Apologetics Recommended Reading: How Should Christians Vote? || November 04, 2014 at 04:10PM

Posted: November 4, 2014 in Uncategorized
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This is what I’m currently reading: http://ift.tt/1piBRoh

votejesus-9

Here’s John Wesley’s counsel to Methodists in Britain for election day as of October 6, 1774:

I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.

The advice still seems valid. Importantly, Wesley, like nearly all of church tradition, believed Christians had a duty to serve humanity and God by working to better society with the available tools, including voting. In Wesley’s Britain, the franchise was available only to a very small segment of the population, only men, and mostly to property owners. Wesley supported the British constitutional system of his day, even as he battled social vices, and thought it the best in the world, although like all political arrangements, fell short of divine perfection. But still he thought, and nearly all church tradition teaches, that Christians fully employ the rights and liberties available to them to nudge society in a more godly direction. Cynicism and indifference are not options for faithful living.

It’s easy to condemn politicians and others in politics, but their sins are only the sins of mankind. As James Madison once wrote, a government is only as good as its people. Nearly every regime everywhere, whether elected or not, reflects to some extent the strengths and weaknesses of the population it governs. Democracies, of course, afford the electorate the opportunity to directly assert their sovereignty and expectations of accountability over their rulers.

How should Christians vote? In general, they should support candidates and parties that, within the severe limitations of a fallen world, will seek approximate justice and protection of human dignity, understanding all people to be created in God’s image, without expecting or demanding utopia. The Romans 13 description of government power portrays it as primarily punitive, deterring and punishing the wicked, i.e. providing for judicial, police and military powers. Ensuring public safety is the chief duty of all governments, without which little or no other justice is possible. Upholding public safety especially includes protecting the social institutions that, like the state, are also divinely ordained, including the family, the church, private property, charities, and civic groups. The state, rightly understood, protects these institutions and does not interfere with their rightful spheres, lest the state exceed its own mandate and idolatrously become a tyranny.

Although not directly cited in Scripture, Christian tradition has over time attached wider responsibilities to the state, including the provision of public infrastructure, education, assistance for the indigent, and protection from harmful pollution, among others. There is the constant danger of governmental overreach in all of these areas, against which prudent voters must be on constant guard. The state that seeks to guarantee complete security is a state that ultimately aspires to displace God Himself in its aspirations.

Ideally, Christians support candidates who understand both the duties and limitations of government, regarding themselves as servants of the people and the law, both civil and natural. Ideally also candidates exemplify high personal moral character. But no voting situation offers complete clarity. Candidates with impeccable personal morals may not understand the state’s proper vocation, while candidates who do may have their own moral failures. Voters have to be prudent, discerning, and understand that all aspiring rulers, like all people, are deeply flawed, and there must be careful choice among imperfect options. The very best candidates will be, on some level, disappointments, if expectations are unreasonable.

Christians pray and work for statecraft and statesmen (and women) who foreshadow the justice and holiness of God’s eternal and perfect Kingdom. Progress in that direction is always incremental, the instruments never entirely worthy, and the goal of absolute righteousness never fully obtained. But Wesley portrayed the Christian life as a pathway towards perfection, not the guarantee of attaining it, this side of Heaven.

So if you haven’t already, go vote!

Continue reading at Juicy Ecumenism http://ift.tt/1piBRoj
Thanks for visiting. Please check out my other Apologetics-related posts. Follow me on Twitter @xianreasons, and on Face book at Christian Reasons. Have a blessed day! simul iustus et peccator, Eric Adams

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