is Your True Allegiance?
By Marshall "Rusty" Entrekin
The apostle Paul was a citizen of Rome.
He did not renounce this, but rather, asserted his citizen's
right to a trial and appeal when his enemies sought to kill him. The
twelve apostles, likewise, were citizens of the nation of Israel.
However, it is clear that the ultimate allegiance of Paul and the Twelve
was to the Kingdom of Heaven, not to any earthly kingdom or power.
While on trial, Paul faithfully and boldly
proclaimed Christ before Caesar, even when no one else spoke out in his
defense. According to Eusebius, “after defending himself successfully,
it is currently reported that the Apostle again went forth to proclaim
the Gospel, and afterwards came to Rome a second time, and was martyred
Likewise, when Peter and the rest of the Twelve
were brought before the ruling Jewish council for proclaiming Jesus as
the One who had just healed a cripple, this is what happened:
And then the High Priest
questioned them. "We strictly forbade you to teach in that
name--did we not?" he said. "And see, you have filled
Jerusalem with your teaching, and are trying to make us responsible for
that man's death!" Peter and the other Apostles replied, "We
must obey God rather than man."
Plainly, the highest allegiance of the Apostles was
not to any earthly kingdom or power. Is our greatest allegiance also to
the Kingdom of Heaven? If
we, like the Apostles, desire to be disciples of Jesus, we also must be
willing to boldly risk persecution, death, imprisonment or torture, when
the laws of our nation or the decrees of it's rulers and judges
contradict the laws of God.
That is one reason why the leaders of communist
dictatorships, like Nero of old, persecute true Christians. They want
the people's allegiance to lie with them, not with God. But don't fool
yourself into thinking that there are not similarly inflated egos, who
will also greedily consume your soul here in the West, if you will only
let them. Even here in the democratic West, you will inevitably have to
choose between following men, or following God.
Theologian Paul Tillich identified a principle
which, while it was intended to guide us in our reaction to the customs
of pagan religions, can also be applied to the subject at hand. He said
that Christianity should be the "center of crystallization for all
positive religious elements after they have been subjected to the
criteria implied in this center."
In other words, if we Christians see certain practices of other
religions that are more in line with Biblical principles than our own,
we ought to adopt them (stripped clean, of course, of any idolatrous
elements). This is because
our first allegiance is to God and His kingdom, not to any
extra-Biblical "religious" customs or things.
Of course, in order to judge these practices accurately, we must
be careful to correctly identify the biblical criteria which lie at the
center of our faith, which are love and it's out-flowing expressions,
including truth, mercy, kindness, generosity and justice.
We should apply this principle to every new thing
we encounter. If a new
custom, idea, technology, medicine, clothing, invention, or any other
thing is found to be more in line with Biblical principles, then we
ought to adopt it. Why? Again,
because our highest allegiance should to be to God and His kingdom, not
to old customs, or to old things. "Custom without truth,"
Tertullian said, "is error grown old."
On the other hand, following this principle of
subjecting everything to Biblical criteria also means that we should not
embrace something merely because it is new.
Since our first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, if something
new is contrary to Biblical principles, then we ought to strongly reject
it. Jesus followed this
principle, criticizing the Pharisees because they transgressed the word
of God for the sake of their traditions.
Should we not, as believers, also apply this
principle to how we conduct politics?
In our nation, most evangelical Christians have given their
support to the Republican Party, because of its pro-life, pro-family
platform, which they believe is more in alignment with higher biblical
principles. This is not to
say that the Democrats have not gotten it right regarding certain
things, such as the importance of preserving our natural environment,
and the need to help the poor. But when we weigh these issues on the
scales, the value of human life, and the importance of the family as the
foundational unit of our society tips the scales in the favor of the
Republican Party for most evangelicals.
Because of this, the rest of what I am going to
write is specifically directed to believers who have chosen to be
Republicans. But if you are a pro-life Democrat, someone who
optimistically clings to the hope that the Democratic Party can be
brought back in line with Biblical values, or a die-hard conservative
Democrat like Zell Miller, these principles will apply to you, too.
Just substitute the party names, and draw the logical
conclusions. However, if you are someone who, like Nancy Pelosi or Barak
Obama, ardently fights for anti-biblical values, and yet conveniently
claims to be a Christian, this is not meant for you. I find your claim
to be a Christian as credible as a claim to be Santa Claus. Jesus said
that we can recognize a tree by its fruit, and I'm not about to abandon
that means of discernment. No matter what your mouth is saying, your
deeds are speaking louder. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will
obey my commands." It's as simple as that. If you are fighting
against God's commands, you don't really love Him.
Evangelicals must make it plain to all concerned
that our first allegiance is to the Kingdom of Heaven, not to a
political party. We should make it very clear to the Republican Party
leadership that if the party ever abandons Biblical principles by
embracing homosexual marriage, abortion, pornography, extra-marital sex,
or any other form of rebellion against God and His moral precepts, we
will withdraw our substantial voting bloc, and create or align with an
alternative party. Otherwise, we will compromise our effectiveness as
"salt and light" in our political system.
It is very important that we adopt this attitude,
because although the Republican Party has gotten many things right, they
certainly have not historically gotten everything right. Sometimes the Democrats have rightly accused the Republicans
of mistakes, ill-conceived policies, or moral failings (and at other
Related to this, the Republican Party has
historically been a defender of free enterprise. But free enterprise,
which can be considered natural and Biblical because it was assumed from
the start in the laws given by Moses to the nation of Israel, can easily
be perverted into personal and corporate greed if not regulated by just
laws. Moses, imbued with wisdom from the Spirit of God, foresaw this
danger, and instituted civil laws to prevent this from happening. Had he
not done so, eventually there would have been a few rich people ruling
over a mostly impoverished population, and virtually no middle class (as
has happened in some third world countries). Here are just a few of the
laws Moses instituted to prevent that from happening:
1. Originally, all
property was divided up among the Israelite families. It could not be
permanently sold. Every 50 years, any property which had been sold was
supposed to revert back to the ownership of the original families and
their descendents. This was called the Year of Jubilee.
2. Israelite citizens who
became slaves as a result of debt could not be kept as slaves forever.
After seven years, they were to be set free and given enough provisions
by their former master for a fresh start. (Our laws allowing bankruptcy
every seven years seem to follow this pattern of mercy).
3. Farm crops were to be
reaped or gleaned only once. What was left over, or ripened late, was to
be left for the poor to freely gather.
4. Children were to honor
their parents with support when they grew too old to provide for
5. Workers could not be
forced to work seven days a week. They were to be given a day of rest.
6. An Israelite could not
charge a fellow Israelite interest for a loan.
While we do not live in an agrarian society, and
these laws were intended for the nation of Israel, this does not mean
that we Gentiles cannot follow them in spirit. There are principles of
mercy and compassion that we can identify in all of these laws. We ought
to follow those principles, and encourage our government to follow them
as well. Whenever our political party of choice leans toward support of
corporate and personal greed, or does not consider the poor, in
violation of these and other biblical principles, we as Christians must
call it to account.
I believe that it was wrong, for instance, and a
violation of the Geneva convention, to throw prisoners, no matter how
morally repugnant they might have been, or how much a threat to our
nation they might have been, into Gitmo with no hope of trial. The right
to a fair trial is a basic human right found in the Bible. But how many
Christians who aligned themselves with the Republican Party protested
this violation of a God-given right (and violation of the Geneva
Convention, a treaty our nation agreed to abide by)?
When violations of moral law such as this occur, we
ought not to cover for the Republican Party and its leaders, and pretend
that what they have done is not so bad.
We might be tempted to do this, because we fear that if we don't,
we will give the opposing party an upper hand.
The result, however, is that in the long run it does just the
opposite. If we do not hold
the leaders of our party accountable, they will continue in their
practices, loose credibility to the public at large, and in the next
election the nation will suffer for it (as I believe happened in the
last Presidential election.)
Likewise, we should not oppose everything the
Democratic Party wants to do just because it is, by nature, "the
enemy" of the Republican Party in our two-party system. It makes us
look ridiculous and childish if we oppose something good merely because
it has been proposed by a Democrat.
Instead, we must ask, "Is this in accord with Biblical
principles?" If it is, we ought to support it.
Lastly, we must hold not only our chosen political party, but our nation
to account. If a law, declared war or executive policy selfishly serves
our nation, but violates a biblical principle or is unjust, we are
duty-bound to oppose it.
We must warn all nations, rulers and kings that
they ought to submit to the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven. Justice,
righteousness, mercy, love, respect for the value of human life, and
compassion for the poor ought to be the hallmarks of any government.
Nations that abandon these principles, as history demonstrates, will
eventually fall under the judgment of God. As a new t-shirt I want to
buy proclaims, "There is a higher Court than the Supreme
When each of us stands before that Court, the only
Court capable of judging our thoughts, motives and actions without
error, every true Christian will find mercy for our sins, as we have
extended mercy to others, for Jesus will be our advocate, or
"defense attorney" at that court. He will argue that He took
the punishment for our sins upon Himself on the cross. But what will
determine the rewards, if any, that we will receive? They will be
determined by the extent to which we demonstrated our allegiance to God
and His Kingdom through our actions. Not the extent to which we
were devoted to a political party, nation, charismatic leader,
government, or even some church institution.
The question is, as our society is growing more and
more out of step with God and descends into moral lawlessness, will we
be bold enough to pass the many tests of our true allegiance that we
will encounter? Jesus said that because "iniquity will abound, the
love of many will grow cold."
"Lord," we therefore pray, "You said
that the night is coming, when no man can work. Is the sunset now
beginning, or is the light merely being obscured by the clouds? In
either case, give us boldness to work all the harder while we can. If
the night is about to fall, we plead with You, please keep the flame of
our love burning even in the midst of the cold and darkness. May those
who are cold and shivering find warmth in the glow of it. May our true
allegiance ever be with You, and may we be found faithful to You, even
if it means persecution, imprisonment, or death."
Rusty Entrekin is a theology graduate
of Louisiana College. He and his wife Julie have seven children, with
four still at home, and four grandchildren. Currently, he resides in
Kennesaw, GA. He writes apologetic and theological articles to help
people come to know Christ and grow closer to the Lord. If this article
has blessed you, and you would like to free him up to write more, you
may make a donation below.
Rusty previously decided not to apply
for 501c3 ministry status, so that he can write about political matters
without worrying about government interference. Because of this, your
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greater reward for your donation: treasure in heaven!