Are There Democrats in Heaven?

Pastor Mark BurnsMaybe you’re a little like me and are longing for the day when the current “presidential” election is over. How low can we go? Of course, the current political mayhem is not without entertainment value, as long as you can avoid launching nearby objects through your new 65 inch SONY X930C Ultra-HD TV. One recent launch-worthy event was the “benediction” offered by Pastor Mark Burns at the Republican National Convention:

[Yelling] Hello Republicans! I’m Pastor Mark Burns from the great State of South Carolina! I’m gonna pray and I’m going to give the benediction. You know why? Because we are electing a man in Donald Trump who believes in the name of Jesus Christ. And Republicans, we got to be united because our enemy is not other Republicans — but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Let’s pray. Let’s pray together. Father God, in the name of Jesus. Lord we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump. We’re thankful that you are guiding him. You are giving him the words to unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united, because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God, to defeat every attack that comes against us. Protect the life of Donald Trump. Give him the words. Give him the peace. Give him the power and the authority to be the next President of the United States of America. In Jesus’ name — if you believe it, shout Amen!

I never knew the Triune God was a Republican! It must have tried even the Trinitarian patience waiting for the centuries to tick by until the immaculate conception of the Republican Party in 1854, so that the forces of evil could be properly turned back. It would seem that Pastor Burns needs a primer on the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery adds a bit of sanity to the current political climate in his book Christ As Centre and Circumference:

   There are evangelicals who hopelessly confuse biblical religion with conservative politics. They may not believe that no Democrats go to heaven, but they would be surprised if the number was very great! As for socialists-well, they are surely in outer darkness with gnashing of teeth …

Now, I have almost always voted Republican, and I certainly believe that “the best government is the government that governs least” (I’m for less government, rather than more). But this is a far cry from being an anarchist (no government at all) or a libertarian (who may not even want the state to license doctors or lawyers). The facts are that Holy Scripture does not mandate any single form of government and, since original sin is universal, there is no assurance that either Democrats or Republicans will always be right! In some situations, government should stay out of things; in others, government intervention and an increase in legislation can be badly needed. The point is that each policy and each piece of proposed legislation and each legal case needs to be evaluated as such–by biblical standards. Sometimes the “conservatives” will be right; sometimes the political “liberals” will be right. We must not become doctrinaire, lock-step rightists who refuse to “test the spirits” on an issue-by-issue, case-by-case basis.

The same point needs to be made in regard to “Americanism.” There are Bible believers among us who give the impression that the American constitutional documents are a kind of infallible extension of Holy Scripture, and that the founding fathers of our country were all saints. Theologically and historically, this is simply not correct. We are blessed with a constitutional and legal system deeply impregnated with biblical ideals, but this is not to say that ours is in fact a Christian nation. No country is. The kingdoms of this world will all pass away one day and will be replaced by “the kingdom of our God and of his Christ.” Just as in the case of conservative vs. liberal, so in our beliefs concerning our own nation, we need to place everything under the authority of the Holy Scriptures–meaning that we need to judge our country’s actions (not just the actions of other nations) by God’s eternal standards as set forth in his holy word. Often our nation will show itself a beacon light in a dark world; at other times we may need to speak prophetically to its leaders, its legislators, and its judges.

Now is indeed the time to speak prophetically to our leaders, legislators, and judges. It may seem that our political system is in disarray, yet we can rejoice that our Lord remains sovereign. Now is the time to exercise our God-given reason, informed by the Gospel, to be involved in our political system. Don’t give up. Vote. Speak up. Article XVI of the Augsburg Confession tells us that “lawful civil regulations are good works of God. They teach that it is right for Christians to hold political office, to serve as judges, the judge matters by imperial laws….” By exercising our political voice in God’s kingdom of the left, we can protect our free exercise of religion, so that the Gospel can continue to be proclaimed unfettered by governmental hindrance. You may be glad you did, and so will your Sony.

 

* John Warwick Montgomery, Christ As Centre and Circumference: Essays Theological, Cultural and Polemic (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2012) 581-82.

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.

Comments

Are There Democrats in Heaven? — 72 Comments

  1. J. Dean,

    Not sure your sticks and spears will do much against the feds with M-16 and RPG’s, but I do appreciate the effort.

  2. Thank you for your article… It is a breath of fresh air! And none other from the esteemed John Warwick Montgomery! Sadly, this is the era we live in when republican politics are confused for biblical Christianity. Its as if the party platform positions become another sort of doctrinal thesis to subscribe to. Indeed, some seem to act this way, discussing all the platform points as if it were another creed in their lives. Just like a football team in a locker room, preparing for the big game and asking for God to be on “our side”. What is even sadder is this eagerness to identify Christianity with one political party over and against the other. Jesus does not bend his knee to our parties and factions. Instead, we bend our knee to Him!. This is truly a factional spirit that confuses politics with Christianity. We need repentance. I know it must be hard for some to fathom, but there are Lutherans who vote democrat, not because of abortion issues, but because of other issues as well. Those who are quick to consign to Hell those who don’t share your political leanings, are themselves in danger of judgement. I wished to see some statement from president Harrison on this, as I know he knows Jesus doesn’t choose any factions.

  3. @Jeffrey Michaels #54: “… there are Lutherans who vote democrat”

    A Lutheran who unrepentantly supports or votes for a Democrat Party candidate is not being a faithful Lutheran. Following Mt. 18 counselling, such an unrepentant Lutheran should be excommunicated from the Church until they do repent.

  4. @Dawn Sonntag #56

    @Jeffrey Michaels #54

    Sure there are exceptions but by and large pro-life voters tend to be Republican and pro-choice voters tend to be Democrat. Social Conservatives tend to gravitate to the Republican Party because of their pro-life platform plank and other family issues. Next, every Christian has a vocation in the Left Hand Kingdom to work in and influence it in the direction of Christian values. There is no crossover or confusion of the two Kingdoms. Each Christian is guided by Holy Scripture and conscience to cast a vote for the candidate or legislation that they deem least destructive to the fabric of society. I think American Evangelicals have cornered the market on confusing the purpose of the Church as a political entity that condemns one stratum of society while not seeing the plank in their own eye. Christians should discern that all are condemned outside of faith in Christ and His suffering and death; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    As to pro-life Democrats, I don’t see how they can coexist with the Party’s entrenched pro-choice posture, which is a euphemism for pro-abortion. Here is an excerpt from the GOP Party Platform that pulls no punches:

    The Democratic Party is extreme on abortion. Democrats’ almost limitless support for abortion, and their strident opposition to even the most basic restrictions on abortion, put them dramatically out of step with the American people. Because of their opposition to simple abortion clinic safety procedures, support for taxpayer-funded abortion, and rejection of pregnancy resource centers that provide abortion alternatives, the old Clinton mantra of “safe, legal, and rare” has been reduced to just “legal.” We are proud to be the party that protects human life and offers real solutions for women.

    Again, every Christian must not violate their conscience for, as Luther cogently stated, “to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.”

  5. @Mark #57: “As to pro-life Democrats, I don’t see how they can coexist with the Party’s entrenched pro-choice posture, which is a euphemism for pro-abortion.”

    Mark, not only does a “pro-life” person implicitly support and publicly associate with the abortion, a genocidal crime against humanity, by joining the Democrat Party, but such a person similarly supports and associates with GLBTQFXYZ perversions such as homosexual rights and homosexual marriage, a blasphemy against the Triune God.

    Furthermore the “pro-life” person who is a member of the Democrat Party publicly supports and associates with that Party’s pursuit of socialism, a violation of the seventh commandment.

    In fact the Democrat Party platform mocks God and strives in opposition, especially in advocating legislation, against the Ten Commandments. This has earned the Party the accurate name of Demonicrat.

    Again, a Lutheran who, after Mt. 18 counselling, remains an unrepentant member of or supports the Demonicrat Party, should be excommunicated from the Lutheran Church.

  6. @Dawn Sonntag #59

    Red herring. The Demonicrat Party is not the government.

    According to the U.S. Constitution, We, the People, are the government who established the Constitution. Our elected and appointed representatives are to serve We, the People, in this constitutional form of government.

    Furthermore, it is not simply Luther’s view that is binding for Lutherans, but instead the Scriptural doctrine of the Kingdom of the Left, as exposited by Luther and others in the Book of Concord of 1580.

  7. @Carl Vehse #55

    A Lutheran who unrepentantly supports or votes for a Democrat Party candidate is not being a faithful Lutheran. Following Mt. 18 counselling, such an unrepentant Lutheran should be excommunicated from the Church until they do repent.

    I haven’t voted for a Democrat since the party started supporting abortion.
    [But I don’t agree that political views are a subject for excommunication.]

    I find it difficult to know what to do this year, when the “GOP” candidate is (as much as anything) a Democrat.
    And what did our “GOP majority House and Senate” even try to do about anything but protecting their own pockets?…
    which is what the Democratic congresses are about, too. [They may throw more bread out (for potential voters) but both party’s “elites” [the .01% or even .001%] are contemptuous of the people they’ve impoverished to “lay house to house, field to field” for themselves.

    [If they get rich enough, they may dole out crumbs personally, but only to further their own agenda and buy favorable publicity.]

    Last night I was reading a novel. In it the characters were comparing government in England and on the continent. It was remarked that “England had better governance because it had good kings and America seemed to be able to find outstanding men for president.”

    [From that you can tell how far back I go to find clean entertainment. To Pr. Hull I recommend Nevil Shute. Kipling is good, too.]

  8. @helen #61: “But I don’t agree that political views are a subject for excommunication.”

    A Christian’s “political views” are not a subject for excommunication, but a Christian’s actions in support of murder, perversion, theft, treason, and the politicians who legislate for such wickedness are a subject for excommunication, if following Mt. 18, that person remains unrepentant.

  9. @Carl Vehse #62

    A Christian’s “political views” are not a subject for excommunication, but a Christian’s actions in support of murder, perversion, theft, treason, and the politicians who legislate for such wickedness are a subject for excommunication, if following Mt. 18, that person remains unrepentant.

    Neither a person’s “views” nor his ballot are [yet] subject to review.

    [Especially since electronic voting, I wonder if the vote I cast is the vote recorded.]

  10. @helen #63

    Helen wrote, “Neither a person’s ‘views’ nor his ballot are [yet] subject to review.”

    “Views” are the same as “Beliefs”, and a person’s beliefs are certainly subject to review. (Of course, those views/beliefs must have been expressed in some way. We’re not talking about secret beliefs. I believe that’s where the confusion may be since you also refer to secret balloting.)

    Taking abortion out of the picture, let say that an LCMS member expressed Unitarian views/beliefs. Those views/beliefs would certainly be subject to review by the Elders, Pastor; and ultimately, the whole congregation if the person failed to change those views/beliefs.

    Do you see an expressed belief that there’s nothing wrong with abortion as being different from other anti-scriptural views?

  11. @Carl Vehse #58

    So, what are we to make of a Lutheran who supports a hawkish, racist regime that can potentially roast a significant percentage of the world population with nuclear weapons, will promote chaos by breaking down international arms treaties, and will incite and unleash violence and mayhem at home? What are we to make of a Lutheran who supports an increasingly aggressive party that believes in pre-emptive strikes, and promotes wars that are unjust according to 2000 years of Christian tradition, starting with Augustine, continuing with Aquinas, and so on?

  12. Apparently the Rev Scheer grows more despotic as his kingdom shrinks!

    Carl Vehse will not be able to answer you, Jerald. One of the better minds (not to mention research people) has been banned from BJS.

    WHY? Good question!

    No doubt I’ll be gone next, for telling you.

  13. @helen #70

    Helen, “Carl” has been banned from BJS. With regards to your departure you can be gone next if you choose to not come back – neither I nor the admins/moderators of the site who make such decisions have any plan to ban you.

    By the way, Steadfast continues to have 3-6K visitors a day and is currently expanding on the conference side, podcast side, and print side of things (Gospel Notes is very popular). New authors are being added and our influence on LCMS politics is also there. Not shrinking. Expanding. Not really my kingdom either as you can tell by the amount of people who are doing good work…
    https://steadfastlutherans.org/staff/

  14. Social policies aside, it is also not clear that Republican economic policies are wholly Christian and Democratic policies are not. One can make a clear case that socialism in some ways subverts the family structure, and of course eliminates private ownership. But, one can also make the case that pure, unbridled capitalism, which leads to a concentration of power among a select few who own camels and very large needles, and whom consequently own the political process, and in doing so tramples the least among us, is in many ways unChristian. How is it Christian to have a growing underclass with a couple working four jobs to make ends meet, and with little or no time to spend with their family?

    I favor a third way called distributivism, as articulated by the Catholic G. K. Chesterton. Distributivism calls for workers to each own a share of their place of employment. In doing so, we preserve private ownership, and maintain a more equitable division of resources.

    The moral to the story here is, it is not so simple. Voting is a matter of individual conscience, and also a matter of Christian freedom.

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