He Dehumanized First

With all the talk of human dignity these days, and all the recognition that Donald Trump doesn’t recognize it in Mexicans and Muslims, what happened to the capacity to recognize Trump himself as human? In other words, why don’t Christian historians model the charity and perspective in discussing Trump that they expect the Republican to display? John Fea (sorry to write so much about you big guy but you know, iron-sharpening-iron and all) once again sees what so many already see:

As Christian students of the past they strive to tell the stories of all human beings. The goal of such teaching and writing is not political correctness, but a fundamental belief in the dignity of individuals. Everyone’s story counts.

When Trump disparages women and people of different races and religions he dehumanizes them. He sends the message that some human beings are not as important as others. In the process he fails to recognize the Imago Dei in all of God’s human creation.

Historians know a few things about this kind of dehumanizing rhetoric. We have studied its manifestation in the past and are trained to recognize it in the present.

I have already commented on evangelical historians who seem to pride themselves on the value they add to discussion of the present.

But I don’t for the life of me understand why the historians who are so quick to condemn Trump don’t admit that the really challenging part of studying the past is to humanize characters like the Republican nominee. How a scholar does that is not obvious and that is why they pay historians the big bucks. To look beyond the surface and see the wider set of circumstances that contribute to a human being’s assets and liabilities is what makes history valuable (and for me fun).

Regarding a person in merely moral categories doesn’t measure up to the standards of good historical knowledge. It does what everyone else already does. And when done in the name of evangelical history it actually shows that born-again historians have a moral imagination but little removed from Jerry Falwell (Sr.) or James Dobson. What they did to President Clinton, evangelical historians are ready and willing to do to Donald Trump.

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65 thoughts on “He Dehumanized First

  1. D.G.,
    Suppose Trump was a candidate for ordination in the Church. How compassionate should those reviewing that ordination be? After all, note that there is a context for the judgment that is not the same as the context of Jesus telling us not to judge others.

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  2. Tim Keller—“To grow in grace comes not simply from believing more in our justification. Growing flows from using the gospel of grace on the root of our sin—the mistrust of God’s goodness and the inordinate love of other things When we behold the glory of Christ in the gospel, it reorders the loves of our hearts, so we delight in him supremely, and the other things that have ruled our lives lose their enslaving power over us. This is not merely telling yourself that you are accepted and forgiven…The root of our sinful behavior is an inability to hate sin for itself, and this stems from a tendency to see obedience as simply a way to avoid danger and have a good life.”

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/4-lessons-for-the-bedeviling-sanctification-debate

    Machen—They are guilty before they individually have done anything either good or bad

    mcmark—If we are all imputed with Adam’s guilt, there is no difference, BEFORE we ever do what Trump or Hilary have done , and it does not matter if we are babies or if we are Jews or if we have Christian parents, because our only hope is if God loves us in Christ. We are elect or not. It all comes down to if God loves us.

    But if Tim Keller is right, and we all know that God loves everybody, then the Westminster Confession is wrong and some of us are in a position to look down on Trump.

    Romans 3: 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slander us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

    Romans 3 reacts to the objection that God justifying some sinners will cause sinners to rationalize their sins, so that they not only say that their sins were predestined but also that they say that more sin result in more grace.

    The answer is that grace is either grace or not. There is not more or less grace, but either grace or no grace. More sin does not get the elect more grace, because all those God justly justifies have all the grace any other elect person has. If you have grace, then you are justified from sin, and if you don’t have grace, you are a sinner “free from righteousness” (Romans 6:20).

    Those who have been delivered by God to the gospel know that there are only two kind of sinners —guilty sinners and justified sinners . God has revealed Himself and justified Himself. God has revealed that God is more than sovereign. God is revealed as Righteous and justified in history by what God did when Christ gave Himself up to death because of the sins of those God has loved in Christ.

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  3. D.G.,
    Is it about having enemies or deciding on whom to entrust the stewardship of government to? Do you believe that anytime we can’t trust the authority of a government position to someone that that person is regarded as an enemy?

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  4. Hating Trump is part of the New Evangelical (as opposed to the Old Bible Thumpin’ Religious Right whose eulogy was recently given by Dr. Moore) purification process. This process has both a ceremonial and moral law – think of it as the New Religious Right Holiness Code:

    1. Declare yourself a #NeverTrump (#NeverHillary is not required and is actually discouraged.)
    2. Purify yourself by denouncing the Old Dying Religious Right and any support you had for it.
    3. Cleanse your soul by condemning Trump as inhumanly wicked, reprobate, degenerate and evil. Do the same
    for his supporters and even reluctant lesser-of-two-evil voters. This is not optional.
    4. Godwin’s Law is suspended for Trump so all allusions, comparisons, and associations to Hitler are required. This
    is not optional.
    5. Question the salvation, sincerity, and holiness of anyone with a different opinion. This is not optional.
    5. These rituals must be performed hundreds of times every day. Publicly. Obviously you need to use Twitter.
    This is definitely not optional.

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  5. But, Andrew, it’s still possible to viscerally oppose Trump without adopting any of the vitriol of spiritualized politics. It’s all in the wrist, but don’t ask evangies for any lessons. Or Dreher. Is Trump a dangerous demagogue? Yes, but to suggest that he less than human is to actually take the wind out of the swipe. You need to maintain his dignity in order for the punch to hurt. Feel the irony.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/citizen-trump-a-hollow-man/

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  6. Zrim: ” You need to maintain his dignity in order for the punch to hurt. ”

    Yes. Trump is the Emmanuel Goldstein that unifies the various factions of the Gospel-Centered Industrial Complex. Hating Trump is what unifies Rachel Held Evans and Dr. Moore, David Gushee and Al Mohler, Jen Hatmaker and
    John Piper. As Erick Erickson (prolific tweeter, blogger, seminary student) said it best: “If protestantism in the United States had a pope, it’d be a toss up between Russell Moore and John Piper.” And if pigs could fly bacon wouldn’t be so fatty.

    The Unified Hatred of Trump seems like one of Saul Alinky’s Rules for Radicals: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

    If you think this election is divisive wait until we Protestants decide on a pope: Moore or Piper.

    Good Times Ahead. Good Times Ahead.

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  7. Andrew, George Will is viscerally opposed. Doubt that makes him a member of the unification complex. But in the words of the mangled Apricot hellbeast himself (thanks, Scotland), it makes him smart.

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  8. D.G.,
    BTW, I am no supporter of Hillary Clinton. The last time I voted for a Presidential candidate from one of the two major parties was in the year 2000.

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  9. Zrim says …’spiritualized politics’….

    What does that even mean, anyway really?

    from over at place-not-mentioned this am:
    “So what should our involvement in politics be? Affirm what can be affirmed, challenge what is lacking, and denounce what is evil.”
    “In the political realm, we are called always to witness, not always to win. Faithful witness means we speak truth to power even when it is inconvenient. Sometimes, we will sound like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness. Other times, we will sound like the Apostle Paul, putting forward a winsome case for why Christianity is good for the world.”

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  10. And right on cue, David Barton speaks at Hagee’s church. It’s pretty difficult to disparage Hagee anymore than he has been but three nights of fireworks celebrating ‘our’ unity with Israel mixed with David Barton selling Christian America is a conflation and conflagration of religious and nationalist sentiments that makes reality TV come off as authentic and educational. The dogs were busy chasing deer and going on fake runs after cats that no one else saw or I would’ve set them loose in Cornerstone’s parking lot. BTW, WSJ had a nice article on the Clintons as Grifters in Chief, so, we have a choice between a mangled apricot hellbeast or some gypsy roofers from Arkansas. America is great.

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  11. John Fea: “When Trump disparages women and people of different races and religions he dehumanizes them. He sends the message that some human beings are not as important as others. In the process he fails to recognize the Imago Dei in all of God’s human creation.”

    And yet this vile creature (Trump) has managed to find the Imago Dei in the unborn. Something that Clinton steadfastly rejects. Sorry for my cheap, vulgar partisanship. Somehow the vitriol directed at Trump in comparison to that directed at Clinton can only mean that Fea has higher standards for Trump or is applying the “Do not touch My anointed ones” maxim for Clinton.

    This is cheap grandstanding masquerading as “prophetic witness” and “speaking truth to power.” The New Religious Right has promised that we’ll be seeing a lot of this after the election.

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  12. So, Abedin’s role in a future Clinton presidency is in doubt because of the now unlikely occurrence that she can get top secret clearance but Hillary is still golden. All is well in America says the three wise monkeys.

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  13. Andrew, more like he’s managed to find a way to tell some imago dei bearers what their itching ears want to hear and play them like a damn fiddle.

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  14. Andrew,
    What Trump has demonstrated is the lack of self-control along with the inability or unwillingness to admit to doing wrong. Is that kind of person qualified to be in charge of the most powerful military in the world including our nuclear weapons?

    On the other hand, Hillary is a hawk who feels entitled to the office and she is pro-choice. Her open hemispheric trade is a promotion of neoliberal economics that threatens to compromise any participating nation’s national sovereignty including our own. She has more polish and self-restraint than Trump but her policies send us to the same place Trump’s would. IN addition, she has supported the Obama Administration’s prosecution of whistle blowers. And his administration has prosecuted more whistle blowers than all other previous administrations combined.

    The short of it is both are dangerous and neither one is qualified to be president.

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  15. Zrim says: Ali, you’re a Christian radio consumer. It’s whatever you hear during regular broadcasting.

    oh ok, interesting definition

    Zrim says: Andrew, more like he’s managed to find a way to tell some imago dei bearers what their itching ears want to hear and play them like a damn fiddle.

    Don’t think I ever heard someone say one who takes the difficult stand (here in US) on the evil of at least late term abortion is ‘playing to itchy ears’ ,which the bible says is telling people what they want to hear, as opposed to the truth

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  16. Curt: “The religion of people like Barton, whom I think I knew in college, and Hagee is that of tribal worship.”

    Curt, the worst that Hagee and Barton can ever do is separate a relative handful of gullible Christians from a few dollars for books, DVDs, sermons, etc. proclaiming that the EU is the Whore of Babylon and Colonial America was Christian America. They exist on the fringes of Evangelicalism. They’ll never give TED talks or Erasmus Lectures.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, tenured Christian professors are arguing to equally gullible college students that God and Allah are the same and same-sex behavior is not prohibited by the Bible. Other pastors and spokesmen would like to rewrite our banking, criminal justice and immigration laws in the name of Social Justice. Some at the TGC would like to change police procedures in the name of Racial Justice. They all want to end the nonexistent problem of Mass Incarceration. These are Evangelicalism’s Davos elites. No David Barton, John Hagee, or Ken Ham in this bunch.

    And unlike Barton and Hagee their ideas are actually harmful and perhaps even dangerous.

    Give me back my Ol’ Time Religion, please.

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  17. Trump is a patsy for the KGB (disbanded in 1991) and Russia?

    I grew up in an era when the Dems denied Communists existed at all, and if they did that they were working for a human paradise in the USSR, North Vietnam and Cuba, as compared to the pigsty Amerikkka was.

    Guess you live long enough…

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  18. Ali, right because taking a pro life view automatically precludes the taker from being another mere voting block to be pandered to. Gullibility alert.

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  19. Brian Lee—“Yes, a typical abortion is far more clinical and invisible. But the defense of on-demand abortion up to the moment of delivery leads to these results. They are the unavoidable conclusion of our current regime. Abortion politics today demands that we either defend unborn life as life, or we subject it to this torture.”

    Brian Lee- – “If this issue doesn’t command our votes, what does? Given the choice of voting against that, you suggest a Christian may abstain? Yes. Why? Because, in part, I’m afraid abortion is something of a gateway drug to politics. If Christians can use the power of the state for anything, surely they must use the power of the state to stop this. From there the slope slips. Why? Because Rome, too, enshrined horrific evils. Crucifixion is arguably as horrific as abortion. Yet Paul urged Romans to submit to this government and pay their taxes—taxes that in part bought the nails for crucifixions, even, by extension, the crucifixion of Christ.”

    Brian Lee–“Why? Because ancient abortion — the Roman practice of infanticide — was not conquered by politics, but by the costly and loving act of individual Christians picking up individual crying babies from individual trash heaps. Selfless love was modeled, not imposed. Because it can’t be imposed. Christians are of course free to vote their consciences on abortion. But our culture will only embrace anew the sanctity of life when Christians model this sanctity as much as they vote for it. That’s when we express our opposition to abortion in other, more costly ways.”

    http://thefederalist.com/2016/11/01/9-reasons-christians-dont-need-vote-lesser-evil/

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  20. Andrew,
    Will disagree. Tribalism is a real problem, especially for Christians, because it competes with our priorities and our commitment to morals, principles, and God’s Word. Tribalism ushers in a moral relativity that says what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom.

    As for social justice issues, you will have to be more specific by listing the social justice issues you find so threatening. As for mass incarceration being nonexistent, such a view does not explain why the US has not only the highest percentage of its population behind bars, it has the most people in the world incarcerated. I guess despite the population disadvantages and having a democracy rather than a dictatorship that should curb the number of people we put in jail, we must be succeeding because we try harder.

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  21. Curt, lay off the tribalism cant. The Israelites weren’t — get this — tribal. God’s word, which you invoke, does tell Christians to avoid marrying non-Christians and being conformed to the world?

    You have lots of bumper sticker slogans that function (for you) as truth. Odd that they don’t do justice to other truths.

    Harmonize much?

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  22. Zrim says: Ali, right because taking a pro life view automatically precludes the taker from being another mere voting block to be pandered to. Gullibility alert.

    Just saying, Zrim. That moment in the last debate when Trump unabashedly spoke of the late term abortion as evil (which Clinton approves) was a good moment. Wondering if you think so too, or were you instead embarrassed and disgusted?

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  23. I commend Brian Lee for standing up for the lives of unborn. There’s only one big problem with his rationale and it seems to come from a secular and Maverick view that conscience trumps revealed faith.

    “Selfless love was modeled, not imposed. Because it can’t be imposed”

    It was modeled and the right heart about it is the part can’t be imposed, but that doesn’t let us off the hook.
    Jesus said if the world hates us it’s because it hates him, “And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved”
    If we’re not following “The Way” then we are going in the wrong direction.

    “Christians are of course free to vote their consciences on abortion. But our culture will only embrace anew the sanctity of life when Christians model this sanctity as much as they vote for it. ”
    Can we vote to make slavery legal again? No, because slavery( not indentured servant) and the erroneous view of man behind it( think Dred Scott) isn’t a good or even neutral ideology.
    So no, we don’t get to decide what is right or wrong( good or evil), we have to have informed consciences that are aligned to The Truth.

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  24. This is so very basic and self evident that it’s Twilight Zone-ish to live in a society that admits that life has transcendent sanctity but yet believe that snuffing out those lives is a power of our conscience.

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  25. Ali, he pandered and awkwardly. Better pro lifers could see right through it and weren’t at all satisfied because he’s completely unpredictable and untrustworthy. You don’t sound like a better pro lifer with all that gullibility.

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  26. And then the informed looked to the right and saw predictable untrustworthiness and the epitome of political corruption and pay to play and thought, “oh hell to the no, I’m voting for the carny. I know exactly what I’m getting with her.”

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  27. “Susan, the revealed doctrine of liberty beats being a slave to the traditions and political interests of men (and women).”

    Said Roger B Taney, and he added, ” Only in heaven is there liberty and justice for all”.
    Political interests? So all issues boil down to political interests?Tell that to the tens of million of unborn citizens.

    Liberty? I have a drivers licence and the road is lucky I don’t use my liberty to speed?
    You apparently don’t understand the the correlation between liberty and responsibilty.

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  28. D.G.,
    Not sure what bringing up OT Israel and Christian marriage has to do with tribalism today. Tribalism today is very serious problem for Christians. It always has to do with a high degree of loyalty. And in terms of how I use it, it is when loyalty to the group trumps commitment to principles and morals so that what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom. Considering that tribalism results in people embracing a relative morality rather than holding to moral absolutes should be of great concern to Christians in all ages.

    Citing the special example of OT Israel not only is an attempt of trying to use the exception to counter a general rule, it neglects the differences in historical context between then and now. Since no single nation has a special covenant with God like OT Israel, the example of OT Israel does not apply to tribalism today. The Church is God’s people today and they are not called to treat people unjustly. In fact, the Church is warned against persecution for mistreating people. Citing Christian marriages does not even address the topic of group loyalty trumping commitment to morals and principles.

    BTW, as a musician, I harmonize more than you would expect.

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  29. Curt, that’s like your opinion. From a lefty liberal’s perspective, Israel’s or the church’s morality is relative. It doesn’t comport with a universal human rights standard. So whom do you believe? Man or God?

    That’s what Israel and Christian marriage have to do with tribalism. Your lefty friends think the church is tribal. Heck, you do too.

    On whose side are you?

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  30. D.G.,
    that’s like your opinion.’ What are you, are you a valley theologian now?

    In asserting the marriage example in the Church, you really didn’t pay attention to the definition. Marriage in the Church has nothing to do with the definition of tribalism provided.

    So, according to you, universal standards that apply to everyone and every nation is man made? Are you asserting that the NT Scriptures say there are no absolute moral standards by which all people and every nation are judged? Remember that the US is not OT Israel. Tell me what standards does God currently use to judge the US which are different from the standards He uses to judge any other nation.

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  31. Susan says Political interests? So all issues boil down to political interests?Tell that to the tens of million of unborn citizens.

    56,405,766 abortions, 1973–2015
    Estimated number of Abortions in America/year: (CDC )
    1st Trimester (1 – 13/14 weeks lmp) 1,100,000
    2nd Trimester/1st Half (15 – 20/21 weeks lmp) 135,000
    2nd Trimester/2nd Half ( 21 – 27/28 weeks lmp) 19,000
    3rd Trimester (29 – 39/40 weeks lmp) 650

    Americans’ views concerning abortion: Source: Marist Poll, 2016
    81% do not support the current abortion-on-demand policy, saying abortion should be restricted to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy.
    68% oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.
    61% support laws that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the life of the mother.
    51% believe health care providers and organizations should have the right to opt out of providing abortion services if they have moral objections.

    Why do women have abortions?
    56% say it is not the right time for a baby, or a baby would interfere with future opportunities.
    40% say they cannot afford to have a child.
    31% say they do not want to be a single parent, or have relationship problems with husband or partner. Source: BMC Women’s Health,

    Roughly six-in-ten Americans (62%) know Roe v. Wade was a decision about abortion, but among adults under 30 years old, only 44% know. Younger adults also are less likely to view abortion as an important issue: 62% of Americans ages 18 to 29 say it is “not that important” compared with other issues, while 53% of adults overall say this. PewResearch

    Planned Parenthood is spending over $30 million in support of Democratic candidates, while Emily’s List — with its membership of 3 million women — has dedicated through its PACs over $60 million so far in support of pro-abortion Democrat women candidates in 2016.
    Pro-Life groups are being outspent by a factor of 10 to 1.

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  32. Susan, ah, the old “abortion (or insert here whatever particular issue makes on’e heart race) transcends politics and is really a matter of righteousness and only the righteous have this particular opinion and the unrighteous that other opinion.” Classic warrior strategy. The problem is that it’s premised entirely in the very politics you want to transcend. You want it outlawed, right, and all would be well on earth? That demands a POLITICAL posture. You’ve made your political bed so lie in it.

    And you apparently don’t understand how to let another have a political opinion different from yours without impugning his character. But it requires dialing down the stakes loaded into politics, which for warriors is non-negotiable. But you might try empathy (O, Francis adulator): how do you like it when choicers brand you as misogynist for having your life views? I don’t much care for it, and if I’m empathizing with them then I don’t turn around and employ eye-for-eye and brand as murderous, etc. I try to understand where they’re coming from even as I maintain a principled opposition.

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  33. Susan,
    Snuffing out defenseless lives can hardly be the result of the power of the conscience. Not that those women who have undergone abortion have not struggled with their consciences over the issue. But to take someone’s life who is defenseless so that one can have more freedom is not the result of listening to a healthy conscience. It is the result of self-interest winning out over the conscience in an elective abortion. And self-interest winning out over conscience is a battle all of us have lost at points in our lives.

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  34. Curt, that’s the point again. You somehow think your definitions are the ones every uses. Tribalism check. Corporate sin check.

    When did you become Daniel Webster?

    Or, what do you do if others don’t accept your definition? You say they’re wrong. I have a spouse for that.

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  35. D.G.,
    Actually, the definition of tribalism consisting of a high degree of group loyalty is an official definition though not the only one. But I didn’t assume everyone uses the definition despite the fact that the Meriam-Webster online dictionary states that one definition of tribalism is that of being ‘strong in group loyalty.’. I simply use a definition of what follows too high a degree of group loyalty. So my definition is not really off.

    Now we can quibble over definitions, but the point is this, are all nations judged by the same standard or not? And if not, which standards apply to the US which don’t apply elsewhere?

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  36. Steve,

    What I will dial back is my manner; I don’t want to be so intense that I get labeled a SJW. Help me understand why you get to parse the moral from the political and I don’t? If abortion is the taking of another human life, then it’s murder, and a violation of God’s law, so I can’t simply sweep this knowledge and fact under the rug. You agree with me and I’m glad, so thank you. No, we can both thank God; since we don’t depend on one another’s approval to recognize abortion as an intrinsic evil. No politics needed. Politics are needed otherwise, I agree, but it never stopped being a moral one either, that’s all I mean to say.
    Do you want me to drop all moral language and couch it in civil liberties? I can do that. But the problem is the public has a moral problem when it recognizes that life itself is a great good, but liberty allows that choosing one over the other, where morally speaking, God never gave that right. And, if the right to the mother’s life is a good then the right of the baby is equally good, but you don’t hear leftist politics talking about equality for the life of the unborn, who have under the law, the status of nonexistence unless the mother or the state grant it.

    “And you apparently don’t understand how to let another have a political opinion different from yours without impugning his character.”

    Everyone can have their own thoughts—their own conscience, I wouldn’t want that taken away. I too enjoy protection to think differently than the group. If you think abortion should be protected and even advanced then yes, you have a right to advocate that stance. The only thing is, it’s possible to be on the wrong side of The Law while being on the right side of the law.
    If you can say that you believe it’s morally wrong but I defend your legal right do an act of evil, then that is moral hypocrisy if “anyone” thinks this way. So I’m not impugning your character, so please don’t take it personally, I used to believe that it was justified in the cases of rape or incest.

    But it requires dialing down the stakes loaded into politics, which for warriors is non-negotiable. But you might try empathy (O, Francis adulator): how do you like it when choicers brand you as misogynist for having your life views? I don’t much care for it, and if I’m empathizing with them then I don’t turn around and employ eye-for-eye and brand as murderous, etc. I try to understand where they’re coming from even as I maintain a principled opposition.

    Listen, I have a hard time with the Church’s stance on capital punishment and I have to submit my heart to this by faith that she is right. I understand the reasons why women want to have abortions, but I am also certain that it is murder and that it’s primarily used because of hardship or inconvenience. The easier the access by way of payment the less rare and for the sake of the mother it will be, Is it good that abortion is legal? That is, it seems to me the bottom line question?
    Why are you impugning heartlessness to me, by suggesting that I need to have empathy? I can understand where they’re coming from and do( I’m a woman), but it’s my opinion that my principled opposition shouldn’t possibly send me, and our Republic, completely into the liberal camp by default.

    Here’s an article that I think you will agree with; it seems to be a sensible piece. I’m not sure that I entirely do because I don’t want pro-lifers to sit it this time out or vote for a third party when I’m concerned right now about sending the message to Washington that we don’t care about the issue of life. What a tangled web.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/

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  37. Curt, is this tribalism?

    2. Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

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  38. Susan, when I say liberty I mean liberty to have a political view, not liberty to take a life. You seem to be conflating the two but they are distinct. Agreed on the moral/political hypocrisy of some (like Kerry), but since when was muddled moral and political reasoning a spiritual sin? I’m not talking about impugning MY character but *those with who we both share political opposition on this matter*. And I’m not talking about empathy for those who *receive abortions* but for *those with whom you politically disagree*. Why don’t you owe them more than judgment? Why can’t you disagree without using the sacrament as a club to beat them into OUR (AHEM!!) camp?

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  39. D.G.,
    So our prior commitment to fellow Christians means that we justify what they do wrong to nonChristians and condemn everything that nonChristians do to us? That is what was taught in the Scriptures?

    By defining tribalism the way I do, I am not denying that we belong to any groups or that those groups cannot be important to us. But we always need to be careful about whether our loyalty to those groups allow us to compromise moral absolutes. Otherwise, we will be imitating many of the heathen.

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  40. D.G.,
    Aren’t absolutes the way of saying that certain morals and principles apply to everyone? And aren’t we warned against judging others while not living up to the standards by which we are judging others?

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  41. Curt, sure. But you have yet to convince anyone here that your standards are correct.

    So, yes, we disagree. I think we have freedom to disagree. You think I am implicitly sinning by not agreeing with you because I participate in systemic sin. I say I don’t because systemic sin doesn’t exist the way you say it does.

    You’re intolerant.

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  42. D.G.,
    I haven’t listed any other than standards than murder and theft. That if it is wrong for individuals to steal from or murder others, then it is wrong for groups, such as nations, to do the same. So let me know if those standards are acceptable to you.

    BTW, while you like to accuse me of saying you are sinning because you participate in systemic sin, I could imitate you by accusing you of implying that I am sinning in some way. But exchanging accusations does not further the discussion.

    Yes, you have the freedom to disagree. But neither of us have the freedom to be the final arbitrator of truth. And determining the truth of the matter should be the focus of our discussion rather than making accusations about each other.

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  43. Curt, I haven’t implied that you are sinning unless being wrong is sin.

    You keep trying to extend biblical morality to political spheres.

    But you still don’t get that magistrates may use force legally while a Christian may not. What you call murder may be just war or capital punishment. What you call stealing may be taking part of my income by force (taxes). The rules of Christian conduct do not apply to the magistrate in the way that you state and imply.

    And sometimes you sound downright silly about it, as if you either think utopia is possible (no need for a ruler who threatens by force) or as if any instance of state power is sin.

    Take it down several notches or find a lower horse.

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  44. D.G.,
    Yes you have and you have done that many times since I’ve been commenting here. The latest example has to do when with the warning about playing God with absolutes. You said that I was playing God by insisting on my absolutes. So I mentioned absolutes like murder and theft, and now you say I am implying that you are sinning.

    I’ve made no comment about you sinning if you disagree. In addition, I think your comment is a distraction. For what you seem to be saying is that we can’t discuss this subject if the answer to the questions being asked means one person is sinning if they stay with their current answer. So I guess if we follow that rule as it applies to you, can we follow it when it applies to others. So if we can’t talk about systemic sin because if one side is right, then the other is sinning, then can we talk about homosexuality because if one side is right, the other is sinning?

    Isn’t it true that regardless of the positions we have on many subjects, we all sin anyway? So what if I am right or you’re right, aren’t you and I equal in terms of being sinners. And if we are, then your sin isn’t the issue, the issue is to what degree each of is right. But your latest objection is meant to prohibit the discussion.

    The issue goes back to how I have defined tribalism. It occurs when group loyalty is more important to us than our commitment to morals and principles. When talking about systemic sin, those morals and principles include murder and theft. For example, are we Americans excusing our own nation from any of its foreign policies that include murder and stealing from other nations because America is doing it?

    Of course if there are no absolutes that apply to nations in New Testament times, we, as Americans, should ask what standards does God hold America to that it doesn’t hold other nations to. It seems that as American Christians, we should have inquiring minds.

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  45. Curt, you comment on my sinning (and everyone) all the time. Your notion of systemic sin implicates everyone. I think that idea is silly. You double-down.

    We can’t have a conversation about the Ten Commandments. Systemic sin is YOUR 10 Commandments.

    Lighten up.

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  46. D.G.,
    I comment on you not answering question or occasionally being unfairly critical of fellow Christians like neoCalvinists. On the other hand, I have also commended posts of your with which I have substantial agreement. This “all the time” reference is not correct.

    Yes, systemic sin implies everyone equally–that is you and me. But is that uncomfortable implication the grounds for saying it is wrong? If you want to prohibit discussion on or negate systemic sin because it says that you sin, why should the homosexual discuss with you whether homosexuality is biblical because what we know from the Bible says that the homosexual sins?

    Finally, I have never denied individual sins. The difference between us is that I believe that some of the 10 commandments can be violated by groups and not just individuals.

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  47. Curt, but you do occupy the moral high ground — the way it works out — because you see the systemic sin and no one else does except your fellow non-Christians on the left. But you are a sinner just as much as I and none of us can be saved because you don’t have a social gospel or social repentance.

    And somehow, your admission that Christ’s atonement doesn’t remedy social sin doesn’t put a check on your whacky ideas about social sin.

    I want more Christian tribalism from you, Curt. Affirm ye first the atonement of Christ, and remedies for sin will be added unto you.

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  48. D.G.,
    And who occupies the high ground if we were to tell homosexuals that homosexuality goes against the Scriptures? Would you allow yourself to present the Biblical view of the Scriptures on homosexuality to someone who disagreed when you know that their disagreement leads to sin? Or what would you say to those Christians who did not agree with your view of the Sabbath? Would you allow yourself to present what you regard as the Biblical case for the Christian Sabbath to a person who disagreed with you? And wouldn’t the person who disagreed with you feel that you thought his/her practices were sin?

    Again, are prohibitions against murder and theft absolutes? Do they apply to groups such as nations? If they don’t, then what standards do you believe the US is accountable to that the other nations are not accountable to? These are the pertinent questions.

    Also, you misrepresented my view regarding Christ’s atonement. I have explicitly stated before that Christ’s atonement remedies all sins committed by the individual believer whether those sins were personal sins or the sins they committed while participating in groups. Just because nations aren’t saved as nations doesn’t mean that nations cannot commit sin regardless of what they do. But if nations could not sin, then couldn’t nations do what the Israelites were described as doing at the end of Judges? If nations cannot commit sins, then couldn’t every nation do what was right in its own eyes? And if so, then did Nazi Germany sin by invading its neighbors and persecuting the Jews and others?

    So again, are nations prohibited from committing murder and theft against people from other nations? If not, what standards does God hold nations accountable to? What standards does God hold the US accountable to which He does not hold others accountable to? Regardless of our different our different answers to these questions, we can discuss those questions as equals. For one person being and right and the other person being wrong doesn’t change the fact that we both are only saved by God’s mercy and grace.

    BTW, some neoCalvinists also acknowledge systemic sin. They talk about it when they talk about racism. And I have heard Ray Dillard talk about how the OT prophets spoke against war crimes and other sins committed by nations other than Israel. But even if they didn’t believe that systemic sins exist, the validity of the ideas in systemic sin is not found in who believes or who does not believe them, the validity rests in the Scriptures. But your allegation that only nonChristians believe that there are systemic sins seems to be said in a way where you are denying that they could never possibly be right when they disagree with Christians. Is your idea of Christian tribalism one where we must always agree with Christians when they disagree with nonChristians regardless of what is said?

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  49. Curt, sorry, you only get 3 questions per comment. Sheesh. Where are the meds?

    Look, I think homosexuality is sinful. I think murder is sinful. But I don’t think that we should evaluate politics through the lens of righteousness and sin. That’s where you and I disagree.

    And you don’t seem to notice that the squint by which you judge politics puts you on a moralistic high horse from which you signal your virtuous bona fides all the time. Own it. Feel the superiority. Grab a picket.

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  50. D.G.,
    I would modify your state about evaluating politics. If we are talking about politics that favor any particular religion, I would agree with you. But when come to politics that deal with murder and theft, whether that occurs domestically and/or as part of foreign policy, we do need to evaluate the politics.

    As for the moral high ground, that is going to occur from time to time. But whether self-righteousness accompanies the moral high ground depends on whether one talks like the pharisee who lacks real self-awareness and looks down on the other person or the publican who is too aware of his own sin to look down on the other person. When I protest or discuss issues, I always try to keep in mind my failures and sins. We didn’t do that at Occupy and as a result we called for the 1% to be punished. If we had kept in mind our failures and sins, we would simply want to win the 1% over or have laws that would protect the rest of us from those who wouldn’t be won over.

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