The truth is that our theology, regardless of our denominational background, or lack thereof, is, in actuality, our philosophy of life. The choices we make every day are actually totally dependent on the philosophies of our various religious persuasions, which are as varied within Christendom itself as they are within all the other religions of the world. The percentage of American Christians who actually vote in this election will be a direct result of what they “believe” their participation should be in national politics.
A Barna study conducted after the 2016 national elections revealed that just under fifty nine percent of Evangelical Christians showed up to vote in 2016, almost identical to the percentage who voted in 2012. In 2016 ten million votes were cast by evangelicals, compared seven million by nonbelievers. My “multi-million” vote question to you is; “Where were the other forty percent of the Christian voters?”
It has been said that what happens locally often happens statewide and that what happens statewide often is duplicated nationally. My eyes were radically opened concerning the lack of Christian involvement in politics over the last few years after I was asked to be the campaign manager for two local county sheriff’s elections in Chemung County, New York.
The person I represented was a good friend and a member of my church. I knew him to be a man of outstanding Christian character, a former United States Marine, with twenty-four years of active duty as a Chemung County Sheriff under his belt. He grew up in the city of Elmira New York and had gone on to raise his family there. All of his children are very successful adults and his wife of many years holds an administrative position in a local non-profit organization, which has served our community for many years.
I felt that the churches in our area and the local Christian community should have rallied around this man. They should have been the decisive factor in helping him win the election against his opponents, opponents who were viewed as having questionable characters. However, to our dismay, many churches and even local Christians just did not want to get involved. As my friend made his rounds, meeting with local pastors prior to both elections, a large percentage of those pastors told him that they did not want to endorse one candidate over another. In addition, one pastor came right out and admitted that he was afraid that he would lose congregants if he did so.
When it came to financial contributions, few local Christians contributed anything. In contrast, my friend, in accordance with his personal theologically based life philosophy, contributed thousands of dollars of his own money to his own campaign.
While some Christians put up yard signs and offered verbal encouragement, many feared opposing the “ring of power” that existed in the local sheriff’s department. Few dared to challenge it. Others believed, in line with their indoctrinated religious philosophies, that “‘God’s will’ will be done as long as we pray”.
This extreme position has enabled millions down through the centuries to ignore their God given responsibility to “Occupy till I come” Luke 19:13 (KJV). These passive people-pleasing “God’s will” doctrine has routinely been promoted by pulpiteers and even entire denominations as a means to promote an “easy believism”, with the goal of attracting more congregants. However, the instruction found in Luke 19:13 to “Occupy till I come” is a foundational principle. It has been the bedrock foundation underlaying Christian activism and church plantings and growth ever since Christ’s accession. It has been the unshakable motivation not only for the pilgrims coming to America and for our forefathers as they formed this nation and its constitution, but also for countless praying Christians down through the centuries.
Sadly, my good Christian brother lost both elections. When a local Christian college professor and political analyst was consulted after the second election, he concurred that all it would have taken for my candidate to have swung the first election was about fifteen hundred votes, and that it would have only taken a slightly higher number of votes for him to have swung the second election.
Tragically, the corrupt ring of local power here in Chemung County still continues unfettered today. Ironically, during the current COVID pandemic this power base has been one of the boldest in shutting down churches and preventing liberties in churches, liberties which are allowed in other parts of the country.
On October 23, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation prohibiting nonprofit corporations, including churches, from endorsing political candidates. Does it sound to you like “God’s will is being done?”
“When the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:18 (NKJV) Tell me, brothers and sisters in Christ, what kind of faith will that be? Will it be the faith of the forty percent of professing evangelical Christians who sat out the last two elections, possibly justifying their actions by an improperly and conveniently unbalanced interpretation of the “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” portion of the Lord’s prayer?” Matthew 6:10 (NKJV). If Jesus subscribed to the passive “God’s will” perspective, believing God the Father was going to take care of everything, He never would have faced down the political and spiritual leaders of first century Israel. He never would have sweat great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, agonizing in prayer over having to “Do” something to complete the Father’s will. He never would have gone to the cross for your sins and mine! May we hear the admonition of the Apostle Paul, who endured great suffering to “DO” his Father’s will; “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ!” 1st Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.