The Christian Citizen - Part 1
The Bible and Politics

Larry D. Stroup

(These notes were prepared based on notes by Rob Mahon for teachers at Hoffmantown Church)

Schedule Change: Contrary to what I indicated to you at the end of last week’s lesson, Simpson Rebbavarapu, the Christian evangelist from India is not able to be with us this morning. Then for the next two Sundays, Hoffmantown has scheduled a special class session for November 21 and 28 with Curtis Brickley, who will be giving Part 1 and Part 2 of a very powerful presentation on "Are we still, were we ever, One Nation Under God?"   (If Simpson hasn't left for India by December 5, we will try to schedule him then).

Introduction: This morning and again several weeks from now, we are going to reflect on November 1, 2 and 3, 2004 and issues raised by the election. There is more than we can cover in one class, so we will do it in two.

The Election Roller-Coaster:

I don’t know about you, but those three days, election eve, election day and the day after the election were an emotional roller coaster for me.

I suspect that my experience Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of election week is similar to what many of you went through.

Monday evening, I was cautiously optimistic that President Bush would be re-elected, but I had that deep silent worry that he would not. If you are like I am, down deep I always worry that the future will not end up like I hope it will. This is my defense mechanism, because if it turns out good, I am automatically happy; and if it turns out bad, I have psychologically prepared myself for the result and can handle that too. That way, I am prepared for either outcome. If you had asked me what I expected for Tuesday night, I would have said that I thought the President would win, but it would probably be close. I would not have admitted that down deep I was worried that he might not.

That did not change for me until early Tuesday afternoon when I was listening to Sean Hannity on KKOB and he started to talk about the early exit polls that were beginning to be leaked showing that Kerry was running away with all the swing states. That switched me over to my hidden premise that this was likely not going the way I had hoped.

Tuesday evening I went home, a little down. I was thinking about how I had hoped to hear President Bush again at the 2005 National Prayer Breakfast in February and how proud I would have been to have him and his Christian principles on stage and showcased for the world wide audience. But I consoled myself that I had been there in 2000 when the President was Bill Clinton, and I lived through it. I was not proud, but the National Prayer Breakfast was still an inspiring event. I have to admit that I expected that Kerry, at the Prayer Breakfast, would be pretty bland about his beliefs, and I would come back with some of the same criticism of the National Prayer Breakfast that I have so widely voiced about the New Mexico Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.

Speaking of the State Prayer Breakfast... I don’t think I have given you an update on where that project stands. For those of you who have not been in class for the last couple of years, after I was very critical of the New Mexico Governor’s Prayer Breakfast the last several years, the class challenged me: If it is so bad, why don’t you do something about it? Although the class said it a little nicer, they said either quit complaining and criticizing or fix it. I decided to try to fix it. The class gave me no choice. Put up or shut up. I met with the president of the sponsoring bank and the chairperson of the event and told them face to face how bad I thought it was and why. I challenged them that they advertised it as being copied after the National Prayer Breakfast and they should either do that or quit advertising it that way. I left them with a video tape, a couple of books and a lot of the National Prayer Breakfast literature. I never heard back from them. Then I taped a television show on the Christian channel discussing the National Prayer Breakfast and comparing it to the state prayer breakfast and why I felt the state event was a disgrace to the name. In both the meeting with the sponsoring bank and the television show, I suggested that perhaps the sponsorship should change so that it could become a real prayer breakfast and would not be inhibited by the marketing constraints of the bank.

I reported to this class a couple of months ago that the sponsoring bank had called the president of Presbyterian Healthcare and offered to let Presbyterian take over the sponsorship. When I gave that report to this class no decision had been made by Presbyterian. Now I am happy to report to you that Presbyterian has accepted the offer and a steering committee has been formed to execute it like it should be executed, with God and prayer and even Jesus as the focus, a long way from where it has been. I might also add that I am leading the steering committee, along with some very strong people who can make sure it happens. Wells Fargo will be the 2005 sponsor, with my group riding shotgun. They already had all the arrangements made for the 2005 breakfast and there is not enough time left for the new group to do it right by January 2005. Our group is already starting the planning for the 2006 New Mexico State Prayer Breakfast. You challenged me to fix it, and Jesus and I did, with some help from some other believers. Now all we need is a great Christian speaker to headline the event, like Franklin Graham, or Zell Miller, or President Bush. Might as well aim high.

Now back to election evening:

After going home, I turned on Fox News, the only news channel I am willing to watch now, and heard them talking about the early exit polls and the Kerry advantage, but they were starting to raise some questions about the exit poll data, since as the first actual returns started to trickle in, they did not track the exit polling. I remember one political writer cautioning them that they had better be careful about discounting exit polls that were going against what they wanted the vote to be, because they usually turn out to be correct. So I thought, maybe there is a chance, but probably not. She is probably right.

Then state by state, the actual voting was much better for Bush, and each of the states came in just like the last pre-election polls, blue states blue and red states red, contrary to the exit polls. By 9:00 or 10:00pm I was starting to get hopeful, but still realized it could still end up wrong, wrong at least in my humble opinion. Around 10:30, Fox News called Ohio for Bush and gave him the 269 required to be elected, with the help of the House of Representatives. I stayed up until midnight, hoping for Iowa or New Mexico or Nevada or some state, no matter how small to get past 269, but no luck.

Wednesday morning, I got up at 5:00am to go play handball, and turned on Fox to see evidence that the count had held and more had been declared, but no luck. So I spent the early morning hopeful, but still worried that since no other network would call Ohio for Bush, it could still go the other way. I later found out that NBC had also called Ohio for Bush Tuesday night, but I did not know that since I didn’t want to tune in the liberal news networks. When I got to the office, I turned on KKOB and listened to Larry Ahrens and then Rush. I continued to worry. Then when it was finally announced that Kerry had called Bush to concede and the concession ceremony and the acceptance ceremony were scheduled for early afternoon, I finally relaxed.

My response at that time, to some of the people around me was a cocky “See, there is a God.” Of course my statement was not questioning my belief that there was a God or that if Kerry would have won, that there was not a God in control. My statement was a shortened version of There is a God and His will has been done. But My statement triggered me to have the discussion that I want us to have this morning.

Wednesday and Thursday evenings, after the election, I watched Fox News and the O’Reilly Factor and Hannity and Combs to see what all the pundits had to say about what had happened and why. I was especially interested to hear what they said about the moral vote, the evangelical vote. Of course many of them noted what a large turnout the evangelicals produced and what it means to see moral values as one of the highest decision factors in the voting.

I think it was Thursday night on Hannity and Combs that they were interviewing Pat Roberson when Combs, the liberal, challenged Robertson by asking “Did God choose Bush?” The question was a form of “Do you still beat your wife?” Robertson handled it carefully by saying that the fact that Bush espoused godly values was a factor in his election. When pressed, Combs got Robertson to say that God does put leaders in place, so in that sense, God is in control, to which Combs, retorted, then did God put Clinton in place as well? And if so, how do you explain that decision?  Hannity interjected at that point, “To bring the nation to its knees.”

On Wednesday evening after the election, in a meeting of pastors, teachers and elders, a similar discussion was held about all the angst Monday and Tuesday. Everyone was indicating how late they had stayed up to try to get positive results verified, but all gave up before they were sure. One elder said he went to bed at 10:00pm, because he knew that God was in control and it would turn out like God wanted it too, whoever was elected.

So I want to raise some questions.

I want to address the last question first. As I answer the question about Bill Clinton, I answer it in two parts. One is that Bill Clinton appears to me to be a believer, one with a fight between he spirit and the flesh which he often loses, but who in this room can say that they win that battle with the flesh? To be a believer, fortunately does not require perfection, thank God, literally. The second answer is that God used good rulers and bad rulers to accomplish his will. You have to wonder if Hannity was not correct, God used the imperfections of Clinton and the drive of the liberal left with regard to gay marriage, to bring us to our knees, to actually get Christians to pray about all the evil that is around us and all the bad policy that was being driven by out of the main stream minorities. The gay population as less than 2%. A vast majority of the people in this country declare their belief in God. Yet we see all kinds of decisions and legislation to the contrary. You would think that the majority of Americans are gay, family hating, Bible haters. You also wonder if all of this did not have to happen before middle America, geographically and morally, would rise up and speak up and vote their convictions. A lot of what happened was a godsend, maybe literally.

Many Christian people want nothing to do with public life because it seems corrupt and dirty. Yet, is it possible that political life has degenerated because people with strong moral standards have shunned it?

The Bible on Politics:

The Bible has some surprising messages for us about duty to our government. Let’s look at God's view of Government

1.   God has established the civil authorities.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. --Romans 13:1-7

What are some things God says about our responsibilities in this passage?

2.   We are told to submit to authority.
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed... --Titus 3:1

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. --1 Peter 2:13-17

Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? “Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him. --Matthew 12:13-17
3.   We have a responsibility to government.

Because they are ordained by God, we must honor the authorities. We should pray for them.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. --1 Timothy 2:1-4
Who should we be praying for regularly?   Kings and all who are in authority.

In the Old Testament God told us the same thing

...that they may offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons. --Ezra 6:10

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare. --Jeremiah 29:7
Coming up:  We owe obedience, but not blind obedience, because we have Dual Citizenship.