Must One Vote For Nero?

If you were a Roman Christian, whom would you prefer for your emperor? Caligula was murdered on January 24, 41 AD. Claudius died in 54 AD, probably from poisonous mushrooms. Nero “ruled” from 54 to 68 AD, when in the midst of a revolt he asked his private secretary to take his life.

The Bible tells us God used revolutions, poisonous mushrooms, and loyal secretaries to get his man (or woman) in office. The Apostle Paul wrote to Christians living in the eternal city during Nero’s reign, telling them that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Brian Lee,Nine Reasons Christians Don’t Need to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils

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  • 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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  1. Question: Do we have a responsibility, included in the admonitions to be salt and light in our fallen and sinful world, to reform and improve political as well as personal lives?

    Further, is imperial, pagan Rome that good an example for our politics? We have Daniel’s prophecy about the kingdoms of Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, and Rome, with, in the days of that last kingdom, a “stone not cut out by hands” striking the idol of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and bringing it down to establish an everlasting kingdom (which can only be that of the Son of Man). Am I wrong to see in this progression of kingdoms foreseen in Daniel a long period–the times of the Gentiles?–in which the Israel of God is powerless?

    • Peter,

      I’ve tried to address this question in several places:

      The Basileia Tou Theou as a Clue to the Apostles’ Social program

      Here the distinction between the two spheres of the “twofold kingdom” helps me. You are free to seek reforms and to engage the social/civic life of the polis as you will. I see virtually no evidence that the NT Christians were engaged with Roman civil life, let alone seeking “reforms.” There were some Christians who were part of the Roman administration but most Christians were just trying to survive. I doubt that our Lord’s exhortation to be “salt and light” was intended specifically to speak to our engagement in civil life.

      As to prophecy and eschatology. I’m an amillennialist. I think I agree with the interpretation of Daniel 2:32 given in the Geneva Bible, that it is a prophetic reference to the Chaldean, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires preceding the coming of Christ.

  2. It’s good to hear pastors and others removing the legalistic binding of the Christian’s conscience when it comes to voting; even if they weren’t personally doing it, others were binding the consciences of their congregations. I wish they were doing that since at least 2000, but I think it also says something about the politics of those now advocating it more clearly than ever. Once you chain a Christian’s conscience and convince him or her that she must vote, it can take time to remove the emotional feelings (like guilt) that arise due to not voting, aside from convincing the mind. You can know something to be true, but have difficulty with it emotionally. There shouldn’t have to be such an election like this in order for pastor’s to tell their people that they have no Christian obligation to vote.

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