If we want America to be a more righteous nation, there's only one way to do it — win more of her citizens to faith in Christ. We must help people find Jesus and understand that once they have been born-again they should have a different value system, one based on biblical truth.
Their new biblically-informed worldview should impact every area of their lives. Among the many things that should be influenced is how and for what reasons they cast their ballots. Yet as Christians, our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus Christ alone, not to any political party or philosophy or special interest. Christians should vote their values, convictions, and beliefs as guided by Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
I deal with both Republicans and Democrats most days of the week, and I can tell you both parties can use more help than all the Christians in the country can give them. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live to see the day when abortion is no longer a partisan issue? That's where we've come on the race issue. Both political parties are committed to racial reconciliation; the only difference of opinion is the best way to achieve it.
We face a pervasive and ever-widening crisis of the mind, of the heart, and of the spirit in our day. Our nation's ills will not be solved by simply throwing more tax money at them. Our nation's ills persist for the lack of men and women radically and sacrificially living out their faith in Christ.
Some of the most sinister and desperate attacks in history on the American family, including the legal murder of innocent babies in the womb, will haunt us until God's people get right with Him and begin to be the "salt" and "light" He calls us to be.
Change starts in our hearts and our homes, extends to our churches, and moves on to every institution that affects our lives, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It is our obligation and our responsibility to make the civil magistrate better reflect the values of the people, and to do our best to make certain that we elect political leaders who are sympathetic to the Judeo-Christian perspective, or that at least they operate from that perspective. As long as we believe the lie that we don't have the right to be involved in public policy, we will fall short of our goal, our obligation, and our responsibility.
G.K. Chesterton, the renowned 20th-century English philosopher, is said to have observed the irony that, "When men cease to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing anything."
Believers in "anything" would never have uprooted their families from England and Holland to start a new life thousands of treacherous miles from home. Believers in "anything" would never have pledged "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" to rebel against the greatest power in the world — something no colony had successfully done up to that time. Believers in "anything" would never have gone sixteen million strong to fight for their country and for freedom in World War II. Believers in "anything" can't keep America strong and prosperous, but believers in Christ can.
The leaders responsible for founding America and guiding it through the past two and a half centuries — leaders responsible for crafting the freest, richest, most powerful nation in the history of the world — were almost all operating either from at least a Judeo-Christian worldview or, later, what Francis Schaeffer called a "Christian memory." The vast majority of them claimed an identification with a Protestant denomination. This isn't jingoism or discrimination, just historical fact. If they had answered, "So what?" to issues of faith at any time of crisis, I believe it's safe to say there would be no United States today. Since the Pilgrims, Judeo-Christian values and morality have been absolutely essential to America's health and success, all the more reason for Americans who trust only in God to bring their biblically-informed values out into the open.
It may seem like changing the culture for Christ is an impossible task. But nothing is impossible that is God's will. The reestablishment of true Christian standards begins with a vision in the hearts and homes of Christian families. Real change will come when we, as children of the Most High God, fall to our knees before Him.
Our families, our churches, and our nation suffer for a lack of Christians committed to prayer that is persistent (Luke 18:1-8) and purposeful (1 John 5:14-15). Our minds can barely imagine the power that would be unleashed if believers across our country humbled themselves in confession and authentic submission to God. It is my prayerful hope that the 40/40 Prayer Vigil, a cooperative effort of the North American Mission Board and the ERLC, will usher in such a revival and spark an awakening that will rock our nation to its foundation.
The vigil (iLiveValues.com/prayer), which begins on September 24 and concludes on the Sunday before Election Day, focuses on praying for revival, renewal, and wisdom.
We must proclaim God's changeless standard of truth, holding aloft the plumb line of God's moral standard — not to judge, but to inform, exhort, and convict the people of their desperate need for repentance, regeneration, and revival.
We don't have the perfect plan for America's future, but we serve a God who does.
Whether or not America has a future worth having doesn't depend on what happens in Washington, D.C. It doesn't depend on the Supreme Court or Congress. It depends on parents and keepers of Christian households, and on many, many thousands of people like you who refuse to turn loose of their faith but who are committed to allowing that faith to change lives, first and foremost their own.
SBC Resolution on Political Engagement — June 2008
WHEREAS, Christians acting as the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16) have a responsibility to engage their culture, including participating in the political process; and
WHEREAS, Candidates for political office seek the endorsement of Christians for their candidacies; and
WHEREAS, Christians exercising their rights as responsible citizens may choose to endorse candidates for political office as part of the exercise of their engagement of culture; and
WHEREAS, Christians should seek to apply their spiritual and moral values to the political process rather than politicize the church; and
WHEREAS, As responsible Christian citizens we should pray for our elected officials (1 Timothy 2:1-2), submit to just laws (1 Peter 2:13-17), pay taxes (Romans 13:6-7), and serve in various capacities, such as on juries, in the military, in public office, and by voting for our representative leadership; and
WHEREAS, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the North American Mission Board have partnered together to call Southern Baptists to a 40-day prayer emphasis culminating in a 40-hour prayer vigil (40/40 Prayer Vigil) for spiritual revival and national renewal between September 24 and November 2, 2008 (www.ilivevalues.com/prayer); now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, encourage Christians to take seriously their calling as salt and light; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge Christians to engage the culture through discipleship within the churches and through participation in the democratic public policy and political process in order to help fulfill the kingdom mandate taught in the Bible and expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message "to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love," while always protecting freedom of conscience; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we plead with all Christians to exercise vigorously their responsibilities to participate in the political process by registering to vote, educating themselves about the issues, and voting according to their biblical beliefs, convictions, and values; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commend to our churches the iVoteValues initiative created by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, an initiative joined by Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, in order to assist efforts to register church members to vote and educate them on the moral issues being debated in the public arena; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage our churches regularly to teach and preach biblical truth on moral issues and to urge their members to vote according to their beliefs, convictions, and values; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we ask all Christians, and particularly those in leadership positions, to prayerfully seek God's mind and will and strongly to consider the potential problems of politicizing the church and the pulpit before endorsing candidates; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on candidates for political office to endorse the Judeo-Christian beliefs, convictions, and values upon which society should rest; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to pray for personal and national spiritual revival and cultural renewal; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we urge all Southern Baptists to participate in the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for spiritual revival and national renewal sponsored by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the North American Mission Board.
Richard Land is a member of Clearview Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.