Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Come Out from Them: The Biblical Case for Government Neutrality
Whether it was a lack of Scriptural justification for a certain theology or that it was contradicted by an already established biblical principle, I knew I could no longer hold these beliefs in good conscience.
I want to share with you why.
Specifically, why I believe that I, as disciple of Christ, should remain neutral as to the governments of this world.
To understand why Christians should abstain from voting and other participatory functions of government (political office, war, lobbying, government reform, etc.), we first look at what the Bible says about the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is a real thing, not an abstract concept.
It has real workers (Matthew 9:35-38), real work (1 Cor. 4: 10; Romans 14:17), real laws (Matthew 7:21), real power (Matthew 4:23, Luke 10:9), and, of course, a real King, Jesus (John 18:36)
The Kingdom of God is also a spiritual kingdom, not of this world (John 18:36; Daniel 2:34, 44-45), nor seen with the naked eye (Luke 17:20-21), nor temporal in duration (2 Peter 1:10-11), unlike the kingdoms of this world.
The Kingdom of God is also synonymous with the Church. Scot McKnight writes this in his book “Kingdom Conspiracy":
It is reasonable to say that the kingdom is the church, and the church is the kingdom – that they are the same even if they are not identical. They are the same in that it is the same people under the same King Jesus even if each term – kingdom, church – gives off slightly different suggestions
I think the biblical evidence will evince this point.
To summarize, we are part of a real Kingdom with real workers, works, laws, powers, and Kingship held by Jesus Christ, yet spiritual, not of this world, and eternal. Furthermore, if you are a member of the Church you are member of the Kingdom and vice versa.
Secondly, we need to look at what the Bible says about the rulers of the world and human governments.
Like divorce, which was allowed due to the hardness of man's heart, civil government was established out of a rejection of God and His rule, as it was God's intention and desire to be the direct King of His people (1 Samuel 8).
Consequently, the State has no inherent claim to power (Romans 13: 1-7; Isaiah 40:15-17).
Furthermore the Bible teaches that Satan is exercising a temporal, but actual rule on the earth. Consider the following passages:
Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. – John 12:30-33
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave. – John 14:28-31
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. – John 16:7-11
And, as Paul says, “as for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph. 2:1-2)
And “giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col 1:12-14)
The definitive proof that Satan is the current master of the State, is his offering to Jesus all the kingdoms of the world while trying Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:9).
Some might say he was lying about his power, but if he wasn't lying when he said Jesus could change stones to bread or jump off the temple without injuring himself, why assume he was lying when he claimed to have the very power ascribed him in the gospels and elsewhere?
No, Satan was telling the truth, though, as always, with a bent toward deceit (for example, we know that ultimately all things are under God and His Jesus Christ; Eph 1:18-23) .
As John says, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19)
Furthermore, Satan is described as the one who deceives the nations (Revelation 20:3, 8) and the kingdoms of this world are unqualifiedly juxtaposed with the Kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15).
As Greg Boyd writes:
This obviously doesn't mean that all leaders in earthly governments are under Satan's rule. Many leaders are God-loving people who are sincerely trying to serve their society and the world. But these passages suggest that the whole power-over system that constitutes human government is under Satan's oppressive influence. I see no way around this conclusion.
With this in mind, the very principle by which we must not be yoked together with unbelievers is the very principle which prevents us from colluding with worldly governments:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God...” – 2 Cor 6:14-16.
Again, that the State is under the control of Satan, at the moment, precludes us from being participants thereof.
It would be akin to having dual citizenship in both North and South Korea: it's just not possible!
As James says, "you adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."(James 4:4)
Despite this, many Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons claim voting and civic participation is our Christian duty.
But what does the Bible say?
We are told to pay taxes. (Matthew 20:20-22; Romans 13:1-7)
We are told to pray for our government officials. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
We are told to be subject and obedient to government (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1) (only insofar as it the laws of man do not contradict God's laws, of course). (Acts 5:29)
However, there is no support for the idea that to be good citizens Christian must involve themselves in government, rather we are described as “foreigners here” on earth (Hebrews 11:13), who are said to be “not of the world” (John 17:14-19), having “citizenship in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
There is so much more that could be said about this issue, but I want to draw the threads of this post:
1. We are subjects of a real Kingdom with a real King.
2. The kingdoms of this world are under the control of Satan and thus cannot merit our participation.
3. Never are we commanded to participate in government, but are called foreigners here on earth and citizens of heaven.
The idea that is is our Christian duty to do so is without merit.
What say you?