A Response to John Piper regarding politics and the President

A Response to John Piper regarding politics and the President

Oct 25, 2020

John Piper wrote an article explaining why He would not be voting for Trump (or, he later clarified, Biden) on Thursday. And while I respect his right not to vote for Trump according to his conscience, I disagree with his reasoning behind it for a number of reasons I will explain here.

Let me first say – I greatly admire and respect John Piper. He is a great modern-day leader of the faith. I trust his opinion and perspective on any given issue nine times out of ten.

That is perhaps why I was so greatly disappointed with his interpretation of the situation we as Americans find ourselves heading into the election in just a few short days.

I’m going to give you the conclusion of this post at the beginning:

As believers, we both can and should call sin what it is – even when it is in our nation’s chief executive office – AND vote for the platform and policies that will best assist our government in upholding God’s righteous standards.

 In regards to John Piper’s article, I agree with many of his statements about leaders and find them to be biblically based. A leader should be, according to scripture, one who fears God, is trustworthy and hates dishonest gain (Exodus 18:21), one who is righteous and upright before the Lord (Psalm 37:16), one whose tongue speaks what is just and whose heart bears the law of God upon it (Psalm 37:30-31).

But where he goes awry in his reasoning is the implication of what that means for this election. Here’s why:

1. Romans 3:10 –  “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one.’”

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Did you see that? None are righteous. Not some, not a few, not just your or my candidate. All are sinful. We only get into heaven through the sacrifice and substitutionary death of Christ and his blood applied to our account. This is a short point because the scripture is clear as day.

2. The very model of government that protects us from the flaws and failings of such imperfect leaders (like Donald Trump and Joe Biden) is the system that is at risk if Biden is elected.

I understand that Piper is not voting for Biden, which I respect and agree with. However, his article leaves Christians with the feeling that they either cannot or should not vote for Trump because of the issues and concerns Piper points out. However, this reasoning fails to acknowledge the reality that if every Christian were to follow Piper’s example, Biden would surely be president-elect.

The checks and balances built into our system of government were instituted by our founding fathers not in spite of human nature but specifically because of it. Because they had a biblically based worldview, they understood man by nature to be sinful. They knew he would fail both Biblical standards (the law of God) and any standards they would set for this nation (the law of the land). This is why they composed our Federal government with three distinct branches: legislativeexecutive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the Federal courts, respectively.

The principles of federalism and republicanism guided them in the creation of this unique system of government that makes America so special – and they are the very principles that are at risk in the hands of the Biden-Harris platform.

It is no secret that Joe Biden is merely a figurehead for a party that is leaning farther left by the day. The extreme left owns the democratic agenda and if Joe Biden is elected, it will not be a sweet old 70-something grandpa running this country. It will be an administration guided by the hard left that aims to:

  • remove all restrictions to abortion
  • fund it with your tax dollars
  • indoctrinate your kids with an agenda of hating their fellow man and their country’s imperfect but important history
  • pack the court with activist justices, and
  • Legalize all manner of sin and wickedness that goes against the inerrant Word of God
  • turn the constitution into an irrelevant and laughable piece of paper as they push us as hard and far as they can in 4 years towards socialism.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

Our system of government must be upheld if freedom and God-given rights are to be protected and maintained in this nation. A system of government that protects us from the evils of tyranny (even with an imperfect man at the helm) is better than a system that doesn’t being run by a saint.

Why? Human nature and its propensity towards evil. With no floodgates to hold back the torrent of wickedness that is guaranteed to come from the hearts of unregenerate men, the citizens of that nation will pay the cost and suffer greatly.

In reality, though, neither Joe Biden (nor any other candidate) is actually a saint. They are all scoundrels, just as you and I would be without Christ.

Which brings me to my next point…

3. Everyone with breath in their lungs is sinful and therefore has “character issues.”

To imply, as Mr Piper’s article does, that the reason he cannot (or will not) vote for Donald Trump is because of his character issues begs the question: who of any of the available candidates does not have character issues? And how can he know the heart of whoever he does plan to vote for?

Perhaps outwardly there are no flagrant violations of common decency or morality, but does that guarantee no internal heart issues or future moral failures could occur?

To be sure, you can know a tree by its fruit. (Luke 6:43) This is biblical truth we see clearly in scripture – but consider by which fruit you are judging that tree. Is it the rotten fruit that has fallen to the ground and been there for 20 years? Or the fruit it has on its branches today?

This is relevant to the case of Donald Trump, because while I agree he has said terribly ugly and wicked things in the past, I have not seen similar and commensurate statements of the same variety in recent years. This leads me to ask – has he had a change of heart? Is he different? Perhaps, in fact, he has repented in his own heart of his former ways. I do not know, because I cannot see inside his heart. I, unlike God, am prone to judge according to outward appearances. However, God looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

We know and see men and women in the Bible who fail repeatedly and abundantly and yet are not condemned because of those actions.

King David had a man named Uriah killed so David could commit adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. He repents before God and turns from his ways and scripture calls him “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13). Or what about Rahab the prostitute, who was “considered righteous” for giving lodging in her home to Joshua’s spies and sending the men looking for them in another direction (James 2:25).

We see example after example in scripture of imperfect and flawed (and even what you and I might call degenerate) human beings being used in God’s grand narrative in spite of their sin.

In summation, people are either living according to the flesh or according to the spirit. We all have character issues – the difference is whether you are indulging the flesh or being sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Which is where we must remember…

4. God alone knows the heart.

I cannot know Donald Trump’s heart. And regardless of what the media tells you, neither can you. This is one point many Christians are stepping over in a way I believe to be dangerous. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Christians boldly declare “Donald Trump is not a Christian” –  to which my only response is – “how do you know that?”

Has God given you special revelation about the state of his heart? Or are you simply regurgitating a media narrative from a biased mainstream monolith that wants nothing more than to see a liberal agenda take root in this country? Most are aware that the media of today does not provide unbiased, fair and critical reporting of both sides, but rather serves as the communications department of the democratic party. So it’s no wonder our perception of Trump’s character would be bad.

Certainly, you could cherry pick statements out of Donald Trump’s public life and career and find “evidence” he is not a Christian. But be sure, you could do the same for me. Only none of my moral failings have been recorded for a national audience to dissect and play on repeat in the 24-hour news cycle.

I do not feel comfortable making the statement that someone is not a Christian even about those close to me who I know very well, but am not sure of whether they have placed their hope in Christ. There are a great many people who profess Christ with their lips and live a life that says otherwise. I have, at times in the past, been one of them.

We may have our suspicions or our questions regarding those individuals – and they should be at the top of our prayers for God to truly transform their heart and bring them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of life. But to boldly claim someone is “NOT A CHRISTIAN” may be coming from the very same root of pride, arrogance and hubris that one sees in Trump and leads them to that conclusion.

5. We all want a king

The desire to be ruled and reigned over with righteousness, justice and goodness is God-designed and built into us. The problem is not that we desire a king – but who we worship as king.

Just like the Jews did when Jesus walked this earth in a physical body, we all want a king. They wanted an earthly ruler to establish political and physical rule here. However, Jesus came and left and didn’t overturn one single governmental system or societal injustice – and in regards to justice and righteousness, the empire he entered into (the Roman empire) was one of the worst in human history. But he did the most important work possible – living sinlessly, dying a substitutionary death and rising again, conquering death forever so we could enjoy eternity with the one true King in heaven.

For the believer who says they are pro-life but can’t vote Donald Trump, I would ask: is your hesitation to do so because you are looking for a king where you shouldn’t be?

Every four years, politicians make promises: Hope, change, human flourishing. Every four years, people make promises they can’t keep to other people. Promises only a King could deliver to His kingdom.

Every four years, people make promises

they can’t keep to other people… Promises only a King could deliver to His kingdom. 

We shouldn’t buy the lies they sell to garner votes. We should vote according to whose administration as a whole will implement the most biblically-aligned policies in our nation. Period. Christians, you already have a king. You’re electing a president. If you believe what the Bible says about humanity, it should come as no shock that whoever you elect will be flawed.

6. Hating Trump vs. hating evil

More Christians than I have ever seen in my 14 years as a US voter are abandoning the republican party, even though they would say they are still pro-life. Why?

The full answer lies outside the scope of this post, but one reason is that they’ve been told to hate and they’ve obeyed. Sin is always enticing – especially when your pastor or favorite instagrammer codifies it as moral good and truth. But their hate has not been directed and funneled toward true evil and wickedness, but at a man – Donald Trump.

It’s the oldest trick in the book, really. If you can’t win someone over on the issue, win them over through character assassination. And with the 24-7 news media at its service, the left has finally succeeded in finding just the right amount of false allegations paired with highlighting moral flaws to convince conservatives to switch sides.

“If you’re really pro-ALL-life, you wouldn’t vote for Trump.”

“You can’t be a Christian and vote for Trump.”

To be clear, I’m not saying in this article you can’t be a Christian and vote for Biden. I’m just saying if you think you can vote for Biden and vote for the most biblically-aligned platform, you’re wrong. You can choose – but you can’t choose both.

If the never-Trump Christians in the United States truly hated evil the way God does – they’d be doing more than saying “orange man bad” and voting for policies and platforms that perpetuate the most pervasive and systemically unjust reality of our society today: abortion.

They would be fighting against the evil of legalized murder as hard as they’re fighting against Donald Trump. They would be giving their time and resources to volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers or to help abortion-wounded women heal with ministries like If Not For Grace. Because in case you forgot, since 1973, around one million babies per year in the United States have been silently and systemically aborted.

But that’s not what we see. Instead, everywhere we look (church, our social media feed, our neighborhood and beyond) we see self-proclaiming Christians jumping ship right and left – dropping the trite #thisiswhy hashtag on their way out. And I get it – Donald Trump is a polarizing figure. But the reason so many are proudly declaring they aren’t voting for him isn’t because they hate evil – it’s because of where they’ve set their hopes.

7. The president is not (and was never meant to be) your moral example or savior.

For more than 242 years, sinful and flawed men have held this great office, and yet, have not torn down our nation. This is thanks again to the system of government that has protections against human sinfulness built into it.

Voting plays an important part in my development as an adult. I am 32. This will be my 4th time voting in a presidential election. The first two elections I voted in, my candidate lost. Both times Barack Obama was elected. The first time, I cried. I thought for sure he was evil and this nation would be doomed. But guess what – he wasn’t (totally), and it wasn’t.

I will never forget – I made my best friend in the world during the 2008 election. As we stood in the School of Journalism Newsroom at the University of Kansas, silent amidst shouts and tears of joy as election results poured in announcing Obama’s victory, we realized we were the only ones who had not voted for him. We found moral support and a shared faith as we encouraged and pointed each other back to truth. “Our hope is not in this,” I remember her saying to me.

I learned through that hard experience a lesson I hold dear even today: My hope is not in the president.

I learned through that hard experience a lesson I hold dear even today: My hope is not in the president.

Although I was disappointed in both the 2008 and 2012 election outcomes, I am thankful for that experience. Because of those early disappointments in my voting experience, I learned to detach my hope and security from the presidency of this country. I learned to trust God with the outcome, to put my hope in eternal promises and not earthly ones. To hope in the King and not in this earthly, fallen kingdom.

Christians should be the ones rejecting turning everyone and everything into a celebrity. It happens in Christian subculture with podcasters and authors and preachers and it happens in government with the president. We elevate people to a level of admiration and worship they were never meant to have, and in doing so we create idols of them.

Trump is not my savior. He’s not my moral example. He’s not my king. He’s simply – and strictly – the President.

8. This is not our kingdom, but how we live (and vote) indicates which kingdom has our allegiance

Undoubtedly, neither political party has it all right. And truthfully, neither can. We live in a fallen world and political parties are nothing more than a bunch of sinful people with imperfect ideas to implement upon broken realities.

However, it is not as though they are both equally distant from Biblical morals. There is one party today responsible for pushing for abortion rights and access as “healthcare” and its most vocal advocate is the VP candidate, Kamala Harris. There is one party who promises what they cannot deliver (equality of outcomes) at the expense of taking what they should not have (individual freedom.) They offer heaven on earth without hard work and a government that becomes a functional god as it feeds, clothes and cares for its citizens the way the body of Christ and the church is meant to. One party who preaches victimhood and injustice as a means of creating angry and vindictive, but loyal and beholden congregants at the church of politics as religion and democrats as savior.

I believe Christians are free not to vote for either Biden or Trump. If your conscience prohibits you from doing so, I do not stand as your judge or jury.  But I do not believe Christians are free to support policies that stand at odds with God’s Word.

Finally, I will continue to respect and read the work of John Piper, because much like Donald Trump, I don’t hang my hat on every word that comes from his mouth (or keyboard.)

Much like Donald Trump, he can get it right sometimes and wrong sometimes.

Much like Donald Trump, my hope isn’t in what he says or does.

Because my politics are just my worldview working itself out in the world.

Because policies are how we collectively move toward good and away from evil.

How we usher in light and push back darkness.

And because politics are more than a president.