Thursday, April 19, 2012

They Have No King but Caesar

Christians are monarchists and our King is never on the ballot.

λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Πιλᾶτος, Τὸν βασιλέα ὑμῶν σταυρώσω; ἀπεκρίθησαν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς, Οὐκ ἔχομεν βασιλέα εἰ μὴ Καίσαρα.
John 19:15
The term “democracy” comes from the Greek word δημοκρατία [demokratia] "rule of the people", which is made up of δῆμος [demos], meaning “people, rabble, or mob”, and κρατία [kratia], meaning "rule".
Various Greek Lexica
A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.
Thomas Jefferson1

My clock-radio is tuned to KJNP Alaska and every weekday morning it goes off at 07:30. After hearing some atrocious piano solos, I sort of half-listen to 10 minutes of Ravi Zacharias’ list of favorite philosophers, vacation spots, and books he’s read or written, then fall back to sleep, only to be awakened after eight by the jackhammering expositions of Dr Tony Evans.

G.W. Caesar and Citizen Evans

Over the last four days, KJNP has been re-broadcasting a sermon series Evans gave sometime during the Obama/McCain election campaign. I am not so churlish as to suggest that the only reason these sermons are being re-broadcast four years later is to help push his latest book How Should Christians Vote?, sensibly released in an election year. I am sure that Evans’ only concern is for the Christian franchise and he couldn’t care less if he doesn’t make a dime off of the book. His sole aim, surely, is to provide Christians the tools with which to make an informed and godly choice this November; if he happens to make a few bucks in royalties in the process, where’s the harm?

Well, to answer that, let’s first look at this video of the ad for the book:

This jumped out at me:
God expects us to be involved in politics, but what He doesn’t expect is to allow politics to corrupt us to the point where we loose sight of this other Kingdom we are a part of.
There are so many theological errors undergirding this sentence, it would take a week of blog posts for me to fully excavate and correct them all. I will spare you that (for now), but I do want to briefly examine one aspect of Evans’ misguided political theology: The politicians he thinks God wants us to vote for.

Now, in fairness to Evans, I admit that he is by no means the only pastor in America with these views. To my continual disgust, except for Jim Brown of Grace and Truth Ministries, every single preacher, pastor or bible teacher I’ve heard here believes that “God expects us to be involved in politics”. Their reasons are as varied as their hairstyles, but their blinkers are all identical. To a man, they have bought the lie that we Christians are to use the power of the state to corral the godless majority and compel them to live as we are commanded to live and that we are to do this through representatives who have been elected by the Christian minority along with the godless majority.

So, what insight does the Bible give us with regards to the nature of these representatives?

Well, in James 4:4 we are told:
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
That sounds bad enough in English, but in the Greek it carries even more force. Here’s the first sentence of the verse (to skip the Greek lesson, click here):
μοιχοὶ καὶ μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν;
The words in red text are the nouns translated “friendship” and “enmity”. “Friendship” is the Greek word φιλία [philia], which is an extension of the word φίλος [philos], meaning “friend”, in the most emotional sense of the word. The verb form of philos is the word φιλέω [phileo], which is often translated “to love” in the KJV, and means “to have a deep affection for”. It is the closest equivalent in NT Greek to our English word “love”. Therefore, philia, “friendship”, is a deep affectionate friendship—a loving friendship.

Knowing the extreme positive nature of philia gives us an idea of the extreme negative nature of its opposite, the word translated “enmity”. This is the Greek noun ἔχθρα [exthra], which comes from the adjective ἐχθρός [exthros], the substantive (noun form) of which Strong tells us means someone “openly hostile” or “animated by a deep-seated hatred”. We see this substantive form in the next sentence of the verse translated as “enemy”.

The second sentence of the verse looks like this in the Greek:
ὃς ἂν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται.
The words in red text are those translated “will be” and “is” respectively.

“Will be” is the Greek verb βούλομαι [boulomai] and means “to will deliberately or purposefully”, with the sense of “to resolve resolutely”.

“Is” is the verb καθίστημι [kathistemi]; which is not equivalent to the English verb “to be” (that’s the verb εἰμί [eimi]). Literally kathistemi means “to set down” or “put down”, but carries the same idea as the English idiom “set over”, as in a ruler. In fact, it was translated “to make a ruler” in Matt 24:45, 47, and Luke 12:42. It is also translated “ordain” (in Titus 1:5, Hebrews 5:1, 8:3) and “appoint” (in Acts 6:3).

So, with that, we see that the sense of James 4:4 is better expressed in English as:
Adulterers and adulteresses, do ye not know that the loving friendship of the world is hostile hatred to God? Whoever, therefore, wills deliberately to be a loving friend of the world is a hostile hater of God and appointed over Him.
What is a politician in a democracy but a wannabe friend of the world? Isn’t that what winning elections is all about? Should we be supporting their attempt to be an enemy of God?

Clearly not.

It is apparent to anyone not blinkered by the same theological lie that narrows Tony Evans’ vision that, if the Bible teaches us that a Christian can’t be a politician, then a politician can’t be a Christian. So if there’s no such thing as a Christian politician, then there’s no such thing as a Christian polity. And if there’s no such thing as a Christian polity, then we’d better stop trying to choose between Caesars and leave the outcome of elections to God.

1. Even though he wasn't a Christian, Jefferson is quoted here because, being one of the American founding fathers, as well as a deist, whose hatred for the miracles and virgin birth of Jesus was so strong it compelled him to compile his own bible, his apt description of democracy is doubly poignant.

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