“Retreat to Commitment” Writ Large

I begin by nothing something by Samuel Johnson in The Vanity of Human Wishes, a little something for us to keep in reserve.

How small of all that human hearts endure,

That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.

In this next chapter, Rod Dreher says many good and pertinent things, but these observations are collected in a chapter which is simultaneously a strategic and tactical tangle.

First the good things—things we have been emphasizing in Moscow here for decades. “Political power is not a moral disinfectant” (Loc. 1208). We must not “make a false idol of politics” (Loc. 1214). We “would be better off ‘building thriving subcultures’ than seeking positions of power” (Loc. 1240). “Nothing matters more than guarding the freedom of Christian institutions to nurture future generations in the faith” (Loc. 1299). “Every act that contradicts the official ideology is a denial of the system” (Loc. 1376). We need Christians “who don’t give a rip for official opinion” (Loc. 1425). We are up against problems that “conventional American politics cannot fix” (Loc. 1440). We must “secede culturally from the mainstream” (Loc. 1467). “Open a classical Christian school, or join and strengthen one that exists” (Loc. 1469). “The church must not shrink from its responsibility to pray for political leaders and to speak prophetically to them” (Loc. 1227). And “believers must avoid the usual trap of thinking that politics can solve cultural and religious problems” (Loc. 1479).

Yes, and amen to all of that.

But Dreher has, in my view, thrown in the towel too early. And he has most certainly thrown in the towel. “The so-called values voters—social and religious conservatives—have been defeated and are being swept to the political margins” (Loc. 1179). “Welcome to the politics of post-Christian America” (Loc. 1190). And the “verdict on the overall political strategy is clear: we failed” (Loc. 1219). “Therefore, said Tocqueville, ‘one must maintain Christianity within the new democracies at all cost.’ We have not done that” (Loc. 1334).

In other words, it is all over but the shouting. The secularists have the whip hand, and we have been decisively excluded. We are out of the running. As far as our national politics are concerned, according to Dreher we are very much a nullity.

But here is where the strategic inconsistency arises. Dreher also believes that in our national political life, we can do one thing still, which is to carve out religious liberty protections for ourselves.

“there is one cause that should receive all the attention they have left for national politics: religious liberty” (Loc. 1248).

“The best that Orthodox Christians today can hope for from politics is that it can open a space for the church to do the work of charity, culture building, and conversion” (Loc. 1224).

“Without a robust and successful defense of First Amendment protections, Christians will not be able to build the communal institutions that are vital to maintaining our identity and values” (Loc. 1249).

Our task “is to secure and expand the space within which we can be ourselves and build our own institutions” (Loc. 1287).

But why on earth would the secularists go along with something like this? As I do not tire of repeating, religious liberty is a Christian civic virtue, just like respect for the life of the unborn child is, or love for the biblical pattern of marriage. We don’t expect tangerines to grow on bramble bushes, and Dreher has explicitly given up that expectation when it comes to respect for life and respect for marriage. So why would these people agree to respect the believers for respecting such things? We have been identified as haters for respecting these things.

“The traditional marriage and family model has not been protected in either law or custom, and because of that, courts are poised to impose dramatic rollbacks of religious liberty for the sake of antidiscrimination” (Loc. 1220).

This is exactly correct. What on earth could we appeal to when fighting for religious liberty? By what standard? If we could fight successfully for religious liberty, we could ban abortion also. If we cannot fight for successfully against the merchandising of baby parts, then how on earth would we be able to fight for religious liberty?

And here we come to the Achilles heel of the Benedict Option, and we simultaneously come to the reason why his book has created such a stir among Christians. This whole thing is the “retreat to commitment” writ large. I will develop this further as this review unfolds. Since we have not actually been fighting the culture wars all these years, but rather have been retreating to different enclaves at different times for different reasons, and have resolutely refused to speak to our nation in the name of Jehovah God, the Father of Jesus, we have come to this sorry state of affairs.

In other words, Dreher is giving Christians a plausible excuse not to fight. And when you are outlining reasons why a fight would be futile, and you are outlining those reasons to Christians who are disheartened, discouraged, or cowardly, you will find it an easy sell. He is giving this excuse to millions of Christians who do not really want to fight—not because they wanted the right to withdraw into pure, intentional Christian communities—but rather because they know that a fight would mean that they will have to tear down their local baals. A real pitched battle would mean that they would have to choose sides definitively.

Speaking of local baals, there was one other striking oddity in this chapter.

“Because Christians need all the friends we can get, form partnerships with leaders across denominations and from non-Christian religions. And extend a hand of friendship to gays and lesbians who disagree with us but will stand up for our First Amendment right to be wrong” (Loc. 1303).

In other words, the Philistine pillagers want to empty out our store using the front door. That is where the main riot is. Instead of putting up with that, we should give away the store to the friendly Assyrians out the back door, back by the alley. But the end result in either case is empty shelves.

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PerfectHold
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PerfectHold

While you’re hitting home runs here vs this book, we’re still keeping the horses saddled and ready to get out of Dodge.
Surely you’re not discounting the possible need to retreat for a spell?

We really need a Doug Wilson type to show us what a community should & could look like that we may need to retreat to — if things do get really, really, bad for a few decades.
Is that Moscow thing you’ve been building for decades a proto-option?

Seems like the corner go-to-meeting place ain’t equipped to handle a strategic retreat.

Rob Steele
Guest
Rob Steele

I think the alternative to retreat he has in mind is to die in battle. Or win.

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Die either way, of course (some postmillers lose track of that part)

But either way, doesn’t the growing severity of the sitch highlight the need to have vastly improved & suitable “retreat-to-refresh” zones?

Rob Steele
Guest
Rob Steele

The enemy will not tolerate those longer than he has to.

Ginny Yeager
Guest
Ginny Yeager

I would caution against this mentality for a few reasons. One, the culture around is doing it: retirees retreating to cheaper/less crime ridden communities and countries, people in high tax states retreating to low tax states, etc. It’s a trend to retreat from a mess, yes? Also, we have been conditioned for some time now to go with the flow and not be combative. It seems we have lots of ground to recover in this area, to really know how and when to fight and for how long. Lastly, go where? In the old days, there was fresh property–no longer.… Read more »

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Free market changes by some can effect the whole.

But location isn’t the primary goal. Rather, associations.

We attend their public schools.
We embibe their pornography.
We vote for their largesse.

ashv
Guest
ashv

Can you give an example of this ever working in the past? (Benedictine monasteries are, amusingly, not a very good one.)

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Philadelphia, Sardis, Jesrusalem, Thyatira, Smyrna, Rome …

ashv
Guest
ashv

Your point is quite unclear.

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

You had requested examples of communities of believers successfully bolstering the good practices of their members?

ashv
Guest
ashv

No, you were talking about communities that Christians could “retreat to”. Has this ever worked?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

The Amish?

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

Yes — these would be places folks can retreat to.
They worked great.

ashv
Guest
ashv

LOL

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

But they made very good wine! That blissful, pale green elixir Chartreuse was invented by Carthusian monks. The enclosed religious orders have taken up new lines of work, some of them quite remarkable: breeding miniature horses, computer programming, training seeing-eye dogs, and constructing custom-made coffins!

ashv
Guest
ashv

You don’t have to convince me of the merits of Chartreuse, I’m quite familiar. :-)

My point was just that the monasteries flourished under stable Christian rule and waned when it was not present.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

True! A bit off-topic, I expect you have heard about the crisis in religious life for women. The average American nun is in her seventies. But the orders that still have no trouble attracting young women are the enclosed, very penitential ones that have not updated their habits. I don’t find this surprising at all.

jsm
Guest
jsm

I would love for you to develop further this idea that religious freedom is a Christian virtue. I don’t see this taught in scripture. Also I think you have a typo in your 1st sentence. It should be noting instead of nothing.

Brandon Klassen
Guest
Brandon Klassen

I think what is really needed is a careful and nuanced explanation of what is (or ought to be) meant by “religious freedom”. I think this beast has many heads and somebody (like Doug) needs to lop off the illusory ones and highlight the real one.

insanitybytes22
Member

I completely agree with Wilson’s point, but I am opposed to “religious freedom,” the way we define it today. I don’t seek freedom, I seek complete dominance.

That can ruffle some feathers, but keep in mind that complete Christian dominance where Christian values rule the day, is the same culture that grants non believers the freedom to not believe in relative safety. Without Christian dominance, there is no religious freedom for anyone.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I’m never sure what Christian dominance would look like. Are you thinking that the government should be explicitly Christian but that people of other faiths would be free to worship (or not) according to their own traditions?

jsm
Guest
jsm

I don’t ME’s position. I do know this country was founded by Christians. We are told these Christians used God’s word to shape the laws and founding documents. I don’t see how they honored God’s law and gave permission for a synagogue of Satan to be built in Rhode Island in the 17th century and leave the door open for more such facilities to be built all over this country. You can have a Christian dominant nation that does not attempt to coerce people into worshipping Jesus with the sword but keeps centers of pagan worship in all its forms… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

It is true to say that the vast majority of people at the time this nation was founded were explicitly Christian. I think that the founding fathers intended to form a system of government that was compatible with Christian faith, but whatever disagreements they had among themselves about the role religion was to play, their final product is not Christian. They had the example of various colonial charters which were, in fact, specifically Christian–Connecticut’s, for example, said its purpose was to “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess,… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

I think the founders wisely saw that religion ought not to be subject to majority rule.

Where do you get this from? From all I’ve read, this was entirely alien to their reasoning. (Again, since you mention Connecticut, note that it has a state-supported church until 1818 and there were zero legal challenges to its legitimacy.)

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Specifically, making the constitution rather than any religious doctrine or sacred text the supreme law of the land. The clause prohibiting religious tests for public office. The DOI on the natural right of liberty, which means little if it excludes religious liberty. The fact that nothing in the Articles or Constitution gives preferential status to a majority religion.

ashv
Guest
ashv

Sure, but you’re projecting recent ideas onto them. The stated motive, as I recall, was to leave religious issues to the states, rather than put forth the idea that it wasn’t something government should address. (I think this was quite naïve, but we have the benefit of two centuries of hindsight now.)

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Okay, but consider these as casting some light on the founders’ intentions: “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

I’m sympathetic to arguments that state establishment of churches may not be the wisest course. But “civil rights” aren’t in the Bible.

Christopher
Member

“Specifically, making the constitution rather than any religious doctrine or sacred text the supreme law of the land.”

This reasoning will lead to the fracturing of the U.S. We can be one nation under God, but not under the constirution.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

That may be, but the constitution is a done deal. I can see why many people wish the Constitution had handled religion differently. But Jefferson said that he didn’t care who believes in one god or in many as long as nobody breaks his leg or picks his pocket, and I think that the Jeffersonian view has prevailed. What puzzles me is how people think that our secularly-based state is going to transform into a Biblically-based republic. As it says in the musical “Hamilton,” “you’re going to need congressional approval and you don’t have the votes.” I don’t think even… Read more »

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

The “how” is one question, and for me at least, not the one which captures my attention. I’m interested in whether we are obligated to work for this, since, whether or not we see the means of doing something is irrelevant to whether or not we are obligated to do it. But in terms of the “how” question, I suggest reformed literature from the 18th century. If God has the power to revive massive segments of whole countries, why should he not have power to revive practically the whole country itself? In fact, Romans 11 sounds as if something like… Read more »

Christopher
Member

“What puzzles me is how people think that our secularly-based state is going to transform into a Biblically-based republic.”

It’s more likely that our secular based state will collapse, at which point Moscow Idaho for example will be poised to have a chance to implement a biblicly based republic or what have you.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I can only see such a state coming about as the result of apocalyptic upheaval. I am not certain, however, that people would welcome a biblical republic as opposed to some form of secular fascism. What I think is more likely is that some states will insist on secession. The differences between outlook in the major cities and elsewhere are perhaps too great to be resolved.

Christopher
Member

“I can only see such a state coming about as the result of apocalyptic upheaval.”

It wouldn’t have to be apocalyptic, but the upheaval would result in multiple states not all of which would be biblicly based.

Clay Crouch
Guest
Clay Crouch

Where did you get that idea? Please elaborate.

Christopher
Member

The constitution didn’t stop the south from seceding, and doesn’t stop the declaration of ‘sanctuary cities’ where other countries can colonize U.S. territory.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

I can’t know all of what you have read, but what have you read that suggests religion ought not to be subject to majority rule was completely alien to the founder’s reasoning? Never mind the founders (whatever they were), by the second half of the 18th century it was the reasoning of at least a strong minority, if not the majority, of American Christians, unless you never mind Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists, and count only Anglicans and Congregationalists. Of course the Anglicans and Congregationalists didn’t want to count each other either.

insanitybytes22
Member

“In other words, Dreher is giving Christians a plausible excuse not to fight. And when you are outlining reasons why a fight would be futile, and you are outlining those reasons to Christians who are disheartened, discouraged, or cowardly, you will find it an easy sell.” Amen! That’s it exactly. I was triggered, triggered I tell you, by the cowardice, by the belief that if we can’t win, than we shouldn’t bother to fight at all. It reminded me a bit of all the people who just wanted Jesus to be King of the Jews. It’s easy to follow someone… Read more »

adad0
Member

I can speak from experience, that you can be minding your own business, and still, darkness and this fight will come to you. In my case, through the church, in Joseph’s case, through his own family.
Good thing we can take heart, because the Blood of Christ has already overcome the world!

insanitybytes22
Member

Amen, Adad. The fight will chose you. I kid you not, I was literally at home praying in my closet when all heck broke loose. I could not have been a more passive target if I had actually tried.

So now we fight. :)

My Portion Forever
Member

You were on the front lines!

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

Yep, I’m with the handful of other folks who want to see a biblical treatment of religious freedom. The closest thing I find in the Bible is that aliens in Israel were not required (actually, were forbidden) to participate in Israel’s worship. But this doesn’t mean they were religiously free to build a temple of Baal and get crackin’. Pastor Doug, where is the religious freedom in Scripture, and what is it’s nature? As far as I can tell, support of religious liberty is inconsistent with your “non-neutrality” stance. Jesus is Lord, and while that may mean the Muslims are… Read more »

jsm
Guest
jsm

You sumed up my thoughts exactly. I would add foreigners were to become covenant members of israel if they desired to worship Yahweh.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

How do you envision this coming about, and what would it mean in practical terms? Would the closing of all non-Christian religious structures come about as the result of a popular vote? Would the 3 million Muslims and 5 million Jews in the US be forbidden to gather for public worship in their own buildings? Would you be concerned about fairness to Muslims and Jews (and people of other non-Christian faiths) who have been settled here for years and who have fought for our country? How would you treat Christian sects which are viewed by the mainstream as heretical? Practically… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

Would the 3 million Muslims and 5 million Jews in the US be forbidden to gather for public worship in their own buildings?

Is there a good reason to not forbid that?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Yes, of course. They were born in, or immigrated to, a nation that explicitly promises freedom of religion. They are taxpayers, voters, and veterans. One of the core principles of this country, established over and over again by the courts, is that there shall be no religious orthodoxy imposed from above. By what possible right, in a nation established on a foundation such as this one, can I tell Muslims, Jews, or Protestant Christians that they can publicly worship as Catholics or not at all? This is not Isabella’s Spain. The question is, why would anyone want to live in… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

One of the core principles of this country, established over and over
again by the courts, is that there shall be no religious orthodoxy
imposed from above.

OK, but why should Christians care about promises made by unbelievers? (I also would note that this wasn’t a core principle until the 20th century.)

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Christians should care because we live under a system of laws, and those laws do not authorize the suppression of other people’s religious practices through force (unless those practices can be proven to menace public safety, such as human sacrifice). The laws that protect the Muslim’s religious conscience also protect yours and mine. A poll conducted in Canada a couple of years ago showed that evangelical Christians are viewed as negatively as Muslims by the population in general. Jews have the highest approval rating, higher even than that of the Catholic majority. What, other than law and acceptance of religious… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

Christians should care because we live under a system of laws Laws can be changed. Everyone who belongs to a minority religion, or to one which might become a minority religion at some future time, should see the value of laws that enshrine the individual’s right to worship according to his own faith. This is a foolish and dangerous position. This is choosing to surrender before fighting. This is choosing comfort over faithfulness. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the enemies of God will treat us fairly or kindly if they triumph over us – nor should we… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Where in the gospels or St. Paul do we find authorization for forced conversions or for tearing down temples?

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

Nowhere, but does the OT bear on the question? Because we would have lots of texts then, regarding tearing down altars. As for forced conversion, I know of nowhere in Scripture where this is taught or exemplified, and so I believe it is non-Christian.

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

I made a mistake. Lots of examples of tearing down altars, not forced conversions. Forgive me.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I don’t think we are in the same position as a covenant nation. The Mass Bay colony was, but we have inherited a poly-faith, multicultural nation that recognized religious liberty, at least to some extent. I think that if our Lord had wanted us to use force to ensure religious conformity, He would have said so. Instead He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” This doesn’t mean that our laws should disregard Christian teachings about theft, the sanctity of life, and so on. But I think it does mean that we are not authorized to use force to… Read more »

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

Let’s say we don’t use force to get to the point I’m describing. Let’s say we preach the Gospel and pray. Then when we get there, we prohibit false religion. Would that be good or bad, and by what standard do we determine?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I would not like that, but I’m a reasonably liberal Catholic who believes in conversion through the power of preaching, example, and love. I think that suppressing other people’s conscience rights produces martyrs, not genuine converts. There were plenty of Jews in Spain who, for centuries, kept their faith alive while they were giving superficial assent to Christian doctrine. I don’t think God ever allows us to convert people through burning down their synagogues. But, theoretically, if a group of people wanted to secede from the U.S. and form a Biblical republic, I think that would be possible. I would… Read more »

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

I hope I’m being clear, here. I don’t want to burn down anyone’s synagogue. If I’m honest, I’m not even comfortable with much that I find in Scripture. But I realize I have to submit to what God has revealed despite discomfort. Even the OT did not teach people should be converted by force; in fact, the OT teaching of Regeneration makes the idea of “conversion by force” impossible. Only the Spirit can convert. But Jesus said the whole OT is in force until heaven and earth pass away (Matt 5.17-20). And the OT teaches that the ideal society does… Read more »

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

It also seems to me that when we say we “shouldn’t disregard Christian teaching” on other moral issues like theft, etc, but then we want to stop halfway and reject Christian teaching on the allowance of false religion, or the penal sanctions for adulterers, etc, it seems we cannot avoid the charge of inconsistency. Why do you want Christian teaching on government response to theft but not government response to promotion of false religion?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

This is a pluralistic society, and our nation was not founded as a Biblical republic. There is consensus among all members of society (including thieves when it comes to their own belongings) that theft is wrong. There is no consensus, even among Christians, that one view of the Christian religion is entirely correct in every particular and should prevail, even over the objections of other Christians who hold different doctrines. To forcibly suppress disbelief or promotion of false religion is only possible, it seems to me, within a system of government that is explicitly religious. The founding fathers could have… Read more »

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

Of course, it is also true there is no present consensus over whether homosexuality is acceptable before God. Does the lack of consensus nullify human responsibility to obey divine command? If so, then it seem to me any command of God which lacks general consensus in a given area must no longer be binding for the people of that area. But Jesus didn’t speak this way. Jesus spoke as if biblical commands must be obeyed on pain of divine judgment. And he (plus the Apostles) seemed to expect that divine commands were not only clear, but even, to some extent,… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

we have inherited a poly-faith, multicultural nation that recognized religious liberty, at least to some extent.

Of course — but so did Constantine.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

There is a lot of controversy about Constantine these days. Some think his motives were primarily political. I don’t know enough to have an opinion, except that to the extent he used the sword to enforce Christian belief, I am sure he was wrong.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

I don’t think he, or anyone else, ever did in fact use the sword to enforce Christian belief, only Christian profession, which isn’t always the same thing.

Jane
Member

Not even that. The public practice of paganism remained legal until the reign of Gratian, 75 years later. Constantine legalized Christianity, he did not criminalize paganism.

ashv
Guest
ashv

I suggest Leithart’s biography then.

Jane
Member

I don’t understand the “Constantine’s motives were political” argument at all. Christianity was *not* powerful or influential in Rome prior to Constantine. There were almost no senators or generals or wealthy, powerful men he would have gained to his side by conversion, and certainly he would have lost far more pagan allies by doing so.

How did Constantine use the sword to enforce Christian belief, BTW? I don’t believe he did. He legalized Christianity; paganism was not illegalized until several emperors later.

Clay Crouch
Guest
Clay Crouch

I’d say most if not all of Constantine’s motives were political. For example, he delayed his baptism until shortly before his death because he had commit some very nasty deeds (including the murder of his son and wife) to consolidate his power. He used the increasing influence of the church in his attempts to forge a unified empire. MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years does a good job of mapping the years of Constantine’s rule as regard to Christianity. Reading church history is akin to watching sausage being made, fascinating but not for the feint of heart.

Jane
Member

Again, how was it Constantine’s political advantage to adopt the ridiculous religion of the peasants and slaves — and the only one that wouldn’t let you take advantage of practicing other religions as needed? Prior to Constantine the church *did not* have influence in the circles of power. He gave it that influence. Clearly there were some mixed motives in how he went about adopting Christianity and what use he made of it. Constantine is no feel-good evangelical conversion story, that is for certain. He would make a terrible “Unshackled” episode. But there is neither evidence nor plausibility to the… Read more »

Clay Crouch
Guest
Clay Crouch

While Constantine did end legal persecution and legalize Christianity, I think you might be underestimating the influence of Christianity on the Roman Empire in the late 3rd and early 4th century. Christianity had spread across the entire Roman Empire. There were a large number influential Roman citizens who had embraced Christianity, including Constantine’s mother. if not for political purposes, why else would Constantine devote so much energy and money in his attempts to unify the eastern and western Christian churches? I think it is entirely reasonable to consider his conversion to be politically motivated. How would you explain his refusal… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

My understanding is that Clay Crouch (below) is correct, by the 4th century Christianity had moved beyond being a religion of only peasants and slaves. The reason Constantine had any interest in controversy between professing Christians is because that is what so many of his subjects were.

Clay Crouch
Guest
Clay Crouch

Make that “faint” of heart.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Hi Jane. I googled Constantine yesterday in order to respond to ashv, and kept coming up with sites that told me of the controversy. All I really know about Constantine was that he felt bad about being illiterate, Christianized the empire. got baptized on his deathbed, and said “In hoc signe vinces” which I thought was pretty hot stuff. So I am going to read up on him so I can form an opinion, but not today. I just had three molars out, and the pink-gold Vicodin cloud is slowly descending on my senses. If I were Coleridge, I would… Read more »

Clay Crouch
Guest
Clay Crouch

“In hoc signe vinces”

Once you’ve read up on Constantine, answer me this, does that sounds just like something Jesus would say?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

No, because even in the Old Testament that practise was limited to Israel, the Old Covenant theocracy, no?

I don’t see anything in the Bible suggesting believers are called to expand that practice to the rest of the world, or that it would be in line with any of what is asked from followers of Jesus at all.

My Portion Forever
Member

This was in the Theocracy of Israel, which was established by God for a certain purpose in redemptive history, which gave us Jesus. I don’t think you’re suggesting that we should all get together and slaughter all the inhabitants of _______ to set up a Theocratic society, are you?

jsm
Guest
jsm

Fortunately the letters from St. Paul are not the whole counsel of God’s word. Also St. Paul and the early church lived under a different situation than our forefathers did or we do.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

You mean like we live under a different situation than did OT Israel?

jsm
Guest
jsm

Of course, but the question is were the founding fathers being directed by scripture when they set up a religiously pluralistic society.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

I don’t think that was Jillybean’s question.

jsm
Guest
jsm

Try actually following the thrread all the way back to Daves comment

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

I’ll take your word for it, and the short answer is, No, they were not. On the other hand, they were responding in part to the sentiments of a large portion of the Christian population, which population very much did regard itself as being directed by scripture. That’s a part of the story that seems to get left out by both champions of secularism and by Christian Dominionists. I’ll sum up your answer to Jilly’s last question as “Nowhere in the gospels or Paul’s epistles is such authorization found but I see it in the Old Testament”. Fair enough?

jsm
Guest
jsm

Maybe you should focus on following the discussion rather than summarizing. Fair enough?

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Too many tangents. I’ll pick and choose.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think the population might have thought that they would be, and might have preferred it that way, but I don’t think the founding fathers thought they were being directed by scripture. At least, not in any sense other than a respect for Christian values (as opposed to doctrine) as a basis for a good society.

insanitybytes22
Member

All in good humor here Jilly, but I think you’re asking to wrong people about forced conversions. That’s a Catholic thing and I have no idea where they think they got their authorization.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I know. Fortunately, it is a thing of the past–at least, I hope so!

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

Jilly, as Pastor Doug is always teaching us to ask, “By what standard?” Aren’t you appealing to a standard outside the Bible in your argument above? Isn’t it possible for a country to make laws we like, and which seem to have some good effects, but which are not biblical/Christian, and therefore not ultimately right? If Israel had decided to form a government like ours, and then received idolaters in as immigrants, and those immigrants paid taxes and fought in the military, would Israel be obligated to tolerate their shrines to Molech and Asherah?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Hi Dave, I can’t answer that because if Israel had formed a system of government like ours, it would not have been a theocratic, covenant nation. If Israel had said, “Bring me your huddled masses, etc.,come as immigrants of all faiths, but know that you will not be permitted freedom of worship once you get here,” those immigrants who came would have had nothing to complain about. But Israel didn’t promise freedom of worship, and the U.S., for generations, has prided itself on welcoming people of all faiths. What should we say to those people now? “We have changed our… Read more »

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

I can answer your question easily: I have no idea :) Let me clarify: I’m not saying I’m convinced of this line of thought; rather, I understand Pastor Doug to hold a position which does not allow for religious freedom as normally understood, and yet he keeps referring to religious freedom. If we think the morality of the OT continues to be binding for God’s people, then I don’t know how we could say the situations you describe (such as the U.S. forbidding Muslims and Jews to worship) are bad; biblically speaking, they are good, if Pastor Doug’s position is… Read more »

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

Concerning the allowance of false religions in our country, let’s ask 3 questions:

1. Is it Biblical?
2. Does it glorify God?
3. Is it good for people?

I’m very interested in how a Christian can answer yes to any of these questions.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think those are questions I must ask myself in deciding where I worship. I simply can’t see that I have any right to demand that my neighbor ask the same questions or reach the same conclusions.

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

Ok. But you do demand that your neighbor keep commandments such as “You shall not steal,” “You shall not murder.” If I asked you why, and you are a Christian, it seems to me our best answer is “God says so.” Where does he say it? In the Bible. So if God’s commands as given in the Bible is our basis for demanding that our neighbors not steal or murder, why are the further commands which prohibit false religion null and void? If we say it is because we are not in the same covenant situation as Israel, then should… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

As Christians, our objection to theft and murder comes first from scripture. Yet we also recognize that every religious tradition has opposed theft and murder, and we believe that anyone using the light of natural reason can understand their wrongness. Societies which are not influenced by our scriptures still prohibit theft and murder, and often punish them with a ferocity we reject. I don’t think a good case can be made that it is only due to our Christian belief that we have treated these sins as crimes. There has to be some consensus, in a pluralistic state, that some… Read more »

Jane
Member

“Yet we also recognize that every religious tradition has opposed theft and murder,” Ehhh…..not exactly. Every religious tradition has opposed “theft” and “murder” but many of them have gone on to define theft and murder in ways that exclude things that we now agree should plainly be illegal. Simplest example: human sacrifice. It’s obvious (to us) that it should be illegal and well within the bounds of secular civil society to outlaw it, but that’s only because we live in a part of the world culturally descended form a part of the world that was Christianized well over a thousand… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

“I simply can’t see that I have any right to demand that my neighbor ask the same questions or reach the same conclusions.”

Jilly obviously does not live next door to the satanists who like to kill cats and smoke a lot of meth.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

There is a lot of weirdness in LA, but I haven’t encountered those three. Although there are people I wouldn’t turn my back on.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Well, those three questions would quickly disqualify many Christian denominations in this country. In fact, I have trouble seeing how trying to hold to that would lead to anything other than Civil War between self-identifying Christians themselves.

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

But I think that our fear of bad consequences in the future is irrelevant to whether or not we are obligated to do something. And if it would disqualify many Christian denominations, the solution may be for those denominations to change, not for us to lower the bar. Would it lead to civil war? If it did, how would this be an argument we shouldn’t do it? If half the country believed in murder and half did not, should we then back down on working for a biblical view of the evil of murder?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think we are already facing this situation regarding abortion. Some Christian denominations don’t seem to have much of a problem with it. I think that everyone else continues to pray, to protest, and to lobby for changes in the law. But Pastor Wilson has said repeatedly that we are not entitled to use violence, and that anyone who kills an abortion doctor should be tried and executed. I suppose I am wondering that, if we are not permitted as Christians to launch a civil war against abortionists, should we be contemplating actions that would provoke civil war against fellow… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

We are certainly NOT obligated to destroy or ban anything that fails to conform to your three questions. Jesus didn’t, Paul didn’t, John didn’t, nor did any of them suggest that we should. Goodness, read Revelation – those churches should have been destroyed by your written standard.

The fact that it would obviously lead to war between Christians is simply icing on the cake.

And I love the irony in your implicit suggestion, “We should go to war with them because they don’t believe murder is wrong.” :P

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Well, much as I agree with you overall on this issue, I think that, despite the unintentional irony, Christians might have to take up arms in defense of the innocent. When the Nazis believed there was nothing wrong with murdering Jews and Slavs, I think it would have been wrong not to oppose them with force.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I know that we disagree on the use of murder as a tool for justice by the Christian disciples of Jesus. I’ve argued my position from Scripture at length here before, and I believe my position is the one most in line with Jesus and the New Testament and the early Church, but I certainly acknowledge that most modern churches reject my interpretation in favor of the support of state death-dealing violence in certain situations. Going to the specific rather than the general this time, I want to deal with WW2 directly. This is me voluntarily choosing the worst possible… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

You sound like Pat Buchanan ;).

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

In what particular way? I’m really not very familiar with him.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Buchanan believes it was an unnecessary war; he would have been an isolationist had he lived at the time. He is also a raging anti-Semite, which caused him to be called out by William F. Buckley back in his National Review days. I think it would be fair to say that he has never met an accused Nazi war criminal that he didn’t think was being unfairly prosecuted. I expect that D said that because of Buchanan’s book “Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War.” Buchanan can’t stand Churchill, and believes that his “lust for war” cost Britain its empire. He… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

See, that is one of the unfortunate misunderstandings of positions like mine that causes problems. I am extraordinarily interventionist, I just argue for Christian intervention, not violent intervention. My desires are far closer to a massive interventionist like Bush than a self-centered pseudo-isolationist like Trump, but my means would be very different. I would not advocate for appeasing Hitler, ignoring Hitler, or trying to kill everyone who happened to belong to Hitler’s nation or its allies. I would advocate for absolute non-participation in anything that advanced Hitler’s evil aims, self-sacrificing bravery is the rescue of Hitler’s victims and potential victims,… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I am working on a longer response to your earlier post, but it is taking a while to check facts and figures in my Vicodin haze following dental surgery today. But supposing that Hitler’s forces had invaded England, what measures would your pacifism have permitted ordinary Britons to take? I understand that non-participation would mean a refusal to help the occupiers in any way. Would your principles allow for destroying roads, bridges, and factories? Would you engage in sabotage that could conceivably result in the deaths of enemy soldiers? Would you be shot rather than perform labor that benefits the… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

But supposing that Hitler’s forces had invaded England, what measures would your pacifism have permitted ordinary Britons to take? I understand that non-participation would mean a refusal to help the occupiers in any way. Would your principles allow for destroying roads, bridges, and factories? Would you engage in sabotage that could conceivably result in the deaths of enemy soldiers? Would you be shot rather than perform labor that benefits the occupying army? I’m very reluctant and cautious to suggest rules that aren’t explicitly defined in Scripture. So while I believe, “do not violently take the lives of others” and “do… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

I’ll give you this, when you address a subject you’re not lazy about it!

You may have answered this before, but what, is your denominational affiliation, if any and/or do you identify with a particular Christian tradition. Were you drawn to it because of the kind of beliefs you express above, or do your views derive from the teaching of your church/tradition. If you don’t mind me asking.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I’ve actually never addressed that before, nor do I recall anyone asking me. I do belong to a denomination, it is the one I was baptized into as an adult, had my wedding in, served in as a youth leader for 10 years, and I’ve had the same home church within that denomination for the last 16 years. However, I’ve spent the last 6-7 years mostly away from home, and in that time I have tended to take up residence in the city I was living in at churches different from the one I belong to denominationally (and often different… Read more »

Clay Crouch
Guest
Clay Crouch

Jonathan, I find your comments to be as full of grace as they are of thought provoking truths. I am curious if you have ever read Robert Farrar Capon? If not, I believe you would find his book Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus an insightful reflection on God’s use of “left handed power”.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

No, I’m not familiar with him, but I might be able to give it a look sometime.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Thanks. I do understand and respect your reason for not identifying your home church denomination and you did answer my question. The Anabaptist perspective, or something very similar, comes across in your comments here. I can certainly identify with an outlook that incorporates thought from more than one Christian tradition or denomination.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I should be clear that I the Anabaptist points of connection are definitely the result of parallel development rather than any influence. I literally have never been to a mennonite church and didn’t know any mennonites or anyone else like that in my Christian fellowships when I was a baby Christian (one fellowship was Reformed, one was interdenominational). Other than Richard Foster, I think I read my first Anabaptist-tradition authors about five years ago, “Covenant of Peace” by Swartley and “Politics of Jesus” by Yoder. That was after I had already committed fully to the nonviolent perspective myself. And I… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Thank you for such a thorough reply. The reason why I put qualifications on my scenario was so that you would deal directly with the willingness to kill someone rather than consider whether the killing would be counter-productive. That’s why I wanted a situation in which the killing of the SS officer/quisling/whoever would save the children without endangering anyone else. So let’s remove it from Nazi Germany, and make it be children being held hostage by a gunman who is threatening to kill one every hour that his demands are not met. He has already killed the teacher. A sniper… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Thank you for such a thorough reply. And then you let loose too! So much within that, I think I feel a number of essays coming on. The reason why I put qualifications on my scenario was so that you would deal directly with the willingness to kill someone rather than consider whether the killing would be counter-productive. That’s why I wanted a situation in which the killing of the SS officer/quisling/whoever would save the children without endangering anyone else. So let’s remove it from Nazi Germany, and make it be children being held hostage by a gunman who is… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Given that a police officer in that situation would be expected to kill the hostage taker, do you believe that a true follower of Jesus cannot work in that branch of law enforcement? If not, do you believe that a police officer has the moral right to use deadly force to save his own life? If a Christian cop must be willing to let himself be killed rather than shoot a criminal, would this ethically constrain you from calling for police assistance if you needed it? Yes, I believe that someone following Jesus as I read him in the New… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I think it is impossible to use the example of the Danes to prove that nonviolent resistance might have been successful against Hitler throughout occupied Europe. The Danes were a civilized, tolerant people, led by a king who was the first to wear the Jewish star when the Nazis imposed the order. Their clergy and their civic leaders preached the duty of saving their Jewish population. Hannah Arendt writes in “Eichmann in Jerusalem” that there were Nazi officials who backed down when confronted with principled resistance on the part of the Danes. But that is EXACTLY the kind of principled… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

In your earlier post, you seemed to suggest that if the Allies had not honored their treaty obligations to defend Poland, the Holocaust might not have happened. Hitler said to the Reichstag before the outbreak of war: “During the time of my struggle for power it was in the first instance only the Jewish race that received my prophecies with laughter when I said that I would one day take over the leadership of the State, and with it that of the whole nation, and that I would then among other things settle the Jewish problem. Their laughter was uproarious,… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Again, thank you for engaging with me about all this. I wondered how your beliefs shape your views about the criminal justice system. Clearly you must oppose capital punishment, as I do, but do you oppose life sentences for murderers? Do you believe that a Christian with your views can serve on a jury when the death penalty might be a possible outcome? Would you refuse to testify as a witness if your testimony might result in a capital conviction?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I haven’t delved extremely deeply into sentencing reform in prison, outside of a few sub-topics (death penalty, the limited efficacy of longer sentences in reducing crime, and some research on racial disparities in sentencing.) I definitely believe that our prison system is broken, that many of the sentencing decisions that are made and conditions within the jails and prisons are counter-productive for both the inmate and society at large. I have heard that others with a justice/mercy bent have written books on the subject, but I haven’t read them. I can imagine a situation where someone simply needs to be… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

If there has been such a case, I imagine agreements were worked out behind the scenes. I am aware of cases where the victim’s family has asked that the death penalty not be sought and their wishes have been honored. The Unabomber’s brother, who identified him to the authorities as the author of the manifesto, asked that he be spared the death penalty and his request was granted. While I oppose capital punishment, I am not sure that keeping a schizophrenic in Supermax for the rest of his life was necessarily the kinder option. Nor am I really convinced that… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I understand the arguments for the “retributive” as well as the rehabilitative purpose. (And don’t forget the deterrent purpose and the “keeping society safe” purposes too!) I’ve heard arguments for it before by people like Praeger that were fairly convincing. But I’m not sure that I agree that that should be a purpose of the justice system, and for two main reasons. a) I don’t think the government is a very good arbitrator of moral “rights” and “wrongs”. We don’t ask the government to punish adultery, or lying (except under very specific circumstances), or greed, or sloth, or envy, or… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

I too would prefer an emphasis on protection over retribution, as I think that is ultimately the primary (some might say sole) point of government in the first place. I’d make a few observations though. There can be overlap between protection and retribution, to the extent punishment serves as a warning. Think how many speeders slow down when they notice that vehicle parked on the shoulder is a state trooper. I doubt it is because it reminds them to love their neighbor. Government has to be a an arbiter of moral rights and wrongs if it is to function at… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I think that the clearest argument for religious freedom is that in the desire to bring people to faith with a free will. Heavy-handed forcing tends to create either hardened opposition or fake/nominal believers, with not a whole lot of people actively working to build the Kingdom as a result. Jesus made clear that loving one’s neighbor and spreading the good news is not about coercion. The work of changing hearts should be the Spirit, not the sword. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword (and how you gonna enforce a religious ban without threat of… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

There’s a wide space between “heavy handed forcing” and “religious freedom”.

Why should a Christian prince prefer public celebration of false religion to hypocritical, outward conformance to godliness?

Dave W
Guest
Dave W

This is actually a very good question. I guess I would prefer a society which did conform outwardly to godliness, even if hypocritically, since such a society would be more just than one which openly celebrated false religion and whatever other defiance of God. But it seems like many in the church disagree with me here.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Hypocritical pretense of godliness with no inward reality *is* false religion, and it is condemned throughout the Bible.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Because when someone admits they are following something other than the true God, the lines are clearly drawn and true worship and true followers are clear. When conformance is outward and hypocritical, nonbelievers don’t even know who to look to as an example of faith…and believers don’t even know who needs to be brought to faith. The witness of Christians gets tainted by fake, false believers. Even Christian institutions become full of social climbers, power seekers, and others who join the religious hierarchy by default as it is now the only path to power. Look at Russia’s Church, for example,… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

When conformance is outward and hypocritical, nonbelievers don’t even know who to look to as an example of faith…and believers don’t even know who needs to be brought to faith. The witness of Christians gets tainted by fake, false believers. Even Christian institutions become full of social climbers, power seekers, and others Plausible, but this describes the church today. Suppression of public wickedness is of no use in changing the heart, but it’s still the job God has given to rulers and magistrates. Fostering public wickedness isn’t good for the church either. (I’d be interested to hear your objections to… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

And the church has become this way in large part because of the connection between religious power and political/social power that you advocate so strongly. There’s a reason why Obama and Trump both called themselves Christians. It’s because of the exact mechanisms you support. I, honestly, would prefer to live in a world where people who had no more desire than Trump/Obama appear to in growing closer to obedience to Jesus simply didn’t call themselves followers of Jesus. Not that I’m requiring a certain level of works, but at least an orientation, a desire to try and get better. Anyone… Read more »

jsm
Guest
jsm

I appreciate your attempt at giving a biblical argument for religious freedom. I think your point fails where you conflate a government refusing to allow buildings erected for blasphemy with the government coercing people to worship Christ. I see no where in scripture where the magistrate is encouraged to allow the building of centers for idolatry and blasphemy. There is a difference between the government refusing to grant building permits to the building of pagan temples and the government forcing the worship of Christ with the sword. Why should Christians be forced against their consciences to give building permits for… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I don’t see any Christian state in Scripture where the magistrate is encouraged to be the one building religious buildings, full stop. In fact, in the New Testament the Jewish King who builds a monument to God is condemned as a tyrant, his building is destroyed, and Jesus replaces it not with a physical building but himself, and replaces him not with an Earthly king but…himself. Israel can not be used as the instruction for what a Christian government should be. The fact that we are in the New Covenant, NOT the old, is made so abundantly clear in Scripture… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

If such a spirit of oppression was ever unleashed in this nation, Christians would be too busy destroying each other to go after the Muslims and Jews. And if there was ever an edict to shut down synagogues, virtually every Catholic Christian I know would be manning defensive barricades and saying, “Not this time.”

Bdgrrll
Guest
Bdgrrll

It would be to their eternal shame (and judgment) if every Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican Christian would not do the same.

jsm
Guest
jsm

No argument about wall Street. Perhaps you should consider Romans 13 while trying to remain consistent with applying how a government determines what is good.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Perhaps you should consider Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel when considering Romans 13. Throughout Scripture, God ordains pagan governments to exactly the same things he ordains the pagan Roman government to do in Romans 13 – I’m thinking Ezekiel 1-33 (especially, say, 16 or 23 or 29), Jeremiah 1-51 (21 for example), Isaiah 10, Isaiah 45. Habakkuk 1, Micah 6, Amos 7, etc. There you have the Chaldeans, Persians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and other enemies of Israel, just like Rome, being used by God to act out the violent wrath of God to punish disobedience. But in Isaiah 10, Isaiah 14, Jeremiah… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

The fact that we are in the New Covenant, NOT the old, is made so
abundantly clear in Scripture that it boggles my mind we still argue
this

You realise that the Westminster confession (and Pastor Wilson) have much to say about the continuity of the old Israel and the new Israel, I hope? Where do you get the idea that the Resurrection made cutting down Asherah poles and tearing down the altars of Baal inappropriate?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Jesus quite explicitly transformed all the symbolic fights of the old covenant. He declared the JEWISH temple would be torn down, and replaced with his own body. He made clear that the sabbath laws were no longer binding, and had been replaced with obedience to His authority. He showed that the people of Israel were no longer a limited set and that access to God no longer came only through the Jews, but that God had torn down the separating walls to open faith to all peoples. He showed that the land of Israel was no longer a special domain,… Read more »

Bdgrrll
Guest
Bdgrrll

The Westminster Confession is the Confession for only a small proportion of Christians in this nation. What gives you the right to speak for all Christians: other Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodoxy?

ashv
Guest
ashv

If it was good enough for Stonewall Jackson, it’s good enough for me.

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

Yep, the powers that be would never allow intentional Christian communities. Better to continue the “If you can’t beat em, join em” strategy of becoming Janissaries of progressivism. A real pitched battle against anyone less progressive than yourself but especially white Trump rubes. Franklin Graham said Christians and Muslims don’t worship the same god, get him boys.

ashv
Guest
ashv

Maybe he should have titled the book “The Waco Option”?

(welcome back, we’ve missed you)

heymike3
Guest
heymike3

At what point does the fact that atheism is a contradiction so easy to understand that it destroys the secularism and agnosticism of this day?

heymike3
Guest
heymike3

A fact as plain as whether these two sets of numbers are determined differently or the same:

1,2,3…
…3,2,1

What becomes of our culture when this is published in the NY Times? Not that I seriously expect that, but as an excercise in creative thinking, what would happen to our secular universities and progressive institutions if this were to find its way out of the box?

heymike3
Guest
heymike3

Those sets of numbers were put forward in a discussion I was having with a noted individual in the field who thought it was logically possible to have an infinite set of past events. I never got a response as the answer is rather self-evident. What remains open to speculation is whether the first cause is aware of its action or not. A question that would be well placed in the the tail pipe of atheist dogma.

Jon Swerens
Member

ADMINS: You need to figure out how to stop the videos from autoplaying in the RELATED POSTS section. Wow, it took me a lo-o-o-o-ong time to find that “Click to Convict” thumbnail video that was playing through my speakers.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Seconded. I was scared and confused.

lndighost
Member

I’d be interested to see (from a distance initially) a coalition government headed by Jonathan and ashv.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Yikes!

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I’m pretty sure I would either be impeached or die under mysterious circumstances fairly quickly if I were to head any government of significant size. But, personally, I would refuse to seek any position of political power due to Matthew 20:20-28 and many similar passages, along with the general thrust of Jesus’s teachings and ministry. One thing I appreciate about this blog though, and one of the reason I bother commenting here at all (along with the fact I was born in Moscow and my relationship to the Reformed Church), is that several people here really do believe that their… Read more »

lndighost
Member

Yes, even most of the heated discussions here happen precisely because of all the common ground, and I do find many of them edifying. On the whole I’m inclined to view modern politics as a worldly beast that Christians shouldn’t bother with too much, being part of the Kingdom that is not of this world. Getting into politics seems like playing the world’s game. But this position (in me, at least) can tend toward apathy and a ‘live and let live’ approach that would make small talk over the fence to all our pagan neighbours until they die and go… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

“On the whole I’m inclined to view modern politics as a worldly beast that Christians shouldn’t bother with too much, being part of the Kingdom that is not of this world.” I like the way you qualify that, and it is a reasonable position, whether it is precisely mine or not. In what directions and how far would you take non-participation? For example, do you vote? Would you hold elective office? Work in the public sector? Not arguing here, just wondering how much is “too much” and how much of it has to do with *modern* politics, as opposed to… Read more »

lndighost
Member

Fair enough, we can take out the ‘modern’. That was a sloppy word choice on my part. My position can be sung as follows: Put no confidence in princes Nor on man for help depend. He shall die, to dust returning And his purposes shall end. So, I vote with a sigh and pray that God uses whatever bunch of clowns ends up in Parliament to His good purpose. In principle I have no problem with Christians holding elective office but in practice I’d be suspicious of how they got there. I’d certainly work in the public sector, in any… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Me too. I have dealt with a lot of wonderful and saintly people who couldn’t manage the church’s coffee fund without the accounts becoming hopelessly muddled. Or, I think about Ireland’s handing over all its orphans to the nuns and brothers, and how dreadfully that turned out. Or Canada’s church-run schools for aboriginal children where they were underfed and abused. So I do feel skeptical. Do you live in Auckland, Indigo? My dear sister went to NZ as an exchange teacher in the 1960s, taught in Auckland, and married a New Zealander. They ended up living in the US, but… Read more »

lndighost
Member

Before we even got to the threat of mismanagement, there would be the issue of funding. It’s one thing for the government to demand a third of my income. It doesn’t need to care whether I’m paying my taxes ‘from the heart’. But the church would be faced with either imposing a compulsory levy, or having not enough money to care for the needy on a large scale. Unfortunately, a joyfully given tithe from every member of the congregation can’t be counted on. Maybe a good place to start would be to keep everything local, each congregation seeking out the… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

On the whole I’m inclined to view modern politics as a worldly beast that Christians shouldn’t bother with too much, being part of the Kingdom that is not of this world. Getting into politics seems like playing the world’s game. There’s a lot of good in that position. Overall I think it should be rulers’ jobs to care about affairs of government, ministers of the gospel should preach to them about how God expects them to rule with justice and mercy, and the rest of us should tend to our own business. Unfortunately the American system has politicised everything everywhere,… Read more »

ashv
Guest
ashv

Well, it wouldn’t be boring.