Southern Baptists and Presidents, an open question
[ by Charles Cameron — all views & comments welcome ]
Time, Evangelicals Are Supporting Trump Out of Fear, Not Faith SBC, Resolution On Moral Character Of Public Officials
I’m leaving this DoubleQuote as an open question> I have my own preferences, of course, but in the spirit of free discourse, comments are welcome from believers and non-believers, saints and sinners, Trumpeteers, Clintonians, and a-politicals alike..
July 30th, 2019 at 4:31 pm
Dr. Martin Luther King? Kamala Harris? We seem to have a dearth of Puritans in political leadership.
I tend to think that, while we absolutely must not lower our standards, perhaps we can broaden our thinking on what moral purity and high character mean in the political domain. Christians’ role in civil society should be engagement, which means mercy and guidance as well as judgement.
Considering the Southern Baptists, their evangelical mission is to spread the gospel and convert disciples. On a practical level we all fall short of perfection. The Southern Baptists will be presenting the gospel to many people who will be even a little bit more morally diluted than usual. That’s the nature of missionary work. The worst sinners are the ones most in need of the healing power of the Word of God, and the Church is their hospital.
However, Salvation is universal and infinite, but our time on this earth is not. How would the Evangelical determine who is receptive to the gospel so is worthy of their limited time and humble efforts?
I would suggest that it is the person who recognizes real virtue, not necessarily in themselves as they are fallen creatures, but as something true and good and something to be pursued in order to benefit their spiritual life and the lives of others around them. The one who recognizes the inspiration of Christ and de Imitatione Christi as the true path to moral ethics and justice and civility. That is the person who has the moral character and, importantly, the spiritual stamina to climb the mountain of the Lord’s house, even starting from the lowly valley, that is deserving of support.
Using that rule of thumb, a leader who is committing serious wrongs should be rightfully condemned. On the other hand, a leader who is, despite past misdeeds, now making heartfelt, penitent, and concerted efforts to steer themselves and their constituencies towards biblical principles and the goodness of God should be supported.
July 31st, 2019 at 1:44 am
MLK I’d agree fits the profile.
I’m not sure puritans is what we need.. And I have to admit, MLK makes me do a major double-take, in a way that JFK and Clinton don’t.
July 31st, 2019 at 12:52 pm
From the National Cathedral, and surely relevant, signed by:
July 31st, 2019 at 12:58 pm
I didn’t say it earlier, Grurray, but I do want to thank you for a very fine and lucid comment up above.
August 1st, 2019 at 7:07 pm
Charles, thanks for your kind words on Twitter. I’m not sure if I agree with that other tweep’s comments that Evangelicals have always been two decades behind the times. Billy Graham sold out stadiums and preached racial integration in the 50s. Francis Schaeffer adopted non-violent civil disobedience for protesting abortion, and it was successful in seizing the moral high ground and rolling back public opinion. My favorite Evangelical theologian, William Lane Craig, has convincingly debated famous atheists over the past decade.
By the way, while I am far from being a Protestant, Craig and I agree on what I believe to be the greatest error in Christian doctrine probably of all time, the condemnation of Monothelitism at the Third Council of Constantinople in 680 AD, which had the political consequences of cementing Arab control over former Roman territory in the Near and Middle East, but I digress.
There seems to be this mistaken prejudice that Evangelicals are only capable of locking people down in some medieval Handmaid’s Tail dystopia, but that’s far from the truth. As you know, there are Evangelicals of every stripe, with the one unifying principle of outreach, evangelizing, and engagement in the community. They are in step with the times, and the evidence is their churches are filled up every Sunday while mainstream churches are turned into museums.
August 2nd, 2019 at 1:26 am
I heard Billy Graham once as a kid, on what i think was his first visit to London — 1954? I’d have been 11. Francis Schaeffer I admire for his inclusion of culture in his book, How Should We Then Live? But then, Rushdoony, via Cornelius van Til — not so much. I was at Taize once, age 17 or so, and said then that I wanted to be a monk, and they sorta kinda invited me, but I was trending Benedictine / Solesmes at the time..
Is your concern with the condemnation of monothelitism a geo-political rather than a theological one?
I sympathize with Frank Schaeffer’s move to Orthodoxy, and feel Franklin Graham has much to answer for in terms of the medieval Handmaid’s Tale dystopia you mention, which has captured the hearts of many..
But then I tend to take a poet’s reading of all religions, and view the sacramental element, as found in both Orthodoxy and Catholicism, as at the spiritual heart of Christianity, generosity to the poor and the stranger being its resulting out-flowing energy..
August 2nd, 2019 at 12:02 pm
You know I have to weigh in on this.
Evangelicals support Trump because he is giving them what they want – Repeal Roe, and banish LGBTQ+ people from public sight. Don’t kid yourself – they would love to see the government run by evangelicals, and America a Christian nation (the question of which Christianity, of course, is conveniently ignored, and woe to you if you’re catholic or any other denomination that is not as extreme as they are). Handmaid’s Tale? I knew many evangelical Christians that would love to see that world. To them the Bible clearly states that men are the heads of the household, a woman should never be in authority over a man, and LGBTQ+ people are deliberately defying God’s will and should be punished if they won’t repent. This was the world I inhabited for 25 years.
Commonly, they will note that God has always used flawed leaders to bring about God’s plan (Cyrus the Great, Moses, David, etc. – and even MLK) (although I’ll note that they did NOT back JFK since they thought he’d take orders from the Pope, who to them is the Antichrist and the RCC the beast of revelations) To them, Trump is just another is this line. As long as he turns the country in a more conservative direction, they’ll back him (and Mike Pence) to the bitter end.
It’s a difficult time to be a progressive Christian. And it was terrifying for me to switch sides. But my faith is just as strong as it ever was. I’ve come to see, though, that groups like the SBC are a theocratic danger to this country.
August 2nd, 2019 at 3:55 pm
Thank you, Karlie, and Gruuray too. I have tried the dellicate balance of opening the discussion to both sides, at a time when, as Karlie puts it, the question of which Christianity is, in practical terms, wide open.
August 2nd, 2019 at 4:34 pm
What is the future of God?
And — is this a different question? — BBC: what is the future of religion?<
God is unchanging, everlasting? Times change.
August 2nd, 2019 at 9:37 pm
I don’t know any Zoroastrians, but my cousin is married to an Iraqi Mandean, which I think is a somewhat similar descendant. She is non-observant, so maybe there is something to that. However, I think their decline had as much to do with political and military pressure as with the cultural pressure of secular disenchantment.
Maybe I’m wrong- I often am- but just I don’t believe punishment is high on the list of concerns for Evangelical Christians. Rather, the concern is an old one, and that is how to be in the world but not of it. Sticking with the theme of this discussion, here is a great sermon by Billy Graham on the dilemma
“Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. Nearly everyone He associated with was an outcast, but his relationship with them was not purely social; it was redemptive. Now we’re not to get our worlds mixed up at this point. This is where the confusion lies. Certainly, God did not mean the world of creation. God meant that we’re to mingle with the world, but we have to witness to the world. We’re to love the world of men whom God loves. We’re to weep with those who weep, suffer with those who suffer, and identify ourselves with the poor, the sick, and the needy. But our motives are not totally sociological, nor are they merely humanitarian. Like Christ, our relationships are to be sociological, humanitarian, but primarily redemptive. We’re to love them not in their sins but that they might be delivered from their sins. But as far as loving the evil cosmos being enamored with the world system of evil, we have to be separated from it.”
August 5th, 2019 at 1:47 pm
Evangelical Christians are very a theocratic threat: see