Over the next several days as Americans cast their votes for the next president of the United States, the majority of Christians will be voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. For many, the crucial issues are abortion and religious liberty. Others are driven by compassion for the poor and for minorities. They vote based on which candidate or party they believe will best implement Christian principles into government practice.
They do not stop to question the institution of government itself. They take the process and the status quo for granted, forgetting their history and their calling. Each selectively highlights those biblical teachings they feel are most significant and most supportive of the candidate they’ve already chosen. “Which government will best rule over us and use coercion to make manifest the kingdom of Heaven?” they might ask themselves, if there was ever any chance that their minds hadn’t already been made up long ago.
These Christians are always quite familiar with Romans 13: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” However, as Dr. Norman Horn of the Libertarian Christian Institute writes, “you absolutely cannot discern the whole of what the Bible says about the state by Romans 13. It sounds good, but it won’t work.”
To attempt to interpret Romans 13 divorced from its context within the entirety of biblical theology leads to gross misapplications. In order for us to be able to accurately decipher Paul’s meaning when he tells Christians to submit to the ruling authorities, Dr. Horn contends that we must first consider the bigger picture – we must take into account “what the Bible has to say about the State, its nature, its origin, its destiny, and its relation to God.”
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