Unfortunately, it seems that my reasons for rejecting much of Grudem’s efforts at producing teaching materials for the broader Calvinistic world continue to prove to be correct. In addition to the fact that I reject his positions on continuationism and the eternal subordination of the Son, I believe he is flat out wrong on fundamental Christian ethics.
I believe it is helpful to cite some of the commentary on the unaltered Westminster Confession of Faith that is produced by the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America for this discussion. These are my denomination’s standards which I believe contain a helpful summary of the system of doctrine found in Holy Scripture.
My commentary is placed in Italics below the text of the Testimony.
Excerpted from the RPCNA Constitution's Testimony (p. A69 f.) on the Westminster Confession of Faith Ch. 23:
1. We reject the belief that civil government is unnecessary or essentially evil.
Really, it is silly that stating this is even necessary, but clearly there are Christians who do not read their Bibles carefully.
2. God has given the exercise of all authority to the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the Divine Lawgiver, Governor and Judge. His will concerning the purpose of civil government and the principles regarding its functions and operation are revealed in the written Word of God. The Holy Spirit enables even unregenerate rulers to fulfill their proper functions. A true recognition of the authority and law of Christ in national life can only be the fruit of the Spirit’s regenerating power in the lives of individuals.Deut. 4:39; Dan. 4:25, 32, 35; Matt. 28:18; Phil. 2:10; Eph. 1:22; Isa. 33:22; Deut. 17:18-19; Isa. 45:1-7; Ezek. 36:27.
Now we come to a true “first things” component. Christ’s purposes for government and the principles of how it should operate are revealed in the Word. A recognition of Christ’s authority comes only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. God has assigned to people, both individually and collectively, the responsibility for establishing and maintaining civil government, and the people are accountable to Jesus Christ for the proper exercise of this responsibility.Deut. 1:13-14; Deut. 17:15; 1Sam. 8:22; 2 Sam. 5:3; Hos. 8:1, 4; Eccl.10:16-17
I am accountable to Jesus Christ for my role in establishing civil government through participation in its processes.
4. Every nation ought to recognize the Divine institution of civil government, the sovereignty of God exercised by Jesus Christ, and its duty to rule the civil affairs of men in accordance with the will of God. It should enter into covenant with Christ and serve to advance His Kingdom on earth. The negligence of civil government in any of these particulars is sinful, makes the nation liable to the wrath of God, and threatens the continued existence of the government and nation.Phil. 2:10; Rom.13:4; Ps. 132:12; Ps.103:17-19; Ps.2:10-12
The government of the United States is Sinful and was so from the moment it’s founding documents (the Constitution, in particular) failed to recognize that its authority comes from Jesus Christ, who wears the crown, and instead attributing its authority to man-centered autonomic “We the People.” Until corrected, we are liable to the wrath of God.
5. We reject the view that nations have no corporate responsibility for acknowledging and obeying Christ.
Given the number of times this is demonstrated in Scripture and praised by men acting righteously and by God Himself, this should not be a point of debate.
6. It is the duty of every Christian citizen to labor and pray for his nation’s official and explicit recognition of the authority and law of Jesus Christ, Preserver and Ruler of nations, and for the conduct of all governmental affairs in harmony with the written Word of God.1 Tim. 2:1-2; Phil.2:9-10; Acts 2:1-39; Ps. 2:8-12; Esther 4:14
7. We deny that constitutional recognition of Jesus Christ means union of church and state.
8. We reject the teaching that Christians should not seek the establishment of Christian civil government.
And affirm against the antinomians and their claims that just because there have been corrupt forms of Christian civil government, that we should not seek one with proper accountability to the Church when called upon to correct its failings (more on that in a bit).
9. No particular form of civil government is commanded in the Scriptures. Any form of civil government which observes the duties and limitations set upon it by God in His revealed Word is acceptable to God.Ex. 18:21-24; Prov. 29:14; Deut. 1:16-17.
10. We deny that simply having a democratic or republican form of government insures God’s approval and blessing.
In contrast with those who hold some kind of civil religion and can countenance placing the nation’s flag inside the sanctuary. (In light of #4)
11. All officers and employees of a civil government are to be servants of God for good. They are responsible to God for the discharge of lawful duties rightfully assigned to them by human authority. Neither their official position, however, nor the orders of their superiors, nor the will of the people, exonerates them from blame for any unscriptural action or inaction.Rom. 13:3-4; 2 Chron. 19:6-7; Prov. 29:26.
14. When justly administered, capital punishment is a scriptural application of civil authority.Rom. 13:4; Gen. 9:6; Acts 25:11; Num. 35:29-34.
15. The Christian, when such action involves no disloyalty to Christ, ought to be involved in the selection of and to vote for civil rulers who fear God, love truth and justice, hate evil, and are publicly committed to scriptural principles of civil government.Ex. 18:21; Deut. 16:18; 2 Sam. 23:3; Rom. 13:3
“When such action involves no disloyalty to Christ” - in light of #4, I can’t support a vote for anyone who would not make the national recognition of the crown rights of King Jesus an essential and non-negotiable part of their platform. Yes, I’m aware this means I may be dissenting for the rest of my life. I’m Postmillenial in eschatology and I have a long view of things.
16. It is sinful for a Christian to take an oath which compromises his supreme allegiance to Jesus Christ. It is also sinful to vote for officials who are required to take an oath which a Christian himself could not take in good conscience. Voting involves the voter in responsibility for any act required of the official as a condition of holding his office.Deut. 10:20; Isa. 45:22-23; 2 John 1:11; 1 Tim. 5:22.
This is really the center of the argument. I cannot make an oath to the Constitution which claims to obtain its authority from men and not from Jesus Christ who is King of all nations. To do so would be to lie: to deny the truth about Christ’s authority. I should not expect to vote for one who would not make a modified oath to defend the Constitution (see also Items #25 and 26): one which would insert that Christ is King and that the authority of all Governments stems from His authority alone. And if that wasn’t enough to do the job of making you a dissenter, this one surely will as the ethical sledgehammer: “Voting involves the voter in responsibility for any act required of the official as a condition of holding his office.” If I vote for a man whom I know is not guided by a Biblical worldview and principles, I can expect that man to do things counter to God’s will as a matter of course. And that means I’m willing to take on responsibility for the actions of a leader who denies Christ’s rightful authority. I will not accept that responsibility on behalf of Donald Trump.
17. The Christian must profess publicly and the Church must witness, that Christ is the Ruler of every nation. Whatever the official action of the civil government of a nation may be, the Christian in his civil actions must always exhibit his loyalty to Christ. The Christian must relinquish every right or privilege of citizenship which involves him in silence about, or denial of the supreme authority of Jesus Christ. Matt. 5:13-14; Prov. 3:5-6; Ps. 37:7; Matt. 22:21; John 17:14-15; Mark 13:9.
The nails in the coffin: “the Christian in his civil actions must always exhibit his loyalty to Christ” and “The Christian must relinquish every right or privilege of citizenship which involves him in... denial of the supreme authority of Jesus Christ.”
22. Both the Christian and the Church have a responsibility for witnessing against national sins and for promoting justice.Amos 2:6-8; Amos 5:14-15.
23. The failure of a civil government, through negligence, ignorance, or rebellion, to recognize the authority of Jesus Christ does not cancel its just authority. A civil government, though guilty of many sins, still has authority in so far as it furthers some of the scriptural ends of civil government.Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1; Rom. 2:14; Acts 23:5; Ex. 22:28.
Yet, we are not anarchists who attempt to negate the authority of even our wicked civil government that countenances the profaning of marriage or the wholesale slaughter of the unborn.
24. Due submission of all persons, cheerfully rendered, to civil officers and to civil government in general, is pleasing to God. No person, however, is required by God to obey civil authority when such authority demands that the citizen or subject do that which is clearly contrary to the law of God as revealed in the Scriptures. In such cases the duty of the Christian is to obey God rather than men. The Christian has a special obligation to render due submission to civil authority in order to express his loyalty to Jesus Christ, to prove his concern for the welfare of all men, and to bring honor to the name of Christ.1 Pet. 2:13-14; Rom. 13:5; Acts 5:29; Titus 3:1.
25. The only submission which a Christian may promise to any civil government is due submission in the Lord. Any promise of submission or oath of allegiance beyond this is sinful. If and when the civil government of a nation requires, as a condition of civil service or of holding office, an oath which implies that civil allegiance transcends the swearer’s convictions of conscience and obedience to God, it is the Christian’s duty to refuse such an oath. It is within the corporate power of the Church, acting through its courts, to declare that facts or circumstances which may exist in a specific situation render the taking of a civil oath sinful.Gen. 25:33; Matt. 22:21; Eph. 6:12; Matt. 4:10; Deut. 10:20.
26. It is the duty of the Christian to ascertain whether any prescribed oath of allegiance to the civil authority involves acceptance of unchristian principles stated or implied in its constitution of government. If the oath of allegiance to civil authority explicitly or by clear implication requires support of anti-Christian, atheistic, or secular principles, then the Christian must refuse on these grounds to take the oath of allegiance.Acts 5:29; Acts 4:18-20.
28. It is the duty of the Christian Church to testify to the authority of Christ over the nations, against all anti-Christian, atheistic, and secular principles of civil government, and against all sinful oaths of allegiance to civil governments. When the Church by orderly processes in her own courts determines that the oath of allegiance to a civil government compromises the Christian’s loyalty to Christ or involves the Christian in the support of sinful principles of civil government, the Church must require her members to refuse such sinful oaths. Acts 4:24-29; Eph. 5:11; Rev. 3:15-16; Acts 15:28-29; Rev. 2:13-14.
And the RPCNA does not allow its members to take an oath for the U.S. Constitution without modification.
29. When participating in political elections, the Christian should support and vote only for such men as are publicly committed to scriptural principles of civil government. Should the Christian seek civil office by political election, he must openly inform those whose support he seeks of his adherence to Christian principles of civil government.1 Chron. 16:31; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Chron. 19:6-7; Dan. 2:48; Eph. 4:25.
“When participating in political elections, the Christian should support and vote only for such men as are publicly committed to scriptural principles of civil government.” That pretty much eliminates any candidate I’ve seen any party (including 3rd parties) nominate.
So, there you have the modern-day Reformed Presybyterian (North American Synod) position and the one which I, myself, take.