Just before the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections in America, Modern Reformation magazine focused its September/October issues on the role of Christians in society. In 2000, the issue was called “Why Two Kingdoms?: Dual Citizenship On the Eve of the Election” and in 2004, “The Christian Voter’s Guide.”
While the articles that I would point to below were written specifically for American Christian voters, they would also apply to Filipino Christian voters during this presidential election since the Christian faith transcends all time, space and cultures.
It is my hope that, in reading these articles, Filipinos would vote with wisdom and with their eyes on the future of their nation. (Click each link to read the whole article.)
“The first myth is… that America is, or historically was, a Christian nation. This is a false gospel which must be repudiated. The term Christian is mostly a noun, not mostly an adjective, and it most assuredly cannot be applied to a nation if we are to take the New Covenant seriously. Except for ancient Israel under the Old Covenant, there never has been a nation that had special favor with God.”
“The second related myth is that social reforms are neither effective nor legitimate unless the concepts are advanced by believers and are presented in biblical language. It is odd that American Christians have a need to present their reforms in Christian terms, conveying several false ideas to a watching world: one, that Christians believe in preferentially appointing or electing Christians, as if they are more worthy leaders; and second, that there is something unique or superior about morality that carries a Christian label. Neither of these principles was considered true by Reformation theologians. Recall the famous quote by Martin Luther, “I would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a stupid Christian” or John Calvin’s expression of confidence in the natural capacity of the unredeemed to rule justly.”
“‘One Cheer’ for Civil Religion?” by William Inboden
“Christianity holds that the people of God are all those who, irrespective of tribe or tongue, have repented of their sins, trusted wholly in Christ’s substitutionary death for their forgiveness, been reconciled to God through his redeeming grace, and joined in the life of the church. Civil religion instead often holds that God’s people are those who dwell in a particular nation-state and faithfully uphold their civic duties. Christianity holds that man’s chief end is, in the words of the Westminster Confession, to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Civil religion, at its worst, holds that God’s chief end is to preserve and bless the nation-state. Christianity is worship of the one true God. Civil religion, at its most pernicious, is idolatry.
“[C]ivil religion at its best functions as a sort of natural theology affirming certain truths that God has revealed in creation. These might include that God is above governments and ordains their authority, that he has bestowed on man certain rights, freedoms, and responsibilities, that he is the source of all material goods and blessings, and that all people and nations are subject to his judgment, both here and in the hereafter. It is good and right for governments and peoples to acknowledge a sovereign divine lawgiver, provider, and judge. Civil religion at its best affirms these truths. In doing so, it can help produce good citizens and even a good society. But it cannot save sinners.”
“Why Two Kingdoms” by Michael Horton
“Just as we cannot derive any life from the law, we cannot derive any confidence in our cultural triumphs in so many fields. As with law and Gospel, our earthly and heavenly citizenship are not opposed unless we are seeking a way of salvation for a nation. But once we recognize that there is no everlasting rest from violence, oppression, injustice, and immorality through our own political or cultural works, we are free to pursue their amelioration with vigorous gratitude to God for his saving grace in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we pursue this cultural task looking back to the creation which God blessed and looking forward to this same creation that will be restored when the kingdoms of this world will finally be made the kingdom of our God and of his Christ forever, world without end. Amen.”
“A Tale of Two Kingdoms” by Michael Horton
“In our Christian circles in the United States today, we can discern a â€œChristendomâ€ view, where some imagine America to be a Christian nation invested with a divine commission to bring freedom to the ends of the earth. Of course, Christians have an obligation both to proclaim the heavenly and everlasting freedom of the Gospel and the earthly and temporal freedom from injustice. But they are different. When we confuse them, we take the kingdom into our own hands, transforming it from a kingdom of grace into a kingdom of glory andÂ power.”
“Have You Received Your Biblical Scorecard?” by Michael Horton
“[The biblical scorecard folks] have missed the point that Scripture was not given as a blueprint for a holy government with civil power, but to reveal Christ as the hope of history and the world beyond the stop-gap measures of politics, hospitals, jails, and other means of restraining the damage that sin does… [The biblical scorecard approach] is often not differences over whether God is on their side in every jot and tittle of their ideology, but a matter of which ideology is so privileged.”
“Here are a few suggestions for thinking biblically at election time.”