Author discusses election from Christian perspective
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
The stage at Grand Canyon University’s Ethington Theatre is a political forum this week.
It already is set up for the two-week run of “Of Thee I Sing,” the political satire that students are performing. Friday, it will be the site of a mock presidential debate by GCU’s speech and debate team.
And Monday it featured Dr. Wayne Grudem, professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary, speaking on “Faith and Politics” in a special Ministry Forum hosted by the College of Theology. Grudem wasn’t there to give advice on whether to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. He was, however, bullish on voting and, if so inspired, running for office.
“You have to do something,” he told an audience of students and faculty. “If you don’t vote, that’s irresponsible.”
Grudem’s views on the subject are covered in his book “Politics According to the Bible,” which explains what he considers five wrong views of the relationship between government and religion. His talk Monday centered on that subject.
The first one, he said, is the idea that government should compel religion. Just as parents can’t force their children to have faith as they get older, government force is not compatible with faith, he declared, noting how Jesus didn’t try to compel people to believe in him (Luke 9:52-56).
Second, he dismissed the idea that government should exclude religion from public places, such as prayer in schools. That’s the exact opposite of what the Founding Fathers intended, Grudem said, adding, “It changes freedom of religion to freedom from religion.”
Third, Grudem refuted the contention of St. Paul, Minn., theologian and pastor Greg Boyd that Christians should stay out of government because it is evil and demonic. Boyd points to Luke 4:6, in which Jesus didn’t contradict Satan’s statement about the world, “It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to,” but Grudem said Jesus made it clear elsewhere, such as Chapter 8 of John, that “Satan is the father of lies.”
No. 4 is the notion that Christians should focus on evangelism, not politics. He pointed to all the ways that Christians have had a positive influence on government throughout history, regarding property rights, voting rights, right-to-life issues, abolishing slavery in Great Britain three decades before it happened in the U.S. and the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King, a Baptist minister, on civil rights in America.
Finally, he spoke out against the idea that Christians should not evangelize if they’re in politics.
In “Politics According to the Bible,” Grudem argues that the correct view is that Christians should look for positive ways to influence government.
There are many examples of it in the Bible, such as Romans Chapter 13, which begins, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
“There’s a lot in the Bible about civil government and how God wants it to act,” Grudem told the students in the audience during a long question-and-answer session. “Some of you may be called to run for high political office.
“The nation is changing for good or ill. When you get an opportunity, will you sit on the sidelines?”
While Grudem didn’t endorse either major-party candidate during his talk, he did declare that voting for a third-party candidate merely helps Clinton or Trump by subtracting one vote from their opponent.
And as for people who say their vote doesn’t matter, Grudem pointed out that polls are notorious for being wrong, and they represent a mandate.
“It’s a moral action,” he said of voting.
Speaking of morals, he firmly rejected the idea of voting for or against a candidate because of perceived character issues.
“I don’t agree that voting for someone means approving their character,” he said. “Almost my whole life, I’ve voted on the issues the candidates favor. I wish we’d go back to that and get off the character stuff. … Voting for someone who’s flawed is not a vote for evil actions. Otherwise, I’d never vote.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.