Friday, October 27, 2006

Salvation by Politics

There is an interesting post up on Andrew Sandlin’s site by Rod Martin. It is an argument to vote Republican and forget about Third Parties. Its tone is quite impassioned. He begins by stating that voting for a 3rd Party Candidate is

the miracle theory of politics: that somehow if we just pick some godly soul and pray hard, God will deliver us as though through the Red Sea.

He then goes on to make this dramatic statement.

You know what? It’s not only that it doesn’t work that way: it shouldn’t work that way. There’s nothing biblical about that approach at all.

After lecturing for a moment about how not voting Republican is the same as voting Democratic, telling Christians who vote for 3rd Parties to grow up and start acting like serious professionals, and telling us that voting for 3rd Parties really "hacks" him off, he returns to the aforementioned idea and states:

Some will be satisfied with some simplistic "I think
it’s the right thing to do", but unless you have more than that, most won’t. And they’ll be right.

The astonishing claim that doing the right thing will not be right is hard to understand at first, but what Mr. Martin really wants to drive home is the idea that voting for a 3rd Party in not Christian, and therefore very wrong.

I have three major objections to this piece other than tone.

1. I do not think strict adherence to the two party system is “mastering” the system as Mr. Martin advocates. I have written a few posts before on the history of the 3rd Party in our nation. And it is a very rich history. But since the two parties have become entrenched since about 1918 what Christian victory or progress can Mr. Martin point to show the success of waiting for the Republican Party to become Christian, which he claims is underway. What conservative victory even can be pointed out? Roe v Wade? No, no victory there. Prayer in schools? Nope, in fact it was removed during that time period. The Republican party has dropped its opposition to Federal Public Schools and the Department of Education. What about homosexuality? Well, sodomy laws have been ruled unconstitutional, homosexual marriage is legal in Massachusetts. No real victory there. Taxes? Well, probably not. They are higher than they were in 1919 and the income tax is not a part of the US Constitution. The government takes well above the 10% God requires. What about the government following the Biblical principle of not being in debt or over spending? One look at the national debt should be enough there, and it is a Republican government. We do not need to even get into the idea of the government destroying personal responsibility with Social Security and the idea of government welfare, nor will we discuss whether or not invading other countries ‘preemptively’ is a biblically just war. I will just wait for someone to point out any conservative or Christian victories in the two party system.
2. I do not think that anyone can bind men’s consciences for voting for a person that agrees with them theological and politically. Is it really an unbiblical approach to go to the polls and say, ‘I am going to vote for the candidate that has the best Christian worldview?’ Does the bible really teach us that we should go to the polls and say, ‘I can only vote for the candidates with national backing, and then from those two chose the best guy’? Somehow I doubt it. To call voting for a 3rd Party unbiblical is fairly baseless. There should be room for Christian Liberty here. I argue for 3rd Parties, but I would hardly call someone voting for a Republican unbiblical in his actions.
3. This letter smacks of ‘salvation through politics’. This quote worries me a great deal. "We have a conservative movement that is becoming mostly Christian but isn’t quite there yet. That’s progressive sanctification in action, and it *is* biblical. And we alone among the nations of the Earth are blessed to see God doing it in our land." I am all in favor of voting our Christian values, making laws against things like abortion, but it is not the way to change the world. Maybe the Republicans are that close to being a Christian Political Party, and maybe they are not. But if we want to see our land blessed, it will not be because of the Republican Party or the work of Christians supporting the Republicans or any 3rd Party for that matter. If our land is blessed by God it is because of the Church, not politics. Rome was not conquered by the gospel because Christians mastered the political workings of the system. No, it was changed because the gospel preached by the Church converted the lives of people. Geneva, England, Scotland, and Germany were not changed by the political intrigues that went on during the Reformation, they were changed by men faithfully preaching God’s Word. Do you want to outlaw abortion? Me too. However if you want to stop abortions all together, the answer is not jail time. The answer is changing lives via the gospel. Making it illegal will stop many people, but even if it is still legal abortion can be ended if we change people’s hearts. A generation of Christians being raised up knowing the difference between right and wrong, and respecting the Lord will end abortion with or without political aid.

You want to argue for voting for one party over another. Fine. But do not claim the Bible demands such an action, and do not claim God’s blessing is tied to the fortunes of one political party or another.


Andrew McIntyre said...

I do not think the Bible can be called upon, but I think that a vote for a third party is a wasted vote. When it comes to politics, we must consider compromise. Idealism will get us nowhere. In modern politics, barring ancient history, a vote for a third party is, in effect, a vote against the party which is most in line with your convictions. It does not affect your enemy. It only affects the enemy of your enemy. I believe the two party system is established and will not be changed, except from within.