Do Your Politics Determine How You Interpret the Bible?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted May 13, 2019

We may have been taught as kids that discussing politics and religion in polite company isn’t the best thing to do. Among close friends and family—yes, or maybe—but in larger social settings, that’d be a big “no.”

A new survey, however, shatters that taboo. Writing at the Religion in Public blog, religion scholar Ryan Burge asks, “Are All Republicans Biblical Literalists? Are All Democrats Heretics?”

Burge, a pastor in the American Baptist denomination, begins by noting that evangelical televangelist Pat Robertson, who is 89 years old, does not subscribe to the “young Earth” creation theory, which teaches that the planet is around 6,000 to 10,000 years old, depending on the details. Instead, he believes that the planet is 14 billion years old and that folks need to embrace this. Robertson’s view, broadcast on the 700 Club daily television show, was quickly countered by well-known creationist Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, who challenged Robertson to a debate.

Robertson’s view, of course, departs from what many Bible-believing Christians would say about the age of the Earth. In other areas, such as marriage, the family, respect for life, Robertson generally lines up with traditional Christian values. For decades he has commanded a large following among the nation’s evangelical believers.

Middle View Is Most Popular

What caught Burge’s attention is the fact that Robertson was a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 1988 and received a good share of the votes. Burge writes, “The link between a literal view of the Bible and the Republican party is unmistakable, right?”

Well, not necessarily: For the past 34 years, the General Social Survey, which measures “what Americans think and feel about such issues as national spending priorities, crime and punishment, intergroup relations, and confidence in institutions,” has included questions about people’s views of the Bible.

The General Social Survey has offered three options in its surveys: 1) The Bible is “the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word”; 2) It is “the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally”; and 3) The Bible is “a book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men.”

From the first time the question was posed until today, some 50 percent of Americans surveyed came to the second conclusion, apparently as Pat Robertson did in terms of the Earth’s age, that not everything in the Bible should be taken literally.

As Burge noted, “The share of the Republicans who believe the Bible is inspired is 1.4% different in the last thirty years, and for Democrats the difference is .1%.” More people who identify as Democrats are picking the “book of fables” option, something Burge attributes to the rise of “nones,” young adults who say they’re “spiritual but not religious” and are unaffiliated with a given faith tradition. Burge adds, “the GOP is becoming more of a religious party as biblical orthodoxy is a growing share among their ranks.”

Political views are, of course, a personal matter. However, it is vital that governments respect and protect the religious freedom of all citizens; such protection is an issue that transcends political platforms, or at least it should.

Politics Change, God’s Word Doesn’t

Something else that should transcend politics is the veracity of God’s Word, the Bible: In Isaiah 40:8, we read, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” And Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Even more amazing is the unity found within Scriptures even though it was compiled over many centuries. In his book The Ultimate Resource, Pastor Doug Batchelor writes, “The Bible is a miracle in so many ways. Though written over a period of 1,600 years by about 40 different authors—on three different continents, speaking four different languages—it’s completely harmonious. Written by kings and peasants, with a wide spectrum of education in between, it delivers one message and one voice.”

That unity is demonstrated in many ways, of course, but it adds up to a clear message: The Bible can be trusted! In a world where so many icons and institutions are found to be flawed and fallible, the Bible’s veracity remains unimpeachable. Our FREE lesson “Is There Anything Left You Can Trust” will guide you to an understanding of the Bible’s history and its truthfulness.

Where to begin? How about with an accurate, dependable translation of the Bible? Pastor Doug answers a listener’s question about Bible translations during a Bible Answers Live program. Knowing how to select a translation can aid in your understanding of this vital book.

In the end, where you stand politically matters little in terms of your eternal destiny. There will be Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and independents in heaven, but they will all have had to believe the Bible’s message of salvation, and that’s found in the Scriptures. Read your Bible—and reap the blessings!

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