Many of us would be much wiser and happier if we took some of the time we spend on social media and reinvested it in more Bible reading, prayer, reading substantial books, and doing works of service for the good of others.
From my early days as a Christian it made sense to me that the Bible has something to say to all of life. The Bible is certainly not a spiritual cookbook. It is not always straightforward how one should arrive at one’s decision. The book of Proverbs, and the whole wisdom tradition, showcase this sort of nimble discernment. Christians disagree over the proper interpretation and/or implications of the Bible. And those are Christians who agree on the binding authority of the Scriptures!
I continue to believe that is problematic to have Christians who rationalize or diminish the president’s rhetoric. That said, I Tim. 2:1,2 is a significant influence on how (at the present) I will vote. My vote is very much influenced by the person and party I believe that best protects religious liberty.
Some of my friends tell me that they have lost friends over so-called political differences. I say so-called because most of us use that word “politics” in a diminished, and so unhelpful, way.
Politics comes from the word polis which means city. The original meaning carried the idea of what good I should do for my community. The modern idea of politics has denigrated as a synonym that means simply advocating for one candidate over another. We certainly ought to be able to talk about who we are voting for and why without animus, but there is so much more we ought to first talk about.
It would be more productive if we first spent ample time pondering what good we ought to do for our community, then, and only then, moved to specific candidates. Jumping too quickly over the first makes for either nasty conversations or people steering clear of talking about controversial matters altogether.
There is a better option. Engage thoughtfully, challenge your own assumptions, and have conversation partners outside your own tribe. Don’t exclusively watch CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. Read widely, including those who make you angry. They just might have something to offer that your own tribe is either blind to or unwilling to say.
Thank you for the many kindnesses you showed me (and Doreen) during our time (90-92) at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Your recommendation that I receive the award for the best thesis on a theological subject encouraged me in my writing.
Your recommendation that I publish my thesis with the same publisher that did your Cambridge dissertation was also a wonderful blessing. And thanks for writing the foreword.
Your approaching me to serve as executive director of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood surprised and humbled me. I am the furthest thing from a one issue guy, so it was easy to turn down, but it was an honor to be asked.
And I will never forget that you regularly supplied us with doughnuts at your advisee meetings!
I read your Town Hall piece. Allow me to offer a few areas I wished you had addressed.
Nothing is mentioned about the founding fathers on the needed character to govern. For many years, the founding fathers were invoked by us conservatives, but then we slowly gave up their counsel because of Reagan’s divorce, Newt’s ruthlessness, etc. Realpolitik grabbed the imagination of many conservatives, so we got more “realistic” about the limits of purity in our governing philosophy. The political machinations of bad boys like Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich turned Republican politics into a blood sport. Yes, it is played that way on the other side of the aisle as well. Some would say the Democratic party plays it better. Since most of the people I speak with are on the conservative side of the ledger, I will keep my concerns focused there. I still think Madison and other founding fathers should instruct us on character. I find it telling that the counsel of those folks has faded into the political ether.
You mentioned the illiberalism of the left. I agree. In the 1980s, I spoke on the free speech platforms at both Stanford University and Cal/Berkeley. I wonder what that experience would be like today, so I understand your concern. Unfortunately, you left out that freedom of speech is not just stifled by those on the left. It also gets stifled at bastions of not just conservatism, but Christianity, like Liberty University.
I wish there were more conservatives like Robert George of Princeton. He, as you well know, is close friends with Cornel West. They do not agree on many things, yet they truly seek to learn from one another. Trump, and many who follow him, find Professor George’s model quaint and impractical. Again, realpolitik rears its head above such idealism.
My biggest concern is one I have not heard mentioned by any who support Trump, even by those who say he is the better option of the “lesser of two evils” gambit.
What about the confusion Trump creates over the gospel? Christians who say Trump is the “lesser of two evils” seem to forget the integrity of the church and gospel. I was surprised you did not mention anything on this topic.
Here’s a diagnostic of sorts: Which candidate brings the most confusion to the gospel and hurts the integrity of the church? I would argue, and believe it is easy to do, that Trump does. The Democratic party has little use for evangelicals so no confusion to the gospel occurs. But a candidate who has health-wealth preachers and other Christians supporting him no matter what, certainly does untold damage. And that damage does not go away once Trump is out of office.
The church in America has lost much integrity in supporting Trump. You mentioned Trump’s unsavory character which is a proper thing to do. I am afraid your concerns over his character got drowned out when you so quickly pivot to how great Trump’s policies have been. In other words, your concerns over Trump’s character come across tepid and they lack the penetration of the prophet that is so sorely needed.
There are several other things I keep hoping to hear from Christians, but sadly I keep hearing lots of crickets. For example, three times Jeremiah says that Nebuchadezzar was “God’s servant.” If God is still in charge with the likes of Nebuchadnezzar, should we really have a Chicken Little posture as we contemplate someone from the Democratic party being in office?
I did not vote in the last election. My reasons for doing so are too long to mention here, but a scholar of James Madison’s political philosophy said Madison would have supported my right to do so. Three months out from the upcoming election, I continue to think (and pray) about how I should vote this November. And rest assured, my vote will not be for Joe Biden.
No matter what happens I would like to hear more Trump supporters, especially the Christian ones, say he is unfit for the presidency, even though they are glad for his policies. Saying Trump is less than perfect is hardly the same as saying he is unfit to govern.
[One factual error in your piece: Schlafly did an MA at Radcliffe, but her JD was from Washington University not Harvard.]
Your Former Student,
David (George) Moore
Ken Burns takes a break from recounting Hornsby’s statistical brilliance — the three seasons he batted over .400, the two MVP awards, the second-highest lifetime batting average, etc. — to tell us a story about an umpire’s wit. This is the charm of Burns’s 1994 documentary series Baseball. The viewer is regaled for more than 18 hours with not only box scores and controversy but also the quips of those who populated the game. But a funny thing happens midway through the last two-hour episode, which covers the game from the ‘70s to the ‘90s: The wit disappears. It happened right as we stopped referring to teams as ball clubs and started calling them “organizations” and brands.
There are many reasons I am not a Roman Catholic, but one certainly is the pervasive, historic, and systemic secrecy. Many examples could be offered. For example, the secrecy of the curia coupled with the condescending clericalism I’ve seen firsthand from priests in spite of what Vatican II says about learning from the laity are just a few.
It stretches credulity to think the Roman Catholic church can properly handle such things given its long and problematic history.
And for the record, I taught in Poland and know many dynamic Christians who are in the Roman Catholic church. I just think the overall system is badly broken, but lacks the proper theology in doctrine, leadership, and praxis to make things right.