Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Post 11/4 Conversation

A day off from work (Veteran's Day), and a glorious Fall morning in New England. I'm going to spend the morning raking leaves (a seasonal obligation), but first I've been reading some interesting posts concerning the recent election. I began with Nate at The Jesus Paradign, then followed his links to Kingdom Grace and Cerulean Sanctum. These last two also feature some excellent dialogue among the comments.

These are but three voices in what is already a virtual hubbub of conversation concerning the relationship of Christians to the political process. On this matter, a lot depends, I think, on whether your fundamental premise is that "America is a Christian country," or that America has some special or elevated status among nations in the eyes of God. This is the kind of thing you hear from the religious right, from various "prophetic" wingnuts (who shall remain unnamed), and of course the politicians that court the Christian vote. And it's a destructive fallacy. If you believe it, you will invest far more in the political process than you will, say, in making disciples. That's part of the point made by the three commentators mentioned above.

Whatever else one may say about Barack Obama, he is the first successful politician to say as much and get away with it. This statement of simple truth was greeted with outrage among the James Dobson wing of the Republican party, but I for one commend him for it.

And that's a starting place for thinking about this matrix of Christianity and politics. The USA is not God's special focus, holding some sort of special status in his redemptive plan for creation. Top dogs always think they're special in God's eyes. Jesus said the first shall be last, overturning these standard worldly expectations, and that should at least cause us to wonder if all our struggling for power and influence is not a devilish cul de sac.

Along those lines, recall these instructions of Screwtape:
Let him begin by treating patriotism…as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely a part of the "cause," in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce.... Once he’s made the world an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.
Thanks to Roc in Exile for sharing this quote. Read his post, How to Derail a Christian. It's right on the money.

In addition: read Jared Wilson's SearchWarp article, There is Only One Messiah and America Isn't His Kingdom. What I said.


Ed G. said...

When you see the commitment and effort that every-day citizens put forth to spread the word about their candidate... makes you wonder, would I drive down to Pennsylvania for a few weekends to knock on strangers doors to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ? Would I call the "undecideds" week after week? And would people think I was nuts if I did?

Bob Spencer said...

Very good questions, Ed. I'm not sure I'm up for "calling undecideds", etc., but I get your point. We really are far more "invested" in politics than we are in the Kingdom. Me included. Thanks for stopping by and for your worthwhile comments.