Are we bound by a biblical mandate to vote? If not, what place does the ecclesiastical sphere have in imposing such as a question of morality? Personally, I suppose mine is at least an average interest in things political, yet, I have my doubts as to this being of the essence to one’s being a earnest disciple of Jesus Christ, witness to the Gospel itself.
Dan Bryant (a former assistant attorney general to the US Dept. of Justice and a theologically reformed brother) reasoned that, for the church to keep from “losing its way” and to be “relevant,” it needs “to precisely have a gaze beyond here and now. There’s a kind of appropriate inattentiveness to the here and now because the church needs to be caught up with these unchanging great eternal questions and issues. There is a God. He is not silent. He has revealed himself… That revelation is profoundly relevant to every human on earth. It [the church] has a lot to do with out trying to become relevant politically, and to try to become relevant politically is to ultimately lose its way.”
Bryant further remarked that, “Here’s the relationship. When you grasp biblical Christianity in all its glorious and colorful highs and lows, and what God has actually done for sinners like us, it produces a humility you take out into the policy arena [or whatever calling you have], ready to acknowledge that you’re not sure what’s right; you’re not sure of the best way forward. Let’s hear from different perspectives and people. That’s the relationship perhaps: less of a certainty about the right policy agenda, and more of a proper circumspection and humility.”
Dogmatism beyond the bounds of biblical orthodoxy is always susceptible to making non-essentials, essential.
Dan McBride (member of the Democratic Party and a theologically reformed brother) has this to say about “essentials.” “The risk of trivializing the mission of the church and reducing it to just another civil society interest group is a risk we always have to keep our eyes on. The risk of the gospel being trivialized and becoming just a kind of political plank is a horrible risk we must avoid at all costs.”
McBride goes on to speak of the “key distinction: the church as the church, distinct from Christians in their this-worldly calling. …[T]he church as the church has a specific mandate. It’s in Holy Scripture, and its mandate is not to do politics. It is to hold forth Christ as the only way that sinners can be reconciled to a holy God. When it extends beyond that writ, that biblical mandate, it’s left its charter behind.”
Moreover, McBride explains, that: “Folks may recall the old expression that said, “In essentials, unity; in the nonessentials, diversity; and in all things, love.” Today, those have been inverted. The Christian right or the Christian left now define the essentials often in political terms and they demand unanimity of view on their pet political prescriptions. The nonessentials have become doctrine.”
Bryant and McBride were both part of a round-table on the White Horse Inn program with Mike Horton.