In the forthcoming Spring 2011 issue of Religion & Liberty, we are featuring an interview with Wayne Grudem. His new book, Politics According to the Bible, is an essential resource for thinking through political issues in light of Scripture (Zondervan 2010). If you write about faith and politics, this book is a handy resource to have at your disposal. I find myself using it more and more as a resource in my own writing.

He is also the author of Business for the Glory of God, which is definitely a book that fits nicely within Acton’s mission. It was a delight to talk with Wayne during this interview. He is extremely gracious and kind and a serious thinker who contributes so much not to just issues of policy for Christians, but theology as well. Be sure to check the upcoming print or online edition for the rest of the interview.

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Dr. Wayne Grudem is the research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona. He previously taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years. He has served as the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as President of the Evangelical Theological Society (1999), and as a member of the translation oversight committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He also served as the general editor for the ESV Study Bible (Crossway Bibles, 2008). Dr. Grudem’s latest book is Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan, 2010). He recently spoke with Religion & Liberty’s managing editor Ray Nothstine.

It seems that political partisanship has been especially toxic in recent years. What can Christians do to be an effective witness against the hyper-partisan politics that many say is bad for the country?

I don’t think people should avoid being partisan. People should stand firmly for the right policies, as they understand them. What we can avoid is failing to act with kindness and graciousness towards those with whom we disagree.

When I encourage Christians to influence governments for good, this does not mean an angry, belligerent, intolerant, judgmental, red-faced and hate-filled influence, but rather a winsome, kind, thoughtful, loving, and a persuasive influence that is suitable to each circumstance and that always protects the other person’s right to disagree. But one also has to be uncompromising about the truthfulness and moral goodness of the teachings of God’s Word.

I want to encourage Christians to be careful of their attitudes and not to bring reproach on their cause by acting with hateful attitudes toward others. However, I do not think that the solution to political partisanship in the United States is some kind of compromise in the middle of two party’s differences. This is because I think in many cases there are morally right and wrong positions, and we should continue to hope that the morally right positions will triumph and the wrong positions will be defeated in the normal course of ordinary political discussion and by democratic elections.

What are your thoughts on the tea party movement? Is it a movement Christians should be involved with?

I am in favor of following the original intent of the Constitution, and I am in favor of lower taxes and less government control on people’s lives. I think, as I explain in my book, those positions are consistent with Biblical teachings on the role of government and the way judges should function in a nation. In the Bible, judges have the role of interpreting and applying laws, but not of changing laws or making laws. That is the difference between conservative and liberal views of the courts. So those are good emphases in the tea party movement, as I understand it: those are emphases on a limited role for judges, the original meaning of the Constitution, and lower taxes and smaller government. Those are consistent with Biblical teachings. Now, you know, as in any movement there can be diverse views, but from what I know of the tea party movement, I’ve found that it has been a good thing.

You supported Governor Romney in the last presidential election. Do you think there is a credible argument for not supporting Romney, solely because of his Mormon faith?

Yes, an argument can be made that it is a significant political liability. I don’t think I recognized how strong the suspicion of Mormonism was, and the anti-Mormon sentiment among some evangelical Christians. Mormon theology is, frankly, very different from evangelical Christian theology on what we believe about the Bible, about the nature of God, about who Jesus is, about the nature of the Trinity, about the nature of Salvation and the nature of the Church. Those are incredibly huge differences in doctrine. And while I can support a Mormon candidate for political office, and I am very happy to work with Mormon friends on political issues, I cannot cooperate with them on spiritual issues because our theology is so different.

I still think that Governor Romney is a highly qualified candidate, and an honorable and trustworthy and wise man, and if he wins the nomination, of course I will support him and vote for him.

  • http://ancienttruthmedia.com Athanasios Paul Thompson

    Brother Grudem has been on a spiritual journey and has managed to offend believers on all sides of the evangelical spectrum. But at least he is honest about it. His new book will be read by many and I will be one of them. It will be an attempt to figure out politics by figuring out the Book of books. Well, at least we might have a better understanding of biblical ethics and history which might help. This is a worthy subject for a book but it nearly guarantees conflict on all sides. Given his interesting history of having once been a biblical literalist and fundmentalist he will likely try to balance the political right and left. I wonder if he will dare to acknowledge that President Obama must inevitably be placed on the hyper non Christian left side of the page and Mitt Romney on the non Christian far right side. Foolishness? Yes and probably more foolishness than anything else. But what of the influence of religion in the political arena? There are a number of books already in the discount bin of Barnes and Nobles on that theme. It can however be argued that the President if a Christian is certainly on the Christian left and from that vantage point – is a religious accomodationalist. What of Romney, the one supported by Grudem in the Mormon’s failed run for the Republican nomination? Although Romney’s record of early on abortion support and his uncomfortable bragging about a Massachusette’s government controlled health care plan are obstacles, perhaps he has a chance. Anyone running against the current President faces a big challenge. How will this book help or hurt that unknown candidate to bring together an enormous combined demographic of conservative middle road Roman Catholics and Evangelical right moderates with Independents of no religious persuasion and both moral and economic conservatives together? This book will in some way need to be a conservative right leaning with a seasoning of spicey liberalism to do the job. Don’t get me wrong in this. We need more well written articles and books that speak with honesty about the high value of the American Constitution and its foundational influence springing forth from a much greater document, the inscripturated Word of God. If Catholic journalist/commentator firebrand Bill O’Reily and Mormon media controversalist Glenn Beck can motivate the masses to wake up and stay up for the challenge … just maybe Grudem’s book can help. Okay, forget about my preoccupation with the coming election, maybe both secularists and religionists who want to be more well informed on his theme will learn something about God and politics. If so, we can thank the author and keep our eyes on his ever evolving spiritual journey.

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