This article by friend-of-“The Five Pilgrims” Adam Dean does reference the recent election, but, as its title suggests, it is a consideration of how Christians should think and act about politics and is therefore relevant to American Christians for as long as we keep having elections.
The first article in this series considered the line of argumentation which says that because God uses wicked people or actions for good, that means it’s acceptable to vote for wicked people or engage in those actions. The article showed how this argument blurs the creature/Creator distinction, logically necessitates justifying all possible evil, entails calling evil “good”, and contradicts direct Biblical commands.
This article is concerned with what the proper basis for decision making ought to be. Some people have argued that voting for wicked and immoral leaders is OK because “Who are we to say that God won’t use them?” For example, in this article the author says “Yes, Trump has eaten “honey” – but who’s to say he won’t also pull down “pillars?”” Variations on this argument exist but they all have the common theme that God might do something great with these people and God’s people should want to be a part of that and not stand in His way.
Since it has already been demonstrated why appealing to God’s sovereignty in this manner is not Biblically sound on an ethical basis, this article will discuss the wisdom of using guesses about how God is going to act when making decisions and point to a better foundation.
The first question to be asked is how one is to determine what God is going to do in any given situation? Certainly God has established certain “rules” in the universe, certain norms for how things work. And certainly people can and should make reasoned decisions based on the fact that God has created the world in a certain way (e.g., going outrageously into debt because God *might* suspend the ordinary rules of finances is unwise in the extreme). But the simple, regular ordination of the world is not in view here.
The argument here is centered around something that’s unlikely or unusual. God *might* use Trump (for example) to do a lot of damage to the establishment and to do a lot of other good things (like nominate conservative supreme court justices) despite the fact that Trump is a blatantly unrepentant, God-hating adulterer who routinely lies about anything and everything, has no fear of God, and is not concerned with justice or righteousness in the least. Certainly God *might* do an incredible work, either by regenerating and saving him or simply by using him as he is to do great things. As bad as Trump is, God might use him to do great things, and whether Trump does actually good things or really bad things, all of it will be for God’s greater purpose and for the ultimate enactment of God’s plan for history.
None of that is in question. The crux of the issue is that man does not have any authority to try to guess what extraordinary things God will do in a situation and use those guesses as the basis for decisions.
One need only read Psalm 119 to find the proper foundation for decision making. Here are a few select verses, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (vs. 1 & 2).
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (vs. 9-11).
“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (vs. 15-18).
“Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (vs. 23-24).
“So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts” (vs. 42-45).
“Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (vs. 104-105).
“Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God. Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually. Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood” (vs. 115-118).
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (vs. 165).
The entire chapter is filled with praises of God’s Word and His Law, describing it as the foundation for peace, understanding, justice, and righteousness. Those who keep it will be blessed and it is described as the basis for purifying our lives and for true wisdom and knowledge. What possible foundation could be greater for man’s decisions than God’s commands?
Deuteronomy 4:5-8 says, “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The Law-Word of God contains everything we need to be thoroughly furnished for all good works. That is not to say that it contains all the technical information man will need for his jobs and pursuits, but that God’s Word contains the principles by which man makes decisions in all areas of life, political theory and civil government included.
“The Bible is authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything.” – Cornelius Van Til
In the latter half of Romans 13, Paul explains that love is the fulfilling of the law. That is, man knows what love is by the law, when he loves his neighbor he does not cheat them or steal from them, he treats them with honor and respect, he values their life and does not harm them but protects and helps them. The greatest commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37-38), and Jesus says that loving God means keeping His commands (John 14:15). The second greatest commandment is to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Matt. 22:39), and as Paul explains in Romans 13 and as Jesus says in Matthew 22:40, when man loves his neighbor he is keeping God’s Law.
The proper foundation for making ethical decisions is the Law of God. What God in His sovereignty may or may not do in this situation or that is not for man to guess (Deut. 29:29); rather, man ought to ground his decision-making in the certain and perfect Law-Word of God.