31 October 2014

Exiles in Babylon: Should Christians Vote? (II)

With bitterness any Constantinian will be forced to admit the New Testament says absolutely nothing about their vision of society. There's not a single verse to support it and many to oppose it. Recently I've seen some desperate attempts to suggest that Paul was engaged in culture war when he referred to the Cretans (by quote) as liars, gluttons and evil beasts etc... and demanded they be rebuked. It is debated as to whether he was referring to some of the Jewish Christians of Crete and their abusive quoting of Epimenides or to Epimenides himself as a 'prophet' bearing a truthful witness of the Cretian character. Regardless, his rebuke is internal, not directed at the larger Cretan society or its governors. Those to be rebuked by Titus are within the Church.
He was speaking of the Cretan Christian community and their need to break with their cultural norms and standards, whether Jewish or Gentile. That type of transformation is of course a necessary component of the gospel and its application. Paul is nowhere suggesting that Titus begin to labour in terms of the civil realm or lobby for change in order to transform the culture of Crete. He was however to exhort Cretan Christians to be renewed. Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 5 make his views of those 'outside' quite clear. There's no hint of cultural transformation in Paul's vision for the Corinthians.
If and when we understand like Paul that the world and its societies are wholly corrupt and perverse and that due to man's fallen state can never change until this world is brought under judgment, then indeed this frantic push for political involvement seems a bit silly. In many cases it is in reality fueled by what can only be called a prideful idolatry of the nation and the push is the result of a panic that the fantasized idol will soon be corrupted past the point of redemption. It is corrupted and was from the beginning and quite literally cannot be redeemed.
All political, social and economic systems are rooted in sinful thoughts and aspirations and all are doomed to fail. Even the covenantal system of the Old Testament failed! It was ordained and yet also ordained to fail. We can't fix the pagan systems and are not called to. We are to bear witness to the truth and expose the works of darkness. We are to offer our lives as living sacrifices. Our hope is not in this age.
Whatever government, social or economic system we live under, we must avoid the embrace of its ideas. Certainly some are better than others but don't ever forget what they are in the end... man's attempts to overcome the world's sinfulness and provide a false hope... ultimately what can only be called a false gospel. They are all rightly understood as Babel-systems.
It doesn't matter who rules Babylon. It's still Babylon and if Christians were to submit to Nero in Paul's day and pay their taxes to the Roman state, then we can submit to whoever is ruling today. That doesn't mean we don't tell the truth. It doesn't mean we embrace their ideas. This is true regardless of who is ruling. If we think that one party is more worthy of respect or somehow is reflecting our values, then we need to reconsider our values. There's no way a ruler of Babylon can implement the agenda of Zion. If you think so, then you need to revisit the Scriptures and make sure you've rightly understood Zion, the Kingdom of God. It's possible you've embraced a counterfeit.
Trusting in rulers to do what is right is not only foolish but in some ways an abandonment of our responsibility. The real problem though is the idea that we are going to call on the state to use the threat of violence to force our agenda on the larger society. That's what legislation is. It's the state making rules that if not obeyed, bring consequences. Maybe it's just a fine, but you pay it because the authority of the court issuing the fine is backed up by men with badges and guns. Even a parking ticket, carries the threat of violence. A police officer turning on his siren and lights behind my car is a threat of violence.
If I shouldn't use violence to force my neighbour to quit sinning then why would I call on the sinful state to do the same? Many hide behind the idea of office or some Constantinian/Dominionist notion of Vocation and find a way to be like the world and yet convince themselves they're not doing so.
What they're really saying is that the Biblical concept of the Christian life won't work. We wouldn't be able to be part of the society, we couldn't be middle class. Our lives would be pathetic in the world's eyes. That can't be right. Christ and the Apostles were all respectable patricians, right?
Therefore when the Church long ago embraced power it had to reformulate all of these ideas. This is best symbolized by Revelation's image of an adulterous whore taking up with the Beast. Babylon is a catch-all term that refers to all of the Beast powers. Mystery Babylon is the Covenant people in a state of apostasy joining with the Beast and syncretizing their projects.
A strong case can be made for not voting at all. But for those who believe that if the opportunity is afforded us we should take it, I can only say this. Protest vote.
Ignore the mantras we hear on the news and from our friends. We're not wasting our votes by voting for non-mainstream parties. Nor have we abdicated our prophetic role by not voting. In fact those who continue to vote Republican and Democrat are the ones with no right to complain. They've voted the status quo and that's precisely what they get.  
Barack Obama didn't change it, nor did the Tea Party.
I quit voting for many years and may quit yet again. When I have voted, I protest vote. I vote against every incumbent. I don't care who is running against them. I'm against the idea that judges and District Attorney's should be voted for and so regardless I vote against them. If there's no challenger, then I leave that spot blank.
My goal is not to create a Christian America. The very idea is akin to a square circle. It cannot be. The very idea is heretical and a redefinition of the term Christian. I vote simply to contribute to the weakening of the Establishment. But I believe this is futility. If a Green Party or Libertarian Party candidate actually won, which I don't think is possible, I am convinced they would either change their tune or be forced out, very likely with violence.
The system is too powerful. The Establishment will not give up its power, nor even risk it by a real challenger getting too close. Even Obama began to change his tune right about the time of the vote and certainly during the lame duck interim. Did he always intend to move to the center or did someone have a little talk with him? We won't ever know.
Our system is beyond the point of mere reform. It will take violence and revolution to break the Establishment and that's something we can't have anything to do with. The Christians who advocate this or even hint at it are in grave sin and we need to stay away from them.

We can vote to bring peace to a secular society or we can refuse to participate. I'm leaning toward the latter these days but it's something we need to think about. The flurry of political activity at work in the American Church is muddying the waters and endangering souls.

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