Some of my Christian friends tell me they can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump because, when faced with a choice between the lesser of two evils, the morally right thing is to choose neither one. They recommend voting for a third-party or write-in candidate.
CHR Comment: Grudem is a well known Evangelical theologian. His opinion piece on townhall.com is criticized by Jonathan Merritt in Religion News Service and by Michael Stark in the Huffington Post. I am posting links to all three opinion pieces below so readers can explore them. I will add a few observations:
Merritt attacks Grudem for publishing a book on politics, which he does not like/disagrees with. His argument is that Grudem is not an expert on the topics in his book on politics so he should not dare to publish on them. I suppose that since so many of us are not experts on political or policy issues, by Merritt’s reasoning, we are excluded from expressing opinions about the issues. He seems to advocate a world run by experts when we live in a republic that requires the involvement (voting) of persons who are not experts. Merritt’s reasoning is odd and really just a personal attack on Grudem.
Stark’s article seems better written but, not surprisingly, differs with Grudem in its arguments and conclusions. One line in Stark is very telling and potentially confusing to readers. He writes:
“If it is a duty to vote, as Grudem says, then we ought to vote for the candidate that is least objectionable and will promote freedom to the greatest amount of people.”
Stark is not describing Grudem’s view but his own view when he refers to promoting freedom to the greatest amount of people. Stark is presenting an argument for consequentialist ethics, with greatest freedom as the highest value in politics. In connection with this, he emphasizes the love of Jesus as a means of Christianizing the argument.
In contrast, Grudem is arguing something quite different. He asks:
“Which vote is most likely to bring the best results for the nation?”
As a more traditional Christian ethicist, Grudem is thinking in terms of divine-command ethics rather than consequentialist ethics. He is not concerned about calculating what most people regard as the most valuable but what God has said is most important or “best” as he puts it. So Grudem and Stark are working with very different systems of ethics. They are interpreting and applying the Bible in very different ways.