I Thought John Fea Is Evangelical

John linked to a report from Baylor on the outlook of Trump voters. Among those voters are these characteristics:

• are members of white Evangelical Protestant churches

• consider themselves “very religious”

• think of the United States as a Christian nation

• believe that God is actively engaged in world affairs

• fear Muslims and refugees from the Middle East

• believe that women are not suited for politics

• oppose LGBTQ rights

Here’s what’s odd about this finding. I’m betting John and I are on the same side of these bullet points.

He and I consider ourselves very religious.

He and I think the United States is not a Christian nation.

He and I believe likely that God is actively engaged in world affairs since we tend not to be deists.

He and I do not fear necessarily Muslims or refugees from the Middle East, though I bet if those Muslims or refugees had fought for ISIS John might be a little afraid as I would be.

He and I do not think that women are unsuited for politics, though John was far more congenial to Hillary Clinton than I was.

He and I likely overlap on rights for LBGTQ folks, though I also suspect that the extent of those rights might be qualified.

In which case, neither John nor I fit the profile of evangelicals who voted for Trump. And yet, John still self-identifies as evangelical. I do not and have not for at least 25 years.

In which another case, why does John object to Trump as strongly as he does? Is it because he identifies as evangelical even while the majority of evangelicals voted for Trump? That disconnect could make you wonder about the group to which you belong. I imagine if Bruce Springsteen came out in favor of Trump, John would have as much psychic discomfort as I would if Ethan Coen trashed J. Gresham Machen.

In which a third case, isn’t what matters here not someone’s religious w-w but his or her politics? I can belong to a communion that includes (or used to) Kevin Swanson and that’s okay because the OPC does not require fidelity on political or cultural matters. But if you are part of a religious group that includes a wide swath of Protestants and think that faith should inform a lot of what you do — not to mention that the group has been identified with a certain political trajectory for FORTY years, evangelical support for Trump might give you pause. In other words, if you think religion and politics need to be consistent, then you might assume that a self-identified Calvinist is also a political conservative (which Donald Trump is not). But doesn’t that also mean that if you are an evangelical, your politics should align in some way with the rest of the evangelical world? Being evangelical surely doesn’t make you a liberal (though evangelical professors seem to think otherwise). And oh by the way, some of the biggest opponents of Donald Trump like Russell Moore also oppose policies like gay marriage. In other words, you don’t need to oppose Trump and go over to the editorial page of The New Republic.

Even so, nothing on that list of Trump voters’ attributes is inherently Christian.

Regarding those qualities now as sub-Christian is going to take a little more work than simply finding Trump repugnant. Ever since Ronald Reagan, most Christians in either the Democrat and Republican parties would have agreed with those convictions.

In which a fourth case, Donald Trump justifies rewriting the rules governing yucky evangelicalism.

Advertisements

If Kuyper Could, Why Can’t Swanson?

Rebecca Hamilton adds U.S. political parties to the list of spheres to be evangelized (now that the Vatican has removed Jewish persons):

We must, if we are survive as a nation and a people, re-take control of these run-away political parties. We must also, if we ever hope to build a culture of life, convert both of them.

That means, my dear pro-life brothers and sisters, that we must stop thinking of the other political party as the devil incarnate and begin to look on it as a mission field, ripe for the harvest. In short, we need to stop following political hucksters who want to use our votes to gain power for themselves to be used for themselves, and follow Christ the Lord.

It was Jesus who told us to go out and convert the world. It is Satan who tells us to look at those folks over there and condemn them and damn them to hell with all the smug self-righteousness we can muster. Even if the thought that converting people is what Christ specifically told us to do doesn’t move you, then consider once again the sheer political cliff that we are standing on due to Justice Scalia’s death.

We’ve been trying to pack this court for almost 50 years now, and what we’ve gotten for our efforts is corporatism that is breaking the backs of the people of this nation and gay marriage.

We need to convert the Democratic Party to a party of life. We need to convert the Republican party to a party of conservatism rather than abject corporatism. We need to convert both of them into entities that are focused on how to help America and Americans rather than just raid the national treasury for those who pay for their political campaigns.

Here’s the problem: maybe the existing parties aren’t ripe for taking over. So why not start a new political party? Abraham Kuyper did and it became the vehicle for his tenure of prime minister:

Moving from the pastorate to the Dutch parliament by age 35, Kuyper also became the editor of a daily newspaper, De Standaard. From this post, he rallied and educated a movement that would have a transformative impact in the 1870s. Besides ushering in a new denomination, that movement would launch the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP), which endured for several decades thereafter. (About 30 years ago, it merged with two other parties that were important to Kuyper’s governing coalition.) By 1901, as leader of the ARP, Kuyper would become prime minister, an office he held for four tumultuous years.

His political vision was worked out over decades, and aimed to impede the centralizing tendencies that capitalism appeared to require. The vision rested upon the notion of “sphere sovereignty”: The belief that God created the distinct realms of life—church, education, family, state—to function independently, each ruled by the “ordinances” God had set in place. “It was identifying, celebrating, guarding, and translating those ordinances into action,” Bratt notes, “that defined his ultimate purpose in politics.” Under Kuyper, the ARP sought to convince the nation of these ordinances and align its policy and law according to them. It was a narrow pathway indeed, yet for a time, the ARP was able to follow it with success, thanks in part to an alliance with Roman Catholics seeking to “restore a Christian Netherlands.”

To be sure, I have reservations about parts of the neo-Calvinist project. But Kuyper’s political savvy sure looks much more important and effectual than Christians kvetching about the state of their nation from the relatively comfortable locations of podcasts, blogs, radio shows, or conference addresses. At least Kuyper did more than theorize, cheerlead for w-w, and write op-eds. He built institutions and forged political alliances. Even more, he governed.

If Christians want to “change” their nation, they need to do more than aim at changing the minds of their political representatives (as if that happens).

Kevin Swanson is not Tim Keller

Some critics of the OPC and 2k wonder why Old Life has been silent about Kevin Swanson, the Generations with Vision Director who pastors and OPC congregation in Elizabeth, CO.

A simple reason is that Pastor Swanson has no following (to my knowledge) in the OPC say the way Lig Duncan, or Harry Reeder, or Tim Keller do in the PCA.

It’s also the case that Swanson almost never refers to the OPC in his self-identifications. At Generations with Vision:

Homeschooled himself in the 1960’s and 70’s, Kevin Swanson and his wife, Brenda, are now homeschooling their five children. Since graduating from his homeschool and then serving as student body president of a large west coast university, he has gone on to other leadership positions in corporate management, church, and other non-profits. Kevin has 43 years of experience in the homeschooling movement and serves as the Director of Generations – a ministry he founded to strengthen homeschool families around the country. As a father who wants to leave a godly heritage for his own five children, Kevin’s passion is to strengthen and encourage the homeschooling movement all over the world, and to cast a vision for generations to come. For the last 10 years Kevin has hosted a daily radio program – Generations Radio – the world’s largest homeschooling and Biblical worldview program that reaches families across the US and in over 100 countries.

Kevin has also served as the Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado for the last nine years. He has also authored several popular books for homeschoolers, including Freedom, Apostate, Upgrade-10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child, the Family Bible Study Guide Series, and others.

Kevin Swanson also serves as a teaching elder at Reformation Church of Elizabeth (reformationchurch.com).

The Speaker Lineup for Freedom 2015 listed Swanson as director of — yet again — Generations with Vision and the author of more than 10 books.

I’ve never talked to an OPC officer who has read a book by Swanson.

At Amazon:

Homeschooled himself in the 1960s and 70s, Kevin Swanson and his wife, Brenda, are now homeschooling their five children. Kevin has 43 years of experience in the homeschooling movement and serves as the director of Generations With Vision—a ministry he founded to strengthen homeschool families. Kevin’s passion is to strengthen and encourage the homeschooling movement all over the world, and to cast a vision for generations to come. For the last 4 years Kevin has hosted a daily radio program, Generations Radio, the world’s largest homeschooling and biblical worldview program that reaches families across the US and in over 100 countries. Kevin has also served as the executive director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado for the last nine years. He has authored several popular books for homeschoolers, including Apostate, Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child, The Second Mayflower, the Family Bible Study Guide Series, and others.

So far Pastor Swanson does not seem eager to put his stamp on the OPC the way TKNY has on the PCA.

So for now, paying attention to Pope Francis seems a little more reasonable than to Pastor Swanson.