PMW 2020-093 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
This is the second in a three-part series on the Christian principle of voting for the lesser-of-evils. Please see the previous article for context.
Our Christian Response
In allowing the lesser-of-evils approach to voting from a Christian perspective, I would have us first note the principles involved, then consider their theological and biblical justifications. I present the question of principles first to introduce the argument; then I will show why I believe we can endorse it from within a Christian worldview.
The Question of Principle
We need carefully to reflect on the question of principle itself, which I will do under several headings.
First, distinguishing our principles. When we are engaging in politics we must be careful not to place our political actions (e.g., voting) on the same level as our doctrinal commitments (i.e., faith in Scripture). We must be careful not to develop a messianic political outlook. That is, we should not believe that if we can only elect the right candidate he will save our nation. Unfortunately, as Christians we can be so earnest in our desire for a better America that we can slide into this messianic conception of politics. This allows us to become so enamored with a particular candidate as the “right” one, that we see him as our great hope who will bring forth justice, peace and prosperity. Continue reading
PMW 2020-092 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
We are facing a watershed election that may determine whether or not we continue as a Constitutional Republic. Obviously, God is sovereign and in control. But as Calvinists we recognize the importance of human responsibility. I am posting this article this week in anticipation of the national elections in America next week.
Some Christians refuse to vote for Donald Trump because of his attitude and some past sins. I sympathize with them. However, like it or not, we will be electing only one of two candidates for President: Donald Trump or Joe Biden. This causes us to have to consider Lesser-of-Evils voting. I happen to believe we have the right to vote for a lesser-of-evils candidate. In this and the next few articles I will be summarizing my argument from my book Political Issues Made Easy.
I will not be voting so much for Trump, but for his policies. And I will do this on the basis of his policies being far superior to Joe Biden’s.
I will be reflecting on our political hopes and strategies for a strong Christian influence on America’s future. But before I get into this question, we must recognize our nation’s political structure. Continue reading
PMW 2020-084 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this eighth entry in an 8-part series I am concluding my argument that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, in that it was under the control of Roman-controlled priests. I recommend reading the previous articles first, and in order.
We must recall that Jesus called first century Israel under its unbelieving authorities an “adulterous generation” (Mt 12:39//; 16:4//). That charge harkens back to OT Israel’s unfaithfulness through idolatry. Thus, the first century temple system about which John is writing, is controlled by a corrupt, Messiah-denying high priesthood and has now become an idol linked with and likened to emperor worship. For this reason, Christ begins moving his people away from the temple because with his coming it no longer serves any God-approved purpose. As Wright (Jesus and the Victory of God, 182) observes: Jesus “prophesies that God will destroy the temple . . , not only because it was becoming obsolete but because of its flawed use and Israel’s rejection of Jesus.” Continue reading
PMW 2020-083 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this seventh entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, being run by a corrupt priesthood in collusion with the Roman authorities. I recommend reading the previous articles first, and in order.
Wiens (62) argues regarding Stephen’s sermon that “idolatry is not so much an initial phase [of Israel’s national experience beginning with Moses] as a continuing reality, and that one of Stephen’s main points here is to contrast false and true worship at every stage of Israel’s cult.” Stephen speaks of the golden calf (Ac 7:39-41), Moloch worship (v 43), and finally mentions the Jewish temple which was “made with hands” (v 48). Wiens points out that Israel apparently believed that when they made an idol, they made the god itself, for they requested that Aaron “make for us gods” (v 40; Ex 32:1), whereupon we read that “they made a calf” and “were rejoicing in the works of their hands” (v 41). Thus, “that is what the authors of Exodus and Acts apparently wanted their readers to understand. People create their own gods if they do not worship the God who created the heavens and ‘all these things’” (Wiens 62). Continue reading
PMW 2020-082 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this sixth entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship because of its corrupt high-priestly aristocracy. I recommend reading the previous articles first, and in order.
Gaston (75-76) argues for “a definite anti-cultic polemic in the tradition behind the gospel according to Mark.” Thus, in Mk 14:58 the Lord himself alludes to the temple as an idol for Israel. There we read witnesses against him declaring: “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands [cheirpoiēton] and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” We see cheirpoiēton frequently used of idols in the LXX in the place of eidōlon or tupos. In the LXX the term “almost always” (TDNT 9:436) refers to pagan idols: Lev 26:1; Dt 4:28; 2Ki 19:18; 2Ch 32:19; 27:15; Psa 115:4; 135:15; Isa 2:8; 10:11; 16:12; 19:1; 21:9; 31:7; 46:6; Hab 2:18. Beale states that it “always” refers to idols (Beale, Temple 224n). Simon (133) notes that “chiropoiēton is the technical term, so to say, by which the Septuagint and the Greek-speaking Jews describe the idols.” We also find it in Philo (Vit. Mos. 1:303; 2:51, 88, 165, 168) and the Sibylline Oracles (3:650ff; 4:8-12). Consequently, Evans notes that “made with hands” is a “hint at [the temple’s] idolatrous status”; Lightfoot agrees. Therefore, Walker (10) calls this phrase “potentially incendiary.” Continue reading
PMW 2020-081 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this fifth entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually. I recommend reading the previous articles first, and in order.
Jewish Temple as Pagan Idol
In the final analysis, the Temple system has become for Israel an idol substituting for a right relationship with God. Formalism has replaced vitalism in worship, externalism has pushed out spirituality. The Lord rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for their empty traditionalism which “invalidated the word of God” (Mt 15:1-6), making them “hypocrites” (15:7), and showing that “this people honors Me with their lips, / But their heart is far away from me, / But in vain do they worship Me, / Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (15:8-9). He chastises Peter for not understanding the hypocrisy involved in Pharisaic hand washing rituals (15:15-20), for “not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man” 15:11). Continue reading