At the intersection of religion and politics is influence. Specifically, can the righteous influence unrighteous leaders? Of course, there are all kinds of religious interest groups attempting to influence policy one way or the other. But what about individual influence?
At the time of this posting, the United States is a largely Christian nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles – a nation “under God”. There is a sitting Vice President in Mike Pence who openly professes his faith and belief in Jesus Christ and who most would describe as spiritual and even pious. Yet, he works for and serves at the pleasure of a President in Donald Trump that has had, to be generous, a “checkered past”. He is unapologetic, prideful, and a notorious womanizer. Many Christians openly object to him based on their own moral principles, accurately pointing to behavior that is difficult if not impossible to justify spiritually.
Only God can know the heart of individuals. He is the ultimate arbiter of anyone’s righteousness or unrighteousness before Him. Yet, from the outside looking in, the Trump-Pence spiritual dynamic does seem at odds. Does Scripture reveal any similar dynamics involving the righteous influence of unrighteous leaders/rulers/kings?
How Scripture answers "Can the Godly influence ungodly political leaders?"
The Godly can definitely influence ungodly political leaders1,2,3,4,5,6,7. In most cases, we don’t know of the personal influence they may have had on the leader1,3,4,5,6,7 but we are told of the policy influence1,2,3,4,5,6. In at least one case, we can see the influence and effect they had on the leader personally2.
In all cases, we confidently know through Scripture’s testimony the righteousness of the influencer. God was at work through the pure hearts of Joseph1, Daniel2,3, Ezra5, Esther4, Nehemiah6, and Paul7.
Conversely, we don’t know the spiritual condition and state of those they influenced. Did they turn their hearts in the end? We don’t know, and like today, we won’t know until that Day. But, it’s not implausible to think that the great Nebuchadnezzar himself awaits us in heaven2. Wouldn’t that be something?
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