It’s Only Politics

Matt Tuininga echoes the idea that politics is evidence of sanctification (integration of faith and life and all of that):

Will Republican evangelicals who see their sisters and brothers – their political opponents – wounded and beaten on the other side of the road and cross over to take up their need as their own, in the spirit of the good Samaritan? Will they stand with them in solidarity, pleading their cause as if it were their own? Will Democratic evangelicals who feel beaten and betrayed accept such an effort at reconciliation and love in a spirit of gospel hope? Will they stand in solidarity with their evangelical opponents, pleading their cause as if it were their own? Do we have the humility to recognize that our own political judgments might not reflect the whole picture, that they might even be wrong?

Bill Smith in his curmudeonly way says, no thanks:

Blacks and other minorities have experienced abuse. Blacks in particular can identify with Israel, an enslaved and abused minority in Egypt. Unfortunately white evangelical Christians have themselves been the abusers of African Americans or failed to speak up against their abuse. White evangelicals have aligned themselves with the Republican Party which has not been sympathetic with the concerns of minorities but rather has become a home of racists and nationalists. Lately, however, there has been progress as black and white Christians have worked toward racial reconciliation. But this election has exposed the reality that white evangelicals have not come so far as black evangelicals hoped. The black minority feel they have been betrayed by white evangelicals who voted for Trump.

. . . The perspective of these brothers is the same as that of Falwell, Kennedy, Criswell, and the Moral Majority. They were on God’s side, and God was on their side. Their champion was Ronald Reagan. The election of Reagan moved forward the cause of Christ and his kingdom.

These brothers believe that God is on their side and they on God’s. Their cause(s) is the cause of the kingdom of God. To them Trump was not just someone they disagreed with but the enemy of the kingdom of God. The 80% of white evangelicals who voted for Trump voted against the interests of the kingdom of God, betrayed their black brothers and sisters (who ask, “How could you?”), and proved themselves unreliable allies in the righteous causes highest on the list of black priorities.

All this was hogwash in the days of Falwell, and it’s all hogwash today. This is not about Christian theology or practice. It’s politics. That’s all it is. Just politics. The joy that the Moral Majority felt when Reagan triumphed was not righteous joy but political joy. The grief felt by these black brothers is not righteous grief but political grief. The reason most white evangelicals voted for Trump is that most white evangelicals are conservatives and Republicans. The reason these black evangelical brothers feel betrayed is because they are liberals and Democrats.

If only we could treat politics like plumbing. But no. Politics has to be a high and holy calling. What we are seeing is the result of all that every-square inch argument. And it’s not helpful for the nation or — get this — for the church. But it does allow evangelical academics to feel pious.

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20 thoughts on “It’s Only Politics

  1. I don’t understand where the heck these Never Trumpers get the idea that a vote for Trump is a vote against African Americans. That idea is completely bizarre. Leftist policies since the advent of “the great society” have destroyed African American culture, community, families, and jobs. A vote for the left is a vote for a new kind of slavery, yet those who voted for Trump get called racists. Spiritual blindness.

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  2. They rioted all this summer after Obama won.

    They riot now when they lose the election.

    At least this round of riots they aren’t murdering police officers every night, egged on by CNN.

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  3. Bryan, oops, not seeing your analysis only warrants a provisional criticism, not a spiritual one. For example, getting behind Trump isn’t sinful but only unprincipled.

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  4. Zrim, by spiritual blindness, I am referring to the type of blindness that comes from a rejection of God’s truth. That blindness leads to statements such as this: “White evangelicals have aligned themselves with the Republican Party which has not been sympathetic with the concerns of minorities but rather has become a home of racists and nationalists.”

    This statement is completely and utterly unwarranted. White evangelicals align with the Republican Party because, of the two major parties, the Republican Party is the only one that retains any vestiges of honoring God’s Word. The major issue for most evangelicals is abortion and the sanctity of life. The Democratic Party has made it abundantly clear that they place no value upon life in any of its stages. And, like it or not, abortion is the issue that will bring God’s judgment upon this nation. We can’t kill 60 million babies and expect there to be no consequence.

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  5. Bryan, sure, but that’s not an example of spiritual blindness. It’s an example of provisional opinion. An example of spiritual blindness would be to deny original sin or the trinity.

    And while you may disagree with the opinion about the GOP and the races and are perfectly free to argue against, what’s actually unwarranted is your suggestion that God judges nations for their policies. You sound like Pat Robertson (or Curt Day). But he doesn’t judge nations but persons and even then judgment only comes in the form of the cross and the eschaton–everything in between those two events is merely temporal and the stuff of providence. Abortion may well be a blight on the nation, but so is lots of stuff. Foul on capturing heaven for any one particular trouble and threatening something God nowhere does himself.

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  6. Zrim, spiritual blindness is much more than denying key doctrines. If one is blind to the truth of God’s Word, he/she will be blind to truth in all areas of life. The two are intricately connected.

    From a historical perspective, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that God directly punishes men or nations. However, there is also no evidence to prove that he doesn’t. Thus, both of our perspectives are merely opinions, and anything we see in the world around us we could merely interpret as God’s punishment or simply the unfolding of history. The reason I say that God might punish the US as a nation is because it is clear from Scripture that God has punished entire nations: the Amalekites, the Babylonians, and the Egyptians, just to name a few. However, in an official historical setting (such as a thesis, paper, defense, etc.) I would never suggest that any historical event was an act of God, but privately I can’t help but speculate.

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  7. Bryan, speculation exactly. And my point isn’t that history makes the case but that Scripture must, as in the OT and NT taken together as a whole does not teach what your speculation allows. And the Reformed view is that providence is not to be unduly pried into or speculated upon, Belgic 13 in part:

    “We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what God does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what God shows us in the Word, without going beyond those limits.”

    And if you wouldn’t seriously tie certain events to God’s judgment in an official setting, why would indulge it informally? Maybe like the pious journalists and academics, because it feels good?

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  8. Zrim, I speculate to make the point that the sins in which are country is embroiled are very serious matters that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and yet so many of our political elite pass these issues off as if they are nothing, or worse, they wholeheartedly endorse them! I wouldn’t endorse them formally because this kind of speculation isn’t a part of the historical profession (or shouldn’t be). I mentioned it because some historians do include this sort of speculation in their professional work. I believe in a literal 6 day creation and a literal flood, but I wouldn’t try to argue empirically that they occurred apart from the Bible because it can’t be done (I’m not an expert in geology or biology, so I personally can’t argue from any evidence that people like Morris and Whitcomb provided in “The Genesis Flood”). In a similar fashion, I reserve the right to speculate that God may very well judge a nation for breaking His Law.

    I also reserve the right, as a curmudgeon, to complain about how this whole country has turned to crap and deserves God’s fire and brimstone. Ha! I think we’ve found the root of our differences.

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  9. from comment above:
    “We can’t kill 60 million babies …”
    Tonto: “What you mean “we,” paleface?”

    There’s only one way to make that charge stick. Aside from the fact that there are particular people: the solicitor, the hitman, and those abettors supplying legal cover–who have to answer for their part each of these murders; the “corporate” responsibility (such as it is) is limited to two classes:
    first class: “my country, right or wrong” folks
    second class: “my country, none are perfect” folks
    Both are examples of a high degree of investment of one’s identity in what they call “mine.”

    I do not consider myself to be responsible for the evil of abortion-on-demand. I don’t use the phrase, “We’ve killed X-million babies.” I’m a utilitarian, like Apostle Paul, when it comes to the identification my earthly citizenship accords me. Paul had a much bigger heart for his ethno-religious heritage than those who supplied his political rights, but he still lumped that in with the dung out of preference for his heavenly Name. When talking about the nation-state I call home, I’m judicious about the use of “we.” Unlike the phony celebrity-émigré promises if so-n-so is elected, I’ve mentally signed my secession papers. I can’t be robbed of what I’ve already surrendered.

    Many Christians who oppose abortion are worried about becoming “collateral damage” when fire-and-brimstone rains again. They’re panicky about invasions, big and small, bringing down their “God-given” gunverment, because He’s lifted their shields and hedges, “we’ve” made him so angry. They’re so invested, and they have so much to lose.

    And so selective. Where’s the line? Why wasn’t it back at no-fault divorce? Why wasn’t it back at JimCrow? Was the “cost of ending slavery” just a dry run for What Could Happen If You Don’t Shape Up, America? The new hip nickname for WWII is “the good war.” Hmmmm, it wasn’t a wake up call, America? The survivors sired the 60s generation; I’m thinking the 50s weren’t actually Father Knows Best, and Leave It to Beaver–except for there being almost no religious content in those idealized middle-class TV lives.

    Christians aren’t, by and large, the ones procuring and performing or even enabling abortion. Though, they do seem mighty complacent about “collateral damage” beyond our borders, regardless of age or sex. Just war theory (and revulsion of torture as unAmerican) fell on hard times in the eeevangelical-Bush days. Tired of feeling guilty by association? Secede. Make it a heart-resignation. You don’t literally have to pack your bags (and you don’t have to walk back any stoopid predictions).

    My observation is: If judgment begins with the house of God; and the church, by and large, doesn’t “Remember the Sabbath-day,”–which is one of the Big Ten–it stands to reason God is more likely to use catastrophes natural and man-made upon a land chock full of professing believers to jar a complacent church to pay attention to the law of God. Why are Christians more concerned about how the unbelievers are conducting themselves? It’s because anything inside their tabernacles is by definition shipshape. And they like the NFL on Sunday.

    We (guess who?) can worry about the impact of abortion (and scads of other sins) on this “barren land” we’re pilgriming through, after tightening our kit and practicing our own public faith for a while. Private Christians have been saving babies since the first century. It’s a long term engagement. Save enough, and maybe the survivors of that war will vote for more humane treatment of society’s most vulnerable.

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  10. Bryan: If one is blind to the truth of God’s Word, he/she will be blind to truth in all areas of life.

    Surely this needs nuance. What does “blind to truth” mean here? That the non-believer or Arminian is unable to grasp math or history? Or know that it’s wrong to steal?

    Not denying that there’s blindness, but I would like to see this made precise.

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  11. ” Zrim, spiritual blindness is much more than denying key doctrines. If one is blind to the truth of God’s Word, he/she will be blind to truth in all areas of life. The two are intricately connected.”

    So astronomy is an area of life. What astronophysical truths would a Muslim astrophysicist be blind too? Taxes, auto repair, spanish translation, type setting, water treatment, bicycle repair, and building code enforcement are all areas of life too. What would a jew, hindu, buhddist, druze, confucian, and catholic be blind to in these matters?

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  12. Jeff, you’re right, I should have been more precise. By “blind to the truth” I mean that those who are blind to the truth of the Gospel will be blind to the reasoning behind all other truth. They may understand math, but without God, the non-believer will never see fingerprint of the Creator in mathematical concepts. The non believer will be unable to see any kind of meaning or purpose in history. The non believer will have no way of understanding law, since, without God as Law-giver, why not steal, murder, or disregard the Sabbath? They are still created in the image of God, and thus they can still engage empirical truth, but without God, it is all meaningless. I suppose that’s what I’m trying to get at with the term “spiritual blindness.”

    Marsh Wiggle – I’m certainly not denying that Christian Church in America has egg on its face. I’m disgusted how it (I almost typed “we” again) has embraced divorce and is now embracing homosexuality. I fear that it will soon embrace abortion. I pretty much agree with what you’ve said. It is funny how so many look back to the 50s and earlier as this wonderful time of Christianity in America when it was quite the opposite – first half of the 20th century was very dark spiritually.

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  13. Jon Zens – “the very premise that believers have some kind of spiritual duty to actively participate in human campaign and voting processes begs closer scrutiny. Are we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, somehow obligated to join forces with those who are trying to oust the bad guys and replace them with leaders who supposedly share our “values”? The popular notion that political activism is God’s appointed means for bringing “moral” reform to our country certainly has its zealous advocates, but their zeal is not based on knowledge (Romans 10:2). For the most part, such teaching is gleaned from Old Testament passages that have not been properly filtered through a New Testament lens. When the OT is not re-interpreted under the greater light of New Testament revelation, it can be a veritable mine of “proof texts” providing apparent justification for all kinds of sociological, political, or even military actions aimed at combating evil. Why stop at merely deposing “ungodly” leaders? Using the Old Testament as our national “moral” guide, let’s advocate stoning to death our unruly children, adulterers, Sabbath breakers, worshippers of false Gods, those who seek the counsel of demonic spirits, and even those who blaspheme by taking the Lord’s name in vain. These are also “moral” laws included in the OT canon and their execution would certainly have an impact on our society.”

    John Y: Bryan, you can’t win as a theonomist/reconstructionist on this site. If you are a graduate from Christian Liberty Academy (the organization that bought the high school I used to go to in Arlington Heights, IL- the faculty of Arlington High was very embittered about how that all played out) then you are probably arguing from that perspective. I think the guy who did by the high school and started Christian Liberty was a close friend of Rushdoony.

    Wasn’t it Calvin who argued that the Christian magistrates (or qualified aristocrats) should be those who watch over the social landscape for revolutionaries and tyrants? I’m guessing that 2kers have a different take on that perspective.

    There are some other social perspectives one can take besides 2K, Christian reconstruction or the Christian left-wing.

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  14. johnyeazel – Ya, I went to CLA from kindergarten through high school. I’m not the best theonomist in the world though (in terms of how strictly I follow it). After all, my family attended Willow Creek growing up.

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  15. ” I mean that those who are blind to the truth of the Gospel will be blind to the reasoning behind all other truth.”
    Doesn’t this presuppose foundationalism?

    “They may understand math, but without God, the non-believer will never see fingerprint of the Creator in mathematical concepts.”
    How does the “gospel” do this? Why wouldn’t a Jew or Muslim also see the fingerprints? Is it clear that Christian doctrine entails that the creator leaves his fingerprints on msthematical concepts?

    “The non believer will be unable to see any kind of meaning or purpose in history.”
    Do Marxist materialists really see no purpose in history? I hear a lot about the “right side of history” coming from nonbelievers.

    “The non believer will have no way of understanding law, since, without God as Law-giver, why not steal, murder, or disregard the Sabbath?”
    I suspect our atheist friends would disagree. They might note that traits like altruism and reciprocity are necessary for the function of modern nation-states. Thus these traits have been selected giving us intuitive attraction to taboos against all sorts of things. Of course as far back as Aristotle, we have understoodthat these traits exist in tension with competeing traits that are also useful for individual survival. One can tell a pretty compelling story about how government evolved to balance competing impulses. Nontheistic countries seem to have done prettty well at ameliorating theft and murder (cf Japan).

    “They are still created in the image of God, and thus they can still engage empirical truth, but without God, it is all meaningless. I suppose that’s what I’m trying to get at with the term “spiritual blindness.””
    But how does the purported meaninglessness (something nonbelievers may not recognize) lead one to make erroneous political judgments like “A vote for the left is a vote for a new kind of slavery, yet those who voted for Trump get called racists. Spiritual blindness.” After all, a lot of believers voted for Clinton. Are they all spiritually blind?

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