Some trust in chariots, and some in horses," Psalm 20:7 notes, "but we will remember the name of the Lord our God."

We might say in our day, "Some trust in political parties, and some in candidates … "Christians are involved in politics, in both parties and all along the political spectrum, just as we are in Boy Scouts, Little League, and Rotary. Usually, though, we have the good sense not to see those latter activities as redeeming culture in themselves.In this election year, as in every election year, ideological smoke and thunder abound, accompanied by the huffing and puffing of political maneuvering and rhetorical fulminations—even among Christians. Many believers assume that politics is a vehicle for cultural redemption.While voting is a civic good, my plea is that we not equate it with building the kingdom of God, that we stop worshiping the power of politics.Nero set fire to Rome in A.D. 64, diverting suspicion from himself by blaming Christians. He punished innocent Christians by lashing them to poles soaked with wax or tar and igniting them as human torches to illuminate his gardens and the Roman streets.

Evil agents for good

"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities," the apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Romans nearly 10 years earlier. "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. … For he is God's minister to you for good" (Romans 13:1–4, NKJV).Many of us have read these verses assuming that rulers are ministers of God for good under ideal circumstances. So much of what governments do is so conspicuously evil, we reason, Paul cannot possibly mean they are ministers for good normally. Thus we have built moral majorities and Christian coalitions, and organized concerned women, assuming ...

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