Jeff Sessions and Romans 13

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2018 by jcwill5

It’s been several days since the “zero tolerance” policy of the Trump administration on immigrant families has come to light.

And the fact that 2,000 children are now in detention.

At the very same time, an address to a church given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions justifying this policy and using Romans 13 to do it has come to light as well.

Some Caveats

My goal is not a defend or attack the policy itself.

You can read arguments against the policy here.

And a clarification of the policy and a defense of it here.

My goal, instead, is to examine how the Bible was used to justify the policy.

Let me say right up front that an uncut, unedited, full copy of the entire address is hard to find.

So let me share a link to CNN’s Facebook page video of it here

With that said and done, let me make some observations.

Foolish Talk

First, much like the Southern Baptist Convention leaders did last week, Sessions fails to understand the reality of the 24-7 nature of Internet news.

He’s speaking as if in a closed setting, as an insider to fellow insiders, and fails to add “and to the whole world” to his filter.

However convincing his address might have been to the already convinced, and whatever level of Scriptural knowledge and interpretive wisdom his audience might be used to, it was not convincing nor did it do interpretative justice to the passage at a world-wide level.

To quote the book of Proverbs, “when words are multiplied, transgression is unavoidable.”

All Speeches Are World-Wide

There is no truly closed setting anymore.

In a world where everyone has a cell phone with a video-capable camera, in a world where the prestige of being televised and/or recorded is no longer prestigious or safe, one cannot be too careful or too wise with one’s public words.

What is whispered in the inner rooms is now proclaimed upon the housetops.

Things in the house will never stay in the house.

It would have been better to say nothing at all in any public setting than to give this weak, self-justifying, address to the already convinced.

Ideological Bible Abuse

Second, and far more important than the folly of words, is how the Bible has been used here.

So I’ll just say it:  anytime we come to the Bible looking to justify or validate any of our modern political ideologies–Right or Left–we are on dangerous ground.

What Jeff Sessions does is take his big political idea, “Law and Order”, and use a verse in the Bible to validate it.

An article from the Gospel Coalition discusses this bible misuse issue at more depth and can be read here.

To be sure, the Bible does indeed identify sin as “lawlessness” and does strongly affirm the God-ordained blessing of good government over chaos and anarchy.

But it does not teach the Law-and-Order ideology, or blind obedience to the State, or, to be fair, a pro-immigrant ideology, either.

The True Purpose of Romans 13

The New Testament letters (like Romans) were written to small groups of people who were part of a suspect religious minority.

They were strongly out of favor with the Roman imperial and regional authorities and were subject to persecution anytime, anywhere.

Paul and Peter and James and John and Luke has this one agenda in mind:  keep the worship and the message of Jesus Christ as the one and only bone of contention with the governing authorities.

Let there be no other causes or distractions from the Chief and Supreme Cause.

In all other matters therefore be model citizens and peaceable neighbors and outstanding workers and loving families as those animated by Christ.

Foment no civil rebellions, start no slave uprisings, break up no families, undermine no marriages, and don’t give the Roman State any pretext to wage war against the Church.

Let any and all civil disobedience by about loyalty to Christ and His supremacy over us instead of the State’s, is the idea.

Not Written to Defend Abuses of Power

But what we’re talking about here is a potentially grave abuse of governing power and the shallow use/misuse of the Bible to defend it.

And this is where Jeff Sessions has revealed a one-dimensional view and usage of the Bible.

To use a principle taught by Jesus, man was not made for laws and governments, but laws and governments were made for man.

Law and Order-ism is not the same as biblical Christianity, and biblical Christianity does not exist to service the ideology of Law-and Order-ism.

In fact, the teachings of the Bible, which tout both the supremacy of Christ and celebrate His hold over the hearts of His people, scares and infuriates abusers, bullies, tyrants, ideologues, and dictators.

Argue if you will for or against this policy, but, for the sake of Christ, let’s cease quoting shallow proof texts to justify or attack it!

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Mike Pence and the SBC

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2018 by jcwill5

Two days ago, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, TX.

Predictable Reactions

You can guess the two main reactions to this happening:

Joy and thunderous applause by the majority of the delegates.

Dismay and deep concern by many on the sidelines and looking in from the outside.

The Religion editor of CNN, Daniel Burke, sums up the latter viewpoint here.

Jonathan Leeman of the Gospel Coalition goes so far as to say politicians should be in the pews not the pulpit.  Read about it here.

And Thomas Kidd helpfully reminds us that political addresses to denominations and to the SBC is not a new practice but goes back many decades.

So what are we to make of all this?

First, I want to ask some hard questions of all sides.

For the No-Trump Conservative Evangelicals

To those like myself who have misgivings and who are biblically conservative, but non-Trump, non-God and country Evangelicals:

Can I accept the reality that many of my brethren, especially in the South, really do hold to a “God and Country” viewpoint?

However counterproductive and wrong I might think that agenda is, will I allow my brothers and sisters the freedom to sincerely disagree with me and believe their agenda is the best way to go for the church and for the nation?

In other words, having had bad experiences with stubborn traditionalists and a toxic kind of fortress Christianity, can I give them any grace and accept them to the glory of God?

Must I compulsively monitor them, challenge them, criticize them, and judge them for making my own work in the Pacific NW more difficult?

Is is about the damage they might be doing to the cause of Christ or more about how they are a personal embarrassment to me?

For the Anti-Trump Progressives

To those Evangelicals on the progressive side of politics:

Many of the same questions–is it about your personal embarrassment?  will you allow for genuine freedom and principled disagreement?  will you extend grace and show acceptance?

Is their viewpoint and their voting and their God and country traditionalist advocacy and their support for Donald Trump like salt on your own wounded political pride?

Having felt judged and opposed by them, are you repaying evil for evil and guilty of the very same intolerance you decry in them?

Does your compulsive need to shame and disagree with them say more about them, or about the state of your own soul?

Is your need to win politically so important to you that you’ve disowned, disassociated yourself, and personally despised a wide group of your brothers and sisters in Christ?

For the Pro-Trump God and Country Evangelicals

Flip the question–is your need to win politically so important to you that you’d compromise the gospel message, bring in political gods to worship, and support evil characters and get into bed with wickedness?

Have you no empathy for those damaged by the God and Country agenda?

Have you no compassion for those most wounded by Donald Trump’s insults and antics?

Have you no understanding of the additional (and unnecessary) difficulties you are inflicting and the walls you are building for those of us trying to reach people for Christ in places like the Pacific NW or New England?

Do you not understand that anything and everything you say and do inside your churches and your convention is now beamed in real time to the entire world?

Do you still not get the Internet and the changed nature of communication?

Do you have nobody in your life outside of your bubble who will tell you the unpleasant realities and increasing long-term costs of your views?

Nobody Comes Off Well

The truth in all this is nobody–God and Country people, non-Trump Evangelicals, Progressives, etc.–has come off particularly well.

We are all far more political than we should be and far less Kingdom of God than we should be.

We all have hidden political idols lurking in our hearts, and it’s in provoking each other politically that these idols have all come out of the closet for all the world to see.

Repentance of corporate sin, heartbreak over the damage we’ve done, and personal brokenness before God are still far too rare among us.

We’d all rather be right than honest, would rather judge others than confess our own sins, would rather blame the other guy’s politics than face the abuses our own group has committed.

And unless this stronghold of wounded political pride is broken, I fear we will keep cycling through these battles when in and out of power to the destruction of our collective witness.

Narcissism U.S.A.

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2018 by jcwill5

Everyone has a chronic problem with selfishness.

And everyone has a fallen ego, a little inner radio station broadcasting the slogan, “all me, all the time!”

It’s a pretty safe bet that, to one degree or another, the question “What’s in it for me?” is a larger part of our decision-making than we care to admit.

The Strange World of Narcissism

Narcissism, however, is more than just selfishness gone wild.

It’s a condition where one is totally lacking in empathy–whether born without it or raised in an environment that destroyed it.

Narcissists have no capacity to factor in the feelings, ideas, and thoughts of other people into their equations.

So they put their own ideas, thoughts, views, and feelings into all others and interpret them by their own selves.

This is what is known as “projection” in counseling circles.

They project themselves onto and into all others, and conclude, “If I’m OK with it, they’re OK with it.” and “If I see it that way, everyone sees it that way.”

And, sadly, there’s something about this society at this time and this place that is swelling the ranks of narcissists.

The Need to Punish and Control

And when others almost always see it differently, respond differently, and, horror of horrors, disagree with them or don’t do as they wish, narcissists will punish them.

Then the narcissist speaks and reacts out of this weird kind of outrage, and reveal their true selves to the world.

Whatever they accuse others of thinking, feeling, or acting, is exactly how they think, feel, and act!

They are punitive because their chief fear is losing control in a way that makes them look bad in their own eyes, and therefore to the whole world.

They must always be right and they must always look good–or the world ends.

And because they are so unpredictable and so punitive and so utterly convinced and convincing of their views, people fear them, avoid disagreeing with them or voicing an opinion different than theirs, and begin to question what their own eyes and ears are telling them.

Abuses of Power

So there’s this weird loyalty to them even as they are so nasty to those around them.

It’s why a disproportionate amount of wife-beaters, child abusers, etc. are narcissists.

It’s also why politics and political power holds such an attraction for narcissists–it’s a way of bringing the entire world under control and controlling how all others view them.

And why trolling opponents and engaging in furious social media arguments are irresistible for them.

Having read about our president’s conduct at the G-7 meeting, and specifically about his anger towards Canada’s Justin Trudeau for voicing a different understanding than his about the final statement, I thought, “this is a classic narcissist play!”

And when I look at the most furious and obsessive reactions to our president, especially those of narcissistic leftist celebrities, it’s a case of each narcissist bringing out the narcissism in the other.

The politics may be opposite, but the pattern is exactly the same.

Wise Ways to Counter Narcissism

So what’s to be done?

How would I counsel both foreign leaders dealing with our president and ordinary Americans chagrined and grieved by his strange reactions and tweets?

How would I counsel people being bullied by fanatical leftist narcissists on campus and elsewhere?

How would I counsel people dealing with narcissistic members or leaders within their organization?

First, remain calm and see through narcissism for what it is:  an emotional disability and soul sickness.

When I’ve dealt with narcissists in various churches, the calmer and more serene I was in the face of their accusations and power plays, they more frenzied they became and the more out of control their emotions became.

Remaining calm and cheerful, and, above all, not reacting to their reactions undercuts their power and takes all the joy out of their manipulations.

This and calmly and repeatedly saying “no” to their agendas with a smile takes all the fun out of their attempts to be powerful and in control.

You just repeat yourself over and over in your non-cooperative stance no matter how extreme their accusations and arguments become.

The Prevailing Power of Patience

Instead of being afraid of them and giving them more and more attention, one moves forward and, in effect, makes them irrelevant and powerless.

What happened at my churches was this:  as the contrast between my calmness and sanity and their increasing reactivity and insanity became greater and greater, even those who at first thought that I was the problem began to see that the narcissist was the true problem.

And as I simply continued month after month moving forward, their interest in me and the organization waned.

The narcissist lost their audience and their credibility, and so they left the church and sought out another group where they could ply their trade upon the ignorant.

Impatience and a need for constant approval and importance is their undoing.

Smiling, non-reactive patience, calm refusal to cooperate with it or dance to its tune, and simply outlasting narcissism, ultimately, is what defeats it.

However, if one is married to and/or has a child with a narcissist, realizing they will never change and removing oneself from their physical control is a critical first step.

And professional counselling will be needed to regain one’s own voice and perspective, separate oneself from the narcissist’s version of reality, and obtain emotional freedom from them after physically leaving them.

Then implement the above plan for a long, long time.

There is a solution.

The Social Breakdown of the West

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture on June 8, 2018 by jcwill5

It’s difficult to understand people whose life is so different than ours.

And it’s easy to condemn them, too.

Especially when a society is divided in two.

Especially when dominance and control have been chosen over persuasion and compromise.

Especially when narcissism and me-ism is entrenched, and when empathy and humility are rare.

The Polarized West

But what I find fascinating is how this polarization isn’t just an American phenomenon, it’s afflicting almost all Western Democracies right now.

We live in a time when the digital/technological revolution has brought rapid change.

Where the world has been interconnected through free trade, where people are physically isolated but virtually connected, and where automation and global competition have taken heavy tolls on those who work with their hands in formerly prosperous industrial careers.

In other words, there’s one group who have disproportionately enjoyed the benefits of the revolution.

And one group that has borne the disproportionate cost of it as well.

Everywhere vs. Somewhere

Someone in post-Brexit Britain put it like this, “the world is divided between those who belong everywhere and those who belong somewhere.”

Citizens of Europe vs. citizens of England.

Or globalized urban tech workers vs. displaced rural workers in resource industries in the United States.

The former have benefited from seamless borders, globalized trade, and shared ideas across cultures.

The later feel like their lives have been made a living hell by these urban, globalized, faith-rejecting elites.

So, all over the world, populists have arisen to upset the apple cart and restore hard borders, renegotiate or end global trade deals, and celebrate traditional religious morals and restore past better eras.

And this has distressed and infuriated those who see themselves as world citizens, as post-religious and post-nation people, as boundary pushing progressives, etc.

Bitter Divisions

Neither side has much empathy for the other, and both sides have little charity or patience with the other.

They view each other as cultural foreigners, as bad groups to be defeated, as existential threats to their own continued existence or prosperity.

If this kind of thing was happening only in the United States, it would say our problems are caused by one or another group of Americans.

But since polarization and populism is found all over the world at precisely the same time, it suggests a global problem.

It suggests that Western societies have mistaken prosperity for flourishing, and have failed to both comprehend and adjust their policies to help those who have been hurt most by globalization, automation, and the imposition of urban values, morals, and economics upon them.

Out of Touch Elites

In other words, because policy-makers and governing elites live in high-tech, globalized urban centers, they have mistakenly thought the picture they see before them is the whole picture.

The people who live far from them, and their terrible struggles, are unreal to them and don’t exist in their mind.

And that has been reflected in their decision-making, their trade deals, their loose immigration approach, and their governing agenda these last forty years.

And those who have been disregarded and not listened to are grabbing a megaphone and shouting in fury and voting for populists.

And still they are not understood, treasured, and taken into consideration but only seen as some kind of destructive force.

When the truth is this:  if given no answers, people will choose the wrong answers over no answers at all every single time.

If given a choice between no dignity at all and the illusion of dignity, they will choose the illusion and those who promise it to them.

If given a choice between protecting the nation they used to know, and wide open borders and multiculturalism, they’ll choose to shut the borders and wave the flag.

They will choose Brexit and Donald Trump and the Five Star movement of Italy and the Alternative for Germany and the Austrian Freedom Party, etc.

Sadly, the populists will continue to do quite well because the urban elites show nothing but contempt and still fail to connect the dots between their own out-of-touch narcissism and the furious reaction that has arisen.

The Way Back…And Forward

So what can be done?

“Much!”, I thankful to answer.

Is it too late?

“Not at all!”

First, the mainstream political parties and their leaders can make a profound, sustained, and heartfelt apology for their tone-deafness and contempt towards groups most hurt by globalization.

“We failed to listen to you.  We only cared about you when we wanted your vote.  We lied to you.  Our policies have deeply hurt you.  We have destroyed your way of life.  We have shown you contempt instead of compassion.”

“You are right.  You have every right to be angry with us.   We don’t deserve your trust.  We don’t really know how to help you.   We need your advice.”

Radical Honesty and Self-Sacrifice

Second, they can be honest about no easy answers and the great amount of cost it will take to correct the imbalance.

“It took us forty years to get here, and it’s going to take a long time to remedy the harm we’ve done you.”

“We urban people are willing to tax ourselves heavily for a long time to help you out and restore your lost dignity and provide a new, viable economic way of life for you.”

“We will cease imposing our morals and our views on you, and let you practice your religion in peace and stop denigrating your values.”

“Before we enter any new trade agreements or pursue progressive social agendas, we will consult with you and, rather than hurting you more, will not do them.”

Then keep these promises and win back their trust so their alienation ends and their re-integration back into society fully happens.

Do these things and the populists will lose their hold and the building crew can take over for the wrecking crew now at work.

Society will be re-bonded and re-unified.

There is a solution.

The Choice to Remember

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2018 by jcwill5

Life involves both remembering and forgetting.

Some things are best forgotten.

Some things ought never to be forgotten.

Memorial Day challenges us on both counts.

The Difficulties of Remembering

Forgetting is usually easy, remembering takes hard work.

Unless it involves trauma.

It can be hard because there are some things we’d rather forget but, instead, find ourselves haunted and scarred and tormented by these memories.

These nightmares remain with us despite all efforts to numb the pain.

Forgetfulness, on the other hand, works silently and all too well.

Remembering is hard precisely because, however precious, our good remembrances get buried under a constant stream of current memories until they lie many layers underneath.

So the challenge isn’t whether or not to remember, but which things are best forgotten and which things are best retained.

It’s why we all struggle with both the failure to forget, and the failure to remember.

Concerted Effort Needed

Forgetting just happens and gets worse and worse with time.

Remembering requires the cultivation of a habit, the purposeful keeping alive of associations and images in order to retain them.

It recognizes that, given enough time, even those faces most precious to us will be forgotten because we can never pass along all our memories to our children.

My parents are much more real to me than my grandparents, and, as a child born to parents in their mid-thirties who moved us to the opposite coast, I have have few memories at my parents’ parents.

Remembering is an act that fights against the passage of time,  the passing of generations, and the erasure of memories.

It requires a daily choice to remember to the point of being unforgotten.

The Cost of Forgetting

Forgetting robs us of lessons learned, of faces treasured, of good events that mark us.

Forgetting also can be blessed amnesia for past horrors, a reducer of the intensity of the traumas of the past and painful incidents that also mark us.

Remembering, on the other hand, allows us to keep fresh the people that we ought never to lose sight of because we love them.

It allows us to cherish those who didn’t return from war, to recall past worthy causes and necessary conflicts for which they gave their lives.

Like those who fell in battle in wars long over and who left a huge gap behind.

It is why we have Memorial Day.

The Healing Power of Remembering

Two incidents come to mind.

The first happened at one of the last soldiers’ reunions at Gettysburg in the 1920’s.

The men in blue and the men in gray reenacted Pickett’s Charge one last time.

The old men from the South slowly made their way across the killing fields to the same stone fences where so many of them died, manned by their fellow elders from the North.

But when they got there after letting out a few Rebel yells, a strange thing happened.

The men in Blue made their way somehow over the fence, hobbled over to them, and embraced them.

There they wept on each other’s shoulders.

Their “fraternity of memory” had erased all hostility and transformed these soldiers into brothers–leaving nothing but love for their fellow Americans and the shared memory of an event that shaped all their remaining lives.

The same thing happened in the 1980’s on a lonely Pacific Island between aged American and Japanese soldiers.

The lifelong emotional and physical battle scars of war united the former enemies, and  the power of shared memories proved greater in the end than the causes of their youth.

Permission to Remember

So go ahead and remember lost loved ones–both those lost to war and those taken by old age, disease, or accident.

Remember them.

Let the tears, and the smiles and fond memories, freely come.

Tell stories about them to the children in your life.

Let space they left behind simply be there–acknowledged and grieved, but also treasured and enjoyed.

Remember that even Christ says, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

It’s hard to believe we who know Him would ever forget Him–but we do that, too.

Don’t forget them.  Don’t forget Him.

Remember.

The Information Duopoly

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2018 by jcwill5

Who knows everything about us?

Who controls the images we see or don’t see, the information we read or don’t read, or what we find or don’t find in searches?

In Russia and other authoritarian regimes, the government manipulates all this to gain and keep power.

It’s not a mystery in those places who’s doing it.

Who Controls What We Know

But what about here and now in the United States?

We Americans have always prided ourselves on our free access to unfiltered information available from many independent sources.

Free journalism has been the companion of free enterprise and democracy, serving as a bulwark against outside interferance and internal corruptions.

The wide availability and independence of information has been a check and balance against many evils.

It’s given us tools to prevent and then fight against who would hide the truth or practice deception for their own nefarious agendas.

The New Gate-Keepers

With the rise of social media and the giant companies that own them, the power to determine what we see or not see is now in the hand of a very few decision-makers.

We recently saw how, through use of paid advertising and bots, foreign governments are using Facebook all over the world to influence opinions in their favor or sow division in their enemies.

But if you don’t pay them and only use these online services, you have no influence.

It’s a silent, creeping change as Americans move away from printed information to digital information.

Before we had to work to find our information and insure it was reliable.

Now we are bombarded by information from too many sources to check and it’s the gate-keepers of information who have the power of access.

Yes, I’m talking about Facebook and Google.

Silent Censorship and Coercive Practices

Recently, the founder of one of my favorite parody sites, The Babylon Bee, revealed why he had sold his interests on this popular FB group.

In short, he revealed that there is a silent, active campaign to favor some viewpoints and voices over others.  You can read his specific concerns here.

And when I read it, I realized that an unelected, unaccountable, and tiny group of techno-elites is in control of our digital content and social media sources.

Had they been open about their power, I would have found their agenda wrong but credited them for honesty.

But the fact they had this power and were using it behind the scenes in the internal workings of their policies and algorithms–but presenting themselves to the world as open, free, and allies of the free dissemination of information is too much to bear.

Weirdly, disturbingly, it many not be the national security agencies we need to fear the most but this private duopoly that has no checks and balances on their great power.

Yes, I enjoy Facebook and Google.

Yes, many of their features and services, particularly Google, have synced well with how I think and work and made my online productivity far more of a pleasure.

I’m a fan.

Time to Meet the Wizard

But it’s time for “the man behind the curtain” to come out and come clean about how they practice content control, control access to information, and practice viewpoint favoritism behind the scenes in their advertising policies, their filtering of searches, etc.

If former owner Adam Ford of the Babylon Bee says there’s a silent, grave problem in these areas, I believe him.

So my questions to him and all others are these:

What can be done?

What should be done?

Can anything at this point be done?

Or is it too late and nobody can foresee in our lifetimes how to break the power of this information duopoly?

Frayed Ties

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2018 by jcwill5

Our little community, McMinnville Oregon, has been a vibrant and collaborative hub for churches, non-profits, and various government agencies working for the common good over a long, long time.

Until recently.

Languishing Unity

Attendance in our unifying groups is at historic lows.

In some cases, a change of leadership and/or longtime communication people has caused disruption.

In other cases, turnover has replaced committed participants with newcomers that don’t understand the value of these regular ties of relationship.

But there’s something else going on.

Suspicion and lingering bitterness from the recent presidential election has taken a toll.

Groups and leaders are more polarized, less willing to spend time outside of their silos, and more tempted to break connection with those who “might be” somehow associated or identified with “the other side”.

On the one hand, formerly partnering conservative evangelicals have grown more focused and quietly absorbed with their own affairs.

On the other hand, I get the distinct impression that partnering progressive evangelicals and outright liberals have broken ties out of conviction.

Broken Ties

Although the events of Washington, D.C. are rather remote from us, there seems to be a tickle down effect that’s now at work here locally.

Our relationships and ties have become rather frayed and, possibly, cut.

The common good we might have done together is going undone and non-participation is becoming an entrenched habit.

Now of course I have my own convictions on things like gay marriage, the place of politics in general, and biblical morality in particular.

And I’ve never been shy about articulating these convictions while, at the same time, seeking to show grace and give grace to those with opposite views.

I’ve sought to keep the bigger, long-range picture in mind.

One does not need to have absolute agreement on all things in order to do some badly needed good at a local level.

While, of course, maintaining one’s own identity and core convictions which, in my case, are devoutly Christian and joyously biblical.

The New Militancy

Yet I’ve also noticed a new realignment of congregations here in our county.

Even famously peace-loving groups like Mennonites and Quakers have had divisions and wholesale parting of the ways over the acceptance of gay marriage and lifestyle vs. the upholding the historic and clear teaching of the Bible on sexual morality.

And I’m noticing a steady group of refugees showing up at my church’s front door that have found themselves totally out of step with their now far more militantly progressive fellowship.

And both gay marriage and fury at Donald Trump seem to be the drivers behind this new militancy and intolerance.

What abortion on demand was in the  1970’s and 1980’s–the cultural dividing line and driver of a great many Mainline Protestants out of their pro-choice liberal denominations, gay marriage and resistance to Donald Trump is the driver now.

Except this time, instead of forming new groups for conservative believers, people are segregating and separating into already existing groups of one persuasion or another.

What About Him?

Which begs the question:   what about the long-term best interests of all?

And, far more importantly:  what about the best interests of the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ?

Does Jesus exist merely to promote and further political conservatism or political progressivism?

Or does He have decided views of His own, a distinct agenda of His own, and will be used by no human person or group for their own ends?

If our ideological progressivism or conservatism trumps all else, is that not a clear sign of idolatry?

Would we not expect that, to a great degree, He will require things of us that are at variance with any human ideology or political agenda?

Backtracking From Idolatry

So I’ll just say it, the Christian God is enigmatic and utterly unique.

He defies our tiny and petty categories and fits easily in none of our boxes.

His Christ-governed followers will not therefore easily fit into neat, tidy ideological categories.

We will be mavericks and misaligned with all the reigning idolatries of our time, out of joyous alignment with Him in His utter uniqueness.

Therefore, it should make us suspicious when our conception of Him fits perfectly with our own cherished ideas and pet views.

We should begin to have serious doubts if all our church has become is the Republican party or the Democratic party on its knees.

We should begin to openly wonder if we love our conservatism or our progressivism more than Him, and repent of our idolatry.

And we should definitely begin to do a serious self-examination under God if politics becomes the determining test of fellowship and sole marker of association.

Instead, He invites us to die to self and be crucified to the world system–including its politics and power.

Which frees us to serve our fellow creatures out of saving grace and a selfless desire to promote our common welfare–showing by our good works who He really is!

And, from His point of view, that’s the point of it all.