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Politics Divide, The Bible Tells Us To Avoid It

Your job is to share the Gospel, not to change the government, Carey Nieuwhof.

A new wave of Christian activism in the Philippines is causing more division than unity; the Bible has clear instructions for church leaders, priests, and pastors to avoid it

Sweeping political reforms such as women’s suffrage, labor, and slavery were pushed by Christians at a time when the western governments were taking shape. At the same time, a great spiritual revival was led by preachers and church leaders.

God has always set apart church leaders for His people—not the changing of a government.

Christian leaders in the United States fought hard to ensure its traditions are preserved within the government system. But today, prayers are banned in public schools—but Satan Club and trans curriculum are welcomed. Same-sex marriage, gender reassignment, and polyamory have become norms. In the meantime, church membership is rapidly declining.

Evangelicals justify political activism to push Biblical morals

A growing number of pastors assume God calls them to meddle in politics, endorse a candidate, or decry government leaders to achieve a moral objective. Unfortunately, it ends up dividing the body of Christ.

  1. Pastors in a contentious political debate can cause division and a bad testimony.
  2. Pastors should not entangle themselves in civilian affairs.
  3. Jesus took the separation of church and state seriously.
  4. Rarely does God call Christian leaders to meddle in politics.
  5. A Christian’s mandate is to disciple others.

SHOULD CHRISTIANS SUBMIT TO A BAD LEADER?

christian activism
The heavy dislike in the government has reached a boiling point that priests and pastors dissuaded voters, made political statements, and endorsed political candidates as if it was the way of Jesus. Blinded, what they do endangers the Gospel they preach.

1. Political discussion can cause division and a bad testimony

National Council of Churches in the Philippines

In 2019, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) was labeled a terrorist because they openly criticized the government. That is not a good testimony; no wonder the apostles urged us to live a peaceable life.

Pastors of Christ Commission Fellowship in politics

On May 11, 2018, CCF pastors and members gathered for a peaceful protest to support the ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. The church leaders called it their “Jericho March” in front of the Supreme Court.

As a professing Christian, Sereno, a known supporter of the opposition, has turned into a political activist who rants on her social media, criticizing certain government leaders and Christians who support them. She often quotes scriptures.

In April 2022, an alleged “joke” about a candidate who was a “thief” was posted on social media by a pastor’s wife. Another pastor’s wife claimed BBM cheated his way to winning, triggering an unhealthy debate (and unfriending) among pro and anti-Marcos.

The “unfriending” among CCF members actually began when President Rodrigo Duterte ran for president. Recently, the divide has moved onto the presidency of President Bong Bong Marcos Jr. (BBM) who won against the opposition’s Leni Robredo.

CCF deacons and wives of its elders openly endorsed Robredo—turning many of CCF members’ posts into a sea of pink while the other half was “red and green” for BBM.

Unfortunately, little has been done by the church to prevent the divide. The reason was evident when CCF formed the Christian Values Movement.

1 Timothy 2:1-2
First of all, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

The case of the Christian Values Movement

In 2021, CCF established CVM (Christian Values Movement), which promoted three out of five presidential candidates. CCF members rooted openly for Leni Robredo who was a Catholic. She ran to stop Marcos Jr. from winning.

CCF leaders prayed for “evil leaders” not to be elected but to be exposed for their crimes. BBM and running mate Sarah Duterte was not included in CCF’s list of recommended candidates. Bipartisan is clear.

At the height of the 2022 presidential election campaign, CCF senior Pastor Peter Tan Chi said, “Politics does not divide… instead should be discussed.” [Work to make a difference]

Naturally, it inspired more CCF members to openly debate politics, particularly on social media.

2. Pastors should not entangle themselves in civilian affairs

The Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches

Since the Marcos era, the Catholic clergy has politicized the church. In 2005, Bishop Ephraim Tendero of the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) was invited by President Corazon Aquino to be part of a commission to review the 1987 constitution.

Since then, PCEC has taken a certain political stand on government policies like the SOGIE Bill and peace talks, among a long list of (unsolicited) political statements.

In short, the constitution’s clause on separation of church and state has become compartmentalized—even though the government protects religious freedom to worship and gather.

2 Timothy 2 1
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since he aims to please the one who enlisted him.

IDOLS OF CHRISTIANS LEADERS.

The fear of Christian leaders of not doing anything

These Christian leaders fear that by keeping silent: unrighteousness and immorality will reign supreme in the country and put Christianity and its values in harm’s way.

The same fear was evident during Biblical times, yet the apostles never meddled in government affairs. They trusted God for whatever and however He chose to form their government. Again, the same fear threatened evangelicals in the U.S. that only ended in church membership declining—blamed on Christians themselves.

Politics and religion in the Bible

Jesus rebuked the hypocrisy of “religious leaders,” not the Emperor. “He never spoke out—not even once—against the injustices of the corrupt Roman civil authority. There is NO example of political activism advocated by God’s people in the Scriptures. [Read commentary by Dave Hunt]

Jesus rebuked religious leaders, not the Emperor.

HOW PAUL DEALT WITH GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.

3. Jesus took the separation of church and state seriously

There are no Biblical accounts of Jesus speaking out against any political issues. Neither He nor the apostles said anything about how the Roman government should be run. Jesus never encouraged the Jews to protest or rally but told His disciples to submit to authority.

The Jews observed a Judeo-decentralized government system, the antecedent of the separation of church and state. They operated within their own (theocratic) government and a “supreme court” that governed the people with justice (Deuteronomy 16:18).

Separation of church and state in the Bible

The Bible describes a “decentralized governmental system” and a jurisdictional separation between Church and State. Here are examples of “Biblical Jurisdictional Separation” in the Old Testament:

  • King Saul served as a civil official while Ahimelech ministered as the chief ecclesiastical leader in the nation (1 Sam. 10 and 21).
  • David was king, while Abiathar carried out the duties of a priest (1 Chronicle 15:11).
  • David’s son Solomon ruled as a civil officer while Zadok pursued ecclesiastical obligations (1 Kings 1:45).
  • King Joash and Jehoiada, the priest (2 Kings 11), King Josiah, and the priest Hilkiah (2 Kings 22:4) maintained jurisdictional separation.
  • Church and State as parallel institutions operated with Governor Nehemiah (Neh. 7) and Priest Ezra (Neh. 8).

BIBLE VERSES ABOUT POLITICS AND RELIGION.

4. Rarely does God call Christian leaders into politics

Nehemiah rebuked religious elites, not King Artaxerxes I

Christian activists often use Nehemiah as an example to protest civil authority. He led the “great protest” of the Bible against religious leaders, not King Artaxerxes. 

Nehemiah rebuked the Jewish elites and religious leaders. Likewise, Esther exposed evil, too—but she never criticized King Ahasuerus. [Examples of submission to authority]

Differentiating Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, the Ten Booms

Many use William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer to justify criticizing the government, but it is difficult to draw between exposing or criticizing evil.

To begin with, Wilberforce wasn’t against the monarchy but against slavery, and rightly so. Before being part of Hitler’s assassination plot, Bonhoeffer was silent until he saw proof of Jewish atrocity.

While he is a hero, the end does not justify the means. As a result, Bonhoeffer lost his opportunity to preach to the lost and became a dissident. One thing is sure, the Ten Booms’ silent voice was heard loud and clear when they opened their home to save many Jews.

Christians wage an invisible battle

  • God raised prophets in the past to rebuke kings (Acts 22-24)
  • Church leaders are tasked to make disciples. (Matthew 28:18)
  • God can raise unbelievers to accomplish His will. (Acts 2:23)
  • Evil will slay the wicked and they will be condemned. (Psalm 34:21)

In God’s time, rulers are replaced, unbelievers take them out if necessary.

THE REAL POLITICAL THREAT OF FILIPINOS.

5. A Christian’s mandate is to disciple others

Exposing evil

The Bible mandates Christians to “expose evil.” However, Jesus, despite knowing the evil of the Roman government, avoided political discussions, nor did He expose them. Instead, He told His disciples to preach.

Christians must expose and take no part in evil such as false doctrine, paganism, and witchery (See Ephesians 5:11 commentary). These are the works of the devil, but God is the one who appoints kings.

God is raising preachers, not political activists

God used “evil kings” to judge a nation to cause repentance in the past. He also “raised prophets” to rebuke leaders. Today, God uses unbelievers to expose evil and Christians to disciple others, for that is what matters most.

We need Bible-believing Filipinos in the judicial, legislative, and executive branches. However, only the Gospel can transform the government and the people. The reason God is raising preachers—not Christian activists.

The bottom line, there will never be social justice until Jesus returns

Social injustice won’t be served until Jesus returns. In the meantime, “Your job is to share the Gospel, not to change the government,” As Carey Nieuwhof puts it.

Perhaps spiritual leaders meddling in politics should reflect on walking on Manila’s street with sackcloth and ashes on their forehead—as the Kings of Israel did when God judged their nation.

Your job is to share the Gospel, not to change the government

Would you protest if King Cyrus was the President? How can a non-Israelite pagan king Cyrus be called God’s anointed? (Isaiah 44:28). Yet, he fulfilled a prophecy and obeyed God (2 Chronicles 36:23). Pray for the country and trust God.

RELATED READING:
Pinoy atheists use humanism to gain members.
Can Christians criticize the government?

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The rampant killings is obviously against the Great Commission, not to mention the Ten Commandments. That you’re saying our priorities should be this fight against political correctness that’s yet about to come, and ignoring what is happening now, is very disturbing to my spirit. You advise to fight killing babies but not killing adults. I am pleading you, please pray again, and deeper if you need to. Because you’re being blinded by your own political correctness, to keep silent and not stand up for the clear immorality already raging around us. We don’t have to be political to stand up for the rights of all people to live. Killing sinners is giving them away to Satan. I don’t think God is okay with that.

    • That’s what Satan tells people, to anger them and retaliate! Things will truly get worse and we cannot stop evil. God is not OK with abortion etc… Jesus is NOT OK with social injustice etc…, but did he complained about the government? I don’t think you understand what he said because your so caught up in your emotion.

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