November 3, 2012

A Multitude of Counselors

by Mike Riccardi

Public Service AnnouncementI hate to interrupt Nate’s series on Prayer and Politics (which will continue on Monday), but with the election just days away I thought it would be helpful for anyone out there who’s still undecided to read a couple of blog posts and articles that I’ve found insightful and helpful. You’ll notice right away what my position is regarding what Americans (and Christians in particular) should do on November 6th. These are materials that have guided my thoughts on the issues, and my hope is that this multitude of counselors will serve you as you consider how to faithfully participate in this year’s election.

  • Norm Geisler asks and answers, “Should an Evangelical Vote for a Mormon for President?” Geisler reasons, “Despite my disappointment on the religious issue expressed in previous posts, and given the circumstances and the choice of either Romney or Obama, I have decided that a vote for Romney is the best thing I can do for the future of America.”
  • John Piper lets us know that he is going to vote. His counsel: “Tell as many people as you can the good reasons why you are disaffected with the whole thing; then go to the polls and take a burden-bearing, pro-active risk rather than staying home and taking a burden-dropping, reactive risk.”
  • Frank Turk provides a mathematical justification for the claim that any version of not voting for Romney is, in reality, voting for Obama.
  • Dan Phillips breaks down This Election’s Choice and why voting third party or abstaining is, in reality, a vote for Barack Obama. There is so much good reasoning in this post, but here’s a particularly poignant point: “I’ll support a man who is less than my ideal, because he’s basically on the right side of the life question. Otherwise, if I vote for a non-player the only ‘message’ I send is ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m irrelevant. I won’t help the pro-lifer, and I won’t hinder the pro-deather. Ignore me.'”
  • Kevin DeYoung asks, “What Am I Doing When I Vote?” and outlines a realistic approach to politics and voting. “What matters most is not my voting experience or what I fear it might say in some abstract way. What matters is what my vote actually does. … Small victories plus realistic strategy plus perseverance can make a tremendous difference over time. Hope is not delusional and change can come, but we have to work within the limits of what is possible. What honors God more, working hard and using our brains to put man into flight, or jumping off a cliff and hoping to fly because you believe God is capable of giving you wings?”
  • “But,” you object, “I Can’t Vote for Mitt Romney!” Frank Turk addresses the objections to voting for Romney — from his Mormonism, to his position on abortion, to issues of conscience. Here’s a great summary line: “Doing nothing and calling it a moral victory is cowardly.  It may actually be evil.  But if it is nothing else, it is certainly this: failing to do as much as possible to make a difference toward the improvement of those things which you can effect and can make better.  Failing to show that much compassion and effort is morally lazy.”
  • Randy Alcorn asks, “Is It Wrong to Vote for the Lesser of Evils?” responding to the objection that voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil. The key thought: “To vote for the lesser of evils is to vote for less evil. … [Someone objects:] ‘But that’s just thinking pragmatically.’ Or is it simply thinking logically, and trying to make a positive difference with the only power now left to me? Is voting my individualized expression of ideals? Or is it bringing my ideals to bear on the messy choice between two very flawed alternatives?”
  • In a context in which many are citing conscience as a reason why they can’t vote for Romney, Joel Beeke explains why his conscience will not allow him not to vote for Romney. “In the election on Tuesday, we have only two realistic options. If you don’t vote for Romney, then you have helped Obama. And if a significant number of evangelical Christians do as you do, Obama will be elected. I could not live with my own conscience if I contributed, even by default, to electing a president who promoted same-sex marriage and baby-killing, which may well lead to the destruction of America. That’s why my conscience won’t allow me not to address this issue, and also won’t allow me not to vote for Mitt Romney.”
  • Al Mohler calls the 2012 election The Great American Worldview Test: “We are not looking at minor matters of political difference. We are staring into the abyss of comprehensive moral conflict. Christian voters can escape neither the consequences of their vote, nor the fact that our most basic convictions will be revealed in the voting booth come November.”

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
- James 4:17 -

Mike Riccardi

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Mike is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master's Seminary.
  • http://www.facebook.com/lbouligny Larry Bouligny

    I am surprised that not one of these men have considered the effect that a Mormon in the White House is going to have on a global scale for the false gospel of Mormonism. I mean, “…even the President of the United States is a Mormon!” This could be devastating to the gospel. Is anyone else thinking beyond the next 4 years and beyond this country?

    • David Nosek

      It is a opportunity for the gospel!

    • http://thecripplegate.com Jesse Johnson

      I think Frank did deal with this in one of his answers to objections (not sure if Mike linked it above or not). The gist of his reponse is that one of two men will be president next year: either a man who claims to be a Christian yet who faovrs freedom for abortion and gay marriage, or a man who is a mormon and who opposes those things. Which do you think is really going to be more confusing for the world about what the gospel entails concerning these issues?

      Larry- I respect that your primary concern is evangelism. But…we are living in a world with a holocost unfolding in our midst. Is a mormon president ideal? No. But is a “Christian” president complicit in the holocost a good vote simply because our apologetics might be confused by a mormon in political office? I for one am confident in that the truth of the gospel will overcome the lie of Mormonism in the same way it has overcome the lie of liberal Christianity.

      • Tom

        Further more how confusing is it that this “Proclaiming Christian” is more sympathetic to Islam than Israel.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lbouligny Larry Bouligny

        Jesse, I do not think anything will change in regards to abortion or gay marriage in this country by means of a president. I am not being merely pessimistic, but is a president going to really stop the tidal wave that is crashing down in regards to these sins? I think some get the idea that a Republican president is going to get in there and abortions will stop and gay marriage will disappear.

        I am afraid that the idols of political correctness and the powers they hold are too strong. Over long periods of time, perhaps. I do think Romney would do a better job, but because of my background in reaching cults, and for conscience sake, I cannot vote for him.

        Well, we both have to preach tomorrow, so back to the sermon :) I enjoy the dialogue, brother, and pray for you as the Lord puts you on my heart.

      • http://twitter.com/Frank_Turk Frank Turk

        Come back to BCLR soon, Jesse. :-)

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      Hey Larry. Frank did deal with that concern in the “I can’t vote for Mitt Romney!” series. It was the third of the six, which you can find here.

      Besides that, I don’t think it would be accurate to say that even the men who haven’t mentioned this specific issue in their posts haven’t considered it. I’m sure they all indeed have considered it, and have taken their positions and made their arguments notwithstanding. And I agree with that.

      The key thought for me is: Our hope for the clarity of the Gospel is not grounded in the religious devotion, or lack thereof, of the President of our country. It’s grounded in the clarity of the church’s witness through proclamation of that Gospel, of which a Mormon President may provide an opportunity for distinction and clarification.

      Besides, Obama doesn’t claim to belong to what is known as a historical cult with weird tenets like magic underwear and eschatological happenings in Missouri. He claims to belong to historic Christianity, and is nevertheless advancing a worldview that can’t be distinguished from the secular humanism of the age, chiefly in his attempts to legitimize infanticide and homosexuality. If the religious devotion of the President was my hope for the clarity of the Gospel, and I had to pick between Romney’s cultic Mormonism or Obama’s fake, liberal Christianity, I’d pick Romney.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lbouligny Larry Bouligny

        I understand what you are saying, Mike. However, religious hypocrisy has always been there in regards to the POTUS. This is the entry of an entirely new beast. This will not only make the Mormon gospel more legitimate to unsuspecting people all over the world (people in other countries recognize the POTUSA more than we would recognize their leader), but it would further blur the distinctions and make Mormonism just another denomination of Christianity. I think we as Christians should diligently guard against this. It also could, from a corporate perspective, bring a whole new level of judgment against our nation, as our CIC believes that God the Father was once a sinner, and other such abominations.

        I thought the arguments that Don Green made on this issue were very solid, and would have loved to see another viewpoint represented here. Thanks for the dialogue. Love you guys!

        • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

          …a whole new level of judgment against our nation, as our CIC believes…

          I think the reason I disagree with you on this thought is because I don’t see God judging a nation for bad doctrine. Certainly he judges churches and individuals for bad doctrine and false worship, but I believe He judges nations for immorality. That’s because it’s given to the church to guard the truth (2 Tim 1:13-14) and it’s given to governments to restrain evil and promote good (Rom 13:3-4).

          So while it’s true that Romney believes blasphemous things about God, I don’t think his blasphemy (as serious as it is) invites any more divine judgment than the assault on marriage and the unborn that characterizes the current President, who professes to belong to historic Christianity. And as it regards the office of President, I think the wiser choice is the moral fake Christian rather than the immoral fake Christian.

          I think we as Christians should diligently guard against this.

          So do I. But the political sphere is not the arena for this kind of diligent guarding. The church guards the truth (2 Tim 1:13-14). The state promotes good and restrains evil (Rom 13:3-4). If I may say so respectfully, I think those who hold to your position confuse these spheres and as a result put too much stock in the political arena to affect and effect spiritual change.

          The way Christians get the world to see that Mormonism isn’t just another denomination of Christianity is not to vote a Mormon in or out of the White House, or into any other branch of government or position of prominence. It’s to faithfully and clearly proclaim the Gospel, with all its contours and fine edges and doctrinal distinctives.

          And I’m thankful to have your partnership in the ministry of that Gospel, Larry. Grace be with you, brother.

          • Heather

            Hi Mike,

            Actually, this is kind of a reply to all the comments on this thread…just want to raise some concerns I have about some of the statements said here.

            I liked what Larry said: “Is anyone else thinking beyond the next four years and beyond this country?” Yes. This thought steps outside of politics and looks at the spiritual matter, which is so necessary and sobering to see.

            This may just be my opinion, but I feel like Christians missed a HUGE opportunity to speak out against Mormonism before this election, especially considering that all eyes were on Evangelicals, (perhaps because they were afraid it would persuade people to not vote for Romney? That’s the only reason I can think of). Politics aside, what about our Christian responsibility to speak up against heresies and false teaching, especially when there is a spotlight on it? If we believe God has chosen who will be President, Christians shouldn’t fear that speaking the truth of the Gospel in contrast to the falsehood of Mormonism will somehow threaten the outcome of this election…right? Even here on the Cripplegate, I’ve been waiting and waiting for one of you to write about the falsehood of Mormonism, but it hasn’t come yet, (which is, of course, OK if none of you were led to, but you guys are such gifted teachers that have been given such a large platform, that I was really hoping one of you would powerfully, yet lovingly, do so).

            Frank said, “…if they join Mormonism, it will cause them to ask questions which, when they find the right answers, lead to the Real Jesus — if we are ready to answer them.” I see huge assumptions in that statement. I totally get what he is getting at, but to me, it’s very odd to assume anyone who joins Mormonism is going to automatically ask questions, especially about the existence of God (Mormons have their own explanation for their 3 gods, so why would they see the need to come to us to learn about the Triune God, when they think they serve the same God as us?). Why should we assume they will ask any questions at all? Let’s say they do ask questions, what makes us think they will find the right answers?? They are being deceived and controlled BY Satan, being blinded and purposely kept in the dark, so if they are asking their fellow Mormons these questions, they certainly are not going to be given answers that are of the Light or Truth.The Mormons I’ve known that question their religion, just get rid of the “weird” things that don’t jive with them and keep the rest of it. Just last week there was a young modern couple that chose to become Mormon a couple of years ago and are die hard fans of their religion, but they didn’t even know half about Mormonism! They just wrote off the things they didn’t like and said the greater good is that “we all believe in the same God.” Not only that, if Christians don’t understand the false teachings of Mormonism, who’s to say we’ll be ready to answer them? From what I’ve seen, average Mormons are WAY more prepared to talk about their religion than your average Christian is, (and don’t get me wrong – I know Christians have the Holy Spirit in them and Mormons do not, so in that sense, the Holy Spirit could speak powerfully through any Christian, but the problem is that not all Christians are in the spirit). Yeah, maybe the Pastors and people interested in religion will know how to answer, but what about the rest of us?

            So, if people join Mormonism as a club for success or status, who cares? I do! I totally get what you’re saying, but I don’t think it’s that simple to where we could be so careless. I wouldn’t wish ANY person to get sucked into Mormonism even for the most “innocent” excuse. It’s playing with dangerous fire. We can never underestimate the power and evil of Satan and sin. No matter what reason they may have for joining Mormonism, the fact that they joined it already makes them putty in Satan’s hand, where we know He can spoon feed them ANY lie.

            It seems like the idea that has been floating around with Christians during this election is that Mormonism isn’t really a big deal, and even if people do get tangled up in it we’ll just preach the Gospel to them and everything will be OK. Really? And I have a feeling that when they say “we” they mean “you,” which probably means “my pastor.” WE’RE the ones being deceived by Satan if we think everything going on with Mormonism during this election is that harmless. NO DOUBT, God is greater and is able to turn ANY Mormon from their sin (or any other person of a false religion/cult)! But, realistically…how many of His children are actually able or even willing to share the Gospel of TRUTH with them?

            Mike, when you mentioned that Romney’s blasphemy doesn’t invite more judgment than the assault on marriage and the unborn, Luke 12:10 loudly came to my mind. Thoughts?

            Either way, I don’t think it’s right for Christians to pressure other Christians of who to vote for, nor is it right to criticize them for not wanting to vote at all. If we wanna pressure, let’s pressure each other to earnestly pray for guidance of what to do, then TRUST the Lord WILL lead His people to do His good will – even if it means Obama will be President for the next 4 years. I really have no idea who will be President, but I am at peace with whatever the outcome will be.

          • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

            “Is anyone else thinking beyond the next four years and beyond this country?” Yes. This thought steps outside of politics and looks at the spiritual matter, which is so necessary and sobering to see.

            I think that’s a good idea, too, but when I first read Larry’s question I thought to myself, “Yes, they are.” The notion that those of us who hold to the position I’m obviously agreeing with are being short-sighted and not considering all the issues is itself short-sighted and actually quite condescending. In fact, it’s considering the effect that this election will have beyond the next four years that many of these men have written what they have written. I think Wayne Grudem and Dan Phillips have explicitly mentioned that very thing in their arguments, and probably more that I don’t remember off the top of my head.

            This may just be my opinion, but I feel like Christians missed a HUGE opportunity to speak out against Mormonism before this election, especially considering that all eyes were on Evangelicals, (perhaps because they were afraid it would persuade people to not vote for Romney? That’s the only reason I can think of).

            I think the people who think like this have wrongly intersected matters of the church with matters of the state. It seems to comes down to a fundamental philosophical difference. Some Christians seem to think that in a democratic republic’s representative elections, it’s only OK to vote for other orthodox Christians — or at least other professing Christians. Others, like myself, and like the men in the above post, believe choosing a man for secular public office has nothing to do, in principle, with their religious beliefs, just like choosing a mechanic, a brain surgeon, a pilot, or a dentist has nothing to do, in principle, with their religious beliefs.

            If I go to a Mormon dentist to have a root canal, are people concerned about my Christian witness and what I’m doing to speak out against Mormonism? No. And I think the only reason people view the Presidency as any different is because they expect too much spiritual good or ill to be accomplished by the government of the United States of America. The kingdom of God is not advanced or hindered by the kingdom of this world. Christians participate in both (children of the Kingdom, and yet in, but not of, the world), but faithful participation in each shouldn’t lead to their confusion. In this situation, it has.

            Also, I think the presumption that Christians haven’t spoken up against Mormonism because we’re fearful it’ll sway other Christians from voting for Romney, frankly, is reprehensible. I’m happy to shout from the top of my lungs that Mormonism is damnable heresy that has nothing to do with historic Christianity except to distort it and confuse people, while at the same time believing that he is better qualified for the office than his opponent. Many of these men have included such disclaimers in their writings even as they support Romney for President. (I think of Jesse’s second disclaimer in this post, just as an example.)

            Politics aside, what about our Christian responsibility to speak up against heresies and false teaching, especially when there is a spotlight on it?

            It’s still there. But it’s accomplished not by voting or not voting. It’s accomplished by actually speaking up. Could there have been more posts in the Christian blogosphere about why Mormonism is a false gospel? Sure. Has there been none? No, and I suspect that if Romney is elected, you’ll see quite a few more posts distinguishing Mormonism from Christianity then. My impression is that it will be more relevant if he actually gets elected.

            In any case, your questions regarding about whether we’ll be prepared to answer questions from Mormons and others about the distinctions between Mormonism and Christianity, are all valid whether one supports voting for Romney or not. And that’s the point. My voting for Romney in no way hinders me from resolutely decrying the heresy of Mormonism whenever I’m asked, or is otherwise appropriate. To suggest it does hinder me simply does not follow. I can support a man’s political platform, policies, and method of government without supporting everything about the man, and specifically without supporting his religious beliefs.

            It seems like the idea that has been floating around with Christians during this election is that Mormonism isn’t really a big deal…

            I disagree. I hear people speaking about Mormonism being a very big deal — damnable even. What people are saying is, we don’t battle Mormonism by voting for it or against it.

            …and even if people do get tangled up in it we’ll just preach the Gospel to them and everything will be OK. Really?

            Well, what else would you do? Outlaw Mormonism? Banish all Mormons from the United States as a result of voting (directly or indirectly) for Barack Obama? Of course not. If people do get ensnared in the false teaching of Mormonism, of course we’ll preach the Gospel as the solution. Preaching the Gospel is the Church’s commission (not keeping cultists out of political office). And so the Gospel, and the Gospel alone, is the weapon of our warfare.

            But, realistically…how many of His children are actually able or even willing to share the Gospel of TRUTH with them?

            Here again, I agree with you. But here again, the answer has nothing to do with whether Christians vote for Romney. It has to do with the Church being faithful in her commission to preach the Gospel, and to equip the saints to fulfill that commission.

            Mike, when you mentioned that Romney’s blasphemy doesn’t invite more judgment than the assault on marriage and the unborn, Luke 12:10 loudly came to my mind. Thoughts?

            1. The blasphemy I was speaking of isn’t the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. To suggest that it is would imply that no Mormon could ever be saved (since blasphemy of the Spirit is unforgiveable). But of course Mormons have been saved.

            2. I said false views of God didn’t invite more judgment on a nation anymore than those moral issues. The divine purpose for government is not to teach right views of God and banish false views of God. That is what the Church is commissioned to do (2 Tim 1:13-14). The divine design for government is to establish morality — to preserve good and restrain evil (Rom 13:3-4). So, I was saying that a government, or a nation, doesn’t invite more judgment upon itself for failing to do something that it hasn’t been designed to do than for failing to do something that it has been designed to do.

            Either way, I don’t think it’s right for Christians to pressure other
            Christians of who to vote for, nor is it right to criticize them for
            not wanting to vote at all.

            I’m not sure if you’re implying that you think that’s what I’ve done here. My goal was to serve those as yet undecided by culling the most helpful, insightful, and sound writings of men we all respect. If others wind up feeling pressure, that probably has more to do with them and their conscience than with me or the authors of the above articles. Perhaps the articles are having their desired effect, and the result is just uncomfortable (which it should be). As they say, if you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one who barks is the one who got hit.

            If we wanna pressure, let’s pressure each other to earnestly pray for guidance of what to do, then TRUST the Lord WILL lead His people to do His good will…

            To me, that sounds like you’re saying I can pray about what to do, be convinced about what to do, but then I must keep that to myself. I don’t think that follows, and so I disagree. I’ve prayed for, and have counseled others to pray for, the matters of this election, and in reading all these helpful resources, it seemed good to me (or, you’d say, “the Lord ‘led’ me in His good will”) to publish these posts.

            I really have no idea who will be President, but I am at peace with whatever the outcome will be.

            Me neither, and me too. But in the same way that I trust the sovereignty of God to provide my every need and yet at the same time I pray for those needs — and in the same way that I trust the sovereignty of God to save His elect and yet at the same time I preach the Gospel — in the very same way, I trust the sovereignty of God to take down and lift up national leaders and yet at the same time I do what I can to see that biblical principles be upheld.

            Thanks for your thoughts, Heather.

        • http://twitter.com/Frank_Turk Frank Turk

          Hi Larry — first, thanks for being a sane person with this objection and not one of the non-sane people with apocalyptic reasons for rejecting a Mormon as a political candidate (particularly: for President). I am personally sensitive to the claim that a Mormon President legitimizes Mormonism because it sounds, on its face, to be a really serious and pragmatic concern.

          I say, “on the face of it,” because I am reminded of Nixon’s Quaker faith, and the utter lack of a Quaker resurgence after his first eventful and (I think history reflects) successful first term in office. Nixon being a member of a post-Christian sect did not affect the culture the way you say a Mormon president might — so history is sort of against you.

          Someone this week said that the problem with Mormonism is that it’s a theological cult, but not a sociological cult — that is, it’s not looking to cut itself off from the world and isolate its members. I think that’s almost exactly right. The LDS church finds itself to be the fastest-growing sociologically-“Christian” group in America, up almost 2 million members since 2000 (source: http://www.thearda.com/rcms2010/r/u/rcms2010_99_us_name_2000_ON.asp). That’s without a Mormon president — so to say that somehow this is the watershed moment is sort of worrying about the broken fence on the back-40 when the barn door doesn’t close. There’s a more-fundamental reason for people in a post-Christian age migrating to Mormonism than the popular figures who are Mormons, and we should be looking for that if we are truly concerned about the advance of this errant theology and false faith.

          Having said that, I think this objection lacks substance for a deeper reason: the true Christian faith has never feared the false faith of other religions. I made another blog post about Romney’s use of the phrase/idea “All children of God” which points this out by taking a brief look at how Paul addressed the idolaters of Athens. (link: http://centuri0n.blogspot.com/2012/10/comparing-zeus-to-triune-god.html) Paul had no fear of saying that all men are children of the creator, and no fear in using a Greek poem about Zeus to make his point clear. My opinion in that matter is this: we win every single time people think seriously about the existence of God — and our faith in and salvation from the Triune God makes us the place where the most sensible answers ought to come from.

          If people join Mormonism as a club for success or status, who cares? They join Kiwanis and the Rotary for those reasons, and we just let it slide. If they join Mormonism, it will cause them to ask questions which, when they find the right answers, lead to the Real Jesus — if we ar ready to answer them.

          The onus falls on us to have the truth when the opportunity to preach it rears its head.

          I hope this cuases you to vote well on Tuesday, and may God bless you for thinking about it.

          • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

            Thanks for taking the time and writing this, Frank. I know it was for Larry, but I was very much blessed by it as well.

    • Tom

      Further more how confusing is it that this “Proclaiming Christian” is more sympathetic to Islam than Israel and campaigning than providing the leadership he was elected to provide.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kathryn.macdonald.712 MacDonald Kathryn

      I agree with you

  • ericdodson

    Gents, the Piper link is malfunctioning.

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      Thanks! Fixed!

  • http://Redeemedography.com Gary Morris

    Can I also offer Dr Will Varner as a clear voice on this subject…http://redeemedography.com/2012/11/02/faith-politics-an-interview-with-dr-william-varner/

  • Pingback: Some Great Resources for Christians Looking for Sound Thinking on the Election | in partibus infidelium (in the land of infidels)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Morrison/501708230 Andrew Morrison

    the link to Joel Beeke’s post isn’t working either.

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      Thanks Andrew. Should work now.

  • http://airocross.com/ Justin Edwards

    Hi Mike, in light of endorsing the Pyro articles, in particular Frank’s quote “It may actually be evil.”, do you believe it is a sin to not vote for Mitt Romney? Thanks, brother.

    • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

      I get why you’re asking the question, Justin. But I think even having to ask it illustrates a fundamental flaw in the way many are thinking about this whole thing. People have collapsed the church onto the state — expecting spiritual matters to be helped or hindered by the political process — in a way that would make the most ardent of theonomists proud. Because voting is a matter of civil participation in the state, I don’t consider the act of voting or not voting itself to be sinful or righteous. I guess I think about it more in the category of wise and foolish. I do feel comfortable saying that it would be foolish for Americans, and especially American Christians, not to vote for Romney. Is what is foolish always sinful? Honestly I’m not sure how to reason through that one. Clint wrote a post on that that might help, but he certainly wasn’t considering this issue, and I don’t presume to know his position as it regards the US election.

      More than the act of voting, the reasoning and motivation behind that action is what could be labeled sinful or not. I think that’s what Frank was getting at with the whole “doing nothing and calling it moral victory” and “protecting my holiness” thing, and I think he’s right. I also think there’s something to the fact that he wrote “may actually be” and not “definitely is.” And I don’t feel I can be any more conclusive than that with any sort of solid conviction. I think he struck the right balance and pinpointed the issue well.

      • http://airocross.com/ Justin Edwards

        Thanks for your response, Mike. What I am most concerned with is not in hoping that the government has any role in the spirituality of its citizens (although I do believe government has a function for justice per Romans 13), but rather doing all things to the glory of God.

        The fact is, Christians are coming to different conclusions during this election. While some may be uninformed in their decisions, others have given great consideration to the available choices through prayer and consulting God’s Word on the matter. Different conclusions are being drawn by different godly men, so this truly is a matter of conscience.

        While one side may say it is foolish or not being a good steward to withhold a vote for Romney, the other side might wonder how a Christian can vote for a candidate who favors the legality to murder children (either candidate here). I think we need to be very careful in judging one another’s hearts, and I’ve seen both sides come very close to doing that if not calling it a sin to vote or not vote for Romney.

        I think what baffles me the most is the less-than-charitable accusations that one is “protecting their holiness” at the expense of potential positive change. Is seeking to be holy and blameless before the Lord not of paramount importance for the Christian? Might that look differently for each Christian especially in gray areas? I know you would agree with that, but it’s mindboggling the way it is being suggested one should forsake personal purity for the sake of pragmatism.

        You quoted James 4:17 to seemingly suggest that to not vote for Mitt Romney would be a sin. Now, I submit that could be true for some Christians, but only for those who do believe it is right to vote for Romney but not follow through with it. Some of us believe it would not be right (for us) to vote for Romney, and for us to do that would be sin because it would not be in faith (Romans 14:23).

        The point here is to let each be convinced in his own mind. While we can share arguments as to how we are voting this election, to try to convince our brothers to vote according to our convictions in a way that would violate their conscience, well, that IS sin (Romans 14:1;13). I hope that makes sense.

        Grace and peace to you, brother.

        • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

          Grace and peace to you, brother.

          I really appreciate your comments, here, Justin. Thanks so much for taking the time. Please receive my response in the spirit of brotherly love in which I sincerely mean it.

          Different conclusions are being drawn by different godly men, so this truly is a matter of conscience.

          I disagree with your reasoning here. I think I agree that it’s a matter of conscience, but disagreement by godly men is not what makes it a matter of conscience. Godly men draw different conclusions about, e.g., the gifts and the eschaton, but those are not matters of conscience, but doctrine. What makes this a matter of conscience or not is whether it can actually be demonstrated that to do one or the other would be righteous or sinful.

          While one side may say it is foolish or not being a good steward to withhold a vote for Romney, the other side might wonder how a Christian can vote for a candidate who favors the legality to murder children (either candidate here).

          As Frank argued, I think it’s presumptuous and piously idealistic to refuse to do something that works towards the survival of 95+% of a population if we cannot save 100% of them. I’m not going to rehash the discussion here, as that was not the intent of this post, but suffice it to summarize in this way: The only real-world, reality-based choices America faces are (a) a man who has vowed to protect 0% of babies in the womb, and (b) another man who inconsistently protects only 95% or so of them. When one speaks of conscience, I, like Joel Beeke, can’t understand how one’s conscience could allow them not to work for the 95% option, and thus effectively (though, granted, indirectly) support the 0%.

          I think what baffles me the most is the less-than-charitable
          accusations that one is “protecting their holiness” at the expense of
          potential positive change.

          It’s not that one is protecting their holiness at the expense of potential positive change, but protecting their holiness at the expense of thousands of murdered babies. If one refuses to act to ensure the safety of the 95%, just because he couldn’t get the 100%, I don’t think he has protected his holiness. I think he’s strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel. Such would come closer to surrendering holiness, rather than protecting it.

          …it’s mindboggling the way it is being suggested one should forsake personal purity for the sake of pragmatism.

          Again, I think the point is it would be forsaking personal purity to fail to do something about that 95%.

          And brother, I just flatly reject the charge of pragmatism that has come from my dear brethren on this matter. There is a real difference between pragmatism and realism. This is not: let’s do whatever works. This is, as Alcorn said, “simply thinking logically, and trying to make a positive difference with the only power now left to me.” As he says, voting is not my “individualized expression of ideals,” but it is “bringing my ideals to bear on the messy choice between two very flawed alternatives.” As DeYoung says, what matters is what my vote actually does. We have to work in the realm of what is possible. That kind of wisdom, and even shrewdness, is more honoring to God than a noble-sounding idealism that effects no true benefit for the ones who will suffer the most.

          [Regarding James 4:17]…only for those who do believe it is right to vote for Romney but not follow through with it.

          Right. That’s the way I intended that to be understood. I was hoping that at the end of all that reading, people (especially those who were as yet undecided) would be persuaded of the position that I hold. And I just wanted to leave them with the exhortation — not just to be convinced theoretically but stay home on election day out of hesitation or ambivalence — but to follow through with what I hope was their newfound conviction.

          While we can share arguments as to how we are voting this election, to try to convince our brothers to vote according to our convictions in a way that would violate their conscience, well, that IS sin (Romans 14:1;13). I hope that makes sense.

          Yup, I gotcha. What this post is, is not trying to persuade someone to violate their conscience. Rather, it’s the attempt to more accurately inform those whose consciences have been (I think) misinformed on the issue, and, having then a rightly informed conscience, to exhort them to act in line with conscience.

          Grace be with you, my friend.

  • http://mriccardi.blogspot.com Mike Riccardi

    I’m thankful for those who have shared their thoughts in the comment section. I especially appreciate the loving and honorable way that different opinions were offered in grace.

    Because, though, the design of this post wasn’t so much to rehash the back-and-forth discussions and supporting arguments as much as it was to highlight what has already been said, I’m going to close the thread.

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