For Whom Would Calvin Vote in the US Election?

The other day I reflected how it must be difficult for committed Christians to vote in the US election (and in most other countries) as neither candidate has a well developed biblical worldview. ( See “Rulers Beware”). So I thought, who would John Calvin vote for if he could?

While living in the city of Geneva (now in Switzerland), Calvin made sure the poor didn’t starve or get turned away from hospitals. He promoted job growth and interest-free charitable loans, and taught the wealthy to lead humble lifestyles and avoid expensive jewellery so they could use their money to give generously to poor refugees fleeing religious persecution.
Calvin’s system worked so well that there were no beggars on the streets, and in 1554 one observer called Geneva “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles.’

From: Crossfield.com Charity and the Protestant Reformation

From a social justice perspective Calvin may have been attracted to the Democrat point of view. “Obamacare” may have been a positive measure in his eyes and even investing in jobs growth would have received a warm response. (I’m sorry, American brothers and sisters, Calvin had a definite socialist slant!)

However I am also sure that “gay marriage” and the right to abortion would have horrified him.

This highlights the dilemma for the conservative evangelical Christian. The polarisation of policies in which there is good and bad on both sides makes voting such a treacherous issue. Each way I turn there is a nasty compromise. My vote may save a child from abortion but if the social policies are absent he may be left to a life of unemployed crime with minimal healthcare. I know that that is facetious but I am trying to make a point: to vote in a God honouring way is nigh on impossible if there is not a God honouring candidate for whom to vote. That means men and women need to stand up as candidates for the whole counsel of God – not just the ear tickling policies. This would give Christians someone to vote for – even if they weren’t elected.

Categories: Calvin, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “For Whom Would Calvin Vote in the US Election?

  1. I know you can’t cover everything in a short post…but the critical issue is the role of government. In Geneva the church ran the state, right? As a Christian Republican in a culture where the government is separate from the church, I am all for social activism on the part of individuals and the church. Instead of paying higher taxes, I’d like to keep more of the money God blesses me with in order to invest in the social programs that work- done in the name of Christ, rather than the government programs that don’t have accountability or proven effectiveness.

    • Interesting perspective. Thank you for responding. For a nation “under God” shouldn’t the poor and destitute be a communal concern. I was struck in 2003 while visiting the US at the amazing inequality I saw. Travelling through Louisiana I saw 3rd world poverty. Where are the Christians standing up for these people? Western Europe and Australia aren’t perfect by any stretch but maybe they have a better balance on personal and social responsibility. Thank you again. I love it when people make me reflect further. Bless you.

  2. While I think our hearts are alined on the issues of care for the needy, coming from different political systems we have different perspectives on the role of government. Personally, our family has had foster children, started an inner-city Christian school, lead after-school reading programs for poor children, all done in the name of Jesus Christ to his Glory alone. We personally give more money to charity and church than we pay in taxes. (I also just heard that foreign charitable aid from the US is greater than our governments foreign aid, but I can hardly believe this.) I am pretty sure that private charities in the US enjoy much greater support than do similar entities in countries that tend to look to larger government to care for people. I also have heard that while the evangelical Christians tend to be more conservative/right wing in the US that in UK our most like minded Christian counterparts would be more left leaning. Perhaps it has something to so with have an established church and therefore looking at the state as more of a functional arm of the church. We tend to look at the state as a potential enemy of the church if left unchecked. Constitutionally, we look at the federal governments and the states as having limited powers- powers that really can only be handled by the government such as criminal law enforcement and national defense. The more of your money the state takes the more they take the place of God in your life and others. People then look the state as their savior. Churches give the poor money and invest in their lives through relationships. The state gives money, with no strings attached, and teaches people to be dependent on the state. I agree that the poverty in parts of the US is shocking. But it is not that there is not lots of aid, but some don’t access that aid. In Louisiana there are some places, in the bayou, where outsiders of any sort, even bringing private or state aid, are just not welcome. It is hard to get a good view of the real situation traveling through.
    Thanks for you thoughtful comments. I love where I read elsewhere on you blog that is you get older you get more reflective and have more questions. I am finding the same- less answers and more questions!

    • That is truly wonderful and I am sure that God will and does bless it mightily but what about people in need who don’t live near people like you?

      • Oh, there are lots of people like me! And certainly charities reach lots of people far away. Although, our hearts are generally more moved by those nearby I agree.

        In some systems, and to a great extent our own here in the US, the government can use the coercive power of the state to take some people’s money and give it to other people. On one level, how is this legitimate? Why is it necessary? If all the people on your street got together and 51% decided that everyone should give $10 to a needy neighbor how is that just? Suppose you wanted to give your $10 to a needier neighbor two streets over or in another country. Government EVERYWHERE is prone to waste and corruption. And perhaps all people and institutions are to an extent as well. But when people have choices of what charities to support it encourages efficiency and honesty. Most importantly, the Scriptures tell us what to do as a church with funds voluntarily given. The scriptures tell us what to do as individuals. But I have never read anything that tells me to take my neighbor’s money that they do not want to give and to give it to someone else that I think might need it more than my neighbor.

        Are you currently living in Australia? My son has spent time there and we have hosted exchange students from there. I know that the plight of the aboriginal people has been an incredible challenge. What might we in the US learn from Australia’s experience- government or private charity- in serving this group?

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