restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Politics: The Art of the Ought

 David Alan Black

The “lesser-of-two-evils” philosophy is a completely pragmatic approach to politics. Of course, such an approach is congruent with the prevalent understanding of politics as the “art of the possible.” And therein lies the problem.

Throughout most of our nation’s history, politics was considered a part of ethics, not philosophy. Consequently, people sought to take seriously the teachings of Scripture in reference to the sphere of civil government. Their thinking was, “Duty is ours, and consequences are God’s.”

William Einwechter, editor of the Christian Statesmen and vice-president of the National Reform Association, has devoted an entire essay to the theme of politics as ethics. He writes: “The National Reform Association does not see politics in the pragmatic sense of the ‘art of the possible,’ but rather, sees politics in the ethical sense of the ‘art of the ought.’” He adds: “The National Reform Association firmly believes that the ethical standards that govern politics are found in the revealed word of God, not in public opinion or human reason” (see his essay “The Judgment Is God’s,” in Explicitly Christian Politics, p. 61).

Let me exhort you to take this seriously. Our woes in America began when God was forced out of the central shrine of our hearts, and “philosophy” and human reasoning were allowed to enter. Politics is not to be understood as mere expediency to be toyed with in an election year. We dare not try to bypass ethics if we would see righteousness restored in the land.

Evangelical religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that voting “pragmatically” makes a man a responsible citizen. The Scriptures are almost totally ignored. I think a new world will arise out of the religious mists when we approach our Bible with the idea that it is not only a book that was once spoken, but a book that is now speaking.

To a people caught in the fog of “public opinion or human reason” God says, “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s” (Deut. 1:17). As Rev. Einwechter says (p, 87), “We advocate an approach to politics that is explicitly Christian. Some may call us fools for such an approach, claiming that we are out of touch with ‘reality.’ But we reply that any other approach is out of touch with reality, because the primary political reality of today, or any day, is that ‘the judgment is God’s.’”

August 18, 2004

David Alan Black is the editor of His latest book is Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.

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