by Vaughn Ohlman cross posted from True Love Doesn’t Wait
Well, Suzanne Callulu has asked me another set of questions. This time they won’t work to go all in one prose segment, so I have included the questions in the text:
6.What do you think of Christians in Politics?
Romans 13:1-7 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, withstandeth the ordinance of God: and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. And wouldest thou have no fear of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise from the same: for he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For this cause ye pay tribute also; for they are ministers of God’s service, attending continually upon this very thing. Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Let me start with the fact that I am a theonomist. I believe that Scripture teaches that God’s law is perfect and that our political system, like all political systems, needs to be judged against the principles in God’s law. I don’t believe that we can ‘do it better’; that our modern imaginations (positive law) can do better than God’s law.
Our modern political system then, is far from what I would like to see. It incorporates injustice in a myriad of different directions. In particular the system of jurisdictions is broken. Not only does the state rule over areas long considered the jurisdiction of the church or family, but everyone assumes it must be so.
Let me give you an example. A NLQ article the other day (in an egregious case of anecdotal special pleading) illustrated a case of failed homeschooling. The commentators, in typical fashion, stated that this case called for more regulation by the state of homeschooling. As I have so many times before I wondered what would be their reaction if, after illustrating a case of failed government schooling, I were to call for more regulation of the government schools by… the family. I have no doubt of their reaction: incredulity. To the modern mind a problem only exists to call for a civil government solution. The idea that any other jurisdiction might exist, let alone solve a problem itself or, worse, hold itself out as a jurisdiction *above* the civil government is nonsensical to us, however common an idea it was historically.
God’s Word makes it very clear what kind of man should be holding public office. The first place God speaks to this is in the book of Exodus, using Moses’s father-in-law to direct him how to manage the people he was ruling:
Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
The men need to be able, fear God, men of truth, and hating unjust gain. Thus Christians need to be involved in politics. Indeed, in the end, only Christians should be involved in politics, since it is only Christians who can be said to truly fear God. (According to our theology anyone who, in the end, rejects Christ is someone who does not fear God.)
1 Timothy 3:1-7 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money;
one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
(but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
However what Christians need to be involved in first and foremost is family life. When we read God’s requirements for elders in the church we see that the family is their training ground. I believe the same thing holds true for government positions. Scripture speaks of a man marrying young, raising a family in Godliness, and proving himself in his family, who is thenfit for a judgment role in the state.
Godly civil government requires, at the very least, an understanding of two things: Godly means, and Godly goals. Understanding both of these requires both a study of God’s law and experience in Godly living; the study of God’s law being fundamental. Underlying both of these must be a fear of God. Only those who fear God will choose to live under His rule, to obey his commandments. Only those who love God will obey His commandments. This fear and this love must walk hand in hand.
Psalms 128:1-6 A Song of degrees. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.
The experience in Godly living, for one who would be a Godly leader, begins with the man getting a wife: which is the subject of much of my writing. The modern church has fallen down in this area (following the world). Our young people are not getting married, or are getting married very late. At the time in his life when the young man is designed by God to have a wife, a work, and children, they are, for the most part stuck behind a desk and a video game. Reading pornography instead of rejoicing with their wife.
Titus 2:4-5 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
And our young women likewise. Designed by God to rule a house, they are stuck in college or a ‘job’. Disregarding or being denied the most important work in the world, they pursue various ‘career goals’. Our entire system seems designed to destroy Godly leadership, and fail to produce it in the next generation. We have turned away from God’s law, into a rather dramatic pit of nihlism and, eventually, destruction. And where the theory leads, the practice has fallen.
So, in summary, Christians should be involved in politics. All Christians should be learning God’s law and putting it into practice in their own jurisdictions. Godly older men, who have been tried in life, should be ruling our country as Godly elders. When, and only when, our country begins operating in the fear and love of God will we again receive His blessings.
But being involved in politics, modern politics, is inherently dangerous. Our current system tends to attack pretty much every Godly value. None of the ten commandments are honored in our current law, and most of them are either flatly contradicted or ignored. The Christian in politics risks compromising his Christian witness and even, in the end, fighting against the very things he came into the field to fight for.
7.What is the difference between Independent and Reformed Baptist and how did that change your theology/life?
Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?
And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.
Ah, a little bit of confusion here. This question is kind of like asking what is the difference between a white house and a two-story house… kind of a category mismatch.
Let me define the various words:
Baptist: A baptist is someone who believes in ‘credo-baptism’, i.e. baptizing those who have professed the faith. It is the opposite of ‘paedo-baptist’, i.e. someone who believes in baptizing the children of believers, particularly infants.
Independent: Not belonging to any large denomination, the church rules itself and does not report to bishops or a presbytery, etc.
Reformed: Believing in Reformed soteriorology. A big study, but the questions all revolve around how we are saved, how much is God’s work and how much is our ‘acceptance’. The opposite of ‘arminian’.
So I grew up in an independent baptist church that was probably sort of arminian. Our doctrine nowadays is independent and baptistic and reformed . But, truth be told, the whole reformed vs arminian thing didn’t really enter my consciousness until later, at which time I leaned more and more toward reformed. So the church I would feel most comfortable in right now would be a local, independent, reformed, baptist, church.
So the only thing that would really affect NLQ readers is that, if they wish to be accurate, they shouldn’t really call me a ‘fundamentalist’ or an ‘evangelical’. Both of those are slightly different wings of the church. They may look the same to your readers, but they are rather different. I am ‘reformed’.
8.Who is Jeff Woodward and why is he approving all your writings?
2 Timothy 2:15-16 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
Proverbs 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Who Jeff Woodward is can be found on the site. But there is some confusion about his ‘approving all of my writings’. The way we work the site is that every post needs to get approved by a ‘strong’ member. It just so happens that I am the most prolific writer, and that Jeff has the most time on his hands to read my stuff. But if you read through you will find some posts written by other people, and approved by other people.
We use the approval process as a double check. Approving a post does not mean that you agree 100% with everything the person said, or how it is written, but that it is free of the more egregious doctrinal errors. Often the approver will put a ‘caveat’ along with his approval to indicate areas where he disagrees or is unsure.
9.Do you believe every word of the Bible is to be taken literally, even the places were it contradicts earlier passages?
2 Timothy 3:13-17 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
The word ‘literally’ is one of the most abused and meaningless words in theology. Meaningless not because it has no meaning, but because it has too many (a similar word would be ‘legalist’). It is a word used pretty exclusively to beat people up on both sides of various debates.
Let me give an example. Suppose a door at a hospital said ‘No admittance’ and you asked me if I took that ‘literally’. Well, neither answer really works, does it? If I were to say ‘no, I don’t’, then you could say that I thought it was OK for just anyone to go through the door at any time. If I said ‘yes, I did’, then you could ask me why I just used the door. I, an ambulance driver, delivering a patient to the emergency room.
The answer is something we all understand (outside of theology): words have meanings and contexts. We all understand that ‘no admittance’ means that ordinary people, not affiliated with the hospital, not involved in some emergency, cannot go through that door, normally. The fireman who brings his wife in for her checkup cannot go through that door. If he comes back the next day, as a fireman, to check the sprinkler systems, then he probably can. His wife might be led through that door by a nurse, on her way to her check up.
As a believer in the inerrant Scripture I hold that there are no contradictory passages in Scripture. Those Scriptures that seem to be contradictory are, thus, due to our limited human understanding, sin, and the like. Take the passage in the Proverbs on dealing with fools:
Proverbs 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, Lest thou also be like unto him.
Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own conceit.
This seems like a contradiction. What are we to do? Are we to answer, or not answer, a fool in his folly?
I believe that we need to consider the context. This is wisdom literature, not law. It does not prescribe a mathematical equation, but teaches general principles of life. So I think the answer is easy: answering a fool is a catch-22. If you don’t answer the fool (verse 5) he will be ‘wise in his own conceits’. If you do, you risk making yourself like him (verse 4). So we are each stuck with handling this impossible situation on a case to case basis: recognizing the twin dangers of being like the fool, and of exalting his ego.
So I’m not going to get into the ‘literally’ debate per se. I believe that Christ ‘literally’ rose from the dead: i.e. I believe His physical body was no longer in the tomb, He was given a glorified body, He walked around on Earth after His death, you could put your hand in His side, He could eat, etc. But I believe that a lot of uses of the word ‘literally’ are just a way of starting an argument.
Our blog is about getting married, and not many people have actually raised the issue of ‘literally’ during the debate on how Scripture says we should get married. I’m not sure where they would. Are they questioning whether there was a literal Isaac and Rebecca? Or, perhaps more likely, a literal Adam and Eve?
Ironically this discussion shouldn’t be affected by that. Even if someone were to deny that there was an Adam and and an Eve, that wouldn’t change the fact that God included their story in Scripture, and He wants us to learn from it. If getting married by the choice of the father is a literal wrong, as my opponents claim, then why would God include even a mythical story about it? Let alone make that the consistent example of Scripture?
My detractors on NLQ like to continually point out that the stories in Scripture involve fallible human beings. Truth. But they often involve fallible human beings who are called righteous by God; whose example God calls us to imitate. And they always involve fallible human beings doing things that God deliberately chose to have included in Scripture. And that is the Scripture that God says will make us perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
The Scriptures are entirely true and historically accurate. Compared to them all works of human authorship are mere trash. But I won’t go down the ‘literal’ bunny trail. If the term is defined and an issue is being discussed, then we can start that topic.
10.Do you believe in a personal relationship with God or a works/prayers/Bible type life in God?
James 2:10-20 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” There is no ‘impersonal’ salvation; and there is no ‘disobedient’ salvation. All salvation takes place in the context of a ‘personal relationship’: we are saved by Christ, who has chosen us from the foundation of the world. But all salvation also takes place in the context of a life lived in obedience to Him.
This is, or would be, a long discussion, obviously. But Christ put it pretty simply: we love Him and obey His commandments. Not one or the other: both. Christ is our ‘personal’ Savior: He doesn’t save us as part of a nation, or a family, or even a church. He saves each one of us individually. But He saves us to something, to a life of faithfulness.
They have invented a phrase, a phrase that is a black and white contradiction in two words – ‘free-love’ – as if a lover ever had been, or ever could be, free.(G. K. Chesterton)
Marriage is the same kind of relationship. We speak much of ‘love’ in marriage (love being in quotes because the word means so many different things to so many different people) but what kind of ‘love’ is it that produces no results? A love that was unfaithful, unkind, ungracious, that constantly spoke evil of the beloved… would be no love at all.
To be in love with someone, to have a relationship with them, is to have your behavior changed. The more radical and important the love, the more changed one’s behavior. To be in love with God is to be in love with the Creator of the entire universe, the Omniscient, Omnipotent One.
Psalms 70:1-5 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance. Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD.
Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.
Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.
Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.
But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD,make no tarrying.
Have a question for Vaughn? Either post it in the comments or email it to me at CaluluNLQ(at)gmail(d0t)com.
Comments open below
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce