Politics According to the Bible–Five Wrong about Christians and Government

Posted: September 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

Today we continue our look at Chapter 1 of Wayne Grudem’s new book “Politics According to the Bible.”  The first chapter outlines what Grudem sees as the “The Five Wrong Views about Christians and Government.” Yesterday we looked at two of these views and today we hit the third, which is that all government is evil or demonic.  Such a view is held by influential pastor and theologian Greg Boyd and can be found in his work The Myth of a Christian Nation

Boyd points to passages such as Luke 4:5-7 to support his argument.  The passage reads:

5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”

Boyd points out that Satan lays claim to all the governments of the world and that Jesus does not dispute the claim, thus “functionally, Satan is the acting CEO of all earthly governments.” 

Grudem counters with John 8:44 that Satan is the father of lies and “no truth is in him.”

Furthermore, Grudem points to several passages in both testaments, which assert that God is sovereign over the governments of the world (see Dan. 4:17; Rom. 13:1-6; 1 Peter 1:13-14, etc.)

I think Grudem’s latter argument is stronger than his former.  His interpretation of John 8 is overbroad, in my opinion.  The interaction between God’s sovereignty and Satan’s power appears to be a complicated one that avoids easy understanding.  Yet, I think his latter argument demonstrates that Boyd has been too narrow in his approach as well.

Boyd also argues that Jesus’ teachings do not address “socio-political quandaries” but Grudem counters that all 66 books of the Bible are inspired and need to be treated as such.  The “red-letter movement,” which attempts to dismiss, or at least downplay significant swaths of Scripture to narrowly focus on Jesus’ recorded teachings is certainly hermeneutically inappropriate and stems from a leftist political bent.

Grudem also rightly excoriates Boyd’s argument from his reading of Homer that if we see both God and Satan involved in the interaction of nations then one may see both like the Greek gods who were maniacally amused by their own tinkering in human affairs.  Boyd instead sees demons as the sole force behind the wheels of politics. 

Grudem counters that such a view is not supported by Scripture and that Boyd is right that any political reaction to a political action is evil because it is controlled by demons than both the Nazis and the Allies were equally wicked.

At the heart of Boyd’s argument is the rejection of any Christian asserting “power over” another.  Boyd argues that anytime a follower of Jesus exercises power over another then he or she has given into the way of Satan and rejected the way of the lamb.  Thus, Boyd argues for an Anabaptist style pacifism where it is even wrong for a person to defend his or her own family.

Grudem counters that Boyd has failed to distinguish between the task of evangelism and the task of government.  Grudem again points to Romans 13:1-6 where God clearly sanctions governments to restrain the power of evil.

Grudem rightly asserts that Boyd, and other members of the “evangelical left” such as Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, etc., have misread Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 where he commands his disciples to turn the other cheek.  Grudem’s interpretation is that Jesus was teaching his disciples to refrain from retaliating against an insult or other act of personal humiliation.  I agree that such an interpretation harmonizes nicely with the rest of the canon while more liberal interpretations struggle with the seemingly grumpy, violent god of the Old Testament and Romans 13 and large portions of the Book of Revelation. 

Finally, Grudem points out that if Christians followed Boyd’s argument then America would probably not have assisted the Allies in defeating Hitler.  It follows that the Nazis would have succeeded in executing “the final solution” and perfecting the atom bomb.  Heaven only knows what would have followed. 

I agree with Grudem that Boyd’s argument in narrow, unrealistic and not supported by the whole of Scripture.

What about the last two “wrong views”? Tune in tomorrow.

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