era were killing each other, not campaigning for each other. There were certainly pious and devout civil rulers in that era, but there were many others whose walk did not match their talk in any way remotely comparable to what we would expect today from a Christian in politics.

      On the other hand, we can’t pretend that most civil rulers from that era were secular libertarian conservatives who focused on the economy and national defense or secular dialectical materialists of the socialist mold. Religion was an important part of people’s lives in that era even when their personal morality had major problems. Despite the pre-Reformation role of the Enlightenment and humanism, the modern liberal-conservative divisions owe their roots more to the 1700s and 1800s than to the 1500s and 1600s.

    • Thank you, Mark.

      If I can agree with and even work with a fundamental Baptist and a traditional Roman Catholic in the sphere of civil government, certainly I can work with someone who uses what has become known as a “Two Kingdoms” view of Reformed theology, using a different view of the role of the natural law but getting more or less to the same positions.

      My guess is that some of the people involved in practical politics who advocate a “Two Kingdoms” view are doing so because they want to find a theological way to cooperate in politics while maintaining high confessional standards in the church. If that’s the root motive, I can understand that and to a very large extent sympathize with the intent.

      An important principle of politics is to take friends where you can find them. We live in a winner-take-all system of electoral politics, not a parliamentary system with proportional representation, so getting to 50 percent is critical. That forces people with important differences to cooperate.

      Conservatives have a harder time doing that than liberals because unlike liberal philosophies of politics, we **DO** believe in the existence of absolute truth. That’s where I find Kuyper’s doctrine of the spheres helpful in pointing out why I can work with people in the sphere of the civil magistrate with whom I cannot share ecclesiastical ties due to doctrinal differences, and with whom establishing family ties would be a violation of Scripture.

  6. YOU SAY: Yes, we want mercy from the magistrate but but chiefly we want the civil magistrate to enforce the law, to fulfill his constitutional duties. Can a Mormon fulfill his constitutional duties? Yes.

    COMMENT: And what law, whose law, should the magistrate enforce? Would a Mormon believe that it is the role of the magistrate (as it is) to enforce God’s Law, the Law of the God of the Bible? No. Thus, Mormons and all unbelievers are unfit, unqualified to hold the office of magistrate because they do not agree with the God of the Bible (the only true God there is) as to the role and purpose of civil government, the magistrate.

    YOU SAY: A candidate’s religion is of general interest as we evaluate his ability to fulfill the duties of the office but it’s hard to see how it’s definitive or otherwise such that we need to re-define the relations between Christianity and sects in order to justify voting for a sectarian….

    COMMENT: With all due respect, please, I don’t care about “religion.” I do however care very much whether our rulers are CHRISTIAN, whether they are Christ-honoring and Bible-believing. Because such rulers are a blessing, as God’s Word makes clear. Thus, the “religion” of a candidate is much more than of “general interest.” It tells you, among other things, whether that candidate is for or against Christ. In fact, the “religion” of a candidate is the most important thing you can know about a candidate because a person’s “religion” tells you who or what controls them when nobody is looking.

    YOU SAY: To the magistrate belongs to the civil use of the law. If we make a basic distinction between the two spheres under God’s providence, it would seem that Christians may vote for candidates who disagree with us theologically, who may be members of a sect or members of no religious association at all, who nevertheless give evidence of the necessary ability and will to exercise their office in accord with basic American principles embodied in our founding documents.

    COMMENT: For Christians who vote, who choose rulers, the standard must be Scripture, God’s Word, and NOT whether they will exercise their office “in accord with basic American principles embodied in our founding documents.” That is “civil religion” and not Christianity.

    God’s Word says, among other things, that His people must choose rulers who are “God-fearing.” In Deuteronomy 1:13 God tells His people: “Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.” And in Exodus 18:21 He says: “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands , and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”

    And there are other more general Bible verses that I believe apply to the issue of choosing rulers. For example, God’s Word tells us that whatsoever is not “of faith” is sin (Romans 14:23.) In addition, God’s Word also tells us that all that we do must be done for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31.) And Colossians 3:17 says that “whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Is voting for an unbeliever such as the Mormon Romney “of faith?” No. Does voting to choose a ruler who believes what Romney believes glorify God? No. Would a vote to choose Romney or any unbeliever as one of our rulers be a vote “in the Name of Jesus?” No.

    To say that it is OK for Christians to vote for someone “of no religious association at all” is to say that belief in Jesus, allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, does not matter. To say that it is OK for Christians to vote for someone “of no religious association at all” is to throw Jesus under the bus.

    John Lofton, Recovering Republican

  7. As a 2k guy I would have to question DTM’s attempt to discern providence and read the religious beliefs of Presidential candidates as some sort of judgment of God on a geo-political nation.

    • Not going to go down that road, ZRim, or at least not very far. You and I both know I do not believe in continuing revelation or predictive prophecy.

      Here’s what I think we can say as a matter of fact on which most if not all people reading this will agree. As a Mormon, Mitt Romney’s openly professed doctrinal beliefs are in direct contradiction to the Word of God. The same can be said of President Barack Obama’s beliefs, to the extent we know them from the preaching of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s own actions.

      These men didn’t get the nominations of their respective political parties by accident. They are a fair reflection of the beliefs of the majority of politically active Democrats, and at least a plurality of politically active Republicans. I make that distinction because all three of the major Democratic Party candidates in 2008 shared the views to which I most object about Obama; the question in their party’s primary was not one of substance but merely of emphasis. By contrast, there were major differences on key moral issues between the major Republican candidates, and Mitt Romney was the least conservative of the major candidates on social issues.

      That does not bode well for the future of America. In a free republic, over time, people generally get the sorts of leaders they want. If what we want is Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, may God help us all.

  8. DTM, it’s one thing to formally reject continuing revelation or predictive prophecy, another to speak like a non-cessationist. To speculate on what God is doing to a nation by raising up two particular candidates sounds an awful lot like when Robertson speculates that terrorist attacks are judgments for gay pride parades, or when Piper speculates that tornadoes are signs of divine disapproval for ordaining homosexuals.

    So if you do reject continuing revelation or predictive prophecy then speak like it.

    • ZRim, Scripture teaches clearly that God judges not only individuals but also churches and nations for disobedience and wickedness.

      America is deserving of horrible punishment for our decades of baby-killing. Just that one sin would be enough to draw down God’s displeasure, but we are inventing new ways of wickedness. As we continue to compound our sins and move into greater and greater evil. we can expect more and more serious punishments from God.

      Of course, we don’t have the predictive prophecy of the Old Testament or New Testament prophets, so we can never say with certainty that a specific action was a punishment for a specific type of wickedness.

      Furthermore, due to our original as well as our actual sins, the entire creation is groaning out. Not only does the good rain fall on the just and the unjust, the hail and lightning bolts fall on both the just and the unjust in ways they did not fall on pre-lapsarian Adam and Eve.

      What we **CAN** say with certainty is that as we increase our wickedness, what we deserve is far worse than what we have actually received so far.

  9. Zrim – Right on brother!

    I never vote for a candidate based on his or her religious beliefs.

    DTM – The Republican party (most of them) are ablaze with excitement of Romney getting voted in. His vision for getting the economy going again (which is why we like him) is right out of the Reagan camp.

    Romney is willing to protect the separation of church and state as his stance against forcing Rome to accept contraception against their religious beliefs indicates.

    His position of less taxes and regulations on businesses will allow the economy to grow at a far higher rate than the 1 & 1/2 percent average of the Obama administration. (By the way, Canada lowered their tax rates on business to 15% and their economy is really taking off. China’s economy grows at a 7.3 percent rate with virtually no taxes on businesses!)

    To speculate on what God is doing to raise up two candidates is something that Calvin has warned against in getting into the secret will of God, which is none of our business.

    • @ Lloyd — you have correctly described the attitude of the libertarian and economic conservative wing of the Republican Party regarding Romney. You won’t find anything close to that level of support for him among social conservatives.

      At best, Mitt Romney is the lesser of two evils. He is tolerable only because President Barack Obama’s positions are so much worse.

      Prior to running for president in 2008, Romney had a long history of bad positions on both abortion and homosexuality. It’s not just him; his own mother, when she ran for governor of Michigan, was pro-choice. His father, as governor of Michigan, was an aggressive opponent of what became the Reagan wing of the Republican Party.

      The Mormon ward (local church) that Mitt Romney would likely be attending since it’s closest to the White House is mostly composed of Democrats and has openly homosexual people leadership. I don’t think I can post hotlinks here, but go Google a Sept. 27 story in the Washington Post entitled “D.C. Third Ward Mormons would welcome Romney, even though most are Democrats.”

      Granted, that’s an unusual situation because of the inner-city nature of Washington right outside the downtown government district, but a more typical Mormon ward in suburban Washington DC might be the one attended by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

      There are a lot of people, myself included, who are scratching our heads at how Mormons can get away with things like this. I think those of us who have thought that the Mormons are socially conservative with a strong emphasis on family life are finding out that Mormons have much more diversity than we realized.

      My personal guess is that if Mitt Romney gets elected, he’s going to be the Republican Mormon equivalent of Democratic Catholic John F. Kennedy — someone who won office by pledging not to govern in accordance with the faith of his church, and who opened a huge wide-open door to liberal influences in both his church and his country.

      None of this bodes well for America’s future.

      • To not consider a candidate’s “religion” and, thus, deem that of no importance, is to say that belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is of no importance, which is to throw Jesus under the bus. Not wise….

        John Lofton

  10. @Lloyd…Republicans are ablaze with a hatred for Obama. They have cloaked themselves in a fog of cognitive dissonance thinking Romney is the second coming of Reagan.

  11. Didn’t know that anybody had to change their theology to vote for either a Mormon or a Black Liberation Theology candidate.
    A voter might have to re-calibrate his pragmaticism, if not his corresponding cynicism though. Crony capitalism (fascism) is no respecter of color or party.

    As for any concern that the führerprinzip is not alive and well in both branches of the Big Govt. Party – since both candidates affirm the NDAA – well, that would be totally unreasonable.

    Yet whether we call it the unitary executive, the centralization of executive power, or whatever, it would still seem to add up to the worship of power. Which, if we are not mistaken, in another venue would be called idolatry.

    No worries though. The church is apolitical if not un and doesn’t Rom. 13 teaches unqualified obedience to the magistrate and voting for the lesser of two evils? Aren’t they the same thing?

    The real Ronald Reagan aka Paul? Mitt, the mainstream socialist media and the establishment took a page from Nancy Pelosi and deep sixed his campaign. “Constitutional? Are you kidding?”


    I think we will need it.

  12. gas –

    I think initially the GOP was going for Romney just to get Obama out of there.

    Now, however, you can see with the turnouts for Romney accross the country, that he has really energized most of the Republican party. (Even Rush is excited about Romney!!!) Folks are really excited about the Romney-Ryan ticket.

    Romney really showed that he is serious about fixing the economy when he selected Ryan as VP, leaving many to scratch their heads, especially with the popular Rubio and Christie available.

    For me, I like Romney because I think that he can go a long ways towards fixing the economic mess our country is in.

    • People get excited about politicians because the fall in love with the myth, the consumer friendly, demographically generated phantasm. Which, we all, or at least those who’ve paid attention through life, never amounts to any success. The man who runs and the man who wins are always different creatures, the former strident while the latter is conciliatory. If you look closely, you can see that, at least for the last 40 or so years, the consecutive presidential administrations are just different acts in a Greek tragedy; different masks but essentially the same people. Not that I’m advocating apathy, but we have to keep in mind, that Romney is as much an ideological chameleon as the right says that Obama is, perhaps more so. He will do and say what it takes to get elected and if he wins, who knows what he’ll say then.

  13. DTM, and there it is–abortion. But I’m still not clear on how that issue gives you grounds to run up against Belgic 13:

    We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.

    Why are you speaking on behalf of God where he has not spoken? Why are you not limiting yourself to what he shows us in his Word? And what did Jesus mean when he said it is finished? Did he mean that the judgment of God against human sin was mostly satisfied but some is being reserved for geo-political nations that legislate in certain ways? How is what you’re saying any different from Roberston who draws straight lines from terrorist attacks to gay pride parades to God’s judgment?

    • ZRim, do you deny that sustained long-term defiance of God’s will results in God’s judgment upon not only individuals but also churches and nations?

      Apart from specific divine revelation, we cannot say with certainty that “Sin X” brought “Judgment Y.” That’s where the charismatics get in trouble.

      Furthermore, we see many examples in Scripture of God letting the wicked prosper in this world. In some ways, that is the worst judgment of all because it abandons or even encourages them in their wickedness. If God brought calamity upon them, they might be more willing to repent. That is where the “health and wealth gospel” people get in trouble.

      What we can say is that God will judge the wicked in his own ways and in his own time. America’s wickedness is stinking to high heaven in many ways — and if you think that’s a strong statement, go read what Puritan preachers said about America when things were much less wicked. Judgment is coming, and while we do not know the time or the hour, we can say it will not go well for the wicked.

      I happen to think it’s a good idea to try to do something about the wickedness in our society. If you want to limit your campaign against wickedness to the walls of the church, ZRim, fine. There’s plenty of stuff to clean up in plenty of places.

      But don’t try to say things don’t need to be cleaned up when baby killing, homosexuality, and a hundred other sins are not only tolerated but celebrated by increasing numbers of people in the nation where you and I both live.

  14. Darrell, I think, at least for me, the hiccup is when the coming judgment, as it were, is nationalized rather than globalized. America will be judged no different than Canada, or Mexico. America doesn’t sin collectively, nor can it repent collectively.

    Are there terrible things in our society? Yes, as there is in others. And there, like here, the problem is sin, not legislative. And we properly ameliorate and mediate sin in our society through Word and Sacrament on the Lord’s Day, not in the voting booth.

    That is not to say that our thoughts and actions in civil society should not reflect our faith, but we do so as pilgrims in this present evil age, not as those building a lasting city. The Gospel is blind to building codes, tax rates, whether we have a king or a premier; those are all circumstantial.

  15. DTM, what is curiously absent your comments is any recognition of Jesus’ satisfaction of God’s judgment. Wrath was poured out on him at the cross. I’m sure you formally confess that, but where or where does it figure into how you really see things? There is a judgment of the living and the dead to come. But in the meantime, between the judgment incurred at the cross and the one yet to come (both of which revealed by the Word), shouldn’t we be a bit more restrained about calling anything that happens the judgment of God?

    I get that there are bad, bad things happening in the world. But weren’t we told–in the BIBLE–to expect it and not be so surprised? That’s just life east of Eden. Your tone is so worrisome. Weren’t we also told not to worry? Isn’t the tone supposed to be a little more hopeful and expectant, even if restrained and sober?

    PS, I wonder if you could be more specific on what those “hundred other sins” are, because usually those who want to speak like you do give the impression that it’s only about abortion and homosexuality.

    • ZRim, I certainly agree with you that there are lots of other problems in America besides abortion and homosexuality. It would be hard to find any one of the Ten Commandments that isn’t under attack by active and aggressive political efforts in modern American politics.

      Homosexuality happens to be the current focus of liberal efforts to effect change. Abortion is a battle that the liberals won decades ago but it’s a hill they’re constantly having to fight to keep, and on which we have a realistic chance of winning. I suspect next week’s elections will determine whether federalizing the health care system (i.e., mandated payments for abortifacient drugs and a path toward advocacy of euthanasia) becomes a key political issue in the next few years. My guess is national health care is dead, but if it’s not, we may have to start fighting on end-of-life ethics.

      For better or for worse, conservative Christians aren’t setting the agenda in today’s America. We’re fighting battles whose timing and tactics have largely been chosen by people who bitterly hate what we believe.

    • Closing point, ZRim… if by “worry” you mean that I doubt the ultimate victory of God’s power, I have absolutely no worry about that at all.

      I do worry greatly about what is happening to the America in which my adopted daughter will grow up. Any evangelical Christian who doesn’t have that sort of concern either doesn’t have children or doesn’t have eyes. I live in a Southern community where moral standards are a lot better than what prevails today in Grand Rapids, but she’s told me stories which horrified me — and I can assure you that from decades of covering crime as a reporter, it’s hard to horrify me.

      God’s typical pattern through history has been, when the rich and powerful disobey him with a high hand, to raise up weak and irrelevant people and nations to accomplish His will. I have no idea what the evangelical church of the end of the twenty-first century will look like, but based on developing demographics, there’s a very good chance it won’t have a lot of white blonde-haired people from North America and Europe in it, compared to people in the southern hemisphere and in Asia.

      There are reasons why many European church buildings are empty shells, and may be more museum pieces than functioning congregations.

      Put bluntly, when Christians don’t do what they’re supposed to be doing, God typically raises up someone else who will.

  16. DTM –

    I have five children, two are age 17 on down to 3 years old. We go to church on Sunday, hear the Word of God proclaimed and the Sacraments are administered as God seeks to advance His Kingdom through His means of grace in redemptive history. We wear our Kingdom of God hats.

    We also wear our kingdom of man hats, and we love our country. Our country is in a huge financial mess. I want my kids to grow up in the America that I grew up in. I don’t want them to grow up in political systems like Greece, etc.

    This current president is not only seeking to implement an eastern socialist form of government, he is also playing around with policies that meddle in the rights of us in advancing the Kingdom of God.

    While my children are living in the kingdom of man, I at least would like to see them have good educations and jobs. I also want them to be able to worship in the kingdom of God without government interference.

    This election is all about trying to retain an America that we have all loved.

    I have voted for Romney for these reasons. If Obama gets voted in, so be it. God would have decreed it to happen for His reasons alone. What those reasons would be, He doesn’t tell us. It is none of our business to speculate on the secret will of God.

    Like Zrim has mentioned, there are other sins in addition to gay marriage and abortion etc., many, many more sins.

    We don’t need to be like a Harold Camping and others in misrepresenting the secret will of God in how He judges countries. He is God, and we are not. (Is. 55:8 & 9.)

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