Someone recently asked for a summed up, quick description of the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS/ERAS) Trinity controversy going on in the evangelical world. This was my best shot. Unfortunately there’s so much more to it that it’s hard to condense, but this is what I threw out there, complete with my own bias in disagreement with Grudem 😉 All of this is my own understanding and not necessarily reflective of all that could or should be said. And as usual, if in anything I err, please feel free to correct, constructively.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” – Romans 13:1-7
In 15 days, a new President will be elected and as a result, about half of the country will be disappointed with the results, one way or the other. Things are favoring Obama at the moment and so it appears he will be our next President, though of course, you really never can tell what the results will be until people actually start pulling the lever. The pollsters can say whatever they want right now. Many elections in the past have proved that point.
Regardless, whoever the next President is should be served with excellence, from whatever political vantage point you are coming from as a believer in Jesus. I do not endorse Obama because of his policies on abortion, economics, social issues, and a host of other things. However, as a believer who submits to the verses as cited above, if Obama is President, he should be served with excellence by those he oversees as the Commander in Chief. To not serve him with excellence, but instead serve him merely out of duty with bitterness in your heart, is to rebel against God’s authority which is then ultimately a personal issue between you and the God of the universe, (which all rebelling, in any form, is exactly that).
Many self-professed conservative Christians will be tempted to rebel and revolt in either small ways (within their hearts through a form of bitterness or grumbling) or in bigger ways (through external, unlawful means). But to do so is ultimately to rebel against our Creator. For whoever is President did not get there by luck or chance, but only got there because God would have it so in His permissive will and over-arching plan. Just as Jesus said to Pilate before He was crucified for us who believe, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above,” (John 19:11) so also no President or leader in any position over us is able to make it to that office unless the Lord would have it so. Nothing catches God by surprise and nothing is apart from His will.
Even more than that, even if things were to get terribly ugly in this country and people become so polarized so as to rebel in a violent way, as John Hendryx from Monergism.com has been keen to point out in an interview he did a number of years ago, the Gospel is not chained because of a political regime that is in power over us. In fact, the Lord uses those things we see as hindrances many times as the very instrument He will use to bring the Gospel to those who are wrath-bound. Just ask the Christians in China. The Communist government there sought to squelch Christianity by humiliating believers through forcing them to go door-to-door and collect residents trash. What wound up happening was the exact opposite of what was intended: the Christians began spreading Christianity by going door-to-door, and now the Gospel is spreading like a wild-fire throughout the country. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1-2). And is that not a perfect picture of that?
Now I do not believe things will get to the point of Chinese communist oppression with Obama in power (though the Fairness Doctrine is definitely a start down that road) and conservatives who think so need to get out more and have a few conversations with the opposing political side. I’m simply making the point that even if our candidate of choice doesn’t make it (whoever that may be), as believers, we should know and remember first and foremost, that no governing authority can squelch God’s power to save and change people.
That does not mean that we should be uninvolved in the political process and not support our perspective for what we believe is best for the country, for a democracy doesn’t work unless the people are involved. But it does mean that even if things do not go the way we envision or think they should go, we should know that it is all within God’s sovereign, ordained plan and power to have it so.
Therefore, we should trust Him that He knows what He is doing in decreeing whoever the President will be. So if Obama is voted into power in 15 days, conservative Christians should submit to God and serve “President” Obama with excellence, to the glory of God, as the One who has instituted him as a leader over us. And if McCain is voted into power, liberal Christians should submit to God and serve “President” McCain with excellence, to the glory of God, as the One who has set him up as a leader over us. And we all, as believers in Jesus, should live in unity under the all-encompassing power of the Gospel to save the lost. Is that not our ultimate hope in every way to begin with, even moreso than a political regime that is temporal and fading as soon as it is instituted?