Thursday, September 25, 2008

Should we vote?

The following is taken from pages 158 and 159 in a book called 1001 Questions and Answers on the Christian Life, Pathway Publishers, 1992. The preface states that the book was written by Mennonite bishop and author Daniel Kauffman in 1907. Copied as posted on Free Grace Fellowship forum, 17 September 2008


Should Christians vote in a government election?
No. Paul taught the Romans, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers." By voting, we become a part of the powers instead of being subject to them.

Could not much good be accomplished if all Christians turned out faithfully to vote?
Christians have no business in politics. To suppose so is human reasoning. Getting involved in politics is stepping out of the role to which God has called us. It is the same as saying, "Let us do evil that good may come of it" (Rom. 3:8).

What are some of the conflicts between politics and Christianity?
Most candidates run for office by exalting themselves, contrary to Christ's example (Matt. 20:27). Graft, corruption, and greed are nearly inseparable from politics. Nonresistance is impossible.

What should be our emphasis instead?
We should focus our energy on improving the testimony and example of the church. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. We have enough to do to keep the church in order; let the world run the government.

But would it not show respect if we at least did as much as vote?
No, it would just show that we are confused about our calling. If we vote for a man and put him into office, will he think it is consistent when he needs help to defend the country, and we refuse?

Are we saying then that everyone who is in the government is condemned?
It is not in our place to judge; it is in our place to be faithful in our calling to build a better church.

Why can't we take part in both the affairs of the church and the government?
"No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:4); especially when their goals and rules of conduct are so opposite. We are dealing with two separate kingdoms. Jesus said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight." (John 18:36). No doubt Jesus would say to us, "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants vote."


Anonymous said...

How does one square this with the Mennonites [along with the WCC and Quakers] sitting down to supper with Amadinejad ?? While the Jews for the most part went far too silently into the camps, they had more than a little help from people who proudly claimed the name "Christian". We are in the world and hopefully not of it, but we still need to be active participants in defense of our lives and values.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Robert, I agree with your post.


R. L. Vaughn said...

Pete, I guess that bit of news had escaped me. I found the following as the first google hit as I got on the subject.

Religious groups' plan to break bread with Ahmadinejad
"Five American religious organizations [Mennonite Central Committee, the Quakers, the World Council of Churches, Religions for Peace and the American Friends Service Committee] have announced plans to host a dinner to break the Ramadan fast with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his upcoming visit to the United States."

I personally would have several problems with that, including joining a religious feast that is part of Islam. I'm not sure which/how many Mennonites the Mennonite Central Committee represents. I would suspect a lot, but that there are some conservative groups that do not participate.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Pete, Terre--

I posted this as a good thought-provoking article for all of us as U.S. elections are underway and heating up. I haven't yet chosen to follow the path of not voting, but I believe the Christian arguments pro and con are worth considering. The majority of the Amish/Mennonite descendants of Anabaptism have chosen the path of nonresistance, not voting, not holding office, not going to war, etc. The vast majority of Baptist descendants of Anabaptism have usually chosen the opposite options.

The Mennonite example given by Pete above does seem inconsistent to me. And, as the Kauffman article mentions, it seems inconsistent to me to choose to both vote and not serve the country when called to war, etc. Perhaps or not?? I more and more lean toward not serving a secular government in war, seeing it could put the Christian under the command of the secular ruler to actually kill other Christians who are under command of a different secular ruler. As a matter of self-defense I might view it a little differently.

I don't agree with some of the reasoning used by Kauffman. For example, to me Romans 13:1 -- "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" is problematic used to teach that the Christian get to be "part of the powers" instead of "subject to the powers" by voting. This is a general principle of subjection to authority. But interpreted his way seems to say that every soul subject unto the higher powers would mean there is no authority at all. Yet Paul said God has ordained authority/higher powers.

This is all very interesting. Will look forward to hearing more of what you all think.

brad bahler said...

Mennonites who agree with the teachings of Daniel Kaufman are at the opposite end of the spectrum than those involved in the meeting with Amadinejad. Mennonite activists would generally not agree with many of Kaufman's teachings (such as his views on voting), and those in the Kaufman camp would certainly not approve of the meeting. So there would be no "squaring" of these opposite camps, just as most Primitive Baptists would not square their views with statements from the American Baptist Churches.

Robert, your statement of non-voting being consistent with nonresistance is accurate, at leat among those I know who hold to that posistion

The reprint of "1001 Questions and Answers on the Christian Life, Pathway Publishers" 1992, is actually a reprint by the Amish, and has some additions and revisions which apply to the Amish faith. It is commonly seen in both Amish and Mennonite homes in our area.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Brad, thanks for your comments -- especially in clarifying that Mennonites that met with Amadinejad would not likely agree with Kauffman's article.