Politics remains a divisive and contentious area in the culture at large and among Christians. What does it mean to think Biblically and well about the political arena? What exactly does the Bible give us about complex political issues? Join Scott and Sean for this important discussion about this controversial area.

Episode Transcript

>> As Christians, how can we connect our faith to the political arena? Why should politics matter to Christians? And what biblical guidelines does scripture give us pertaining to political issues? These are just a few of the topics we're gonna discuss today. I'm your host, Sean McDowell, here with my co-host, Dr. Scott Rae. And this is "Think Biblically." There's a lot that can be said about this. Politics are divisive. One thing we're not gonna do is tell people in this episode how to vote. Our goal is to go a step below that and ask, what does scripture reveal? How should we approach these topics biblically? So with that said, you've written a ton on this, you've spoken on this, let's jump in to talk about politics. And let start by asking, just broadly speaking, why does politics matter to Christians? Who cares?

>> chuckles: Well, I think we all should care. And I think, for one, interest in the political arena is part of being a good citizen, which the Bible calls us to. The second reason is that politics is fundamentally a moral enterprise, and scripture has a lot to say about the moral dimension of how we order our lives together. That's essentially what politics is about. Economics is actually very similar to that 'cause economics is all about how we share the burdens and benefits of how we order our lives together. Again, fundamentally moral categories. But more specifically, in the scripture, God's a God of justice. He cares about justice, not only individually, but structurally, for how societies are ordered, particularly for the poor, the marginalized, and those that are sort of outside the bounds of the culture at large. The wisdom literature, the Psalms, they're replete with biblical teaching on this, that God cares about justice being done at the gate, which is a figure of speech for in the political arena, but also in people's individual lives. Further, God's a God of shalom who desires communities to flourish, and that's fundamentally about what the political arena is about. That's what the political arena is supposed to do, is enable communities to flourish.

>> So as Christians, we're called to love our neighbors, we're called to care about the moral state of the world, and try to contribute to human flourishing. So then do we have a responsibility to vote then as Christians? Now, obviously those of us in America would consider or should consider this a privilege. People in some countries don't have that privilege and that right. And clearly it was very different biblical times. But do we have a responsibility to vote, which would kind of follow if we don't, are we sinning?

>> I think we do have a responsibility to vote, although I wouldn't go quite so far to say we're in sin if you don't. 'Cause I think there are times when you can just not want to vote for any particular candidate. I know a lot of Christians in the last election felt that way, and so they either voted for some obscure candidate or didn't vote at all in the presidential election. But I think, in general, particularly as it comes to local issues, you do have an obligation to vote because I think that's a part of making your voice heard and contributing to the flourishing of your community. And I think I wouldn't... I'm not quite sure how far to take this, but I do think if you don't vote on certain issues, you lose some of the right to be critical.

>> Oh, okay. Interesting. That's a fascinating way to look at it. So as a whole, we have a responsibility to vote, barring some issue that overturns it, and there might be some exceptions.

>> I think there could.

>> But we should take that very seriously as responsibility as an extension of our faith. Okay.

>> Default position is to vote.

>> Okay. Fair enough. All right, so let's get a little bit more specific in terms of what the Bible gives us for approaching public policy. Now, almost need not be said, but the Bible's not a political manual. That's obvious. Anymore than it's a science textbook. But it gives us some teachings, some examples that should inform the way we think about public policy. So what does the Bible give us?

>> Well, maybe the best thing to focus on would be what it doesn't give us. It doesn't give us, generally speaking, specific policy prescriptions about what a specific say gun control bill should look like, or what an immigration bill should look like in its specifics and details. Instead, it gives us, I think, a way to frame the issues, a worldview that helps us approach the political arena as part of the creation, fall, redemption, consummation, general narrative of scripture. But I think more specifically, it gives us the specific moral values on which our public policies ought to be grounded. And I think it's we assume for the most part that our laws have some sort of moral foundation. Even something as simple as driving on the correct side of the road assumes the moral principles of respect for life and property. Right? Because if somebody's zooming down the freeway in the wrong direction, we assume they have respect for neither of those things, and I think in most cases correctly so. But it gives us general moral principles. And also, I think, this is an important distinction. It gives us more the ends of a public policy, not so much the means by which those are accomplished. And I find, even in our polarized culture, we have significant agreement on the ends of what our politics should look like, but we have huge and volatile differences on the best means to accomplish those. And the means are generally gonna be matters of pragmatism and utilitarian means. And the ends, I think are going to be more generally those things that are principle oriented. And you can have a variety of means to accomplish the same ends.

>> Sure. Is that why you would hold that Christians have some liberty in how we vote on certain issues and certain candidates? As long as obviously we aim to follow what is true and these principles align with broader Christian principles, we have some liberty in terms of how we vote.

>> I think that's true. And remember these are broad general principles. Then I think we can have genuine disagreement about how and where those principles are applicable. So I mean, I think there's a lot of room for debate and discussion about the details, but I think the ends and the general moral principles are things that, in terms of general moral principles, I think there's pretty widespread agreement across the culture on those.

>> Okay. So let's take an example and unpack this. Take something like gun control. So I assume you would say maybe those who are a little bit more liberal in favor of more gun control, see that as the way of limiting, say, gun violence or school shootings. Those who are more conservative would say, no, the more armed we are, the better we can take down somebody who's going to cause violence. Both have the same end but different means to get there. So that means, if that's the case, the question is what do the facts actually prove? And it seems to me our tendency, Christian or not, is to move to our tribe and accept facts that are convenient, deny those that aren't. But as Christians, it seems to me we need to be committed to follow those facts and policies that limit gun violence.

>> Precisely. You're entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. And our facts are sometimes colored by our tribe, and sometimes we get a skewed view of what the facts actually are. So I mean there's good empirical evidence out there I think that supports both of those different means. Now I think we have to weigh cost and benefits, which is more likely to succeed, because the political arena goes beyond just having good intentions. That's why I love my colleagues at the Acton Institute, which is a think tank on connecting religion and economics. I love their tagline. It says, "Connecting good intentions with sound economics." And I think that's what we try to do here, connecting good intentions with sound policies that actually work and have empirical evidence to support the fact that they work. And if they don't, we jettison them for another means that is actually more workable. Part of the issue is that we connect means and ends often much too closely. And I think we hold onto the ends tightly but the means loosely. If the means don't work, we do something else. But often though, if the ends and the means are connected, then we can't give up our means without also feeling like we're betraying the cause that we stand for.

>> Fair enough. It seems like one of the other issues beneath say something like gun control is, yes, people want to reduce the amount of school shootings. Everybody I've talked to on any side of the debate-

>> Nobody's against that.

>> If you can't concede that, you're not even coming to the table remotely fairly.

>> Scott: I don't want you at the table if you can't concede that.

>> Fair enough. But what other beneath the service are different values that people have that they weigh differently. So we can see this in gun control or something like immigration. And this is somewhat of a... Maybe this is too simplistic. But oftentimes a more democratic approach might be motivated by compassion. A Republican approach might be more motivated by the rule of law. So it's not just that we're differing on the ends, there's different principles that we value differently for different reasons.

>> Yeah. We both hold to those fundamental values, but we weight them differently. I think immigration's a good example of that, where we weight compassion very heavily in some circles, we weight adherence to civil government and that moral principle from Romans 13 more heavily in other circles. And so invariably, and I think this is what makes the political arena so hard for Christians is that the political arena is one that by its very nature is one of negotiation and compromise and settling for limited objectives. But on these issues that we think are entailments of biblical teaching, the idea of settling for limited objectives is anathema to people. And that's why I think on both sides, people dig in their heels and they're unwilling to compromise, and there's no way forward except for one group to exert its power over the other.

>> I think what gets hard for personal conversation is if I approach the issue, I have certain values, and I assume you share the same values. But if I take the time to ask and understand and listen where you're coming from and how you assess those values, I still might think you're wrong and think you should vote like I do, but it seems to me I could have much more compassion and kindness in terms of how I engage you. Now that's harder on some issues than other. Like pro-life, I understand people are bringing different kind of values to the table, but we're still dealing with an unborn human precious person. So that's different than maybe some other issues are. But nonetheless, getting down to that surface and finding out where somebody's values are is gonna enable me to be just more charitable towards you and understanding, and frankly effective in how I-

>> Exactly. 'Cause I think our goal is to win a person, not so much an argument. And what I wanna be sure that I can do, say if we disagree on a specific issue, I've taken sort of my own personal view that I'm not gonna critique you until I've fully understand your view. And the way I know that I've understood your view is that I can repeat your view back to you to your satisfaction. Then I know I've understood you. And it's only then that I'm gonna engage in any kind of critique. And I would hope that the people who are on different sides of the issues, on a variety of issues from where you and I would stand together, would give us the same courtesy. In our polarized culture, though, basically we state our position and then resort to name calling.

>> Yes, we do.

>> And that's where it goes.

>> You know what's interesting, I've had a number of conversations with people on a range of issues. So I've simply said, "I'm curious. "Before I give my answer, "tell me why you think I hold the view that I hold." And almost unanimously-

>> They're wrong!

>> They miss it. Now with fairness, if somebody asks me the same question, there's probably an awful lot of times I would miss it too. But then it's helpful to be able to say, you know what, I could see why you would think I view things this way. Do you mind if I tell you where I'm coming from and why so at least you understand? That's fair. And that makes more progress.

>> People rarely say no to that.

>> I don't think I've ever had somebody say no to that, that I can think of. So just a helpful way to engage.

>> That's a great exercise to do with people.

>> And also I've said to people to that say, "Here's why I think you hold this view. Can I do my best? "I'm gonna guess. You correct me where I'm wrong." That's just an interesting civil conversation. It's like clarity is just so helpful in these conversations. That doesn't mean we don't debate, but let's understand the person first. Let's get their values first, then we can actually debate where the difference is and rather than just talking past each other and getting upset.

>> And that's actually honoring to the person too. And I think you are much more likely to have a genuine conversation partner than just if you just sort of hurled and humming and arguments back and forth against each other, and never really interact. Never engaged each other at the same level.

>> I think that's right. I've got some more questions for you in terms of ideas. So help us back to the scripture. How do we read the Bible accurately in terms of political insight?

>> This is really important. I'm glad you asked because we cannot underestimate how different the ancient world is in almost every respect than our culture today. Where we really see this, for example, is in the realm of economics. I regularly ask my students when we start talking about this to list all of the differences that they can think of between the way economic life was done in the ancient world and the way it's done today. And I mean, the list just goes on and on and on. And there's, I mean, except for the fact that they had money and a medium to exchange and they had to pay taxes, that's about it.

>> Wow!

>> Most people, for example, lived in subsistence level farming or small trades. You were stuck in the socioeconomic standing in which you were born. There was no career counseling. [Sean laughs] I think the average person in the ancient world, if they came into our career office, they'd think, what on earth is this for?!

>> No Enneagram or personality test.

>> No, no. Nothing like that. So I mean, it goes, goes on and on. And so what that helps us do is to recognize that it's really tricky to apply the scripture directly from the ancient world to the contemporary world. Those differences often require us to take the biblical teaching up a level of abstraction a little bit further to a more general principle that we can apply then to a different set of specifics today. I think you have to view the scripture that way. Now, there's some, obviously some things that you apply directly today where those differences don't make a difference. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, obviously. But most things that have to do with the political arena, with moral issues, you're making a huge mistake if you don't take those differences into account. So that's a huge thing that we have to do. And then I think we have to be really clear about how we use part of the Old Testament as a public policy guide. The Mosaic Law is actually probably the closest analogy to a national constitution. It was, in essence, the national constitution for Israel, but it was in a radically different type of government. It was a theocracy where it literally means the rule of God, where the law of God is the law of the land without... And there was no democracy in ancient Israel. It was the law of God. There was no legislature to debate how we're gonna apply the law of God. It was it. And so I think we have to recognize that no nation today can claim to be a theocracy in the same way that Old Testament Israel did. No country can claim to be exceptional theologically in the same way that Old Testament Israel did. So you almost, by necessity, you have to ask yourself, does this command in Old Testament law, is it still applicable today? And if so, how? And I think there can be considerable debate about how some of these things might be applicable 'cause all scripture's profitable, but not all of it is addressed to us. Mosaic Law is not addressed to us today. It's profitable and relevant, but we have to go up a level of abstraction in order to make sense of that.

>> Okay, so it is fair to sum it up this way, or is this too simplistic if I said, okay, the challenge with the Old Testament, it was written for a theocracy.

>> Correct.

>> The challenge for the New Testament is moral principles are primarily for the Church, not for a government institution, primarily. Is that the broad challenge with some exceptions?

>> That's broadly correct. There's some parts of the New Testament that directly relate to our relationship to government. So there's some of that, but less so about how government relates to the people that government is governing. But much less so in that regard.

>> Okay. That's really helpful to keep that in mind. I'm tempted to do that exercise now. My suspicion is students wouldn't come up with very many differences, although these are grad students, so they're going to see it. And that visual list would just really illustrate how radically different it is. That's a great exercise. One of the objections you and I both hear in different ways is that Christians are constantly imposing their morality on others who see the world differently. How would you respond to that?

>> I'll give you an example. This was years ago. I was invited by a healthcare system to debate. This was when the law was being formed on the use of embryonic stem cells for research and treatment of diseases. And this was in a particular state that was about to pass a law that was going to not only allow it, but fund it generously. And the health system that was debating this was being asked to be a significant contributor to the pro side, to say that this is okay and should be funded. And the chairman of the board of this hospital system was a Christian. And god bless her, she said, "Before we do something like this, "we ought to kinda do our due diligence "and hear both sides of this." And it turns out that one of our grads of our philosophy program was on the pastoral staff for the church this woman attended. And so she calls him immediately and says, "Now I'm really stuck here "because they said okay to that. "Help! I gotta find somebody who can come in and do this." And so I had had this student, a bioethics seminar. Don't make a long story short, I got called. And it was a wonderful time. I actually sat on the airplane in the middle seat next to two people who both were, look, I was going over my notes, both looked at my notes and said, "Can I pray for you during this session?" Really something!

>> That's cool!

>> So I got in there. It was all sorts of doctors, physicians, administrators, and I started making the case. And I think I ended up being a little bit more persuasive than most of the people in the room had planned on. And finally one of the doctors got so frustrated, he just stood up and said, "I am so sick of you Christians imposing your morality "on the rest of us." And he thought it was this great drop the mic moment. And so I responded back as gently as I could. But he had had a lot of horse radish on his comments. I didn't feel too bad about putting a little mustard on mine on the way back. So I said, "First of all, "let's get rid of this silly notion "that it's only religious people "who are imposing their morality on other people." I said, "All law is the imposition of somebody's morality. "And so please, let's get rid of that notion. "You are imposing a moral judgment on me "by suggesting that we ought to allow the wholesale use "of human embryos, human persons, "as a source of biological spare parts. "Now you're telling me that's not a moral imposition! "I'm actually offended by that." And then I kind of let it go at that. He had gotten the point at that point. But I think that's what we need to recognize, first of all, that it's everybody imposes their morality on somebody else every time a law is passed. And so I think we ought to get rid of the, which I think is kind of a childish notion, that it's only certain people that are imposing morality on somebody else.

>> And others aren't.

>> It's basically, if I disagree with you, then you're imposing your morality on me. And it's really functions as an ad hominem argument that is supposed to be a discussion stopper.

>> So I know you well enough to know you didn't stand up at this exchange and turn to Genesis 1 or the law in Exodus. You didn't make a religious argument. His way of dismissing you was taking your secular argument and saying it's just religious. So what we increasingly see, and we've seen is this move, is that people wanna say on embryonic stem cell research, on especially life issues, we hear people saying, "That's just your religious view." And I would say life is a religious view, but it's not merely a religious view. I can ground it philosophically apart from my religious view. So I think we need to call people on that and not let 'em get away with it.

>> What I also said to this person was, "Where have I invoked the Bible?"

>> That's a great question.

>> Where have I invoked the name of God? Only when I say, "God bless you." That's about it. But I said, "I have done nothing to suggest "that this is a religiously grounded view." Now, I think to be clear, it's consistent with my religious views, but it's not dependent on them.

>> So number one, this is a reminder for us that when we are engaging the larger public, we can bring our faith to the table, just like everybody brings their faith or worldview to the table. But we're gonna have to make non-biblical arguments in the public arena through natural law. So when somebody says that, it doesn't ring true, and we're like, yep, you're right. But I also find something ironic is when it comes to issues like say embryonic stem cell research, people will say, "Don't invoke religion." But just this past week, our governor passed a bill on life, and some of the propaganda around this was putting up billboards in our state for pro-choice, appealing to passages in the Bible, totally ripped outta context, but more than willing to try to use a religious argument when it's convenient. So we see this on a range of issues, that basically people wanna de-legitimize an argument from a Christian when it's inconvenient, but use scripture when it is convenient.

>> Yeah, and I think we need to be clear about this, that I don't think it's problematic by itself to use a biblical grounding for a moral position. I think it would've been okay for me to defend that with an appeal to scripture. What I can't do is appeal to scripture alone and pretend that that by itself is going to-

>> Settles the issue.

>> Yeah. Now, of course, God's word never comes back void. And I believe that. And I think there are times when it's okay to say, look, I'm gonna be unabashedly Christian here and I'm just gonna let the chips fall where they will. I think that's okay. But I wouldn't expect that being just unabashedly Christian is gonna carry today in any kind of mixed audience. Now it might. I don't know. But at least I'm prepared to do something more than that, should it be necessary.

>> Fair enough. And even outside of just scripture, the person of Jesus carries some moral weight on his views, whatever the ethical issue is. So that's technically not just a religious argument. That's a person of authority who's larger recognized and ethical teacher. So oftentimes I'll appeal to Jesus. But again, gotta make sure we do it consistently and fairly on everything Jesus taught. So let's shift to this question. How do you think someone can honor God in the political arena? And I don't mean somebody who's aiming to be a politician. I mean, just normal folks in the church who are saying, when it's all said and done, I wanna honor God as I approach politics. What does that look like?

>> Well, I think in our polarized culture, I admit that's a tall order today. And one of the things that I fear is that our allegiance to our tribe often trumps our allegiance to the King and the kingdom. And that we not only wrap the cross in the flag, but what happens when the cross gets wrapped up in the flag, where does the cross go? The cross disappears! And in general, when you have an intermixing of biblical principles with a specific political platform, the biblical principles almost always go missing in action. And it's the specific policies and prescriptions and platforms of your tribe that end up being the thing that has enduring value. And I think for a Christian, that's a lack of integrity to let that happen. And if the gospel is being discredited by the way I am engaging on the issues of the day, whether I'm in the political arena or not, just the way I'm engaging with people, the gospel being discredited, that's on me. Now, in some cases, it's the position itself that's gonna be offensive. Like same sex marriage, for example. Holding traditional marriage, you can be as winsome as the day is long. And I'm not sure at the end of the day that that's gonna do you much good. I remember hearing Joel Osteen years ago.

>> I remember that.

>> I mean, he's this incredibly winsome person. In fact, I think probably winsome to a fault.

>> He's just a nice guy.

>> He's just a very nice person defending biblical marriage. And he got, just in the nicest mode, he got absolutely crucified for his view. And winsomeness didn't matter. Now, I think those are exceptions to the general rule. I think winsomeness does matter. But I think to do this, I think we have to engage this in ways that are characterized by respect, by listening, by understanding, and most importantly by kindness in the way we do this. Because if the gospel is being discredited, then we've lost, and we've lost everything. Because I got news for the troops here. This may be somewhat controversial, but the kingdom of God is not dependent on the flourishing of any particular nation for its advance to continue going forward. Jesus said, "On this rock I will build my church. "The gates of hell will not prevail against it." And we do not need, the kingdom of God does not need any specific nation to flourish in order for the kingdom to keep advancing forward. I mean, God's kingdom is going to come in its fullness regardless of what happens to any particular country. And so that's why I think that the making sure we have our allegiances straight is also a critical part of doing this well.

>> Those are the big questions we often miss that when politics becomes a higher allegiance than the gospel, politics can become an idol in many ways. In fact, politics can become a savior. I think we can see this in the Church on either side of the political aisle. There's almost this messianic status of various figures, again, all over the political map that in some ways can start to really cross a line of where our hope and our confidence should ultimately rest.

>> Well, and this is where I think we need to assess the platforms of our tribe, of our various tribes, honestly, and say in a fallen world, they're all gonna be mixed bags. No political platform is going to be biblically pure. And the reason for that is because none of them were written with that as their goal in mind. I mean, no platform, maybe except for the theonomous, they're a minuscule group, no political platform was written with biblical fidelity in mind. It was written in order to do what the tribe and the party thinks is best for the country. And if that so happens to be something consistent with some biblical moral principles, then they would say so much the better. But that's not the goal.

>> I think this is a good caution to push back on. And, again, this is obvious to me and people who know you, you're not relativizing how we vote or how we think about different policies. Asking the bigger questions that often get left out of the fold, that's really important for how we we approach politics. I appreciate that nuance.

>> And I think... This may be somewhat controversial. But I think there are parts of both Democratic and Republican platforms that I think ought to appeal to any Bible-believing Christian. And so I just take myself for example. I'm passionately pro-life. I'm passionate about religious freedom. I think that market economies are easily the best way for the poor to lift themselves out of poverty. But I also believe our immigration policy is hopelessly broken. I think it's immoral to separate children from their families at the border, especially since we claim to be so family oriented. I think there's a biblical stewardship that we have for the environment that we have to take seriously. And where do those put me in terms of a tribe? I mean, I feel somewhat politically homeless because there's parts of both that I think have biblical merit to them, or at least have consistency with scripture. Now I won't reveal to which side I lean.

>> That's fine.

>> But I'm not comfortable giving sort of unqualified allegiance to either of the primary tribes today because I think their platforms are mixed. They have things that I wish they didn't on both sides.

>> So to people right now who are watching this, who are thinking, "Wait a minute, this is not okay. "You've gotta land in party A or party B. "What's a matter with you? "You're a compromiser." Wanna enter into this political debate. Let me presume to say that you're not saying these debates are not important. We need to have them. This is not the place. But you would say, what are our higher allegiances, and why do we default into those kind of responses as if our faith rests on a particular political party? Is that fair? Tell me how you'd respond.

>> I think that's a good summary. The progress of the kingdom of God does not stand or fall with any political agenda. It's bigger than that. Jesus, what else could he have meant when he said, "My kingdom is ultimately not of this world." That means, yeah, it will have an earthly manifestation to it, but it ultimately is not something that's tied to the current social order and current political arrangements.

>> All right. Fair enough.

>> I hope that part is not particularly controversial.

>> Well, I suspect it is to some people that you don't land in a political party, whichever political party that is. That's a different conversation. You do vote a certain way and you have your reasons for it. Here you're just trying to make a larger point about allegiance, political idolatry, where ultimately we should care about the Church, we should care about the gospel itself. That's our primary allegiance, not a political party.

>> Yeah, and it's not to say that if somebody finds more comfort in one political party than another that's necessarily a bad thing, 'cause not everybody has to be politically homeless. That's where I sense myself at the moment. So that may be the best place to leave it.

>> Okay. Fair enough. We could come back to that. That'd be an interesting conversation to pursue at some point. Two more questions for you as we wrap up. Just give us a quick insight of how the Founding Fathers understand the separation of church and state.

>> This I find really interesting, and something that I never learned in government, in civics, in Western civ, any of my high school or college classes on the subject. Listen to what some of the Founding Fathers said about the general value of religion for a free and virtuous society. This is Ben Franklin. The deist, Ben Franklin, who didn't believe hardly anything about Christian faith. Said Franklin, "The necessity of a public religion, "the great mass have need of the motives of religion "to restrain them from vice, "support their virtue and retain them in the practice of it "until it becomes habitual." And sort of underlying that is the view that without virtue and restraint, democracy is doomed. Thomas Jefferson, who was attributed to the phrase, "the separation of church and state." Actually that phrase was pinned 100 years before by the Baptist minister Roger Williams. And his point was that the point of that wall of separation was to keep the state out of the matters of the church, not vice versa.

>> The other way around.

>> Jefferson put it, "Religion should be regarded as the alpha and omega "of the moral law, "and a supplement to law "in the government of men and women."

>> Wow!

>> That's a pretty strong statement about the general value. George Washington in his farewell address, "Religion and morality are indispensable supports "to political prosperity."

>> Wow!

>> "Reason and experience "both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail "in exclusion of religious principle." That sounds moderately prophetic today. And finally, this is in the government document that was for the northwest ordinance that settled the Pacific Northwest. James Madison put it, "Religion, morality and knowledge, "being necessary to good government "and the happiness of mankind, shall forever be encouraged."

>> Wow!

>> The scholar on this, James Reichley, the Brookings Institution, which is no real friend of religious freedom, said, "The First Amendment is no more neutral "on the general value of religion "than it is on the general value "of the free exchange of ideas "or the general value of an independent press." All in the same package. So I think what the Founding Fathers had in mind was no state religion, where government could impose matters of conscience. But to say that they favored the separation of religion and morality or religion and government or religion and culture, I think is a serious misreading of what their intentions are.

>> Those are great quotes. Franklin, Washington, Jefferson.

>> That's pretty solid stuff.

>> Hard to beat. Last question for us. What encouragement would you give to Christians as they go to vote? Just practically, prayerfully, what are maybe some principles to keep in mind as they approach the voting box, voting booths?

>> I'd say for one, you go prayerfully. For one. You go recognizing where your ultimate allegiance is. And you go to vote as a responsible citizen fulfilling a civic duty that I think is a biblical one. And you vote, I think, with the the general principle of which person, which policy, which initiative is going to be best for the common good, is gonna contribute best to the flourishing of my community, and which is best gonna protect the least among us, the most vulnerable among us. Those, I think, are some of the really important moral values that ought to govern the way we vote.

>> Great advice. I found one of the key biblical principles is to vote for the flourishing of society, not just what personally benefits me. Now, do I perfectly practice that? Easier said than done. But that seems to be a Christian principle, that if we're gonna care about religious liberty for Christians, we better for Jews and for Muslims, and be consistent in that regard. Scott, as always, thoughtful and very helpful way to approach politics. And again, I appreciate that your goal was not to convince me and our viewers to vote a certain way. We could have that conversation. Maybe sometime you and I will go there in due time. This is to take a step back and say, how do we think biblically about politics? How do we honor God with politics? What principles apply? Let's do some of that work rather than just jumping into a tribe, which it's so tempting to do. I think this is really, really helpful. Thanks for joining us. This is brought to you by Biola University, part of the "Think Biblically" podcast. So if you are listening to this, make sure you hit subscribe. Consider sharing it with a friend. And if you are watching this from the Biola Channel, hit subscribe. Or on my own YouTube channel would be honored if you subscribed as well. We'll see you next time. And remember, "Think Biblically" about everything. [upbeat music]