I'm a big Mark Noll fan, no bones about it. I studied with him at Wheaton, he has influenced me tremendously and I think he is one of the countries great historians - a subtle thinker and a profound theologian even though his disciplinary specialty is history. His election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences was a well-deserved achievement and a great moment for Christian scholarship.
And you know what's coming - I disagree with him regarding his Christian Centuryarticle entitled - None of the Above: Why I won't be voting for President. Frankly (and with all due respect - really, I think the world of him), I think its kind of a cop-out (he's not a reader, so I'm probably safe and he can't change my grade!!).
The idea of not voting as some form of protest just doesn't make any sense, except perhaps on the margins. It isn't practical and it is too divorced from the messiness of the actual political realities that exist. I don't think you have to give in to those political realities, like a pig wallowing in mud, but you do have to work with them. Ultimately, I am inclined to think that NOT VOTING is a luxury that we don't have (or shouldn't exercise). Its letting the perfect be the enemy of the good - or good enough.
To avoid being co-opted, Noll has chosen opting out. That doesn't seem like the best response.
I generally agree with his choice of the important issues that we as a country and we as Christians should be focusing on - "race, the value of life, taxes, trade, medicine, religious freedom and the international rule of law," though I would perhaps couch them differently. I don't want to go into specifics, except to say that I think Christians can agree that an issue is important and even agree on the ends they would like to achieve, while honestly disagreeing in the best steps to meet those ends - race, taxes, medicine and foreign policy would fit those categories for me - but that is a discussion best handled later or over drinks.
(Hat Tip - GetReligion)