|Volume 18 Number 10 October 2016||
Are Christians Obligated to Vote?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Hello Louis, I have a question that I would like for you to address for me. I look forward to reading your response. Question: Does a Christian have a responsibility to God to vote in Presidential elections and perhaps all elections of governmental officials? I am deeply concerned by the direction our country has been going for many years. I want to address this topic on Facebook and encourage all Christians and members of denominations to get out and vote, but I need your assistance saying the right things. I certainly do not want to make a mistake as I address this issue. Please help. Darrell G Pratt
Regarding the question at hand and Christian obligations, one needs to remember that Christians find themselves in virtually every nation under heaven and amenable to all manner of forms of government. Strictly speaking, Christian obligations are absolute (based on biblical instruction) and the same for every child of God irrespective of where he or she lives and regardless of the form of government under which one lives. With just a little reflection, it is clear that not every form of government under which Christians live affords a person the privilege of voting for candidates in elections. In addition, neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament specifically addresses such an obligation to vote in democratic elections.
However, there may be pragmatic reasons for which Christians and other Bible believers would do well to involve themselves by voting for candidates wherever such democratic elections are afforded them. We may rationalize, which is far short of specific biblical instruction “to vote,” that the principle which is discernible in Esther 4:14 might warrant Christians and other Bible believers to vote for political candidates who are likely to act in ways that correspond to biblical values. “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NKJV).
Many years ago, brother David Lipscomb adamantly opposed Christian participation in any way in politics. Historically, though, other Christians have held political office, even the presidency of the United States. It is certain that Christians are instructed in the New Testament to pray for political leaders (1 Timothy 2:2). Furthermore, Christians are obligated to obey governmental officials, irrespective of the form of government (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13, 17), except on those occasions when there is a direct conflict between the law of God and the law of man. In those instances, one must obey God rather than obey man (Acts 5:29).
Based on pragmatic reasons and perhaps a rationalization comparable to Esther 4:14, one might urge Christians and other Bible believers to vote for political candidates who are likely to act in office in a way corresponding to New Testament values. Yet, voting may not fall among Christian obligations, about which we can read upon the pages of the New Testament. At the same time, anyone who does not vote when he or she does have the opportunity to do so certainly has no basis for complaining or bemoaning the outcome of political elections.
Did Jesus Preach in Hell?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone inquires, “Did Jesus preach in Hell?” The short answer is, “No.”
It may be that the question arises from either of these two verses that were penned by the apostle Peter. “For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6 NKJV).
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (1 Peter 3:18-20)
The point of 1 Peter 4:6 is that the Gospel “was preached” (past tense) to those who “are dead” (present tense) so that it is appropriate for judgment (for righteousness or for sinfulness) to come upon them. The people of 1 Peter 4:6 had been alive when they heard the Gospel, but at the time of the apostle’s writing they were dead. Afterward, final judgment will occur (Hebrews 9:27).
The same sort of thing is true respecting 1 Peter 3:18-20. The Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:18) preached to the spirits who were in prison. However, like with 1 Peter 4:6, those “in prison” had been alive when they had been acquainted with God’s Word, but at the time of Peter’s writing, they were dead. Those “spirits in prison” of 1 Peter 3:19 were souls who had lived prior to the universal flood and who had been availed of God’s Word through the preaching of Noah (1 Peter 3:20). The means by which the Spirit preached to them was through the preacher of righteousness – Noah. “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:4-5). Generally, those living prior to the flood of Noah’s day had 120 years to hear and obey the Word of God simultaneously as Noah built the ark (Genesis 6:3).
Incidentally, “went and preached” is merely a redundancy comparable to “he spoke, saying” or “he speaking, said.” The words “went and preached” represent the same activity, not travel plans acted out followed by preaching.