Sacrificing the Sovereignty of Grace on the Altar of Political Expediency
If he is a true Reformed theologian, he will reply: “God’s grace, of course.” That’s why all modern Reformed and neo-Reformed – especially the neo-Reformed – speak of the Sovereignty of Grace. The very term presupposes that grace trumps all man’s sin and depravity.
Indeed, when we go to the comparison between transgression and grace in Romans 5:15-21, we see that Paul used three times the words “much more” (or “all the more”) when comparing the operation of God’s Grace to the operation of human transgression. Grace is “much more” than depravity. And it is sovereign, that is, it trumps depravity and sin every time.
Granted, grace doesn’t destroy sin in the man who is a recipient of grace. Our sin still continues to live in our bodies. But let’s not decide on the basis of that that we are still under sin. No, Paul says that sin won’t reign over those who are under grace (Rom. 6:14). Yes, sin continues to live in both believers and unregenerate. But we shouldn’t conclude that there is no moral difference between these two groups; for the difference is not in the degree of sin living in them but in the degree of control that sin has over their life.
A Reformed theologian knows this. It is a basic Reformed doctrine. When a Reformed theologian doesn’t understand that doctrine, then he is illiterate concerning the foundations of his own beliefs, and he should step down as a Reformed theologian. I am talking about Reformed theologians here, but the same applies about all Reformed believers, theologians or not. Everyone should know that grace is sovereign over depravity.
Except, perhaps, when it comes to political expediency.
We have seen in the last several months supposedly “Reformed” theologians who are so eager to convince their listeners to vote for Romney the Mormon, that they are willing to dump the doctrine of the Sovereignty of Grace and to elevate the doctrine of Total Depravity as the only valid doctrine. They do that in order to justify the notion of “voting for the lesser evil” as a valid Christian principle of voting.
Here, for example, Kevin Bywater of the Summit Ministries, describes Jeff Myers’s position:
As Summit President Dr. Jeff Myers points out in the new Political Animal course, this is a misguided objection, because it misses one crucial point: according to Romans 3:10, all of us, not just particular political candidates, are shot-through with sin. If taken to its logical conclusion, this objection would disallow Christians from being involved in any civil or social activity, politics or otherwise.
That is, if all people are “shot-through with sin,” then all people are evil. And therefore we always vote for evil. Myers, apparently, doesn’t allow for the fact that David called himself “without blame” in the eyes of God, and therefore David disagrees with Myers’ calling all men “evil.”
Gary DeMar, who is very eager to convince Christians to vote for a Mormon, resorts to the Total Depravity of man:
If you know anything about Calvinism, then you know the acronym TULIP. The “T” in Tulip stands for Total Depravity. It also goes by the names total inability or total corruption. It’s not that a person is pure depravity but that all his actions and thoughts are tainted by evil. Sin has corrupted every part of our being.
This means that any choice of a political candidate is a lesser of two totally depraved people. The people that say they will not vote for the lesser of two evils will get one of the two evils whether they vote or not.
In other words, there is no such thing as a “righteous person.” Under no circumstances are we voting for good. We just need to decide who is the lesser evil.
Therefore, vote for Romney.
The two men focus on the Total Depravity of man as the only relevant fact about man’s spiritual condition. There is nothing else we need to know about man except that he is evil, shot-through with sin, and therefore in all situations whatever we choose, will be always evil.
Grace has nothing to do with it, and both men, in order to defend their political rhetoric, exclude grace from the equation.
Well, some of us know something about Calvinism. And those who know something about Calvinism, know not only what T stands for, but we also know what U, and L, and I, and P stand for. And we know that a theologian who focuses on sin and depravity, and lets sin and depravity define mankind for him, is not qualified to be Reformed theologian, for he has rejected the doctrine of the Sovereignty of Grace.
Here’s the answer to the faulty theology of these men:
First, these men obviously never understood that while Total Depravity is a fact for all people, it is not the ONLY fact about them. Someone needs to break out the news to them that some people also are Elected, are Atoned for, are under Grace, and Persevere, which means that Total Depravity is not the main fact about their spiritual condition. Sin doesn’t reign over them (Rom. 6:14). Not only sin doesn’t reign over them, but it doesn’t define them as human beings anymore, for, as Paul says, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:14-16).
Myers and DeMar, therefore, use the Total Depravity doctrine as behaviorists who view immorality as the essential nature of man, not as Reformed theologians who understand the Covenant of God and the power of His regeneration.
Second, these men obviously never understood that in the culture, people are not assessed by their spiritual or moral state but by WHAT KINGDOM they represent. I am sure that there is at least one Hindu in the world whose spiritual state is better than that of Jeff Myers, but if that Hindu applies to become The Summit President, we won’t prefer him as the “lesser of two evils,” but will still prefer Jeff Myers because he represents Christ, and not some Hindu god. I the same way, if we find an atheist who has lesser inclination to sin than DeMar, the “lesser of two evils” principle would require that we replace DeMar as President of American Vision with that atheist.
And if men represent kingdoms and not themselves, then we are never choosing between two evils, because the evil is always one: the kingdom of Satan. And men who represent that kingdom – whether Obama or Romney – are one evil, not two evils. Contrary to Myers and DeMar, we never choose between two evils, we always choose between good and evil, that is, between the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan – personified in the specific situation, of course, by their representatives. When a specific government authority doesn’t allow us to choose between good and evil, then it has become an evil choice itself, and we should refrain from giving it our stamp of approval by casting our vote.
Third, when Jeff Myers uses Romans 3:10 to justify his particular use of the doctrine of Total Depravity, he forgets that it is specifically written in the context of Romans 3:21-30. Rom. 3:10 is not meant to emphasize the fact of human depravity but the fact of God’s justification. And once God has justified some men, no one on earth, not even Jeff Myers, can insist to see sin and guilt in those who have been justified by God.
There are still men who are explicitly Christian, and we should vote for them. Ron Paul is one of them. The system allows us to write him in. That’s what these two men should be advocating, not using the Total Depravity to tell us how Hitler is a better choice than Stalin.
Apparently, the doctrine of the Sovereignty of Grace has been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Total Depravity has been taken out of context, made to stand alone as a doctrine – which it has never been intended to – and used to support an anti-Christian doctrine of political involvement. A true Christian should never buy into such argument.