Monday, September 22, 2008

Is this the scariest election we as Christians have ever faced?

It is if you believe a communication that came to me recently with that exact wording. It goes on to urge Christians to spend one minute a day praying because "the United States of America and our citizens need prayer more than ever!!!" Nothing wrong with that. Scripture commands us to pray for our leaders, and not just in an election year. But the rhetoric about scariest election ever suggests a real lack of perspective. For instance, read Hebrews 11 and 12 to see the mindset we're to have. The original readers of Hebrews were facing something far scarier than the prospect of a Democrat (or Republican) in the White House. How about being thrown into prison -- or worse -- turned into a human candle? The church survived Nero and we'll survive this election.

Sixteen years ago the election of the "man from Hope" caused a lot of angst. Remember when that was the scariest election ever? This election year the angst is being caused by another man who talks a lot about hope. On the other side is a candidate who promises to put country first. For citizens of the heavenly kingdom, all the slogans and promises should sound a little hollow to our ears. We shouldn't give in to misplaced fear or misplaced hope. Our victory is assured. Fear not!

In my opinion recovering the Biblical doctrine of the two kingdoms is essential to a balanced Christian approach to politics. Balanced doesn't mean wishy-washy or that our heavenly citizenship won't inform the way we vote -- the two kingdoms are distinct but they're also complementary -- but it does mean that our priorities will be more in line with spiritual realities. I recently heard Sinclair Ferguson ask a revealing question. What gets you more fired up? When something in the Bible is taken out of context, or when something said by your favorite candidate is taken out of context? Michael Horton gives a brief definition of the two kingdoms in his essay Beyond Culture Wars.

In the kingdom of culture--what Augustine called "the city of man"--there are rulers, there are laws, there are customs that are regulated by human wisdom. In the kingdom of Christ--or "the city of God"--there is one ruler, our Lord Jesus Christ, and he advances his kingdom, not through marketing, not through legislation or police force, but by the proclamation of the gospel and the administration of his holy sacraments.

For more on politics and the two kingdoms check out this week's White Horse Inn.


Doug P. Baker said...

So few understand that praying for a world in which it is easy to be a Christian is oxymoronic. The less that a profession of Christ costs, the less power there is in taking his name. The safer it is to be known by his name, the less able we find ourselves to live out all of the in-the-world-but-not-of-it that Jesus, Paul, etc spoke of. We don't want to be lambs among wolves.

We must be involved in the political process, even passionate about it, but not with the fear that was in that letter you got.

Kimberly said...