The response of many American voters to the results of the 2022 midterm elections, has convinced me that we are a society comprised of political creationists.
Political creationists are individuals who, regardless of their political party affiliation or ideological persuasion, tend to hold to a dogmatic view of the role of politics in society as to view the electoral process as a means to bring to fruition a world of their own subjective imagination and invention. It is a mindset that not even professing believers in Christ are immune from embracing, as we can be just as beguiled as unbelievers by the eschatological allure that society can be redeemed simply by voting the “right” people into office.
Dr. John MacArthur cautions us against embracing that kind of mentality, saying,
The presumption that a social movement or political clout could make a significant spiritual difference in the world is evidence of a severe misunderstanding of sin. . . . The work of God’s kingdom is not about overhauling governments, rewriting regulations, or rebuilding society into some version of a Christian utopia. Political and social justice efforts are, at best, short-term, external solutions for society’s moral ills and they do nothing to address the personal, internal, dominant matter of sinful hearts that hate God (see Rom 8:7), and can be rescued from eternal death only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.1John MacArthur, Christ’s Call to Reform the Church: Timeless Demands from the Lord to His People, Moody Publishers, Master’s Seminary Press (2018), 10.
Political creationism is why many Christian voters become indignant, often sinfully so, when their candidate-of-choice is not victorious in his or her respective electoral pursuit. Consequently, because they are so conjoined to the political agenda espoused by the candidate(s) they favor, any hope they might have had that the world they envisioned would be actualized is summarily and, disappointingly, surrendered (at least until the next election cycle rolls around).
At its most fundamental level, political creationism is rooted in a rejection of the sovereignty of God. It is the failure to trust that the nature and character of an all-wise, all-knowing, and all-seeing God is such that what He providentially ordains to come to pass in the world is always to our good and to His glory (Ps 119:68, Rom 8:28). And though God’s desires may not always align with ours, it is in those moments that we would do well to remind ourselves of what the psalmist declares in Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”
As Christians, the degree to which you and I are willing (or unwilling) to resign ourselves to the sovereignty of God, not only politically but personally (Eccl 7:14), has a direct and tangible impact on how we view and respond to what we see occurring politically in society. As we view the outcome of elections against the backdrop of God’s purposeful providence, our hearts and minds are guarded against succumbing to the socio-cultural mirage that elections are inherently redemptive.
I say that because, not unlike you and me, all politicians are sinners (Rom 3:23).
Presidents are sinners. Senators are sinners. Governors are sinners. Mayors are sinners. School board members are sinners. All politicians are sinners. They are sinners before they’re in office; they are sinners while they’re in office; and they’ll be sinners after they leave office (Eccl 7:20). In other words, socio-moral transformation, which is what political creationism is essentially in pursuit of, cannot be accomplished by sinners. Therefore, we should resist the urge to look to sinners to redeem society.
I am not in any way suggesting that politics, in an absolute sense, has no redemptive value in society. A free and open electoral process is the civil mechanism by which government, which God established as the primary means for restraining evil in society (Rom 13:4), is formed. It is with that thought in mind that I wholeheartedly concur with the sixteenth-century French reformer, John Calvin, who said, “God wills us to be, through the power and support of government, defended against the wickedness and injustice of evil men, and to live in peace under their care.”2John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Robert White translation, The Banner of Truth Trust (2016), 771.
And yet, as spot-on as Calvin’s succinct description of the role of government in society may be, we nevertheless must not lose sight of the fact that politics cannot change hearts—and that is where political creationism, as an ideological pathway to societal transformation, falls abysmally short.
The best that political creationists can hope to achieve through elections is that their electoral decisions will result in a more moral society. And though there is nothing inherently wrong with desiring or pursuing a society that is more behaviorally upright, the fact remains that morality is fundamentally a theological, not an anthropological, concept. That’s because morality involves not only the mind of man but also the heart of man (Prov 4:23; Mk 7:14-23).
Morality involves the heart because, by definition, it confronts us with weighty matters of good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice—all of which are heart issues. And apart from the objective and universal truths of the Word of God, such questions can be answered only subjectively; and it is moral subjectivity which, I would argue, is at the root of the cultural chaos we are witnessing in the world today.
God’s Word is clear that it is the nature of unredeemed sinners to love the darkness rather than the light (Jn 3:19). Unbelievers do not see the world as believers do (or at least should). Believers have the mind of Christ by which to objectively appraise the issues that are of concern to them in the world (Jn 14:17, 1 Cor 2:16b), whereas unrepentant sinners have no such capacity or ability (1 Cor 2:14).
Consequently, we should expect nothing less than for unbelievers’ love of the darkness to be reflected in such a way as to be always in accordance with their own sin-saturated values system. Hence why such individuals overwhelmingly support political candidates that see no problem with murdering unborn image-bearers of God, granting civil rights protections to those who identify as LGBTQA2S+, or endorsing the bodily mutilation of young boys and girls under the lie that it is entirely possible—and permissible—to ‘transition’ from one gender to another.
But be all that as it may, that sobering reality is not exculpating to believers in Christ. In fact, as believers, we have an even higher moral standard than unbelievers in that we should be willing to scrutinize our own hearts to determine if the seeds of political creationism have taken root in us and, if so, to immediately and sincerely repent of such idolatry (1 John 5:23). It is to that end that I find these words from Dr. Joel Beeke to be very helpful,
God is sovereign; that is, he is the supreme Lord who rules over all. This is one of the great doctrines of the Bible, pervading its pages. It is the nourishing root of the believer’s piety and comfort, and the strong foundation of his hope.3Joel Beeke, Reformed Systematic Theology: Volume 1: Revelation and God, Crossway (2019), 758.
For what it’s worth, I concur completely with Dr. Beeke’s statement. Unfortunately, however, not every Christian views the sovereignty of God as “the strong foundation” of their hope. For many believers the exact opposite is true, which is precisely why the nineteenth-century Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon could rightly say,
No doctrine in the whole Word of God has more excited the hatred of mankind than the truth of the absolute sovereignty of God.
Apart from our being firmly and immovably grounded in the belief that God rules and reigns over everything that occurs in His creation (Ps 103:19, Prov 15:3), it can be disheartening, if not outright depressing, to witness the iniquitous effects that such evils as abortion, transgenderism, and critical race theory are having on our culture. The adverse impacts of those ideologies should matter to us as Christians because though we are no longer of this world, we must nevertheless still live in it (Jn 17:15).
It is on the basis of that reality that I am convicted that Christians, regardless of political conviction or philosophy, should be active in the electoral process. For is it not a manifestation of God’s common grace (Matt 5:45) that we live in a nation that affords its citizens the privilege of determining who will govern us? But even more than that, what we, as believers, must keep at the forefront of our minds and hearts is that the God whom we serve, the God who created the universe merely by speaking it into existence (Gen 1:1–31), has overcome the world and everything the world, which Scripture informs us is under the demonic influence of Satan (Jn 16:33, 1 John 5:19), may endeavor to devise against us (Prov 18:10). The seventeenth-century Puritan, John Flavel, underscores that edifying truth for us with this thought:
Wicked men, like wild horses, would run over and trample under foot all the people of God in the world, were it not that the bridle of Divine Providence had a strong curb to restrain them. . . . Yea, not only the power of man, but the power of devils also is under the restraint and limitation of this power (Rev 3:10). . . . Oh glorious sovereign power, which thus keeps the reins of government in its own hand!4John Flavel, Works, Volume 3: The Righteous Man’s Refuge, The Banner of Truth Trust (2018), 346.
It is in light of those words from John Flavel that I humbly exhort you, dear believer, to take courage—and refuge—in your great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Ps 62:8). For although this temporal world is where our address resides, this world is not our home (2 Pet 3:13). The God upon whose shoulders all governments rest (Isa 9:6b, Rev 19:15) is still on His throne (Ps 47:8). And it is upon that righteous throne that we must depend in these times of political uncertainty and unrest, not the voting booth.
So comfort yourself with these words from the Presbyterian minister and hymnist Maltbie Davenport Babcock, who reminds us,
This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!
|1||John MacArthur, Christ’s Call to Reform the Church: Timeless Demands from the Lord to His People, Moody Publishers, Master’s Seminary Press (2018), 10.|
|2||John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Robert White translation, The Banner of Truth Trust (2016), 771.|
|3||Joel Beeke, Reformed Systematic Theology: Volume 1: Revelation and God, Crossway (2019), 758.|
|4||John Flavel, Works, Volume 3: The Righteous Man’s Refuge, The Banner of Truth Trust (2018), 346.|