Retired world-renown neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson, is in the news headlines again as he announces his intention to run for president of the United States in the 2016 election. Opening his campaign announcement was a “gospel” choir singing the lyrics of rapper Eminem’s hit song, “Lose Yourself.” As someone who runs on the platform of restoring morality to America, it is quite a contradiction for Dr. Carson to not only use a “gospel” choir to sing a secular song, a song from an artist that has no scruples about using vile and inflammatory language while openly degrading women and glorifying vice, but also the demonic message communicated in the lyrics of the song. A few of the lyrics of particular significance are the following: “This world is mine for the taking/Make me king, as we move toward a new world order/ A normal life is boring, but superstardom’s close to post mortem.” Could these words possibly convey Dr. Carson’s sentiments and intentions?
Carson’s position on same-sex unions
Dr. Carson is no stranger to controversy and has been under intense public scrutiny, especially concerning his ever-changing position on homosexuality and his frequent public apologies and recantations, since he began considering running for president. His latest position is described in his own words: “‘I support human rights and Constitutional protections for gay people, and I have done so for many years…. I support civil unions for gay couples, and I have done so for many years.’”1 While giving the pretense that he is a champion for civil liberty, Carson contradicts the teachings of Christ and the Bible. The Bible in no way supports the homosexual lifestyle; Christ in no way supports the homosexual lifestyle; and Bible-believing Christians cannot and will not support the homosexual lifestyle! It would be understandable if Carson had stated that he would acknowledge same-same unions if the federal or state governments were to legalize them, however, as a Christian he cannot under any circumstance support such unions.
Four points to consider
The following points confirm from history and God’s word that Seventh-Day Adventist Christians should not vie for political offices for four primary reasons: first, their inability to honor the Seventh-day Sabbath, which Ben Carson even as a candidate has been in violation, holding book-signings, rallies and other campaign events on the Sabbath; second, the negative influence that would be exerted upon other Seventh-day Adventists, by giving encouragement for them to run for political offices; third, the prophecies concerning the Mark of the Beast crisis, the enforcement of the National Sunday Law, in Revelation 13 will be fulfilled and cannot be averted regardless of who is in office, in which all the branches of government will have an integral role in passing; and fourth, the Jesuits are intimately interwoven in the political processes, even climbing their way up to become counselors to kings and shaping the policies of nations, which if politicians oppose the agenda of the Jesuit order, they would face fateful consequences (see The Great Controversy page 235).
Joseph and Daniel’s political involvement
Not a few Seventh-Day Adventists often cite the cases of Joseph and Daniel (God’s prophets) as a justification and biblical endorsement for Seventh-Day Adventists to run for political offices. They will mention that God not only approved of it but abundantly blessed them and the nation as a result of their positions. This is a reasonable point that is raised; however, neither Joseph nor Daniel campaigned, lobbied, or petitioned for their positions, but Divine providence orchestrated events so as to place these faithful men in positions of authority; such was also the case with Esther and Nehemiah. There is a marked difference between persons running for office and their being asked to serve in certain positions. For one thing, a person asked or selected to serve, has the ability to stipulate terms and conditions. For example, one term could be that he/she will not engage in secular work on the Sabbath.
Seventh-Day Adventists in legislative councils
Many Seventh-Day Adventists misuse the following statement from Ellen White to justify Seventh-Day Adventists aspiring and running for political offices.
“Dear youth, what is the aim and purpose of your life? Are you ambitious for education that you may have a name and position in the world? Have you thoughts that you dare not express, that you may one day stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness; that you may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation? There is nothing wrong in these aspirations. You may every one of you make your mark. You should be content with no mean attainments. Aim high, and spare no pains to reach the standard.”2
Firstly, it must be understood that this statement must be considered through the lenses of scripture. There is no example given in the Bible of patriarch, prophet, king, or apostle ever running for political offices. Those who did hold political offices, as aforementioned, were appointed, they never campaigned in order to be elected; in fact, it was their fidelity to God that enabled them to be placed in positions of authority. A closer look at the sentence which says that the youth “may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation” is not an endorsement for running for political office. It should be remembered that both Joseph and Daniel helped to enact laws for their respective nations, yet they never ran for office. In modern history, Seventh-Day Adventist pioneer A.T. Jones deliberated with legislatures and defeated a Sunday Law bill in 1888. A.T. Jones was not a politician, yet he was used in a legislative setting. May of 1888 Senator Blair brought a national Sunday bill to the United States Senate, with Jones appearing later that year before a Senate committee to oppose that legislation on behalf of the church, the first of many testimonies he would give in those settings.
“In the debate before the Senate Committee when the Blair Sunday Rest bill was under consideration… Alonzo T. Jones succeeded in crushing the same, and causing the committee to report unfavorably upon the bill. Thenceforward he has ranked among them as one of their best debaters.”3
Christ’s relation to politics
Christ’s relation to government and politics cannot be ignored, as He is man’s example in all things. It is evident from both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that Christ’s ministry did not include political involvement at any level. His followers should not involve themselves in activities that Christ completely shunned.
“The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses,–extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet the Saviour attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart.”4
Jesus kept aloof from all earthly governments, not because of indifference, but simply because he understood that human efforts and legal enactments were ineffective to bring about true reform; the solution to societal abuses and social ills must reach man’s heart. Such a remedy could never come from congress; the solution is a spiritual work. Because Jesus stood aloof from earthly governments so should those bearing the name “Christian.” When the people desired to crown Christ an earthly King, He withdrew Himself (John 6:14), and later explained the reason “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…”John 18:36.
“The remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart. Not by the decisions of courts or councils or legislative assemblies, not by the patronage of worldly great men, is the kingdom of Christ established, but by the implanting of Christ’s nature in humanity through the work of the Holy Spirit. ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ John 1:12, 13. Here is the only power that can work the uplifting of mankind. And the human agency for the accomplishment of this work is the teaching and practicing of the word of God.”5
Should Seventh-Day Adventists run for political office?
God would not have Seventh-Day Adventists run for political offices at any level. Even if their intentions were good and sincere; and if their desire is to legislate according to Bible principles, God still does not sanction this practice.
“Christians are to work among unbelievers, they are not to appear like worldlings. They are not to spend their time talking politics or acting as politicians; for by so doing, they give the enemy opportunity to come in and cause variance and discord. Those in the ministry who desire to stand as politicians should have their credentials taken from them; for this work God has not given to high or low among His people.”6
“Christianity–how many there are who do not know what it is! It is not something put on the outside. It is a life inwrought with the life of Jesus. It means that we are wearing the robe of Christ’s righteousness. In regard to the world, Christians will say, We will not dabble in politics. They will say decidedly, We are pilgrims and strangers; our citizenship is above.”7
Should Seventh-Day Adventists vote for politicians?
Since Seventh-Day Adventist Christians are not to run for political offices, that would leave people of the world to run, people who do not understand the distinctive messages committed to Seventh-Day Adventists. The logical inquiry is: “would God have Seventh-Day Adventists vote for worldlings?”
“The Lord would have His people bury political questions. On these themes silence is eloquence. Christ calls upon His followers to come into unity on the pure gospel principles which are plainly revealed in the word of God. We cannot with safety vote for political parties; for we do not know whom we are voting for. We cannot with safety take part in any political schemes. We cannot labor to please men who will use their influence to repress religious liberty, and to set in operation oppressive measures to lead or compel their fellow men to keep Sunday as the Sabbath. The first day of the week is not a day to be reverenced. It is a spurious sabbath, and the members of the Lord’s family cannot participate with the men who exalt this day, and violate the law of God by trampling upon His Sabbath. The people of God are not to vote to place such men in office; for when they do this, they are partakers with them of the sins which they commit while in office.”8
Voting on temperance versus voting for politicians
Those who are familiar with the writings of Ellen White realize that she strongly advocates temperance reform in her writings and even urges Seventh-Day Adventists to vote for laws in favor of temperance, prohibition and abstinence. She has also given counsel to vote against the laws licensing the sale of intoxicating liquor. However, she has never sanctioned voting for candidates or political parties, she counsels against it, stating that the sins they commit while in office are attributable to those who helped place them there. Plainly speaking, Seventh-Day Adventists voting upon issues that would uplift society is permissible; however, Seventh-Day Adventists voting for politicians is prohibited. Yet an Adventist publication published an article encouraging Seventh-Day Adventists to vote in the presidential election. “We [Seventh-Day Adventists] should participate in the voting process available to us when it is possible to do so in good conscience and should share the responsibility of building our communities.”9 There are some Seventh-Day Adventists churches that are used every election cycle as polling stations; this should not be!
Carson’s candidacy brings Seventh-Day Adventists in the spotlight
The author of a recent article reporting Ben Carson’s announcement to run for president in the 2016 election makes some interesting predictions regarding the scrutiny that will be placed upon the Seventh-Day Adventist church, of which we will cite two primary ones.
“‘Carson’s campaign will definitely put the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its teachings into the spotlight… Adventists do have a doctrinal interpretation of the Bible that points to the Catholic Church and the Pope as the ‘Anti-Christ’ – that is, an earthly power that arrogates to itself authority that rests only with God… As people dig down in the weeds of Adventist beliefs, I think what they’ll find will be intriguing, perhaps curious and sometimes disturbing – and Dr. Carson will get associated with all that, whether or not it’s a belief he himself holds,’ Anderson said. ‘It’s going to create some challenges for him.’”10
“During the next 18 months and during Carson’s tenure as president, if elected, Adventists are going to cringe every time the matter of Carson’s religion comes up for fear of clumsy media misrepresentations or clumsy statements from Carson himself.”11
Seventh-Day Adventists have a most solemn responsibility at this time in earth’s history to prepare themselves and others for what is soon to break upon this world as an overwhelming surprise. To become preoccupied with political questions would be to neglect the duty that God has called them to perform, cast a negative influence upon Seventh-Day Adventists and their peculiar message and lifestyle, and also imperil their own salvation. At such a time in earth’s history, when the Mark of the Beast could be enforced at any time, God’s people should not be wrangling over political issues, and running for political offices, especially since the United State’s government will be the very one that will suppress religious freedom and repudiate every principle of its constitution. It is highly probable that those Seventh-Day Adventists that are so adamant about running for offices and/or exercising their right to vote will be the very ones who go along with the popular vote to enforce Sunday Worship.
“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death.”12
2 White, Ellen. The Review and Herald, August 19, 1884
3 The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Volume 76, 1889, page 73
4 White Ellen. The Desire of Ages (1898), page 509
6 White, Ellen, Fundamentals of Christian Education, (1923), page 483
7 White, Ellen, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers (1923), page 131
8 White, Ellen, Fundamentals of Christian Education, (1923), page 475
12 White, Ellen, Testimonies For the Church (1882-1889), page 81