Speculative Politics 4: Rebuttal By Marc Schooley
That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next.
— John Stuart Mill
It’s quaint rhetoric that Kerry likens me to a Hobbit; however, I wholeheartedly accept. For the Hobbits are the children of faith, tending the fields, minding their own business, trusting in the great power that rules the world: And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. Yet when evil arises, it is Frodo who is heroic, assuming the role thrust upon him, willing to sacrifice all to the ends of Middle Earth and the pits of Mount Doom.
Perhaps Kerry fancies himself an Aragorn, but this cannot be. For Aragorn is the reticent king, exiled far from the machinations of men, disentangled from the affairs of the world. Like Frodo, Aragorn assumes the heroic mantle, but only when the role is thrust upon him. Rather, Kerry is Boromir, actively pursuing the ring of power, that by it his enemies may be crushed. We all know how well that worked. Kerry’s metaphor is a very good one. 🙂 After all, who curses the name of Christ because of the Amish? Falwell, Robertson, Jackson, and, as much as it pains me, Calvin & Servetus — well, politics just has that special touch, doesn’t it?
In my first installment, I set forth two propositions: America is not a Christian Nation and the church should not be involved in politics. The latter was positively agreed to; the former was not disputed1.
Kerry’s use of the analogia fidei is admirable; however, to utilize this hermeneutic principle properly, he ought discuss like and similar passages first — 1 Pet 2: 13-20, for instance — before proceeding to passages that tangentially or abstractly, if at all, apply to Romans 13.
Ineffective are his appeals to publicans and other political officials. Arguments from silence are sound only if the arguer demonstrates reasons to assume what was not communicated was intended. There are no such reasons offered for the texts mentioned. Yet, why doesn’t Kerry reference texts and data that do suggest such problems with politicians and politics, such as John 18:36, the political involvement of the Sanhedrin, that the Jews desired a political Messiah, the howling of the crowd for the political dissident Barabbas, that friendship with the world is enmity with God, the ruler of the kingdom of the air and principalities and powers of Ephesians 2 and 6, the Israelites’ rejection of God in favor of a king, and Genesis 6:2, among many others?2
Historical Rebuttal Rebutted
I’m glad Kerry has invoked history. The Nazis were voted into power, and any Christian that voted for them shares somewhat in their sin. Why we think similar atrocities can’t happen here — when the Bible tells us what human nature is like, what the powers and principalities of this world are like, and for the simple fact that our own American history is riddled with atrocities equal to or exceeding Nazi Germany — is beyond me.
Kerry claims it’s a good thing our founders didn’t share my sentiments. I disagree; my sentiments are not to exterminate a continent’s worth of indigenous peoples and to institute slavery. And this notion of the modern American Christian crusades? Should we have destroyed the Russians, who killed millions of their citizens? The Chinese, who killed forty million of theirs? Pol Pot? Leopold the II, Ismail Enver? The list goes on and on and on and on, and even occurs today in places like Rwanda and Darfur, not to mention the ongoing, ubiquitous stain of modern slavery. I return the question to Kerry twofold: are we supposed to attack the entire world as a holy Christian army, and isn’t it clear not only that the politics of the world fail consistently, but that they’re a bloody, dirty business the church, and Christians, should not stain themselves with?
I argue, conversely, that God “sets up kings and deposes them” (Dan. 2:21) and that “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19).
With regard to Sascha König, it seems to me that Sascha follows the scriptural model: he is not political, but strives to act godly in the arena and position in which God deposited him. This is the biblical model: Joseph, Moses (after his failed political action — see Acts 7:25), the Judges, David (Hobbiting away in the fields), Daniel, Esther, Jesus …
Disguised in Kerry’s line of attack appears to be a principle that claims Christians who vote are better American citizens than those who do not. I do not grant this as remotely true, and I would ask the voting advocate to provide solid, positive reasons for their pro-vote stance with regard to the following premise:
If a Christian lends her voice and support to a candidate and a political party, she is complicit in their platform and actions once elected, has attached the name of Christ to their actions, and is complicit in any unintended consequences. If you deny this premise, then quit telling me you’re complicit through your vote when something good happens! As a practical illustration, just think how fast the bumper stickers come off once an elected candidate has proven himself a buffoon. 🙂
Given this, it’s easy to see how we’re culpable — somewhat — for our vote, and how we may drag the name of Christ through the political mud.3
- The voter is party to the unjust foreign war and the carnage that ensues: bombing of civilians, torture, rape, starvation, privation, etc. Biblical principle abused: love thy neighbor; love thy enemy.
- The voter is party to discrimination against the immigrant. “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 19: 33-34)
- The voter is party to complaints against taxes. If you owe taxes, pay taxes (Rom 13:7) Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
- The voter is party to the installation of foreign dictators and the empowerment of evil men, many of whom commit heinous atrocities, e.g. Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Osama Bin Laden, the Shah of Iran, Taliban, et al. “For dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28).
- The voter is party to spending more than we take in and running up huge deficits and debt. “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has” (Prov. 21:20).
- The voter is party to the ruination of the environment. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15).
- Ironically, a vote for a Republican is not good citizenry, as their passage of the Patriot Act, FISA amendments, and support for the NDAA removes certain rights American citizens are pledged to uphold. Time to speak up, Kerry Bonheoffer!
- The voter is party to the oppression of Palestinians behind fences and in camps, many of whom are our Christian brethren, particularly when the voter is involved with certain Christian political ministries. Along with this, the idea that we would entice Jewish people to move en masse to Israel just so they can be slaughtered in the coming apocalypse is reprehensible politics, and theology, for that matter.
- The voter is party to an inherent tribalism and animosity against the other half of the country, most notably displayed in offensive phrases such as Take our country back! “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18).
- The voter is party to a failed war on drugs that has cost the lives of thousands of people, empowered drug lords and cartels, and resulted in the unjust sentences of hundreds of thousands of men.
- The voter is party to the maintenance of the rich and powerful, Wall Street, corporations, special interests, and the military-industrial-congressional complex, rather than favoring the poor and disenfranchised. “If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2: 3-4)
- The voter is susceptible to repeating party talking points that are half-truths.4
Kerry quotes Mill, but I’d adjust it a bit: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends than that good men should look on and do nothing but vote.” Certainly, we can do better as Christians, and I argue that the biblical model does just that. Each man, woman, and child should not rely on or entangle themselves fruitlessly and with bitter consequences (intended and unintended) in the political process, but act pursuant to the dictates of God’s Word in the circumstances in which God has deposited them. Far from being against action as Kerry suggests, my position says the Christian ought to be salt and light; I just claim, based on Scripture and the evidence, that politics are not saltshakers and flashlights.
I am pleased that Kerry is unsettled by my words. At worst, what I say here can just encourage Christians take a hard look at politics, as we should do with every sphere of life. At best, however, what I’m talking about is a freedom found in Christ while releasing the power and privilege of this world, and in the Author of our Faith, who is indeed sovereign over the affairs of mankind, despite our votes.
By the way, Paul indeed appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen, but isn’t Acts 26:32 interesting?
Kerry, you’re my good Christian brother, and I thank God for you…please remember we agree on so much more than this.
Soli Deo Gloria
- Kerry reported that I used the backdrop of human history for this, but every event I listed was an American event. ↩
- Note again that I am merely expressing my view of Scripture. The reader’s view on this is between her and the Holy Spirit. I thank Kerry for his spirit and for that of the commenters and return the same. ↩
- Under the assumption that the audience here is largely center-right, I’ll confine my examples to Republican issues. I suspect most people (Kerry indeed mentioned it) here will argue that a vote for the Democrats is a vote for abortion, among other things, and therefore wrong. The unsettling thing — I hope I can show — is that turned around, it’s just as problematic. ↩
- Since I work on contract to NASA, I personally received the announcement Kerry alluded to. The current administration has thus far fostered healthy space exploration, including human, robotic, and telescopic and has taken positive steps to promote it. No worries, Sci-Fi writers! 🙂 ↩
In general, I think this is well said and the point well made.
Those who hate having power over others — who tremble with fear at the ramifications and feel crushed by the burden of the responsibility — are the ones who should have authority. Those who enjoy being in control should definitely not be. In order to keep out the ones who wrongly want to control others, some people who hate participating in politics — who view it as a grim, heavy, evil burden — should participate. Granted, voting doesn’t help much with this, but I think it’s microscopically better than nothing.
Also, note that Frodo ultimately failed. In the end, he fell to the temptation of the Ring, and it was only Providence that saved the day. Whatever the Ring may represent, no one in the story was worthy to wield it. Not Gandalf, not Aragorn, not Elrond, not Galadriel — in the end, not even the humble Hobbit Frodo. I think this is relevant to the idea of a “lesser of two evils.” Yes, no matter who is elected, the government will do evil. We will fail, as a nation, as citizens, even as Christians. None of us can resist the temptation of power, and I don’t think complete non-involvement is victory against the temptation. But God is still sovereign, and I hope that Providence will save the day for America as much as it did for Middle Earth.
The political theory that I have been told was advocated by the founders of the United States, which I think does have some merit, is that all people are in some way responsible for the evil enacted by the government, because government is made up of normal people from the community. Ironically, the people who taught me that philosophy would probably agree with your argument. We’re responsible. The people are supposed to watch the government carefully, checking it whenever it becomes corrupt. Of course, that is an ideal that almost never happens in reality. We need to do something when evil falls. Voting is not enough, but one who votes with the right attitude is at least being observant.
I just wanted to thank Speculative Faith and all the authors and commenters involved in this series for thought-provoking and respectful dialogue!
Today’s political climate has prompted much personal soul-searching and Word-searching not only about the issues themselves, but about how vocal and/or active I believe I should be. The discussion here has given me a number of new approaches and things to consider, and I greatly appreciate all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts (and especially Marc and Kerry for taking point)!
Thanks to you as well, Teddi. I’m sure hoping it remains respectful from here on out.
From where I sit, that disqualifies the American church and a vast majority of its population wholesale…just sayin’. 🙂 We’ve met y’all’s missionaries, on their quest to save the heathen Canadians and convert us to a proper Christian culture.
I happen to agree, Marc…but I feel compelled to point out that wherever you’re getting that one from, it’s a peculiarly American tangent to the dispensational theology we hold. Same as the false notion of boxing the saved into Jewish and non-Jewish categories, all the way through to how the New Heaven and New Earth are inherited. I’m not sure whether politics caused the false theology, or false theology caused the politics.
In this context, however, I think it bears noting that the American penchant for reorganizing the world–the Balkans, Africa, the Middle East–is inherited from British colonialism, not spontaneously generated out of a vacuum by divine providence upon an exceptional nation. It was the Balfour Declaration, after all, that re-established Israel in its ancient homeland.
I suspect perhaps a misguided leap of reasoning has fueled American Christian ambitions there: Allowing that God used the British Crown for His purposes does not mean it follows that the Church should use the American government (or any other) for its purposes.
Canada is in the secular, anti-religious-hate-crime condition it is, because the institutional church collaborated with government to advance an earthly empire. Our society now suffers a lasting paranoia about returning to the abominations that occurred in the past.
“because the institutional church collaborated with government to advance an earthly empire.”
Nicely put. I suspected I might have a chance at some point to reference Carl Teichrib’s work on this specific matter. Much of the things the American church has entered politics against–new world orders, etc.–are directly related to or even caused by to the church’s involvement in politics and world affairs.
“but I feel compelled to point out that wherever you’re getting that one from, it’s a peculiarly American tangent to the dispensational theology we hold.”
Understood, and you’re cleared, but it’s not the tangent as I understand it; it’s the dominant strain.
“We’ve met y’all’s missionaries, on their quest to save the heathen Canadians and convert us to a proper Christian culture.”
Maybe I’m wrong….maybe there’s a good reason after all. 🙂
“Understood, and you’re cleared, but it’s not the tangent as I understand it; it’s the dominant strain.”
I accept that to be true in your part of the world.
“Maybe I’m wrong….maybe there’s a good reason after all.”
You don’t really mean to suggest that Texans would be happier with even more Yankees to the north…
Sometimes discussing politics takes a back seat. I had a near traumatic event yesterday involving a son, a flipped car, and an interstate, among other things. He walked away unscathed, God be praised. It’s set me back a bit, so I wanted to drop a quick line and thank you for your comments. Hope those of you up East are through the storm with no worries…
So sorry for that accident, yet so glad for God’s protection of your son, Marc. I’ll be sure to be praying for you.
Thank you Stephen,
God brought him through it well, and he’s demonstrated many adult behaviors through the process. In the end, it’ll be a blessing as all things are. But I’m sure everyone knows the feeling when you first get the call and the hectic drive down the freeway to flashing emergency lights and totalled cars. Thanks again, and thanks for the opportunity here. God bless…
At its core, this line of reasoning appears to be as follows: Since politicians are fallen human beings guilty of both honest mistakes and deliberate tyranny, Christians should distance themselves from politics in order to keep Christ’s name unsullied by the world. But this sentiment ignores many realities.
First, it ignores the form taken by contemporary government. The United States of America is a democratic republic. That means it’s quite literally a government of, by, and for the People. American Christians don’t have the option to withdraw from politics. Since every American is, by definition, a participant in America’s government, a withdrawal from politics is a political statement. It’s a statement which effectually says, “I, being invested with the legal right and civic duty to vote for my representative lawmakers, do deliberately waive said privileges in order that those who do choose to exercise them may wield disproportionate influence over the governance of my nation.” Since our form of government was undreamt-of during the ancient world, it’s pretty understandable that the Bible remains silent on the issue of voting. Whether the land was ruled by an autocratic emperor (Caesar), a benevolent monarch (David), or God Himself (in pre-Saul Israel), one thing remains constant: the individual commoner had absolutely no voice in affairs of state. But for the American citizen, the system works in reverse. Participation in American government is non-optional, inescapable. The only question is whether or not the form of one’s participation (i.e. whether one votes and, if so, for whom) proves counterproductive to one’s wishes.
Second, this sentiment of political fatalism/isolationism ignores the Biblical paradigm of Christians being “in the world but not of the world.” When Christ specifies to His Father that He doesn’t want His disciples removed from the world (John 17:15), He’s making it clear to them that they are not to withdraw from society into some kind of “holy huddle” where they might remain “pure” from the blood, sweat, and grime of ordinary human existence, fraught as it is with imperfection and evil. Rather, they are to participate in society in order to redeem society. In America today, the refusal of individual Christians to cast their ballots constitutes an ultimately futile attempt to withdraw from society in the interest of preserving not the holiness of Christ’s name, but rather their own reputations – their own impregnable aloofness from that squabbling partisan rabble obsessed with temporal law and order.
Third, this sentiment of political fatalism/isolationism ignores the fact that mere association with a sinful individual doesn’t constitute complicity in the future sins he or she may eventually commit. We’re all guaranteed to sin; Scripture makes this pretty clear. Were I as a Christian to live by this motto – were I to totally abstain from “[attaching] the name of Christ to [potentially sinful] actions, and [from being] complicit in any unintended consequences” brought about by anyone I’d supported – then I’d have to exit the world entirely. I’d no longer be able to either create or consume media, loan or borrow money, hang out with friends, join organizations, donate to causes, support missionaries, tithe to my church, get married, have children, buy or sell either products or services, or participate in the free market at all! In fact, on the basis of this reasoning (that one should for the sake of Christ’s name eschew all support of people who might prove disingenuous or disappointing) one could easily construct a worldview in which the tally of appropriate human activities consisted of subsistence farming, self-led Bible study, and street-corner preaching.
This has been, I admit, an exercise in reductio ad absurdum. But the premise I’m contesting invites such extrapolation. Indeed it begs for it. For if the mere fact that political power amplifies the sin of those who seek it leads me to conclude that any association with politics constitutes a sin in and of itself, and if the mere fact that I’m a member of Christ’s body means I must disengage from any human activity in which people are capable of making publicly visible mistakes, then I can’t artificially restrict such disengagement to the political sphere alone. I must be consistent across all spheres of life. Only then will I be able to present the world with a “pure” vision of my Savior: me!
Oh … wait a minute …
Thanks for the comment. There’s a lot offered, so I’ll try to do it justice.
I disagree with point one, but the relevance of the point is not clear to me. If all you are claiming is that my refusal to vote reflects my views on politics, that’s fine by me.
Point two, then…if you read my essays and commentary, you’ll see I haven’t advocated a Christian withdrawal from society. I’ve argued that Christians are a positive and effective societal influencs when they engage outside the political sphere, but entangle themselves in horrids from things inside it, and are generally ineffective, especially in the long term.
Rather than a futile attempt, it is the only one that works…just look around, man. When your abstraction runs headlong into real life events that contradict it, it should give you pause. Moreover, if I were worried about my reputation, I wouldn’t be here. 🙂
Point three misses the point entirely. I’m not talking about mere association. I’m talking about throwing your hat in the ring, signing on to platforms, lending your voice and support (and oftentimes money) to an organization that delivers tangible results. An associate is not necessarily complicit; a participant is.
However, you do switch to the word “support” in your last sentence. Nevertheless, we’re not talking about purchasing food from farmers, here; we’re talking about support for organizations that have platforms and deliver tangible, measurable results. Regardless, I suspect that if a farm advertised that it was donating 10 percent of its proceeds from every dollar you spent with them to a cause abhorrent to you, you’d buy from another farm. 🙂
“This has been, I admit, an exercise in reductio ad absurdum.”
I appreciate the ad absurdum; however, as demonstrated, you haven’t reduced any points of mine. Thus, it’s in actuality a reductio ad absurdum of strawmen.
“I must be consistent across all spheres of life.”
I would certainly hope so, Austin. I sincerely hope you do not support and fund any such activities: churches that preach another gospel than that delivered to the saints, entertainment media that contribute to the moral collapse of society, organizations that promote immoral causes, and on and on. Granted, it’s difficult and none of us are perfect, but the fact that it is hard gives us no reason to throw our hands in the air and quit. Given that, I’d be more than happy to receive suggestions of groups I ought not be involved with.
“Only then will I be able to present the world with a “pure” vision of my Savior: me!”
Well, no…this certainly does not follow, logically. 🙂
Thanks for your response, Marc.
My first point is not only relevant, it’s essential. As far as I understand it, your argument against voting appeals to the idea that Christians shouldn’t entangle themselves in corrupt political processes. But the fact remains that American citizens are already entangled in politics simply by virtue of being American. To not vote is to vote. If the “greater of two evils” carries off an election, those who abstained from voting are just as responsible as those who voted for the victor.
I quote your post here: “To not vote is to vote. If the “greater of two evils” carries off an election, those who abstained from voting are just as responsible as those who voted for the victor.”
==I completely and totally disagree. The politics of our fallen world are ruled completely and totally by Satan himself. Communism, Marxism, Fascism (all really variants of the same lust for power) have killed millions of people, the current estimate in the 20th century is 262,000,000. See this for the relevant and very detailed research on this number.
You cannot vote or not vote these tyrants of evil into power over others (which reason(s) I explain in more detail below).
A lamentable quote: “There is no better summation than that of Charlie Reese when he wrote years ago, “There’s no dishonor in being forced by a superior power into slavery, but it is an eternal disgrace to voluntarily surrender one’s liberty for a filthy bowl of oatmeal and promise of security by liars.”
Here is a short article summarizing (much better than I am able) here in such matters.
Here is also a short article I wrote myself years ago on a past blog, it outlays some particular thoughts on this matter of “voting” for the lesser of two evils:
Socialism is a Mark of the Beast.
Never argue with someone who knows they are right. This fundamental tenant of human society knows no bounds, is always correct in everything. When a human being knows they are right, you cannot talk with them. You cannot debate the truth of the matter. You cannot argue with them. You cannot give them facts. They will ignore such facts. You will find yourself again and again asked to justify behavior that is appropriate, but misconstrued deliberately, misquoted deliberately, twisted into sensationally corrupt dogma deliberately. You will be consistently accused of an underlying agenda that is only to your benefit. Your past will be examined, and if the right kind of dirt cannot be dug up, it will quite simply be manufactured. It does not matter if later you are vindicated, you’ve already been raked through the coals of public opinion and that is enough.
Does this description remind you of anyone? Does it strike eerily similar in your heart to a group or body of people in this world who identify with some particular doctrine? It is simply what the Master Teacher said in this most awesome axiom to describe: “They hear but cannot see the truth.”
6:60 many, therefore, of his disciples having heard, said, ‘This word is hard; who is able to hear it?’ The Gospel of John, YLT.
8:44 `Ye are of a father — the devil, and the desires of your father ye will to do; he was a man-slayer from the beginning, and in the truth he hath not stood, because there is no truth in him; when one may speak the falsehood, of his own he speaketh, because he is a liar — also his father.’ The Gospel of John, YLT.
8:47 ‘he who is of God, the sayings of God he doth hear; because of this ye do not hear, because of God ye are not.’ The Gospel of John, YLT.
Consider John 8:47. Jesus implies very strongly here that those who are of Life, those who are of their Creator, will hear the truth, welcome it, understand it. Those who are not, those whose ideology comes not from the Father, but from the one rallied against him, they will not hear him; they will not hear the truth. They are incapable of it. It is beyond them. Their ears have been closed by the one who feeds their own fear laden agenda.
What is our King and Savior Jesus trying to tell us hear? Careful consideration of his words should lend a chilling effect for those who actually value the truth. Those who know they are right (when they are obviously not) cannot hear the truth because their souls have been cloaked in darkness. They are in a deep well, or chasm, and they know not what to do or how to get out of it. Perhaps for some, the desire to know the Truth (and therefore begin a relationship with the Father who made them) is not a priority, or even a concern. Perhaps even the existence of such a Maker is so terrifying in the face of this self-imposed blindness, that its conceptualization is never even considered, for to do so would be to expose one’s own hypocrisy, idolatry and bigotry.
Men of Truth operate in the light, for all to see their deeds and judge them just or not.
Men of non-Truth–men who lust for power–operate in the dark, in the shadows where few see and even fewer truly understand the depth of such loathsome, debilitating evil.
==and you would have us vote for such men Austin?
[Biblical citation required.]
Hi E. Stephen Burnett,
I wish you had read my entire post, I provided multiple biblical references as to why politics are ruled by the evil of our world:
6:60 many, therefore, of his disciples having heard, said, ‘This word is hard; who is able to hear it?’ The Gospel of John, YLT.
8:44 `Ye are of a father — the devil, and the desires of your father ye will to do; he was a man-slayer from the beginning, and in the truth he hath not stood, because there is no truth in him; when one may speak the falsehood, of his own he speaketh, because he is a liar — also his father.’ The Gospel of John, YLT.
8:47 ‘he who is of God, the sayings of God he doth hear; because of this ye do not hear, because of God ye are not.’ The Gospel of John, YLT.
==Consider that over 50% of American citizens voted for Obama. The Russians are laughing at us, citing ignorance, read this editorial from an English/Russian site.
==The point I am making here, is very simply your vote will not make anything better. The American democracy is broken. Your vote does not matter, the majority are too ignorant to know any better, and furthermore, and even worse, the democratic process itself is broken. Consider that delegates who voted to have Ron Paul nominated for the Republican ticket were ignored/silenced. This information is available, if you look for it.
What makes you think I didn’t? I did. 🙂
(Sets off annoying handbuzzer.) Au contraire. You actually said:
And I said, and now repeat:
Prove from Scripture, not the sinfulness of men (agreed) or the fact that evil exists in the world (agreed) or that delegates didn’t want Ron Paul supporters to have their say (how does this relate again?), but the statement that you wrote: “the politics of our fallen world are ruled completely and totally by Satan himself.” By that I’m not asking for some single verse that states this directly, but Biblical evidence that Satan, and not God, is in charge of leaders and the processes that put them in power.
Thanks for reviving discussion in this already-fascinating series.
Hi E. Stephen Burnet!
Agreed this is a worthy and fascinating discussion 🙂
Apologies for setting off your handbuzzer. Perhaps I have misstated my position in this matter. No, now it is readily apparent I have indeed done so.
It is my opinion that the demon Satan/Lucifer, call him what you will since he has many names, is in fact using politics to push forth his ideology of turning away from God our Father.
The comment about Ron Paul was simply a reference to a Godly man who is/has been shunned in the political arena because he is a man who stands for the humanity and freedom of our individual souls which God gave us, our very lives here in this world.
I will submit that I cannot truly state any biblical reference to my stance per se, however I believe the verses I have referenced strongly promote my stance that Satan is using the ideology of Socialism as a means to promote his agenda of turning as many of those as he can against, and even worse, not believe in our Father from whence we are created.
(Puts away buzzer and pops out the batteries) 😀
That makes more sense — and let me clarify that I wouldn’t at all disagree with the notion that Satan uses politics to further his own end! In Matt. 4 we find that at least at that point, he is clearly under the delusion that he “owns” world systems and governments and cultures. When I read you saying that all politics and leaders belong to Satan, it sounded like you were agreeing with him. And many Christians do, to the point of shunning any political involvement whatsoever. That view, I believe, is un-Biblical, and not just because it lets potentially Satanic socialism and other false religions win. However, I also want to respect Christians who, because they have previously believed that politics will “save” us or culture, have put away political involvement at least for a while. Perhaps they need to!
Anyway, that’s what I heard, and I suppose I should have guessed better given your support for Ron Paul — which proves that you believe that some politicians are better than others. Paul, however, isn’t perfect, and I’m sure you wouldn’t endorse that view. So either way, either one of us would be supporting or voting for a non-perfect human being.
Elsewhere I’ve outlined some reasons for voting for the guy who has (or in this case, had) the best chance of winning against worst evil. I do not endorse the belief or phrase that this is “voting for the lesser of two evils.” Rather, I suggest that in voting a Christian is choosing the best of two possible goods. From a viewpoint that God is sovereign and that He uses even flawed government — such as the Romans; Rom. 13 — to accomplish His will, both majority candidates in this last election were “possible goods” — Obama and Romney. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying Obama was inherently “good.” His views are horrific, un-Biblical, and anti-Constitutional. But if God put him in office (and now we can say that God did), then he is in one sense God’s elected leader. Based on limited information at the time, I believe Romney would have been “the best of two possible goods.” Clearly God in His wisdom thinks otherwise.
Where does this leave Christians? In the uncomfortable but Biblical position of praying for our leaders. Really, we should feel some discomfort in this task only because so few of our leaders are redeemed Christians. Nevertheless God commands it. Yet I won’t deny that this is very hard when certain leaders are lecturing us incessantly about “safety” and “making sacrifices” when they are making none, and particularly when they are rebelling against the Constitution they’ve sworn to uphold!
Thanks for your response, Marc. I accidentally hit “submit” partway through my reply. Please ignore the vestigial paragraph above; the following is my completed comment.
My first point is not only relevant, it’s essential. As far as I understand it, your argument against voting appeals to the idea that Christians shouldn’t entangle themselves in corrupt political processes. But the fact remains that American citizens are already entangled in politics simply by virtue of being American. To not vote is to vote. If the “greater of two evils” carries off an election, those who abstained from voting are just as responsible as those who voted for the victor. In America, there’s no such thing as “rising above the fray.” There’s only those who take responsibility for the rights entrusted to their care, and those who shrug off that responsibility. Either way, the responsibility remains. We ignore it at our own peril.
What bothers me about your political stance isn’t so much that it’s different from mine (and it is very, very different); it’s that you’ve attempted to spiritualize your political stance, to insinuate that voting itself is a kind of betrayal of the Christian ideal, and that the only way to keep oneself pure is to withdraw from politics entirely. Well, let me ask you: when has such an approach ever “worked”? That’s the word you use to describe your approach to politics, yet the only positive example presented in your post is actually a negative one: that nobody curses God because of the Amish. Wow. So there are some Christians out there who enjoy near-universal acclaim due to their non-involvement, their near-total withdrawal from the world, their passive invisibility (and – dare I say it – their rejection of the Great Commission’s implications). Let’s see what the Bible has to say about that:
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
The world’s supposed to hate us! The name of Jesus can’t help being offensive! As a Christian, I don’t flop into bed each and every night thinking “Whew! Nobody cursed God because of me today! I’m doing such a good job!” That’s nothing for which to congratulate oneself. What have the Amish ever achieved for the Gospel of Christ? How’re they doing on that whole evangelism thing? As Christians, our goal is God’s glory. And that goal is unachievable in any sphere of life abandoned by Christians.
Is there any doubt that Hollywood’s depravity is due almost exclusively to its eschewal by Christians? There’s absolutely nothing inherently sinful about filmmaking, yet your argument against politics requires no reformatting in order to apply equally well to the film industry. Your argument, applied to Hollywood, would be the following: the film industry produces films that’re evil, evil, evil, and therefore Christians should have nothing whatsoever to do with Hollywood and shouldn’t even pay money to see good movies. Don’t you see where this will take us as a society? You’re advocating for a Christendom of indefinitely-shrinking influence – a Christian culture that celebrates retreat and irrelevance! I’m not advocating some kind of top-down push for theocratic interventionism here; I’m just talking common sense. If we as Christians don’t actively engage our culture – and politics, like it or not, constitutes a significant portion of our culture – that culture will become a sucking sinkhole which wastes people’s lives and devours their souls.
“Support,” “association,” “participation” – they all mean the same thing to my mind, and that thing is the fact that I’m willing to go on record as having made a decision. I’ve stuck out my neck for something I believe in. Perhaps it turns out that I’ve made a mistake. Perhaps I turn out to have been wrong. That’s just a risk I was willing to take. It’s this way in all of life – hence my extrapolation of your political principle into other spheres. According to your doctrine, I’d share in the guilt of a relief organization to which I’d donated were it caught embezzling its funds. But even were I to grant that such an idea would be just (which I don’t), it wouldn’t change the fact that American politics isn’t rigid. It’s not as though I, by choosing to vote for a particular candidate, am somehow binding myself to that candidate through an indissoluble pledge. If the candidate disappoints, I can vote him or her out of office in two, four, or six years. It really is that simple. Politics is just like life. We do what we can with what we have, and leave the rest to God. But if we are found to have done nothing with the rights and privileges with which we’ve been entrusted – choosing instead to bury our discernment in the ground lest we run the risk that our decisions might anger our Master – then we cannot appeal for justification to the fact that God’s ultimately in control of who wins elections. One might as well ask, “Why does [God] still find fault? For who can resist His will?” (Romans 9:19) My response is the same as Paul’s: “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?”
God’s given us the right and the responsibility to help choose our nation’s leaders. Let us not spurn His gift in a futile attempt to avoid association with fallen humanity, among whom we live every day of our lives on earth.
In closing this comment, I feel the need to quote that politician Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
“To not vote is to vote”
Non-A is A. Hmmm.
“If the “greater of two evils” carries off an election, those who abstained from voting are just as responsible as those who voted for the victor.”
Keep in mind, every proposition made about an electoral winner must be conjoined with the biblical proposition that the authorities that exist have been established by God.
“There’s only those who take responsibility for the rights entrusted to their care, and those who shrug off that responsibility.”
I disagree. There are those who find none worth their vote or support, for instance.
“That’s the word you use to describe your approach to politics, yet the only positive example presented in your post is actually a negative one: that nobody curses God because of the Amish.”
Maybe you came to the conversation in midstream. The Amish were invoked as a pejorative by Kerry. I merely stated that they have set forth a pretty good example for Christ. What I have meant consistently by the word “worked,” is that the church is effective outside the political realm, and ineffective or harmful from within. I mean, this should be pretty obvious historically, but if you want examples, I’ll take the time…
“Don’t you see where this will take us as a society?”
Austin, my friend, look around…we’re already there and more….not that our past is a golden age of beauty. It’s not. Of this I’m certain, though; there is only one hope for stemming any tide of moral decline, and it’s not legislation. I’m fine if you disagree with me, but what I’d like you to see is that I’m not advocating Christian withrdrawal or infinitely shrinking influence. I’m saying that the way to influence culture effectively is through the church’s mission, not through politics.
““Support,” “association,” “participation” – they all mean the same thing to my mind”
Perhaps, but you are demonstratively intelligent enough to ferret out the distinction I indicated.
“I’ve stuck out my neck for something I believe in. Perhaps it turns out that I’ve made a mistake. Perhaps I turn out to have been wrong. That’s just a risk I was willing to take.”
You and me both. Do you think I enjoy what’s going on here? What I suspect many may think of me? What some have actually said of me ?:)
“According to your doctrine, I’d share in the guilt of a relief organization to which I’d donated were it caught embezzling its funds.”
No. According to my doctrine, you’d share in the guilt of a relief organization if you donated after it was a known embezzler, or if you knew beforehand it would embezzle.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena”
By what do you assume I’m not in the arena just because I do not vote? I renew my aforementioned citizen challenge. 🙂
So, yeah…I appreciate the engagement Austin, and I hope I’ve given your comments at least part of the attention they deserve. I promise I read them intently. We can’t get to all of it here, so I’d invite you and Baines and Lauren and others to keep your eyes and hearts open as you go along the path. Feel free to drop me a dissenting opinion whenever the mood strikes you or even a positive example of the church in politics. Oh yeah…here’s my own TR quote: 🙂
“Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”
The idea that I, as a Christian, should entirely disassociate myself from politics despite the fact that Scripture declares human government to be necessary for earthly justice (Romans 13:1-7; 1st Peter 2:13-17) strikes me as parasitically self-indulgent. We know from Scripture that government is necessary in order to “punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” We also know from Scripture that a ruler is “God’s servant for [our] good.” Additionally, we know from common sense and historical experience that an overabundance of government results in earthly tyranny, while an absence of government results in earthly chaos. If I then, knowing these things, choose to abdicate my role in the political process in order to keep the name of Christ far away from the missteps of human leaders, I have effectively become the political equivalent of an ungrateful child who sleeps peacefully under the shelter of his parents’ roof and partakes hungrily in the dinners they prepare, yet runs upstairs and slams the door to his room the instant he’s asked to dry the dishes.
If I refuse to vote – let alone to become politically active or run for office myself! – then what I’m really doing is expecting – indeed depending – on others to do a job I’m unwilling to touch with a ten-foot pole. Even if Scripture didn’t single out the sphere of human government for especial commendation, such a mentality would constitute the height of irresponsibility. If I truly love others, then I should care enough about their earthly well-being to contribute my informed opinion to the process that’ll determine who spends their tax dollars and who judges their trials and who fields the military that defends their homes and businesses. The only world in which those decisions aren’t important enough to deserve my vote is a world in which Christ is universally acknowledged as King. Until that day arrives, let it never be said of me that I depended on others to do things for which I deemed myself too good.
Hey again, Austin…thank you for appealing to Scripture, but as I’ve discussed, the full text of Rom 13 and Pet 2 instruct me to be submissive to the authorities that God has instituted, and that by not submitting myself, I bring judgment on myself. Why would this act of submission be radically different from the command to submit myself to Christ and God? That’s not parasitically indulgent; it’s what I’m told to do, as I understand the verse. Note that Paul also says to pay taxes in R13, so the parasite analogy seems obviously flawed.
“Additionally, we know from common sense and historical experience that an overabundance of government results in earthly tyranny, while an absence of government results in earthly chaos.”
I tend to agree with this, but what is more certain is that every human government in the known history of mankind has resulted in both tyrrany and chaos, among other evils. Ours is no different historically, which should be readily apparent to any rational observer. Why do we cling to this mythology that claims it isn’t?
“political equivalent of an ungrateful child who sleeps peacefully under the shelter of his parents’ roof and partakes hungrily in the dinners they prepare, yet runs upstairs and slams the door to his room the instant he’s asked to dry the dishes.”
I cry false analogy. In accordance with R13, one becomes the child that *does* the dishes instead of attempting to tell his parents what to do all the time. 🙂 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.
“If I refuse to vote – let alone to become politically active or run for office myself! – then what I’m really doing is expecting – indeed depending – on others to do a job I’m unwilling to touch with a ten-foot pole.”
Interesting, because based on R13, since it is God who determines who is in office, I am depending on Him to put the folks He sees fit in office. But yeah…I pretty much have to depend on brain surgeons and car mechanics as well, because I’m not qualified for those positions either.
But, here’s that thing again…nobody seems willing to express cogent reasons why voting makes them a better citizen. I mean, maybe you are a better citizen than I, but *only* or on account of your vote? Shouldn’t our standards of what determines a good citizen be much higher?
“If I truly love others, then I should care enough about their earthly well-being to contribute my informed opinion to the process that’ll determine who spends their tax dollars and who judges their trials and who fields the military that defends their homes and businesses. ”
I offered twelve informed opinions above, Austin. Military, taxes, judges….all covered.
” Until that day arrives, let it never be said of me that I depended on others to do things for which I deemed myself too good.”
From what I’ve read, I think you do have a good heart toward this, Austin, and I appreciate the conversation. But, this comment interests me because indeed this is *precisely* what the church’s involvement in politics oftens encourages, not universally or overwhelmingly, but to a certain extent. I’m not accusing you of this, but it’s way too common now for people to vote, and vote only, thinking they have done some good for society through resultant governmental actions; whereas the real work of good is performed out in the real world. To no small extent, this is why we have seen the church abdicate a large part of its benevolent mission to government. It’s so much easier to vote and let the government handle it.
I’ve tried to consolidate my counterargument in my above reply, but there’s one thing you said in this comment that I must address specifically. In response to my challenge that Christians should love their neighbors enough to contribute their opinions to politics, you point out that you “offered twelve informed opinions” about politics in your original post. But the big problem is that nobody in power cares a whit about your opinions, Marc. You can shout from the rooftops all you like about what you perceive to be the evils of politics (and I categorically disagree with you, by the way), but none of it will make the slightest bit of difference if you refuse to vote. Unless you actually puts your ballot where your mouth is, you have not, in fact, “contributed your informed opinion to the process that’ll determine” who’s in charge of your government. Though your opinion may indeed be informed, you’ve failed to contribute it to the political process. To the politicians who legislate our laws – especially the ones you’d consider the worst – you are invisible, irrelevant. They don’t need to care what you think.
But they do care what I think, because I vote. 😀
“Unless you actually puts your ballot where your mouth is, you have not, in fact, “contributed your informed opinion to the process that’ll determine” who’s in charge of your government.”
Based on what you’ve seen from me, I’d be curious to know who you think I should vote for.
“But the big problem is that nobody in power cares a whit about your opinions, Marc.”
I agree nobody in power cares about my opinion, Austin, but the charge was I’m unloving because I don’t contribute my informed opinion….which was just simply not true.
“Though your opinion may indeed be informed, you’ve failed to contribute it to the political process.”
I understood you to say your argument was predicated on the assumption that this is impossible.
“But they do care what I think, because I vote.”
I’m certain y and large they just want your vote, Austin. 🙂 You seem to be an intelligent guy. I’m confident that the more you vote, the less you’ll find this true.
To clear up a misunderstanding: I didn’t intend to accuse you of being unloving simply because you don’t vote (I don’t even know you, and thus have no business judging the motives behind anything you do). What I’ve been trying to communicate is that the love I assume you have for your neighbors is not being effectively expressed through your refusal to vote. How can it be effective, when you, given the opportunity to choose the least of all available evils in government (and there’s always a least-evil candidate), refuse to put your opinion about politics (and you’re very opinionated about politics, as am I) into action? To paraphrase James: political sentiment apart from voting is dead. Show me your opinion apart from your vote, and I’ll show you my opinion by my vote.
That’s the sense in which I said you’d failed to contribute your opinion to the political process. I wasn’t by any means contradicting my previous assertion that your non-vote is a political contribution; what I was doing was pointing out how your non-vote is actually counterproductive to your political sentiment as stated. In my very first comment on this thread, I asserted that “Participation in American government is non-optional, inescapable. The only question is whether or not the form of one’s participation (i.e. whether one votes and, if so, for whom) proves counterproductive to one’s wishes.” That’s exactly what I’m arguing here: that your refusal to vote has proven and will continue to prove counterproductive to your political wishes. That’s the sense in which you’ve utterly failed to contribute your opinion to the political process.
P.S. Please note that I’m not saying any of this in order to advance my own preferred political agenda. Were you to start voting, I’m fairly confident that your idea of a “least-evil” candidate for office would be a guy for whom I’d refuse to vote even were a gun pressed to my temple. That’s what’s so ironic about all this. Were I to be looking out for nothing more than my own political interest, your admission that you don’t vote would bring a smile to my face and a lightness to my heart. But my heart is heavy for you, Marc, because your position is – at least to my mind – so very pitiful. You rant and rave about the shortcomings of politics, then refuse to lift a finger to redeem that arena of life. You lecture others about how they should accept God’s political appointments, then condemn government as too corrupting to merit the involvement of Christians. You challenge others to “be good citizens,” then preach against the most basic of civic duties. At seemingly every turn you’re cutting off your nose simply to spite your face. I can’t watch such self-butchery without at least attempting to staunch the flow of blood. ;-p
I appreciate the time you’ve spent responding to me. If nothing else, I hope I’ve been able to present a plausible case for Christian political engagement based not on some outdated and hubristic notion of America as a “Christian nation,” but on the principles of Scripture as they apply to individuals.
“your idea of a “least-evil” candidate for office would be a guy for whom I’d refuse to vote”
If you would provide succinct reasons why you would never vote for the candidate you have in mind, I think we could advance this conversation in a constructive manner.
Actually, that’s a rhetorical snare I’m very careful to sidestep. Thus far, we’ve been discussing politics – as a general concept – as it relates to Christianity. If I answer your question, we’ll be discussing politics, period. Since you don’t even vote to begin with, and since I thoroughly disagree with every specific political perspective you’ve shared thus far on this thread, I can’t for the life of me see how that’d be a constructive conversation. If I can’t convince you that voting itself isn’t bad, then an attempt to win you over to my end of the ideological spectrum presents a fruitless prospect.
In case you can’t tell by now, I don’t have to resort to rhetorical snares. 🙂 Besides, I suspect I may have cast more actual votes in my life than you have. C’mon man, I’m not going to put your politics on trial here, and since I’ve agreed with Kerry on pro-life issues, the odds of you disagreeing with me on every specific political perspective are effectively zero.
Alright, you asked for it.
“The voter is party to the unjust foreign war and the carnage that ensues: bombing of civilians, torture, rape, starvation, privation, etc. Biblical principle abused: love thy neighbor; love thy enemy.”
But injustice is in the eye of the beholder. If it’s war itself you deem unjust, then explain the preemptive genocidal wars initiated by God Himself during the only period of history in which He was the official Head of a State. If it’s only the Iraq war you deem unjust, then explain why World War II was a just war on America’s part when it too resulted in mass “bombings of civilians, torture, rape, starvation, privation, etc.” And as for Christ’s command to “love thy enemy,” please explain how it’s directed at the State, which “does not bear the sword in vain” (Romans 13:4).
“The voter is party to discrimination against the immigrant. ‘When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’ (Lev. 19: 33-34)”
The fact that you fail to make a distinction between “legal immigrant” and “illegal immigrant” tells me you’re not serious about addressing the issue of immigration. Does a sovereign nation not have the right to determine who may enter its borders and partake of the rights and privileges inherent in citizenship? Yes or no? If yes, then what, exactly, is the big problem here? If no, then what, exactly, does “citizenship” even mean?
“The voter is party to complaints against taxes. If you owe taxes, pay taxes (Rom 13:7) Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”
This is a strawman argument. No (significant) contemporary political party or movement is advocating for Americans to refuse to pay their taxes. But if, as I’ve already established, it’s the job of each and every American to participate in American government, “complaints against taxes” become essential to good governance. Since we voting citizens are the ones who make the tax policies (through our representatives), we have not only the right but the duty to argue about said policies. The alternative would be for us to simply roll over and allow politicians to make up whatever laws they fancied, no matter how unjust. As long as there is human government, laws will be made. Taxes are, after all, second only to death in certainty. The only real question is whether the People laboring under those taxes will have had any say in their devising. On this issue, I stand with those folks who founded my nation. No taxation without representation!
“The voter is party to the installation of foreign dictators and the empowerment of evil men, many of whom commit heinous atrocities, e.g. Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Osama Bin Laden, the Shah of Iran, Taliban, et al. ‘For dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations’ (Psalm 22:28).”
And how does the Lord establish earthly authorities if not through the work of human beings? When it comes to politics, you’ve set up a false dichotomy between God and man. Is God so powerless that America’s able to pull a fast one on Him in order to “install” a Western-friendly dictator? Of course not. Which sets up an obvious question: does this complaint of yours really have anything to do with God’s prerogative to establish rulers, or is it simply predicated on the fact that you, personally, don’t like the foreign policy of the United States? On the one hand, you say that we shouldn’t question the authorities in power over us, yet, on the other hand, you go on to say that only those authorities not “installed” by America are due such respect. This is self-contradictory. Either all authorities should be equally free from interference, or all authorities should be equally accountable to their people. Which is it?
“The voter is party to spending more than we take in and running up huge deficits and debt. ‘In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has’ (Prov. 21:20).”
My disagreement with this point has nothing to do with your beliefs about deficits and debt (which I emphatically share); it has to do with your accusation that I, as a voter, am “party” to government’s fiscal insanity. On the contrary, I’m the one doing everything in my power to rein in those politicians who believe debt to be a virtue (if you doubt that charge, read Keynes). I’m voting for people whose primary policy platforms center around spending reduction. But let me ask you the same question: aren’t you, by virtue of your political invisibility, giving tacit approval to those politicians against whom it’s within your power to vote?
“The voter is party to the ruination of the environment. ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’ (Gen 2:15).”
How do I disagree with your premise? Let me count the ways. First, I’m not convinced that climate change is actually occurring, or, if it is, that it’s significant in any way. The data on this issue is so convoluted that any claim of “scientific unanimity” belongs on the same level as the claim that America’s a “Christian nation.” Second, climate change (if it is occurring, and if its repercussions are significant) is not caused by man. If it is, then please explain to me why the Viking settlers of Greenland were forced to flee as ice swallowed entire villages at the crashing close of the Medieval Warm Period. Third, even if climate change is a manmade phenomenon, it’s well beyond the purview of government to thrust itself even deeper into the free market in order to “save the earth.” Change happens. It’s why North America isn’t covered by massive ice sheets anymore. Also, free people are innovative people. Government bureaucrats, on the other hand, know next-to-nothing about either freedom or innovation. I’ll never vote to “save the earth.”
“Ironically, a vote for a Republican is not good citizenry, as their passage of the Patriot Act, FISA amendments, and support for the NDAA removes certain rights American citizens are pledged to uphold. Time to speak up, Kerry Bonheoffer!”
Okay, I admit it: you and I agree on the substance of this complaint. I’ve opposed the Patriot Act since its inception. What I do disagree about is your “ironic” (fascinating word choice, there) assertion that “a vote for a Republican is not good citizenry.” Au contraire – when I agree with Democrats 5% of the time, and with Republicans 95% of the time, a vote for a Republican does make for good citizenry. I’m not a single-issue voter (no, not even that issue); I scrutinize the candidate and his or her party affiliation as a whole.
“The voter is party to the oppression of Palestinians behind fences and in camps, many of whom are our Christian brethren, particularly when the voter is involved with certain Christian political ministries. Along with this, the idea that we would entice Jewish people to move en masse to Israel just so they can be slaughtered in the coming apocalypse is reprehensible politics, and theology, for that matter.”
For one thing, you’re assuming that I share your perspective on eschatology, which I may not. For another thing, nobody wants the Jews to move to Israel so they can be slaughtered. That’s your biggest strawman yet. Christians who support Israel do so for two reasons: they like the fact that Israel is the only stable, democratic, and America-friendly state in the Middle East, and they’re excited by the way in which Israel’s inception has confirmed Biblical prophecy and thus by the way in which it heralds Messiah’s return. To disparage these people by making them out to be sadistic proponents of mass slaughter is crazy-talk, and I don’t say that lightly. I mean, come on. You might as well say it’s evil for Christians to long for the Second Coming, since it’ll bring with it the Tribulation and the outpouring of God’s wrath. And about the Palestinians – how would you treat people who rained well over 800 rockets into your country in 2012 alone? Would you take measures to protect the lives of your children from those who wanted to wipe both you and the rest of your ethnic group off the map? I credit the Israelis with neigh-unjustifiable restraint.
“The voter is party to an inherent tribalism and animosity against the other half of the country, most notably displayed in offensive phrases such as Take our country back! ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’ (Rom 12:18).”
Eh … alright. I agree with you about that particular vapid bumper-sticker slogan. Aaand … I can’t seem to find anything in this complaint with which to disagree. So I’ll have to eat my words about disagreeing with your positions “categorically.” Yes, politics without moderation can become a kind of secular religion. I’ve seen it happen. But the truth is that anything, without moderation, can have the same effect. The only thing inherently evil in politics are the people involved. Which is why it needs more Christians. 😉
“The voter is party to a failed war on drugs that has cost the lives of thousands of people, empowered drug lords and cartels, and resulted in the unjust sentences of hundreds of thousands of men.”
And I suppose you think things would improve were government to legalize street drugs? I don’t follow the logic.
“The voter is party to the maintenance of the rich and powerful, Wall Street, corporations, special interests, and the military-industrial-congressional complex, rather than favoring the poor and disenfranchised. ‘If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?’ (James 2: 3-4)”
Another false dichotomy. You assume that the usual progressive litany of economic evildoers (“the rich and powerful, Wall Street, corporations, special interests, and the military-industrial-congressional complex”) are somehow oppositional toward the poor and “disenfranchised” (whatever that may mean). This is a Marxist perspective found nowhere in Scripture. It ignores the fact that, in a free market (and I admit that America’s market grows less free by the day, largely due to people who believe what you do about “The Rich”), coercion is, by definition, impossible. Transactions are conducted only when both parties involved believe themselves to be benefiting therefrom. It’s government that breaks up this natural impetus toward economic equilibrium with its artificial regulation and its heavy-handed authoritarian coercion that supposedly favors “the poor and disenfranchised” when it’s actually about nothing more than the consolidation of political power and the buying of ignorant votes. The reality of America’s progressive income-tax system is that the poor pay zero percent of their income in federal taxes while benefiting from massive, State-coerced redistribution of wealth away from the richest Americans, who pay 36% of their income in federal taxes, and a far greater percentage in total taxes. You wanna talk about favoritism? Let’s talk about the inherent unfairness and unjustness of a progressive tax system instead of the eeevil influence of “special interests” (literally, “people who advocate for specific things”). And before you tell me that my vote contributes to the problems I’ve delineated above, let me assure you that each and every mark on my ballot is strategically placed. My goal is not “to give zero aid or comfort to people who are imperfect”; my goal is to move my government back towards its Constitution. I can’t do that with mere words. I can only do it through my vote.
“The voter is susceptible to repeating party talking points that are half-truths.”
Everyone is susceptible to repeating half-truth talking points. Even you, Marc. 😉
Two words: reading comprehension. 🙂
What I asked for was succinct reasons why you would never vote for the candidate you have in mind. You’ve launched directly into the political debate you did not want to have. As I said, my question was not a rhetorical snare; I’ve offered everything here in good faith. I understand why it’s difficult to trust people in political discussions…that’s part of my larger point!
Hence, I’m not going to go back on my promise not to put your politics on trial here. I’d enjoy discussing them with you in more detail; my email is easy to find. Shoot me a line. That goes for Baines and everyone else who commented. Y’all are just the kind of folks I hoped to engage here. This is the kind of conversation that has to occur over time, so let’s get it started and follow it through.
If what I just gave you isn’t what you asked for, then I have no idea what it was you wanted. You requested that I “provide succinct reasons why [I] would never vote for the candidate [I had] in mind [i.e. the candidate I was assuming you’d be more likely to support],” which is what I then proceeded to do, after protesting that I didn’t see how my answers would be pertinent to the discussion at hand. If the issue is the interminable length of my response to your twelve political complaints, then I suppose that’s understandable. I’d rather error on the side of clarity than brevity, especially when I foresee miscommunication as likely. But apparently miscommunication happened because of my thoroughness, not despite it.
No, the length is fine, and I, for one, appreciate the attention to detail and the desire to define and clarify. No worries…
I was really just wanting something simple, like I would never vote for X (being the candidate I’d rather put a gun to my head than vote for) because of Y. Look at it this way:
I would never vote for X because “But injustice is in the eye of the beholder. If it’s war itself you deem unjust, then explain the preemptive genocidal wars initiated by God Himself during the only period of history in which He was the official Head of a State.”
I would never vote for X because “The fact that you fail to make a distinction between “legal immigrant” and “illegal immigrant” tells me you’re not serious about addressing the issue of immigration.”
Certainly, those can’t be the reasons, right? 🙂
Allrightthen, I think I’m done, unless ESB jumps in at some point with a final word. Anyone is welcome to contact me at my email address, and Austin, if you wish me to comment on your rebuttal comment, I’ll be happy to over at my place.
Let me say this, though. All in all, it’s been a fairly gracious conversation, given the subject matter. I thank all of you for treating the minority report with grace and understanding. It’s not always the case, especially on the internet.
For my part, I want to make sure a few things are clear before I go:
–Kerry Nietz is a good man, and I do not think he is a Boromir. I have the utmost respect for him, besides the fact that he’s a great author.
–Military service is honorable. Nothing I’ve said here should be understood any other way. My criticism is aimed at the politician that puts our men and women in harm’s way for no good reason, not at the men and women themselves or the military.
–There is no judgmental spirit here. These are my views of Scripture; the reader is left to her own.
–My motivation for being here is a love for Christ and the Gospel, the Church, and individual Christians. I hope that’s clear. Whatever rhetoric I’ve employed is aimed solely at edifying the latter two, and proclaiming the first. Where I’ve failed is a matter of my fallen humanity, not a defect in Christ or the Church.
If anything else I’ve said is offensive, let me know and I’ll clear it up right here publically, because no offense is intended. This is an extremely complex subject, one that cannot be adequately addressed in full here. Charged rhetoric, both yours and mine, serves just to goad us toward examining this very important (at least, I think so, and it appears you do as well) matter in light of Scripture. That’s about the most we can accomplish here, I think. All I would ask is that we all keep a constant vigilance on this matter as time goes by…you and me both. God bless…
I think there may also be a straw man here.
The act of voting does not mean that you believe in the mythology of a righteous nation, or that you are placing all your hope for the world in the governmental system. True, there are almost certainly many such voters, and many Christians wrongly incorporate the “mythology” into their faith. But it is possible to vote without putting faith in a politician or a political party. It is possible to vote with the full understanding that the government you are voting to elect will at best be hollow and worldly, at worst corrupt and idolatrous.
I think there is a practical voter who has no grandiose dream of being saved by the government. This discussion has centered on the broadest political arenas, but even local governments — counties and townships and school boards — still deal in politics. And yet counties and towns and school boards control many practical things that affect people who have concerns and opinions, like whether a bridge will be replaced now or in five years, whether the public schools in the three neighboring villages will merge, or whether the town should raise taxes to buy its own firetruck. People voting on these little issues aren’t treating their vote like something religious; they don’t stand in mythological awe of their county legislatures or of their mayor.
I think the same principle can be extended to national politics, even though the temptation to put hope in worldly government is greater.
Thanks for the check, Baines. I’m indeed painting with a wide brush here: paradigms, movements, historical trends.
Again, Marc, I have to take issue with your history. You speak in gross generalities when it comes to “atrocities” but specifics when it comes to what Christians should be doing today.
Are the founders that signed the Declaration the same people that exterminated the Indians? I think not. And were the Indians without sin? I think not. Were all the founders slavers? I think not again. Is Samuel Adams guitly because Jefferson inherited slaves?
It is as if I were saying all sci-fi writers are cultists, because Ron Hubbard started scientology. Really, I can’t spend the time to argue all of human history , because it is clear I’ll be arguing against “men sin, and they have free will, and sometimes Christians do bad things…so don’t vote!” Argh. Ridiculous.
Plus, you are guilty of judging the past in hindsight. You don’t, nor will you ever know, the conditions as they were. The mindset. What people struggled with daily. You know only the bits you can glean through the dim shadow of history.
To be honest, I’ve all but lost my patience with those who want to do these sweeping indictments of the Church and Christians. HOW DOES THAT HELP ANYTHING?
Yes, “judgment begins with house of God” but who is the judge? Is it Marc Schooley? Kerry Nietz? Absolutely not.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
Ask yourself, when was the last time you praised something good the Church has done? Or a fellow believer?
Boramir, indeed. (Note, regardless of his intent, he still died a hero. 🙂 )
Well, Kerry, it’s not my history; it’s the historical record. Calling it mine does not release you from the question posed (or the historical record): Do you seriously suggest we’re supposed to attack the entire world as a holy Christian army? Note also that I was not in the least vague with respect to atrocities. How vague is it to note the literal, historical fact that what is historically mythologized by some Christians as America the Christian Nation wiped out a continent’s worth of indigenous peoples? Yes, I remain very specific that Christians today, or at anytime, should not be entangled in that.
Now that you mention it, not only were the signers of the Declaration complicit in exterminating the native Americans (a practice that was still well and alive through the 1870s), the very author of the Declaration wrote about how it was necessary:
“And were the Indians without sin?”
I think not, either…but what an odd statement. Certainly you’re not suggesting the founders of America were justified in this?
“Is Samuel Adams guitly because Jefferson inherited slaves? ”
Inherited, is that what we call it now? 🙂 According to your argument, though, Samuel Adams is indeed guilty because he capitulated legislatively and didn’t raise up a holy Christian army to stop it.
“Really, I can’t spend the time to argue all of human history”
Well, OK, I don’t have time for that either….so why don’t we just stick to the extremely thin slice of human history we’ve identified here. Sorry, I don’t find it ridiculous in the slightest to desire not to be involved mass extinctions and other atrocities, or glorify a false rendering of revisionist history. And, of course, I note in passing that you used my very argument in your essay to argue why people should not vote for Democrats. It’s the exact same argument (a vote for a democrat is a vote for abortion)…you seem to only acknowledge it when it favors you.
“Plus, you are guilty of judging the past in hindsight. You don’t, nor will you ever know, the conditions as they were. The mindset. What people struggled with daily. You know only the bits you can glean through the dim shadow of history.”
Yes, I admit it and fully accept it. But, here we go again: are you now disavowing your statements about Nazi Germany? Do you recant your judgment of the past in hindsight? You just don’t know the mindset of those Germans or what they struggled with, do you?
“To be honest, I’ve all but lost my patience”
Frankly, Kerry, I’ve always known you as a better person than the remainder of your comment from this point. I was invited here with the expressed request to present a case about the church and Christians with respect to politics. To suggest I’m a judgmental, holier-than-thou type who needs to ask himself the last time they praised something of the church or a fellow believer is the truly “argh, ridiculous” thing stated here. Not only that, but if you look at my essays and commentary it’s evidentially false; For instance, for cryin’ out loud: “Kerry, you’re my good Christian brother, and I thank God for you…please remember we agree on so much more than this.” BTW-I clearly recall defending you when other Christians called you a judgmental, holier-than-thou, christian that needed to quit making sweeping indictments about other Christians and Islam. 🙂 And I’ll do it again if I get the chance…
I’m just going to think the best and figure this is not really you, but heat-of-the-moment stuff, and, of course, borderline ad hominen in the absence of any effective argumentation. 🙂
So, back to your incoherency. Please explain to me how your sweeping indictment of the church and Christians with regard to abortion helps anything, why I shouldn’t lose patience with you for it, and doesn’t make you judgmental. Note: those are your words not mine…I take no exception to your sweeping indictments, and believe they can help over time by changing minds and hearts. That’s how it works, after all, if done in love…your politics have obviously failed, as have militant Christian groups that employ various explosive devices.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
Odd…I almost quoted this verse in my last installment. I’d love to hear the argument for how a Christian’s involvement in politics is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, specifically with direct reference to the biblical injunctions I offered that demonstrate it is not. Glad to see a nod in the direction of a scriptural argument, finally, though. I just wish it was offered in support of a positive case for involvement in politics and not aimed at my character!
And, I grant Boramir died a hero…but only after he realized his wrong. 🙂
Likewise, we can disagree on this and still be in the fellowship, my friend. No hard feelings…this is, after all, the confluence of religion and politics. 🙂
Marc, you’re putting lots of words in my mouth. I think that’s what I find most unfortunate. Never once did I say anything about “attacking the whole world as a Holy Christian nation.” There are so many assumptions and misrepresentations in that one phrase alone, I could spend the rest of my time refuting it. But again, I desire a life outside of this forum.
To the main point of the series. You are going out of your way to characterise political involvment of any sort as wrong for a Christian, and that is patently untrue. Politics, at its heart, is morally neutral. It is on the same level as playing video games, or writing a book. You can quote as many verses as you like, but the activity will still remain morally neutral. There is no Biblical command against or for. Christians are free to participate in politics at whatever level they like.
I apologize if I mischaracterized your intent of your use of history, but your own christian and politcs site begins with an indictment of the crusades. Every time I see something like that I want to roll my eyes and “here we go again”. It is the same sort of “lets smear Christians” example I see on atheist sites. It isn’t helpful. As a Christian I take offense to it. God has forgiven my sins, and freed me of my guilt and shame. I don’t need (nor does any presently living Christian need) to attone for, or justify, the failings of others, especially from a time and culture that is totally foreign to us. It isn’t the sort of thing I expect from a brother in Christ. If you find it helpful to reach the lost, then God Bless you–I hope it brings many to the Lord. But from my flawed human perspective, I don’t find it helpful.
If you don’t like America because of the sins of the past, and choose not to participate, that is fine. You have that right. I’d fight and die for that right. But you are overlooking all the good America has done as well. (And it has done alot.)
And please don’t characterize lack of participation as a Biblical edict, because it certainly is not.
God Bless you, Marc.
“Never once did I say anything about ‘attacking the whole world as a Holy Christian nation.'”
Actually, there’s a mix-up going on in there that shouldn’t be. We need to recall that overseas involvement in this era is primarily driven by UN mandates for “international peacekeeping.” I concur with what I recall of Gen. Curry’s opinions on this–America ought to retain its own soldiers for its own defense. (I feel the same about Canadian peacekeeping, and I abhor that one of our Prime Ministers initiated the whole concept.) For instance, “War should be a very…very…very last resort.”
Marc, it doesn’t necessarily follow to attribute a holocaust mentality to Kerry’s argumentation. The question is more complex than that. If we’re to delve into why the USA goes along with UN mandates, that’s another issue altogether.
“…your own christian and politcs site begins with an indictment of the crusades.”
Careful, there, Kerry. Actually, it begins with an indictment of those who insist on calling America a “Christian” nation, with the Crusades as an example of how the unsaved react to such entanglements. Marc wrote:
So, speaking of putting words in mouths, perhaps you ought not stuff the Texan goose thusly: “I don’t need (nor does any presently living Christian need) to attone for, or justify, the failings of others, especially from a time and culture that is totally foreign to us. It isn’t the sort of thing I expect from a brother in Christ.”
Never has Marc said anyone needs to atone for such things. His call has been to avoid entanglements which distract from the Gospel calling. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
“And please don’t characterize lack of participation as a Biblical edict, because it certainly is not.”
What Marc put forth was a rationale for choosing how one participates in society, not an edict against it. The point I take away is, it’s not a sin to forego voting, if one’s conscience so directs. I could just as well ask you not to characterize non-voting as being against some biblical edict! These are straw men.
Together, you guys have made a good case for the freedom of the individual’s conscience in either direction–in fact, in any direction which doesn’t contravene the principles of Christian conduct.
As a matter of independent confirmation, I’d like to point out, Kerry, that Dave and I hear Marc praise the good done by the church, or by believers, quite regularly. Most often, his words of encouragement are directed to uplifting us, though I could dispute whether we deserve it.
No need to drag down an excellent conversation by forcing it through filters that don’t apply, guys.
Yes, thanks Cat for playing umpire. I think Marc is probably reading things into what I’ve said, and I’m probably guilty of doing the same. (An internet version of that old pass-the-message-in-whispers game.)
For instance, I never mentioned a particular party at all, yet he gave me:
“…in your essay to argue why people should not vote for Democrats. It’s the exact same argument (a vote for a democrat is a vote for abortion)…”
To quote the President: “Check the transcript, Candy. Check the transcript.” 🙂 I never said that. I said I vote based on issues. He inferred the rest.
I’m also not sure how I made a sweeping indictment of the church on the issue of abortion. Again check the transcript. I’ll go on record for being pro-life. I’ll stand on my tip-toes about it even. But I have no idea what he was talking about there.
Same goes for the “Holy (hand grenade?) Christian nation” comment. (Which I think you’ve straightened out now, thanks.)
There are a number of other statements that I could argue, or ask for clarification on, but I doubt it is a good use of everyone’s time.
At this point, I will sign off for good. Again, thanks for your input. 🙂
“I’m also not sure how I made a sweeping indictment of the church on the issue of abortion.”
I don’t recall that one either. Perhaps something that came up in the comments at some point? Marc, citation please…?
” I think the Bible has given us clear precepts for beliefs and actions, and by definition those precepts have to affect how we view issues—and as a consequence—determine the candidates we support.
For instance, abortion is an important issue for me. That derives directly from the Biblical precept that life was originally designed by God (Genesis 1:27), that the process of life is still maintained by God (Psalms 139:13), and that he has a vested interest in each and every person (Jeremiah 29:11-13). So, by applying precept to issue, I would always error in favor of life.
That application of biblical precept extends to what candidates I vote for. I think how someone defines life, defines them. If they see innocent life as having been given by God, and therefore in need of protection, then I can be certain that in other, less important issues, they will be more likely to make the right decision.
Why? Because there is a moral framework in place. If a candidate is pro-life, I know that he or she believes in—or at least respects the concept of—God, and therefore doesn’t think of himself (man) as the determiner of all truth.”
If there is a right decision, as Kerry says, it certainly follows there is a wrong one. Since Kerry claims–and I agree with him–that “the Bible has given us clear precepts for beliefs and actions,” he is necessarily implying that a choice against a clear biblical precept for belief and action is wrong. Thus, as stated, he votes for pro-life candidates as a direct application of biblical precepts.
In so doing, he draws judgment on voting (ceteris paribus, perhaps) for pro-abortion candidates as a vote against clear biblical precepts for beliefs and actions. I’m not indicting him; far from it, I agree. However, this is an example of a general indictment on his part. I can reasonably and rightly deduce from his text that he considers churches that support abortion to be in violation of clear biblical precepts for belief and action, and in general that any vote for the Democratic party is a vote in favor of their platform, which upholds abortion. Granted, there are pro-life Democrats, but that’s why it’s a *general* indictment.
My larger point stands, then: he utilizes the same argument I do; it’s just that he happens to agree with it when *he* uses it! At minimum, this means that he ought apportion the same standard for accusations of judgmentalism fairly between the two of us (as in *NONE*). It also shows in a roundabout way why we ought to argue the argument’s soundness, rather than cast aspersions on the arguer.
Of course, maybe Kerry has not intended this. If so, he can easily correct me by affirming here that a voter can act in line with clear biblical precepts by voting for pro-abortion candidates, and that churches are acting pursuant to clear biblical precepts when they support them.
Or, to put it succintly — Marc likes to argue, and if left in a room by himself, would doubtless argue with himself. 🙂 Just saying.
Ha! You know him, Kerry. 🙂
However, I attribute it more to precision of mind than love of the argument itself. What people perceive as argumentativeness is usually Marc working to carefully construct a balanced architecture of thought.
And he is absolutely right about critiquing the argument, rather than the character of the arguer.
Sure…but to be honest, this discussion has so many threads I’m not even sure what all is being argued. If it were a computer program, I’d junk it and start over. It is a can of wombats.
CD asked me for a citation, I provide it, and that makes me argumentative? 🙂
I am, obviously, but that’s kinda the point in a debate. When I agreed to this, I knew I would take some criticism. No worries there. Criticism in good-faith debate is fine…heap on all you can muster. If I’m wrong, I’d like to know now rather than later. 🙂 That’s a secondary reason for me agreeing to this in the first place. Everyone here will be demonstrating Christian love to me by straightening me out.
As it’s turned out, though, it seems to me the threads of this argument are tightly wound, actually, and I’m very pleased how it’s gone. I’ve achieved everything I came here to do, and I feel no compulsion to try and prove anything further or to beat anyone down.
As for the name-calling and character inuendo, I figured I might get some of that as well. This is a highly charged and deeply personal topic. It engenders strong opinions and emotions. I’ve been very careful to not engage in provocative rhetoric of a personal nature, in ensuring that I’m clear I know I’m not the Holy Spirit, etc. I reaffirm it now, and if anyone thinks I’ve fallen in that regard, please point it out and I’ll recant it. People are always more important to me than argument.
I’ve also looked around in an attempt to see just what it is I’ve said that is bugging you. A central theme seems to suggest itself: you utilized military service as an analogy, you’ve taken offense to my question of a holy Christian army, and my mention of the crusades offsite. Let me just take a few words here to clarify.
“Never once did I say anything about “attacking the whole world as a Holy Christian nation.”
Of course you didn’t…that’s as obvious as can be. Please read carefully, I never said you did: “I return the question to Kerry twofold: are we supposed to attack the entire world as a holy Christian army.” Those were my words.
To this, I merely expected you to reply with a resounding NO! We both agree on this….as Austin might say, it’s just a reductio, nothing more, certainly no indictment of you, and not me suggesting this is what you think.
Now, if perhaps it’s that you sense I loathe the military, or something, may I remind you that I’m from Texas? 🙂 If there’s another state that supports our military more, I wouldn’t know what it is.
Both of my grandfathers served in the PTO in WWII. One was in the Phillipines under McArthur and suffered through a death march before returning home with honors. My other grandfather served in the Navy on a seagoing tug that was virtually blown in half by a Japanese destroyer, the torpedos exploding right at his best friend’s post, killing him instantly.
My father was active during the cuban missile crisis. My sunday school students have gone to Iraq. I was just down at the recruiter last year with my son, encouraging him to enlist, if that was what he wanted. I’m a wounded warriors giver. No loathing here with the military, man.
If anything as it relates to politics, I feel for the soldier who is caught in the machinations of politics and pays for it with his blood or his life. They are true victims of politics and bureaucrats sometimes, they and their families. I’ll side with you on the just war every time, but I think we can both agree to be against the unjust war (and there are plenty to go around), as I was careful to designate unjust-ness above. Now, indeed I mentioned the military-industrial-congressional complex, but those were General Eisenhower’s words, not mine.
So, if that’s it, then maybe you were just hearing something different than I am trying to say. At any rate, whatever it is, Kerry, I honestly don’t see why you’d be set back in any way by what’s occurred here in this exchange. I’m not, and don’t intend for it to be any different down the road when we’re done with this…
“If it were a computer program, I’d junk it and start over. It is a can of wombats.”
Spoken like most of the programmers I know, my friend. However, consider that following up on the multiple threads and angles on this post is a testament to Marc’s thinking skills, both lateral and linear. There’s much to learn from how each other person thinks.
I don’t agree with everything the man has to say, and I think he has a ways to go in clarifying his terms and definitions, which are noticeably slushy to date, if lined up between here and ChristianPoliticsX. If those are the wombats that are troubling you, I understand. Often, it’s useful to lay those things out in a preamble before getting into the discussion, and that didn’t happen here as far as I know.
”Holy (hand grenade?) Christian nation”
LOL My Good Sir Knights, the both of you. 🙂
More seriously, it occurs to me to add that Texas does seem to talk that way a lot more than other parts of the country. Kerry, your cultural and political situation seems to be a lot closer to mine, and I find we have many of the same concerns about people of faith lapsing (or being marginalized) into silence.
I’m sure there’s a Godly middle ground between secularist silence and misguided political (Texan?) religion. I do find it interesting that neither Canada nor America has solved that problem adequately, whether through freedom of speech or through “hate crime” and other secularist restrictions.
I had thought to wait until after Tuesday, when all jets are much cooler.
However, that also brings the risk that the topic will have cooled just as much.
So here goes, though I’m sure it won’t be the “final word,” at least not from me!
First a few statements, and then a series of exclusive Political Challenge Questions.
So that being said, I do have some questions, mostly rhetorical, mostly for Marc:
Semi-finally, I believe Christians struggling with questions of culture need to quit trying to react to alternate cultures they’ve already known. From writers’ conference cosplay controversies to church worship wars, whole generations have grown up believing the axiom that a counter-culture is the best culture, no matter what the (often perceived) “dominant culture” is. And we get beliefs like:
All of that isn’t based as much on proactive honoring of God as reactions to perceived Bad Guys. All throughout it’s not God, but The Counterculture that must be honored at all costs. Then it becomes the PMC. Then it all starts over again.
Maybe this is over-idealistic, but I just don’t get it.
The Church, herald of the present/future Kingdom, is the default Culture. It announces that God has already begun to redeem culture, the physical world, and points to the time when that is fully realized. It doesn’t wrest culture from Satan’s control; it condemns stupid, evil, sinful perversions as alien and points what in culture happens to echo God’s Word (our only sure revelation).
So the Church is not anti-culture or pro-culture. It should be, rather, aggressively dominant about what in culture is against God’s Kingdom and what just happens to align with it (thanks not to man’s goodness but God’s common grace).
This applies to stories, speculative and otherwise, part of the art of culture.
And this applies to politics, the governance of culture.
You can’t condemn one as irredeemable without dragging the other into it.
This is also why the Amish, while they don’t have it Biblical, at least have it more consistent. They consistently oppose culture for reasons that ultimately amount to “because counterculture.” (And yet even they benefit from public roads.)
Someone who says, “Christians should aggressively, with Gospel love and intent, storm into storytelling and be the best and most Biblical and beautiful at this craft, because God and not man/the devil owns great stories, but should avoid doing this exact same thing with politics,” seems to me inconsistent.
Politics/storytelling are merely sides of the same perennial challenge: how should the Christian nation, the Church, and its “citizens” engage with culture?
Finally, a note on voting tomorrow. I think I managed to condense this advice:
Voters: Don’t get distracted by questions over style, gaffe meters, sound bites, life stories, personal “likeability,” debate performance, potential for promise-keeping, relationships with previous leaders, wealth, or even religious faith. The only question to ask about any potentially electable presidential candidate is this: Which leader is more likely to do more “to the best of [his] ability [to] preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” (the actual oath the president swears to uphold)?
Burnett for President! 🙂
Yes, I think that is well said, Stephen.
In case anyone is wondering, Marc and I remain good friends. 🙂 In fact, I think our admiration of each other may have increased…though I may now have to use him as a character in a book.
One item I shared with Marc offline, and may be helpful to someone is this:
I love America. (And I know Marc does too.)
Yes, it is imperfect. In fact, it is probably the worse country and system of government in the world…aside from all the others. And I’ve seen my share of the others.
My faith in God isn’t based, thankfully, on the behavior of other Christians. Likewise my love of America isn’t based on the actions or inactions of individual Americans or American leaders. It is based, in part, on the Constitution and its codification of the American ideal. The idea that rights come from God, and not men. Therefore, I have no problem putting my voter stamp of approval on that document and what it stands for. Of course Americans have done bad things. But the beauty of a democratic republic is that, if left to its own devices, it is self-correcting.
The same could be said when deciding what/whom to vote for. Look at the planks the parties put forth and decide based on those. Again, planks are ideals that codify what the party finds meaningful.
…then watch them like hawks to make sure they follow the plank… 🙂
Nuff said. It has been good being with you all!