I’m delighted to publish this incisive review of Dr. Grudem’s Trump endorsement written by Drs. Matthew Arbo and Jeremy Kidwell.

This has been a strange and bewildering year for American politics, and for certain segments of the American church. Some commenters have felt confident to call the church’s reaction to the general election a “schism” in the religious right—quite strong language. The candidacy of Donald Trump has been inordinately mystifying for many of us, Christians included, but “schism” is far too vague a diagnosis in attempting to capture the state of this discourse, just as “religious right” is a rather unimpressive sociological descriptor. We would like to suggest that this and a great many other takes on “evangelical politics,” reflects a troubling confusion about the nature of Christian political citizenship that has finally been drawn from the background into the foreground of political discourse. This confusion is on clear display in Wayne Grudem’s 19 Oct piece “If You Don’t Like Either Candidate, Then Vote for Trump’s Policies.”

In Grudem’s narration, the situation is one in which voters much make a decision between two unsavory options.  He doesn’t especially like either candidate, but nevertheless recommends that Christians consider voting for Trump’s policy proposals, though he at the same time admits that he doesn’t agree with Trump “on everything.” He then highlights Trump’s proposal to “immediately deport all undocumented immigrants” as one example of disagreement.

This disagreement comes with a proviso, though; Grudem stipulates that we can look away in this instance because “[Trump] could never get it through Congress, and he has backed away from that and now only talks about deporting those convicted of crimes and those who have overstayed their visas.” If we judge the cogency of a Trump policy by its overall probably of passing through congress, then there isn’t going to be much left of the Trump platform. This is, after all, the candidate who rose to prominence by promising to build a wall and have another sovereign nation pay for it. But an idiosyncratic argument is only one issue among a wider array of problems with Grudem’s proposal.

On a more fundamental level, at the heart of this vote-for-the-policy-but-not-for-the-man approach lies a highly reduced account of Christian political participation to voting, a related reduction of theological judgment to utilitarian tactics, and an untenable bifurcation between a candidate and his policies.

Let us begin with the matter of voting. It is important to note at the outset that voting is a crucial and important part of democracy. We celebrate the many crucial advances that have been won against injustice around voter equality and note the many ways in which this fight is still ongoing. However, in Grudem’s presentation, the Christian citizen’s electoral duty is imprecisely portrayed and over-prescribed. In this view, the candidate we choose will be radically determinative on issues of concern. But politics can be a much wider domain and we would like to point towards an alternate theological account of civic participation, particularly in its electoral expression, which adheres more closely to the traditional logic of Christian discipleship.

When we vote we are casting a ballot in favor of the candidate whom we believe will do the best job of governing. We vote in favor of a candidate or ballot initiative, not against. The restrictive character of voting itself disallows voting in protest or opposition. To undertake this particular activity—voting—the Christian must be convinced that the ballot is cast as an obedient response to the command of God in discipleship. The Christian seeks to discern the word God has for them and to act upon it faithfully. One participates willingly in democratic elections as a disciple or not at all. This might mean that the Christian abstains from voting or votes for an alternate candidate who they believe (again, in good conscience) will best carry out the office. Yes, God works through material affairs themselves to inform the Christian of whom a candidate is and what is at stake in voting for them, but his revelatory providence is by no means restricted to the empirical and obvious.

Politics is about far more than electing a president. It is also, one may hope, a rich tapestry of interwoven institutions, traditions, processes, representatives, jurisdictions, and practices. But it is precisely the complexity of politics—and the Church’s place within it—that undermines the whole of Grudem’s argument. For, if we acknowledge that politics is about more than just a presidential election, we must appreciate how our involvement in politics—our political citizenship—is about so much more than a single vote.

It is also about our votes for other offices, like judges, city councilors, school board reps, sheriffs, and state legislators. It is about matters that may not even involve voting at all, like our willingness to pray, to notice and stand up for the vulnerable (as Jesus put so powerfully in his parable of the good samaritan), it is about our commitment to a range of social structures including churches and schools. It is about our individual vocations. Christian citizenship is about more than just a single vote, and casting the current election as if it is only about this single vote, which has produced such troubling theatre, is a deception in which we prefer not to participate. This view also, ironically, contradicts the vision of Jeremiah 29 which is a message given to a nation in exile. Verse 7 is preceded by examples of what seeking the good of the city looks like – these are long-term tasks which do not reduce well to a four year election cycle: conducting work, building houses, committing to reside in a place and raise families there.

Turning to the matter of political judgment, we are also deeply troubled by Grudem’s suggestion that Christians take a consequentialist approach to voting. He feels it would be un-evangelical of him to vote for Secretary Clinton because of her “ultraliberal” policies. On the face of things, Grudem’s presentation indicates a sort of culture-wars ideology which reflexively divides the world into binaries: Republican / Democrat; liberal / conservative; etc. But this kind of view simply does not reflect the kind of careful reflection that we should be able to expect from someone who puts themselves forward as a public Christian intellectual. From this ideologically determined space, Grudem goes on to parse out his consequentialist logic: given his identification of Clinton as “enemy” he can only vote either for Trump or for a third-party candidate, but since no third-party candidate has a viable shot, voting for any one of them steals a vote from Trump and thus indirectly supports Clinton, because it takes a vote for Trump. All this tactical speculation brings Grudem to conclude that his voting options are really only two: Vote Trump or help Clinton get elected.

Nevermind that there are policy proposals by Clinton which could be easily identified as “Christian,” or even politically conservative, Grudem’s conclusion here does not follow. Even if one were to approach voting in the calculated way Grudem prefers, it is not necessarily the case that his individual vote has the causal efficacy that he thinks it does. Grudem’s concluding question makes it particularly clear that he is commending a utilitarian approach. He asks, “which vote is likely to bring about the best results for our nation?” Of course, Christian moral reasoning is deliberative and anticipatory. It is imperative that we have the moral imagination to contemplate potential futures we may or may not act within.

Grudem’s question, however, functions as a guiding moral rule. The Christian’s vote should be world-improving. Grudem appeals to Jeremiah  29:7, to  “seek the good of the city,” as grounds for his claim. Only it is not at all clear to us why Grudem thinks that Trump represents such an overt good. To what noble attribute or comprehensive policy statement can one point to support the suggestion that Trump will “for the most part govern in the way he promises to do, bringing good to the nation in many areas?” We find almost nothing of note. Grudem’s exceeding confidence in Trump is baffling. Since the vamping up of the election primaries early last year Trump has added a fresh entry each week to the catalogue of incendiary, vindictive, and even wicked remarks. We doubt very seriously that Trump is capable of articulating what governing for the good of the city would even look like.

Following on from this concern is our final point relating to the matter of relating person and policy. Grudem argues that one can vote for policies without necessarily voting for the person who advocates them. This distinction between the person and policies resembles the untidy but expedient distinction Luther wished to draw between person and office. One may be forced to do violence as Prince without thereby implicating himself personally. The claim has its charms, but as many within the Christian tradition have pointed out, it is theologically mistaken. A ruler’s discipleship is not temporarily suspended simply because the social order they’re required to govern is discomfiting with the Word of God. Likewise, neither can a distinction be drawn consistently between Trump and his policies, since policies do not arise ex nihilo, but are in this case propounded and advocated by Trump himself. When you enter the ballot box next month it is not his policies that you will find listed beside other party candidates, but his name. And, again, underlining this tendency towards idiosyncrasy, by the article’s end Grudem has in different places stated that its Trump he’s voting for, not just his policies.

In the end, Grudem has a misshapen conception of conscience. His response to the first type of objection he typically receives when trying to argue this case with well-meaning Christians is illustrative. Many tell Grudem that their “conscience won’t allow a vote for Trump.” He’ll hear nothing of it. How could a Christian’s conscience allow them to help Clinton get elected, since withholding a vote increases her chances? Shouldn’t one’s conscience be troubled by the inevitable harms she’ll bring to our nation, he asks? Grudem’s breathless dismissal of sincere appeals to individual conscience is perplexing and in the end he simply does not offer an alternative. Conscience is surgically removed from political judgment to allow for a more forensically pure utilitarian calculus. Apparently the only way to vote in good conscience is to share the same level of disapprobation toward Clinton as Grudem.

We wish here to affirm those Christians who, like us, cannot comprehend either themselves or a fellow believer casting a vote for Donald Trump. There are ample Christian reasons not only for withholding your vote from him, but even for actively opposing his candidacy. Perhaps you also question the evangelical heritage sometimes evoked by certain apologists for Trump. Is it possible, we ask, to live and announce the good news in Jesus Christ and at the same time publicize one’s support for a candidate who openly and brashly advocates viewpoints in direct contradiction to the gospel and who boasts of exploiting others for fame, pleasure or financial gain? Can someone, out of intense anxiety (whether justified or not) about what a Clinton presidency might bring, justify acting to help appoint a man whose campaign is a great public purveyor of insidious vitriol?

Such questions press into deeper theological concerns, and reflection upon these concerns may be of help to the Church during this time of travail and questioning. As one political theologian recently suggested, “When believers find themselves confronted with an order that, implicitly or explicitly, offers itself as the sufficient and necessary condition of human welfare, they will recognize the Beast” (Desire of the Nations, 272). And we’d like to suggest the “order” O’Donovan mentions can also be a person, who claims alone to possess the unique power of making a nation “great” again. For this reason and those above, we reject both Donald Trump and any argument that somehow a Christian responsibility is to vote for him this November. We invite Grudem and others who are persuaded by his argument to consider a wider view of Christian civic participation that is not reduced to vesting unwarranted hope in the promises of a charlatan to do in the future what his own character in the present seems to wholly contravene.

Matthew Arbo, Ph.D serves as Assistant Professor of Theological Studies and Director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Oklahoma Baptist University.

Jeremy Kidwell, Ph.D serves as Lecturer in Theological Ethics at the University of Birmingham (UK).

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  • The trouble with Grudem’s approach is based on his commitment to conservative politics which forces a binary view and approach to voting. Such is similar to the binary approach the US took to foreign policies during the Cold War. It mattered not what tyrant we installed or supported in some other nation as long as they stood as our best hope against the “Socialism” of the Soviet Union. The quotes around the word Socialism are there to state that many actual Socialists, including contemporaries of Lenin and present day ones such as Mikhail Gorbachev, refused to equate Stalin’s Soviet Union with Socialism.

    Thus, I think that since Grudem’s support for Trump is driven primarily by his binary political views, a theological response is not as necessary as a political one. And one such political view could be found in an appeal to support third party candidates. Such an appeal could be viewed as bipartisan since there are a number of conservative and nonconservative third party candidates. Such an appeal could be based on more than just any voter’s present circumstance because third party candidates do not become viable overnight. And it has been our refusal to support third party candidates in the past that has provided us with this choice between Trump and Hillary in the present. A vote for third party candidates today and in succeeding elections just might provide future elections where we have a better choice of candidates other than the candidates from the them and not-them political parties.

    • Philipp

      I don’t often agree with you, Mr. Day, but you have some very good points here.

      • Philipp,
        Thank you for the note

    • Wisdom of the ages – Vote for the “lesser evil” THAT CAN WIN! One of the criteria for a JUST WAR (and war is an extension of politics) is that it has a chance of being won. Jesus did not instruct his 12 disciples to take on the Roman Empire when he held up the denarius; a fellow named Judas of Galilee had tried that when Jesus was a boy to the slaughter of thousands of Jews! Unfortunately, that is what a 3rd party candidate vote is — a slaughtered waste!

      • Stephen,
        When the plans of both major candidates take us to the destructive destination, voting for the lesser of two evils is not wisdom regardless of whether it is from the ages. In addition, when voting for the lesser of two evils better guarantees that only two evils will be electable in the future, then voting for the lesser of two evils is, again, not wisdom regardless of whether it is from the ages.

        Also, choosing for whom to vote is not a taking on of the empire. We might also the differences in contexts between when Jesus was here and now.

        Your description of a third party vote is simply designed to keep the lesser of two evils as our only choice in the future. That is hardly wisdom. Let alone calling someone’s voting choice wasted when that choice is for the candidate who best represents them is anti-democratic.That you would refer to the Scriptures for you reasoning suggests that you believe that the Scripture oppose democracy and prefer autocracy. Do you believe that the Scriptures oppose democracy?

        • Democracy is not a panacea – just look at Nazi Germany (or the fact that people will actually vote for a crime syndicate such as Clintons, Tammany Hall, etc.). During the civil war there were draft riots by Irish and others in New York and the Confederacy drafted men also (but they could buy their way out)! So the real world choices as a poor 18 year old were Union, Confederacy, or flee!

          TRUMP IS THE 3RD PARTY CANDIDATE that many hoped and prayed for after the last election. He accomplished it & if you want to be a 3rd party candidate then go for it next time. But do not endanger my grandchildren with your wishful thinking that Hillary is not pure evil and her crime syndicate must be stopped. If Jesus did not vote for a “purest 3rd party”, then who do you think you are!

          You 3rd party purist mentality is like a 3 year old who will not play ball (or vote credibly) with the other kids because they will not play by HIS rules. Any good parent would discourage such selfish behavior! This kind of selfish behavior only leads to the monastic “Chrisitan” recluses of the Dark Ages which is contrary to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20)

          • Stephen,
            Certainly, democracy is not a panacea especially especially when we define democracy strictly by political processes without also defining it as a state of being for society. As for the Nazis, Hitler campaigned to end democracy anyway.

            As for Trump, labeling him a third party candidate does not raise his status. He is the anti-establishment candidate and the Republican establishment never knew to admit failure in order to gain the ear of his supporters.

            But as for your attack on supporting 3rd party candidates in general, it is that of an election bully who embraces authoritarianism. And your speaking down and categorizing third party sentiments provides ample evidence of the authoritarian approach you are taking. Instead of asking if the rules are serving the public, you show heightened sensitivity over the rules questioned in the first place. Here, the anarchistic line of thought provides the best challenge to your view. Here anarchy asks if authority is not doing its job in serving the public. And if it isn’t, then it should be dismantled.

            You, however, don’t question the authority of past rules or the current conventions. Rather, you speak in a way that supports the place and purpose of the Church in democratic, industrial societies as stated in the 1975 report, The Crisis of Democracy. In that report, the writers complained that institutions of indoctrination, such as the Church, were failing in their mission to teach people how to fit into society and obey authority. Should note that this report was commenting on “excess of democracy” that was abundant during the 1960s.

            As for me, I encourage both conservatives and nonconservatives to vote for the third party candidates that best represent them and I do so for two reasons. First, the more people vote for third party candidates on a consistent basis, the greater choice in candidates we can have in the future. The second reason is that the more people who vote for third party candidates, the more the major party candidates are likely to start reforming their promises and practices if for self-interest alone. You have a problem with that?

          • In the primaries you were welcomed to vote for the “ugliest” candidate of your choice, since in theory the data was wide open to see who would gain traction. The experts wrote off Trump; I did not vote for Trump!

            Do you not think that because of Trump the Republicans will reform and trim their globalist sails and focus on the American voters? Maybe because of Bernie even the Demoncrats will try to move away from too much power in the hands of their elites (i.e, Clintons)?

            Your 3rd party argument fails on two counts: 1) Convince me they are better than Trump, 2) Convince me they can win against the worse evil in the contest (i.e., Hillary) — that 3rd party person is not out there!

            This future vote choice “theory” does not work even in the closest viable example where Ross Perot got ~19% of the vote, but his stealing of conservative votes from George HW Bush the incumbent who had done a fairly good job handed the presidency to a young perverted Demoncratic president (Slick Willy Clinton)! How’s that for quashing your future theory data! And then the next election Ross Perot or anyone like him never ran!!!!!!!!!!

            Congratulations you & your voting philosophy have endangered all of our children!

          • Stephen,
            Again, you are being an authoritarian here. You are showing aggression over my not following convention. So you have everything to prove to justify your aggression.

            You are also assuming that I am a Republican voter. I am not. But if I was, the only justification I would need to vote for the a conservative third party candidate is that the candidate I voted for represented me better than Trump did. This idea of best candidate depends on priorities.

            As for Trump, his inability to admit failures and his denial of making some of the clear statements has made, and his assertion that nobody respects women more than he does along with his consistent speech about women disqualify him, in my book, for being the command in chief. His character qualities do not bode well for him being in charge of the most powerful nation in the world and in charge of nuclear weapons. Hillary is no charmer either so though Trump would lead us into self-destruction sooner, Hillary would eventually take us to the same destination.

            As for you citing Ross Perot in your argument, don’t you know that in an uncountable sample size, that proof by example is impossible. Yes, Perot took 19% of the vote. But what if voters continued to vote for candidates other than the Republican and democratic party candidates, what would happen? It’s the voters’ choice whether they will vote for third party candidates. If they do vote third party candidates on a sporadic basis, nothing will change. If they vote for third party candidates on a consistent and increasing basis, things can change. It’s up to the voters. Right now, because of the authoritarian leaning of the public, there isn’t enough interest to vote for third party candidates. Should that change, then we have the potential for viable third party candidates. But right now, despite the dissatisfaction with the status quo, people are too reluctant to change. And we will have to pay the price for a refusal to change.

            As for you, I think you are really impressed with yourself. I am not that impressed with your way or your arguments.

          • I am going to embarrass your minority voting logic one more time. Since our electoral system is winner take all for each state, then in theory if everyone did what you recommend such that the vote was split 10X ways then an “extremist minority” candidate with 11% of the individual states votes could win enough states to rule – Wow! Potential anarchy there if 89% of the public cannot stand such a leader.

            Those who hate Trump basically argue that that is how Trump got elected via the split of Republican primary votes among 17 other conventional candidates. I had the same concerns about Trump originally, but in the end he is a uniquely qualified individual who can stand up to the pure evil of Hillary in many ways better than anybody else.

            You are a university professor (i.e., those who can’t do teach); I am an engineer. I think you need to learn how to do math instead of wishful thinking.

          • Stephen,
            Like I wrote before, you are more impressed with you than I am. As for your logic, you are assuming that the vote will be split 10 different ways. Again, trying to prove a point by example. If you are trying to disprove my logic, realize that I didn’t employ any universal quantifier.

            BTW, I am retired now but I use to teach engineers among others. So if you are an engineer, you should be smart enough to realize that you didn’t there by yourself.

            Neither Trump nor Hillary are qualified. Both are evil. And, again, it is our failure to adapt that will cause us to to pick one of the evils.

          • I apologize for the comment “those who can’t do – teach”. That was a low blow and I do not know you personally.

            May God turn the hearts of the people to save us from the Clinton Crime Syndicate!

            Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor Who seek after the life (of this country); Let those be turned back and brought to confusion Who plot our hurt. (Ps. 35:4 NKJ)

          • Stephen,
            I appreciate the apology. On the other hand, I’ve heard a lot worse. What we should note is that anybody can contribute to these discussions, even us moldy oldies. And so we should intently listen to those who care enough to speak out.

            I agree with your view of Clinton. Unfortunately, I have the same view of Trump.

          • I think we can safely say that Trump will not be in jail next year, but Hillary Clinton should be – I will not have any trouble explaining my actions in this matter to my grandkids!

          • Stephen,
            I am puzzled by the unequal comparison. One candidate will not be in jail vs one should be. It seems to me that both should be but at least one won’t be.

  • Thank you Messrs. Arbo and Kidwell, well done. I’m curious to know if you think a distinction between person and office is totally unrecoverable or not? I would agree with you that any strict dichotomy between the two breaks down but I myself find the distinction useful for parsing the ethics of life. That is, while I don’t think you can speak about an office in abstraction from a person (we cannot abstract Trump’s policies from his person), it is useful to think about a person occupying an office if you want to talk about why certain actions are permissible: the parent punishing the child, the statesman executing a just war, etc. By virtue of their offices, these actions gain legitimacy that they would otherwise not be permitted. Is that right or do you have a better way of thinking about this?

    • Matthew Arbo

      Hi John. Thanks for your comment. I do think a distinction between person and office is morally instructive in some instances and to some limited degree. Your examples are suggestive.

  • FTA paraphrase: “policies from Clinton that could be identified as ‘Christian’ or conservative”

    Right. You lost me there when you failed to provide examples.

    You will lose me again if you pretend to believe that Clinton would actually desire to enact a policy that is ‘Christian’ or ‘conservative’

  • Physiocrat

    This was the best anti-Trump piece on here as it provides a wider framework through which to view his candidacy. That said their view on voting is inaccurate. It is a primarily a defensive mechanism in which we get to choose the least harsh slave master- note Lysander Spooner’s classic Against the Constitution of No Authority. I don’t see why the authors view voting with such significance when our “representatives” are not obliged to follow the voters wishes unlike normal business transaction in which you could sue the other party for fraud if they renaged on their deal. We have so little influence, especially in a first past the post system, inbuing voting with such weight is unjustified.

    As an aside, given all the anti-Trump articles, I suggest a change in the name of this site to Never Trumpodoxy

  • Keith Miller

    On a more fundamental level, at the heart of this vote-for-the-policy-but-not-for-the-man approach lies a highly reduced account of Christian political participation to voting, a related reduction of theological judgment to utilitarian tactics, and an untenable bifurcation between a candidate and his policies.

    First, Grudem doesn’t reduce Christian political participation to voting, he reduces voting-for-President to voting-for-President. He said nothing contrary to your wise counsel about all the many other ways that a Christian can seek the good of the polis, so your critique here does not follow.

    Second, as you later acknowledge, though voting involves “theological judgment” (and for the Christian it does), that does not foreclose any accounting for the utilitarian consequences of the vote. Why are you creating these kind of “binaries–either “take your votes consequences into account” or “vote as a disciple”? Ultimately, you think Grudem is wrong is in assessment of the consequences of his vote. Your not against consequentialist reasoning, you just think it comes out the other way.

    Finally, I agree with you, to a point, that a candidate’s policies cannot be bifurcated from personality. But, let’s not make the inverse mistake either. When electing a candidate to the office of the Presidency you simultaneously empower the party of that candidate. The binary choice facing consequentialist decision makers is indeed Hillary + the Democratic Party versus Trump + the Republican Party. Platforms, cabinet secretaries, and, yes, Supreme Court Justices are in play An analogy may be who do you pick; the worst coach in the NBA coaching the Warriors or the best coach coaching the Sixers (or worse)?

    • Matthew Arbo

      Thanks for this, Keith. I realize G’s piece is about voting for president. And you are correct that he offers no formal argument for reducing civic participation to voting. His account does, however, over-endow the importance of the presidential election. This is most evident in his survey of the 10-15 policy issues he thinks most decisive. Many of them are not going to be decided or altered by the incoming president, whomever it is. G’s suggestion that the shape of these issues is tremendous electoral significance is mistaken. The political changes needed to overturn Roe, for example (which Trump refused to affirm in the 3rd debate), or restoring economic growth, are not first top-down changes, but bottom up. That is, many of the issues are first cultural and social and not presidential. G’s tendency to see these issues as (first) resolvable by presidential governance is implicit but present nonetheless.

      As to the second point, I think we have a more fundamental disagreement. G plainly appeals to a utilitarian rule for electoral decision making at the end of his piece. In reaching a decision a disciple will (or should) take the potential consequences of their action into account, but the consequences do not function as a *rule* for so acting; ie, that one ought to vote (in this case) in the way that will most benefit the nation. Voting as a disciple may take potential consequences of a vote into account, but may not, and may to different degrees. Yes, G is wrong about the consequences of his vote, but he is also wrong to commend a utilitarian rule as the guiding measure for the disciple, esp when much more goes into reaching such a decision. Our piece mentions the importance of foresight and deliberation, but that will form only one small part of forming a theological judgment.

      As to point three, I have lost all confidence in the GOP. It is the incompetence and cowardice of the GOP leadership that made Trump’s candidacy possible in the first place. Maybe the party is empowered by its own president, but I don’t know that I want anything ruled or led by Trump. Maybe a revitalized and morally fortified party emerges one day from the ashes, but right now, aside from a few good leaders like Ben Sasse and Bill Haslem, the GOP is an ash heap.

      Part of our aim was to broaden the scope of what counts as Christian political participation at a time when a concert of voices stress the imperative of casting only a particular sort of vote. For my part, G’s confidence is Trump makes very little sense. I find nothing to trust about the man and little to commend him. I do not trust him to advance or defend any of the measures G thinks makes him superior to HRC.

      Hope this clarifies some.

      MA

      • Keith Miller

        Thanks for the response, Dr. Arbo, it does help clarify things.

        Taking your last point first, if someone does not wish the platform and prescriptions of the Republican Party to flourish, then it is obvious that person lacks any reason to vote for Trump. In order to engage with the argument that Dr. Grudem put forward, you must first grant the premise that given normal circumstances/candidates voting GOP is the superior choice. If you deny that, all of your other analysis is trivial and uninteresting.

        Similarly, because you think Dr. Grudem gets the utilitarian calculus wrong I fail to follow what “much more” goes into a disciple’s voting decision. Grant that Grudem gets the calculus right and then tell me what he’s missing.

        Cheers,
        Keith

        • Matthew Arbo

          Thanks, Keith. A question related to your rejoinder: when have we ever been offered “normal” circumstances/candidates? I don’t believe we can identify a point of “normalcy” (or equilibrium, etc.) within any party or platform. Parties are not static; they adapt, revert, evolve, and in some instances collapse altogether. If I had a clear idea of what the GOP stood for, then perhaps I might be able to grant G’s premise. But I honestly don’t think that’s possible. Even the issues it claims to champion and for which I’m in sympathy — like life, for example — is misshapen within the party. Many GOPers claim to be pro-life and oppose abortion while at the same time opposing anti-poverty initiatives, advocating hawkish foreign policy, and aggressively preserve the death penalty. I bring this up only as an example of the kind of incoherence that has seeped into the party platform, if it has one. But even with all that, I don’t think that denying the point makes our analysis trivial an uninteresting.

          To the second point, the problem is that reduces deliberation to the calculus. Human deliberation involves far more than weighing up probabilities of future consequences. The calculus has little at all to do with whether or how the disciple should cast his vote. I could point to a wide range of problems endemic to the utilitarian position on this, but reality of unintended consequences alone rather undercuts its viability. But even if I accepted that a calculus mattered here, what is G’s calculus aside from what “benefits society,” as he puts it?

  • It is amazing how seldom you experts refer to Scripture. Rom 13 says that the purpose of government is the restraint of evil. Clearly Clinton will unleash evil. Trump will at least partially restrain evil. If Congress passes a 20 week limit on abortion Clinton will veto it and Trump will sign it. Evil is unleashed or restrained. Why is there so little concern about what Scripture says about government?

    • RustySkywater

      Clearly Clinton will unleash evil. Trump will at least partially restrain evil.
      If you seriously believe this, I’m not going to be able to persuade you. Don’t be mistaken, though; when you make outlandish claims like these without offering any evidence, you’re not helping either yourself or your chosen candidate.

      • All you have to do is read the Republican platform and Democrat platform. Clinton favors killing thousands of babies. She wants our taxes to pay for it. She opposes 20 week limit on abortion. What is more evil than killing thousands of defenseless humans?

        • RustySkywater

          Clinton favors killing thousands of babies
          Absolutely false. I don’t know if you’re intentionally deceiving me or just not knowledgeable about the facts, but you are wrong about this.

          What is more evil than killing thousands of defenseless humans?

          The Republican platform has anti-life policies as well, but since the lives hurt in that way have already been born… I guess that shows where your priorities are.

          • The lives Hillary goes after are totally defenseless. Totally. It is up to us to defend them. If one grants your assertion that the Republican platform has anti-life policies – highly debatable – the lives that are hurt are not defenseless. Refugees for example, while truly they are in a sad situation, they are not defenseless. They can run, hide, resist..etc. An unborn baby being attacked by the policies of the Democrat platform is totally defenseless. The evil of attacking them cannot be compared to the questionable evil you site in the Republican platform. Hillary voted to defend late term abortion. That is pure evil

    • And cheating people out of their money isn’t evil? http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/06/09/donald-trump-unpaid-bills-republican-president-laswuits/85297274/

      Amazing how seldom Christians take the Prophets seriously and reject a robber baron conman. Consider Amos 8.4-10:

      “Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale,
      that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

      The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?”

      “And on that day,” declares the Lord God, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.

      • And that, if it is true, is as bad as killing defenseless infants?

  • As I voted for Cruz I advised my Trump friends that I was worried that “the little old church ladies” of America could not handle Trump’s real world bluntness because they live in such sheltered environments. However, I never dreamed that church theologians would be the “little old ladies” of this election. I am suspicious that since the “little old ladies” are tithing the most or giving church donations through their wills that that is the real driver here – sad but $$$$.

    Well – Trump at 70 has not bowed to seminary professors financed by pleasing church ladie$, since he has been a very successful “get it done” business man who like Jesus Christ is coming down from the infinitely rich tower to try and save the nation. However, who would have thought that Pharisaical seminary professors would reenact the same tensions that Jesus had. Jesus had the “your disciples aren’t washing their hands” and Trump has the “locker room potty mouth from 11 years ago” issue.

    Grudem has made it plain; yet you two seminary professors are straining at a gnat (potty mouth) and swallowing a camel (abortion, open borders, the Clinton CRIMINAL enterprise, etc., etc. etc.) You are truly blind guides working on behalf of criminal conspirators! Do you really want to have to answer the next generation when they ask you what you did to stop Hillary Clinton?

    As a chemical engineer with 40 years consulting in the Oil & Gas industry I understand Trump (bluntness, marketing overstatements, locker room talk, camaraderie with blue-collar workers, etc.) and I respect him — just as MANY others who know him do. Also as a Masters in Christian Apologetics from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary I must say that I am once again disappointed in the church leadership example you have displayed. My goodness I had to get my theological degree because of the blatant mishandling of scripture (e.g., science/Bible reconciliations) that pervades many in your profession. Again, pastors that look for the little old lady $$$$ instead of TRUTH will even still say the earth was created in 6 days!

    Confession and the grace of God is truly your only hope, because judgment begins in the house of God.

  • WHY IS THE LAST WORLD RULER BEFORE THE ANTICHRIST A WOMAN?

    Throughout history the various world political powers have had male rulers – Egypt had the Pharaohs, Assyria had Sennacherib, Babylon had Nebuchadnezzar, Greece had Alexander, Rome had the Caesars, and on it goes. Uniquely though at the end times we have a female ruler introduced as:

    MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH (Rev. 17:1-7 NKJ)

    Babylon is referred to more than any other city in the Bible except Jerusalem. The name Babylon means “confusion as by mixing up” and the name Jerusalem means “possession of Peace”. The meaning of confusion in reference to Babylon is very strong in the Jewish cultural mind. When Peter wrote from Rome, a city with all kinds of cultural and religious confusion from all around the world, he referred to this great Western Civilization capital as “Babylon”.

    She (i.e., the church) who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark. (1 Pet. 5:13 NAS)

    And today America has become the great and powerful multi-cultural capital of Western Civilization just like the former Rome where anyone can create their own “egocentric idolatrous opinion” about what is right and what is wrong. Is it not ironic that we as a nation founded on Biblical principles have become the end times Babylon!

    Let us look at how well Babylon in Revelations fits as a description of the USA today:

    1) Military super power – “reigns over the kings of the earth” Rev 17:18
    2) High standard of living – “adorned with gold and precious stones” Rev 17:4
    3) Great capitalist merchants – “merchants of the earth have become rich” Rev 18:3
    4) Leading other nations in sex industry – “all nations drink the wrath of her fornication.” Rev 14:8
    5) Separated by seas from world- “sailors on the sea, stood at a distance” Rev 18:17
    6) Abortionist – “drunk with the blood of the holy ones” Rev 17:6
    7) Feminism – “she says in her heart, `I sit as queen, I will not see sorrow.’ Rev 18:7
    8) Drug culture – “by your sorcery all the nations were deceived” Rev 18:23

    Let us look at how well the destruction of Babylon (USA) fits a nuclear holocaust:

    1) Destruction in one hour – “in one hour such great riches came to nothing” Rev 18:17
    2) Hail – “great hail from heaven fell” Rev 16:21
    3) Earthquakes – “great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth” Rev 16:18
    4) Waters contaminated – “rivers and springs of water became blood” Rev 16:4
    5) Nuclear winter/dust – “his kingdom became full of darkness” Rev 16:10
    6) Nuclear cloud – “smoke of her burning” Rev 18:18

    So what are the scenario of events leading up to Babylon’s destruction that we can ascertain?

    First, the great harlot of Babylon will have power on all seven continents as scripture states “the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.” This end times ruler woman partners with the beast, since the beast carries her (via contributions to the Clinton Foundation?):

    But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her,” (Rev. 17:7)

    We can deduce that this beast describes the presence of evil governments which rule or have ruled over Jerusalem. The kingdoms which have ruled (and will rule) Jerusalem in chronological order are inserted for your convenience as follows:

    “There are also seven kings. Five have fallen (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece), one is (Rome), and the other (Islam) has not yet come. And when he (Islam) comes, he must continue a short time. And the beast that was (evil Satan), and is not (Satan is limited by gospel preaching), is himself also the eighth (Islam), and is of the seven (Islam), and is going to perdition.” (Rev 17:10-11)

    The clues for Satan as the “influence” behind this beast is presented with the scripture:

    “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to destruction. (Rev 17:8)

    The term beast can be thought of as “conscienceless” government or religious system (ISIS) with no regard for the people’s benefit. This Islamic link to the beast of Revelation is important to understand since the Islamic beast hates and will destroy the great harlot and burn her with fire.

    And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (Rev. 17:16)

    I think there is little doubt that the Islamic ISIS hates the liberal secular Hillary Clinton and her lap dogs from the news media. Her chief of staff, Huma Abedin, is the daughter of the Saudi professor who wrote the book on applying Islamic Sharia Law to women and children.

    The BIG QUESTION is – Will we at this time elect a female ruler, Hillary Clinton?

    He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20 NKJ)

    • Hey Stephen, add the prophecies of Amos to the list of things to be concerned about this election cycle.

      “Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

      The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?”

      “And on that day,” declares the Lord God, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. — Amos 8.4-10

      Now, hopefully this no longer has continuing significance for God’s people after the destruction of the Temple. But if it does have continuing significance for us, then I would be worried about electing a robber baron conman as President of the United States. I think God might consider that a bullseye on our backs…

      • A business man who gets rich is to be applauded because he brought something to market that people were FREELY willing to pay for (NY real-a-state); however, a government politician getting rich does this by SUBTERFUGE against the common will of the people (ignoring Islamic abuse of women, Russian uranium sales, postponing labeling Boko Haram as terrorist, etc.).

        We are seeing in the Clinton’s a replay of Ahab & Jezebel which is a stark warning to us from scripture. Read the scriptures of these two and notice the similarities. Ahab had inconsolable lust for Naboth’s vineyard (which is a euphemism for a woman’s sexual areas) and Jezebel was the fixer who arranged for thugs to kill Naboth and acquire the garden).

  • BillFortenberry

    Here’s my response to Grudem’s latest criticism of those voting third party. http://www.increasinglearning.com/blog/grudem