“Christians who won’t vote for Trump, Barton said, need to realize that “maybe God’s got a different standard than what we do. Maybe at a national leadership level, there are people who do good things for the nation who have character flaws … What God calls great leaders wouldn’t fit your litmus test, but maybe you need to catch up with where God is rather than expecting God to catch up with where you are.” David Barton (Source)
There’s a reason – excepting perhaps this single post – that I’ve avoided engaging in digitally-inked banter about the goings-on in this current round of Presidential politics. I’ve not avoided it because I don’t have an opinion, or because I’m reluctant to voice it for fear of criticism. (Frankly, if the hopes of avoiding fiery darts of emailed and social media disdain were a motivation, you’d have never seen my comments on anything. Which is to say, yeah, I get the hate mail, but God bless you anyway! LOL)
I’ve avoided the political for the very simple reason that … it just does not matter that much to me. No, I don’t mean that it won’t matter in a temporal, “gotta live my life in America” (for which I am exceedingly grateful) sort of way. That it will. Indeed, this election, as most do, will have practical implications for every citizen, to be sure.
What has drawn out my comments here – for what they’re worth – is the egregious example of those, like David Barton, who dare twist Scripture and boldly declare with their “Thus saith the Lord” pronouncements that Christians MUST perform their civic duty in a way which will clearly exhibit them to either be “in the faith” or out of it … particularly when the faith from which such pronouncements arise is a demonstrably false, damning one.
Barton is an evangelist not for Biblical Christianity, but for “American” Christianity. The Scripture-centric disciple will recognize the many, many spurious exhibitions this false form of faith hurls at the undiscerning church world in America. It’s by far the most prevalent flavor of theology across denominations today. It’s presumptive tenets are founded on an “it’s all about you, God bless America” gospel that elevates man and lowers God to almost magic genie status to fulfill our wants, needs, and desires. But prevalence does not verify veracity. “American” Christianity is false … and damning.
Including Barton’s egregious commentary (included below in the audio link attachment), “American” Christian proponents – especially during an election– are seen holding forth their divine proclamations from sea to shining sea. They’ve gathered around a man to effectively anoint him into the faith – their faith – declaring him one of us, God’s chosen man of the hour. Despite the obvious blemishes, he’s been washed by the robe-wearing elite of this false faith and put forth as the icon of righteousness at just the right time and in just the right place. Forget the blemishes, folks, nobody’s perfect.
“American” Christianity has high profile “Christian” leaders standing on courthouse steps, gathering believers in a nobly motivated, if not Scripturally ill-advised, endeavor to pray for a national awakening. They gather seas of souls on the National Mall to plead for a national revival, for a “reset.” They’re seen on social media, falsely-named “Christian” television, and in print media beseeching believers to pray for God to bless America again. Pray! Pray! Pray! We need God to do something!
Authentic believers will know – with very little media ingestion required – that God is, most assuredly, doing something. It’s a far cry, however, from blessing. If you’re in doubt of this, I suggest a careful review of Romans 1. If you’re unable to ascertain divine judgment on America, then flip over to Paul’s words, “Examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Truly, if God should fail to execute judgment on America for our increasingly depraved, obvious wickedness, He’s gonna need to rewind history and issue a divine apology to Sodom and Gomorrah.
“…maybe God’s got a different standard than what we do.” David Barton
Barton’s comment reflects the implicit, behind-the-scenes assumption of this false theology. The fundamental plea of this faith is for moralism in America, in our schools, in our courthouses, in our Congress, in our White House. Barton’s position is that Trump is more moral than Clinton. Maybe. But maybe not. The greatest sin isn’t abortion, or murder, or homosexuality, or lying, or stealing or any such thing. The greatest sin, the most profound immorality, is breaking the first great commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God …” (Matthew 22:37) As such, it seems neither party choice we’re given prioritizes that command.
Nevertheless, moralism is not a salve for our nation’s ills, nor is it – even if fully achieved – the mechanism by which we ought expect blessings from God. Moralism doesn’t save, regardless of how morally upright one is. We simply cannot be moral enough to garner God’s blessings, despite the promises of this false faith. (Romans 3:20, Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:11, Romans 3:28)
So, America could immediately bring to a stop all abortion; it could restore prayer in school; it could post the Ten Commandments in every courthouse, every school house, and on every street corner; it could legislate “right” every immoral “wrong” currently on the books – these things will not elicit the blessings of God. God doesn’t work that way. Morality doesn’t save; only Jesus saves.
Barton’s comment is, however, absolutely spot on. He’s nailed it. It’s right. The problem, of course, is that it’s only correct in the inverse. God’s standards are infinitely “different” than ours, and in such a way that we can know with certainty that He is not lowering them for the benefit of this current, eternally-insignificant American election. God has never, and will never, lower His standards so that “Christians” in America (no, America is not granted divine favor because of its former God-inclined history) may assuage their (hopefully) Biblically-informed consciences and rationalize a vote they might not otherwise ever consider.
“…maybe you need to catch up with where God is rather than expecting God to catch up with where you are.” David Barton
Umm. No. God hasn’t lowered his standard such that authentic Christians – not of the “American” first, “Christianity” second strain of faith – can conscientiously cast a vote for a philandering, strip-club owning, handicap mocking, self-aggrandizing, wife-dumping billionaire. Likewise, He’s not lowered it so that salved souls could vote for an abortion embracing, scandal-ridden, trustless, faithless, faux maven of the under-privileged on the other end of the political spectrum.
Nowhere in Scripture is it suggested that man should “step down” to God’s level. It’s patent heresy to suggest, then, that He’s accommodating His standards because America’s just so important in the scheme of eternity.
If I’m “to catch up with where God is,” be assured of this, He ain’t in the voting booth. He’s not offering America a choice that will lead to blessing regardless of how my vote is cast. Why? Because, as much as I’d love to see abortion eradicated, prayer and the Bible restored in our schools, and the dictates of a moral conscience drive our culture, in all its facets, those things do not bring God’s blessings. Scripture teaches us the folly of seeking such works-oriented behaviors to secure blessing. Moralism for the sake of moralism still damns. It’s not “where God is.”
God is not on the national mall waiting for a sufficient number of sincere prayers to prompt Him to answer. He is not counting up the number of courthouse step gatherings, awaiting a divinely known threshold to be met so that He may gush forth His grace on us. He is not in the ballot booth awaiting sufficient dangling chad tallies for the right candidate or against the wrong laws so that, once our sufficiently correct moral decisions have been made, He can act blessingly.
Where does God’s judgment start? Yeah, in the church. (1 Peter 4:17) Though “American” Christian evangelists of the faux theological ilk of Barton will decry it, the truth is that God’s blessings will not be procured because our founding has secured for us favored nation status with Him. We are not the New Israel. We are merely yet another pagan nation upon which His judgment is visibly now apparent. No number of civic gatherings, no quantity of courthouse prayers, no retraction and recension of immoral laws, no election of the right candidate will alter His evident judgment.
To “get where God is,” figuratively speaking, means Christians – true Christians – must get on our face before Him, driven by His Word, to first confess our sin and seek repentance along with a fervent re-commitment to the one, single, solitary thing that will elicit divine blessing … the Gospel.
“We will stand before God one day and answer for everything we’ve said and thought and done,” he continued. “[God will say,] ‘I gave you your country, what did you do that with?’ ‘Well, I didn’t do anything because I didn’t like any of the candidates.’ Really? You think God is going to buy that? In Matthew 25 and Luke 19, the guy who was given something to do and didn’t do anything with it, he’s the one who got in trouble with the master. He’s going to say, ‘I gave you a vote. What did you do with that vote I gave you?’ ‘Well, I couldn’t use it for anybody.’ And again, we’re back to Matthew 25 and Luke 19 where Jesus turned to him and said, ‘Wait a minute, you didn’t do anything with what I gave you, at all?’ And that is the one who got thrown into outer darkness.” David Barton
This all-too-typical maneuver of “American” Christian evangelists is nothing short of blasphemous. He ought to be very careful tossing around those “outer darkness” threats, given the damning source of his own false theology. Barton has twisted Sacred Scripture to accommodate the second great commandment of “American” Christianity: “Thou shalt vote.” This command, of course, comes only second to its dually-revised first commandment, “You shall have no other Gods before me and religious liberty.”
But this is fear-mongering heresy borne of a faux, damning faith that elevates man, especially Americans, to a plane above God, able to dictate elections such that God has no option but to accede to our choice. He may have given us a country, but He first gave us the Gospel. It seems we’ve just been all too eager to squander that. I point you to the ongoing display of His Romans 1 wrath as evidence. So, we probably have much more to answer for than a squandered vote.
All authority comes from God. (Romans 13:1) He’s not waiting on our vote to determine what He’s going to do. Based on the choices He has providentially arranged, it’s all too apparent that, perhaps, we’re being given a choice almost like the post-census David (2 Samuel 24), a choice of our coming judgment.
Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” 2 Samuel 24: 14
America would do well to confess, repent and, like David, pray to fall into the merciful hands of God. But know this – He has already determined what He’s about to do in November. What we will have to answer for before God won’t be our vote this November; it will be for our obedience to His Gospel.
Parables, despite Barton’s mishandling of them, are about salvation and the Kingdom of God, not about the stewardship of your voting rights. To suggest otherwise is to declare Christ a liar and demote His Word to be merely a man-manipulated mechanism to be used and abused by the blasphemous query, “What does this verse mean to you?” Neither of Barton’s cited parables may be accurately exegeted to determine your knob-pulling, oval coloring, or chad punching options come November. Christ’s concern was of a much more eternal nature.
I have to vote because He put that ballot in my hand and I’m going to have to account to Him for what I did with it. And I can’t use the false standard of I have to have somebody perfect because there is nobody perfect except for Jesus and, by the way, when He was on earth, they didn’t think He was perfect; we only think He’s perfect now. David Barton
What? “We only think He’s perfect now?” Clearly there is no length to which the passionate pursuit of “American” Christianity won’t go in twisting Holy Scripture to achieve its temporal, civic, political ends. But, again, this is the sort of blasphemy this false faith hurls forth at the undiscerning, “God bless America” touting believer.
There were plenty of folks contemporary to the earthly ministry of our Lord who recognized His deity. Some were called disciples, apostles, saints. We see them throughout the New Testament. Others recognizing His deity were demons exorcised from the afflicted by our Lord in a clear show of His “authority over all things.” (Matthew 28:18) Frankly, it would be better for us to pray, not for God’s blessing, but for another divine exorcism, one that would exorcise this demon of “American” Christianity from our nation. There’s no doubt it’s a “doctrine of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1)
let’s get God’s mind on this thing instead of finding excuses … [because] you will answer to God for what you do with that ballot and what you do with this country.” David Barton
“Get God’s mind on this thing?” Really? And Barton’s the guy do it? With his false “American” Christianity theology? I don’t think so. Notice that he doesn’t immediately point to the rightly handled “Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) as his guide for knowing God’s mind. He points to back to the “Thou shalt vote” tenet of his false faith.
No. Sir. What I do with my ballot, or don’t do with my ballot, will not have the single, slightest impact on what He has already decided to do. I’m certain His mind is made up. Neither my vote nor my prayer will change His mind. If anything, by intentionally refusing to participate in this round of “pick your judgment,” I might just be found to be MORE faithful, refusing as I do to believe the inane, heretical suggestion of Barton’s that God has lowered His standards so I can choose between two evils.
The greatest tool for understanding God’s revelation to us is, first, to view all things through the lens of His sovereignty. He has established authority and He determines who will have it. My ballot will not thwart His plans on the matter.
But this is the problem with “American” Christianity. It’s a theology with a responsive God, rather than a sovereign one. It’s a theology that is man-centered, with Christ’s work on its blasphemously flag-draped cross that serves best the modern American ambitions. It’s a theology that caters to you with a God who is all love and is all about helping you achieve your hopes, dreams, and ambitions in the here and now. All you gotta do is say this prayer … oh, and go vote. Join us later at the courthouse for prayers and collective bemoaning of immoral laws.
Look, I love the fact that the first Bible printed in America was funded by the Contintental Congress. I enjoy reading the history of our founders who were not merely adherents of the contemporarily popular deism of the times, but were devout believers in the Christ of Scripture. I love the noble, Godly ambitions so many of those early founders had to forge a nation founded on the wobbly concept of republic-managed freedom. Those things are cool. Those things are thanks-worthy.
But those things don’t make America God’s favorite.
As nice as it would be to live in a morally-astute, God-honoring America, I’m informed by Scripture that such moralism (i.e. “works of the law”) will not mean anything beyond making American sinners nicer people to live around. Changing laws to match Scriptural morality won’t matter; the Gospel changing lives will. Sinners don’t need morality; they need Christ. What America needs isn’t changed laws, but changed lives. That’s only something the Gospel can do.
The judging hand of God we see displayed across the fabric of our culture, in all its spheres, is merely evidence of Him “giving them up” to their sin. That is His judgment. But if judgment rightly begins at the house of God, what’s the judgment we’re seeing there?
Perhaps it’s nothing less than His providential allowance for our continued proclamation of this false faith. The nobly-desirable blessing of God on America won’t start on the courthouse steps, the town square, or the national mall. It will begin in the church, and only when those who claim His name repent from false gospels, turn to the Christ of Scripture, and proclaim His saving Gospel to a “condemned already,” (John 3:18) wrath-incurring American populous.
And that Gospel? Yeah, it’s the greatest blessing from God over which we have stewardship, far above the temporally-limited benefit of our American ballot. It’s not something we get to vote on … but it’s something we should obey.
Perhaps then, and only then, blessings may begin at the house of the Lord …
(For those of you who believe I’ve committed flagrant heresy in this commentary, I welcome your emails. Bud@pulpitandpen.org. Just understand, I’m not an American Christian, I’m a Christian who happens to be an American. Might make a difference in helping you sharpen your missives! God bless!)
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]
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