no please don’t; loved your Luther comment
I’ve thought a lot about this recently.
It’s strange to me that many Christian men sit in great judgment over not only their civil leaders, but the civil sphere in general. They affirm the goodness and the God-ordained nature of the power of the state, and yet also hold to a theology that believes Christian men ought not waste their time engaging in the civil sphere. “We ought concern ourselves with the preaching of the gospel!”
Well, I get that sentiment. And I say “Amen” to it – if you’re the kind of person who makes an idol of politics. Christians ought not look to civil authority to bring about the change of heart that only Christ can accomplish. But when I read things like Proverbs 31:23, Jeremiah 29:7, etc., I can’t get myself to a theology that would dissuade Christians from engaging in the civil sphere at all. I think there is a right way to engage in political life – even to hold offices of civil authority – without compromising the Christian witness that our kingdom is not of this world.
But when these same Christian men and pastors who reject the notion of Christian men engaging in the civil sphere want to stand and preach against how our female governor ought not be in the position she is in, I guess I just want to challenge them to consider that their very own theology is what’s putting her there. If Christian men won’t engage in the civil sphere, pagans will. What do you expect? And the fact that you care enough to condemn her tells me that you aren’t as disinterested in the civil sphere as you claim to be.
This connects back to my thought that eschatology matters. If your eschatology expects an imminent return of Christ, then your disposition will be to either sit and do nothing, or better yet, to try to save souls from the fire while you watch the world burn. You’ll have no interest in the building (society) that’s on fire. You just want to get people out.
But if your eschatology is more post-mil’ish, then you’re going to see that the burning building needs the attention of the church. You’re going to fight to get souls out of the fire, yes – and then we’re going to disciple them, show them that they are the reason the building was in flames to begin with, and teach them along in the new and living way. And as men are discipled, the flames will go out, and the building may actually start to take a shape that stands, in itself, as a testimony of the salvation and life that is in Christ.
What is the man of God to do?
I want to preach the gospel too…’just the text ma’am.’ But some in my congregation are very concerned about BLM and it’s related issues - what does the Bible say about that? I hear comments on US politics on a regular basis. What am I to do? ‘I’m a minister of the Gospel and that’s not my domain!!!’
Politics is like sex… if we don’t talk about it, our children will learn about it somewhere else. That’s been clear enough lately. In the absence of pastors teaching what the Bible has to say about politics Christians have resorted to false shepherds to guide them. Can we blame them if we’ve not led them?
I’ve heard enough Christians react against Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and the mistakes of past generations! We’re not them and their mistakes aren’t the mistakes that are being made today! I’m done with hand wringing. We do desperately need a better public theology, for lack of a better term. But first we need humility. At least I sure do. I so badly need humility.
Bonhoeffer’s first essay in his ‘Letters and Papers from Prison’ did it for me: we all have blood on our hands. We’re all compromised. None of us is coming out of this with clean hands. The question is: what will we do today, given the situation we face today? Enough pride in our morally superior voting strategies! We’re all compromised! That’s not nihilism…that’s submission to the Curse of futility. Yet we still must learn how to love our neighbour. Especially in how we vote.
The irony is one notable dispensationalist and his crew are doing a lot better job in politics and theology today than many reformed-ish guys. Praise God not one of us is fully consistent.
So in my circles, there is mostly a repeat of the errors of Falwell and company, and we are pretty resistant to learning from the past. Since we believe that all wisdom was found between the 1900 and 1950, that’s the natural result.
But there have been two things I’ve become convinced of: attempting to “do something” because the world is so messed up (by which we mean, do something different than we’ve been doing all along), is not good advice if you have been preaching the word, living convictionally, teaching consistently, and praying fervently. The world is not hurtling over the cliff because of your failures. Maybe now is the time to keep doing what you are doing. Now there’s a counter cultural idea for you.
And the secondary temptation in “doing something” is to do something calculated to make waves. And making waves for the sake of publicity is a mistake. That instinct is saturating our world, and it’s tearing us to pieces. “Do your best to live a quiet and peaceable life”.
All that said, living faithfully is going to get you negative publicity and rejection, if done long enough. When it comes, lean in. I have recognized in this season that a revulsion for the antics of our President and his immortality can disguise an unwillingness to bear the reproach of the cross. I trust that isn’t true in my heart, but I do want to be ready to be despised by the world around me. The time may come soon enough, and if I am clinging to my reputation, I will be lost.
(Shameless plug from a big brother: The link is to a blog post from my little sister. It seemed to fit).
I have pondered this some, and I think the answer lies in the literal hundred dollar bills. Trump has proven that there is a substantial vote bank in right-wing populism, but only a self-funding billionaire can tap it. Others, like Michelle Bachman in 2012, have tried to sound the anti-immigration note, but I think they got shut off from the donors. No donors, no campaign. And I think the same holds true at lower levels of politics also.
Trump’s ability to leverage free media was part of the equation too, and likewise his personality, but those don’t explain why others aren’t picking up his issues. I think only the donor cash explains that.
Is this issue with donors actually borne out by the statistics though? I poked around online. President Trump’s 2016 campaign didn’t lack at all for large money donations. His current campaign is setting records in small donations, while he struggles to tap into the large checks. One could argue that the large checks have dried up over his immigration policies, but I think that might be a harder case to make than your post would indicate. Wealthy donors might also be turned off by the erratic stock market, by way the President is excusing physical violence and revolutionary tendencies, any number of things really.
When you look around at the ecosystem of Populist Nationalism Trump has drawn into his orbit, there is nearly unlimited amounts of money to be had. TPUSA is the most well funded college organization in America. They sound the same anti immigration note that the President does. I won’t take the time to make a list, but if I did, it would grow long.
You’ve made a similar argument in other threads, basically that President Trump has taken a large financial risk/hit in his stand for the common man. I don’t think it’s supported by evidence, other than what President Trump has said. President Trump has been for decades not so much a real estate magnate as a marketer (Trump Steaks, Trump U, Trump Tower, the list goes on). I think it’s in the context that he said back in 2012 that he felt he could actually make money with a Presidential campaign. Even now the campaign will sell you a yard sign for $44 dollars (provided you are one of their greatest supporters).
The second part of your argument, regarding free media coverage, is definitely part of the equation. President Trump has a genius for directing media attention. However, in order to do that, you have to be willing to do and say the things that draw that attention. Politics in the past tended to weed those kind of people out. And they went into show biz. But our culture has fallen to the level where show biz characters can draw the levels of support needed to compete in national politics. As one person said, all our celebrities want to be politicians and all our politicians want to be celebrities.
In terms of optics, I think Romney with his background in private equity was about the worst possible pick in 2012 – “Vote for the guy who bought out your company and fired you!” But it’s likely that the donor class would prefer to lose with Romney than win with a populist. Nonetheless, I think the tide has shifted since then. Of all the candidates on the Democratic side in 2016 and 2020, it seems to me that only Bernie Sanders has generated any real enthusiasm outside the donor class, I think for reasons similar to those for Trump. Bernie isn’t a self-funding billionaire and would likely have won the nomination in 2016 if not cheated out of it by the Clinton machine. One might point to this and the unique ability of Trump to gain free media attention as a demonstration of the strength of the donor class, but I hope that the fact that the machinations are becoming so transparent indicates that the dike may be close to being overtopped.
The preference some Republicans have for losing over winning has been something to behold over the last few years. The way the men who brought us the historically failed McCain and Romney tickets keep appearing on the scene to lecture the Deplorables is really something else.
Yes, the similarity between Bernie and Trump from the opposite sides of the spectrum is fascinating. A ticket with populist-left economics and populist-right social policies could probably win 45 states, but is about as likely as Santa Claus coming down the chimney. Trump flirted with populist economics but has wound up hewing closer to the donor class’s views. Likewise, earlier in his career, Bernie took a union stance on immigration and identity politics (he was largely against both), but for some reason his most visible surrogates in 2020 were the most woke on the public stage, and he’s tacked towards open borders also.
I’m not sure which machine did it, but the 2020 primary was rigged against him also. It feels like ancient history now, but before Biden won South Carolina, Bernie was on track to win the nomination this year. His path to victory was similar to Trump’s in 2016, also: in a crowded field, a guy with a core of 20-30% of passionate supporters can prevail. The way the DNC got all of Biden’s opponents to drop out and endorse him was quite a sight.
Agreed. In 2016, the Clintonistas cheating Bernie at least had the decency to do it behind closed doors and we likely wouldn’t have known about it if it hadn’t been for Wikileaks. In 2020, they pretty much did it on the evening news. The masks are slipping. It’s hard to know the future, but this feels like a historic realignment of the parties, or maybe our whole country.
Mr. Norris asks why a better candidate than Trump has not come along to take advantage of Trump’s issues and Trump’s coalition?
I believe it is God’s judgment. Nothing in our political system works, except toward more destruction and lying. This is God giving us over. President Trump was a merciful reprieve. It is temporary. I believe President Trump is headed for defeat. When he loses, all of the wrong lessons will be learned from his defeat, and his coalition will go on being neglected.
His coalition will go on being neglected because it is despised. It’s despised for all the reasons many have stated above (which is why Trump is hated). Trump’s coalition is the unclean, the Gentiles, the uncircumcised of our day. For a politician to tap that coalition would be to walk away from the money, power, and prestige of the powers that run the country.
I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve come to support and genuinely love our President. I know I should say how much I’m shocked by his bad behavior (and the most recent debate was painful to watch until I began to think how I’ve responded likewise in situations when I speaking with someone who hates who I love and who has spent years doing dastardly things to destroy). And, I am. But, even more, I am giddy over all the damage he has done to progressivism. I’ll be very glad to vote for him in a couple of weeks.
Constitution party anyone? Libertarian but with morals!
Unfortunately, the constitution part nominated Don Blankenship this year, who I’m not convinced is much more moral than Pres. Trump. If you are into Distributism and Dreheresque politics you might check out the American Solidarity Party. Though some will find them downright socialist!
Yes distributism doesn’t seem like it will last in the long run. If only there were a “Gods law” party…
That is, Catholics have a tendency toward communism, esp. the Jesuits. Distributism is on the left side of the economic model.