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Thursday, November 1, 2012

"How Should Christians Vote?" (Tony Evans)

TITLE: How Should Christians Vote?
AUTHOR: Tony Evans
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2012, (96 pages).

Can we truly separate religion from politics? If yes, what does it mean to honour God and yet be responsible citizens? If no, how can Christians be honest with their faith and faithful contributors to democracy? In comes the popular preacher, Tony Evans. Without going into political rhetoric or declaring which party is more Christian than the other, Evans returns to the Bible and brings us the biblical perspective on politics, religion, faith, and the democratic processes. In three short chapters, Evans affirm that man must obey God over man, that God is not affiliated to any one political party, but every Bible honouring person needs to vote for God and honour kingdom values. The author broadly discusses three parts.

Part One describes the system of civil government, that the first important step is not "Who" to vote for, but "how" to vote, which is why the title of the book. If there is any true government it is God. If there is anything that is authoritative, it is the Bible. If there is any person to vote, vote God. After all, it is God who has instituted earthly authorities. Nothing is sovereign except those that God has first given. Evans also points out the secular problem, that while many people want "God Bless America," they are unwilling to live as "One Nation Under God." He describes the four crucial systems of government.

  1. Individual realm or Self-Government: that individuals need to live according to godly principles and fear God.
  2. Family: that people in families need to honour relationship guidelines in the Bible
  3. Church: to govern matters important to church and the members, and the conscience of morality in society.
  4. Civil Government: a righteous ruling party that will bring about a just, humane, righteous, peaceful society, and to keep evil in check.

Care needs to be taken that each system of government is honoured and not interfered carelessly by another.  For example, government must not usurp the role of parenting in the family; neither should individuals expect the government to do all their decision making for them. Evans also goes into some matters surrounding freedom and the sacredness of human dignity. Personal responsibility must be promoted while individual liberty needs to be protected. Key to every voting decision is this: "Every voting choice you exercise ought to be for the candidate, platform, party, or policy that will best represent the values of the kingdom of God."

Part Two clarifies some of the common misconceptions of the secular and the sacred. The Bible is full of interactions between the political and the religious realms. Both the Old and the New Testaments contain examples of these. Consistently, it is God that gives authority; like God to Solomon, or Jesus telling Pontius Pilate that the ultimate authority is God. Evans makes an exception for Israel, saying that at that time, Isreal is the theocratic nation. More importantly, the further any government drifts away from the principles of God, the more it is setting itself up for heavenly judgment. Using the example of Jesus and the paying of taxes, Evans weaves in the delicate balance between earthly and heavenly rules. During Jesus' time, the religious leaders are upset that Jesus is venturing out to do so much social involvement. All they want Jesus to do is to just teach religion in the classroom. At the same time, the political leaders are upset that Jesus is too religious, calling people to bring in the kingdom. They just want to hem Jesus in, to just mind his own religious sect. A good government is legitimate but also limited.The main guide is to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. One interesting aspect is Evans's call for Christians to act through "interposition." This means Christians are to be righteous agents on behalf of people facing imminent danger. Some biblical examples include how Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah; and how Moses interposed himself between God and Israel; and how Jesus prayed for people to God, Himself the chief interpositer. Evans apply the role of Church during the WWII, the civil rights movement, and the right to life. Peacemaking is one of the biggest examples. Most importantly, when it comes to choosing who to be in government, we need to vote for righteous people to be in office, those who feel God's call. Evans has a word for each system of government.

  • We need individuals of righteousness and integrity and this begins in the home.
  • We need children that learns welfare and responsibility and this begins in families
  • We need culture to be educated and this rests heavily on the shoulders of church; to challenge church people to stand up for the truth, and to equip people to do good works.
  • We need church and Christian organizations to model a kingdom model for governments to learn from.

Part Three deals with the question of whether God is a Democrat or a Republican. Evans certainly refuses to commit himself to any party. Consistently he votes for God, and whichever party that honours God's principles MOST, gets his vote. Are we on the side of God? After all, God does not come to earth to take sides but to "take over."

My Thoughts

Evans has reminded us again the importance of knowing and practising biblical principles not only in our daily living but in our voting. He decries the state of society that,  "One of the great tragedies in the church of Jesus Christ today is that we have lost our ability and authority to be an influence on those around us." Our allegiance is not to be on any one party, but to God, to God's Word, and to truth. Vote for the dignity of society and the person. Vote for God's kingdom values. Vote for biblical conscientiousness. Evans also challenges the church to be the key to transform culture. One thing to note is the "tyranny of the 51 percent." If the small majority that wins is against godly principles, we all lose. I commend Evans for this book. Though he does not reveal which party he is affiliated with, he is passionate for God. Written primarily for Christians, this book reaffirms again the authority of God over men, and that believers need to go back to where their allegiances lay. It must always be God over all, and this alone is the voting criteria. Having said that, the challenge is in the details. How does the voter see clearly which party or persons are standing up for God, especially when both claim they are? What specific biblical principles are applicable? There is no clear cut position which candidate is more righteous than the other. What if the voter cannot tell? What about abstentions? While the book have some good guidelines, like the four different systems of government, it fails to give Christians more specifics. From a preaching angle, and sermons, this book is good. For voting and understanding of the American democratic processes, I will commend another book by Amy Black for your consideration.

One more thing. Although this book is written specifically for the American audience, non-Americans can learn the biblical principles that have a universal reach.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Moody Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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