Politics: A Biblical Approach

In an election year with conventions, platforms, and speeches in the news, we have a unique opportunity to converse in the public square. Having a Christian worldview should affect how we think and interact about politics. Here are some suggestions:

·      Be intentional in how you present history. The biblical worldview that once helped shape society has given way to relativism and atheism. Pornography has invaded our homes, including those of our pastors. How the world has changed! Nevertheless, during the days when most could name the Ten Commandments, some Americans were less than full citizens under the law, and lynching was common. Women had no voting rights, nor could they serve on juries. Only a limited view of our history says we have been on a constantly downward slide since the days of the Puritans. My grandfather deserted my grandmother in the 1930s, leaving her with a small child in a day when the church judged the divorced. I met a woman last week who was date-raped in the 1960s, and she had to go into hiding to keep her church from finding out. The Christian sub-culture in America was not so long ago a dangerous place to be broken. Thank God that despite some declines we have also seen some improvements. The presentation of US history as only declining without qualification can sound racist and sexist—ways that are not of Christ.  

·      Eschew offering false fear and false hope. To offer any candidate as the solution for a country’s ills is to set up a false messiah. A candidate might have what we consider a better approach to healthcare or abortion rights or unemployment, but no candidate can “save our country.” We tend to err in the extremes of fear mongering or offering utopia. Neither approach lines up with the truth.

·      Recognize the limits of politics. Christ, not legislation, is the ultimate solution for culture. Only when His kingdom comes shall His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In the days when abortion was illegal, one of my relatives found a way to have one.  Civil law, important as it is, is external and limited in its scope. But Christ brings new life from the inside out. While the law does help provide moral structure, the Christian’s hope for change lies in a “someone,” not in a secular system. Who does or doesn’t inhabit the oval office is of little consequence compared with the change available in Christ. Lobbying and boycotting can bring some external results, but they cannot effect inner change.

·      Remember your roots. The Chick-fil-a fiasco reminded the world that the Christian sub-culture in America is large, powerful, and refuses to be pushed around. But the Christian sub-culture in most other parts of the planet was and is politically and socially weak—even powerless. Reading the New Testament helps us see the church can still flourish when the state hates Christians; even a Nero in power cannot prevail against the church. While in the States we have much social power that gives us freedom to worship in public, pray in public, and broadcast our worldview on the radio (wonderful freedoms!), such acceptance of Christianity also brings some unique temptations. We have at times been so cozy with politicians that people now tend to associate Christianity with one political party. A magazine I receive for editors lists words that have changed in meaning, and it listed a new primary meaning for the word “Christian” as “one associated with a right-wing political party.” Rather than perceiving that we address the greed and immorality rampant in both parties, the world sees us as too cozy with one kind of power. Our love for politics and politicians can blunt our ability to speak and even to hear the truth. (“If we acknowledge the bad in our favored party, the other party’s guy might get elected.”) 

In the words of John MacArthur, “America’s moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and its solution is the gospel, not partisan politics.” I encourage all Christians to involve themselves in serving to make the world a better place in any way possible. But we must be biblical and realistic in how we think and talk about what politicians and legislators can do. Jesus, not Caesar, is the answer for the world today. Let us render unto God the things that are God’s.    

Sandra Glahn, who holds a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and a PhD in The Humanities—Aesthetic Studies from the University of Texas/Dallas, is a professor at DTS. This creator of the Coffee Cup Bible Series (AMG) based on the NET Bible is the author or coauthor of more than twenty books. She's the wife of one husband, mother of one daughter, and owner of two cats. Chocolate and travel make her smile. You can follow her on Twitter @sandraglahn ; on FB /Aspire2 ; and find her at her web site: aspire2.com.


  • Lori Schweers


    Sandra, what a refreshing post. I really appreciate your take on the political season that I have found to be so frustrating. Thanks for your wise words!

  • Garland Dunlap

    Thank you so much for this

    Thank you so much for this balanced and non-partisan approach to viewing the political process. Joy swells in my heart when I see my sisters and brothers in Christ taking a truly Christian look at politics rather than spouting one party's line or rhetoric. As usual, you have written with wisdom and grace, while cutting to the heart of the issue.

  • Sandra Glahn

    US President 44 or 45?

    Thanks, Lori and Garland. I appreciate your encouragment. 

    I wonder… Did the twenty-third president save or destroy the U.S.? Or neither? My point exactly. Does anyone even know who that was?* 

    And the forty-fourth or forty-fifth, depending on the election outcome, won't either. In the grand scheme of things, politics are important. Responsibility is important. But the Gospel is forever. Gotta keep the main thing the main thing.

    (*Hint: Highest Mountain in Alaska) 

  • Gwynne Johnson

    Two Kingdoms
    Thanks Sandi…I keep reminding myself that there are two kingdoms, little “k” and big “K” and what is good for one is not always good for the other. Prosperity often tests us more than adversity. Great post as always.

  • Pastor Michael Wolfe

    Politics and the City of God

    Thank you for your thoughts and comments.  I have stated much the same for many years.  The politics of this world will never bring about the gospel.  In AD 410, Rome was sacked by invading barbarians.  Since Rome had been Christianized for the previous hundred years since Constantine, many Christians had come to associate the Roman Empire with the Church.  When the city fell, many Christians felt that the Church would also fall.  Many could not understand how to go on. 

    Augustine wrote a response in his massive book "The City of God."  He is very clear from the first pages that the city of man is never the same as the city of God.  He spells out that human politics can bring good.  Christians should play a role in society. But we must always remember that there is a limit to the human city.  There is always an element of corruption, greed and general sin.  In fact, Augustine states that in many ways, those at the top of power are often much like pirates or theives.  

    So what are we to do as believers?  We work in the world but we are not of the world.  Someone famous said that, I think.  We get our hands involved with the work of this world.  Bonhoeffer said that we may even dirty our hands at times to accomplish a greater good.  But that is a difficult and slippery slope.  And we can find ourselves believing that we are building the Kingdom of God all by our own power.  We can find ourselves becoming lost in the dirt.   Somehow we have to keep stepping back and seeing clearly the true city of God built not with human hands, says Hebrews. 

    Pastor Michael Wolfe 

    • Sandra Glahn

      City of God Indeed

      Thank you for weaving in history and reference to a classic work, both of which add depth to the conversation. I appreciate your taking the time to put down your t houghts. Well said.  

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