In 2007, Wayne Grudem wrote an article for Townhall.com endorsing Mitt Romney’s bid for the 2008 Republican nomination for President. In the article, Grudem considers whether or not Evangelical Christians should vote for a Mormon, and I think his reflections are apt for the conversation we are having in 2011. He writes:
Can evangelicals support a candidate who is politically conservative but not an evangelical Christian? Yes, certainly. In fact, it would demonstrate the falsehood of the liberal accusation that evangelicals are just trying to make this a “Christian nation” and only want evangelical Christians in office. For evangelicals to support a Mormon candidate would be similar to supporting a conservative Jewish candidate—someone we don’t consider a Christian but who comes from a religious tradition that believes in absolute moral values very similar to those that Christians learn from the Bible…
Have we come to the point where evangelicals will only vote for people they consider Christians? I hope not, for nothing in the Bible says that people have to be born again Christians before they can be governmental authorities who are used greatly by God to advance his purposes. God used Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to raise Joseph to a position of authority over the whole country, so he could save his people from famine (Genesis 41:37-57). God used Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to protect and raise up Daniel and his Jewish friends to positions of high authority over Babylon (Daniel 2:46-49). God used Cyrus, King of Persia, to restore the Jewish exiles to their homeland (Isaiah 45:16; Ezra 1:1-4), and used Darius, King of Persia, to protect the Jewish people as they rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1-12). God used Ahashuerus, King of Persia, to raise up Esther as Queen and to give Mordecai high authority and honor in his kingdom (Esther 6:10-11; 8:1-2, 7-15). In the New Testament age, God used the peace enforced by the secular Roman Empire, the Pax Romana, to enable the early Christians to travel freely and spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean world.
Here in the United States, God used not only Founding Fathers who were strong Christians, but also Deists such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, to build the foundation of our nation. Jefferson even became our third President in 1801, a demonstration of the wisdom of Article 6 of the Constitution, which says, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
The Bible tells us to pray not just for Christians who happen to have government offices, but “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2). It is not just Christians in government but all governing authorities who are “instituted by God” (Romans 13:1) and whom Paul can call “God’s servant for your good” (Romans 13:4).
In his 2010 book Politics according to the Bible, Grudem stands by his contention that Christians can vote for non-Christian political candidates, even though he reconsiders the plausibility of Romney’s 2008 candidacy. He writes:
When I speak about “significant Christian influence” on government, I want to be very clear that I do not mean that Christians should only vote for Christian candidates for office, or even that Christians should generally prefer an evangelical candidate over others who are running.
To take one example, President Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist who taught a Sunday school class at his home church in Georgia, and media reports made much of Carter’s profession of faith as a “born-again” Christian. But many politically conservative evangelical Christians decided to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980 instead of Carter, based on differences with President Carter’s policies… (Politics according to the Bible, p. 66)
Grudem concludes his discussion with this:
The principle remains: I think Christians should support the candidate who best represents moral and political values consistent with biblical teaching, no matter what his or her religious background or convictions (p. 68).
When you read the entire article by Grudem, it is clear that a number of prudential judgments come into play in the selection of a candidate. Christians need to know what principles they stand for, and then they must balance those principles against a political candidate’s own views, competency, and electability.
Cyrus was even called a messiah. That was quite an endorsement.
I’ve always loved that. Inspired me to bake up a whole fairy tale about the cloud giant Lord Cirrus just to retell the Lord’s unseen movements through the lives of his irreligious / unwitting servants. Some day I may even write it out. ; )
I realize the all occurred before “Evangelical voters” sprang into existence, but I don’t recall reading about the voters questioning the religion of our Unitarian Presidents. And even after the Kennedy question, no one seems to have gotten too fussed about voting for the Disciples of Christ guy in ’64 or the Quaker in ’68 and ’72.
Wayne Grudem is correct in that Christians are free to elect those who may not align theologically with them. Yet, I would argue that this may have happen with the election of Obama. The problem I think is that we are talking now about the primaries that has a swath of great candidates and is vastly different from an election.
In the article you state, “then they must balance those principles against a political candidate’s own views, competency, and electability.” The issue of presidency should not be balanced on electability. How can we ascertain that quality, on skewed polls, by “experts” like O’Reilly who wrote off Herman Cain as unelectable last night? “I am going to vote for ‘X’ because I think he/she can win”
As Christians, I would think we would elect a candidate who first espouses views most closely held to our core principles and second demonstrates competency. The greatest concern I have is that the MSM is completely silent on Romney’s religious tendencies while we got a whiff of Bachmann’s ex-church’s stance and it was all over the news.
If Romeny wins the nomination, we will see his religion on display for what it is. It is better to have this discussion now while vetting the candidates than later on election night.
I agree with Grudem. I’m glad that he explained that a candidate’s worldview is very important and that we need to carefully examine what that candidate’s worldview is. We cannot, however, simply take a candidate’s stated worldview at face value. Too many evangelicals take a candidate’s stated religious views at face value. Many of our nation’s presidents were Unitarians and were able to claim Christianity on a technical basis, when in fact their views were strongly at odds with a Biblical worldview. In some of those instances, Christians would have shared MUCH more in common with a Catholic or Jewish candidate!
Another often overlooked factor is that our recent “Christian” presidents, notably both Bushes, Obama, Clinton and Jimmy Carter, have all made pretty strong universalist statements. In my view, if we can comfortably vote for a person who claims to be a Christian, but emphatically states that all religions lead to heaven, we might as well be voting for a Mormon or a Buddhist. So we evangelicals are guilty of making arbitrary and poorly informed distinctions on the basis of a candidate’s official religious views, all the while ignoring hard forensic evidence that points to their actual views.
I disagree because
-Jews are God’s blessed nation and the KJV Old Testament is entirely about them
-mormons have “the book of mormons” supposedly transcribed by Joesph Smith in a closet using a “magic decoder ring” (twice after his wife destroyed the first copy)
-mormons think Christ and satan are brothers of God the Father who is one of many gods. He was born on the planet Kolab and if a mormon gets enough “points” they can become gods also.
so comparing mormons and Jews is lame in my opinion
-the evil kings of the Old Testament were facilitator’s of God’s plan. There nations weren’t blessed under their rule as Israel was under the best parts of David, Solomon. Jehoshaphat, etc. Same applies to your mention of Winston Churchill a great leader but England survived World War II’s daily bomb raids. That’s hardly being blessed
I can tell you I have two former mormon friends that are now born again and they are both very concerned about romney. If they are we should at least consider their concerns. I think that if Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich aren’t elected that the USA is toast and remember as far as we can tell the USA isn’t mention in Revelation.
My 2 cents
Bill, what are the specific concerns that your Mormon friends have?
Although I could personally see myself voting for Romney, his conviction on things like abortion and gay marriage seems to go through major shifts, depending on whether he’s running in a general election or primary. Granted, this could be said of many politicians, but he seems unusually willing to shift on some pretty major issues.
Sorry, I meant ex-Mormon friends, Bill.
“who comes from a religious tradition that believes in absolute moral values very similar to those that Christians learn from the Bible”
Really? Mormons don’t believe in the ongoing revelation of the prophets who can change the moral values will-nilly? Hmm. Someone needs to tell them that.
The issue isn’t really what one believes, is it? But who will most likely govern according to what is right and good? The fact is we never do elect anyone based on the reality that they are what they believe, rather, we elect them with full consideration that they are affected by what they believe, for good or ill, and how that comports with what we believe. We cannot trust that what they say is the reality. The best we can do is trust God that in our weakness that we have cast the vote for the best candidate of our considerations. In view of that, we must consider all that might affect the judgement of the individual we elect. And in view of that, until Romney is forthcoming and honest about what Mormonism is, he must be considered unelectable and untrustworthy due to his obfuscation. We don’t need another president like Obama elected due the media white-washing of his mentored belief system. What we need is full disclosure. Who knows, if Romney actually told the truth about his faith, people might just think he is the kind of honest man that might actually uphold the Constitution.
I haven’t read the entire article yet but I will make this one point. The fact that God used these non-Christian leaders (Pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar, etc.) to achieve His purposes seems to me wholly separate from the question of whether or not Christians should endorse or vote for these types of candidates.
Pharoah’s were regularly regarded as god’s, do we really think it would be appropriate as Christians to vote for a candidate who considered himself a god? Despite the fact that God may use this leader to achieve some form of good or cast down judgement, we can’t discern God’s future plans and therefore it would seem completely innapropriate to vote for someone who thought they were god, despite whatever other positions they may hold.
And speaking of Pharoah and their belief that they are god on earth…what’s that Mormon belief again? “As man is, god once was…as god is, may man become…..”
Although I agree with Grudem’s overall argument here, you bring some excellent points to consider, Nick. The Assyrian and Babylonian leadership are explicitly described as instruments of God’s judgment in Scripture (e.g. Isaiah 54 – See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc;.
So the mere fact that God raised them up and used them was not God’s way to endorse their moral authority. This was a very difficult thing for the Israelites to get their mind around, just as it is difficult for us to see how God allows wicked leaders to prosper in our own day.
That said, Romans 13 and other passages teach that God’s design for government is ultimately to do justice and be a positive force, so we will often find ourselves in the situation where we must choose the least worst candidate. We do not get to be morally ambivalent about our leaders upon the basis that God can and does use wicked rulers for his own purposes. This was the basic thrust of Grudem’s argument towards the end of the article.
Let me first stress that I firmly believe in freedom of choice in religion. My problem is with folks that believe in one thing and profess another. Their main concern is that instead of telling the truth about mormonism mainstream mormons like romney give the appearance that they are regular Christians instead of publicly stating their radically different beliefs. They will often take over a company and the fill positions with like minded believers so they can change the structure of that company. I will try and get more details. Some interesting viewpoints are at http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/10/10/mormonism-democracy-and-the-urgent-need-for-evangelical-thinking/
I agree with Grudem in principle, but this particular case is special for two reasons.
First, in this discussion one aspect that has to be considered is the symbolic nature of the office of President of the United States. I would be fine voting for a component non believer who I agree with on most issues if we were talking about a local race or even Congress. But Romney, if elected, would be the symbolic figurehead of the nation, and for many people around the world, the head of the Developed/free/Western world (once known as and often confused with Christendom). Because his religious affliliation has already been made an issue, it certainly would continue to be if he were to win the primaries. And now millions of people around the world will be tuning in to this coverage, and come to understand Mormomism not as a fringe American movement of sorts, but as maistream. The lines between Mormonism and biblical Christianity will grow blurrier the world over. This is similar in my mind to the concern some Christians have had, for right or wrong, about the mainstreaming of homosexuality in popular culture. Mormonism as it stands is no less deadly to those under its deception, is it not?
The second issue that is not often brought out is the evangelistic nature of Mormonism and the standard practices of most Mormon laypeople. Voting for Romney is not quite the same as voting for an orthodox Jew because to my knowledge orthodox Jews arent spending billions every year trying to convert me and the rest of the world. Same goes for most Roman Catholics, liberal Protestants, and agnostics. Mormons not so much. Mormonism arose from American pietism, and has been designed by the enemy intentionally to resemble pietistic evangelical Christianity in every way so as to deceive many. Despite the awkard way he did it, Pastor Jeffress was speaking to the media not only as a citizen or Perry supporter, but also as a pastor whose job is to protect the sheep from wolves. I commend him for doing what the Scripture demands of him.
I work as a church planter overseas, and in my short career, Ive already seen what can happen when shepherds dont guard the flock against false teaching and yes, cults. So come November 2012 and the international media is boasting once again in the good nature of the American people by electing its first Mormon president, and my neighbor who is being witnessed to by Mormon missionaries asks me what I think of it all, I assure you I will have more to say than, “well, at least he’s better than the last guy.”
Good thoughts, Tyler. I think you’ve given everyone good food for thought and consideration. This is definitely a perspective I had not thought of, but a valid one. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the power and danger of a leader like Jimmy Carter or George W. Bush, who most people consider to be born again, yet they enthusiastically support the idea that all religions lead to God. I’d rather have an orthodox Jew or Catholic than that type of person representing Christians. But again, I think you’ve made some excellent points.
As promised here’s my friend’s take as an ex mormon who is now a very strong evangelical Christian.
I am not so “in the know” about planting Mormons in all forms of government so they will be able to form the government for the planet at Christ’s coming . .
BUT – the other stuff is true! They do believe they will all be God’s of their own planet (JUST the men, the women are only here to please their husbands and raise children-seriously-its like women are just for sex and kids)
They do believe there are zillions of “spirit babies” floating around in space waiting for a body-that is why they have so many kids-everyone deserves a body
They do the weird thing in the temple, and I am sure more than that, they have to wear garments when they are married and “sealed” in the temple that have “special markings” right where she said they blessed/prayed over her-and it is supposed to be a big secret-they are NOT supposed to tell anyone what goes on in the temple!
They do believe in prophets-In their teachings Joseph Smith sits at the right hand of God and helps him figure out the world more or less.
AND the biggest thing that always made me know it wasn’t true-They preach from the Book of Mormon, there were Bibles in the pews, but THE BOOK they want you to read, they quote from, they teach out of, is the Book of Mormon. So Wrong. NEVER do I remember teachings from the Bible. Yes, a few bible stories, but more about the Golden Plates, Brigham Young and the crickets, etc. Those are the stories I remember most.
So, Yes, I believe that Mormonism is a cult. I don’t know if Romney would actually infiltrate the government with Mormon people to promote the faith and the weird beliefs they have-can’t comment on that. I just know at this time, I don’t believe I would be voting for him. I really am disillusioned by the people who are interested-so, we’ll see.
Good honest discussion in all of this. I have five concerns about voting for Romney.
1. Will his Mormon theology and world view affect his decisions as president?
2. Would his election, with a high percentage of the evangelical vote, be an endorsement of Mormonism as being accepted as mainstream evangelicalism?
3. Would Christian leadership endorsement of him join us with Mormonism?
4. In Wikipedia, which I know is not deep research, it shares that he is not just a follower of the teachings of Joseph Smith, but has been in leadership position within the church. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitt_Romney)
5. Would his election be seen as fulfillment of Joseph Smith’s “White Horse” Prophecy and thus validate Mormonism?
For the same reason that I would not participate in a “Right to Life” rally with Buddhist or Hindus, I could not vote for Romney. What divides us is more that what would unite us.