03 Nov The Christian Belief and the US Elections
Since the deviation of faith in the Dark Medieval Age, the church has adhered to the principle of “separation of politics and religion”. This means that the church’s pulpit will never be obstructed or influenced by any political power, and neither does the church participate in any movement to support or overthrow the political power. This is also the example set by our Lord Jesus and the apostles for the church. Even if they are protected by the ruling party, the messages that they preach never make believers think that they are advocating any political issues. The church is always faithful to the truth of the gospel of Christ. But when we talk about the gospel, we know that it involves everything, and of course politics. Therefore, when we understand the gospel, we must also have insights into politics and the dynamics in the political world, and what we see must be even more in depth than what the world sees. Of course, we definitely cannot advocate any particular candidate or party. Moreover, we also firmly believe that regardless of who or which party is elected, God’s good will prevails. But from the perspective of faith, when the government violates the rights of the church or does not govern according to the duties entrusted by God, the church has the right to speak up. On this point, John the Baptist and Paul also mentioned God’s justice and judgment to King Herod and Governor Felix respectively <Lk 3:19; Acts 24:25>. Paul also told us in <Ro 13:2-3> that the government established by God is to administer rewards and punishments. Therefore, even if we need not request for the worldly government to know God, but when it violates the general justice revealed by God, such as killing the innocent, corruption, restricting a person’s freedom of religion, and not seeking redress for the oppressed, etc, the church has the right to make a stand by rebuking, so that those who hear it would have their conscience moved. In addition, the potential harm brought about by some political authorities is that they directly violate the laws of God with their ideologies and policies such as legalizing abortion, homosexuality, and opening of casinos, etc. Even if this is something that the world is gradually accepting, Christians have an obligation not to let such ideas and culture sweep across an era. When the church is preaching a holy message, we also use this indirectly to declare to the world (including the government) certain critical beliefs that protect the society. Furthermore, a good government should also govern the country well. The country’s economy is well managed and the people can have a comfortable life. There are no scandals involving a country’s leaders, so that people can trust the leaders of the country and their leadership. Of course, when we come practically to an election (like the US Presidential and House of Representatives election this week), it is difficult for us to find a candidate or party which is well-rounded in all aspects. Every candidate or party has its strengths and weaknesses, and every Christian has their views on which candidates they accept or reject. Perhaps some Christians particularly dislike Trump’s unreasonable and reckless style. Or some people do not like Biden’s irresoluteness and liberal thinking. Some parties are able to improve the economy, but they lack principles in certain areas, and some have principles but cannot improve the economy and people’s lives. Maybe some people who do business or attach great importance to the economy don’t like the trade war brought about by Trump, and some people who oppose abortion don’t like people like Biden who are very lax about family planning. Everyone has their own preferences, so when we talk about politics and voting, the church can easily lose its unity. Then at this time, many people will vigorously involve faith in it, with the view that if we are Christians, we should or should not vote for whichever candidate. This has caused situations where there are many differences in the church due to political issues. In fact, if we want to enter into vigorous disagreement because of this matter, we might as well enter into disagreement because of some misunderstanding or distortion of the teaching of the gospel, which is even more necessary. However, because politics does affect all aspects of our lives (such as our bread and butter or the education of our children), as Christians, we have a responsibility toward the society and the world. Therefore, we have to think deeply through the worldview, values and eternal view given to us by God’s word here, so that we believers can reach a consensus here. In particular, in the coming week, there will be a general election in the US that the world will pay attention to, what insights should we believers have?
The more complicated the topic (like politics), the more we need a core ideology <Ep 1:21-23>
1）Christ and the church is God’s biggest concern, as well as the ultimate reason why the entire human history is still preserved
Every time when talking about politics, there are disagreement between believers because there are different inclinations and different priorities. However, we must ask, “What is God most concerned with?” It is the spreading of the gospel and the regeneration, sanctification and glorification of His children. Therefore, when we talk about politics, we must first know God’s inclination. Actually, God favours His children, just like how parents favour their children. As parents, everything they do is for their children’s benefit. Similarly, what God does is to enable His people to enjoy the benefit of the gospel. So, although a regime or President can boost the economy, promote liberty, ensure security, provide good education system, we must ask if it promotes the spreading of the gospel and the sanctification of the church? Does that regime allow people to have relative freedom to know and worship God? If not, we must know that authority is not what God desires, but what He uses temporarily. From another angle, if that regime offers excessive freedom, such that people can freely break the laws of God, and sets people toward humanist-driven thinking (liberalism), we must also be wary of that regime as the power behind this regime does not come from God, but from the ruler of the kingdom of the air, and the regime is being used by him.
2）Holistically assess the parties and candidates through God’s truth
Actually, it is not the case that Bible does not emphasize moral ideologies. On the contrary, we highly value it and we must use God’s truth to discern. Especially, we must realise that when we are evaluating a secular political candidate, we must have wisdom and examine him holistically. After holistically assessing everything, we must lean to the side of the truth. In electing a President or party, we can look at three areas to obtain a holistic perspective: (1) His policies. We must understand why we must first look at policies, even in the assessment of the secular regime. In some ways, policies outweigh the character. This is because policies affect many people directly. If a regime is inclined towards liberalism (e.g. people can freely abort or enter into homosexual relationship), even if the candidate is proper and friendly, we must have our reservations. Christians should not be those who believe in people easily, only looking at the surface. Furthermore, we must understand that what politicians show on the screen can be feigned. Therefore, we must see the policies he has implemented to know his true character and beliefs. For example, we must not believe a politician who says he respects lives, but at a policy level, he supports abortion; (2) His character. The character of the politician is also something we need to observe. Things like integrity in financial matters, faithfulness in marriage, basic respect for others, deference to the law (not changing the law as one pleases), promise-keeping to the electorate (faithfully fulfilling the promises made to the electorate), etc. These are factors for us to consider his character. As much as possible, we should not be overly focused on the scandals portrayed in the media, or be overly focused on their personal lives, so that we will not be too subjective; (3) The current marco-environment. The national and global macro-environment is something we must consider. If this macro-environment threatens national security (e.g. beliefs, health, economy), we must consider them carefully. We cannot allow a perfunctory, indecisive or crowd-pleasing regime to govern.
3）US election – global economy, political and spiritual perspectives
The current US Presidential election is a highly-watched contest. It has a huge bearing on the economy, political and spiritual domains. From the perspective of the economy, many people in the world are hoping for the global economy to recover and those countries who are hoping for that do not want Trump to be elected. It is not just China, but even for small countries like Singapore, our inner desire is for Trump to lose the election. Besides the economic impact brought about by COVID-19, the trade war and tech war initiated by Trump are big obstacles in world trade. However, from the biblical point of view, we know this is the mindset of those who love the great prostitute. Therefore, we cannot let the economy be our only consideration. Also, from the political point of view, China’s autocratic system can only be challenged by a decisive leader in the US. Today, believers in China are under great oppression from the current communist regime. Also, from the spiritual perspective, although US is in a moral decline, it is still the leader of the Christian faith. Blessed theologians and pastors still come from US. Therefore, the US can be viewed as a priestly nation for the whole world. God has raised and preserved this nation because there are still servants of God and believers who love and know the Lord. Therefore, if this country falls into the hands of the left-wing liberalist, we will see a great tragedy of faith. At one end, Christian faith will face the persecution from the Chinese autocracy, on the other end, it will face obliteration from US liberalism. The church of the Lord will face a great threat. Therefore, the current US election has global significance from all perspectives, and it is closely watched by the church. (Personal testimony: In 2016, someone asked me, “Pastor, if it were you, will you vote for Trump or Hilary Clinton?” I replied that I would vote for Trump, not because I saw any good in him, but because I will not vote for Hilary Clinton of the Democratic Party or support their policies. However, after 4 years, after seeing and holistically considering Trump’s policies and his impact on global economy, politics and spiritual matters, I will support Trump.)
The relationship between the US and end times <Rev 17:9-14>
1）Seven hills = Seven kings ⟹ The eighth (antichrist)
Here it says that five kings have fallen. According to biblical history (centered on God’s people), those five kings were Egypt (Pharaoh), Assyria (king of Assyria), Babylon (king Nebuchadnezzar), Persia and Media (king of Persia), Greece (king of Greece). During the times of John, these five great empires and their kingship had ended. One still existed. This was obviously Rome (Caesar). Another one has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. Clearly, after the Roman empire ended in the Middle Ages, the next great empire was the Great Britain, then later on from Britain, many pilgrims fled to the US of today in order to escape persecutions of their faith. The US obtained independence in 1776, and its power grew after the second world war, but only after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, then the US became the world’s most powerful nation. Thus, it has been less than 30 years of history since the US became the world’s strongest country. It was said that George Washington (the first President of US) ever received a vision from God one night. God told him, “This country which you are leading will become the most powerful country in the world one day, but one day it will also suddenly disappear.” Washington felt both surprised and terrified. He then wrote down the vision he received, and sewed it on the inside of his coat. We cannot say this is the revelation of God, but from these verses in the Book of Revelation, we will know that this empire which remains only for a little while may be the US. Even though these seven great empires were raised up with areas for God to use, these seven countries and kings are ultimately being controlled behind by the spiritual forces of evil who rule, hold authority and control this dark world <Ep 6:12>. Because human sins will become full, the great empires of this world will eventually bring about anti-god ideologies and cultural trends. Even though God has used the US to bring about many positive influences to the Christian faith, yet wrong Christian faith (such as extreme charismatic movement, hypergrace, prosperity gospel, apostolic prophetic movement, etc) also came from the US, and spread from there to the rest of the world. Very soon, orthodox faith will be replaced by liberalism. All these point gradually to the co-existence of religions. If we look at the Democratic Presidents of the US, they all advocated co-existentialism, and were very close to the Pope (recently the Pope also said that Catholics should accept the civil union of homosexuals). In fact, there is a force behind all these, and it is to prepare for the coming of the eighth one. This eighth king will in a very short span of time gather ten kings to oppose Christ and His church, but he will ultimately be subdued. In the midst of this, the defeat of Satan and the antichrist will be revealed.
2) From today’s perspective of history, US plays a very important role in the end times
Indeed, whether it is Trump or Biden who is elected as President, the end days will still come. According to God’s revelation, the eighth king who is that antichrist, or the man of lawlessness will be revealed <2 Th 2:3>. However, before that, the prophecy of the Bible must be fulfilled. <Ez 36:24> “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.” <Ro 11:26> says that “and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: ‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.’” Actually, under Trump’s administration, the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Arab countries have also signed peace treaties with Israel. Actually, although there are more believers in Arab countries than Israel, we believers must know these are fulfilment of the biblical prophecies, so that the gospel can return to Jerusalem, so that physical descendants of Abraham can repent, to fulfil the prophecy in <Zec 12:10> “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Therefore, in Trump’s term as the President, he was able to accomplish these. Also, his conservative policies have protected the churches and believers in US from attacks by liberalism, so that the days of the church’s revival can be sustained. Furthermore, he has an exceptional audacity to challenge the US political system and media. This has awakened many people who have been indoctrinated by the liberal media. Perhaps, from the appearance, his character, behaviour and attitude may not be popular, and the media is full of criticism of him, but as a believer, we should focus on how God is using this person more than what kind of person he is.
Our kingdom is not of this world <Jn 18:36>
1）No matter who gets elected, the Lord’s kingdom comes
The Lord said, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” <Lk 12:32>. But the Lord also said, “My kingdom is not of this world” <Jn 18:36>. In other words, the kingdom the Lord gives us is not confined to the institution of this world. The authority of we Christians will not increase because Trump gets elected as President, neither will it be reduced because Biden gets elected. Christians do not need to debate over this till the church has serious divisions, but at the same time we must know that we live in the midst of history, so we must know how to view everything with the worldview of Christ anytime and anywhere. In particular, when we talk about the US election, we cannot view it with the same perspective as the common man. Some believers decide their votes only based on livelihood issues, casting their votes for whoever can give them money. Some just vote for whichever candidate is pleasing to their eyes, without consideration for the more important moral values. They never see that the violation of lives (abortion), bringing in of homosexual culture, liberalism and co-existentialism, etc, are more serious moral problems. Such people may say, “It is the same whoever we support, because God’s kingdom is not about who gets elected.” No doubt, God’s kingdom will still come, but the secular perspective of such people will prevent them from using the authority of heaven. They cannot set the captives free, nor can they bind the work of the evil one, both they and those whom they love will become slaves to worldly beliefs and materialism. Especially, we believers who live in this first world system must be careful not to be trapped in an ambition of only seeking “abundant materials, stable living, pursuing dreams”, but we should first seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
2）Since the Lord will surely come again, why care about who gets elected?
In fact, no one knows when exactly the Lord will return, but we know that it will be a dreadful day <Mt 24:19>. Especially when we see the signs of the end times keep getting fulfilled and the sins of men increasing, our hearts must be awakened. Although we do not know when that last day will be, if can prevent or delay the impending disaster so that the Lord’s church can continue to have the space to grow, then why not? To those believers residing in the US, if they do not care at all about the liberalism and co-existentialism that can harm the church, but only think about their own present interests, then they have to be responsible for their own elected President and House of Representatives. When they see the condition of the US in the next 4-8 years, and their next generation being assimilated with the world, eventually bearing God’s wrath, they will reap what they sow. As for us who are outside of the US, we can only pray silently for them, and also for our own homeland. If we sense that this world and what it advocates is moving further and further away from God, we should intercede for our generation with the heart of a chief priest. <Jer 18:7-8> says, “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.” If we repent, God will have mercy, and defer the disaster of the end times. If we do not repent, we will only draw the final judgment nearer.