2K Makes You (and mmmeeeeEEEE) Virtuous

That’s because two-kingdom theology allows you to distinguish between what is and isn’t explicitly a matter of faith.

For instance, Rod Dreher goes batty over Ben Carson’s remark (in support of Trump) that “Sometimes you put your Christian values on pause to get the work done.”

Unless Rod is thinking about joining the Covenanters, his very citizenship is an instance of putting aside Christian convictions — the Constitution, hello! — in order to accomplish a measure of social order among a people with different religious (and other) convictions. Or is Dreher in favor, as an Orthodox Christian, of some kind of Constantine political order? Then please send back the advance on the book on the Benedict Option since the original Benedict Option arose out of a sense that political establishment compromised genuine faith.

A little 2k could also help Archbishop Chaput who seems to be doing his impersonation of college undergraduates who fear the campus of Princeton University is but little removed from Ferguson, Missouri. The wikileaks of emails with critical remarks about Roman Catholic political maneuvering shows a hyper-sensitivity normally associated with 19-year olds (maybe spoiled ones at that). Chaput quotes approvingly an email from a non-Roman Catholic friend:

I was deeply offended by the [Clinton team] emails, which are some of the worst bigotry by a political machine I have seen. [A] Church has an absolute right to protect itself when under attack as a faith and Church by civil political forces. That certainly applies here . . .

Over the last eight years there has been strong evidence that the current administration, with which these people share values, has been very hostile to religious organizations. Now there is clear proof that this approach is deliberate and will accelerate if these actors have any continuing, let alone louder, say in government.

These bigots are actively strategizing how to shape Catholicism not to be Catholic or consistent with Jesus’s teachings, but to be the “religion” they want. They are, at the very core, trying to turn religion to their secular view of right and wrong consistent with their politics. This is fundamentally why the Founders left England and demanded that government not have any voice in religion. Look where we are now. We have political actors trying to orchestrate a coup to destroy Catholic values, and they even analogize their takeover to a coup in the Middle East, which amplifies their bigotry and hatred of the Church. I had hoped I would never see this day—a day like so many dark days in Eastern Europe that led to the death of my [Protestant minister] great grandfather at the hands of communists who also hated and wanted to destroy religion.

Michael Sean Winters thinks that the charge of anti-Catholic bigotry is overheated and shows the calming effects of 2k:

The supposed “bigotry” towards the Catholic Church exposed in the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, released by Wikileaks last week, is nothing of the sort, despite the best attempts of some to make it so. This whole controversy is simply an effort, a stupid effort, to stop Clinton’s ascent to the White House. I say stupid because crying “wolf” is never a smart political or cultural strategy and, besides, anyone who is genuinely concerned about bigotry could not possibly be supporting Trump. This is about Republican operatives who hold the portfolio for Catholic outreach doing their part to ingratiate themselves with Trump.

Even though Winters is Roman Catholic and writes for the National Catholic Reporter, his additional comments reveal that he understands 2k and is willing to employ it:

First, conservative Catholics have every right to be Republicans, to try and play their faith in ways that correspond to their conscience, to reach conclusions that might differ from that of more liberal Catholics. They sometimes leave aside certain concerns that I think are central to the relevance of our faith at this time in history, but as Halpin said in explaining the context of the email, there are those on the left who do the same. The bastardization came when conservative Catholics claimed theirs was the only acceptable application of faith. Second, by aiding the reduction of faith to morals, these conservative Catholics have unwittingly been agents of the very same secularization they claim to oppose. As soon as our faith is no longer about the empty tomb of Jesus Christ, it has no claims to authority and people will walk away.

The only problem for Winters is that his bishops and pope keep commenting on political matters that invite the laity to bastardize the faith by seeking papal authority to back up — like — their own opinions — man.

Even Kevin DeYoung sheds a little 2k light to the allies who are usually tongue-tied by the transformationalist rhetoric of its NYC celebrity preachers:

This does not mean I think every Christian must come to the same decision in order to be a good Christian. There are simply too many prudential matters in the mix for Christians to be adamant that you absolutely cannot vote for so and so. . . . While our church might discipline a member for holding the positions Clinton holds or for behaving the way Trump has behaved, this does not mean we have biblical grounds for disciplining a church member who, for any number of reasons and calculations, may decide that voting for either candidate (or neither) makes the most sense. And if we wouldn’t discipline someone for a presidential vote, we should stop short of saying such a vote is sinful and shameful.

Now just imagine if Pastor DeYoung’s church or those of his gospel co-allies actually disciplined ministers who supported ministries of different faith and practice. It would be like having the Gospel Coalition show precisely the opposite of what DeYoung recommends for Christians when sorting out politics — firm about theology and ministry, soft about policy. But as we now know, the opposite is usually par for the course — indifferent about denominational distinctness and aggressive about civil affairs.

More 2k, more confessionalism, healthier churches, better citizens. Will that fit on a bumper sticker?

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92 thoughts on “2K Makes You (and mmmeeeeEEEE) Virtuous

  1. I’ll see your point and raise a question: “While our church might discipline a member for holding the positions Clinton holds…this does not mean we have biblical grounds for disciplining a church member who, for any number of reasons and calculations, may decide that voting for either candidate (or neither) makes the most sense.”

    Huh? Ordinarily one votes for a candidate whose policy views align with his own. So why would someone be disciplined for having certain political views but not for voting for someone has those same views? Sounds like KD wants to retain a political test of faith somehow. Gong.

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  2. Robert, agreed which is why I said ordinarily. I take KD to mean more or less “the positions [plural] that Clinton holds…” It’s not a stretch to say that a member who votes for her more or less has her views on a range of positions. In which case, he likely holds an allegedly actionable view. So why not discipline a Clinton voter? Because deep down KD knows 2k is right, in which case why hold out for being able to discipline for a particular position? Because he’s resisting. Keep going, KD, you can do it, I’m rooting for you.

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  3. Why do I have the weird feeling that we are witnessing the birth of an Evangelical Papacy. The highly influential blogger/seminary student/talk show host/serial tweeter Erick Erickson even suggested that John Piper and Russel Moore are top contenders for the role of Evangelical Holy Father. What are they teaching in seminaries these days?

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  4. @Susan
    Nice drive by. You still don’t understand what rc sex abuse scandal was really all about and why that meams there is nothing your clergy has to say about politics that anyone should listen to. The scandal isn’t that a few clergy did bad things. The scandal is that the bishops currently, today, right now are willing to crush the lives of victims to protect their status.

    We have to keep it quiet because enemies of the Church would use that information to discredit it. It will give those who would destroy us ammunition.

    Yeah, it would, and it did. But that puts us in the position of the bishop of a large diocese (now retired) who was very blunt when he met with an abuse victim, her lawyer, and the psychiatrist who was treating her (a faithful conservative Catholic, by the way). The victim had not been a child when she was abused by her priest. She was an adult who, in a sacramental confession, admitted that she had cheated on her husband. The priest used that information to blackmail her into a sexual affair. She finally had a nervous breakdown, and sought psychiatric help. Once the bishop found out about it, he sent the priest to Ireland, then met with the victim and her team.

    Both this woman and her psychiatrist told me in an interview that the bishop told her that if she filed a lawsuit against the Church or went public with what happened, that he would see to it that she was ruined. Said the bishop, “I have to protect the people of God.”

    I think this bishop honestly thought that’s what he was doing. He went on to be transferred to an even larger diocese. By the time he retired, his name had been all over the papers for covering up child sexual abuse in the dioceses where he had served.

    But see, that bishop was protecting the people of God. Just not all the people of God.

    But hey, those bishops put out a press release saying they were sorry and would never do that again. And that priest gave a homily that made the hairs in the back of my neck tingle. And Thomas Aquinas. Whatever… the theory is still good right?

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  5. b, sd, you should know by now that Susan represents the Protestant wing of Roman Catholicism. These folks create a church and tradition in their image. They don’t pay attention to what their bishops do. It’s like going to Willow Creek while using the Shorter Catechism for devotions.

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  6. Darryl,

    They don’t pay attention to what their bishops do.

    Ding, ding, ding. As long as the dogma is on paper somewhere, all is good. It’s a weird ecclesiastical version of sola Scriptura. At the end of the day, I’m not sure how much the visible church really means to these converts, given what they say and how they act. “Yeah, we know the visible church is messed up, but the TRUE church will continue.” But isn’t that the Protestant position?

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  7. Robert, “Yeah, we know the visible church is messed up, but the TRUE church will continue.”

    That’s gnostic.

    So much for all that incarnational embodiment in the visible church.

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  8. @ DGH:

    I’m not following this story “expert closely”, but it seems to me that Dreher has at least half a point.

    If you look at Halpin’s response,

    What I reacted to in my email, rightly or wrongly, was the grand public display of Catholicism from a right-wing billionaire who owns a media conglomerate, including Fox News, that routinely assaults the values of the poor, sows racial discord, and attacks immigrants. This seemed inconsistent with what I was taught about Catholic values, so I penned off an email to my other Catholic colleagues.
    Likewise, the email I wrote is from April of 2011, just after Paul Ryan released his second budget plan proposing large tax reductions for the rich, severe cuts in social welfare spending, the privatization of Medicare, and the repeal of health care for millions of low-income people — all ideas promoted by Thomson’s newspaper and all concepts that were in my mind and in public discourse at the time.

    Rep. Ryan and other conservatives often defend their libertarian economic policies as consistent with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, a dubious link that many Catholics reject. Subsidiarity is a valuable concept for both progressives and conservatives shaping public policy. Anti-poverty and other social welfare efforts are best handled in smaller, more communal settings. But Catholic social teaching is clear that subsidiarity is not the same thing as federalism and central governments play an important role in helping those in need and advancing societal goals. Policies based on subsidiarity must also be balanced with principles of solidarity and the common good.

    he’s painted himself into a corner.

    IS, or IS NOT, Catholicism a source of social theory? Halpin certainly seems to think that it is, since he appeals to “Catholic social teaching.”

    But if it is, then the official Catholic teaching is … well, pretty contrary to many of Halpin’s positions. In particular, gender roles, birth control, and systematic thought are pretty near and dear to the Catholic Church. To assail those, as he does, is really to assail important ideas in Catholicism. Catholic or not, Halpin is writing against Catholicism.

    And, he’s throwing his fellow Catholics under the bus because they happen to be on the right instead of the left, politically. Political blood is thicker than holy water, I guess.

    Now, as a Protestant, I would prefer for the Catholic church to get out of the business of politics. But given that the church has inserted itself into the political arena, Halpin cannot excuse himself with “I’m only talking about the bastardization of Catholicism.” Nor does it work to protest that he is himself Catholic.

    If his positions are contrary to those of the Church, then by the “whole cloth” doctrine, he’s outside looking in.

    In other words: which matters more to Halpin: politics or religion? If politics, as it seems, then he’s perfectly fine with letting politics swallow up his religious identity.

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  9. Susan, odd, I don’t recall much reproductive politics swallowing up everything in Augustine. Talk about commandeering. Must be a development of doctrine thing.

    But so much sunny forgivenesss for those who actually abort from the priest, yet only a threatening finger thumped in the chest for those who–wait for it–merely vote. The Baylys are cheering with glee. Once again you show how you’ve traded Protestantism for fundamentalism. Drinking is drunkenness and voting is killing.

    Political tools for political battles and spiritual tools for spiritual ones. It’s not hard, Susan. But I know, “babies.”

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  10. ” It’s like going to Willow Creek while using the Shorter Catechism for devotions.”
    Ha! I laughed out loud when I read that. The mrs asked what was so funny and I read it to her. She snickered too.

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  11. Plus, I would like to add, that I find your critiques confusing. You take issue with the Catholic Church putting its nose in politics but then point out that there are Catholics “in good standing” who take holy communion.
    It’s as if you do see that The Church definately has a moral stand that should be consistantly lived by public officials, civic lay, military personnel etc.(all walks of life), but that you don’t seem to require protestants to reflect a moral stand publically. Why is there a moral litmus for Catholics and not one for 2K protestants?
    If a protestant in a Presbyterian or Reformed church votes their conscience and its on behalf of a woman’s right to choose, aren’t they in the same moral and spiritual predicamate as Pelosi?
    Further, is it the responsibily of a Presybeterian or Reformed minister to tell a person in their congregation that if they don’t defend unborn children then they will go to hell?

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  12. Susan, “Why is there a moral litmus for Catholics and not one for 2K protestants?”

    Are you kidding? Own up to your pope. Part of the papacy’s appeal is universal jurisdiction, social teaching, and mixing it up with politicians. Have you forgotten Christendom so quickly?

    Really, your defense cannot be that we are no better than Protestants. You switched teams because Rome is superior. Live it, love it, feel its pain.

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  13. Susan: You take issue with the Catholic Church putting its nose in politics but then point out that there are Catholics “in good standing” who take holy communion.
    It’s as if you do see that The Church definitely has a moral stand that should be consistently lived by public officials, civic lay, military personnel etc.(all walks of life), but that you don’t seem to require protestants to reflect a moral stand publicly. Why is there a moral litmus for Catholics and not one for 2K protestants?

    Think in terms of consistency. Catholics teach that (a) Christianity makes definite pronouncements on social issues (CCC 2832ff), and (b) faithful Catholics must submit to Church teaching (CCC 87).

    Given that many Catholics publicly repudiate Church teaching (eg Pelosi), and are not disciplined, this suggests that the Church teaching in the catechism is not “the real rule” that the Church operates by.

    In other words, the moral litmus test for Catholics is the one that it itself has laid out for itself.

    Meanwhile, 2k Protestants teach that (a) Christianity makes few definite pronouncements on social issues, but many definite pronouncements on individual behavior, and (b) faithful Christians must submit to the governance and discipline of the church.

    So the moral litmus test the Protestant church sets out for itself here is (a) whether its members adhere to Scripture in their behavior, and (b) when not, whether the church disciplines its own.

    There is a moral litmus test, but not the same one — or rather, the point of contact for both litmus tests is consistency.

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  14. Darryl,

    What are you talking about?
    I’m speaking of morality. Did the Catholic Church change any moral stance? No it didn’t.
    If our vote could potentially keep abortion from expanding, shouldn’t care and try?
    Now explain why you would carp on bad catholics. Are you holding them to a higher political authority or spiritual authority. Please explain your moral foundations.

    I think Pelosi got wind of the doctrine of sola fide. There was and quite possibly still is the spirit of Jansenism running about. She’s “got faith” so quit talking about her politics would ya.
    Get it?

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  15. Jeff,

    What would it look like morally if Old Christendom( Europe) was more strongly Christian again? I’m not saying “perfect” but closer to godliness?
    If it was entirely 2k protestant would its inhabitants vote and behave more or less morally?
    Except for any remnent of church goers, doesn’t most of protestant Europe and Britian look and vote consistant with the values of 2K protestantism?
    If consistancy really is the litmus test, I say you won.

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  16. Susan: Except for any remnent of church goers, doesn’t most of protestant Europe and Britain look and vote consistent with the values of 2K protestantism?

    A good place to start in answering that question could be to look at how many of those Protestants attend 2k churches: Strong on worship and sola scriptura, strong belief in the spirituality of the church.

    Then you could ask how those people vote.

    I’ll make a not-so-risky prediction: The European voters you deplore don’t go to those kinds of churches.

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  17. Susan, “Did the Catholic Church change any moral stance? No it didn’t.”

    But you shrug at the sex scandal and the bishops’ covering it up.

    No morality has changed. But does anyone care about morality?

    How many Roman Catholics use contraceptives? How many priests warn them about the dangers of mortal sin?

    By your actions you know them.

    Don’t take us for fools (and don’t be one yourself).

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  18. Well, there is still one visible church that is despised by the world because it still actually counters the world.
    If there is a priest going against the whole cloth then we at least have a way to know if he’s going against the whole cloth.
    In protestantism you either like the same sex union approving church you find yourself in or you get marginalized by the other “Christians” there and so must hit the road.
    There is no longer a church( in the protestant sense) where care and concern for it can bring about healthy reform. Spintering takes the place of reform.

    Jeff,
    “’ll make a not-so-risky prediction: The European voters you deplore don’t go to those kinds of churches”

    Yes, to be truthful and fair, you’re right, modernism infected the whole of religion in Europe.
    One big way it infiltrated is through relativism. If nobody knows what Christianty is then why not progress with the masses? If same sex union isnt detrimental to souls, then I’m cool with it. If abortion isnt murder then I wont be judged by God when I promote it for poliitical opportunism, will I?
    But, I dont despise any of those European voters. I worry that they listen to wolves in sheeps clothing and not to the law that is written on their hearts.

    You guys can have the last word

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  19. Except for any remnent of church goers, doesn’t most of protestant Europe and Britain look and vote consistent with the values of 2K protestantism?

    Susan, you mean this as a slight but what about the American landscape where there isn’t a religious test on political office? Have you forgotten how 2k pushes back on notions that Mormons and Catholics ought not have political sway and authority because there is an allegedly straight line from idolatry to policy such that “idolaters will ruin this country”? Where’s the thanks? It evaporates when the same reasoning is used to push back on the suggestion that there is a straight line from voting to killing. But you’re still welcome.

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  20. “Have you forgotten how 2k pushes back on notions that Mormons and Catholics ought not have political sway and authority because there is an allegedly straight line from idolatry to policy such that “idolaters will ruin this country”? Where’s the thanks? It evaporates when the same reasoning is used to push back on the suggestion that there is a straight line from voting to killing. ”

    So you are calling the shots about what constitutes idolatry because in a pluralistic society, under 2K, you have that right under the free excercise of religion ( and your wrong about Catholicism), but the moral commandment from God ( religious from the decalogue from the bible)not to kill isn’t protected under that same 2K religious schematic?
    What gives?
    You can invoke religious right and I can’t?

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  21. Susan, “Well, there is still one visible church that is despised by the world because it still actually counters the world.”

    Yes, the leaders of the world really scorn Pope Francis:

    From my time working in impoverished neighborhoods with the Catholic Church in Chicago, to my travels as President, I’ve seen firsthand how, every single day, Catholic communities, priests, nuns, laity are feeding the hungry, healing the sick, sheltering the homeless, educating our children, and fortifying the faith that sustains so many.

    And what is true in America is true around the world. From the busy streets of Buenos Aires to the remote villages in Kenya, Catholic organizations serve the poor, minister to prisoners, build schools, build homes, operate orphanages and hospitals. And just as the Church has stood with those struggling to break the chains of poverty, the Church so often has given voice and hope to those seeking to break the chains of violence and oppression.

    And yet, I believe the excitement around your visit, Holy Father, must be attributed not only to your role as Pope, but to your unique qualities as a person. (Applause.) In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, in the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds. (Applause.)

    You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the center of our concerns. You remind us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and our measure as a society, is not determined by wealth or power or station or celebrity, but by how well we hew to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized — (applause) — to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity –- because we are all made in the image of God. (Applause.)

    You remind us that “the Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy. And that means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart –- (applause) — from the refugee who flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life. (Applause.) It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, to those who have suffered, and those who have caused suffering and seek redemption. You remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace. (Applause.)

    Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people — (applause) — which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere, and a better life for the Cuban people. We thank you for your passionate voice against the deadly conflicts that ravage the lives of so many men, women and children, and your call for nations to resist the sirens of war and resolve disputes through diplomacy.

    You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely. (Applause.) Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty. It was the basis for so much of what brought us together. And here in the United States, we cherish our religious liberty, but around the world, at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith. Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship. The faithful are imprisoned, and churches are destroyed. So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and free from intimidation. (Applause.)

    And, Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet, God’s magnificent gift to us. (Applause.) We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to changing climate, and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations. (Applause.)

    Amazing how spiteful President Obama was both of the pope and what Francis stands for.

    So long for now. I’m due back on planet earth.

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  22. I take issue with the title since I have seen those who mock other Christians while waving the banner of 2kt. In addition, though 2kt has its merits, when it denies the existence of corporate sin, it also has its detriment–kind of like any theology that has some merit.

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  23. Susan, more. Look how well your bishops fare in the eyes of the world.

    In a sense, De Kesel is perhaps a Belgian version of the same dynamics that often surround Pope Francis himself: Acclaim in secular circles outside the Church, frequently good reviews at the Catholic grassroots, but some ambivalence among insiders.

    Get out of your man-made Roman Catholic bubble.

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  24. Susan, the moral commandment not to kill remains. The question is how voting is killing. It’s quite a stretch and seems pretty obviously the work of those with a political agenda using religion to lord it over others. If your priest’s homily isn’t an example of that, it’s not clear what would be.

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  25. Steve,

    Abortion is murder. Murder is presented to the public not as murder, but the right of women to be in charge of their own bodies. That’s how it moved from a moral issue to a political one. The right to be recognized as a person and to live took a backseat to politics. Abortion isn’t political unfainess towards children in the womb in the land of democracy, it’s diabolical.
    How do we go about reforming our country that has made murder legal then by getting the truth out there and by electing officials who also see life of the most innocent as the most important issue?
    As RC Sproul wisely said, ” If we don’t legislate morality what do we legislate, the state bird?”

    So since it’s a moral issue Priests have the duty to tell people their souls will be in danger if they knowingly choose the candidate who has flauntingly made murder tops on their agenda and then goes to receive Jesus in holy communion.
    That’s not lording over the people, that’s lovingly saving lives and souls.

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  26. Susan, I get it. I share the priest’s obvious political views. What I don’t get is how our shared political opponent is guilty of something that puts actual murderers in jail. Are you and he saying that someone who votes for someone with a choice view should be put in jail? If so, holy moly (and get real). If not, then you actually agree with me so go back to the drawing board and figure out where you two flew off the tracks.

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  27. Steve,

    Glad that you share the correct moral view. From there what’s our responsibility as citizens of the City of God? In Catholic theology we are citizens of the kingdom of God by our baptism and how we respond to supernal grace( that’s why there is sacraments) from then on out. We can despise our birthright and sell out for a bowl of pottage. Earth is man’s testing ground.

    Your question about jail is a good question.I don’t know how it should be handled when it is outlawed and people violate the law.
    If someone made another person a slave and got caught, would they serve time? One of the worst things we do to our republic is to speak of wrong doings as matters for politics or positive law. What about nature’s God? Fear of God isn’t a deterent because the public square is naked. God isnt thought of until someone is about to walk down death row.
    So there will always be a battle played out politically between good and evil because man is a social animal.
    The devil doesn’t show up towering over men like Sauron in TLOTR for all to see. He wants children killed and he wants us to fight about whether or not it’s political.

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  28. Steve,

    I think I missed your question:

    “Are you and he saying that someone who votes for someone with a choice view should be put in jail? ”

    No but they shouldn’t be told that the issue is merely political, and if they profess to know God they should be warned about the eternal and temporal consequences of that wrong view.

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  29. Susan, the consequences sure seem less than compelling if they don’t in fact involve punishment. So why hold out eternal consequences for a political view if even in temporal life there are none? If I say you should have the temporal freedom to practice idolatry does that mean I’m guilty of idolatry? No, so how much less so is anyone guilty of killing for merely voting for someone whose many views include one that could be construed as allowing others the freedom to take a life? And I know you and your priest want to conflate the political and moral to give umpf to your politics, but I’m not so sure you grasp how that could backfire in your Catholic faces were the civic powers expressly Protestant. Religious freedom for you but no political liberty for the choicer? Looks selective and weighed in your favor.

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  30. Steve,

    Since we’re talking morality not politics, there is an eternal punishment and a temporal punishment. Part of the temporal punishment is the breakdown of our families and that causes the breakdown of our country.

    There is a large segment of our society ( the unwanted unborn) who aren’t benefiting from the rights this nation is supposed to offer. What’s the good of mine and your rights to our own religion if the unborn don’t even get the right to live?
    Selfishness rather than charity for our neighbor is a sign that one is acting for the kingdom of this world and opposite the kingdom of god.
    How is the right to choose not exactly like gravity of genocide?
    Can we be allowed to vote for detention and eventual killing of Christians who keep this country from progress?

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  31. Susan, you’re not seriously engaging my points, you’ve slid off the tracks again and have careened into some tirade about society, rights, unborn, religion, genocide.

    Is there some serious initiative to “detain and eventually kill Christians who keep this country from progress,” or is that just the hyperventilation of someone who’s drunk on the pro-life Kool Aid? What in thee heck are you talking about?

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  32. Steve,

    Pro-life koolade? Really children aren’t dying? That’s exactly the sort of flippant rhetoric that hurts everybody.
    Can’t you see that the far-fetched scenario of the killing of Christians isn’t so far-fetched in this world? Unborn children as case in point?
    Use your imagination if reality isn’t horrible enough. Is there any scenario that you think warrants us to use our voting power to call stops?
    How far is too far in your estimation?

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  33. Dear Friends,

    Dr. Bryan Estelle of WSCAL did an excellent exegesis of Ecclesiastes and the Book of Job:

    http://wscal.edu/resource-center/wisdom-in-dialogue

    This excellent work requires thoughtful listening and maybe (it did for me) replaying certain portions to make sure I heard correctly because it is so freeing. It has great application to the issues of this post and beyond. His masterful use of the Hebrew brings such clarity to life issues, and the application of wisdom, such as is being sought for here.

    Dr. Hart, in the same way, thank you for helping me to understand the concept of the 2 Kingdoms; it has been tremendously liberating, and I don’t have to sweat bullets anymore in feeling that the whole weight of the spiritual conversion and welfare of our nation and world depends on my piety (feebly expressed, but those who have struggled in the same way will know what I mean – pietists will take offense at my statement). I do care about our nation, but I am comforted and assured of our Heavenly Father’s good purposes in the way he has decreed and ordained events, even as I pray.

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  34. Susan, wait, I’m guilty of flippant rhetoric and you’re the one saying it’s a matter of days before Christians in America will be rounded up, jailed and executed? As I say, I’m morally and politically opposed to elective abortion, but I fail to see how hyperbole like that actually helps the cause. Have you considered how it actually promotes the notion that Christians are just another clammering PAC? You suggest using my imagination more–try using yours less.

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  35. Meanwhile, Dreher asks the question that our Rah-Rah Rome is the answer interlocutors keep ignoring:

    The Catholic Church says that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage is wrong. But the most recent Pew poll found only 27 percent of white Evangelicals approving of gay marriage, versus 58 percent of Catholics doing so.

    Here’s something I have never figured out. In theory, Catholics ought to be a lot more theologically conservative on such matters. They have a clear teaching proclaimed by a clear church authority, with a deep Biblical theology behind it. And yet, on the whole, it doesn’t seem to matter to lay Catholics. Evangelicals, on the other hand, have the Bible, but no binding interpretive authority to keep them from diverging. Yet, on these issues, they are more morally conservative than Catholics — even by Catholic standards.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/mystery-of-the-ages-catholic-evangelical/

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  36. @Susan
    The CCC has more on murder than just abortion. For example, it states that, “The fifth commandment forbids…refusing assistance to a person in danger.” However, our laws do not require that one help a person in dire distress. It is perfectly legal to see someone having a heart attack or drowning and walk on by. Then there is the problem of unjust war, war of deterence, and use of nuclear weapons. Is it OK to vote for a candidate willing to use nuclear arms when the CCC says that, “iindiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. (i.e., down with Truman and anyone who speaks in his defense)”? Now if it is sinful for me to vote for a candidate who advocates unjust war (recall that Trump has advocated the use of nuclear weapons) and it is sinful for me to vote for a pro-choice candidate (Clinton, Johnson, and Stein), does that mean I can’t vote? Or in what is effectively a two party system do we each need to weight the merits against the demerits of the candidates?

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  37. @Robert I saw that too. You see something similar in S/C America . The shift in self-reported affiliation has been astonishing. Within a generation, they will be majority pentecostal if current trends hold.

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  38. @z I’m curious how you see laws against abortion working out. I can’t imagine any scenario where a law that doesn’t allow exceptions for the health of the mother and rape. Our self-defense laws don’t necessarily even require you to fear for your life, a reasonable fear for serious bodily harm is generally sufficient to shoot in self defense. I can’t imagine a higher standard for abortion. In the case of rape, I think the violinist analogy is pretty compelling and makes a lot of moral intuitive sense to most people – you can’t force someone to sustain someone’s life against their will.

    Now if we agree that abortion is going to be permitted in cases of rape and the threat of serious harm, then we are left with two really big exceptions that are nearly impossible to adjudicate. Given the way that rape is being dealt with on college campuses (and is being adopted in the broader community), I doubt that you will ever see the rape exception require more than signing a form. In other words, the law will create a lot of angst and donations for Planned Parenthood, but it won’t make a bit of difference to the number of abortions performed.

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  39. Zrim,

    Kindly stop putting words in my mouth.
    My use of the state rounding up Christians was hypothetical. I was searching for something——–anything morally imporant to use as a situation to ask you if it warrants Christians to be politically involved and out spoken against.
    Politics is afterall the outworking amoung groups trying to get a piece of what’s available for oneself and others, and trying to keep others hands off what is one’s own or someone else’s( James 4:1,2: and second half of the decalogue).
    So is there any situation that you find so wicked that would be upset to learn that your brother in the pew next to you approves of and will use the civil means in existence to see comes to pass?

    I live in Southern California and there are a lot of Catholics. The state is a minority-majority state, meaning that the majority is nonwhite and that seems to go hand in hand with desire for relaxed immigration laws. The state is also mostly Democrat and has been since the late 80’s or early 90’s.
    So I suspect that there are people sitting next to me at church who will vote for the candidate that is more likely to vote Democrat.
    Is that a problem in your estimation? And if yes is it a problem only because they are disobeying the bishops or is there a bigger moral problem going on here?
    If it’s fine to vote for a women’s right to choose or to be more concerned about immigration over the unborn, than you really have no religious qualms with Catholics doing what you non- judgingly allow among 2K Protestants.

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  40. sdb, above my measly pay grade. But your questions to Susan are apt. (She has no answer but to hit the play button on her priest again.) Why are there different rules for abortion politics than for any other set of politics? Is political correctness (or what the old timers called group think) afoot?

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  41. Susan, how about we stay on planet earth and not conjure up far-fetched hypos? But, no, it’s not a problem to vote for a Dem. But you and your priest say it is and it’s all to do with the a-word. Why is voting so packed to the gills with moral import? All someone is doing is registering an opinion how s/he thinks things should or should not be arranged. It’s a looooooong way from voting to how things actually happen, and often how someone votes doesn’t even result in the desired arrangement. If you disagree, just pull the opposite lever and quit reigning hell down. Sheesh.

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  42. Darryl,

    You guys are exasperating. “Robert ding” what?

    Is it bad that lay Catholics disobey their bishops? In what way is their disobedience wrong? It’s good to disobey if the church is wrong about same sex union and issues pertaining to life, isnt it?

    Is having a view that same sex union is okay a bad moral view or bad political view?

    Why make an issue that Catholics aren’t obeying the church unless the church is right?

    All I hear you saying is that the church is morally correct but that there are many dissenters. What’s new?

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  43. @Susan

    1. “Ding” means good point.

    2. The reason for pointing out dissent among RCs is to show that the system is ineffective. It is not a comment on whether the beliefs espoused by the system are true.

    3. Same sex unions are immoral. State recognition of ssm may or may not be politically expedient. Thomas Aquinas could make that distinction in regards to prostitution… why not ssm?

    4. To point out that the Catholic church’s system is ineffective.

    5. Then you need to work on your reading skills. The epistemic superiority of a system can be tested empirically. If one system results in adherence at the 75% rate and the other system results in adherence at the 50%, you have a motive of (in)credibility.

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  44. Steve,

    “But, no, it’s not a problem to vote for a Dem. But you and your priest say it is and it’s all to do with the a-word. Why is voting so packed to the gills with moral import?”

    I will ask you if abortion is murder but I don’t need you to confirm it to know if it is or isn’t. You already said that your against it. Is that a moral stance? The vow to keep it legal and to expand it is the position of the Democratic party. So your position, is it subjective or what? Just admit it that abortion is murder and that murder is the pretended right of democrats and draw the conclusions if it has moral import or not.

    ” All someone is doing is registering an opinion how s/he thinks things should or should not be arranged”

    If he’s registering his opinion about an issue then he should get informed about the issue so he can responsibly cast his vote. Voting results may be appear like slots but what is represents is the values of a people.

    “It’s a looooooong way from voting to how things actually happen, and often how someone votes doesn’t even result in the desired arrangement.”

    Of course we don’t get the right outcome but there’s a reason for that. The reason is many Catholics and other Christians think like you.

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  45. Politics is afterall the outworking amoung groups trying to get a piece of what’s available for oneself and others, and trying to keep others hands off what is one’s own or someone else’s( James 4:1,2: and second half of the decalogue).

    Yikes! Is that really what you believe? I don’t think Aristotle would approve. I’m not sure how you get that from James or the 5 commandments.

    So is there any situation that you find so wicked that would be upset to learn that your brother in the pew next to you approves of and will use the civil means in existence to see comes to pass?

    I think a lot of us would be upset to know that a fellow Christian (or non-Christian) neighbor supported all sorts of policies. That doesn’t mean that one should be brought up on charges, defrocked, excommunicated, etc… for holding that view (there are protest who disagree) or that a pastor should speak in his capacity of a shepherd of the flock where the scriptures are silent.

    I live in Southern California and there are a lot of Catholics. The state is a minority-majority state, meaning that the majority is nonwhite and that seems to go hand in hand with desire for relaxed immigration laws. The state is also mostly Democrat and has been since the late 80’s or early 90’s. So I suspect that there are people sitting next to me at church who will vote for the candidate that is more likely to vote Democrat. Is that a problem in your estimation?

    Yes.

    And if yes is it a problem only because they are disobeying the bishops or is there a bigger moral problem going on here?

    It is a problem insofar as I am less likely to see my preferred policies enacted. It isn’t an ecclesiastical problem. One shouldn’t have to go to confession for voting for a democrat.

    If it’s fine to vote for a women’s right to choose or to be more concerned about immigration over the unborn, than you really have no religious qualms with Catholics doing what you non- judgingly allow among 2K Protestants.

    Depends on what “it’s” refers to. I think the ecclesiastical authorities in your church should not attempt to bind the conscience of parishioners on matters where the scriptures are silent. They say that there is a moral aspect to voting, but they don’t follow through on the implications of their claims. In a liberal democracy, we are all more or less 2k.

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  46. @Susan “See the video that I linked in this thread on Saturday.”
    I did. It watched as much as could – if there is something specific I should have taken away, please let me know. The reason for treating abortion as a special category in the political realm is not convincing. Enough with the drive-bys.

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  47. Susan, God himself made a political concession for divorce despite its immorality. And you guys can’t abide someone merely voting for another someone who’s view may or may not even result in immorality? If God can distinguish between the moral and political, why can’t you all? Or is it a pope you’re waiting on to make such a distinction?

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  48. Steve,

    Nice way to change the subject.

    Moses made the consession because of ths hardness of people’s hearts.
    Nobody not even the pope can undo those God has joined together.

    Do some research into that. Tired of debating now. Bye

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  49. Egads, natural marriage and ‘sacramental marriage’ Let’s get out the magnifying glasses and straws and some more money for an annulment that determines love never existed. THEN, after all that, ‘ what God has joined together’. It’s complicated. Maybe 2kish, political distinct from moral but even after that, the politics of religion distinct from the practice of true religion. Who will judge? Not Francis.

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  50. Susan, “Is it bad that lay Catholics disobey their bishops? In what way is their disobedience wrong? It’s good to disobey if the church is wrong about same sex union and issues pertaining to life, isnt it?”

    Say hello to the Protestant Reformation. Luther and Calvin disobeyed their bishops because many (especially the papacy) were corrupt. Even Roman Catholic historians admit that Alexander VI was a problem.

    So you think your circumstances are warranted but not Protestants. Game is rigged.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Okay all,

    I linked that video because I thought you’d like hearing a priest tell people, not whom to vote for( that would be wrong) but what candidate has a policy that it contrary to Christian morality and therefore Catholic doctrine.
    With past complaints about priests who neglect to warn Catholics who support abortion( Pelosi, etc..) and don’t get reprimanded enough, I thought you’d appreciate a priest warning people about the danger to their souls when supporting abortion( like Pelosi) and receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

    Peace on your journey,
    Susan

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  52. Dreher via Susan and Robert: The Catholic Church says that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage is wrong. But the most recent Pew poll found only 27 percent of white Evangelicals approving of gay marriage, versus 58 percent of Catholics doing so.

    Here’s something I have never figured out. In theory, Catholics ought to be a lot more theologically conservative on such matters. They have a clear teaching proclaimed by a clear church authority, with a deep Biblical theology behind it. And yet, on the whole, it doesn’t seem to matter to lay Catholics. Evangelicals, on the other hand, have the Bible, but no binding interpretive authority to keep them from diverging. Yet, on these issues, they are more morally conservative than Catholics — even by Catholic standards.

    Not to pile on (sensing that Susan is feeling ganged up on here), but can we discuss this objectively for a moment?

    (1) When the sample size is huge — per Pew — then a mean difference of 58% vs 27% is huge. It represents millions of people.

    (2) Assessing this in terms of epistemology, as in “how do Evangelicals know what they know?”, it seems on this issue that either (a) Evangelicals are doing a good job of reading their Bibles in this area, or (b) cultural factors are masking a lack of general Bible reading.

    I’m willing to entertain (b), but first I want to understand (Susan, this is for you) how Catholics go through the whole process of catechism, etc. and end up supporting SSM *given* that the church teaches that it is wrong personally and politically?

    In other words, what are the mechanics that cause a Catholic to say “I want to belong to the church; I self-identify as a Catholic; I reject church teaching”?

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  53. @Susan
    I hope I’m not merely incorrigible. Just as a pount of clarification, you are mixing two different arguments. One is about the merits of a particular stance: should churches opine on.political matters. The second is whether the rcc has a superior mechanism for settling disputes: if the epistemic grounding for rc claims is so much stronger than ssrps, why are rc adherents less likely to believe and church leaders less likely to discipline wayward adherents? Public rcs hold scandalous positions and remain in good standing. One possibility is that the rcc doesn’t actually teach what we think and the magisterium isn’t so clear (the epistemic grounding isn’t superior – the liberal rc comments on Dreher’s blog are worth pondering). Another answer is that the church has protection in proclaiming truth, but not on discipline. But this is part of a different conversation. That conversation doesn’t really depend on the merits of any particular belief. It is more epistemology than ontology.

    The question here is about the merit of a particular belief: Does the church have the authority to opine on political matters? Whether the rcc holds that view consistently is not directly relevant.

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  54. Susan, got it but it’s like sdb says, your problem is twofold. The first concerns 2k and the second claims of epistemic superiority in light of realities as Dreher purports them. Given the sacramental theoiogy of RCism, the kingdom conflation makes some sense (error begets error, etc). The second seems harder for converts to circumvent since they’re trying to be good Catholics while the less earnest and greater balance of RC population just isn’t. Your priest may bind consciences but it’s an isolated instance in a worldwide communion that has as much fracture as you charge Protestantism. It’s sort of no-win situation, isn’t it?

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  55. …The key distinction in the data: identity versus practice… Research has consistently shown that religious self-identification is much less important than actual religious practice, said Wilcox…
    “Lukewarm Christianity is a disaster for family life,” said Wilcox. “Nominal conservative Protestants and evangelicals do worse in their marriages than other Americans.… Being a lukewarm Baptist in Arkansas or Kentucky or other Southern states is a big risk factor for family dysfunction.”. .What is clear is that belonging nominally to a faith group doesn’t ensure blessing on your life, said Stanley. “The risk or likelihood of doing well in marriage is more related to how you behave than who you say you are.”
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/february-web-only/are-evangelicals-bad-for-marriage.html

    love, pollyanna pietist

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  56. Susan,

    Moses made the consession because of ths hardness of people’s hearts.
    Nobody not even the pope can undo those God has joined together.

    But Moses’ concession was divinely inspired. So God can undo those He has joined together, it would seem.

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  57. still though, Robert, it’s ok to quote Jesus :

    3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matt19

    2 Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “ Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. 7 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, 8 AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11 And He *said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” Mark 10

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  58. Susan,

    So since it’s a moral issue Priests have the duty to tell people their souls will be in danger if they knowingly choose the candidate who has flauntingly made murder tops on their agenda and then goes to receive Jesus in holy communion.
    That’s not lording over the people, that’s lovingly saving lives and souls.

    I think you are on to something here, but you might be pressing things too far.

    It would seem to me that the church could and should say that to be pro-abortion and to advocate for its expansion is to put one’s soul in danger. But that’s a little different than saying that voting for a candidate who supports such a thing is necessarily a sin.

    I can conceive of somebody voting for someone who is pro-abortion if even the particular voter isn’t. Especially in this election given that the purportedly pro-life candidate is certifiably insane. I also would say that perhaps it is a little naive to think “well, I’m voting for this candidate because of positions x, y, and z, but I’m golden because candidate’s position a isn’t something I support.” By voting for a candidate, you are effectively putting him or her in a place where the candidate can advocate even for the positions you disagre with. I’m not sure a 2K view gets you off the hook for this, if there is a hook to escape from.

    But I’m not sure what the degree of culpability is. There is no candidate with whom you will agree 100 percent, except yourself.

    When we vote for a candidate, we are giving that candidate power to enact all of his or her positions, but what that means for us individually with respect to what pleases God, is harder to say.

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  59. Robert, instead of naive how about discerning, as in nothing’s perfect and one must weigh the relative importance of a range of concerns. Single issue voting doesn’t suggest as much discernment as political fundamentalism.

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  60. Zrim,

    Single issue voting doesn’t suggest as much discernment as political fundamentalism.

    Depends on what you mean by single-issue voting.

    Fundamentalism would be, to use abortion as an example, voting for whoever says they will ban abortion no matter what else they say.

    I don’t think it is fundamentalistic to say that supporting abortion on demand for any and all reason means that the candidate will not get my vote but that doesn’t mean I will automatically vote for the opposing party. For me, personally, I simply can’t trust the moral competence of anyone who not only wants to keep abortion on demand legal but who also wants to demolish any of the meager conscience protections that have wisely been put in place (Re: Hyde Amendment). I don’t want to hear any crap from either party about caring about the least of these when they can’t even get the issue of the most defenseless individuals correct.

    I think Susan’s question is a good one, however. Is there any one issue that you or anyone else views as non-negotiable?

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  61. Robert, yes, that would be an example of political fundamentalism. Another would be the opposite: refusing to vote for a candidate because he wants it to remain legal no matter what else he says about anything. There’s plenty of both in conservative religious circles.

    But In the world of actual issues (and not far-fetched ones designed to distract and incite), no, I cannot think of any one issue that would tempt me to want to forgo discernment for fundamentalism.

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  62. @robert

    I think Susan’s question is a good one, however. Is there any one issue that you or anyone else views as non-negotiable?

    Sure there are. Lot’s of them, if you mean that support for that issue means I won’t vote for that person. But that isn’t the question on the table. The question is whether there is an issue that a candidate can support that will make voting for that candidate inherently sinful (i.e., one should be called to repent of the sin of voting for candidate X in a corporate prayer of confession, those who dissent should be brought up on charges and potentially excommunicated, etc…). I can imagine the voting for a candidate could be sin in the sense of violating once conscience to do so (like eating meat sacrificed to idols), but I don’t see a case where it is inherently sinful to vote for a given candidate.

    For a politician, things are a bit trickier. Outside of a politician passing laws requiring people to commit inherently sinful acts or prohibiting things God requires, I have a hard time seeing how a politician’s positions be counted as inherently sinful. It would be sinful to pass a law requiring women under the age of 21 to abort their babies upon pain of death. It isn’t necessarily sinful to conclude that restrictions on abortion create more harm than they prevent (I think this view is wrong, but not sinful).

    Viewing law as a matter prudence rather than morality makes for a healthier republic.

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  63. SDB,

    What if the candidate promised to round up Christians and lock them up? Would not voting for that candidate be an act of sin against another Christian?

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  64. Zrim,

    Your response reminds me of leftists who praise their own discernment in being above “one-issue voting.” It’s patronizing.

    We are all going to weigh various things, and I don’t have a problem with that. But bottom line, we’re all one issue voters somewhere. Push comes to shove, I don’t think you’re going to vote for the candidate who promises to lock up your wife even if he’s got a great foreign policy and will put a chicken in every pot.

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  65. SDB,

    It isn’t necessarily sinful to conclude that restrictions on abortion create more harm than they prevent (I think this view is wrong, but not sinful).

    Now that is something concrete that could be discussed. Assuming the legality of abortion in a particular context, you may well be right on this.

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  66. Robert, yeah, if I were Bill Clinton I wouldn’t vote for DJT, what with all those promises to lock up my wife.

    But I’m not sure where your hypotheticals really get us. In what democratic world is it a platform to lock up Christians such that a candidate would hope to win votes that way, and in what world would a Christian vote to have other Christians get locked up? The mind boggles. All we have in the real world are candidates whose political views allow (not require) that which God prohibits. Think idolatry. You want one who wants to continue to allow idolatry to be legal, right?

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  67. @robert
    “What if the candidate promised to round up Christians and lock them up? Would not voting for that candidate be an act of sin against another Christian?”

    I guess it depends on the motive of the Christian voter. Perhaps she is thinking that we shouldn’t put our faith in princes and that no national leader can act unless God allows it. A leader who promises to round up Christians will quash nominal Christianity. Now, I might think that someone who holds such a view is nutty, naive, and wholly misguided. Even so, I don’t see that having nutty, naive, misguided political opinions means you are sinning (or Curt is in deep, deep trouble…kidding!).

    I’m sure you can construct a scenario in which voting for candidate X is going to be inherently sinful (to vote you have to burn incense to the goddess of justice – is it sinful to vote then?). But in any likely scenario in a 2party system, you are choosing between two flawed candidates that represent broad coalitions in the country. If the Bible does not prescribe the role of a secular state on issue X, then the church should stay silent. It is not enough that X is immoral to justify the stance that it is immoral to allow the state to tolerate X. Gambling may be sinful, but voting for a candidate who supports the lottery might not be. There is enough of the gospel I need to hear (including the implications for my sanctification where I fall woefully short), that a pastor should not distract from the ministry of word and sacrament with extra-biblical appeals to favored political behavior (or cultural renewal, or social justice, or whatever the hip kids are on about these days).

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  68. SDB,

    If the Bible does not prescribe the role of a secular state on issue X, then the church should stay silent.

    Agreed. So, correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that you, at least, would say that the Bible doesn’t prescribe a role for the secular state on any issue. If I am wrong about your view, on what issue does the Bible prescribe a secular state position/policy.

    It is not enough that X is immoral to justify the stance that it is immoral to allow the state to tolerate X. Gambling may be sinful, but voting for a candidate who supports the lottery might not be. There is enough of the gospel I need to hear (including the implications for my sanctification where I fall woefully short), that a pastor should not distract from the ministry of word and sacrament with extra-biblical appeals to favored political behavior (or cultural renewal, or social justice, or whatever the hip kids are on about these days).

    Agreed, more or less, but is not the pastor supposed to help people apply Scripture personally? Otherwise, what is the point of the sermon? Just hand out Bibles or simply read Scripture in the service with no comment and then call it a day.

    At this point, it would be possible for the preacher to get into deep weeds politically, but there would be a difference between a preacher saying, “You have to vote for the Republicans because they are professedly prolife.” And “Christians should not support abortion on demand,” would there not?

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  69. Zrim,

    But I’m not sure where your hypotheticals really get us.

    They get us to the point where your pooh-poohing of single issue voters as lacking political discernment and being political fundamentalists actually redounds to yourself. We’re all single issue voters on SOMETHING at the end of the day, and that is all I am really saying with the hypothetical.

    In what democratic world is it a platform to lock up Christians such that a candidate would hope to win votes that way, and in what world would a Christian vote to have other Christians get locked up? The mind boggles.

    At this point, we don’t have a candidate saying such things. But we have plenty of examples of political scapegoating of Christians (and others) in history. We also have any number of professional organizations, colleges, etc. that essentially want to punish Christians for holding traditional Christian views on issues such as human sexuality. And these groups overwhelmingly support one of our two major political parties. And please let’s not be naive about where many of these groups want to take things such as adding LGBTQIAEIEIO protections to the civil rights act.

    There are plenty of professed Christians on the left who would be in favor of all these things. And while they may not be in favor of locking people up today (at least publicly), does not history show us that the people within the camp who cry loudest for “tolerance” are also the quickest to punish others once they get into power?

    I’m not arguing that Christians have to vote in a certain way. I’m simply suggesting that we don’t be naive.

    All we have in the real world are candidates whose political views allow (not require) that which God prohibits.

    Except for those candidates who want to destroy meager conscience protections (like the Hyde amendment), as the Democratic Platform this year states.

    Think idolatry. You want one who wants to continue to allow idolatry to be legal, right?

    I just want the state to do its job. I don’t see anything in the New Testament about the state making public policy and pronouncements related to theology. I don’t see anything much before Constantine in church history about that either. What I do see in both is an expectation that the state will exercise the sword to punish wrongdoers who violate the second table of the law.

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  70. @Robert

    So, correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that you, at least, would say that the Bible doesn’t prescribe a role for the secular state on any issue. If I am wrong about your view, on what issue does the Bible prescribe a secular state position/policy.

    I can’t think of one. That doesn’t mean anything goes. It means that we should use the “light of nature” (i.e., prudence, custom, natural wisdom – what Rawls would call “public reason” to adjudicate matters). Being wrong about a given policy is no more sinful than being wrong about a solution to a differential equation.

    Agreed, more or less, but is not the pastor supposed to help people apply Scripture personally? Otherwise, what is the point of the sermon? Just hand out Bibles or simply read Scripture in the service with no comment and then call it a day.

    Sure. The Bible doesn’t say “thou shall not gamble”. The inference that gambling is sinful comes from the application of Biblical principles. Spelling out the good and necessary consequences of a particular text of scripture is an important part of a good sermon. Extrapolating beyond that is not.

    At this point, it would be possible for the preacher to get into deep weeds politically, but there would be a difference between a preacher saying, “You have to vote for the Republicans because they are professedly prolife.” And “Christians should not support abortion on demand,” would there not?

    To focus on this particular issue – you are reciting a loaded political phrase (abortion on demand). A pastor preaching on the 10commandments might note that “Thou shalt not kill” includes abortion and that we should neither have nor provide one. Indeed, those that fell led should work against it and we should all pray to support their efforts. I would be very hesitant to go further than that. Take for example idolatry – it is fundamentally evil and we are to flee it and take no part in it. Yet part of Christian liberty is eating meat sacrificed to idols. This isn’t necessarily wise and those whose conscience is offended and those that do so without considering the effect on their brother may in fact be sinning by doing so. But eating meat, even if it required sin to produce it, is not sinful. The implication of this related to abortion is that we are not obligated to work against it politically and if there is knowledge gained by the development of that procedure, we are free to take advantage of it if our conscience is clear. I do think we are obligated not to perform abortions, assist in performing them, procuring them, or having them. I see no clear biblical basis for imposing additional obligations on believers, though I freely admit I may be overlooking something.

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  71. Robert, sorry you find the inability to think of a single viable issue to hyper-dominate a vote as dismissive or patronizing. It’s not meant to be. But at the same time, all you seem to to come up with are examples that, frankly, seem absurd in order to make your point. I don’t know what you mean by “we’re all single issue voters on something.” Well, in the world as it is, I’m not. I suppose when you conjure up absurdities, you’re right, but is that really how you want to make your point?

    Yes, history does seem to reveal the trends you suggest, but it still doesn’t make a case for the sinfulness of voting for any candidate that I can see. I think you agree. If it helps, I’d rather emphasize the utter stupidity it takes to get behind a shyster like DJT (believer or not), but I’ll stop well short of suggesting its sinfulness and for the same reasons I’ve maintained here. It almost sounds to me like you’re flirting with the sinfulness of a Dem vote but then pull back.

    On the idolatry point, I don’t see the NT doing that either, which is why I don’t think the NT is the blueprint for political questions in the first place. We have all we need in natural revelation for that. I also agree that the magistrate is beholden to the second table. But I anticipate that you want to say that in order to make the case for why elective abortion should be outlawed, or why the immoral should be politicized in the direction of outlaw. But honoring parents, adultery, and coventeousness aren’t. So it seems to me there are still a raft of questions yet to sort out that the Bible simply doesn’t address, e.g. should the federal government decide for every nook and cranny of the union or should states be entrusted with that (which is what RvW was really about, btw)? In which case, when it comes to the political question of elective abortion, there can be assorted views Christians may have and endorse. I say that as one with arguably conservative views, i.e. the states should be able to decide for themselves and when they do I say it should be outlawed even in cases of sexual assault (just life of mom). That doesn’t make my liberal friends very happy, but it seems that letting them have their views without heaping sacred scorn doesn’t make my conservative ones much happier either. Boo hoo.

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  72. Sean, she certainly comes across motherly (as in lame). I bet she wear mom jeans in private when she’s not wearing Mao Tse-tung wear in public. See what i did there?

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  73. What? What’s that you say? I see nuttin!!! I have to start practicing my three wise monkeys routine for the Hillary presidency. That and the Methodist-mistake not sin or guilt routine. How long before the impeachment proceedings start? They’re gonna find their smoking gun but probably not before she gets elected. Next day, maybe.

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