27 November 2007

Religion and politics

by Dan Phillips

Ah, yes: the perennial Terrible Two Topics. While there is much to say on the twain, I shall only say a jot or two today.

Religion is stacking up to be quite the topic during this election cycle. When questioners bring up the matter of religion, or try to pursue it very far, one of the common preferred responses is, "My religion is very private. I keep it separate from my politics. My religion will not influence me one way or the other in office."

What's surprising about this paint-thin response is how often it works. I suppose we can thank the mainstream media's abysmal ignorance of and incuriosity towards religion or philosophy for that.

This response — if it means anything at all — can only mean one of three things:
  1. The speaker is a liar
  2. The speaker is a hypocrite
  3. The speaker can't rub two live neurons together
Here is my premise: all men are religious, and all worldviews are religious worldviews. All men worship something as ultimate, and that object becomes the defining point of their lives. If they don't worship the true God, they worship and serve aspect of creation (Romans 1:21-25). What they worship, they become like (Psalm 115:4-8; 135:15-18; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18). The heart is Action Central (Proverbs 4:23), and what it grants first place is determinative for the life (Matthew 6:21, 24; 1 Peter 3:15).

I assume that most religions teach something about the meaning of life and all that. Wellsir, that's worldview: the way you look at things, the way you think about things. Your evaluative and interpretive grid.

So what our (not-so) fictional speaker is saying amounts to this: "My worldview doesn't influence how I relate to the world." Which is just as silly as it sounds.

If our speaker knows his statement to be a load of codswallop, then he's a liar. He is knowingly saying what is untrue. (To which many astute readers will doubtless respond, "Hel-lo? Politician?")

But our speaker may be sincere. In that case, he is a hypocrite. His religion is a mere formality. It really does not form his worldview, in which case he does not really believe it.

Still, the third option is a live option. Our man (or woman!) has somehow made it through four to six decades, held positions of power and influence, persuaded people to support him (or her!) to the tune of millions of dollars — and has never thought about anything deeper than an opinion poll. In fact, perhaps he (or she!) chose his (or her!) religion because it polled well.

In any of these cases, I think it is worth knowing. I'd like to know whether the man (or woman!) whose finger I'm going to position next to The Button, who is making me such billowy assurances and sketching out such grand plans, who is trying to hard to win my trust in his (or her!) judgment, who will make choices that could have an effect on my children and their children — whether that person, I say, is a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool.

Wouldn't you?

(Additional related thoughts may be found here.)

Dan Phillips's signature


111 comments:

DJP said...

BTW, if anyone discerns a coy endorsement of any sort, you'll have to tell me what it is. Because in my own mind, I know a few who I can't conceive of possibly voting for in the primary — but I still have no real preference. I'm not enthused by any candidate. Well, not positively enthused. A few of them do enthuse me very negatively.

This has the possibility of being the unhappiest choice I've ever had to make in a presidential general election.

All that to say that this post is actually about what it says it's about, no more nor less. No subtexts nor secret hidden codes.

centuri0n said...

"exactly right" is not even a nice enough thing to say about this, Dan.

To say more would be to derail your thread after one comments. Spot on.

centuri0n said...

I think you're subconsciously an Obama man.

DJP said...

Agh! Found out!

JackW said...

... and I thought it was Ubama.

Anyway, I agree completely even though it's too early for me to get excited about any of it yet.

I am amused by the "my religion has nothing to do with my worldview" line.

Writing and Living said...

I had a coworker say to me not too long ago that one's religious beliefs shouldn't affect one's job (I'm in the health care field).

I wish I could say that I had a pithy comeback, but all I managed to do was blink in astonishment and say, "That wouldn't much of a belief, then."

Anyway, I think that most voters haven't thought through their own religious beliefs enough to think that it matters, either.

Which raises another question: Is the mainstream media reflecting the voters' apathy toward religion, or have people heard this kind of twisted reasoning from the media so long that they're buying it?

DJP said...

W&L"That wouldn't much of a belief, then."

That's pretty pithy. I think what that person said reflects the notion that religion is like a fairy tale, and religious faith is an amorphous feeling that EGBOK. It isn't a matter of grounded and fundamental convictions about the universe, and my place in it.

That's what's behind this shocked, shocked reaction to Christians mixing faith and politics. It amounts to them saying, "You can be a Christian if you insist — just don't do anything about it." In other words, be a hypocrite, and above all else shut up.

Which we mustn't.

Nicholas Z. Cardot said...

That is a great post. You are right that if they are being honest that they cannot separate their religion from their politics. I love how you phrase is when you say that they are trying to keep their world view separate from their relationship with the world. Excellent post. Keep it up.

Most of the world has no understanding of really believing in a religious view so they don't understand that if a person really believes something it impacts their actions and behavior.

Great post!

Mike Riccardi said...

As some of you have been saying, I think this shows that most of America's religion is all nominal.

As I might have mentioned before, I'm at a very very liberal university (which is hard to deal with sometimes) and many people who are so far from any sort of orthodox or accepted version of whatever religion vehemently proclaim when asked that they're X, Y, or Z. "I'm Catholic, but I don't go to church, I don't read the Bible, I don't believe that you really have to do anything in it, I don't believe I'm sinful, I don't believe a loving God will send people to hell. But oh, let me assure you, I'm Catholic."

And you can substitute different religions and different practices for all the different religions represented. Religion, in most Americans' minds, is just a label that people inherit from their parents, but has absolutely no bearing on anything in reality. "I'm a Christian," or "I'm a Catholic," or "I'm Jewish," has come to mean little more than the statements, "I have brown hair."

So I guess we shouldn't really be surprised that that's what politicians do too. Whether it's because they're part of the lobotomized mass that has been taught not to rub the two neurons together, or they're above consciousness but see this is how things work and how voters will vote, politicians are gonna do the same thing.

Which is why "Christian Campaigning" isn't the answer. It's why we don't need to be preaching election candidates from the pulpit. It is why we need to preach the gospel like, as it is in reality, everyone's lives depended on it... even our country's. The only agent of change will be the Gospel, which teaches that what we "believe in our heart makes a difference in our lives (insert verses that Dan cited here).

Rhology said...

These days you'll see folks like Sam Harris saying similar things, just going in the opposite direction. Denying that religious worldview is separable from the rest of one's life. It's instructive.

DJP said...

Mike R—in my first senior pastorate, I led a door-to-door evangelistic effort. It involved a survey and giving folks a gospel paper I'd written, then coming back to talk with them about it.

Who were the only ones who wouldn't respond at all? Roman Catholics.

Non-practicing, of course. Just Catholic enough to be Gospel-proof.

Jerry said...

I remember the only question on the final exam of my Philosophy of Religion class at SWBTS in the 80's:

"What is God?"

I also remember the only correct answer (according to Dr. Woodfin):

"God is your highest value."

If your highest value doesn't drive your political decisions then you are worse, far worse than a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I think it's possible for a candidate to mean that his personal religion (private) will not override his commitment to the "civil religion" that is common to our social enterprise. Politics is about compromise; religion usually is not. It's a tension the framers tried to find a balance for. When the two realms clash, a politician who represents people of all religions (including no religion) can pledge that he will resolve the conflict via the principles of the "civil religiion" only.

Now, whether you believe him or not is a different matter. Believing politicians is always fraught with peril.

I do appreciate the new addition to my vocabulary. Codswallop is applicable to so many things.

Lee Shelton IV said...

"...a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool."

I agree, though I think we should also take time for self-examination. It's rather obvious what most politicians value. That can be determined by their words and actions. For example, if I hear a certain politician say that Christians and Muslims pray to the same God, I will pretty much assume he has a view of Christianity that is less than biblical. What I cannot help but wonder is why professing believers continue to vote for the same liars, hypocrites, and fools.

Mark B. Hanson said...

A person without a religion is far more dangerous than a person with one (almost any one). Because all religious beliefs constrain behavior somehow, while athiesm (as recent history demonstrates) knows no such constraint. Especially are Christians constrained by the righteous and loving God.

And so if a politician says that his religion does not affect his political views, we may safely consider him an athiest and unconstrained by whatever religious beliefs he professes.

But of course, every one has some ultimate belief. So to remove the mask, simply ask the politician what his non-negotiables are - what are the things in his platform that he will live or die for? And then follow up with, "Why?"

The answer to the why question will define his religious worldview.

Of course, if there is nothing important enough to him to die for, it's important to know that, too. Especially for someone in a position to send others to die.

Libbie said...

codswallop. You anglophile, you.

Indeed, If a man insisted his most deeply held convictions wouldn't affect his choices, I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.

Drew said...

Good post. You only left one thing out: Most people don't mind electing a hypocrite, because most people are hypocrites themselves. So for them, that lousy answer works!

"The faith you profess doesn't effect your life? You're just like me!"

On an unrelated note, I don't think the exclamation points are so necessary after in phrases like (or woman!) Is it so shocking that a woman might be president? Most of the world has realized that women can be leaders.

And I'm glad to see that you are an Obama man.

DJP said...

JDI think it's possible for a candidate to mean that his personal religion (private) will not override his commitment to the "civil religion" that is common to our social enterprise.

I disagree, if I'm understanding you correctly. If it's not an all-controlling worldview, it's not your religion.

For instance, were I a candidate... whoa, let me catch my breath for a second. In... out... in... out....

Okay, were I a candidate, I might answer something like, "My commitment to the living God of Scripture controls the way I view everything. In that view, the powers that be are established by God. In our country, the controlling power is the Constitution. Were I to vow to uphold that Constitution, I would be bound by God to that vow."

And so forth.

DJP said...

LibbieYou anglophile, you.

Robert is your parent's sibling.

Connie said...

Who is at greater fault here, the candidate claiming these things or the people "buying" it?

Sadly, I've had these same conversations with family members. It tears me up to see/hear otherwise intelligent people say/believe such 'codswallop'.

Paul said...

DJP: "In our country, the controlling power is the Constitution. Were I to vow to uphold that Constitution, I would be bound by God to that vow."

Is this a Ron Paul endorsement?

Excellent post!

Bill said...

first, let me get the 'first-time-poster-long-time-reader' comment out of the way.

AWESOME article by the way. Thank you. I am constantly amazed by the power and authority of God's Word. What a treasure God has given us.

"Because all religious beliefs constrain behavior somehow"

I don't consider strapping a bomb vest to one's chest and blowing up women and children to be very restraining so we can exclude Islam from the list.

My litmus test for any poilitical candidate is this: where do they stand on abortion? If a candidate does not outright oppose abortion - which is a good indicator of his (or hers!) religious beliefs - then I will not support that candidate.

.02
Bill

DJP said...

[Ron?] PaulIs this a Ron Paul endorsement?

"No" hardly seems like a strong enough word.

(But I was afraid someone would think so.)

Kevin said...

djp-Okay, were I a candidate, I might answer something like, "My commitment to the living God of Scripture controls the way I view everything. In that view, the powers that be are established by God. In our country, the controlling power is the Constitution. Were I to vow to uphold that Constitution, I would be bound by God to that vow."

Dan, you have convinced me who to vote for...you! There is not a politician out there that would answer a question that way.

And isn't honesty and politician an oxymoron?

Very good post!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Religion and Politics"

Why does "Religion" come first? There are atheists, devout secular humanists, and militant liberals who would object to the ordering of this title and say that it should be "Politics and Religion" with "Politics" as the FIRST word.

DJP said...

Kevin — I'd be assassinated within the first week. I wouldn't go to DC to play. It'd be a short administration, but a memorable one.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Let's take a wild hypothetical. Suppose, oh, just suppose, a Mormon were ever to run for president. He could pledge that where the tenets of his religion rub up against the wider civil religion (which, BTW, is usually construed by the Supreme Court), he would not try to override that.

Let's see...as in, I would not attempt to get the Book of Mormon as part of the curriculum of the public schools.

Now, I don't think that would make said candidate a liar, hypocrite or fool. It would make him a politician.

Whether one votes for said politician, or is comfortable with what he says, is another matter entirely.

Kevin said...

Dan-Absent from the body, present with the Lord.

But I hope you stick around a little while longer.

DJP said...

JD — If he could say (credibly, as I did in my example) that his religion's tenets would not interfere with his governance, that's one thing. But saying that they DO interfere, but are irrelevant to his daily life, is another.

My point is larger. To take another (equally) wild hypothetical, let's say a candidate were a cultist. To believe in his religion, he has to close his eyes to well-known and easily-accessible facts. He has to process data in a bizarre and twisted manner.

But then he says it is un-American to examine his faith-commitments critically.

To this, I say, "Ni."

Grace said...

Very good post. I tend to throw things at the television when politicians say that. It's such a load of tripe that it makes me ill. If your moral decisions are produced by your faith, admit it!

stratagem said...

Bravo.

When the politicos say their religion won't influence their politics, they are really referring to their "stated" or official religion - not their actual beliefs.

Think Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry vis a vis Catholicism. Catholicism is their stated religion, it's fairly obvious that 'something else' is their real religion.

Actions stem from core beliefs - always.

DJP said...

Yes, Grace; I think this election cycle is going to be very good for TV dealers.

Grace said...

Well, I have a bad enough aim that I haven't actually hit the TV. However, my hubby wants a new HD tv and probably wouldn't be too sad if I broke it...

SolaMeanie said...

I personally think the religion card could provide us with a lot of fun during this election. For instance, imagine Katie Couric or Brian Williams asking Mitt Romney, "Tell us, Governor, do you really believe that Jesus Christ is the spirit brother of Lucifer?"

As far as Barack Obama, there would be lots of fun simply taking the core beliefs of most United Church of Christ members and asking Obama if he thinks Jesus would agree with them. Such as, "Scripture calls homosexuality an abomination. Was God wrong?"

I find the recent remarks of Tony Blair (Great Britain) instructive. He found it frustrating that he couldn't talk about his religious faith because he thought most of his constituents would think he was a "nutter." In the immortal words of Douglas Montesquieu Pagitt, "Wow."

P.S. Montesquieu isn't really Pagitt's middle name. I just thought I'd give him an aristocratic, French-sounding flair for today.

DJP said...

I like it.

centuri0n said...

We should start a counter-campaign:

Moloch for Obama

Ashtoreth for Hillary

Legion for Romney -- and hey: Romney might could get some votes from dead people if he got them baptized.

DJP said...

Oh, my. That's very funny.

And very naughty.

SolaMeanie said...

Frank, are you sure it's Ashtoreth and not Jezebel?

Writing and Living said...

Romney might could?

I don't have anything to contribute, other than noting that this might be the first time I've seen codswallop and "might could" used in the same discussion.

Not for at least a coon's age, anyway.

Strong Tower said...

"Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing (unintelligible muttering)"!

That explains alot (superfluous exclamation mark may be inserted here if you believe in them).

Basic Communications Theory: "As a man thinks in his heart so is he."

Core beliefs hold peripherals in orbit. The further from the center the more likely they are to be bumped out of valence by contravening beliefs. Oppositional beliefs repel, complimentary beliefs prevail. Catastropic thinking occurs when cognitive dissonance persists because valence beliefs are stronger than neulear ones. The result is psychopathology. The implosion of the neuclear beliefs results with the formation of a new core. The system is never static and competing beliefs are always entering and exiting the system. The apogean, or loosest held beliefs are those we might call taste, or choice. The stronger the core attraction, the closer to the core, the more likely the apogeans will reflect it. Traumatic occurances can interject disruptive influences directly to the core, and destroy the existing schemata. Two things then may occur, the system will stabilize with resulting rearrangement of new and remaining pre-existing ideas, or the system will remain in chaos, a condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Boy, this sounds more like that wierd concept of necessary and periferral doctrines.

One other thing about those persistent peripherals: A little leaven, will leaven the whole lump.

When I ran for the State House, I held closely to the truth because of my faith. I lost. The counter-intuitive in politics is if you really believe what you believe, you're crazy. The opposite is true, if you believe what you do not believe you're insane. Arrow's law too needs mentioning: There is no such thing as compromise. The result of compromising any two positions, always results in a third in opposition to the origionals.

If you think it begins and ends with you, think again. The systems of government that we have, though established by God, are the reflections of the composite beliefs of the peeps.

Al said...

My religion is a private matter and will not affect my public life. For instance, I personally hold to the ninth commandment, but that will not hinder me in my dealings with the electorate. ~ signed your favorite candidate.

al sends

Mike Riccardi said...

If your moral decisions are produced by your faith, admit it!

And that's the thing! They aren't!!! More often than not people's (including candidates') moral decisions aren't produced by their faith. They're produced by a very religious code of conduct that they deem to be appropriate based on common sense or teaching they've received.

Sorry I keep sounding the same note... I don't feel very well today. But also, the pervasiveness of nominalism parading as true faith (in whatever god) in America really drives me nuts. And then we're supposed to respect people just for the fact that they have "faith," no matter what it's in. If you're "a person of faith," you're to be respected. It's such baloney.

As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have been wicked. O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us.

So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name."
-- Dan 9:13-19

Jim Crigler said...

Dan ---

I have sometimes said part of your thoughts this way: There is frequently a difference between one's formal religion and one's functional religion.

SolaMeanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SolaMeanie said...

Ooops. I'll try that again, fixing my typo. This should make you all feel better.

Can't you tell I've followed politics too long?

Timotheos said...

Of the candidates that are running, it is clear from what we have been told that we need not worry about any of their religions impacting their policy, for it appears that their religious persona is nothing more than an additional certification that they include in their resume.

Even with the one or maybe two who take their religion seriously, there remains a question regarding an authentic faith.

Strong Tower said...

Certification? Yes heres my card. See it says right there. What, don't you believe it?

I'm not certain.

Trust me, it's official, see the seal. Genuine, media approval, call poll free, 1-900-proveit.

Drew said...

I find Huckabee and Obama to be faithful and consistent. Huckabee articulates his faith more clearly/accurately, most likely because he has theological training.

Libbie said...

solameanie - I found Tony Blair's recent comments instructive too.

Instead of wanting to be portrayed as a believing high-anglican like many of his parliamentary colleagues, he thought it much better to be portrayed as a rather slippery sort who used a posh accent when talking to one set of people and dropped his 'aitches' when he wanted to sound like a man of the people.

Is a malleable accent something you have in politics over there?;-)

The epitome of all style and no substance, sadly. He's going to be far more interesting post-premiership.

stratagem said...

Hey, and how about that Pat Robertson? If he endorses Giuliani simply because RG is tough on the war on terror (but not tough on the war on the unborn, appoints liberal judges, etc.), then is Pat: A hypocrite, a liar (i.e., politician), or unable to rub together two functional neurons?

DJP said...

I'm pretty much on-record as not being a Pat Robertson fan.

That thing he does with his mouth.

I wish he'd stop.

Drew said...

I'd say that its all of the above for Pat.

SolaMeanie said...

Libbie,

Unfortunately, yes. Al Gore used to adopt a black preacher squall when he spoke before those types of groups, and Hillary (born in Chicago) has been caught adopting a Southern drawl when speaking before certain Southern groups. They always get caught and always get rapped for it, but it seems to be some virus they catch and can't resist.

Personally, I'll take an Oxonian accent any day. Mercy me, I'd even listen to Cockney doggerel before I'd vote for Hillzilla.

SolaMeanie said...

Dan,

"Touchy-feely Bibley-truthy?" LOL. ROFL. Now that's a new one for my lexicon.

I'm still trying to figure out how Robertson could build the Family Channel with donations and then sell it for a profit.

Benjamin Nitu said...

I'm actually eliminating candidates every week. So far I know I'm not going to vote for:
- Hillary Clinton
- Barack Obama
- Rudy Giuliani
- John McCain
- Mitt Romney

I started with the favorites, I hope that when I'm done there's still someone out there for whom I can vote. I'm looking for a leader, a coherent person, smart but not stubborn, tough but not rude. Am I asking too much?

Hadassah said...

ben,

"I'm looking for a leader, a coherent person, smart but not stubborn, tough but not rude. Am I asking too much?"

Clearly.

DJP said...

Sounds like Phil Johnson.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Vote Phil for President!

We'll call our party The Pyromaniacs United. Dan will be our PR person and Frank our campaign manager.

centuri0n said...

"That things he does with his mouth." Heh.

The talking is bad, too.

DJP said...

It's the worst.

Grace said...

Thanks Drew! You said it first, so I don't feel like I'm hijacking the meta.

Can I please fly my "I Heart Huckabee" flag for one post? I've done a lot of homework on him, and everything points to a genuine faith that he is proud of, not hiding under a bushel. And I happen to agree with most of his policies, so it's great!

His latest ad is pretty cool too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjtGgfhKIvo&eurl=http://www.mikehuckabee.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Blogs.Home

candyinsierras said...

There are some good thoughts about candidates and a Christian conscience over atRandy Alcorn's blog . He also has some newer posts as well.

terriergal said...

Does ANYONE remember an obscure Christian artist named Steve Taylor from the 80's?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Taylor

He wrote a song about this. It's called "It's a Personal thing."


(The press conference)
It's a personal thing, and I find it odd
You would question my believing in a personal God
I'm devout, I'm sincere, ask my mother if you doubt it
I'm religious, but I'd rather not get radical about it
The old-time believers had timidity and grace
But this new generation doesn't know its place
You're entitled to believe, but the latest Gallup Poll
Says you mustn't interfere - that's the government's role

'Cause when you throw your hat in the bullring
Before you know it, it's a personal thing
And when it comes to the day of reckoning
He's gonna tell 'em, 'uh-uh-uh, it's a personal thing'

(The nomination speech)
It's a personal thing, and I boldly state
That my views on morality will have to wait
'Til my personal life's out of the public eye
(and the limitations statute can protect my alibi)
I'm devout, I'm sincere, and I'm proud to say
That it's had exactly no effect on who I am today
I believe, for the benefit of all mankind,
In the total separation of church and mind

'Cause when you throw your hat in the bullring
Before you know it, it's a personal thing
And when it comes to the day of reckoning
He's gonna tell 'em, 'Uh-uh-uh, it's a personal thing.'

(The victory night)
It's a personal thing, and I plainly speak
(From the same code of ethics that I held last week)
As I promised, if elected this election day,
With the help of God Almighty...I'll do it my way

'Cause when you throw your hat in the bullring
Before you know it, it's a personal thing
And when it comes to the day of reckoning
He's gonna tell 'em, 'Uh-uh-uh, it's a personal thing'

pastorbrianculver said...

Great post again! For all of you that still don't know who to vote for. Vote for me! I put something on my blog back on Nov 8, 2007 that would set me out as your next president. Just what the world needs! go to:
http://time2changechurches.blogspot.com/2007/11/i-want-to-run-for-president-of-united.html

Seriously, it is sad when these men and (a woman) will not stand up for what they supposedly believe. Their pastor's should reconsider just how and what they are teaching the congregation. I wonder if all of their church members would respond the same way when it comes to standing up boldly for Christ!

dkyle said...

-grace

You may want to reconsider Huckabee after taking note that he finds Kenneth Copeland an "authenticc" Christian with "integrity". Either Gov. Huckabee is not a very discerning Christian, or he doesn't care about what baggage the Copeland's bring and wants the votes they might push his way.

Regardless of which of those two is true, I do not want him near "The Button".

Jim Kirby said...

Whoever is nominated from the field of candidates, it will be the selection of the "lesser of two evils." Kerby Anderson with Probe Ministries during a Q&A session at a Dallas Seminary chapel service (9/14) answers a student's question on "Who should we vote for in the upcoming election?" For those interested, it is about 19 minutes into the session. Without telling whom one should vote for, he does give some practical advice in my opinion on the matter.

Jim Kirby

DJP said...

Exactly right, Jim. Too often one hears, "I'm tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. This time, I'm voting for _____." Every vote for a mere mortal is a vote for the lesser of two evils.

S.J. Walker said...

Boy, I'm sure glad I can compartmentalize my influences. What a pain it would be if I was forced by my "religion" to do and say things that some people might not like.


"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me." --Matt.: 24:9

Hmmmm, best keep religion out of my daily affairs too. I don't want to end up like that.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."-James 1:2

Thanks for the post Brother,
always a pleasure to visit pyro

Drew said...

I wish our country's politics weren't dominated by two political parties, so that we could choose from the lesser of three of four evils.

You are right, that there will always be something wrong with a human candidate, but our system as it is now makes it more likely to have more offensive candidates.

Grace said...

dkyle-
I consider what a candidate thinks about Copeland to be a peripheral issue that probably won't affect his policies or integrity in office. But thank you for the information. I'll look into it.

DJP said...

Sounds like a valid issue to consider, though. What kind of judge of character is the man who's going to be appointing SecDef, Sec of State, Atty Gen, SC justices, etc?

Strong Tower said...

But wouldn't Copeland make a good Commerce Secretary? And look at what he has done in the field of Spiritual Warfare, yah, he's my pick for Secofdef.

DJP said...

Yes, and he could make Pat Robertson Secretary of Weather.

Grace said...

If you've watched enough of Huckabee, you'll see he's a very positive candidate who prefers to say nice things about everyone, even opposing candidates. In light of his overall demeanor, I'd say he's being positive and diplomatic like usual.
I won't speculate further until I see the specific comment he made though.

DJP said...

Oh, wait; I guess Robertson's hoping to be in Giuliani's cabinet.

S.J. Walker said...

Grace,

"probably won't affect his policies or integrity in office"

That actually is what we are talking about, and Dan drove the tent spike about being capable of appointing offices.

If we agree that a mans' (or womans!) faith should have an effect on public decisions, then that faith better be well grounded which will result--usually--in a better than heretical judgment of character.

so, following through, (just bear with me) does that not bring us right back to square one if a man's lack of ability to judge character will not "affect his policies or integrity in office"?

Just a thought sister

This is why we need to be careful

dkyle said...

Huckabee's quote to the media... "Kenneth and Gloria Copeland are about the most gracious, authentic, and humble people I know and I consider them dear friends," Huckabee said in an e-mail. "They have brought hope to millions and have operated with the utmost integrity as far as I know. I have found them to be as warm and genuine in their private moments as they are in their public moments."

Time article

Christian Post article

Star-Telegram article

I think this goes beyond just "speaking nice" about someone. It is one thing to not speak evil about someone and soemthing else entirely to side with an obvious charlatan who can use the fear of God to leverage votes.

DJP said...

dkyle, that reminds me of this that I discussed on my blog. Again and again, he just shoots his mouth off, or seems unready for the spotlight. He doesn't have to say ANYTHING of that kind of an evaluative spiritual nature, while campaigning. But he does, and it speaks terribly (to me) for his judgment.

(BTW, every Huckabee support insists on misreading that post.)

Strong Tower said...

dkyle-

Isn't this what we have come to expect from SBC leadership.
^
insert "some" at this point

Grace said...

I don't see anything objectionable in that quote at all. That basically says, "He's nice. I've been friends with him for a long time, and he's a nice guy." Sounds like how he talks about a lot of people. It doesn't say a word about approving or agreeing with his theology or his business practices.

Besides, Copeland just might be really nice in person. And if you're friends with someone, don't you want to think the best of them?

I guess I just need to say this bluntly: I personally couldn't care less if Huckabee says Copeland is nice. It's making a really big mountain out of an anthill.

If you truly object to Huckabee based on something like this, then I'm not sure you can vote for anyone on election day with a clear conscience.

DJP said...

"Huckabee support" = "Huckabee supporter" (was hurried)

DJP said...

"They have brought hope to millions and have operated with the utmost integrity as far as I know" approves of their ministry and character.

Grace said...

That sounds more like defending a friend.

The Copelands are innocent until proven guilty under our justice system. Have they been charged yet? Not that I know of.

Until they are proven guilty, this is a moot point.

Daryl said...

Ummm, Grace?

No one's discussing the Copelands as relates to the law of the land. Theologically they've been proven guilty so many times that this kind of defense grows tiresome.

Grace said...

Okay, let me start over. This kind of discussion makes me a little... passionate? Feisty? That's probably understating it.

The Copelands are definitely messed up, theologically and in many other ways. But Huckabee defending them does not mean he approves of their ministry. I read all three articles, and I still think he is defending a friend.

I have many friends that I disagree with about theology. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't defend them if they were accused of some kind of lapse of integrity.

He is not defending the ministry or their theology. That's not what he was asked about. He is saying that, as a friend, he believes they have handled their money honestly.

And that does not bother me. Maybe you can explain why it should.

SolaMeanie said...

I knew I'd get to make a Genesis (band) link to Dan "Jael" Phillips before long. Now I've got one, and it's a great song.

"Driving the Last Spike"

SolaMeanie said...

As to the Huckabee thing, I did receive an email from his campaign after I expressed concern about the Copeland business. In essence, it was that the Copelands are long time friends of Huckabee's, they disagree on theology, and he doesn't believe Copeland is guilty of financial wrongdoing, but if he proves to be, then he will have to bear the consequences.

Pretty much the response one would expect in politics. I personally wouldn't be found within a light year of Copeland. However if the choice came down to Huckabee or Hillzilla, I would have to choose Huckabee.

Strong Tower said...

Grace you're posed to be at work.

"have operated with the utmost integrity as far as I know."

Huck doesn't realize that they are hucksters by default? Their whole ministry is a sham, and they know it, why doesn't Huck? I can understand if he got caught off guard, but little bit of sense would have kept him from falling into the pit of his own tongue's diggin's. Would it not have been better just to defer comment instead of committing himself to their integrity? "A fool speaks before he has heard the end of the matter," and if Huck doesn't have a clue as to their perverted use of Scripture employed in their get rich quick pyramidal theology, he would have been best served by remaining silent and being counted as wise, don't you think?

Grace said...

Solameanie,

Thank you. That's what I was trying to say about those quotes in the articles.

And while I agree that I wouldn't want to be associated with Copeland either, I think he could do a lot worse.

Strong Tower said...

On a slightly different take, why do you suppose the media wants to hull breach Huckabee's campaign this early? Fear of uniting the evangelical base?

This will make fodder in the future on several fronts. Do you suppose the media set him up?

By the way Grace, I lean toward Huck because I have an acquaintance by that name, his name is Mike too, he's just lacking the ster, scratch that, abee. Not very deep political discernment I know, but he, when you don't have a homeboy yet, ya got to grasp what ya can.

By the way wasn't Abee the name of that brain in....

Paul said...

Fox News just reported that Falwell, Jr. is supporting Huckabee.

dkyle said...

-grace

You said "The Copelands are definitely messed up, theologically and in many other ways. But Huckabee defending them does not mean he approves of their ministry."

If Huckabee is defending their ministry, doesn't that mean he approves of it? This post was about whether or not someone can disassociate their religion from their politics. What sort of religion does Copeland represent and will Huckabee be bringing it, or the influence behind it, to the office of President.

Time and the Word of God has proven Copeland (and cohorts) to be false teachers of the worst caliber and no Christian should seek any friendship with them.

The idea that Huckabee, or anyone, could support the kind of ministry Copeland has and not carry over the obvious lack of discernment, or honesty (whichever the case may be) into the public office, is ridiculous.

Mike Huckabee’s judgment is in serious doubt.

dkyle said...

-djp

I read the post you linked to for me and it hits the nail on the head. In it you mentioned the time Huckabee called Brownback (a catholic) a “Christian brother,” and said, “As believers, we don’t have time to fight each other.”

I believe it is an attempt on Huckabee’s part to say look, we need to separate our religion from politics. Believers need to wake up to the fact that, when we try to say our Christianity should be kept separate from… (fill in the blank), we begin to compromise the Gospel and the commission to take it into all the world.

Scripture is so very clear about how “religion” should, or shouldn’t affect our worldview. Mike Huckabee should read and meditate on Paul writing to the Corinthians…

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them ; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing ; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. ~2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Maybe if Mr. Huckabee would spend some time chewing on that, he would reevaluate his friendship with the servants of Belial

Mike Riccardi said...

dkyle,

So do you think Christians shouldn't get involved in politics, then?

Grace said...

dkyle-
According to what I've read, Romney is a Mormon who was pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage, Giuliani is pro-abortion, McCain has called evangelical leaders "agents of intolerance", and Ron Paul has been endorsed by the owner of a bordello. Tancredo and Hunter are polling below the levels of electability.

So who are you going to vote for? I guess I'm weird, but I don't see Copeland as that important in light of these facts.

DJP said...

I thought we'd settled this.

Phil Johnson.

dkyle said...

mike riccardi
-grace

First let me say that I am not looking for a candidate who must meet the qualifications of the Apostle Paul, and as an American I always have the option of writing someone’s name in who was not chosen for us by some political party.

I concluded a long time ago that God’s sovereignty extends (and it should for Christians) even into the voting booth. I will not vote for someone in a right leaning party simply because they can beat out some other candidate from a left leaning party.

Every decision I make is accountable to God and to God alone. I also take into consideration that this world is no longer my home and I refuse to become entangled in its politics, or take up its causes.

I have also learned that we, as Christians, are not going to bring in some utopian kingdom where there are no abortions and every school begins class with prayer by pulling a lever, marking an x, or punching a chad.

This election cycle, as in others, my focus is taking the Gospel to the lost. I shudder to think what I might face if my Master should return and find me working for someone else.

Maybe this sounds “un-American”, but I may not even vote. I just retired from 26 years in the Army and I believe I have earned (if it be possible) the right to say no candidate offered meets the criteria for the job.

dkyle said...

I apologize to all for being a bit long-winded and straying from the topic.

S.J. Walker said...

SolaMeanie said...

I knew I'd get to make a Genesis (band) link to Dan "Jael" Phillips before long. Now I've got one, and it's a great song.

"Driving the Last Spike"

_____________________________

You know, I hope this isn't bad when I say that I am rather proud that my odd, even disturbed little Calvinist brain thought up some thing like "driving a tent spike into the temple" to mean someone made a good point.

That's probably too violent for most politicians I imagine

Mike Riccardi said...

dkyle,

Was that a yes or a no?

nope said...

I'm not voting for any of the current choices. I'm actually writing in a candidate. It doesn't matter that they have no chance of winning, it matters that I don't vote for an evil person to take control of the most powerful political office in the country. I don't agree with 'strategy' voting, where you vote for someone you don't trust in order to prevent someone else from winning. Christians aren't called to be successful, we're called to be faithful.

dkyle said...

-Mike Riccardi

Not to sound emergent, but how do you define involved?

I will vote, as it is a duty of any citizen of the USA, and that will be the extent of my involvement.

Mike Riccardi said...

Oh... I mean like running for office. Should Christians be politicians?

dkyle said...

-mike riccardi

I do not think Christians should be politicians at the expense of compromising what should be their first duty to God. If someone can be a good politician and use that as a vehicle to take the Gospel to the world, then go for it! The problem arises when someone decides to only compromise the “little things” to get to the office so they can accomplish some “greater good”.

Paul said it best when he reminded Timothy how to keep his priorities straight…

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. ~2 Timothy 2:4

Mike Riccardi said...

Do you think, then, that any Christian can be an American politician without compromising?

Because I think that Dan was right. He'd most definitely not got elected for anything, or he'd be shot.

dkyle said...

Dan is exactly right.

I believe our current system of politics (and I don't see it getting better) will not allow for a non-compromising Christian to be elected.

The bible is clear things are not going to get better in this world. There will be no ushering in "the kingdom" here without the return of Christ and the erradication of sin.

We, as Christians (yes Christians!) need to learn how to keep this country's social and political problems/issues in perspective to the Gospel and our responsibility to it.

For those who want the Gospel defined see the Holy Bible, maybe start in Romans.

Mike Riccardi said...

I hear you... and I probably agree with you more than you think. Certainly about things not getting better, and us not being able to restore things.

So then, can we conclude that any professing Christian in politics is either compromising or is not a true Christian?

dkyle said...

Only God and said politician know. But, can you think of even one politician who you would look to for biblical, godly counsel, or advice?

Try and imagine John MacArthur running for office, hmm, I can't... I just can't picture it.

Mike Riccardi said...

Right, I definitely hear you. Really, I was just reacting to your quotation of 2Cor 6, because it would seem to me that if you were saying that we should "Come out from them and be separate," there'd be no Christians running for political office.

While that really sounds good at first (because I don't think we need to go nuts about how this fallen world system governs itself), I'm wondering if evangelicals got serious and started running for office but didn't compromise, and endured some embarrassing results for a while, if that wouldn't be a greater witness. And no, we're not ushering in the kingdom, and so it doesn't matter if all we can do is clean the outside of the cup, but I think the country would be in a lot better shape, even if there were a ton of Pharisees and only a few out-and-out pagans. For example, we might stop killing babies and invasively harvesting embryos and we might even uphold the sanctity of marriage.

But again, outside of the cup. I don't know. I'm rambling now. This discussion of politics is extremely interesting. But I don't know if I wanna say that every professing Christian who runs for office is automatically disqualified from the faith, simply because he didn't come out from them and be separate. In that case, in the words of the same author, "you would have to leave the world."

dkyle said...

The 2 Cor 6 reference was to point out Huckabee should be careful who he is associating with or calling friend.

ShilohMom said...

"I think it's possible for a candidate to mean that his personal religion (private) will not override his commitment to the "civil religion" that is common to our social enterprise. Politics is about compromise; religion usually is not. It's a tension the framers tried to find a balance for. When the two realms clash, a politician who represents people of all religions (including no religion) can pledge that he will resolve the conflict via the principles of the "civil religiion" only."

I think this is a "wolf in sheeps clothing" type of argument. It racks right up there with the Priest and the Levite who walked right on by battered and bruised Jew. They too chose to do the "civil" thing instead of the "right" thing and what condemnation did they get? Certainly not an "I understand your POV" from the Lord -- no, not in the least. They were pointed out as religious hypocrites for "knowing" the truth, but failing to live by it.

There is no shadow or turning with Him and we are called to imitate His character. Therefore there can be no shadow within us -- we are either who we say we are and stand by what we believe or we are as Dan says "a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool."