A Christian in Politics

Dear David,

I think I always read your E-teachings but somehow the one about abortion must have escaped me because I don't remember it at all. Still, I wanted to respond to a couple of your thoughts expressed in your recent letter Christians for Hitler.

I remember very well that we started this conversation one morning with John, (the brother who was visiting us at the time), when you were here with us a couple of years ago. But we were all so busy with the conference we didn't seem to find time to bring it to a conclusion. Since your position seems to be just as I remember it, I'd like to share mine in a little more detail with you by responding to a little of what you said. (To remind you, I represent the typical Anabaptist (Mennonite, Hutterite, Amish, ...) position which is quite fervently opposed to getting involved in politics even to the point of refusing to vote.)

I'm not trying to convince anyone of my position but I'd like to explain it a little better so that you can understand since it is not reflected in your responses to others' comments: that is my goal. I think that there are two fundamental assumptions that are being made that we are in disagreement over that end up colouring everything else in the discussion. I think if you could see where we stand on these two foundational points the rest would be easy -- though you still might not agree with my conclusions, of course.

1. Attitude to the idea of submission. I was somewhat surprised you referred to the passage in Romans 13 because Paul takes an uncompromising stand, as you point out, toward being subject to those in authority. The passage is so clear that there is no discussion of the content. I think what needs to be seen though is the idea of being in submission to that God-ordained authority, whatever it may be. It seems clear that what Paul is concerned about is those judging the "rightness or wrongness" (the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) of the "powers that be" so that they can remove their submission to it and oppose it. No, our position as followers of Christ, is to submit to their rule regardless of how we feel, trusting in God that He has ordained the powers as He sees fit. Read it again with this point in mind; it's inescapable.

Well, of course the first thing that (usually) then comes up is some anecdotal example (like Hitler or whoever) from real life in order to prove (regardless of what the Bible teaches us) that there are times when Christians need to "get involved" in politics. Like voting. Like running as a candidate. Like contributing to a political party. Like joining a resistance movement. Like overthrowing the government. Like assassinating the head of state (with whom we disagree, of course). Where do Christians draw the line, David? Why? How much are we allowed to "get involved in politics"?

2. The naive idea that America (or France, or any of the great western governments that I know of) is a democracy (government by the people) is a total illusion, wilfully perpetrated upon the people for the advantage of those rich, godless, and ruthless individuals who govern us. You know very well that no democracy exists in the world today but most that are considered so are constitutional republics (like the USA and France and Mexico) or constitutional monarchies (like Canada and the UK and Holland). We are most emphatically not the government. We are the governed.

(I was reminded of this yesterday when I heard a radio report on how the Portuguese government had just passed a legislation legalizing homosexual marriages. The interviewee said that if ever that had gone to a referendum it would not have stood a chance of being enacted.) The only way the rulers govern us is by putting us to sleep with ideas that we are the government. The Maastricht treaty would never have passed if it had been given to the people (democracy) to vote on. The Treaty of Lisbon was soundly rejected in the two very countries that did hold a referendum (France and Ireland) and the only way the treaty ended up being ratified was for the house of representatives here to ignore the referendum and ratify the treaty over the wishes of the people.

Do you think the NAFTA would pass a referendum? Why don't they put it forth to see what "the people" ("the government" as you call it) think? People are generally conservative and want to keep the little peace they have. Why didn't the president Bush ask the people if they wanted to go to war with Iraq and help overthrow a "dictator" that was ordained by God to rule the Iraqi people? He'd be still waiting, wouldn't he? (In his case he didn't even get the OK from the duly elected representatives or the UN but just went ahead by "executive order"! Democracy? Someone's going to have to explain that one to me. Naw, real life is different. We live in relatively peaceful countries, you and I David, but let's not pretend that we run the government and that all that legislation is our desire, our wishes and our doing. Did the multi-billion dollar bailout of AIG get the people's approval? After all, it's them that'll have to pay for it!

I don't want to take too much of your time but I feel like getting this off my heart to you as a respected brother and friend. The last point I just have to make is to respond to you saying that Jesus didn't not getting involved in politics was the same as Him not driving a car or writing an email: namely, that He didn't have the opportunity!


How many times did the crowd come and try to forcibly impose "politics" on Him? They wanted to make Him a king! Why didn't He go along with it and get involved in a little politics? Think of the good He could have done ... and think of what would have been lost, as David Bercot says so powerfully. Jesus had every opportunity, countless times, to respond to the crowd's wishes for him to oppose the incumbent and get involved, and the people were on His side! But we know that Paul teaches us that we must not resist God-ordained authority on earth. We are called to submit to it for the will of God.

What? Hitler was ordained of God? Saddam Hussein was God's anointed for ruling his country? Why not? (God called the pagan kind of Persia, Cyrus, "my servant" and gave Daniel a good lesson on leadership through his experiences with Nebuchadnezzar -- even Nebuchadnezzar learned that lesson at the end of his grazing days!)

It seems to me that Christians that hold this view are on very shaky ground and will be forced, sooner or later, to make an exception to their own rules because of circumstances and conditions. Whereas if we take Jesus' point of view ("my kingdom is not of this world") we can at least keep our testimony on a steady and consistent keel -- even if we reap the scorn of believers and unbelievers alike.

Much love to you, your family and co-workers,


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