Politics

Why the Rest Hates the West: Understanding the Growing Animosity of the Rest of the World Toward America

As an American who grew up believing that the United States of America was the beacon of freedom in the world and that people all over the world envied our democracy and liberty, I could never understand why other countries would want to attack us. As a teenager, it was the Russkies and Chicoms that threatened us with their totalitarian aspirations. Today the threat comes primarily from terrorists, but hatred for our country seems to seethe from every corner of the globe. For many Americans, including me, this seems inconceivable. What motivated people all around the world to celebrate when the Twin Towers came down on 9/11? Why did so many dance in the streets and celebrate the worst attack on American soil in half a century?

In his book, Why the Rest Hates the West: Understanding the Roots of Global Rage (IVP, 2004), Meic Pearse tries to help Americans understand the “roots of global rage” against Western democracy. In the introduction he views American tolerance, which many of us consider to be one of the cornerstones of our liberties, from another side. In this passage he is not referring to tolerance as moral relativism, but tolerance as the principles of freedom of religion, speech, press, etc.

The currency of the term tolerance has recently become badly debased. Where it used to mean the respecting of real, hard differences, it has come to mean instead a dogmatic abdication of truth-claims and a moralistic adherence to moral relativism—departure from either of which is stigmatized as intolerance. (p. 12)

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Apolitical Faith? Objections to Christian Political Engagement, Part 2

Read Part 1.

Should Christians be engaged in the American political process? Should involvement in politics ever go beyond a bit of reading and vote-casting? Do pastors and teachers have an obligation to address political topics? Should churches be involved in any way?

Many doctrinally-serious evangelicals and fundamentalists are now answering all of these questions in the negative. But do their objections to Christian political engagement justify keeping political thought and activity to such a minimum? In Part 1 of this series, I began considering and answering several representative objections to more-than-voting involvement in politics. Here, I’ll evaluate several more objections.

First, some attention to the meaning of “political engagement” may be helpful.

Forms and levels of political engagement

For the purposes of this article, “engagement” occurs in two forms and on many levels. The form of engagement may consist of involvement with the ideas or involvement with the process—or both of these. We are ideologically engaged when we ponder points of political (and social) philosophy that relate to the political issues facing our society and seek to think biblically about them. We are involved in the process whenever we act to influence the choice of leaders or policies, whether the action is writing a letter to the editor of the local paper, calling a legislator, marching in a rally or simply casting a vote.

These forms of engagement also occur on many levels. At the most basic, minimal level, idea engagement means listening to the claims of political figures and considering whether they are true in light of what we already know from Scripture. Engagement at the deepest level might take the form of earning a PhD in political theory or writing a book, working for a think-tank, or touring the country on a lecture series.

Casting a vote is pretty much the minimal level of process engagement. Arguably, putting a bumper sticker on the car is more visible but less influential on the final result of an election or policy decision. Deeper levels of engagement range from passing out campaign literature, to donating, to joining a campaign staff, to holding public office. Read more about Apolitical Faith? Objections to Christian Political Engagement, Part 2

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