Just and the Justifier

A Christian Distinctive

Archive for the tag “spiritual whoredom”

Political Christianity

I chanced upon a headline in the New York Times Magazine this afternoon at Starbucks. Now, that statement might intimate that my political loyalties lie with the Left. However, except for a fling with the NDP, in disgust with the conservative and liberal parties’ evident selectivity in the upholding of civil rights in the War Measures Act of 1970; I could not vote for any party, whose unstated policy of laïcité would preclude Christian/religious values and principles from contending in the public square. Indeed, I belong to that great and deep chasm between conservative moralism and liberal intellectual intellectualist arrogance called True Christianity.

The Trap of Loyalty

Syria’s Alawites are caught between for their own increasingly brutal leaders and a rebellion that may want to wipe them off the map.1

I cannot help but think about the snare that conservative Christians (and to lesser extent, progressive Christians) have fallen into, as I wait for my Cappuccino. The lamentable thing is that neither Christian ‘faction’ seems sufficiently aware of their self-inflicted conundrum.

The report articles the many Alawite Muslims, targeted by the rebels, for being of the same Islamic sect as the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad. They have given that dynasty a tribalistic level of support. Some had even participated in massacres against various adversarial groups in decades prior.

Therefore, regardless of personal culpability or concurrence with the atrocities, committed by the regime, these Alawites are painted with the same brush. Were they to withdraw political allegiance due to horror at the atrocities, Bashar al-Assad might very well withdraw his protection. And they would be gunned down unprotected, without discernment or distinction because of past animosities and associations. They are stuck in their loyalty with whatever angel or devil represents the regime.

Tribal loyalties are understandable. Christian commitment to one secular sociopolitical faction or the other is declaimed by Christian Scriptures (“unequally yoked”) and imprudent.

Certainly, many of these political Christians are spiritual weeds; as Christian as the “German Christians” of the 1930s; ignorant of Scriptures; certainly ignorant of the principles, ethic, ethos and Gospel of Christ. And perhaps, it is time to call a tare a tare.

Having cast their lot with the Republican Party, conservative Christianity unnecessarily alienates the other half of America on matters of secondary consequence; on issues which have little to do with Christianity, on issues which are contrary to Christianity. Indeed, in this pact with the devil, one painfully observes conservative Christianity conscript and construe (and misconstrue) Scriptural verses to give spiritual imprimatur to matters which are ethically dubious (i.e. the political issue is too complex to pontificate moral / spiritual blessing). More so, the reputation of Christianity becomes beholden to the conduct and attitudes of their political allies and protectors.

There is a statistically significant dip in Southern Baptist membership growth in 2003, the year of the Iraq War; which shocking to me, the SBC actually gave official sanction. There membership has been on a slow wane ever since. And the SBC is wondering why it is losing its youth; not to alternative denominations; but to agnosticism and even hostility.

 And considering that the current political polarization in the U.S. will likely only worsen, only become nastier, only bring on further extremist measures on both factions; the reputation of Christianity suffers for the friends with whom conservative Christianity associates with. “God’s name is blasphemed among the nations because of you.”2

The spiritual problem is not about the sociopolitical issues themselves. The issue is about having the independence of choosing, which issues of the Republican (or Democratic) arsenal are morally clear cut. The issue is about being neutral on sociopolitical issues in which neutrality is spiritually prudent or morally complex and doubtful. The issue is about retaining autonomous independence and moral authority in speaking truth to power, regardless of whoever attains the Commanding Heights of society. The issue is about having a purifying and distinct Evangelical voice. The issue is about being free to give other sociopolitical factions credit and support in those issues in which they may be closer to the right; however rare that might appear to be. The issue is about not permitting unregenerate people to enlist Christianity in non-Christian and dubious, even corrupt, causes. The issue is about being able to retain a clarity of mind, not besmirched by the flak of worldly and unchristian thought and attitude.

The issue is about moral credibility and the reputation of God.

And in alienating the other sociopolitical faction, that other sociopolitical faction will have greater and justified cause to depredate the cause of Christ. Indeed, fear of the liberal secularist onslaught that depredates Christianity, which gave genesis to Evangelical prostitution with conservatism in the first place, will only bind Evangelicalism ever closer to their secular johns.

The taste of Christianity, emanating out of current Evangelicalism, has become painfully worldly, idolatrous, moralist and lacking in grace, mean-spirited and hateful, jingoistic, compromised and without spiritual vitality. It is social and capitalist conservatism sprinkled with God words.



NOTES

1.       Robert F. Worth, “The Trap of Loyalty”, The New York Times Magazine (Print Edition), June 23, 2013.

2.       Romans 2:24 NIV. I have replaced Gentiles with nations (Greek – ethnesin) in this quote. It is equally valid; speaking objectively and generically, rather than in relationship to the Jews.

    

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Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform is Biblical, Not Political??

RE:  The Credentialed Signatories of American Evangelicalism who intimate a Scriptural and Spiritual Imprimatur for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (see http://evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/)

RE:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2013/03/13/evangelical-support-immigration-reform-biblical-not-political-soerens/

Weaving through the Web to acquire factual information for many writing projects, I often get sidetracked onto articles and essays which, although worthy of interest, waylay the priorities of my time. This article reflects one of these occasions, to which I will, no doubt, be kicking myself tomorrow.

One comes across an inordinate number of ethical and sociopolitical advocacies by purported Christians, proud of their own voice, while displaying third rate Scriptural interpretation and reason. I often wish that the Internet had not been invented and thereby not give such free agency for such to utter their babblings in the name of Christ.

I am not timid in expressing economic, social and political analysis in this web site. And Scriptures deeply and insidiously influence my thinking. However, the underlying motivations conform to two of the few New Testament adages, which might bear any relationship with sociopolitical issues. One seeks to extend individual liberty of conscience in the social realm to the fullest extent that the virtue of a contemporary populace can bear (Romans 14). The other is a sociopolitical implementation of the frequently enjoined Scriptural admonishment to seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11). Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy (Hebrews 12:14). If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). If I raise a concern about economic inequalities and their ensuing social, political and legal inequalities or with philosophical sectarianism, it is in the context of their relation with social piece and individual liberty.

So, I do not have problem with people voicing opinions, regardless of competence. The Internet might prove a worthwhile vehicle to induce iron sharpens iron precision and clarity to its participants’ arguments. What I do take umbrage with, is the SPIRITUAL IMPRIMATUR that some Christian adherents arrogate to their views.

I have seen Christ conscripted into the cause of capitalism and socialism; although I find that those advocates seem clueless about the respective economic philosophies, let alone their own theology. There is a distinction between free markets and capitalism. And a voluntary surrender of one’s goods and property with a community of one’s choice (Acts 204) differs from the coercive ideologies of socialism and communism.

One of the earliest uses of Scriptural imprimatur in my life came from adversaries of mixed racial marriages. As is so common from such advocates, the unity of the mind of God is ripped into little selective proof texts. The banner of Be you not unequally yoked together was waved in my face; until it was realized and pointed out that a couple of words were missing from that adage.

Therefore, I cannot help but feel like punching through church walls when I encounter such rubbish as the suggestion of a Biblical sanction for some American Comprehensive Immigration Reform policy or bill. It astonishes that church leaders, denominations and umbrella organizations even have Statements of Principles with its who’s who of signatories from many Evangelical denominations. Or that advocates, more interested in the things of this world than in things of God would dare to embellish their advocacies with Scriptural verses, located by a Google search without a coherent depth of understanding of Scriptures, theology or the complicated trade-offs required in sociopolitical policy.

From this article comes this little gem

I believe that the primary reason that most have spoken out is not, as Mr. Tooley hints, an embrace of sentimental, liberal theology, but rather an orthodox commitment to the authority of Scripture.

To correct this biblical blind spot, the Evangelical Immigration Table has launched the “I Was a Stranger” Challenge, providing a bookmark that lists 40 Scripture passages that relate in one way or another to the topic of immigration, which we are encouraging people to read, one passage per day. 

In this, the author of the article and the umbrella organization, which he cites, tosses tinsels of Scriptural proof texts to embellish their sociopolitical cause and impress the gullible and clueless.

Are these people serious and sane?

I do not desire to perform exegesis on the flak of Scriptures being offered. There are greater principles involved than discoursing on the minutiae of immigration policy.

And the source of my complaint stems not from any given position on the matter. My overall position on the matter, if it mattered, would be probably one of being in favour of a one-time amnesty program, but with grave misgivings. But these arguments are rational and nuanced. It is certainly not a clear-cut moral issue. Indeed, those who oppose naturalization of illegal immigrants have a better hold of justice on their side.

The issue and the only issue of this dissertation is the perverse abuse of Christ and Scriptures to give spiritual imprimatur to a temporal concern. It requires a hermeneutical contortionism, which betrays the competence or integrity of those credentialed signatories who wasted serious time and money on their theological training. It exposes the worldliness of modern Evangelical theologians, who scurry around like Constantinian bishops, self-deluded by the ostentatious flattery of secular authority of the importance of their influence. It helps explain why the person on the Evangelical pew is Biblically, theologically and ethically ignorant, while its leaders expend their time on needle point points of legislative policy. It causes unnecessary alienation from the Gospel of people with different views on this tertiary social matter, when the Magisterium of God is being invoked. It brings considerable and long-term dishonour to the cause of Christ if this scripturally unsupported policy goes south. The corruption of the theological elite is a tell-tale sign that the salt of American Evangelicalism has lost its savour. “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13)

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