Johnson: How California’s Kangaroo Court Changed my Vote for President

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m no fan of our President, much of his rhetoric, and some of his policies. However, I want to be fair and promote truth and charitable discussion. Pastor Jesse’s post here is worth reading, even by those of us who disagree with his final choice and who cannot stomach voting for Trump. We should still thoughtfully consider Jesse’s arguments. -Erik

“As those who know me can attest, I did not vote for President Trump 4 years ago. I did not believe him when he said he would draw troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, nor did I believe him when he said he would appoint pro-life judges. Moreover, I was afraid that if our nation had a president who flaunted his sexual immorality such as Trump had, it would lead to a downplaying of that sin by Christian conservatives.

This year I plan on voting for him, and my reasons are all connected to why I refused four years ago. First, he did substantially draw down our nation’s troops from those indefinite wars. Second, he did indeed appoint pro-life judges; in fact, not only pro-life judges, but judges that uphold religious freedom. It is no coincidence that Capitol Hill Baptist won their right to re-open in DC from a judge who graduated from Wheaton and was appointed by Trump. “Elections,” as President Obama often said, “have consequences.”

But the third reason I plan on voting for Trump next week is the one that hits me the hardest. Four years ago, I was afraid that a president who spoke like President Trump speaks would lead to a growth in brashness, pride, and sexual immorality in those who imitate the president. Call this the “John Piper reason for not voting for Trump.”

Yet the truth is, in the last few years I have seen nearly the opposite problem. While certainly I have encountered my fair share of people who do imitate Trump’s anger and spite, and make poor attempts at copying his vitriol and pride (all of which are sinful and shameful), I have seen many more people who—out of opposition to Trump—have sought to downplay the sinfulness of abortion. They minimize abortion by saying things like “Republicans are only pro-life until the baby is born, and then they don’t care” as a means by which they justify voting for a candidate who supports (and is supported by) Planned Parenthood.

This leads me to California’s Kangaroo Court.

Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris is no run-of-the-mill, middle-of-the-road member of the Democratic Party when it comes to abortion. She was the Attorney General in California when journalists made undercover videos of Planned Parenthood violating federal law by selling body parts from aborted babies. When those videos were leaked, rather than encouraging a federal prosecution of Planned Parenthood, she initiated a prosecution of those that made the videos.

In other words, she used the full force of the government to prosecute pro-life activists for exposing the criminal activity of one of her biggest donors.

Of course the eventual “trial” of those activists was one act of injustice after another. The State asked for a gag motion to keep the “defendants” (the pro-life activists) from talking about their case. The state also seized their videos and their cameras, and made it impossible for them to release more footage. Their federal trial was held in front of a judge who used to be on the board of a local Planned Parenthood, and whose wife who is one of Planned Parenthood’s biggest fundraisers. That judge, by the way, was appointed by President Obama. He did not go to Wheaton.

I’m very aware that some Christians have sought to downplay President Trump’s sin in order to justify their vote. Trump was wrong to question President Obama’s legitimacy—that was racist and sinful. He is wrong to insult his opponents with lines like “Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me; there is nothing smart about you Joe.” That is brash, arrogant, and sinful.

I’m also aware that no matter who wins next week, it will be someone with a history of making raciststatements, as well as someone who has been credibly accused of sexual assault. No matter who wins next week, it will be someone who is openly in favor of government recognition of same-sex marriage. I wish our country had leaders for whom those things were not true, but we don’t.

Yet I’m also aware that President Trump’s administration has been a reprieve for Christian schools, Christian universities, and for churches. If you are not in administration at a church or university, it is really hard to understand how difficult life was getting under the Obama administration. Their revamped Title IX procedures were nearly impossible to deal with, and severely crippled Christian school’s ability to operate. Biden has vowed to reinstitute them if he is elected.

In this election the difference in how the candidates view Christian education is on full display. Karen Pence teaches at the school affiliated with the church I pastor, and both Karen and the Vice President have been vocal proponents of Christian education. Meanwhile Biden and Harris have vowed to pass the “Equality Act” which again would put a monumental burden on religious liberty and specifically Christian Universities.

I affirm that people should be able to worship together and be in full and harmonious fellowship in the Lord together who share different political calculations. I want Immanuel (the church I pastor) to be a place where both Democrats and Republicans feel welcome—and I know many who do feel that way!

But at the same time I want to make sure people understand that Kamala Harris has already demonstrated her willingness to use state power to arrest pro-life activists, whereas President Trump spoke at the March for Life. Biden wants restrictions on Christian schools, and I cannot find a single abortion restriction he is in favor of. That is not to say that President Trump is a qualified leader—his conduct is publically sinful and harms our nation. But ultimately I’ll be voting for the candidate who appoints judges that protect the right to worship, and who affirms the pro-life cause. Here is Mohler making this same point—it’s worth quoting at length, and I’ll leave that as the last word:

“Let me be as clear as I know possible: President Trump’s behavior on Twitter and his divisive comments and sub-presidential behavior are an embarrassment. Constantly His arrogance and ego and constant need for adulation drive me to distraction…but character is some strange combination of the personal, the principled, and the practical. I cannot accept the argument that a calm man who affirms the dismembering of babies in the womb has a superior character to a man who rants like Genghis Khan but acts to preserve that life. In my ideal world, I would vote for a candidate in whom the person, the principled, and the practical earn my admiration. I do not live in that world. I live in this world, and I must act accordingly.”

-Jesse Johnson, https://thecripplegate.com/how-californias-kangaroo-court-changed-my-vote-for-president/

Richards: Walk in Love

“To judge another on [dietary issues] is to usurp God’s role and his authority as judge. We must not take this role upon ourselves. In Romans 14:13 Paul says to not pass judgment on one another any longer. It’s clear, then, that judgment was being passed on one another up to this point. He offers an alternative to judging one another.

[Christians] must decide to never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Instead of judging one another for whether or not they eat meat that had been offered to idols, they must decide they will never put a stumbling block or hindrance in each other’s way….

This is why he says that the strong must be careful to never put a stumbling block in the way of a brother. Romans 14:15: if a brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love.“

-J-T Richards, https://newcitychurch.org/messages/walking-in-love/

Richards: Idolatry

“None of us lives to himself and none of us dies to himself. If we live,we live to the Lord—for his honor. And if we die, we also die to the Lord. This means that whether we live or die we live or die for Jesus. He says Jesus died and rose again that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. In other words, the death and resurrection of Jesus is what saves us, so all of life belongs to him. So we have freedom of conscience because all of life and all of our dietary choices and all of our days belong to him and are for his honor and glory….

[Each] will stand before the judgment seat of God, and the reality of this is expressed in God’s declaration that every knee with bow and every tongue will confess. Therefore, each one of us stand before him as individuals and will give an account of himself [or herself] to God….

There is no greater sin than idolatry. Idolatry says to God that he is unworthy of our worship, unworthy of our greatest affection. Idolatry says that something else is more valuable than God. Idolatry says that something else is more desirable than God. Idolatry says sexual pleasure is greater than God or financial prosperity is greater than God or a certain reputation is greater than God or that possessions are greater than God. Whatever supplants God as the recipient of our greatest joy and affection is an idol and idolatry is a lie about God. There is no greater sin than this.”

-J-T Richards, https://newcitychurch.org/messages/walking-in-love/

Richards: Differences of Opinion

Paul begins [Romans 14] by calling on the Christians in Rome to welcome the one who is weak but to not quarrel with him over opinions. I chuckle whenever I hear a person accused of being opinionated—as if this is somehow unusual. The truth is some are more willing to articulate or argue for their opinions. It isn’t that a person has more opinions, but that he or she will express them.

Opinions carry different weight. In my opinion Nike basketball shoes are very overrated; Reebok makes far better basketball shoes. It is also my opinion that we should live all of life for the glory of God in Christ. These opinions do not carry the same weight. I would die for the latter but if you put a gun to my head I’d sing the praises of Nike.

Paul tells us the substance of the opinion in question in verse 2. One person believes that he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. The issue is whether to eat meat or to not eat meat, but why is that controversial? In first-century Rome most meat markets were connected to temples. A bull would be sacrificed to a god and then the animal would be butchered and its meat sold in a meat market. The overwhelming majority of meat sold in the city would have been offered in worship to a false god.

There were those,whether they were Jewish believers in Jesus or were Gentile believers in Jesus, who believed the right way to honor God with one’s life was to avoid eating meat that had been offered in this way. They would eat only vegetables so as to never have to worry about the source of any meat they ate. Just avoid meat altogether and the issue became a non-issue. There were also those who believed they could eat meat regardless of its source, and even if it had been offered to an idol, eating it in faith would honor the Lord. What did it matter what the butcher did before butchering? As long as the meat was fresh and good quality, just eat it!

On the one hand you have traditionalists, those who adhered to a traditional Jewish understanding of food ethics and on the other you have non-traditionalists, those who were more progressive in their understanding of food ethics. Paul refers to this issue as a matter of opinion.

Paul tells those who eat meat to not despise the one who abstains, and the one who abstains should not judge the one who eats. Why? For God has welcomed him. Which one? Which one has God welcomed? Each one, through faith. Most of you know the book of Romans. Paul has repeatedly emphasized in this letter that salvation is through faith. God has welcomed both the meat-eaters and the vegetarians through faith.

Therefore judgment of the other is unacceptable. Paul says “It is before his own master that he stands or falls.” In other words the guy eating his quinoa burger and the guy enjoying his perfectly cooked ribeye will only answer to God. And notice that Paul says each one will stand—“will be upheld”-because the Lord is able to make him stand. He doesn’t say “because he or she ate the right food.”

-J-T Richards, https://newcitychurch.org/messages/walking-in-love/

Mathetes: Early Christians

Mathetes who states that he was a disciple of the apostles whom the apostles themselves had taught the way of Christ, wrote in his second-century letter to Diognetus the following about Christians:

“They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.”

Zahnd: My Problem With the Bible

This post first appeared on Brian Zahnd’s blog.

I have a problem with the Bible. Here’s my problem…

I’m an ancient Egyptian. I’m a comfortable Babylonian. I’m a Roman in his villa.

That’s my problem. See, I’m trying to read the Bible for all it’s worth, but I’m not a Hebrew slave suffering in Egypt. I’m not a conquered Judean deported to Babylon. I’m not a first century Jew living under Roman occupation.

I’m a citizen of a superpower. I was born among the conquerors. I live in the empire. But I want to read the Bible and think it’s talking to me. This is a problem.

One of the most remarkable things about the Bible is that in it we find the narrative told from the perspective of the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved, the conquered, the occupied, the defeated. This is what makes it prophetic. We know that history is written by the winners. This is true — except in the case of the Bible it’s the opposite! This is the subversive genius of the Hebrew prophets. They wrote from a bottom-up perspective.

Imagine a history of colonial America written by Cherokee Indians and African slaves. That would be a different way of telling the story! And that’s what the Bible does. It’s the story of Egypt told by the slaves. The story of Babylon told by the exiles. The story of Rome told by the occupied. What about those brief moments when Israel appeared to be on top? In those cases the prophets told Israel’s story from the perspective of the peasant poor as a critique of the royal elite. Like when Amos denounced the wives of the Israelite aristocracy as “the fat cows of Bashan.”

Every story is told from a vantage point; it has a bias. The bias of the Bible is from the vantage point of the underclass. But what happens if we lose sight of the prophetically subversive vantage point of the Bible? What happens if those on top read themselves into the story, not as imperial Egyptians, Babylonians, and Romans, but as the Israelites? That’s when you get the bizarre phenomenon of the elite and entitled using the Bible to endorse their dominance as God’s will. This is Roman Christianity after Constantine. This is Christendom on crusade. This is colonists seeing America as their promised land and the native inhabitants as Canaanites to be conquered. This is the whole history of European colonialism. This is Jim Crow. This is the American prosperity gospel. This is the domestication of Scripture. This is making the Bible dance a jig for our own amusement.

As Jesus preached the arrival of the kingdom of God he would frequently emphasize the revolutionary character of God’s reign by saying things like, “the last will be first and the first last.” How does Jesus’ first-last aphorism strike you? I don’t know about you, but it makes this modern day Roman a bit nervous.

Imagine this: A powerful charismatic figure arrives on the world scene and amasses a great following by announcing the arrival of a new arrangement of the world where those at the bottom are to be promoted and those on top are to have their lifestyle “restructured.” How do people receive this? I can imagine the Bangladeshis saying, “When do we start?!” and the Americans saying, “Hold on now, let’s not get carried away!”

Now think about Jesus announcing the arrival of God’s kingdom with the proclamation of his counterintuitive Beatitudes. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” how was that received? Well, it depends on who is hearing it. The poor Galilean peasant would hear it as good news (gospel), while the Roman in his villa would hear it with deep suspicion. (I know it’s an anachronism, but I can imagine Claudius saying something like, “sounds like socialism to me!”)

And that’s the challenge I face in reading the Bible. I’m not the Galilean peasant. Who am I kidding! I’m the Roman in his villa and I need to be honest about it. I too can hear the gospel of the kingdom as good news (because it is!), but first I need to admit its radical nature and not try to tame it to endorse my inherited entitlement.

I am a (relatively) wealthy white American male. Which is fine, but it means I have to work hard at reading the Bible right. I have to see myself basically as aligned with Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and Caesar. In that case, what does the Bible ask of me? Voluntary poverty? Not necessarily. But certainly the Bible calls me to deep humility — a humility demonstrated in hospitality and generosity. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being a relatively well-off white American male, but I better be humble, hospitable, and generous!

If I read the Bible with the appropriate perspective and humility I don’t use the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus as a proof-text to condemn others to hell. I use it as a reminder that I’m a rich man and Lazarus lies at my door. I don’t use the conquest narratives of Joshua to justify Manifest Destiny. Instead I see myself as a Rahab who needs to welcome newcomers. I don’t fancy myself as Elijah calling down fire from heaven. I’m more like Nebuchadnezzar who needs to humble himself lest he go insane.

I have a problem with the Bible, but all is not lost. I just need to read it standing on my head. I need to change my perspective. If I can accept that the Bible is trying to lift up those who are unlike me, then perhaps I can read the Bible right.

-Brian Zahnd, https://brianzahnd.com/2014/02/problem-bible/

Worship You Forever

How this world is ever changing
Treasures rust and flowers fade
You alone, our constant Savior
You will never change

O immutable Redeemer
Died for us, our souls to save
Rose to give us hope eternal
You deserve all praise

Forever faithful, forever kind
Forever Yours, forever mine
Forever holy, forever true
And we’ll worship You
We’ll worship You
Forever

Your unfailing love, unceasing
Rescued us and will again
When our enemies surround us
You are our defense

Graham: Did John Piper Wrongly Compare the Sins of the Left with the Sins of the Right?

A friend, Wyatt Graham, wrote this excellent article on his blog, https://wyattgraham.com/did-john-piper-wrongly-compare-the-sins-of-the-left-with-the-sins-of-right Check it out:

“John Piper recently explained that he will not vote for an egregiously immoral leader. Of the two main political parties in the USA, he finds neither presidential candidate viable. So he has decided to write-in his vote.

Some however disagreed with his approach because they felt that the pro-choice actions of democrats amount to much greater evil than the arrogance and deceit of the republican president. The accusation amounts to this: Piper compares apples to oranges or equivocates on the seriousness of sin. 

He does not. The objection betrays a misunderstanding of what sin is and does. It further implicitly undercuts the metaphysical reality of sin. If that sounds too abstract, it is not. Let me explain in order to make this response concrete. 

Sin Corrupts

The Bible describes sin as a corrupting influence that leads to death. In Scripture, the corruption of sin moves from father to child (to third and fourth generation), from leader to people. Proverbs 29:12 says, “If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.” If the leader listens to evil, he corrupts his officials or at least chooses evil officials. 

John MacArthur explains:  

It is not appropriate for someone in high levels of leadership responsibility to lie. A known liar, a known deceiver, a known hypocrite, one who can go on an Easter Sunday with a Bible in hand, ostensibly to worship the resurrected Christ in a church, and then return to the White House for an illicit sexual relationship, that’s hypocrisy of the worst kind. This is a pattern of deception lifelong. And such a person does not attract around him honest people. So what you eventually have, according to Scripture, is corruption everywhere in association with that deceiver.

MacArthur hits the nail on the head. A bad leader, a liar, corrupts everyone around him. A bad egg spoils the bunch. Bad company corrupts good morals. 

Sin as Corruption

What does this corruption mean? Well, Christians do not believe evil or sin has substantial existence. Since God created everything and declared it very good (Gen 1:31), there is no room for evil to be a created thing. It has no created substance. So what is it? Sin corrupts good, breaks it down, and destroys it. It runs away from God who is Life into Death. Which is why sin leads to death in Scripture. And that is why Jesus restores life to us (resurrection) after dealing with sin (cross). 

So everything good can be corrected, except God. We commit sin by corrupting the good (when desire, for example, turns to lust). It is evil That is what evil is. Sadly, human nature—our being—was created very good, but we have denied our nature and become less than what should be. 

All of this was obvious to Christians throughout most of our history. Now, however, a number of cultural influences have made these ideas feel less plausible. We do not really believe there is a real thing called human nature. Human nature is just a phrase to classify people, right? 

Well, Christians have said, no. Human natures are real, substantial things. They exist and can be perfected or corrupted. As a whole, sin no longer seems real to us since we are no longer realists. Sin does not corrupt natures, we think, because natures don’t really exist (just abstract laws). So sin means breaking a rule or doing some bad action. 

It certainly does mean that. But it also entails the corruption of our natures, the deleterious destructive activity of bringing us into non-being as Athanasius argues. 

Sin’s Corruption Illustrated

Given that this is so (even if formally we affirm natures), we still struggle to understand how bad “character” can lead to deleterious, damaging effects. If sin or evil merely means acts that we do and not the corrupting influence of sin on other natures, then that may make sense.

A great illustration of this is the power of the ring in Lord of the Rings. The corrupting influence of evil, on natures, and on societies can have such far-reaching and destructive effects. The king of Rohan affects the entire nation. The nine wring-raiths become wisps of ethereal beings, losing their substance. Gollum loses himself. The balrog becomes darkness and fire. 

Evil in Lord of the Rings deprives and corrupts. And that corruption brings about great harm in Middle Earth. The same is true in real life. The ideology of Natzi Germany or ancient Persia led to wars and killing and suffering and evil. 

Much of this plausibly happened due to the corrupting influence of sin of leaders, and through them, to the people. More could be said, but I hope that  I am making the point more clearly now. 

Sin according to John Piper 

John Piper has lived in Jonathan Edwards and other earlier theologians. He knows Christian theology deeply and has deeply been affected by this vision of God (as Jake Meador has observed). 

Piper knows the real and corrupting and damaging and vicious effects of sin on people. And so when he writes:

This is true not only because flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, immorality, and factiousness are self-incriminating, but also because they are nation-corrupting. They move out from centers of influence to infect whole cultures. The last five years bear vivid witness to this infection at almost every level of society.

He is right. And so he can affirm: “There is a character connection between rulers and subjects.”

If sin is real and if natures can corrupt and if corrupt natures (and so people) do great harm to society both metaphysically and physically, then Piper’s argument has great weight. There was a time when evangelicals valued souls as much as bodies. Both body and soul, matter and spirit have great significance and correlate deeply and inseparably. 

Piper sees sin and depth of evil in both the left and the right. From the perspective of orthodox Christianity, he is right. The challenges to his article betray a lack of a theological awareness of how sin corrupts hearts and peoples. 

Piper thus consistently opposes both pro-choice actions (abortion) and the corrupting influence of arrogance and deceit. Here, he is remarkably consistent in his Christian confession. He actually believes sin matters—and that sin greatly affects how people govern and nations act.”

-Wyatt Graham, https://wyattgraham.com/did-john-piper-wrongly-compare-the-sins-of-the-left-with-the-sins-of-right/

Piper: Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin: Pondering the Implications of the 2020 Election

John Piper wrote yesterday what I believe will long be remembered as some of the most faithful and Christic words from a pastor about this—and every—election cycle.

“This article is probably as close as you will get to an answer on how I will vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Probably? 

Right. Only God knows what may happen in the next days. 

Nothing I say here is intended to dictate how anyone else should vote, but rather to point to a perspective that seems to be neglected. Yes, this perspective sways my vote. But you need not be sinning if you weigh matters differently.

Actually, this is a long-overdue article attempting to explain why I remain baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly

The reason I put those Greek words in parentheses is to give a graphic reminder that these are sins mentioned in the New Testament. To be more specific, they are sins that destroy people. They are not just deadly. They are deadly forever. They lead to eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9). 

They destroy persons (Acts 12:20–23). And through persons, they destroy nations (Jeremiah 48:29–3142).

Persons

Forgiveness through Christ is always possible where there is repentance and childlike trust in Jesus. But where humble repentance is absent, the sins condemn. 

The New Testament teaches that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21) and that “those who practice such things deserve to die” (Romans 1:32). 

To which you may say, “So what? Rejecting Jesus as Lord also leads to death, but you are willing to vote for a non-Christian, aren’t you?” I am, assuming there is enough overlap between biblical uprightness and the visible outworking of his character and convictions.

My point so far is simply to raise the stakes of what is outwardly modeled in leadership, so that Christians are given pause. It is not a small thing to treat lightly a pattern of public behaviors that lead to death. 

Nations

In fact, I think it is a drastic mistake to think that the deadly influences of a leader come only through his policies and not also through his person

“Flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, and factiousness are not only self-incriminating; they are nation-corrupting.”TweetShare on Facebook

This is true not only because flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, immorality, and factiousness are self-incriminating, but also because they are nation-corrupting. They move out from centers of influence to infect whole cultures. The last five years bear vivid witness to this infection at almost every level of society.

This truth is not uniquely Christian: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6). “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Whether you embrace that company in your house or on social media, it corrupts. There are sins that “lead people into more and more ungodliness” as “their talk [spreads] like gangrene” (2 Timothy 2:16–17). 

There is a character connection between rulers and subjects. When the Bible describes a king by saying, “He sinned and made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 14:16), it does not mean he twisted their arm. It means his influence shaped the people. That’s the calling of a leader. Take the lead in giving shape to the character of your people. So it happens. For good or for ill.

Policies and Persons

Is it not baffling, then, that so many Christians seem to be sure that they are saving human lives and freedoms by treating as minimal the destructive effects of the spreading gangrene of high-profile, high-handed, culture-shaping sin? 

This point has a special relevance for Christians.

Freedom and life are precious. We all want to live and be free to pursue happiness. But if our freedoms, and even our lives, are threatened or taken, the essence of our identity in Christ, the certainty of our everlasting joy with Christ, and the holiness and love for which we have been saved by Christ — none of these is lost with the loss of life and freedom.

Therefore, Christians communicate a falsehood to unbelievers (who are also baffled!) when we act as if policies and laws that protect life and freedom are more precious than being a certain kind of person. The church is paying dearly, and will continue to pay, for our communicating this falsehood year after year. 

The justifications for ranking the destructive effects of persons below the destructive effects of policies ring hollow.

I find it bewildering that Christians can be so sure that greater damage will be done by bad judges, bad laws, and bad policies than is being done by the culture-infecting spread of the gangrene of sinful self-exaltation, and boasting, and strife-stirring (eristikos). 

How do they know this? Seriously! Where do they get the sure knowledge that judges, laws, and policies are less destructive than boastful factiousness in high places?

What About Abortion?

Where does the wickedness of defending child-killing come from? It comes from hearts of self-absorbed arrogance and boasting (James 4:1–2). It comes from hearts that are insubordinate to God. In other words, it comes from the very character that so many Christian leaders are treating as comparatively innocuous, because they think Roe and SCOTUS and Planned Parenthood are more pivotal, more decisive, battlegrounds.

“It is baffling to assume that pro-abortion policies kill more people than a culture-saturating, pro-self pride.”TweetShare on Facebook

I think Roe is an evil decision. I think Planned Parenthood is a code name for baby-killing and (historically at least) ethnic cleansing. And I think it is baffling and presumptuous to assume that pro-abortion policies kill more people than a culture-saturating, pro-self pride. 

When a leader models self-absorbed, self-exalting boastfulness, he models the most deadly behavior in the world. He points his nation to destruction. Destruction of more kinds than we can imagine.

It is naive to think that a man can be effectively pro-life and manifest consistently the character traits that lead to death — temporal and eternal. 

Word to Pastors

May I suggest to pastors that in the quietness of your study you do this? Imagine that America collapses. First anarchy, then tyranny — from the right or the left. Imagine that religious freedom is gone. What remains for Christians is fines, prison, exile, and martyrdom. Then ask yourself this: Has my preaching been developing real, radical Christians? Christians who can sing on the scaffold, 

Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.

Christians who will act like the believers in Hebrews 10:34: “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” Christians who will face hate and reviling and exclusion for Christ’s sake and yet “rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, [their] reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:22–23). 

Have you been cultivating real Christians who see the beauty and the worth of the Son of God? Have you faithfully unfolded and heralded “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8)? Are you raising up generations of those who say with Paul, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8)? 

Have you shown them that they are “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11), and that their “citizenship is in heaven,” from which they “await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20)? Do they feel in their bones that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)?

Or have you neglected these greatest of all realities and repeatedly diverted their attention onto the strategies of politics? Have you inadvertently created the mindset that the greatest issue in life is saving America and its earthly benefits? Or have you shown your people that the greatest issue is exalting Christ with or without America? Have you shown them that the people who do the most good for the greatest number for the longest time (including America!) are people who have the aroma of another world with another King?

Election Day

Where does that leave me as I face a civic duty on November 3? Here’s my answer. I do not require anyone to follow me (as if I could) — not my wife, not my friends, not my colleagues.

“With a cheerful smile, I will explain to my unbelieving neighbor why my allegiance to Jesus set me at odds with death — death by abortion and death by arrogance.”TweetShare on Facebook

I will not develop some calculus to determine which path of destruction I will support. That is not my duty. My calling is to lead people to see Jesus Christ, trust his forgiveness for sins, treasure him above everything in this world, live in a way that shows his all-satisfying value, and help them make it to heaven with love and holiness. That calling is contradicted by supporting either pathway to cultural corruption and eternal ruin. 

You may believe that there are kinds of support for such pathways that do not involve such a contradiction — such an undermining of authentic Christian witness. You must act on what you see. I can’t see it. That is why I said my way need not be yours. 

When I consider the remote possibility that I might do any good by endorsing the devastation already evident in the two choices before me, I am loath to undermine my calling (and the church’s mission) to stand for Christ-exalting faith and hope and love. 

I will be asked to give an account of my devotion to this life-giving calling. The world will ask. And the Lord of heaven will ask. And my conscience will ask. What will I say?

With a cheerful smile, I will explain to my unbelieving neighbor why my allegiance to Jesus set me at odds with death — death by abortion and death by arrogance. I will take him to Psalm 139 and Romans 1. And if he is willing, I will show him how abortion and arrogance can be forgiven because of Christ (Ephesians 1:7). And I will invite him to become an exile — to have a kingdom that will never be shaken, not even when America is a footnote in the archives of the new creation.”

-John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/policies-persons-and-paths-to-ruin