We have a new president-elect: A letter to my church

November 10, 2016

As I watched the election results come in on Tuesday night, I asked myself, “What does this change about what I do tomorrow?” I asked, “What does this election change about what my church does in the morning?” “What does this change about what God requires of his people?”

My conclusion? Not much.

We have a new president, but the same King.

Remember the time Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They gave a few answers of who other people were speculating about who he was. Then Jesus asked, “But you, who do you say that I am?” And Peter responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!” (Matt. 16:16).

Jesus did not need to hear the answers to those questions. His disciples did. They needed to know as Jesus pivoted to the Cross, that he was the King of Glory. They needed to know that while everyone was looking for a political hope, he was their eternal hope. Jesus’ disciples still need to be sure of the difference between what looks like power and what is actually power.

According to exit polls, evangelical voters showed up in mass to elect Donald Trump. I recall another time in history when God’s people got their way with a ruler. The surrounding nations had a king, so they thought they needed one too. Instead of honoring their king and trusting God, they trusted their king and forgot their God. It was a good run, but not for long.

We should pray for Mr. Trump and that his administration will create a better environment for life and liberty in America, but we should only bow to and depend on the King Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise.

We have a new president, but the same enemy.

I woke up this morning to pray for and serve people who are trying to manage the carnage of pain that sin has left in their wake. The husband who is leaving his family still won’t return my calls. That teenager is still fighting against her mental demons. That man is still making decisions that will devastate his wife and daughters. That couple is still sacrificing their family on the altar of the American dream.

Satan is feeling no post-election blues. He knows our tendency is to place our affections on the things of earth and to idolize our leaders. He knows that if a Trump presidency makes evangelicals feel like winners, then he is still in play. The apostle Peter wrote:

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Whoever occupies the White House, our enemy is the same. He loses in the end, but until then, he seeks to destroy everything and everyone we love. So let us be sober and be alert, and keep our eyes on Jesus.

We have a new president, but the same neighbors.

If about half the country voted for Mrs. Clinton, then it is reasonable to assume that many of the people around us did too. Whatever we may think about Democratic policies, most of the people who voted for Mrs. Clinton believe that her policies would be better for the nation than Mr. Trump’s. Today, they are disappointed, and they are anxious.

The rest of our neighbors, who presumably voted for Mr. Trump, are likely optimistic and satisfied with the results. They believe that he will bring new hope for them and for our nation. But they will be disappointed sooner or later with his performance.

Jesus said that our second greatest responsibility, after loving his Father, is to love our neighbors as ourselves. If he said that all of the Law is summed up in these two commands, then it would seem reasonable for us to do whatever it takes to obey him by loving the people around us.

Whether they look like us, vote like us, or have the same hopes for our nation as we do, Jesus’ call on us is to love them. That great command means that we listen with empathy, speak the truth in love, share the gospel faithfully, and serve even when it hurts.

Almost 80 percent of the people in our community indicate no relationship with Jesus or a church. Today is a great day to show and share the Good News of Jesus with them.

We have a new president, but the same calling.

Government has the power to make the mission of the church easier or more difficult, but it does not have the power to change the mission of the church. The church can thrive under various forms of government, but it cannot thrive if it compromises on Jesus’ calling to make disciples who make disciples.

We can celebrate wins or grieve losses, but Jesus did not leave us here to garner political power. He has providentially left the church in America to win the world to Christ. It seems many evangelicals are not as willing to give their life for the gospel as much as they are to give themselves to their presidential hopeful.

What a tragedy it would be to win the White House and lose the souls of those God has given to our care. So let us examine the place of our deepest passions. Let us consider what thrills us and what grieves us. And then let us embrace the work of the evangelist so that we may win the world as the Day draws near.

We have a new president, but the same home.

I love America, but this is still not my home. During Jesus and Pilate’s sobering conversation, Jesus reminded the governor:

“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.” (Matt. 18:36).

Because this is not Jesus’ kingdom, this is not our home either. God has blessed America, but America is not our future. We are literally passing through. We are living as exiles in a foreign land. We are ambassadors of Christ and our citizenship is in heaven.

While we look to heaven and wait for our coming King, we have a responsibility to seek the welfare of our city, our nation, and the peoples of the world. When God’s people were exiled in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah wrote,

This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles I deported from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters. Take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. 7 Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper.” (Jer. 29:4-7)

So while this is not our home, it is our steward of trust that God has given to us that the peoples of the world would know the goodness of our God. So let us live in the world with Christian distinction without being wooed by it. Let us pray for God’s favor that the world would experience his grace. And let us share Jesus so that the world would enjoy his presence forever with us when our time on earth is done.

This post was originally published here.

Daryl Crouch

Following 28 years in pastoral ministry, Daryl Crouch now leads Everyone’s Wilson, a community transformation initiative that helps churches bring the whole community around every school so that every student, educator, and family can live whole. He’s married to Deborah, and they have four children. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24