Should Christians Be in Government?
By Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon
Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
In this first segment of our program we’ve been discussing Dave Hunt’s book, When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ. Now, last week, before time ran out, we were talking about being deceived into working for the Antichrist by attempting to solve the world’s problems through the church, and we mentioned how trends have developed periodically in the church that attempt to set up a Christian kingdom here on earth. Dave, I think John Calvin may have had that in mind when he was attempting to really transform Geneva.
Dave: Well, Calvin quotes Augustine more than 400 times. You scarcely can turn a page without finding we’re looking to Augustine, you know, Augustine is the authority, etc. And, of course, probably the most famous book of Augustine’s is The City of God, and that was what he was engaged in. And, I’m sure that Calvin intended to make Geneva a pattern of what the world ought to be and, of course, that’s not what the Bible teaches. And yet, he’s used as a pattern; he is used as a pattern—Geneva, under Calvin, is used as a pattern for many people today—Calvinists.
Tom: And there are many other groups peripheral to Christianity, maybe at least acknowledging Christianity to try to set up utopian societies down through history. But of late, regarding Calvinism, Christian Reconstructionism, the biggest names in that would be Rousas Rushdoony, who has passed away, and his son-in-law Gary North.
Dave: Remember, they couldn’t get along with one another, but they were going to straighten out the world!
Tom: Yeah, personal problems, right. But many who were involved in Christian Reconstructionism (it’s also called “theonomy”), they are reformed theologians, mainly Calvinists.
Tom: So their idea was that through the law, through the application of the law, the world would actually be transformed into a kingdom run by Christians.
Dave: They were going to get non-Christians to behave like Christians by showing them that if you follow the law, if you follow God’s principles, your business will work better, government will work better. And of course they hoped to vote into leadership in our country from the president on down—Calvinists who would run the country, then, according to God’s principles.
Tom: But interestingly, last week we talked about Earl Paulk in that movement that set up a movement: it was called “Kingdom Now,” or “Dominionism,” and so on. We went back to Canada in the late 1940s, the Manifest Sons of God; we talked about that. Yet charismatics, under Earl Paulk, they did some work with the Reconstructionists and Gary North, the idea being that charismatics had the money and they had TBN. They had all of the media, yet the Reconstructionists had the doctrine.
Dave: They had the brains. They were the experts on Greek and Hebrew.
Tom: Yeah. Now, a man we didn’t mention who was involved in this—maybe people would know better than Earl Paulk—is Pat Robertson. His book Secret Kingdom, and many of his teachings, were related to this business of… He also ran for office, which is—you know, he believed God told him to do so.
Dave: Well, for office, he was going to be president. And when he failed to make it, he was interviewed, and that interview is in writing. I quoted him in Occult Invasion, and perhaps other places, but certainly in The Berean Call. And he was asked, “Well, if God told you to run for president, said you were going to be president, why didn’t you make it?” And I was shocked when I read his reply, Tom. He said, “You would have to ask the same question of Jesus: Why did He fail the first time around and get crucified?” So the crucifixion was apparently a failure? I know Pat doesn’t believe that, but you can be driven to foolish ideas when you think you are going to transform the world with Christian principles, especially by getting voted into high office.
Pat was interviewed by the media, and they said, “Well, if you become president, you’re a Christian, you’re an evangelist; you’re just going to impose your principles on the whole country?”
Do you remember Pat’s response? He said, “Well, I’m not an evangelist, I’m a talk show host.”
Dave: So you begin to back down from what you say you were going to do. And I remember C. Everett Koop, another Christian…
Tom: And Surgeon General, at least at that time.
Dave: Right, and equal author of a book with Frances Schaffer, as well. But he began to recommend condoms as birth control, and to prevent disease, etc., and I think he kind of earned the title of “Captain Condom.” And when he was challenged on that, he said, “Well, I don’t represent just the Christians.” So it wasn’t abstinence now, it was condoms. “I don’t represent just the Christians, but I have to represent everyone.”
So much for Christians getting voted into high office, and then using their influence to change the world. It hasn’t happened and it won’t happen. And it’s not the biblical way. To change the world is not really the purpose of the Great Commission, but to transform people, to rescue them from this world for citizenship in heaven.
Tom: Dave, a recent best-selling Christian book advances the idea that Christians are going to take over the world. The book, as you remember, is titled Megashift, and here’s the quote: “The family of Jesus Christ is growing so fast that if our growth simply continues at today’s pace, most of us living today may see the fulfillment of Revelation 11:15.”
Here’s that verse: “Now are the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever.” There doesn’t seem to be a thought of the Rapture, and taking us out.
Dave: No, of course that is a passage from Revelation, and it is talking about events after the Rapture.
Well, Tom, again—look, I hope the listeners out there don’t think we are just sitting here taking potshots at people, and trying to criticize everyone. They’ll say, “Well, what do you have to offer?” We don’t have anything to offer to turn this world into a Christian kingdom ruled by the Lord. Some of them would say, “Well, the Lord is ruling in heaven.” No, He’s going to come to this earth. His feet will touch the Mount Olives, and He will destroy Antichrist and his armies, and He will rule with a rod of iron on the throne of His father David from Jerusalem. And [if] you don’t behave, you will be dealt with instantly. Okay?
But just simple common sense, that’s all. We are bringing the Scriptures to bear, but some common sense as well.
Now, Christianity is growing at such a rapid pace…Christians are just multiplying, and the megachurches, and—wow! Well, I don’t think things are getting better so far. We’ve had several presidents who claimed to be Christians, beginning back there with Nixon, and then Reagan, and so forth, and now President Bush. We’ve had a lot of Christians in high office. Tom, I have not noticed that homosexuality is decreasing. I haven’t noticed that abortions are decreasing. I haven’t noticed that crime…I haven’t noticed that this is, to coin a phrase, “a kinder, gentler America” as a result of this. It doesn’t seem that you can change men’s hearts by ruling from the top. The only way hearts will be changed is—well, we have to believe the gospel and really believe with all our hearts in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tom: Dave, we have the example of that from Scripture. We know the Scripture tells us that Christ is going to rule with an iron fist from Jerusalem. And those who were born at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ for a thousand years, many will not come to Christ even though it’s going to be as close to a utopia, certainly, than Calvin had imagined or tried to put into effect, or others. Yet hearts are not going to be changed. We know because there was a rebellion at the end of the thousand years.
Dave: Probably the biggest war ever. They come like the sand of the sea shore against Jesus in Jerusalem. And, Tom, I just find that so hard to believe, but I know it is true. And it just tells us that the human heart is “deceitful above all things, desperately wicked.” And even when they’ve been made to behave for a thousand years and Satan has been locked up—this world is a paradise, the desert blooms like a rose…the fruit trees, I’m sure, are just like in the garden of Eden because of God’s grace and Christ’s presence here. There’s no poverty, no hunger, no disease. Here we are, better even than the garden of Eden, because Satan is locked up and has no access to it, and yet men’s hearts are not changed. And although they are made to behave by Christ, and we will be ruling in our resurrected, glorified bodies, nevertheless, as soon as Satan is loosed, it says he deceives the whole world and they follow him against Christ.
Now, Tom, I don’t want to launch off into a long sermon (which I could). When Satan came and said to Eve, “Did God say you can’t eat of all the trees?”
And…“Well, there’s one we can’t,” and so forth.
And Satan says, “Well, no, no—God knows when you eat of that tree you will be delivered from His bondage. You’ll be like the gods; you will become a god yourself, and you will be wise.” I don’t think that was the first time that thought came into Eve’s mind. I think she found a guru who told her what she wanted to hear, who justified her inner desires, and that’s what it will be like at the end of the millennium. These people are rebels in their hearts. They haven’t had an uprising yet, but they are rebels in their hearts, and when Satan comes, they’ve got a leader who doesn’t deceive them any more than their own deceitful lust had deceived them. We are “deceived by our own lusts and enticed,” James tells us. But now they’ve got some kind of justification to do what they really want to do.
Tom, I have noted, at least in my experience, that most people do not want to believe the truth—that people who are in a cult… Oh my, it’s so tragic that they are deceived by Mormonism! How can anybody believe that we’ve got more gods out there than the Hindus, you know? And every Mormon male has the opportunity to become another god out there with another planet…how can anybody believe this nonsense? “Oh, they’re so deceived.” No, I think it’s what they want to believe. This was the lie that the serpent told Eve in the garden. I guess he injected his venom into the blood of the human race. And remember Brigham Young, speaking there from the Mormon Tabernacle, said, “We don’t blame Mother Eve for eating the forbidden fruit. That’s how we become gods.”
Tom: Sure, it was a good thing.
Dave: Yeah. So, Tom, I really puzzle over this, and I talk to the Lord about it. Why do some people believe in Jesus and others don’t? The big question I know that Calvinists fall back on is, “Well, it’s because God causes some to believe. We are dead in trespasses and in sins. We are all totally depraved, and you wouldn’t believe at all unless God caused you to believe.”
Well then, now we’ve got another problem, because God causes some to believe but He doesn’t cause others, therefore God does not really love everyone. He doesn’t want everyone in heaven.
But, Tom, I think there’s only one answer to that question. Why, in spite of all the facts…for example, evolution. Tom, the evidence is so overwhelming against evolution, and there is not a particle of evidence for evolution. Why do these people believe that? Well, ask them! Why do people reject Christ? We’ve got all the prophecies, we’ve got all the proof, we’ve got the eye witnesses, our own hearts tell us this is the only hope. Why don’t they believe? Ask them, because each person has the power of choice, and it’s up to them. God does not force anybody into heaven; that would turn heaven into hell.
So this is why the Bible says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” God wants our hearts. He’s not going to twist our arms. And you can’t legislate righteousness from the top down: “We’re going to get Christians in government,” and so forth.
So, Tom, I waxed too eloquent on that and went on too long, but it’s not going to work. It’s not biblical and it’s not rational.
Tom: Dave, last week at the end of our program—we take a little flack every once in a while when we talk about Rick Warren. Now, you’ve met with Rick, you like him, but you have some serious disagreements with some of the things that he’s doing. But last week we mentioned that his Global PEACE Plan, at least when we see what he’s doing and how he’s going about it… You talk about connecting with world famous people, trying to solve the problems of the world, working with different religious groups, talking about the man of peace within the village and how the church is going to work with this individual, whether it be a Muslim or not, to solve the problems of the world. At the very least this seems to be moving in the direction of the things we are concerned about. This Kingdom Dominion idea that is not biblical, that puts the emphasis here on earth and not what we believe the Scriptures teach where it ought to be.
Dave: Well, Tom, I love Rick. I love him as a brother in the Lord, and I think I know something of his heart. I believe he has a real compassion for the lost and a passion for souls to be saved. But on the other hand, I think he compromises. He works against his own passion by compromising. And, as I’ve said, on the one hand I empathize with him. He wants to do away with AIDS. He wants to do away with disease. He wants to do away with hunger. But on the other hand, it seems that the emphasis is there instead of on the gospel, so that you don’t want to offend people, you work with them toward this goal—a humanistic goal, really, that is not going to work out. He’s going to be disappointed down the line.
But, Tom, also I feel that we see something of this in his favoring The Message by Eugene Peterson. He quotes it more than 80 times in The Purpose Driven Life, and why does he do that? Tom, we document it, and anyone listening who wants a little documentation, we will send it to you free of charge. Just call our number—Gary will give it to you. What Eugene Peterson has done to the Bible is horrific! He has trashed God’s Word and put his own words in. But more than that, he has a very humanistic bent to it, and it really fits with Rick’s purpose or passion to transform the world.
For example, I think I’ve probably quoted this before on this program, but John 3:17: “God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Instead of “but that the world through Him might be saved,” The Message says, “He came to help us make the world right.” Well, that sounds like social and political action. Jesus did not come to help us make the world right. That’s this whole thing that we’re talking about.
Or if you went to 1 Peter 5:10, one of the most wonderful verses in Scripture…Paul prays in Ephesians 1 “that you might know the hope of His calling,” and Peter tells us what is that calling: “He has called us unto His eternal glory,” Peter says. What does The Message say? “He’ll have you put together again and back on your feet,” or standing on your feet. I’m not quoting that verbatim, but this is very close. Now, that’s not what the Bible says. Back on our feet? No, it’s talking about we will be in His image in heaven. So he has put everything down from heaven to earth.
For example, at the end of John’s gospel, chapter 3, the Bible says, “He that is from above is above all.” The Message says, “He is head and shoulders over the crowd,” or over everyone else, something like that. Head and shoulders? He is infinite beyond us—He is God!
So again, we’re not only dumbing down, we’re bringing it down from heaven to this earth. The kingdom of God now is on this earth. Christ is going to help us set the world right; He’ll have us put together and back on our feet again. And I just pray that God will help Rick to realize that this is not the route to take. Let’s have compassion—I don’t fault him for that. Compassion, love for those who are dying of AIDS, who are starving, and so forth, but let’s have a little more compassion for those who are dying in sin on their way to hell and need the gospel. And please don’t compromise because of the desire to help the needy. Don’t then compromise and soften the message of the gospel, which is very firm.
Tom: Dave, we’ve written a number of things. I’ve written some articles about what’s going on at Saddleback Church, particularly Celebrate Recovery. We’ve gone through The Purpose Driven Life, and I did a 15-page review of the book, pointing out some things. And, you know, Rick says some wonderful things in his book, and certainly many things that are going on in his church we have no problem with. But the general thrust, the goal setting, purpose-driven kinds of things, whether it be growing your church or whatever, it doesn’t line up with the Scriptures.
You know, his influences are interesting. We mentioned last week Peter Drucker. I think he died a year or so ago in his 90s, and so on. He was a socialist! His whole idea was to solve the problems of the world—humanistic, as you mentioned before. And once you try to reconcile these things with biblical Christianity, all you need to do is be a Berean and say, “Well, wait a minute, what are they saying here, and what do the Scriptures say?” Whether it be with regard to prophecy, or with regard to how the Lord says things are going to work out through the Scriptures in the end times, they just do not conform to what the Word of God says.
Dave: So, Tom, all we’re trying to do is go by the Bible, search the Scriptures: What does God say? This is our authority. And let’s not get off on any tangents, no matter what great projects there may seem to be with worldly wisdom. The Bible tells us the only hope is to give the gospel, and get people—deliver them from hell to heaven.
Tom: And, Dave, we’re to do things God’s way. If we do things man’s way…and the Scripture says, “There’s a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Program Number: 2005