Anabaptistic World Flight?
I would like to respond to the comments of the Rev. Spriensma on voting that appeared in the February 1st issue of the Standard Bearer. The Rev. Spriensma states, “There are those who would take an anabaptistic position of world flight, and take no interest in the messy realm of politics. These men and women do not care to cast their votes. Shame on them.”
I write as one Christian who does not vote. For the information of all those who wish to smear such as myself with the “anabaptistic world flight” label, I would like to demonstrate from Scripture (not philosophy or polls) why I do not vote. In Exodus 18:21 the qualifications for those who would be judges in Israel are listed as “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness” (cf. Deut. 1:13). A wise man is by definition one who keeps the commandments of God. And that, I submit, is the only question involved when one decides to vote or not to vote. The question is, “Is this man (yes, a woman not ruling applies equally in the civil as well as the ecclesiastical sphere) a God-fearing man, who shows by his testimony and life that he is a servant of Jesus Christ?” If the answer is no, then “shame on them” who use the power of the vote to help godless men obtain political office that enables them in the civil sphere to rule over Christ’s church!
At bottom, every politician is one of two things. He is either a true servant of Jehovah who will make his decisions based on the principles of God’s Word, or he is a servant of the Evil One. Only those holding to some sort of common grace would try to posit a third possibility. How can one be a loyal subject of King Jesus when he helps put into office men who say in their hearts, “let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2:3)?
Those Christians who vote, believing in some illusion that they are helping the church by voting for “the better candidate” (whatever that is, when one is talking about unbelievers) are closing their eyes to the hard reality that, as history winds down, “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse” (I Tim. 3:13), and that includes the American political process.
Finally, the Rev. Spriensma states that we are to “exercise our duty to vote.” This may be right out of High School Civics 101, but it is hardly biblical reasoning. A duty is that which God commands His people in His Word. While it is true that civil rulers are the servants of God, as Romans 13 teaches, it is a whole other step to assert that if one has the right to help choose that man (ignoring the hard realities of how big money actually manufactures candidates) he must help to choose that man. The only duties that God binds upon His people in the political realm is to be subject to the laws of the magistrate, to do what is good, to pay taxes, and to pray that the church may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Scripture nowhere commands the vote. Further, our Lord warns about those in the church who teach for doctrines the commandments of men (Matt. 15:9).
So, in closing, I not only do not vote, I would submit that it is my duty not to vote for any man unless he fears God and keeps His commandments. I feel no shame and I can assure Rev. Spriensma I am no Anabaptist!
Sauk Village, Illinois
Dear Mr. Brooks, Thank you, brother, for responding in writing to this very important topic. I do not presume to know your motives for voting or not voting. So I do not “smear” all who do not vote with “anabaptistic world flight.” There might be many reasons, such as sickness, lack of information, inability…. If you will notice, I was only addressing those in the church who would take an anabaptistic position of world flight. Shame on them.
I think, however, that you do protest too loudly. If you are merely exercising your Christian liberty in not voting because nowhere does the Bible give the explicit command to vote, that is your right. But I would ask, “Do you shake hands with your fellow believer in church?” The Bible does not command it. Rather we are told to “salute one another with a holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16). That is a command given in a cultural situation. The idea is to express our Christian love towards one another in the church. In America, this is carried out with a warm handshake.
So also, in biblical times, there were no democracies. One did not have the luxury of choosing one’s leaders. Therefore there is no command to vote. The people could not vote even if they wanted to. But even though the leaders were forced upon the people, Christians were called to honor, submit, support, and pray for them.
As citizens today, we in free countries are called by our leaders to help select those who govern us. But you have the right to exercise your Christian liberty not to do so. We can have this difference without “smearing” or resorting to the charge that those who vote “hold to some sort of common grace.”
There are, I believe, two important things that need to be addressed in your letter. First, there was a reference to “qualifications for those who would be judges in Israel,” in the context of running for civil office today. Israel was a theocracy. Israel was God’s peculiar people, God’s church. Of course the qualifications for office, whether judge, prophet, priest, or king, would be that they were “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” But one cannot compare civil leaders of the theocracy with civil leaders today. America (or, for that matter, any other modern nation today) is not God’s nation, God’s peculiar people, or the church! And the matter of women ruling is a matter that pertains to Christian women in the home and in the church, not in business or society.
America is a pluralistic community with leaders that are chosen from many different backgrounds and viewpoints. As Christians in that pluralistic community, we seek leaders that will allow for the church to carry on our calling and allow us to live in peace. In no way do those in political office rule in the sphere of Christ’s church. God in His providence has placed us in this nation, and as citizens of this nation we are corporately responsible for what the leaders of this nation do. And we have the privilege of participating in choosing who those leaders are. Therefore a duty.
Second, we need to address the question of who are the servants of Jehovah. Romans 13does give civil authorities the lofty title of “ministers of God” (Rom. 13:4, 6). Cyrus is called by God His servant (Isaiah 45:1: “his anointed, whose right hand I have holden”). These men and women might be the most wicked and rebellious of the earth, yet God puts them into positions of authority. Does that mean that we have nothing to do with politics? Is there not a place for Daniels today to give good advice to wicked leaders, to be in positions of authority, and, yes, even for us to choose leaders who will be used by God for good and to restrain and be a terror to the evil (Rom. 13:4)? Do we not seek leaders who will fight the evil of abortion, the destruction of marriage, using the sword to bring God’s justice to murderers and evil men? Shall we leave the selection of leaders to uncircumcised Philistines? Shame!
—Rev. Audred Spriensma