As the USA approaches a national election this week, many will (and should) look carefully at the party platform of the candidate they intend to vote for before they cast their vote.
Christians will read these platforms and come to different conclusions about which is more important, or which lines up better with what they believe. This is understandable and inevitable, as our individual experiences and beliefs shape the way we think about public policies.
What Christians must not do is assume that any party platform is inspired by God. There is only one ‘platform’ that is written by God and therefore able to bind the conscience. That ‘platform’ is, of course, the Bible. Scripture, and Scripture alone, carries God’s authority. The Bible was written by God and therefore carries more weight than any document written by mere men — even documents as important as party platforms.
My goal in this article is not to persuade you toward one platform or another. My goal is to remind you that platforms come and go, but only “the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8; cf. 1 Peter 1:24-25).
The Bible was written by God and therefore carries more weight than any document written by mere men
Ken Mbugua, a pastor in Nairobi, Kenya, says it this way, “Though the heated conversations of the day sound all-important, we should remind ourselves that the Word of God endures forever. News channels, newspapers, and social media are filled with mere opinions.” Therefore, he says, “Don’t confuse the value of any political insight with the value of God’s Word for God’s people.”
What we need, what our church needs, more than anything is the Word that is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” The Word that is able to “pierce to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). This is the Ancient Word that applies to every person in every age and in every place, the Word that should inform how we read and understand any party’s platform.
I think it is safe to assume that most of you would “Amen” what I have written so far. I don’t know any Christian that has ever said that a political party’s platform is more important or more authoritative than the Bible. Christians, by definition, know that God is sovereign, not man.
But Christians can sometimes begin to subtly and unconsciously assume that their application of Scripture to various issues is infallible and authoritative. For example, it’s one thing to say, “Abortion is evil.” This is true because the Bible says that murder is wrong (Exodus 20:13). But it’s another thing to say, “The way we must fight the evil of abortion is by _________.”
Christians can sometimes begin to unconsciously assume that their application of Scripture to various issues is infallible and authoritative
When we do this, we are in danger of legalism, or adding to the law of God. Only Scripture has the ability to bind our consciences, or tell us what we should or must do, because only Scripture is inspired by God. It is good and right for Christians to defend and protect human life because the Bible teaches us this (see Proverbs 24:11-12). But the way we go about doing this can and will vary.
The way we apply Scriptural truths to particular political issues, such as abortion, immigration, climate change, etc., must be left open to individual consciences. As we read the Bible, pray, and seek godly counsel, Christians will come to different conclusions on how they think it best to address various issues.
God has given us consciences to guide us through life’s myriad moral decisions. We must train our consciences through studying Scripture and not damage them through willful and repeated sin.
Since the Reformation of the Church in the 1500’s, Protestants have fought for Christian liberty, or freedom for Christians to read, interpret, and apply Scripture for themselves. So, when we say that a brother or sister in Christ must think a certain way about the application of a biblical principle to a political issue, we are in danger of undermining what many of our Protestant forbears fought and died for.
The reason I’m writing about this now is because “Christian freedom”, or freedom of conscience, is something that is violated more during heated political seasons than at perhaps any other time. All Christians should want to protect innocent life, help the poor, uphold the rule of law, punish wickedness, and promote righteousness because these are things that the Bible clearly teaches. There’s room for disagreement on how we each think it best to do this.
Only God’s Word will stand forever, so may we be diligent to know His Word and ask for His Spirit to give us wisdom and help us apply it in faithful ways in our generation.
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