The Meaning of Language: Or Why I Wish Republicans Would Stop Talking About “God”

Over these past few days, much ink has been spilled on the subject of the Democratic party’s eleventh hour decision to include the word “god” in their official platform. But in case you haven’t been paying attention, let me bring you up to speed in short order. When the Democratic Convention recently adopted their official party platform, they elected to approve a document that did not contain the word “god,” and did not recognize Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel. When Republicans caught wind of this omission, the usual talking heads seized the airwaves, and began to paint the Democrats as a party that didn’t want “god” to be recognized. This, of course, was done with no small measure of self-righteous indignation, as many right-leaning pundits were quick to point out the fact that the Republican platform contained no less than ten acknowledgements of “god.” So the implication was, if you believe in “god,” the Republicans are the party for you because the all-important scorecard read 10 mentions of “god” to none.

As I have watched these events unfold, and as I have watched the ensuing comedy that surrounded the Democrat’s hasty attempt to ramrod the politically expedient language back into their official platform, I have found myself wondering … Why do certain religiously oriented people want the language of “god” in a party platform?

Now, let me take this question one step further. As has been widely documented in numerous studies, we know that approximately 70% of white Evangelicals either openly identify themselves as Republican or lean in that direction.[1] Given the fact that it was conservative, Republican-leaning pundits raising the question about the omission of “god” language, it is not unreasonable to refine the initial question to read: why do so many Evangelicals want the language of “god” included in a party platform?

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that there was a time in the history of this nation when the majority of the immigrating European population was, in fact, Christian, or at least oriented around a Judeo-Christian ethic. Even if this is true, as I personally believe it to be, what cannot be argued is the simple fact that the population of the United States is no longer as homogenous as it once may have been. Over the past two decades, sociologists have been tracking an enormous shift in the self-professed religious identity of the American population. In 1990, 86.2% of the population claimed to be Christian, whereas today, only 76% claim the same. By contrast, those who proclaim no religious preference or claim to be atheist and/or agnostic have almost doubled in size and they now make up 15% of those of us who call this nation home.

While some Christians who long for a “Christian nation” may still see a measure of “hope” in these statistics, it must be noted that amongst those that self-identify as “Christian,” many do not hold to the historical tenets of the Christian faith itself. According to a 2009 study[2] conducted by the Barna group, self-identifying, American “Christians” hold the following beliefs:

  • More than one-fifth (22%) of self-identified Christians strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth. An additional 17% of that population somewhat agree that Jesus sinned. Finally, 6% are unsure of what to think on the matter in question. So amongst self-identified Christians, only 55% percent believe that the Christ was sinless.
  • Most self-identified Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living member of the Trinity. Fifty-eight percent of the survey respondents understand the Holy Spirit to be nothing more than “a symbol of God’s power or presence.” Discounting the 9% of people who are unsure, this suggests that only 33% of survey respondents believe that the Holy Spirit is actually a living being.

Needless to say, a list such as this could go on and on. But what should be plain to all who are reading this article is that even amongst those that identify themselves as “Christian,” there is little consensus as to what an allegedly “Christian” god actually looks like. And for those of us who subscribe to historic, orthodox, creedal confessions based upon Holy Scripture, these differences are not minor deviations from the Truth. For those of us that subscribe to the Great Tradition, people who deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and people who deny the sinless nature of the Christ are not truly “Christian” in any real sense of the word. For Christianity is not merely an ethical system for determining what is “good” and what is “bad.” At its core, the Christian faith is predicated on an historically documented assertion that  YHWH sent his Son to be born into this world and to die as a perfect, sinless sacrifice for humanity.  Furthermore, through His resurrection, Jesus defeated the powers and principalities of this world; and in so doing, He fundamentally changed the course of human history.

So, as the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. While many may self-identify as “Christian,” an argument could be made that many of these people are simply creating a “god” in their own image, a “god” that bears little to no resemblance to the Trinitarian God described in the Bible. And as such, their self-identification as “Christian” is about as meaningful as my assertion that I am a Dallas Cowboy.

Now, back to the discussion at hand. What does it mean for the Democrats to not include a reference to “god” in their official platform? What does it mean for the Republicans to include ten references? Does the word “god” actually have any agreed upon meaning here in the 21st century? And if it doesn’t, what good does it do to include it apart from making certain segments of the population feel as if their values still matter?

If you look back to the Hebrew Scriptures, you see many encounters between the God of the Israelites and the “gods” of the surrounding region. But never, at any moment, do you see a celebration of the fact that these Canaanites were worshipping “gods,” as if their religiosity or their religiously based ethic counted for something. If anything, their religiosity and their willingness to worship something other than YHWH was held as a mark against them.

So why do Evangelicals get excited about the vague use of a “god”-language in a political party’s platform? Even the most optimistic amongst us has to realize that we live in a pluralistic society. America is no longer the mythological “melting pot” that once absorbed foreign cultures into our own. We are a stew, with chunky, unique ingredients that refuse to be broken down.

And this is why I think the Democratic party got it right … the first time around. Language has culturally conditioned meaning that corresponds to the nature of reality around us. And when the meaning of certain language is no longer clear or agreed upon, the verbage in question becomes devoid of meaning and is useless to society. That is why I cannot celebrate this intentionally vague, theologically neutered “god”-talk that is now being promoted in both party platforms. For when language has been stripped of real meaning, its continued use in forums such as this can only be read as a cynical ploy designed to satiate and manipulate a population for the ultimate purpose of nothing more than electing a given party’s candidate.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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43 Responses to The Meaning of Language: Or Why I Wish Republicans Would Stop Talking About “God”

  1. Andrea Kendrick says:

    Spot on. Again!

    • Thanks Annie. One of the problems with blogging is that you’re never finished with your thoughts. There is a lot more that I would have liked to say on the subject of how we use language, but time and space don’t permit it. So I’m glad this article actually hung together for you. On a different note, please know that I am still praying for your family’s grief.

    • Diane says:

      Bravo, summed up well and I understand what you are saying. Have a great day!!

  2. Lucas01210 says:

    Hi Mr. Bryant,

    I think the controversy was over the arguable fact that when the Democrats left God out of the platform, it seemed they were trying be atheistic. No one can think that the the leading Republicans support atheism, due to the fact that “God,” (or is it “god?” I’m not sure,) is in their platform multiple times. I’m not saying all Republicans are religious, but that the leaders support religion. (Not necessarily Christianity, though, especially considering their candidate.) I think the “god of the Republicans” is not limited to a religion, just that there is a deity out there. They leave the voter to fill in the blanks.

    Hope that’s not too confusing to read.
    Lucas

    • Hey Lucas,

      Thanks for stopping by, sir. To be honest, I always appreciate it when my students take the time to engage this blog. It reassures me that their interest in theology and culture is deeper than the felt need to perform on given assignments.

      Having said that, let me push back for a moment. In your estimation, what is the benefit of acknowledging a general, non-descript deity? More to the point, what is the benefit of “leaders support[ing] religion?” Isn’t one of the major points of the Christ’s life, death and resurrection to point out the futility of religion?

      Again, thanks for stopping by.

      • Gary says:

        Scott, I guess I’m not sure what your angle is here. In speaking an an American, I can’t help but think that America circa 1776, with a bunch of deists starting the country was a better place than the Soviet Union, run by a bunch of atheists. The former, despite having varying beliefs about God, at least believed that since poeple were created by God, they had certain inherent rights as people. The latter, because they didn’t believe in any God, believed that people were subject the state, which was really their god. But speaking as a Christian, I get that there isn’t much (any??) difference in a person who believes in a false God and a person who believes in no God. But that’s why I started my comment off by asking what your angle was.

        • Gary says:

          I apologize for the typos in my previous post. I’m having an issue on your site in which once I get into about my 6th line down, I can no longer see what I’m typing. So I just try to type slowly and hope for the best. BTW, I love your blog!

        • Gary, I think you answered your own question. His angle, Scott if I may be so bold, is that there is little difference, for the orthodox Christian, between no god and and a false god, so why is there such a difference, for evangelicals, between the no god of the DNC and the false god of the RNC?

          • Gary says:

            But you didn’t respond to what I wrote, so I’ll ask again. If I follow your logic, then the Soviet Union was just as good of a place as our country? You ask why there’s a difference? There’s a difference because when you believe in no God and believe the state is God, then that leads to all sorts of horrors experienced in Nazi Germany and in the Soviet Union. When you at least believe in a God, as our founding fathers did, then you believe that people have inherent rights, and you have a much better country. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I forfeit an opinion on how our country should be governed.

          • Bob says:

            Gary makes a good point. The worst regimes are those without a transcendent moral law giver. The RNC is the lesser of two evils, but the reason for the more radical moral degeneracy of the DNC is traceable to their secularism, which takes no account of God.

            You might try to say that the Republicans are insincere when they mention God, but this rather misses the point. To give an analogy, if I only have 2 parties to choose from, and one claims to embrace honesty and the rule of law, while the other openly disdains them; the first party might be insincere, but at least it is aware that people still value those things, and might partially respect them, even out of political expediency. The second party has clearly wandered off the ranch and is beyond hope. That’s the problem.

          • Gary and Bob … Much as we may wish to deny it, Nazi Germany was not a purely secular state. The Nazi regime co-opted much of the church leadership, but they never, to my knowledge, denied the presence of a deity. They just a vision of a god that was more akin to the old tribal war gods of ancient Germany than it was to the god of the Christian Scriptures. Or what about the Shiite theocracy in Iran? Or the “Holy Wars” of the Crusades? History has shown us time and again that an ill-defined “god” or an intentionally warped view of “god” is no guarantor of morality.

          • Bob … I’m actually a little surprised to hear you talk in these terms. Based upon conversations with you and Mart, I would have presumed that you were both a little left of center.

          • Gary,

            The context of this question is a comparison between the DNC and the RNC, so invoking the USSR is a bit of a non-sequitor. The USSR had many problems and state enforced atheism was but one of them, and there is a significant difference between state enforced atheism and a political party within the US opting not to refer to a deity.

          • Gary says:

            Sigh….gotta love internet debates. Make a point someone can’t answer, and prepare to be hit with “straw man, non-sequitor, slippery slope” or any number of supposedly point stopping terms. You asked why it matters and I showed you what the end result often is when a mostly atheistic people start running a country.

          • Gary says:

            Secondly, there is a difference in “opting not to refer to a deity” and what’s going on in the Dem party these days. Did you notice that every speaker at the DNC made a point to mention abortion? Did you notice how wildly the crowd cheered at the mere mention of the term? Have you heard of the group who is pushing women who have had abortions to wear the scarlet “A”, as a point of PRIDE?!?! These are a bloodthirsty people. Combined with the totally unconstitutional HHS mandate and you can understand why many of us greatly fear where are country is headed.

          • Gary says:

            Sorry for the multiple posts, but as I stated, after about 6 lines, I can no longer see what I’m typing. Did you notice that in either 2004 or 2008, the DNC platform wished to make abortion “safe, legal, and rare.” This year? The word “rare” is gone. Which totally refutes what all of my Christian friends who voted for Obama in 2008 told me. Full disclosure, because I hate being labeled: I’m not voting for Romney.

          • So you’re not voting for Obama and you’re not voting for Romney. Abstaining? Protest vote for an impossible candidate? I’m just curious. I honestly haven’t figured out what I’m doing this year.

  3. Josh The Younger says:

    To be honest, I couldn’t help snickering every time this story line came up on the news. I just found the whole thing comical and rather pointless (did you see the “vote” on whether to ‘put God back in’ at the convention? Hilarious!) As if inserting the word “God” into the platform somehow made it any more Christian, or even religious.

    If the Democratic Party wants to leave references to God out of their platform, so be it. It’s a political platform, not a religious document. I don’t think Republicans can or should have a beef with that. If you don’t like it, vote Republican. It’s not your platform, it’s not your business. Is it really any better when the Republican Party mentions God frequently, but never with any sense of clarity?

    I have a much harder time defending the Democratic Party’s decision to not include any reference to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel than its decision to not include a reference to some ambiguous, schizophrenic, disinterested deity.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Josh. The recognition of Israel was a much larger issue (in terms of political importance) than any failure to include a reference to an ambiguous “god.”

      As for whether I saw the DNC vote to include “god,” that is what I was referring to when I said that I had “watched the ensuing comedy that surrounded the Democrat’s hasty attempt to ramrod the politically expedient language back into their official platform.” If it wasn’t so sickeningly pragmatic and blatantly offensive, it would have been pure comedy gold.

  4. Richard Armour says:

    The story to me is the hypocritical manipulation of the term “god” by the Democrats and liberals. First they leave it out intentionally which is fine. Then they make a real mess on national tv by bullying their delagates to put it back in. Republicans of course jumped on this but you really have to turn the story on its ear to hang any of this on Evangelicals. Many Evangelicals like myself are temporarily parked in the Republican Party in the political part of our lives for rational reasons, and place no eternal faith or hope in the Party. Evangelicals did not cause the stir, nor point it out as a group. Republicans did that which is quite different.

    Of course the bigger story was leaving out Jerusalem as the capital of Isreal which had to be intentional. Anyone who is aware of the importance of God’s eternal covenant with the Jewish people should be concerned about America’s new direction.

    • Do you think if evangelicals weren’t holding the GOP’s feet to the fire about religious matters that either party would want to invoke divinity in their politics, given the divisive nature of religion in our culture? If your answer is no, then the evangelicals are largely, not solely, responsible for keeping neutered, generic, deist god talk alive in politics and hence the DNC platform.

  5. Bob says:

    You seem to have missed the point. It’s not so much that the Republicans want Democrats to include “God” in their platform. Rather the concern is that Democrats behave hypocritically.

    In order to win votes they pretend to be “religious” while continually violating the tenets of their religion. They only quote Bible passages as a kind of bait and switch con game to get religious folk to go along with their agenda (ex. “social justice” or “environmental stewardship”). They are not doing honest exegesis.

    So the real issue here is that this constitutes hard evidence that the Democrats really are secular and thus really are being hypocritical when they make religious appeals. They let the mask drop here.

    And if you support them, can’t you at least acknowledge that it’s a bit sleazy for them to reverse their position in such a hypocritical fashion, acting out of pure political expediency to pretend that the 2 amendments were adopted by 2/3 vote when clearly they weren’t? Do you really endorse such behavior, or can you bring yourself to acknowledge that that was perhaps wrong?

    I don’t get your apriori animus against conservatism.

    • Hi Bob,

      You’ve dropped a number of issues here, so let me respond in one at a time. I absolutely concur with your assessment that the late addition of “god” to the Democratic platform was laughable at best, and tragic at worst. Watching them try to ramrod it through, against the wishes of at least a significant portion of their delegates, was nothing shy of offensive.

      Secondly, in your comments, you said the following: “They only quote Bible passages as a kind of bait and switch con game to get religious folk to go along with their agenda (ex. “social justice” or “environmental stewardship”). They are not doing honest exegesis.” On this point, I am somewhat curious. Do you not see honest exegesis as leading to a need for social justice? And if that is the case, are you aware that you are breaking with 1900 years of Christian tradition by suggesting such a thing?

      Finally, I think you misread me when you suggest that I have an “a priori animus against conservatism.” What I have an “animus against” is Evangelicals open identification with a particular political party. For I do not believe that any party speaks for God. Both parties are wrought with critical failures in their core ideologies, failures that reflect poorly upon Christians when we embrace a given party without voicing critical dissent. So honestly, my stance is informed by Paul when he writes in Philippians 3:20-21:

      “But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.”

      Likewise, my stance is informed by Peter, when he writes in 1 Peter 2:11:

      “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”

  6. Bill Radford says:

    Scott,
    I couldn’t help but laugh at your line, “And this is why I think the Democratic party got it right … the first time around.” In my opinion the Democrats get almost nothing right, no matter how many rounds they take, but in this particular case they got it wrong twice. First. it is the height of hubris not to acknowledge the Diety. As Christians we would certainly prefer that they mean the God of the Bible, but failing that I much prefer that those who might be ruling over me and my family and my community and my nation, have the humility to believe there is a divine being who rules over the universe and therefore over them. Second, the only reason for the back tracking is pressure from public opinion. So in the end I would have preferred that they acknowledge God honestly and failing that, I would prefer that they own their godlessness honestly. What they chose was dishonesty.
    Blessings,
    Bill

    • Bill … Do you honestly think that the Republicans are acknowledging the creative, covenant-making God of Israel, who sent His own Son – an equal member of the Trinity – to die for our sins? And if not, then why are you encouraged by the fact that they are contributing to the widespread issue of religious pluralism by acknowledging a generic, non-specific deity that is open to be defined in any way that a given individual so desires to define this entity?

      This is honestly one of those issues in culture that I truly do not understand. How you conceive of a deity directly impacts how you live your life. Those that worshipped Baal put children on burning alters. Those that follow the Hindu system of belief empower a caste system that allows one to burn a widow on the funeral pyre of a deceased spouse. So any suggestions that an acknowledgement of a generic deity is an act of humility rings rather false to my ears. The self-disclosed identity of a deity matters in the particulars of how we live this life. And if you don’t want to identify the particulars in a party platform, than all you accomplish when you use this language is the subtly reinforcement of the cultural belief in religious pluralism/universalism. I don’t get it.

  7. Jon Grant says:

    As a Christian and a person whose views on separation of church and state are so extreme that I am often made to feel like the least attractive guest at a cocktail party when with my Christian “family” I find this whole clamoring to have “god” and/or “morality” in either poltical platform to be political pandering at best and denigrating at its worst. It is not and never has been the job of anyone filling a political office to provide a religious foundation of belief or morals upon this country, to believe this is our tradition is a far too common fallacy. In fact, to be a country founded upon “religious freedom” is actually the intellectual opposite of being a country founded upon religion. Citing Christian (in the orthodox sense) principals as the foundations of our organized societey and its laws and Consitution ignores the fact that it follows natural law and common law principles that are similar to Christianity in its strong natural views of justice and fairness, but these foundational principles where not born with Jesus but rather predate him by millenia. I personally believe that natural law is of God and a part of his creation, but just as his creations are free to be Christian or not, so can natural law exist as a guiding principle without a Judeo-Christian yoke around its neck. Saying that the inclusion of (g)od in these verbose political buttons has any true meaning is like declaring that anyone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is making a profession of faith. Treating God as a political football (or yard marker to continue the metaphor) is certianly a far cry from orthodox religious traditions where people were even fearful to say God’s name out loud out of respect and a feeling they were unworthy. I find it a greatly concerning paradox that as many politically-active Evangelical Christians stand as the most vocal opponents of Sharia law and its effects on civilized society (i would posit this is a correct position) they arealso the greatest proponents of a theocratic approach to our own laws, Consitution and civil standards. While there would surely be cultural differences in how this would be implemented it is no less wrong for any country.

    • It’s funny that you mention the Pledge of Allegiance, Jon. Several years ago, I shocked several of my students when I admitted to them that I will not say the Pledge. I take the use of language very seriously. And when an individual says, “I pledge allegiance,” it means something. They are pledging fealty, loyalty and devotion. And how can I pledge that in good conscience when the laws of this nation (or any nation) do not reflect the values of YHWH? The US is my home, but only in a temporary sense. So I abide by the laws of this land, and I try to speak for mercy and justice with the voice that I have been given. But when I do so, I do not wish to speak words that are not true, lest people come to assume that my words mean nothing to me.

      • Richard Armour says:

        Scott: Thought I would leave this one alone because we are at polar opposites on the Pledge, but several questions kept coming to mind. What is the lesson of the tower of Babel? Was part of God’s intention in dividing us into separate peoples to save us from ourselves? Doesn’t all authority come from God? The Bible seems to indicate we are headed towards a one world government which will hasten our destruction and the end of time. Is a certain amount of allegiance to your Nation not God instilled for a purpose even though every Nation like all of us is broken? My wife is broken, though much less than myself, yet I pledged my allegiance to her, and she to me. Did that take anything away from our ultimate allegiance to God only? And finally, what about the soldier who takes the Pledge and lays his life down to preserve human freedom as well as for his country? Does God discount the warrior’s sacrifice because of his dual allegiance? I believe Nations and a proper amount of allegiance to them are clearly ordered by God. Even though you can end up with a Nazi Germany, there was still a United States of America. Self interested to preserve our way of life for sure, but also willing to die to preserve human freedom. When we slip into a one world government all will be lost.

        • Richard … Here’s what I really appreciate about you. While you may disagree sometimes (or even often) disagree with me, you are always considerate enough to enter the conversation and engage. Although we’ve never met, I suspect I would really like you as an individual. So thanks for coming around. I really do appreciate your comments.

          With regards to this discussion, please do not mistake my unwillingness to recite certain prescribed words as a tacit rejection of this nation. Personally, I still believe that the values of this nation are most conducive to the advancement of the Gospel and to the advancement of human dignity. So while I cannot pledge “allegiance” or “loyalty,” I can actively and ardently engage the nation and seek to move it in a direction that I believe will advance human dignity and the pursuit of justice.

          In terms of Babel, I suspect that is a much larger question than we truly have space for in these confines. If I had to summarize it in short, I don’t believe that Babel is merely the account of human pride trying to usurp the authority of YHWH. I actually believe that a careful reading of the text in its proper cultural context also suggests that Babel was the birth of polytheistic impulse in humanity. Again, there is neither time nor space for that discussion in this particular thread.

          • Richard Armour says:

            Thanks for the kind words. Spending actual time with you rather than “Virtual” time would be a pleasure I’m sure.

    • Jon … One other thing. Out of curiosity, may I ask where you worship? I’d be curious to know where a guy with Anabaptist leanings lands in terms of a church home? If you don’t want to share, that’s fine. I’m just curious.

      And thanks again for stopping by.

      • Jon Grant says:

        It will come as no surprise that I have bounced around a lot in terms of church home. In the most recent decade of my life I have found myself most often attending a Presbyterian Church. I can’t say that is due to any strict affinity for Presbyterian theology as much as it seems the Presbyterian churches I have attended have been been made up of a variety of people that did not feel the need to waste valuable worship time on making sure everyone in attendance always spoke with “one true voice.” I have not as of yet carted my family off to a Hutterite community.

        • Jon Grant says:

          I also have to say that strict Anabaptists would not likely want me either. My stance on Church v. State does not extend to their common belief that one must choose sides exclusively and to the ultimate exclusion of any scintilla of the other. Some might view my personal dichotomy in this area to be intellectual insincerity but it works for me.

          • I’m with you. I tend to lean a bit in the Anabaptist tradition in that I truly believe the much of our involvement with politics merely ends up distorting the Gospel proclamation. But I can’t rule out the Kuyperian approach entirely. For we are still called to bring justice as a part of our witness, and checking out into privatized communities doesn’t exactly accomplish that. So I’m a bit of a hybrid myself, still on the hunt for a solid Evangelical theology of engagement.

  8. I was a dyed in the wool conservative coming out of high school and entering college. My college years only served to cement my conservative leanings with “reason.” In my twenties I worked as an intern with the Family Research Council, a conservative Congressman on Capital Hill, and as a campaign staff person for a US Senate Campaign and a Congressional campaign. I genuinely believed. I subscribed to the idea of God, Country and Party. The left was nothing more than godless, atheistic, ACLU, commie bastards, and the right stood for truth, justice, God (without thinking about how that term was defined), and the American way.

    While I would still consider myself generally conservative in my political convictions, I find most of what conservatives (and the GOP) have to offer to be less than satisfying. I don’t mean that in terms of being insufficiently conservative (as I would have in my 20’s), but I intend that in a sense that they have little to offer in the way of Kingdom solutions. Never mind the complete ungovernability of the American people.

    Moreover, the invocation of god in politics, as an orthodox, Protestant, catholic, evangelical, is shameful and offensive to me. It is a generic, universal and neutered appeal to the ill-defined deity in an attempt to mask and suppress “otherness,” for the purposes of building empire through the violent hijacking of religious language. It is Modernity at its worst.

    What distresses me is the numbers of fellow evangelicals that fall prey to the manipulative use of this language by the GOP, remaining loyal to them and serving only as a base of power. Simply because the GOP has in their platform a pro-life statement does not make them God’s party, the Christian Party or the evangelical party, even though I am unshakably pro-life.

    Dear Christians, neither party, even if they have the Presidency, the Court and a majority in both houses will produce a good, righteous and enduring nation. Given the state of broader culture and our democratic system, neither party is capable of performing justice. Even if you want to believe that one party moves the line a little farther than the other, it is like arguing that jumping five more feet to my three really matters when attempting to jump across the Grand Canyon.

    It is possible you love your country too much. The anger, aggravation, frustration you feel and take out on the other party is largely the symptom of knowing that there ought to be more justice, but Jesus ain’t back yet. Neither party will solve that problem for you, so at the end of the day, who cares what either party has or does not have in their platform.

    • If I may challenge you on at least one point. You argue that jumping five feet to someone else’s three doesn’t matter when trying to leap across the Grand Canyon. While I understand what you are saying in terms of the broader culture, we have to remember that those few feet can actually matter to the individual. That’s why I’m not truly an Anabaptist. I have leanings in that direction, but Kuyper was right in believing that government can be an instrument of justice, if only in terms of preventing greater injustice from occurring.

    • Richard Armour says:

      So in the end you and I are both voting Republican. We just differ in the value of the political process, and how Christians should interact with it. I can live with that. I was worried you were turning into a commie bastard. 😉

      • No. I doubt very highly that I will be voting for a man that changes positions so very easily to fit his constituency. I have no reason (act as opposed to word) to believe Mit’s pro-life or sufficiently so that there is a meaningful difference between these candidates. Mit is running on financial matters, not matters of moral significance for the Christian, assuming finances are separable from the moral realm.

        Moreover, what separates us is not merely the value of the political process and how it ought to be engaged, but the larger story that controls our engagement.

        • Richard Armour says:

          Wow, way too much to say about that but I don’t think you’re that interested if you think there would be little difference between the administrations of these two men. You mentioned the pro-life issue. You really think Mit would appoint someone like Kathleen Sebelius to HHS? They worship at the alter of abortion and birth control at HHS, and are forcing people of faith to pay tribute to their god. That reason alone is enough for me to cast my vote for a change. Financial matters are certainly within the moral realm considering we have saddled our kids and grandkids with 16 trillion in debt. Mit picked Paul Ryan who continually touches the “3rd rail” of politics without fear of the demagoguery he gets slimmed with daily. Obama’s choice was Biden. Enough said.

  9. Judge Ehud says:

    The entire situation saddens me, and it solidifies in my mind how far our nation has fallen. Many of you commented on the parties, and neither can be said to have a true devotion to God. Their devotion is to themselves, their personal gain, and how history will view them and nothing more. When I am in front of my 8th grade history class I have often shared a story about George Washington, a true leader of this country. I share with them how during a battle in the French Indian War, an Indian chief knew that Washington was a man of honor that was with “God” because he and his men could not kill him. Their bullets simply pierced his coat, not his flesh. The chief told his men to stop firing, it was useless. Washington had a deep faith, and it was part of him and his humbleness was a witness to his faith to God. That type of humble leader is absent from our eyes in present day America. I would love to hear Romney and Obama respond to these two quotes from Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.” And, “We are persuaded that good Christians will always be good citizens, and that where righteousness prevails among individuals the Nation will be great and happy. Thus while just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government it’s surest support.” They would have no response, for the godless cannot contend with God. Scott, I agree with your comment about America’s melting pot nature changing. I would not call it a stew, rather a watered down, unseasoned bowl of weakness. The choice this year makes our pot even weaker. For the record I will vote with the GOP, for the main reason that big government is destroying our economy. That my choice has nothing to do with moral ground also saddens me.

    • Jon Grant says:

      I love George Washington and find his personal story and contributions to our country a source of endless interest and new discovery. I even subscribe to the belief that many of his Christian leanings were fairly orthodox (compared to a long period of scholarship that put more focus on deism and the influence of free masonry). But his personal quotes and views are not a part of the religious canon. I am a Christian, but am I wrong to not want to live in a country “governed by God and the Bible,” and I would prefer my government and its leaders to stay out of the “true religion” business. Both of these quotes sound great, and if everyone in the nation just happened to agree with your own personal beliefs they might work, but with a Christian faith that is in itself not united on so many fronts where would we be. I think we are promised a time when this will all be so but perhaps it is with good purpose that it is not now and it is not here.

      And don’t be saddened that you feel you cannot vote on moral grounds. Morality is a personal and universal truth, it is owned (or disowned) by each individual in accordance with the freedom we have been endowed with by our Creator. We can judge an individual upon moral standards (for example, a dishonest person who does not respect his own vows to his spouse would perhaps not be a person to trust in leadership when honesty and fidelity are important) but a political party, or any “group” can not be judged on such an individual standard.

      The confusion and confluence of political, cultural and religious movements have weakened the knees of governance. The Religious Right while perhaps good-intentioned in its formation, has become a wanton group of mafia enforcers running shakedowns on political candidates to get them to espouse and parrot things they may not even believe themselves (or at a minimum may not believe are in the interests of good government) in order to get an endorsement that carries far too much weight with an often uninformed mass that vote as they are told by people to whom they show too much loyalty, and all in the name of religion. Without the hijacking of the GOP by these “culture warriors” I believe there would hope for a new Republicanism that would support small government, personal freedom, and economic policy that provides protection for those who need it with incentives for growth and prosperity that are focused on reducing the need for social services while still providing them. I personally think that is a far more Biblical and “Christian” government than one obsessed with the individual moral choices of “free” individuals and the establishment of orthodox religious principles as law or Constitutional mandates.

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