Empty Pulpits or Full Churches?

I would like to draw your attention to Brad Littlejohn’s rejoinder to my post here. That rejoinder is down in the comments. This was my post on how an Obama vote disqualifies a man from ministry. Thanks to Brad for the comments, and for the opportunity for me to follow up on my initial post.

First, I happily grant that being a practitioner of abortion and presiding over a nation in which it is legal to be such a practitioner are two very different things. But while they are very different, depending on the stance and outlook of the president, the morality of the two positions can overlap completely. There is a distinction between the man who does mischief himself (Ps. 10:7) and the man who frames mischief with a law (Ps. 94:20), but not a moral distinction.

The Hindu practice of suttee and the laws that allowed it to continue were very different, but equally wicked. When the British governor Lord Bentinck suppressed the practice of suttee (burning a widow on the pyre of her deceased husband) he was doing a good and necessary thing. Had he decided not to suppress the practice, this would not make him personally guilty of practicing suttee himself. But it would have made him guilty in deeper and more profound ways.

But if he intended going to suppress suttee the first chance he got, and was laboring toward that end, marshaling his forces, I think he would receive praise from the Lord. Before you go to war, you are to count your troops (Luke 14:31). This is where the distinction Brad makes becomes morally relevant. Among those presiding, we must distinguish between the kings who detested the high places but did not remove them and those who built them in the first place, and who are running for reelection with the promise to build more and more of them.

So transfer Obama’s position on abortion into this situation. Suppose Obama were to become governor of India during the days of the British rule there. Suppose that during his prior time in a regional government he voted to support and continue the cruelest forms of suttee. Suppose that one of his largest constituencies was the pro-sut . . . excuse me, pro-choice faction of that society. Suppose further that when he spoke at the national convention of Planned Estate Planning (for what is suttee but an abrupt form of estate planning?), he concluded his remarks with “God bless you.” Suppose that it was a dead cinch cert that any justice he nominated for the Supreme Court was sure to uphold the legality of suttee.

Now, back to my thesis. Any minister of the gospel who supported such a man is not qualified to hold office in the church. I would take a dim view of any bishop who attended the gladiatorial games with the emperor. So the liberty of conscience that the Reformers fought for was not — whatever else it was — liberty to fail to identify temples of Molech.

Second, if someone wanted to justify an Obama vote because he believed there were other weightier matters that Obama would address more effectively than his opponent would do, and he is simply voting for the lesser of two evils — as many Christians have been persuaded to do when they vote Republican — I do understand the logic of the argument. But let’s move to particulars. It would take quite a bit to make a “million dead babies a year” the lesser of two evils. Obama’s opponent would have to pledge something like the nuking of a city the size of Dallas, and to do so every year for the foreseeable future. If that ever happens, come and talk to me.

Brad’s third point is the place where I would want to appeal back to my mention of Godwin’s Law. It is quite true that I am the product of what I have studied, read, seen, and done, and I know that there are many other Christians who are not in the same place as I am. I do look out at the world through my own eyes. But let’s change a few words and see if anything changes.

“There are plenty of evangelicals, in other sub-cultures, who have not had the benefit of being exposed to the same influences, and for whom the Jewish pogroms, while certainly a matter of serious moral concern, accordingly does not occupy as central or high-profile a place in the hierarchy of dangers facing their country, or for whom it is not readily apparent that it should be addressed at the level of national politics. Likewise, there are plenty of evangelicals who, by virtue of the rather different sources of information that they have seen, heard, or read, have formed a different estimation of how central a “Holocaust agenda” is to Hitler’s agenda.”

If this logic doesn’t fly in Germany in the thirties, it shouldn’t fly here. If it flies here, then let’s be done with our indignation about the German Christians who did “far less” than they ought to have done.

“Anyone who doesn’t have the blessing of being able to think like me is clearly blind and unqualified to pastor.”

Could this accusation be leveled at Bonhoeffer? If it were leveled at him, do you think he would care? He once told a seminarian that his desire to resist the regime with impotent gestures was like running east up the aisle of a west-bound train. Bonhoeffer said this because he thought he was right. So do I.

And last, there is the concern that my argument proves too much, and will simply have the effect of emptying our pulpits.

“If we can all start denouncing pastors as unfit to serve by virtue of their lapses in judgment on matters social, ethical, political, and economic that ought to be obvious, then who will be left in our pulpits?”

But of course, that is not what would happen at all. If all the pastors I am talking about suddenly had a realization that this position were right, the result would not be empty pulpits, but rather full churches. That is what happens when repentance and reformation occur. That is what I am after.

Now an extension of this principle into other areas is not something I brought up, but I am happy to go there, provided the issues are of a similar magnitude. The thing about God’s moral law is that it does extend across matters “social, ethical, political, and economic.”

“Thankfully, Scripture never requires such never-failing judgment for ministers. It requires that they be personally upright, and capable of ministering the Word faithfully to their flocks.”

Yes, of course. But I am not gnat-strangling. I am not talking about how many time you can flip the light switch on the sabbath. I am talking about the kind of cultural sin that got Sodom smoked. If we must lay off our pastors — if their approved credentials are in order — despite their blindness on issues like this, then we no longer have men in pulpits, but rather capons in cages.

Ministering the Word faithfully necessarily includes application. Cogent application means that ministers must understand the world in which they preach the Word. This goes there. And if a man cannot tell how and where the Word he preaches goes on Monday morning — for he is preaching to military officers, accountants, wedding cake bakers, photographers, bureaucrats, medical doctors, hospital officials, pharmacists, and so on — then he is not qualified for the office he holds. A man is not qualified to be a pilot just because he can fly the thing in the air. He has to know how to land that thing.

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48 comments on “Empty Pulpits or Full Churches?

  1. When I repent to my children of my sin they are drawn to Christ, not away. In a similar way, as Doug points out here, a shepherd repenting over his support of Obama will draw his flock to Christ, not away.

  2. Thank you Pastor Wilson. An excellent response. One of the problems I see in young ministers is our refusal to take a stand on major issues because we are not quite sure about the minor ones. We don’t want to be Pharisees so we are careful to avoid sharp denunciations. Our inability to put sins in a ranked list leaves us either denouncing everything with a shrill cry or denouncing nothing because we are just not quite sure how evil it really is. 

  3. It seems to me that a critical point in all of this is the past vs present view of judging the actions of others. As you have said if we are willing to give the “its complicated” answer to why we are not more forceful in our acting against evil in the present we must be prepared to accept the same response from everyone else.
    What use is it to identify and condemn atrocities past or praise crusaders for justice if you remain totally blind in the present? Generally speaking Christians seem happy to embrace William Wilberforce as long as he is safely in the ground.

  4. Doug:
    If abortion were to be re-criminalized in the United States, do you have an opinion on how and who should be punished?  Should the abortion practitioner and the mother be charged?  If so, should they be treated like other murderers and accomplices to murder (e.g. subject to the death penalty)?
    I did a quick search of your blog but didn’t find any previous post from you on the subject.  If you have commented on this recently and I missed it, I apologize in advance.
    Thanks – I very much enjoy reading your work.  

  5. Doug, do you believe that taxes support abortion in our country?

  6. I’m not bright enough to quip something witty, but I sense an implication in Ben’s question, and for whatever reason, it reminds me of the question, “when did you stop beating your wife?”.

  7. Some decade I hope we can agree a minister should be disqualified for refusing to feed the flock in his care including infants…rather than for voting for a POTUS candidate that would not appoint justices overturning Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton, etc.

  8. @C. Frank Bernard, What does one have to do with other?

  9. @ C. Frank Bernard:

    My guess is those two cases are significantly correlated:  The latter being a subset of the former.

    You are not necessarily fulfilling all your offices as a pastor by voting sympathetically to Doug’s position. 
    I.e. voting the “right” way will only partially predict if you pastor the “right” way.

    But my guess is if you are in the latter group your are very highly correlated with the former:
    I.e. voting the “wrong” way will only predict other failings as a pastor.

    You probably can’t read the middle of the eye chart well if you can’t make out which way the big fuzzy thing on top is pointed.
     

  10. Remind me about paragraph breaks again?

  11. Ok. I agree with this post. What about execution of this discipline though? Should the PCA, OPC, Crec, and whoever start pushing to add this to some book of rules. Or should this just be one of those informal things in which the wishy washy (and worse) pastors are publicly shamed?

  12. Ben — Probably. Just as rendering unto Caesar supported the slaughter of the innocents. But there’s a tremendous moral difference between surrendering your money to Caesar under penalty of law and willingly supporting him in the next election.

  13. Remember our nation; give wisdom to those who rule in our government and in our courts
     
      Lord have mercy
     

  14. Moor, Not at all an entrapment question. i just wanted to see how far Doug would be willing to take this line of reasoning.

  15. There’s a right way to be wrong and a wrong way to be right… Don’t let Ben’s point be dismissed… and no, its *not* rendering unto Caesar…  Its funny how we would say that about abortion – but in the same breath use it as an excuse not to give the homeless money.  They’ll just misspend it.
    Have we already forgot the rhetoric of the 80s and 90s over this issue?  Have we already forgotten the “justice” of our divorce from England?  Its time to stop bitching and do something… not overnight… yes gradually… but the solutions need to be real and not silly… and I would dare say that if enough of us gave a rat’s ass then the “ideal” will become reality…  We need a hundred year plan and not one so short sighted as the next election… is our hope really in a presidential messiah or a political/religious party?
    But now the ideal, just sounds like silly screed from Focus on the Family.  All you optomillennialists, time to $#!t or get off the pot.  Christianity, postmillenniliasm, the lordship of Christ just aren’t abstractions… they aren’t thought experiments… isn’t our faith more than just a sentimentalism?  
    I think Littlejohn’s comments balance out Doug’s… bottom line though… if Doug cared enough, if Valerie cared enough they’d find a way to make abortions at least not funded by the state or the fed.  Time to put on the some leather gloves and hop in the trenches…  Lets think long term… lets come up with real solutions… one that can actually be done instead of Pharisaical pronouncements from those who ultimately fund the very things we are condemning.
    Ironic?  Tragic! 

  16. Pastor Wilson,
    Thanks for the reply.  Your counter-argument here rests almost entirely on the deployment of analogies, and while analogies are often very illuminating, indeed indispensable, for moral reasoning, they only work if you can forge the logical links that show how they relate to the question at hand.  It is not clear to me that you have done so here. 
    Your first main analogy is that of the British rule in India and the suppression of suttee.  The wickedness of the practice, and its cultural engrained-ness, provides a pretty good parallel to abortion here.  But where it breaks down is in the relevant political systems.  The British governor in India was essentially a benevolent dictator.  If he wanted to suppress suttee, well then, he could do so.  Not, of course, that it would stop right away—it would go on illegally in various places until it was entirely stamped out.  But from a legal standpoint, the issue was comparatively easy to resolve.  Not so abortion.  Obama does not have dictatorial powers, whatever the hysteria on the Right sometimes pretends, and changing the laws on abortion is an exceedingly long, complex, and difficult process, one that may take generations, even if everything goes well for the cause.
    Now of course, the rejoinder is that Obama is not trying to do away with abortion, and struggling vainly against the laws and the democratic process; rather, he seems to have no interest in doing away with abortion at all.  True enough; and his own moral standing is to be judged accordingly.  But the one who votes for him is in a different position.  Such a person may deem that while Obama is contemptible in his support for the practice, an alternative leader will have very limited success in repressing it in any case, and so he would do well to cast his vote on other grounds.
     
    Which leads us straight to my (and your) second point—the question of weightier matters.  Sure, it would take a fairly substantial evil to outweigh abortion’s evilness (although I confess that given your insistence on separating personal and social sin in matters economic, I find it surprising how easily you simply lump together the moral evil of “a million dead babies” rather than considering the problem in terms of the individual concrete evils of the millions of actors involved).  But Obama is not the abortion doctor.  One might reason that Romney’s very direct role in prosecuting a lesser evil might outweigh Obama’s more indirect role in promoting a greater one.  Or, to come back to the point I just made above, one must also take into account feasibility.  Let’s say that a Christian identified a moral problem that Romney supported, but Obama opposed (let’s say crony capitalism, or environmental degradation), and considered it only one-fifth as serious an evil as abortion.  But let’s say that they reasoned that Romney could/would only do one-tenth as much to address abortion as Obama could/would do to address crony capitalism.  On this basis, they could justly reason that while abortionremained the greater evil, voting for Obama constituted, in balance, the lesser evil.
    It doesn’t matter whether you think that a Christian who reasoned thus was in fact correct (perhaps you would counter that Obama is, in point of fact, just as much a crony capitalist, or that environmental degradation isn’t really a problem, or that Romney would in fact do a lot to solve the abortion problem); only whether you think that a Christian might reasonably mount that kind of argument, with the facts at their disposal.
     

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    You then move on to a totally different analogy, the Hitler analogy.  But at this point, you have abandoned the distinction you made initially between the evil of practicing abortion, and the evil of presiding approvingly over its practice, which undergirded your first analogy.  Hitler was the initiator, the champion, the driving force behind Germany’s anti-Jewish policies and eventually the Holocaust.  Successful opposition would not merely have mitigated the Holocaust, it would have prevented it from ever happening.  Not so with Obama and abortion.  The problem was going on long before he entered the scene, and will go on long after he passes from it.  His policies help advance the cause of abortion, to be sure, but even successful opposition to him would only slowly and gradually roll back the red tide of abortions in this country.  Consequently, the Christian who failed to oppose Hitler was either blind, a coward, or else, as many Germans were, wickedly sympathetic to his agenda.  Some Christians who fail to oppose Obama do so out of blindness, cowardice, or sympathy to his agenda, to be sure.  But given the much greater nuance of the situation, and Obama’s much more indirect role in the problem, there are many other reasons why Christians might fail to oppose Obama, many of them based on well-considered moral and political reasoning.  Again, one does not have to agree with the conclusion of the reasoning in order to consider it reasonable, or at least, sufficiently reasonable that one should withhold automatic harsh judgments like “You, my friend, are not qualified to be a minister of the gospel.”

  17. Also, another question for Doug. Would you suggest that Pastors who voted for Obama step down, or do they just need to repent? Or is Repenting and stepping down the same in this situation? And for how long should they not Pastor?

  18. Is a great pastoral “ejection” (of the Libs and Dems) going to really resolve the problems and quasi solutions you addressed in Black and Tan?!    What would their “martyrdom” *really* do?!    Now and in the long run…    Not to mention on what basis such an cross denominational, cross confessional, cross “faith” would be deriving its ecclesiastical authority on.    Such thought is fundamentally sectarian and individualistic… Very American (in the bad way), very Baptistic… not very practically “Christian”. 

  19. Oh, by the way, just in case anyone’s wondering, I certainly did not vote for Obama either in 2008 or in 2012.  I opted not to vote at all, and explained my full rationale here: 
    http://swordandploughshare.com/main-blog/2012/11/2/why-i-wont-be-votingan-apologia.html.

  20. Golly, George. I didn’t know that I, as one individual, had the power to effect such a change. Since you must know what this power is, why haven’t you implemented it?

  21. Fair enough, Ben.  You know how the interwebs can be…I sometimes read ill intent where there is none.  Forgive me.

  22. It’s all good Moor. I know how emotionally charged this subject can be. It can often get us riled up. :)

  23. Tagging off Brad’s thoughts, if the supposed “lesser evil”, Mitt Romney, advocates a harsher and stronger military stance abroad (which he did in the foreign policy debate), should not those innocent lives be weighed also? Vote-for-Romney advocates conceded that there was only a slight chance Romney could save any unborn lives, but that slight chance was worth the vote. But if a pastor believes Obama is less likely to take innocent life abroad–something which his office actually has direct power over (and given the GOP’s warmongering history and Romney’s rhetoric), but has no power or sway over abortion, would it not be reasonable to give weight to the the issue which the president can actually act upon?
    This ties into our interaction about Gary Johnson and drones. You tweeted: ““Gary Johnson is opposed to drone strikes on Americans in the Middle East, but supports them if the Americans are in utero.”  To which I proposed flipping it the other way. You responded here- http://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/ghoulish-gotcha.html#more-93234, but the problem is that 1) We’re way past the stage of “kids being killed because they were in terrorist’s backyards” when the cause is dubious and the net results are the same, and 2) the president has direct control over who they do/do not drone. He can’t do anything about abortion unless congress and/or the courts act upon them and give him something to put 53 pens to. But Brad has covered that extensively.

  24. C. Frank Bernard, et al. - 
    Give. Me. A. Break.

    Everyone else, “lesser evil”, etc. You know the drill. Stop voting for unqualified men, period.

  25. working at it and having it done are two different things… remember – long term plans… live in the real, fallen broken world… and I AM making an effort daily…  i like my working at it (and not getting *immediate* results) than your talking about it silly (i mean truly silly!) solutions (and just “rendering”/funding the slaughter of innocents unto Caesar)…  After all – every tax is legitimate and every expenditure justified.  at some point, the second half of Jesus’ teaching needs to be observed… and unto God which is God’s.  aborted “fetuses” aren’t a legitimate tax, neither is any money that goes to underwriting of sch endeavors.  its not about Caesar.  Moloch maybe… but not Caesar.  
        As sad as it may be, Brad and Ben are right… politics and politicians… our votes, etc… can’t get boiled down to just this one issue.
        

  26. Doug, are we ever getting paragraph breaks back?

  27. So you are making paying taxes the moral equivalent of child murder, yet not willing to make promoting child murder the moral equivalent of child murder? I am puzzled…

  28. Matthew 18:20; 1 Corinthians 14:34 ; )      
     
    Alas, I digress…      You’re puzzled because your not engaging the actual content of what Ben and Brad have actually said.       In one sense yes… but in a more realistic sense, NO, my point is there are movements that are fighting the State and Federal underwriting of abortions…  That is a reasonable and realistic goal…         firing umpteen million “pastors” isn’t going to *really* do anything – much less is it even theologically or pastoraly responsible or feasible…   Its silly and irresponsible… Think long term…  set realistic (broken-world-being-made-new) expectations. 

  29. Valerie wrote:

    “But there’s a tremendous moral difference between surrendering your money to Caesar under penalty of law and willingly supporting him in the next election.”

    This distinction is critical in permitting us to render anything to the current secular statist caesar.  We know how caesar spends the tax, but thankfully this knowledge, itself, does not transmit caesar’s culpability to us.  Even though tax rendered to caesar is not voluntary, the same principle even permits us to voluntarily buy meat that was sacrificed to idols.  Christ’s encounter with caesar’s image clarifies for us that God does distinguish their ends from our ends, even when the means come into contact.

     

    Wilson has pointed out that permission to buy pagan meat at the market (to use for our ends), does not give us permission to join in pagan temple services.  Such would be a member participation in their ends (the worship of false gods).  Like joining in a temple service, voting in a democratic civic election (while lawful) is an active member participation in the direction of government and its ends.  Thus it opens the voter to some level of culpability for the outcome.

     

    Lawful participation in caesar’s military as a foot soldier could result in a promotion to the rank of centurion.  When followers become leaders in that sphere, culpability increases.  We have to learn where the lines are.  I believe that a day of the Lord is coming for our nation, with vindications and condemnations, and with the intent of revealing God’s people as His own.  We are likely to be tested individually; in a manner that accountability and culpability can’t be avoided.  We need to prepare for that.  Especially ministers who voted for Obama.

  30. George, he explained that this isn’t about firing pastors, but calling them to account. The goal is not to purge, but to strengthen their arms for battle by pointing out what a minister’s duty actually is.

  31. Mm.. Are not all authorities instituted by God? Don’t you get exactly the President you deserve? Are we not to honour The King? Are we not to judge The Church but not the world? How about denouncing women Pastors and those that support them? As Kissenger said ‘there is only ever a choice of evils.’

  32. No one is addressing the actual content of what Ben or Brad have said…  Much less the logistical, practical, etc. side…
    Would you suggest that Pastors who voted for Obama step down, or do they just need to repent? Or is Repenting and stepping down the same in this situation? And for how long should they not Pastor?
    That’s a legitimate,  concrete-relational, *practical* question!      
    Typical of the reformed camp… always wanting to talk about the ideal and not (really and truly) live in the real.      What the gospel applied?  To our government?  God forbid!
    How many of you have even simply investigated even one of the organizations that are trying to use the system God established to reform itself through NOT underwriting abortions.     Abortions are going to happen… they have since the beginning… I see reason for the state or Fed to pay for it… NONE… so why not fight it at that level… where headway can actually be made… instead of making pronouncements on the web about one of many areas that pastors are failing their congregations…  
    You guys are suggesting trite (self-righteous) non-solution… Yes… is Doug “right” in THEORY… sure… for all his other areas of being practical (and there are MANY), he’s really coming up short sighted here.
        You can’t always just cut cancer out of the body… sometime its in the lymph-nodes and requires multiple rounds of treatment…  an actual strategy, may be, just maybe, required…  Be a Jonah, sure… yes(!)… cry out and call people to repentance, but for crying out loud… DO SOMETHING about it TOO instead of just play theological games.     Remember Jonah’s end…  Bitter and tragic…  For all the life that the Doug’s and Leithart and all of the great people in that camp have celebrated over the years and promoted from Moscow (and beyond) – this just seems (at a precursory level) too half-ass.    
       I’ve come to expect more… but maybe I should adjust my expectations and live in the reality that stands before me.  Doug is fallen and broken… he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like me and just like Obama…   But theirs a bigger question here too…   Idolatry (something Doug has talked a LOT about)…   I can’t help but wonder how/if all that plays a role (even if only in the comments chain)… masked idols of course… but still where is our hope and in whom/what are we looking too…  more specifically… how can the Spirit be used from those of us who all see the same problem but are fighting about what an actual solution is?
           I’m glad Brad and Ben engaged Doug the way he did.  They are better clearer communicators than I.  Brad carries enough clout to actually justify Doug’s engagement – so I hope he sticks with it and doesn’t let Doug slide… but rather that he encourages and engages him to actually engage in the solution instead of just identifying the shoulda-woulda-coulda approaches to American Christian ecclesiastical failures.      
         
    I’m bowing out… in the abundance of words their is folly.

  33. For this post, and this post only, I am going to adopt Doug’s premises and presuppositions.  I think from a Calvinist standpoint, the real problem is that there’s no Biblical authority for democratic elections in the first place, and given sinful human nature, the very fact that a candidate appeals to a majority of the voters (who are, after all, fallen humans) should be troubling in and of itself.  In the Bible, most of the time majorities were doing things like telling Moses they wanted to go back to Egypt, and stoning the prophets, and worshipping Baal, and shouting “crucify him”.  So maybe the real problem is that democracy is a game you simply can’t win, and shouldn’t participate in.  If you believe abortion and gay marriage are sinful, obviously you should continue to preach and teach against them, and excommunicate those who practice them, while at the same time recognizing that going through the ritual of marking a ballot every two years is a useless exercise.  

  34. And by the way, the practical reason voting Republican is a useless exercise is that the GOP is really three parties:  The Christian conservative party, the Wall Street Big Business Party, and the quasi-libertarian small government party.  ”How can two walk together except they be agreed?”  The GOP just tried to stand up to Obama on the government shutdown, and you see the results; they’re now running for cover with their tail between their legs.  They may well lose the House next year.  That’s what comes of being so sharply divided ideologically that they can’t even cohesively join together to put up an effective defense to Obama.  And by voting GOP, you’re voting to empower the Wall Street and libertarian factions of it, both of which disagree with you about abortion and gay marriage.

  35. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. -Romans 13:1
    Just a good reminder going forward in this great discussion. 

  36. There are people on this thread talking like Obama would decrease the number of babies murdered if only those legislators would give him something to sign. (Which is almost as weird as Eric dropping by to give free advice on political tactics.) And then we’re launched into an equation where pastors supposedly weighed the probability of Obama killing fewer innocent civilians overseas against the change in murdered babies from his judge appointees…and we’re to believe that pastors weighed this equation and found – who? – Romney lacking.  
    This is bizarro world.  
    The simple truth is that if the GOP disappears as Eric is predicting, and the Democratic Party takes over America with no pockets of political resistance, they will legalize infanticide.     
      
     
     

  37. Eric – when you’re not being inflammatory, you make good sense. Being mostly of the “Don’t vote – it only encourages them” school, I still cast a vote in the last election. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” We get the kind of government we deserve – sometimes better (by God’s mercy), but never worse. Our current regime has come to us from God, through the instrumentality of the votes of both spiritual and venial people (very often – always?? – the two combined in the same person).

  38. Even when evangelicals are presented with a candidate who has repeatedly introduced bills in the house which would remove the jurisdiction of abortion from the Supreme Court and return it to the states. And in the 2008 debates the same candidate  admits in front of millions his questions about just war and how he then went and read the church fathers for insight and how that influenced his opinion on US military power, we are told to ignore him. Don’t waste your vote. He can never win.  These are the same evangelicals that believe that what keeps us safe are our “horses and chariots”

  39. Tim, if the Democrats wanted to legalize infanticide now, who would stop them, the Republicans?  You saw how politically powerful the Republicans are on issues like defunding Obamacare and not raising the debt ceiling and reducing spending; what makes you think they’d have any more sway on banning infanticide?  The reason the Democrats don’t legalize infanticide is because they have no interest in doing so; there is a broad national consensus that abortion should be legal in the first trimester or so of pregnancy, that it shouldn’t be federally funded, and that it should be legal after that only if medically necessary (i.e., the fetus is discovered to be deformed or is posing a threat to the women’s health).  That’s where we are as a nation on the issue.  In order for infanticide to seriously be on the table, there would have to be a pretty significant cultural shift on the issue.  And if that cultural shift were to happen, then I don’t see how democracy would help.

  40. George — Actually, I was engaging with what Ben wrote. He asked a specific question (“Doug, do you believe that taxes support abortion in our country?”). I had worked through the implications of that question myself some years ago, so I shared the understanding I had come to. And then I found you attacking me for not singlehandedly solving the problem of legalized abortion. Yikes!

  41. Mr. Littlejohn, I would suggest that you spend a little time studying the life or Pastor Martin Nimoeller, one of my personal heroes of the war. Pastor Niemoeller initially supported Hitler and later, realized it was time to stand against him. He survived a Nazi Camp. Christians like Niemoeller had one very good reason to initially support Hitler. Paedophilia was rampant in Berlin. The cops and the government knew it an no one cared. Everyone had been bought off. Hitler would shut the paedophilia down. After this had been done, Niemoeller realized that he had traded one devil for another. Look up his sermon that he gave before he went into the camp. It is inspiring.

  42. Dead cinch cert – please avoid these type of Americanism jargons, most readers won’t understand what is meant.
     
    WR, New Zealand

  43. I’m not persuaded by Littlejohn’s characterization that the millions of unborn are a political lost cause, but I am sympathetic to Littlejohn’s point that the President is not a dictator who can legislate directly to abolish abortion, and to his point that Obama (unlike Hitler against the jews) has followed the culture where it has already gone, in its abortion bloodlust.  However, Presidents can do a great deal in terms of judicial appointments and veto powers, etc.  Littlejohn seems to be thinking only in terms of complete abolition, or else nothing.  Yet even a slight reformational influence equates to many real lives saved simply because of the scale of the carnage.  Littlejohn’s characterization seems entirely indifferent to those lives.

     

    I’m also sympathetic to Littlejohn’s argument that we live in a political world where many goals, outcomes, and alternatives are jumbled together and compromised, such that feasibility has to be considered.  Sometimes a reasonable strategy may indicate that we should vote to secure an immediate goal and then work toward the long term goals in future elections.

     

    But while this observation can be granted in the abstract, how can Littlejohn use it to bridge across the particulars of Obama’s case to justify a vote from Christian leaders?  Littlejohn hasn’t provided any specifics to cash this out.  For example, Brad Littlejohn wrote:

    “while Obama is contemptible in his support for the practice [of abortion], an alternative leader will have very limited success in repressing it in any case, and so he would do well to cast his vote on other grounds”

    The logic is simply incomplete here.  If candidates A and B are equally ineffective as would-be dictators to end abortion, then how does that observation help to justify a vote for candidate A which Littlejohn acknowledges to be “contemptible in his support” of the very topic of moral offense?  Littlejohn suggests that the answer must be found on “other grounds”, but what other grounds?  What are the particular benefits that Obama offers for a net gain?  Littlejohn provides not one example in Obama to justify even a short term vote of support.  What does Obama gain us at the cost of tolerating his stance on abortion?  Do we vote for Obama to get his endorsement of gay marriage?  His military support of al qaeda in Syria?  His wealth redistribution agenda?  His blowing past the debt ceiling?  Trillions in QE generational debt?  Forced participation in health care insurance?  Entitlements/amnesty for millions of illegal aliens?  Attack on our second amendment freedoms, etc, etc, etc?

     

    Where is the moral positive on Obama’s entire landscape?  Without such, Littlejohn’s observations are purely hypothetical and don’t affect Wilson’s conclusion about church leaders who voted for Obama.  At some point a hawk really is a hawk.  Obama is unquestionably wicked toward the unborn, and the rest of his contributions in other areas just tip the scales further in the same wrong direction.  Abortion is the big E on Obama’s chart, which should be sufficient to disqualify him, but the rest of the chart simply expands the same sad story.

     

    Christian leaders who voted for Obama have a lot of explaining to do, and Wilson is correct to point to their vote as strong evidence of shameful incompetence and of their lack of qualification to lead others.  Littlejohn hasn’t provided an explanation.  He has only provided a plausible cover story for them.  The details are missing.  Littlejohn wrote:

    “there are many other reasons why Christians might fail to oppose Obama, many of them based on well-considered moral and political reasoning.”

    If there are so “many” “well-considered” reasons, why doesn’t Littlejohn provide one for our consideration?  As they say on Wikipedia, “weasel words” and “citation needed”.

  44. Dear Doug,
    I think you meant to say “If we must *not* lay off our pastors…”
    Daniel Meyer

  45. Katecho,
    Mr. Littlejohn answers those questions at the link he provided: http://swordandploughshare.com/main-blog/2012/11/2/why-i-wont-be-votingan-apologia.html

  46. Mr. Littlejohn has responded very wisely and charitably.  But I am afraid, Mr. Wilson, that you will not allow yourself to be persuaded.  In this matter you have shown himself to be the Right-Wing mirror-image of certain Left-Wing neighbours of yours.
    People who have read you will know that you have written at length about the fundamental decency of a past society that practiced profanity.  Yet you find yourself unable to extend the same courtesy to another society, even one in which you find yourself, which practices another type of profanity; even if the leaders of the latter finds themselves swept up by the profanity while the leaders of the former actively defended their profanity with the blood of their youth. 
    Mr. Wilson, you are clearly blinded.  You have already begun going down the infernal road by wishing black were a little blacker.  I think you have allowed ambition to master you.  You are squandering the Lord’s great gift of letters.  What is it you lack that the Lord will not grant you, that you seek consolation in playing the partisan hack?     
    God bless you.
     

  47. You brought up the grisly calculus voting in our elections can cause. I was wondering what you would say to someone who voted for Obama because
    A. she doesn’t believe Pro-Life republicans are truly prolife. (A dishonest/false christian being worse than an honest unbeliever/liberal-Christian)
    B. They believe Democratic policies are better for the economy thus leading to fewer abortions.
    C. Bill Clinton oversaw fewer infanticides/abortions than George Bush despite being pro-choice.
    D. The fight to end abortion is a lost cause politically.
    Now obviously many people would disagree with her arguments, but I’m curious if they stand up from a moral perspective?

  48. Valerie, I have not been ignoring you. Just thinking of the best way to respond. I would take what you say and go a step further. We should render to Caesar what is Caesars, but the womb was never Caesars. There is a big difference between those who supported a man who does not have any intention of ending abortion in our country and funding it outright. May I add that the last 3 Republican Presidents said they were opposed, and we still have it. Yes, more people repenting would fill more churches but a mass exodus of pastors (for this reason) is obviously not a solution. I give you the example of Paul himself. Many feared Paul’s conversion was just a tactic to get closer to Christians. Wasn’t Paul/Saul unfit because of his persecution of Jesus (and His Church)? Yes there was repentance, but there was not disqualification. Apparently God has been using people who are “unfit” for a long time, so long as they repent. 

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