Reflections on Republocrat: A Serialized Book Review, Part 1

Image of Republocrat: Confessions of a Liberal Conservative
by Carl R. Trueman
P & R Publishing 2010
Paperback 128
The name “Carl Trueman” didn’t mean a whole lot to me until recently. For some time, the name popped up often in blog-post links folks would email me. Sometimes something at the “Reformation 21” blog would catch my eye and turn out to be Trueman’s work.

Then a few months ago he began to really get my attention—in his response to the Elephant Room 2 confusion as well as subsequent insightful evaluations of the state of evangelicalism in general.

I had seen the book Republocrat: Confessions of Liberal Conservative some time before all that—without connecting its author to the blog work. Then one day it clicked. No, the Carl Trueman wrote Republocrat?

I had to read it. How could such a brilliant guy be so confused?

So why a serialized review of the book? Two reasons: (1) I’m more likely to finish the book this way; (2) it’s easier to write this way—and with school back in session, time’s tight. So, what follows is mostly pre-review notes standing in for the review.

Fly-over

The book consists of Foreword, Acknowledgments, Introduction and six chapters:

  1. Left Behind, 1
  2. The Slipperiness of Secularization, 21
  3. Not-So-Fantastic Mr. Fox, 41
  4. Living Life to the Max, 61
  5. Rulers of the Queen’s Navee [sic], 79
  6. Concluding Unpolitical Postscript, 101

The book is short.

Foreword

Confession: sometimes I skip forewords. Advice: don’t skip this one. In the foreword, Peter Lillback (President, Westminster Theological Seminary) explains how awkward and precarious it was for him, as a “conservative’s conservative” to write the foreword for a book by a “liberal.” (Trueman, a political liberal? Really? We’ll see.) He also explains why he is still so glad to have done so.

It’s interesting, insightful and pretty funny. Favorite line: “I’ve even toyed with renaming [Carl Trueman] ‘Karl Marxman.’” It’s clear that Lillback and Trueman are good friends. Trueman also dedicated the book to Lillback.

Possible most-important-observation in the foreword: “[T]his book is wrongly titled… . its title should be The Critique of Political Folly by a Pilgrim in a Strange Land.”

Is Lillback correct? Looking forward to finding out.

Acknowledgments

Don’t know any of these people, but it’s always nice to know that an author is a grateful guy. A little humor in reference to Lillback: “This book is dedicated to him, with the hope that it does not ruin his reputation!”

Introduction

Love it when an author states his thesis succinctly right up front. Sentence two: “[T]he thesis of this book—that conservative Christianity does not require conservative politics or conservative cultural agendas—is both more important and more interesting than the author.”

Thesis is resated on xxvi, however (for the Roman-numeral-challenged—second to last page of the Intro):

Indeed, the overall thesis of this book is not so much a politial one; rather, it can be summed up as “Politics in democracy is a whole lot more complicated than either political parties or your pastor tell you it is; treat it as such—learn about the issues and think for yourself.”

I’m sure he doesn’t mean every pastor. As a pastor who is interested in political philosophy—not just “politics”—I’m not sure I’ve understated the complexity of American politics. But I’ll grant that oversimplification and broad-brushing are all too common.

Most of the introduction is a autobiographical. Trueman explains the origins of his political awareness across the pond as a Thatcher supporter, then his gradual disillusionment with conservatism. The latter resulted mainly from two disappointments and one “realization.” Disappointment 1: “the corruption of the John Major government.” Disappointment 2: Rupert Murdoch’s apparent “blackball[ing]” of Patten’s memoirs about Hong Kong. Trueman acknowledges that these may seem obscure, but they were pivotal for him at the time. Apparently, Trueman had been viewing both John Major and Rupert Murdoch as some kind of personifications of the conservative essence, and Murdoch apparently put money first, silencing an effort to draw attention to the evils of Chinese government in post-UK Hong Kong. (Does it make sense to be disappointed with conservatism due to bad behavior by two conservatives? More on that later.)

Along side these two major disappointements, Trueman identifies a “realization” strongly influential in his movement away from conservatism. This caused the first real eyebrows-up moment for me—also the first real “gotta write in the margin” moment.

I had also come to a general realization that Thatcher had pulled off something of a political balancing act that was now clearly no longer viable: she had married free-market economics to traditional values, and built an electable party on the basis of an alliance of supporters of these two positions; but as I will argue in a later essay in this book, such an alliance was always doomed to be inherently unstable and in the long run unviable. (xxii)

For me, an effective tease! It’s my conviction that these “two positions” are not only fully compatible, but are ultimately inseparable in a truly conservative political philosophy. But maybe incompatibility is not his point. Looking forward to that essay.

Upon his arrival in the US in 2001, Trueman’s displeasure with conservatism—and politics in general—intensified. He relates an experience in which he described something good Clinton had done for Ulster. The reaction lead him to believe that American conservatives see the Clintons as being right up there with “Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot.”

Interesting recurring word: American politics is “Manichaean”? Trueman seems to use the word to mean “about an elemental struggle between good and evil” in which the good guys are completely good, the bad guys are completely bad, and the difference between them is black and white. So he apparently means Manichaean as in dualistic.

Quotes, responses, wrap-up

xxv: “[T]he identification of Christianity with political agendas, whether of the right or the left, is problematic for a variety of reasons.” Seems to be a restatement of the thesis. How will he support it? Much depends on what “identification” and “poltical agendas” means.

xxv: Dramatic understatement: “But hard-and-fast identification of gospel faithfulness with Left, or even with the center, can be just as problematic.” (Can be?)

xxv: “The gospel cannot and must not be identified with partisan political posturing.” Note scratched in margin: Who believes it should be? I don’t know anybody who wants to associate the faith mere posturing.

xxv: Among the reasons why he cannot be a good conservative:

I also look to writers and thinkers from all parts of the political spectrum. William Hazlitt, George Orwell, Arthur Koestler, Edward Said, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Terry Eagleton, Nat Hentoff, P.J. O’Rourke, Christopher Hitchens, John Lukacs… these writers span the left-right divide, and yet I have enjoyed and profited from them all.

Conservatives can’t enjoy and profit from writers on the left side of the divide? Apparently, Trueman has never read Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, William F. Buckley Jr. or Thomas Sowell. (Note to self: might a gift subscription to The Weekly Standard help?)

Perhaps I’m inferring more that Trumen means to imply, but willingness or ability to learn from and enjoy the full spectrum of thinkers is completely irrelevant to what makes a genuine conservative.

Which brings me back to “personifications of the conservative essence.” It’s too early in this journey through Republocrat to tell for sure, but I suspect that Trueman has confused several things with conservativism. Among them: people claiming to be conservatives, attributes of some conservatives that are not essential attributes of conservatism, poorly executed pursuit of conservative goals. None of these things are conservatism.

The introduction represents the conduct of Ruppert Murdoch regarding Hong Kong—and to a lesser degree, John Major’s ethical issues—as a kind of betrayal. But if these acts were betrayals, what were they betrayals of? If we say “conservatism,” doesn’t that argue that “conservatism” exists in contrast to their behavior, not as something exposed by it?

Trueman may well be more conservative than he realizes.

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

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There are 31 Comments

DavidO's picture

Well an in-depth serialized review is much better than anything I'd have written.  I'm glad I procrastinated on this.  Smile

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Still would love to see your take on it. And mine is likely to be six posts long or so... (with everyone sleeping by the end). So it would be great to get a summary too.

I'm not sure how interested Trueman is in matters political in general and if he has plans to do more writing on the topic. But if he does, it's likely to be important work/influential.

Another book I'd love to a ch. by ch. review on someday is David Platt's ​Radical​ and maybe the sequel ​Radical Together.... The former is of interest to me because I see it as sort of representative of a way of thinking by young evangelicals (and not a few older ones) regarding economics and how the Christian life relates to Stuff. ...a way of thinking that is admirable in some ways but, to me, pretty misinformed about a few things that mar the view as a whole pretty deeply.

Bob Hayton's picture

Interesting start, Aaron.  Looking forward to the completion of your series. My review of Republocrat is here.  I was quite sympathetic to his take. I do see conservative politics too strongly married to Christianity - at least in the public's eye.  

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Can't quite put my finger on it yet, but I sort of sense a framing problem with "conservative politics too strongly married to Christianity."

Thinking out loud here...

  • Would conservative politics be better if it were less Christian? In some cases, yes. Because many conservatives habitually use the wrong kinds of arguments for the wrong kinds of claims. In a society like ours, public policy claims really need to be supported most often by natural law arguments and results arguments. Otherwise, you offer all the non-Christians, nominal Christians, and anti-Christians no reason to support your efforts.
  • Would Christianity be better if it were less political? This one is harder to answer. "Less" seems inadequate because "political" means "having to do with groups of people." It's hard to see how Christianity can be less related to people without being less Christian at the same time. But we're linking "conservative" to "political" here so... should Christianity take a less conservative view of people, their needs, how they are governed?

    It's a complex question. I occasionally encounter Christians and Christian ministries/churches that are to focused on the fringes of "politics"--that is, they are all wrapped up in ​some immediate action item. I don't think I have ever seen a ministry that was giving too much attention to the trunk and the roots of thinking biblically about social ethics, social problems, government's role in those problems. Nor have I have seen Christian groups approach the trunk and roots ​too conservatively.
    But to me, the latter would be just about impossible. It would be like saying ​with too much humility and respect for the lessons of history.

    So a lot depends on what you see as the essence of what conservatism is.

Bob Hayton's picture

I'm partly thinking of Christian songs that merge the Statue of Liberty and The Cross of Christ in the same song. A conservative patriotism with America being God's special country mixed in. That and more.  I'm interested to see how your take and reading of Trueman goes, though. And yes, I may not be framing this right....

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bob Hayton wrote:

I'm partly thinking of Christian songs that merge the Statue of Liberty and The Cross of Christ in the same song. 

 

You know, I may be thinking of the same song you are.  It's one I sang in high school (late 1970's), and either had no issues with it, or didn't really give it a 2nd thought.  I haven't heard it in years.  Now, when you've brought this up, I just had the words go through my mind, and I really have to think about what was done there.  I grew up in a branch of fundamental Christianity where God and country were *very* strongly linked, and no one I knew really thought otherwise.  In recent years, I've more and more thought about how often we cheapen Christianity by linking it to the American way.

Dave Barnhart

Charlie's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

  • Would Christianity be better if it were less political? This one is harder to answer. "Less" seems inadequate because "political" means "having to do with groups of people." It's hard to see how Christianity can be less related to people without being less Christian at the same time. But we're linking "conservative" to "political" here so... should Christianity take a less conservative view of people, their needs, how they are governed?
     

 

I'm not much of a political thinker, but I have appreciated the work ​To Change the World by James Hunter. One of his themes is that in the last century or so, the social sphere has been reduced to the political sphere. The church's interaction with society followed this general trend and has, in consequence, become more exclusively political. Hunter argues that this is problematic for several reasons, but one is that politics involves coercion and the wielding of power over others. I don't think that he thinks that is necessarily wrong for Christians (thus distancing him from some neo-Anabaptists such as John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas), but he certainly wants the church to have a much broader and non-competitive impact on culture. He suggests various non-political ways that churches can involve themselves with their communities and with the wider culture. I saw Hunter's book as having many similarities to Tim Keller's vision for urban churches and to James K. A. Smith's project of cultural transformation in Desiring the Kingdom.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Definitions would be helpful here. How does Hunter define "political" in contrast to "social"?

Off hand, I'd see them as inherently overlapping categories with only a sliver of difference. The cynical view of "politics" is that it's the art of saying a bunch of nonsense in order to trick lots of people into giving you power so you can do whatever you want with it. Biggrin  (And it's only too easy to connect dots to "prove" that view... lots of dots!).

A less cynical but still too narrow view is that "politics" is the art and science of winning elections (so.. the above, minus the bitterness)

A more comprehensive view would be that politics is the part of society that has to do with governing--with how the decisions are made that administer a society's sense of justice. So I'd agree that politics is distinct from society insofar as ​society​ is more than the justice arm. However, as soon as society starts acting in a coordinated way to do what it sees as righting wrongs, it has become political. 

So it's hard to see how the social and political can be meaningfully separated in relation to Christian living or the church. Where I see some room: when a church​ works to transform its community through the message of the gospel, that's, in a sense, social and certainly not political. But "social" is a stretch there, since there is no way to convert a community. Only individuals convert.

(Loose end: "political" is also a more expansive term than "politics" because we use it in the term "political philosophy," which is about much much more than how to win elections or even how justice-related decisions are made: it has to do with what justice is and why decisions should made certain ways rather than others, etc.)

JT Hoekstra's picture

Has America ever been less Christian than it is now? There may be more churches in strip malls but correct doctrine has been in a long oh-fer drought. 

Our thesis then: has there been a more needful time* for political action on the part of the [true] church since the revolution?

Is liberty, like grace, a gift from God?

According to Professor Milton Friedman 95% of the history of mankind has been under tyrannical government. Saving this Republic Under God should be considered as God-ordained as the founding fathers considered beginning it.

If it takes another rebellion, so let it begin from the Black Robe Regiment of today - even if you preach in your khakis or Levi's...

 

*How many more babies must die?  |  As many as 5 Supreme Court justices could be appointed in the next year or two |  Public schools are teaching sexual ambivalence |  Etc.

 

Why wait until it comes to you?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

If I understand Trueman's angle, it's not that we need less activity but that people are identifying their Christianity too closely with "politics." I think he's wrong about the latter, but I also understand the problems that fuel much of his attitude on that. There are many who are inaccurately/wrongly connecting their faith and their politics... but the problem is not a "excessive closeness" problem.

Lots of Christians are not well enough informed on the issues and how to properly apply Scripture and Christian principles to them. So complex problems get reduced to black and white and folks see a particular view as the Christian view... and so on. And then you have zeal problems were some pockets of Christendom are obsessed with political fervor, it really eclipses gospel ministry.

I'll be posting part 2 soon, and will probably say more about it there, but I think Dr. Trueman has identified some real problems but has misidentified their relationship to political philosophy (i.e., conservatism and liberalism). So he ends up blaming the "isms" for what is really just garden variety human stupidity in most cases.

DavidO's picture

I am amazed to read this statement:

Aaron Blumer wrote:
If I understand Trueman's angle, it's not that we need less activity but that people are identifying their Christianity too closely with "politics." I think he's wrong about the latter. . .

in the post immediately following this:

Saving this Republic Under God should be considered as God-ordained as the founding fathers considered beginning it.

Where in the Bible, I ask you, are we given some sort of national or nation-building or nation-preserving mandate (and do you really think the founding fathers were acting on such)?  I see a lot about being strangers and pilgrims and seeking a homeland, but nothing about keeping your country Christian.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Admittedly, you have to do a little reasoning from what is in Scripture to arrive at any obligation to improve your world. ... but you have to do that with a whole lot of things.

I've made the case elsewhere so I'll summarize and maybe link.

1. Love of neighbor. You want to live in a place where justice prevails, where prosperity is likely if you work hard, where moral decency is commonplace. If we want it for ourselves, we should want it for our fellow citizens.

2. Family. Our kids--and if the Lord doesn't return first--our grandkids, etc., will have to live in this place. We should care what sort of nation we are leaving them.

3. Love of the good and right. As Christians we're called to love what God loves and hate what He hates. He loves justice and truth and right.

4. Love of truth. Ideas are never neutral things to Christians and political ideas are no exception--least of all political ideas, because political ideas are ideas about people and justice, two things God is passionate about.

I could go on, but it's probably easier to turn the question around: what biblical reason is there to isolate societal good from other kinds of good and exclude it? The fact that we are citizens of heaven does not call us to ignore the good of the world we live in now.

From my POV, "where does the Bible say we should strive to better/preserve our country?" is like asking "where does the Bible say we should try to put a fire if our neighbor's house is burning?" It just isn't right to let a good thing be destroyed if we can help prevent that.

DavidO's picture

...where does the Bible say we should strive to better/preserve our country?

You're changing the content of the question.  The above is a long way from

We must view saving our Republic under God as a God-ordained end.

Furthermore, putting out a fire in our neighbor's house is an act of care for an individual that can (theoretically) be accomplished by immediately identifiable means and without ambiguity as to the desired end.  The same cannot be said for what makes our country better, at least in all cases.  As you will relate from Trueman in a future installment, I'm sure. 

Bob Hayton's picture

I agree, with David.  The satement re: saving our country's particular status of being "under God" seems to marry Christianity too closely with political thought, in my opition.

Working for the welfare of the city where you are a stranger and pilgrim - yes that falls into the category of loving your neighbor.

Treating the city and country where you live as a stranger and pilgrim as God's greatest blessing to all mankind - this is an untenable position not supported by Scripture.

This leads to how we react to societal ills.  Do we feel like the pagans are invading our holy land since now a homosexual agenda is openly on the rise? Or do we find in that confirmation that we are pilgrims and strangers, and not see that as the ultimate end-times-ish sign that we have finally as a country forsaken God.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The worst thing I can say about "saving our nation under God" is that it's a bit vague. I'm not sure what it means, since it wasn't my phrase.

But look at it from another angle: to whatever degree our nation is "under God" now, would it be better off to be less under God? Is "under God" better than not?

DavidO's picture

Well, I don't think we solve problems of specificity by asking different vague questions.

Whatever you and JT mean by your phrase of choice (and I don't find JT nearly as vague as you do, his framing speaks volumes), the real question is whether the ends to which you refer are achieved by the church adopting as its mission the election of specific candidates, or defeating or enacting given legislations, and accomplishing other political outcomes, or rather by the simple preaching of the Word to convert and disciple whosoever will for the worship and honor of God.

Btw, one of those approaches is modeled by the early church, the other is quite novel.

DavidO's picture

And I think we really must question the adopted aim/purpose of keeping our country Christian, and under God etc, which conditions, if ever true of our country may well be merely welcome outcomes of the main pursuit of the church, namely conversion and training of worshipers for the work of the ministry. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I asked the "under God" question because it has a pretty clear answer. Smile

By any reasonable definition, "under God" is not something we'd be better off with less of as a nation. So the implication is that preserving whatever we have of that is a good thing.

We should avoid either-or thinking about this. We do not have to choose between making our society better and making disciples. We can also simultaneously affirm these two propositions:

a. transforming "society" is not the mission of the church

b. improving society is good work for Christians

There's also no inconsistency with a third proposition:

c. teaching believers how to think biblically about social ethics is a responsibility of the church

I've never been an advocate for swapping the mission of the church in the world with something political or societal. I've also never been a fan of putting questions of social ethics/government in a box labeled "has nothing to do with being a Christian." So there are errors to avoid in both directions.

DavidO's picture

We do not have to choose between making our society better and making disciples.

Agreed, I put it a bit differently above when I talked about welcome outcomes of disciple making.  I think Trueman would agree as well.  His point is tying identity as a Christian to a narrow set of political viewpoints.  Mine is about ends expressly pursued by the church. 

Teaching believers to think biblically about social ethics leaves open the possibility said believers may apply principles and make ethical decisions that result in votes for different candidates than the ones their teachers vote for. 

JT Hoekstra's picture

...no one can show you in a single post chapter and verse on the finer points of maintaining (too late for that?) "One Nation Under God" one can certainly see in scripture the tragedy nations have become without the influence of God's Word, which comes from preaching/teaching. I cannot imagine the American revolution turning out the way it did, and therefore the Constitution were it not for the BRR and the Christian Education of the day. We'd all be Episcopalians? As at the Alamo, someone had to draw the line in the sand despite the odds!

I admit there are many more questions than answers, but David, please, peruse some local church parking lot(s) on Sunday morning (even @Baptists') to see how many bumper stickers support the abortion candidate, the gay candidate, the debt candidate, etc... it may surprise you, and that is only one competition! MOST church goers are unaware of ANY election other than Eph. 1 (that's a funny, I hope). 

Actually, Israel showed us that "teaching believers to think biblically about social issues" does not fulfill the purpose of voting at all. It is so believers TEACH LEADERS (Yes, even politicians) to apply God's ethics to man's choices in ethics and legislation. "They work for us!" Aaron, I appreciate what you are saying and look forward to the 'rest of the story,' but it CAN and quite often has become a question of either/or....

...or would you rather the IRS tell you what passage you can and cannot preach/teach? (Pulpit Freedom Sunday - October 7th, 2012)

...or is it OK to have a totally biased media? (Where have all the home-schooled journalists gone?)

...or do we just wait for fire and brimstone as judgment? (Yes, we are already allowing 2-5% minority to dictate what is taught in 3rd grade HEALTH class)

...or shall we descend under foreign (religious or otherwise) laws?  (Can you spell l-e-g-a-l-b-e-h-e-a-d-i-n-g-s)?     [ e t c ]

Lastly, just think of the positive effects SOUND patriotic teaching (with ONE loud voice) could have on a nation that is religiously leaning toward the prosperity heresy! "Or do God's people seek a $ign?"

The questions aren't really that hard to answer, but the one question that is: are you willing to be politically active now so that your children do not have to take up arms later? (150 years ago, a whole generation was lost to the civil war...shall we not avoid that with urgency?)

DavidO's picture

The questions aren't really that hard to answer, but the one question that is: are you willing to be politically active now so that your children do not have to take up arms later? (150 years ago, a whole generation was lost to the civil war...shall we not avoid that with urgency?)

There's a lot in your post.  I won't respond to all of it, partly because I think I might not be able to tell when you're joking.  As for what I quoted--no, I'm not willing to be politically active above voting, personal conversations with friends, discussions with my children, and an occasional (and quite minor) social/political commentary.  You seem to see being a good patriot/christian as a means to having a good world.  I see loving God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself as greatest end one can pursue, no matter what the world is like.

I do not see that loving my neighbor as myself requires being a "patriot" instead of being a good citizen, or requires me to support the NRA instead of gun control groups, or requires me to watch only FOX news. 

 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

JT wrote:
Actually, Israel showed us that "teaching believers to think biblically about social issues" does not fulfill the purpose of voting at all.

No, I wasn't talking about voting. I was talking about the job of the church. The church doesn't vote. I think we all agree on that. (The people who constitute the church vote, but it's not the church voting. On a given weekend, just about every member of my church goes to Walmart, but it wouldn't be accurate to say "the church went to Walmart.")

David wrote:
I do not see that loving my neighbor as myself requires being a "patriot" instead of being a good citizen, or requires me to support the NRA instead of gun control groups, or requires me to watch only FOX news.

Even FOX is too liberal for me. Really, their alleged conservatism is overstated... and pretty random. But the first part of your statement there is part I want to focus on: the sort of conversation that needs to happen a whole lot more than it does is the sort that explains exactly why principles like love of neighbor are best applied in particular ways rather than other ways. Of course, application is human and doesn't carry the authority of text being applied, but we aren't living by the book unless we apply it. So the work of drawing out the implications (and applications) for the society we live in is very important work.

A danger of Trueman's take on politics is that too much will be dismissed as mere opinion or guesswork or whatever when in many cases, the facts pointing toward a particular application are more compelling than they may seem.

JT Hoekstra's picture

You are part of the greatest nation the world has ever known. God given liberty has been given in this country more than in any other on this grand a scale. Just as you can abuse grace, you can abuse the liberty God has given you, that many others have died defending. You have choices now, but for how much longer? 

 

Our founding Fathers had the foresight to write about the fragileness of liberty over tyranny. The NRA or Fox news are individual choices, for you, but defending freedom takes a louder, united voice. At what point will you and your congregation say, "Devil, now you've gone too far?"

Roe V Wade?

Honor killings?

Mandated insurance abortion pills for your church staff?

Anti-Semitism?

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

"Be prepared" - The Boy Scouts of America

Pulpit Freedom Sunday  October 7th, 2012  

 

 

 

 

Bob Hayton's picture

JT Hoekstra wrote:
At what point will you and your congregation say, "Devil, now you've gone too far?"

Roe V Wade? -- The Romans abandoned children to die.  Christians picked them up and raised them.

Honor killings? -- There were plenty of killings under Rome.

Mandated insurance abortion pills for your church staff? -- Is this a problem if your staff refuses to purchase abortion pills? Again there was all kind of mandated atrocities under Roman rule.

Anti-Semitism? -- There was lots of overt Anti-Semitism under Rome.

Where does Romans 13 come into this, JT?  Paul doesn't advocate rebellion - which you are implying in your posts as something we would need to do if the ballot isn't the way we can avoid these horrible realities.  

Let's not forget that living under freedom of religion is a relatively new state of existence in this world.  There have been all kinds of more evil societies that Christians have been salt and light in (rather than radical revolutionaries in).

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

DavidO's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
So the work of drawing out the implications (and applications) for the society we live in is very important work.

A danger of Trueman's take on politics is that too much will be dismissed as mere opinion or guesswork or whatever when in many cases, the facts pointing toward a particular application are more compelling than they may seem.

I agree with your bolded portion there of course.  But the mere fact (if I'm wrong, assume for the sake of argument) that Blumer is opposed to nationalized health-care and Trueman is in favor of it tells us it is an issue of application on which men who live and die by Biblical principles disagree.  Ultimately I'd say one is right and the other mistaken, but spending the time it takes to make that case to our church people doesn't seem wise use of the 3-4 hours a pastor gets with them each week.  I'm just using health care as an example, btw.  Same could be said for lots of issues, imo. 

And I wasn't talking about a church voting for a candidate exactly.  My point is that you can teach people principles and they may apply them somewhat differently according to their conscience and end up less conservative than the teacher.  What ought he do?  Go back and painstakingly correct their reasoning? 

Ultimately, I think its a mistake to equate a Christian life properly lived (or at least its political component) with endorsement of the conservative check-off list including supporting defense of marriage legislation, the War in Iraq, repealing Obamacare, lowering taxes, yadayada.  JT's concerns, which in my opinion are overzealous at best, may function as my Exhibit A. 

 

JT Hoekstra's picture

Oh, please DavidO..."Go back and painstakingly correct their reasoning?" ??? Nathan didn't do that with David? Paul with the Corinthians? Does anyone in your congregation think abortion is debatable?  

Your people are described as sheep. You are hopefully adding to the flock making review as important as initial teaching. I use words like 'freedom' and 'liberty' and you want to reduce this to taxes as in obamacare?

Lukewarm at the very least! What they need to do is put a warning label on the pulpit: "Danger! Some of the passages you read are unlawful in Canada. Coming very soon to a state near you..."

 

Take a couple of those hours and watch together the movie, "The Patriot." If anyone comes up to you and says, "Why are we taking time for this?" - you may have some history about to repeat itself... 

rogercarlson's picture

JT,

Did you read the book?  Trueman makes it clear that we stand for things like "the passages you read are unlawful in Canada."  But many in the conservitve movement would equate that statement with Obamacare.  We have married ourselves to the Republican Party almost at all costs, that was a mistake.

 

I am clear on moral Biblical issues from my pulpit that has been entrusted to me.  But I am not going to deal with many topics aren't clearly spelled out.  Patriotism is fine (I believe in it), but it should never be elevated above Scripture or even on par with it.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

DavidO's picture

JT Hoekstra wrote:
Oh, please DavidO..."Go back and painstakingly correct their reasoning?" ??? Nathan didn't do that with David? Paul with the Corinthians? Does anyone in your congregation think abortion is debatable?

If you think that what Nathan did with David and Paul did with the Corinthians is the same as marshalling congregants to be active in "preserving our nation," well, I'll rest while you continue to make my case. 

And you can rest a bit easier as well.  I'm not a pastor.  I only have 4 souls under my direct care and they all share my last name. 

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