Book Review: David Platt’s ‘Before you Vote’ Gets an ‘F’ From Biblical Discerners

(Capstone Report) If God has a standard, why aren’t Christians required to vote accordingly?

One troubling theme among Big Evangelical celebrities in 2016 was their outright work to suppress Christian voter turnout. Men like Dr. Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) were doing the dirty work of the Democratic Party by telling Christians not to vote for the only electable pro-life candidate in 2016. In 2020, the same cast of characters are working hard to prevent Christians from voting for Donald Trump. In other words, they are feverishly trying to help pro-baby murder candidates like Joe Biden. David Platt’s new book, Before You Vote: 7 Questions Every Christian Should Ask, is no different.

Platt pursues this purpose explicitly. He writes, “As products of human invention, political parties inevitably have idolatrous trajectories and trend toward positions that do not honor or reflect God’s character. No human political party has a monopoly on justice.3

This is true as far as it goes. No political party has a monopoly on justice. However, one political party is pro-baby murder—and that is the greatest injustice of modern history. Abortion is a modern holocaust.

Notice that “3” in that statement above. It signifies an endnote. The Kindle version of Platt’s book does not include the function of clicking on the number to see the endnote as so many Kindle titles do. Rather, one must scroll all the way to the endnotes to read a rather important point.

Platt relegates a critical item to this endnote. He puts a significantly important disclaimer where most are not likely to read it: “In this statement and the paragraphs that follow, I do not mean to imply that all political candidates and parties stand on equal moral footing. Inevitably, different candidates or parties will align more or less with biblical foundations in ways that will (and should) affect a Christian’s vote.”

That’s huge. And it is the opposite point one draws from reading the text of these chapters. Platt justifies Christians arriving at different political conclusions regarding how to vote.  Indeed, that is the entire point of his book—unity over political division.

He does this citing Christian liberty (Chapter 6) and lack of biblical specificity on many modern political issues. Platt’s goal is Christian unity. For Platt, unity should trump politics. However, Platt fails to adequately address how there can be unity when some Christians cast votes that further explicitly immoral, anti-Christian policies.

Consider again his footnote. “I do not mean to imply that all political candidates and parties stand on equal moral footing. Inevitably, different candidates or parties will align more or less with biblical foundations in ways that will (and should) affect a Christian’s vote.”

If a political party aligns more closely with biblical standards, does it not follow that we should vote for that party?

And if we know one candidate more closely aligns, do we not have a responsibility to vote for that person?

And if we can know this, we should determe which policies most closely align with the Bible so we know for whom to vote.

That would be a far better use of our time.

Essentially, that is what Wayne Grudem pursued in his Politics According to the Bible. Grudem highlighted general principles and analyzed how contemporary political policies aligned with the biblical standard.

In contrast, Platt affirms there is a biblical standard and how that standard is knowable; however, he goes to great lengths to excuse Christians making different choices. For Platt, unity is the end that trumps everything.

But, if there is a biblical standard, isn’t it our responsibility to vote according to it?

Platt and all of us should ponder if unity is desirable at the cost of great error within the church. And not to put too fine a point on it, but anyone voting for a politician that is pro-abortion is likely in great error.

Why is this so hard for Evangelical Elites like Platt to affirm?

Can we have fellowship with Christians who promote murder?

God forbid. There can never be communion with such evil. Yet, some of our Evangelical Elites are averse to political turmoil.

Platt’s experience praying for Donald Trump highlights political division in America and the church, according to Platt. He writes, “We are swimming in toxic political waters that are poisoning the unity Jesus desires for his church, and we are polluting the glory Jesus deserves through us in the world.”

And of course, Platt tells us why he refuses to speak clearly. He opines, “Interestingly, however, many of these genuine followers of Jesus have conflicting ideas about who or what should be criticized or condemned.”

Would we defend those who have differing views on marriage? Slavery? Fornication?

What makes abortion or similar political questions any different?

Answering How Christians Should Vote for Platt is all about not judging other Christians

Platt then embarks on a quest to answer why Christians should be allowed to differ over politics.  He provides this through answering Seven Questions on politics. The book is divided into chapters for each of these questions.

Question 1 is standard fare in any Christian political theology for an American audience—Does God Call me To Vote? The answer, of course, is yes. There is some good in this chapter in Platt’s handling of the biblical data. Platt rightly expounds on the creation of government (arising out of Noahic Covenant) and the limitations on government. He writes, “God does not give people the responsibility to prosecute all crimes that bring dishonor to him. God gives systems of governance to humankind in order to punish things like stealing or murder, but not things like selfish pride or false religion.”

This is accurate. God granted all men government and not only his chosen people. Of course, that does not mean government is necessarily excluded from working with religion; however, it is not necessarily part of its core mandate.

Platt writes, “The entire idea of a representative democracy—a government of the people, by the people, and for the people—means that we are not just the ‘governed’ in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2; in a very real sense, we are also the ‘governing.’ Our votes collectively shape our government.”

Then Platt promotes the nonsensical idea of “convictional inaction.” He calls this an idea, “which is basically a conscious and deliberate refusal to support any political candidate, organization, or party,” and done so that “political candidates, organizations, and parties in the United States might make significant changes in order to woo their vote.”

If both parties were equally evil, this would be a legitimate answer. However, if one party is worse than the other, then such inaction or quietism would naturally redound to the aid of the greater evil. This is fraught with moral problems and as Dr. William Lane Craig pointed out is a dereliction of the Christian’s moral duty.

Platt’s subtle attempt to suppress Christian voter turnout in the 2020 Presidential Election

Platt’s second question is another subtle attempt to lower Christian attention to important political matters.

“Question 2: Who has my heart?” outlines why Christians should not worry about political outcomes. Again, this is good as far as it goes.

Platt cites examples of Christians living fruitful lives under Islamic totalitarian states. Platt craftily uses this as an attack on politically active Christians. He writes, “Needless to say, Fatima and Yaseen have never considered putting their hope in their government. Similarly, their peace, joy, and confidence do not hinge on political leaders, platforms, or policies. Could we learn something from them?”

See what he did there? If you responsibly put time and effort into politics, then somehow you are not as good a Christian as those living under totalitarian states. This is crass manipulation. It implies conscientious political participation is equivalent to worry. Nonsense.

In this chapter, Platt takes a few..

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Editors’ note. This article was written by the Capstone report and published there. It is much longer and goes into more detail, and so if you’re interested please check out the whole thing. Title changed by Protestia.

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