Saturday, November 10, 2012

God and the Election

“God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat.” This is a “catch phrase” that Jim Wallis and the Sojourner community have been using for many years. And certainly it is a correct assessment of the political situation in the U.S.
But does God not care what policies the parties and their representatives promote? Is one party as good as the other in God’s eyes? And does it make no difference who Christians, or other people of faith, vote for?
Just before the election, some Christians were saying, “God is sovereign; no matter the outcome of the election, God is in control.” That, too, is doubtlessly true. But does that mean it makes no difference who (or which party) wins the elections—or that God causes the candidates/party God wishes to be in office to be victorious?
In his concession speech, Todd Akin, the beleaguered Senate candidate from Missouri, declared that “it’s particularly appropriate to thank God. He makes no mistakes and . . . is much wiser than we are. So I say, to God alone be the honor and the glory regardless of how He decides to organize history.”
Since Mr. Akin is a Calvinist, we can understand how he might think that the elections turned out in accordance with God’s sovereign will. But probably most of us who are not Calvinists are more likely to believe that the election results had far more to do with the free choice of the people who voted than by the sovereign “manipulation” of God.
(It is also quite likely that Mr. Akin lost his Senate race because of strongly negative voter reaction to his beliefs and statements rather than because of God causing his defeat.)
“Neither party is going to bring in the Kingdom of God,” someone wrote just before the election. I am sure that that also is an accurate statement. Any and all talk of human effort “bringing in” or “realizing” the Kingdom of God is erroneous.
And yet, Jesus surely meant it when he told his followers to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The Kingdom of God is not just about a glorious future beyond human history. It is about God’s will being done, however incompletely or inadequately, in the here and now.
Thus, I have serious questions about a statement posted recently on an Anabaptist blog:Neither party is nearer the Kingdom of [God] than the other.”
Since there is considerable difference between the party platforms, though, isn’t one is more nearly in keeping with what God wants (the “dream of God”) than the other?
In my judgment, which may or may not be accurate, I believe that the current Democratic platform better represents Kingdom values. So I voted for the Democrats on the national ticket not because they were Democrats, but because I believe their policies are more consistent with my understanding of the Kingdom of God.
Just one example: In the Kingdom of God surely the health needs of all persons will be taken care of. Even though there are some problems with it, I believe that what has derisively been dubbed “Obamacare” is a move in the right direction. Mr. Romney said he would repeal Obamacare his first day in office (which, of course, he couldn’t have done).
Although it is just one of many I could give, this is an example of how for me, and no doubt for many others, God (and God’s Kingdom) was related to the November 6 election.

12 comments:

  1. Amen, Leroy! God is not nonpartisan. Perhaps this is the one belief we have in common with the religious right.

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  2. NPR had an interesting segment on Thursday evening's All Things Considered titled For Religious Conservatives, Election Was A 'Disaster'. For a disappointed candidate to say "God's will be done" may be dubious theology, but it's probably better psychology than some other alternatives. Unfortunately, others among the militant fundamentalist are probably saying that it's a sign of the end times (again) because the devil is taking over.

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  3. Your statement about one party platform being closer to the "Kingdom Values" would indicated to me that you consider yourself both wise and learned. Thank you for better helping me understand Luke 10:21

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  4. As I wrote, my judgment "may or may not be accurate," but I had to vote as I thought best, most in keeping with my Christian convictions.

    If you are a Christian, did you not vote for those (the party) that you thought was closer to Kingdom values?

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  5. I vote for the person not the party. I voted for 9 people from one party and 7 from another. I think that each party is just an example of a modern version of "the institution" that Christ took on. Christ would tip over any party tables set up in front of his temple. Are you inviting people to the table outside the temple or the temple itself?

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  6. Here is the succinct comments of my esteemed Thinking Friend in Kentucky:

    "I'm with you, Leroy. Much of the Republican Platform conforms more closely to Ayn Rand than to the Gospel."

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  7. Thanks for insight into truth that holds potholes toward achievement. Being bound to one party as my party no matter what seems to bring an idol into our efforts and blights their application toward building God's kingdom on earth.

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  8. Leroy did not by any stretch of the imagination take a position of being bound to one "party no matter what." The Christian, so it seems to me, has to vote with what one thinks is most/more consistent with the will of God for humankind. This is always a fallible practice, never foolproof, but still an essential decision. It is not to equate a party, platform, or candidate to infallible status. It is to make a faithful decision and act with discernment.

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  9. A Thinking Friend, who is a Canadian and who was a close personal friend years ago in Japan, sent the following comments with permission to post them here:

    "In Canada we have a much different political system and much less influence from the conservative 'Christian' fundamentalist right, but, nevertheless, we deal with similar social, environmental and economic issues that make many of us stop and think about which party's policies are closer to Kingdom values.

    "For some, like our current prime minister (Harper), business and the bottom line trump everything else. He has gutted all of our hard won regulations that protect the environment so that he can ram through pipelines that will carry dirty tar oil to our coast for transport to China.

    "For other people, the major concerns are very narrowly focused almost entirely on a couple of sex and gender-related issues like gay marriage and abortion.

    "For me (a moderate Calvinist!) the one big question that determines how I vote, is whether a party's policies will help ease the suffering of, and provide a fair chance for, the millions of people here at home and around the world, who do not have a fair share of God's abundant provision for his WHOLE creation.

    "In other words, it is the common good of ALL God's people that counts. That means that my party will take the tough, unpopular decisions that will help prevent the environmental disaster that we are heading for if we don't learn to overcome our addiction to toxic fossil fuels.

    "By the way, I could not believe the almost complete silence of the two presidential candidates on what I believe to be THE major issue facing humankind at this point in history. Perhaps they were catering to what they perceived to be the narrow, self- centered concerns of the electorate in the U.S. But surely they were both wrong if they thought that the environment was not a major concern of the people of the United States of America.

    "My family and (almost) all of our friends are rejoicing at President Obama's
    re-election because we believe that Romney's policies (as far as they could be deciphered) were very far removed from the heart of the God who so loved the WORLD that he sent his son to rescue it.

    "Our prayers are with our American neighbours."

    Glen Davis (Presbyterian Minister in Canada)

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  10. Leroy,
    Your "Thinking Friend" from Canada might be interested in reading the story at this link:
    http://www.dennisgruending.ca/2012/11/cra-hassles-canadian-mennonite-magazine/
    It's a story about a Mennonite publication being accused of being too political by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). When ask for offending examples, they cited two editorials and four articles. One of the editorials, written prior to the May 2011 federal election, suggested that readers vote based on the Mennonite beliefs of pacifism, social justice and environmentalism.

    Based on that narrow definition of "too political," I wonder what the CRA would say about that big Billy Graham advertisement if it showed up in a Canadian newspaper.

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    1. Clif, thanks much for your comments and the link to a significant article. (I sent your comments directly to Glen in Canada so he would be sure to see it.)

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