“Faith and Politics” is one of those interesting discussions that continues on for people of faith. Atheists do not struggle with faith and politics because they do not believe in God and thus, do not see a conflict between the two. Christians, on the other hand, do see conflict. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum as a Christian, politics poses some sort of conflict with your faith.
But some have married faith and politics together so tightly that the vote is our salvation and the President (whoever he or she may be) becomes our Savior: an interpretation gone wild. Let me explain what I mean.
Baptizing Faith And Politics: Examples
I noticed this while writing my sermon here at The Essential Church titled “The Gospel Agenda.” During the time I was writing and posting parts of the sermon here (there are five, to be exact), I was in a voter group on social media. The voter group was discussing the election results. One person in particular, talking about Joe Biden, said something along the lines of “Vote for Biden, he’s our savior.” Savior. The word stood out to me and made me gasp while sitting at my computer. God had given me the words that “The President is not your Savior” for my sermon “The Gospel Agenda,” but I never knew I’d see my worst thought in writing on social media by someone in a voter group.
I’ve made it clear that the President is not our Savior, and the vote is not our salvation. But why are these statements so important to make? Well, first off, just look at the woman’s response to Joe Biden above. Clearly, she has “baptized” (spiritualized) politics to the point where she calls Biden a Savior, someone akin to either Moses or Jesus or both. Now President-Elect Joe Biden is a good Catholic; he would, in no shape or form, endorse the idea. As someone who believes in Jesus as his Savior, he wouldn’t revel in the idea of being called a Savior, but would rather point this young woman to Jesus, who is the Savior of the whole world.
But I don’t know if the woman who said Biden is “savior” is a woman of any faith at all, so, as shocked as I was, I just told the Lord to remind me to continue writing “the President is not our savior” in other parts of the sermon and let it go.
But then, I was met right before the election results started coming in with a social media post by a friend of mine, a fellow seminarian. She put up the words, “Prepping for Election Day Like,” with a photo beneath it of a man putting lamb’s blood on his doorpost. You can see it below.
Now, I have to confess: the image is funny. The idea behind the image is hilarious. And clearly, she put it on social media to get some likes, loves, and a few “laughs” out of her friend circle.
But beneath all the laughter, it was disturbing.
The Sin of Baptizing Faith And Politics
This friend that put up a Jewish man placing the lamb’s blood on the doorpost did what she did to get laughs out of her friends. And it did make me laugh, I have to confess. I am human like all of humanity, and so, when something makes me spontaneously laugh, I have to laugh. I just can’t hold it back sometimes.
But the image and the thought were disturbing to me. Why? Because she took the 4 years of President Donald Trump’s term and turned them into the 430 years of Egyptian bondage the Jews endured as slaves in Egypt. And by using the image above, she compared the results (should they have denied Trump a second term) to the Jews eating the Passover, sprinkling the lamb’s blood, and making preparations to flee Egypt by way of the Red Sea. And while the comparison is funny, it isn’t accurate.
If we’re going to take my friend’s post, picture, and thought to its logical conclusion, we must ask a few questions. First, who are the Jews? The Jews in Egypt were native Jews who were Israelites, but who are the political Jews today? Democrats? Independents? A mix? Does the mix include Republicans who are tired of Trump and voted against him, hoping that he wouldn’t stay President?
And who is Moses? Is President-Elect Joe Biden the “deliverer” that God promised to send us? Is Madame Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris the “Miriam” in the situation? And are Trump supporters the “Egyptians” that God is bringing judgment on? Is the “sprinkling lamb’s blood on the doorposts” the vote for Biden? What is the destruction coming upon the “Egyptians” if they are Trump’s voter base?
I ask all these questions because, if you use an image, it should be accurate. Apparently, this friend of mine believed the image to be accurate, else she would have gone with another. Though this friend didn’t equate Joe Biden with being the political “Moses” and Kamala with being the political “Miriam,” she might as well have said it — because the image is worth a thousand words and a thousand erroneous thoughts.
The image feeds into the evangelical Christian error
I’ve said it in my sermon on The Gospel Agenda, but I’ll say it here for those who want to read it again: the image of “Election Day” and “sprinkling lamb’s blood on the doorpost” feeds into the evangelical Christian error that faith and politics are married, that they are synonymous, that the vote is spiritual and has spiritual implications. If one is Christian, some say, he or she should be pro-life, and that means voting Republican. Unfortunately, evangelical Christians say they’re pro-life while using contraception; does that make them guilty of murder? It does, if contraception actively blocks conception (which means contraception is anti-life and thus, opposed to the pro-life agenda). Democrats are more consistent in that they allow for both pro-life and pro-choice (which isn’t necessarily pro-abortion, just a defense of the right to choose).
And yet, to be pro-life doesn’t mean that you “must vote Republican”. Faith and politics can never be as married as many evangelical Christians assume they are. The reason? God’s Government to come is perfect and will never end; our current national Government here in the US (and world governments across the globe) will end. Government on earth consists of evil and corruption, but God’s coming Government will be perfect, without evil and corruption.
We can’t take earthly institutions and try to baptize them with God’s perfection. What God did in salvation is a perfect thing; we can’t take the earthly vote and make it Christian by “baptizing” it to mean something it doesn’t mean. Jesus didn’t tell us “whoever casts the right presidential vote” will have eternal life, but rather, “whoever believes in Jesus.” No human person is God (Jesus is human and divine, and is God), no vote is a perfect vote, no person is our Savior, and no political party can claim they are more “godly” than any other.
God ordained government for a stable society, but He did not ordain politics with conflicting perspectives on how to run a stable society. Politics is the creation of men, government is the creation of God. Politics is a conflict, a tension, a hot mess of humans who are depraved and think their way of running government is right. And when two conflicting ways of running government are pitted against one another, we have a divided country of people. Take a look at the latest 2020 Electoral Map; you’ll see the clash instantly. We are the “United” States in geography (Alaska and Hawaii excepted, perhaps) but “divided” in philosophy (political being one of the largest disagreements across the country).
Politics is the study of how we think about government. That’s different from government itself. In some parts of the world, a dictatorship exists where citizens don’t choose their leaders. In England, though, there is royal succession, with the same family staying on the throne forever unless overthrown in a coup or something like it. There are many different types of government, distinct from our own, that don’t allow citizens to vote on their leaders in elections. So to have a two-party system where citizens disagree with other citizens is conflict and tension. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, Paul says (1 Corinthians 14:33), and where there is conflict and tension, God is not there.
Think of the Republican and Democratic perspectives on government being similar to interpretations of Scripture. Not every interpretation is right; not every political party perspective is, either. And yet, no matter how much we try to reason regarding different interpretations of Scripture, there will always be conflict. No matter how much some Christians tell other Christians that Galatians 3:28 says that God doesn’t disregard women from church leadership positions, other Christians will always point to 1 Timothy 2:11-15 to say why women shouldn’t be in church leadership.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to interpret Scripture. We can’t understand it if we don’t try to interpret it. And the same goes for government: we should try to understand it and solve problems as much as we can. But Scripture is God-breathed and is perfect; our interpretations, accurate or not, do not change the fact that it is perfect, inerrant, and that God is its Author. God is not the Author of politics, on the other hand, which means that even the Bible, the Word of God, is exalted above politics and political parties. Yes, evangelical Christians who vote Republican: the Bible is even above your Republican Party!
Politics, like this world, is passing away (1 John 2:17). God’s Government to come is what is eternal and will last forever. And of His Kingdom, Scripture says, there will be no end (Luke 1:33).