American Christians are often whimsical in their voting patterns. So today, I thought I might give some exhortation as to what a Christian should look for in a representative in order to determine who they should cast their vote for. Understand that second President of the United States John Adams said of the founding father I will reference in a moment that he was a “vast genius,” a man of “singular eloquence, vast erudition, and polished taste, [who] embraced the cause of Reformation,” and added, “Let not Geneva be forgotten or despised. Religious liberty owes it much respect.”
The 2012 elections were a prime example of the schizophrenia of Christian voters as they only looked to the candidates the establishment offered them believing that picking one evil over the over was most desirable. On one hand, there was a man that claimed to be Christian (though his doctrine was anything but Christian and contained elements Black Liberation Theology), but has never renounced Islam. On the other hand was a man that claimed to be Christian, though his doctrine holds that Jesus is the spirit brother of Satan and he believes that one day he will be a god with his own little planet to populate with his wife.
Both men were clearly not Christian in any biblical or historical sense of the word. Neither man was 100% pro-life. Both supported the homosexual agenda at varying degrees, including redefining marriage and supporting sodomites in the Boy Scouts. Both were willing to support America’s enemies. Both supported the federal government demanding that citizens purchase healthcare insurance. Both supported the unconstitutional NDAA, which removed sodomy and bestiality from the military code of conduct, as well as allowed the military to indefinitely hold US citizens without a trial on a mere suspicion of being affiliated with terrorists. Neither man was going to cut spending nor the debt. Neither were actually concerned with following the Constitution.
Were there differences between the men? Sure. One had actually operated a business and the other hadn’t. One had a wife that understood her role in the home and the other didn’t. There are other good things about one over the other, but in the end they were not Christian and they certainly didn’t hold to the Constitution, the teachings of Christianity nor fully to the law of God.
Since we know the record clearly of the man who won the election, I linked mostly to the man that lost, but is positioning himself for a third losing run in 2016.
However, the point is not to look back on that race at all, but to approach all elections from a biblical perspective. Most people today are unaware of America’s Christian roots, specifically those found in the Mayflower Compact which reads:
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.
Those who wrote these words were disciples of Jesus Christ under the tutelage of the Great Reformer and true founding father of America, John Calvin, whose commentary was born by them in the Geneva Bible to the new world and helped to establish it.
With that in mind, I offer the following from John Calvin as an exhortation to Christ’s Church as to the kinds of men they should be seeking out as their representatives. This comes courtesy of Dr. Joel McDurmon, who is updating into modern English Calvin’s Sermons on Deuteronomy.
Now we must also observe this saying of Moses: Choose ye men of wisdom and of good skill, men well-tried, that they may be set over you according to your tribes, even over thousands, over hundreds, and over fifties, as we shall see afterward. Hereby it is shown to us that when we have to elect men to hold public office, we must chose them with discretion and not take on the fly those who thrust themselves in first. Neither must they be taken for favor or for some vanity that appears good, but that God presides over the election and that such men may be selected as are known to be appropriate to exercise the estate to which they are called. And we must especially observe that which is rehearsed in Exodus 18 (as already mentioned): for there Jethro says that we must take men that are virtuous, fearing God, lovers of the truth, and haters of avarice. Who is he that speaks this? A poor pagan man, as I have said already. Yet God governs his tongue in such a way that we cannot have a better teacher than him when we are about to choose men to govern a people. First of all he requires men that are virtuous, such as are not effeminate, but have the capacity to be provided with such a charge, and have good zeal, courage, and magnanimity.
Albeit, for as much as without the fear of God all the virtues in man turn to evil, behold Jethro, who never heard one word of the Holy Scripture, nevertheless perceives full well that it is impossible for a man to perform his duty in governing a people unless he fears God. If a pagan man could speak this way, what a shame is it for us today that we should have less discretion than him? And yet a man may see with his eyes how the world goes. Do we consider it, when it comes to electing men who govern, that this must go in the first place, to wit, that the fear of God is there? True it is that men will profess so, and even nature compels us to say that we must have prudent men and virtuous men, as if there were any prudence or virtue if the fear of God does not reign. Again, to express the fruits of the fear of God even better, Jethro adds that there must be uprightness and truth, as if he should say that a man shall never be appropriate to govern unless he have soundness in him so the he is not doubting but proceeds with a good conscience.
And because that bribes do blind the eyes of the wise, and make good men swerve from uprightness, he says that if we will have men fit to bear authority, they must hate covetousness and despise the goods of this world, so that they can find in their hearts to forbear them. Seeing then that such a lesson is told to us by a heathen man, I pray you what a shame shall it be that we which profess ourselves to be brought up in the law of God and in his Gospel, and have our ears so much beaten with it, should still be novices in the doctrine, or at least practice it so poorly among us? And yet for all that, if we do not use it to our profit, it is written to be kept to our great confusion and to make us inexcusable.
So then, let us weigh well this saying where Moses exhorts the people to choose men of understanding and wisdom, and proven men. For if we put a man in office upon nothing but hope, without good knowledge and experience of him, is it not a defiling of the seat of God and of justice? Indeed, God reserves to himself principality over all men, as he is also worthy to have, and yet notwithstanding he will be served by mortal men as by his ministers and officers. Therefore, the seat of justice is (as you might say) consecrated or hallowed to him, as shall be showed in the next lesson. Now, there is taking of men at a venture, and they know not what they ought to do, nor how to behave themselves. Well, such a one needs to test what he can do, and when he is once set in his seat, he will have regard for himself. Shall he that would not take a cowherd or a shepherd into his house upon bare hope, without knowledge or understanding of him what he is, shall he, I ask, go set a man in God’s seat, of whom he has no knowledge, and of whom he has no experience to judge what that man is? Now then, let us be well advised, when God gives this grace, or rather privilege, of electing men who govern (which is not common to all people), let us not abuse that gift of God in any way, or else we shall be amazed to see ourselves bereft thereof. And behold the reason why so many tyrannies have come into the world that the liberty was lost in all nations, that there is no more election, for which reason princes sell the offices of justice, and things are in confusion and it is a horror. And why has this come about but that when the people had the election in their hands, they abused it, and so were worthy that God should deprive them of the honor he had done them. For is it not as good as willfully provoking God’s wrath, and spiting him, when people having free election, who should choose men to serve God and to be his officers, instead make corrupt bargains in taverns, and even as it were in scorn and mockery of God, choose such as are most dissolute and out of bounds? Do you not see this is to pervert all order?
To be short, it should seem that we wish to expel God out of his seat when we set his enemies in it after that sort, and such as despise him, and such as seek nothing else but to tread his name and majesty under their feet. When this is how it is, is it any wonder that God sends such disorder into the world as we see? Now then, we could all the more stand to note well this doctrine, where it is said that when God gives a people liberty to elect officers, they must not abuse it, but must use discretion in choosing them. Yes, and for as much as we may often times be deceived, we must resort to God that he may give us prudence and govern us with his Holy Spirit, as though he had pointed out with his finger whom we ought to choose. And that is the cause why I said that elections shall never be well ordered except God preside over them by his Holy Spirit.
- The whole 200-sermon series is being prepared by American Vision. I am editing and revising the original translation by Golding in 1583. This is Sermon 3, on Deuteronomy 1:9-15.
- The French vertueux translates intuitively as “virtuous,” but the idea carried a broader meaning in the sixteenth century than perhaps today, ranging from moral honesty and integrity to physical traits of manliness and comprehending spiritual qualities such as courage, confidence, and grace. Based on the description that follows, Calvin seems to have had the full range of meaning in mind.