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Jesus vs. the Democrats

I see it pretty regularly, but on mornings like today it becomes especially hard to bear.

When Scott Brown took over Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat last night, half the nation cheered (and half the nation grimaced).

I have no problem with that.

Part of being American means that I am entitled to my opinion.

I don’t think anyone should take that for granted… if you believe in something, speak up!

What drives me insane is when I wake up to Facebook statuses, tweets, etc. suggesting that God (obviously) dislikes the current health care reform bill and every victory for the status quo is a victory for His Kingdom.

Cheers of “praise God!” “a miracle in Massachusetts!” “you can’t deny there’s a God when something like this happens!”

Ugh.

I do believe in prayer… I’ve experienced the effects of prayer… but I have a big problem with casting God in a political mold.

It diminishes the power of God’s redemptive will

What if the election had turned out otherwise? Right wing Christians then are left to wonder “does God answer prayer?” or just find some other provisional explanation (usually blaming the devil à la Adam and Eve).

It shows a lack of faith and fear of the future

One of the things I’ve been trying to learn lately is that I have a lot of fear in my life. I’ve tried to deal with it in the past by controlling everything around me (doesn’t work) and generally avoiding any relationship or situation that I imagine might cause some sort of conflict at some point in the future. By putting faith in politics, Christians around the United States have time and again unknowingly demonstrated their fears to the world. If God is God, then it doesn’t matter who sits on the throne… right?

The thinking that God’s will can only be done through a particular political system has been extremely destructive to the western Christian church.

It shows a lack of respect for other-minded believers

For those that imagine God’s pleasure in Scott Brown’s election and assume his win will mean the end of health care reform (seriously?), consider this: at least half of all the Christians in the United States may have been praying for the exact opposite outcome. So what does this mean? You have a closer connection to the true God than they? That these other Jesus-loving folks haven’t read their Bibles enough to know that God prefers America’s current system of health care?

It puts God in a box

God is not a Republican. He is not a Democrat. He is not even American (gasp!). He’s not white or black. He’s not a man or a woman (despite my insistence on gender-specific pronouns). He is not what you want him to be. He is who he is.

Remember that conversation Moses had with the burning bush?

I AM

And the following rescue of his people from oppression was the proof that he was… and is… and will continue to be.

So why do I fear? Why does my foundation rest on God’s supporting my political opinions? Why do I believe if this guy is president or that bill passes or this is legal or that is illegal…. then God’s will is foiled and my life is over?

So rejoice when your “team” wins one… but please don’t believe that God is on your side alone.

He’s a heck of a lot bigger than that.

Comments

Tiff
Reply

One my favorites to date. This is so well put and a much needed reminder for Christians. Personal pet peeve is when people use “God’s will” as a synonym for their own agenda and just assume that when things veer to the right God must be answering the prayers of the faithful and when things veer left God is either punishing America, we’re not praying hard enough, or the end times are imminent and the Antichrist is assuredly among us. Thank you for writing this!

Tim Wright
Reply

Great perspective.Thanks!

Jenny
Reply

Well said, and an amen to TIff’s comment.

Craig Hurst
Reply

Troy, listen to this interview with Russel Moore about his new book on Christians and Politics….I think you will like it based on this post.
http://reformedforum.org/ctc40/

Emily Russell
Reply

This was really, really well put, Troy. It gave me a lot to think on, and I appreciate it.

tim clark
Reply

As we have seen especially over the last few years, the market is not a rational provider; it does not think about us, plan our lives, work all things together for our salvation, or send us redemption. The government is a bureaucracy, not a loving shepherd. It fulfills important responsibilities, but it is hardly worthy of our ultimate trust. And regardless of how much we invest in vaccines and medical technology, we will die anyway. In this context, the announcement that Jesus is Lord means everything and its meaning is determined by the fact that the one who is enthroned in heaven above all principalities and powers is the same one who died for our sins and was raised for our justification. – Michael Horton

Good blog.

APostema
Reply

I am also annoyed when the “God is on MY side” claim is overused in politics. But I do have one question: What about when the issue is clearly moral?
When the issue is slavery, does God have a side? What about abortion?
I can see how with health care, charter schools, and sales tax it’s pretty dangerous to put God on one side or another.

Two more thoughts:
I agree, people should put their faith in God, not in government.
But, in a representative republic, don’t the citizens have an obligation to participate in the system? Isn’t it a stewardship issue? I don’t think politics is the means by which we will “bring in the kingdom”, but if gov’t is there to represent me, don’t I want to speak up when I have the chance?

Lastly, I believe Jesus is fully God and also fully man. I would die for this belief. Maybe you want to clarify your statement?

Make it a great day,
Andrew

(I don’t have a lot of time to craft this comment so I may want to clarify things later)

Troy
Reply

Great questions Andrew.

Of course they are all too huge to try to answer appropriately in a blog comment…
but I’ll do my best to hint at my feelings on each.

Morality, God, Issues
Obviously certain issues in the political realm have moral undertones (or in many cases, overtones) and I would never suggest that God cares not. Where we often lose perspective though, is when we believe God is on one side or another of a particular policy.

Stewarding our Nation
I believe strongly that people of faith should be active in their nation’s government. They should fight for righteousness and justice. I hope I didn’t convey through this post that anyone should have a Qué Sera Sera attitude regarding political involvement.

What I’m expressing here is a frustration with relying on nation to do God’s work.

How many religious people will speak up and cast their votes based solely on abortion policy, yet never once reach out an actual hand to help expectant mothers in dire straits?

God’s Gender
Obviously the hypostatic union is a topic better addressed by a book than a blog post. I must say that I commend your commitment to consistency in orthodoxy. I believe it is foundational to Christian faith and one reason why I am comfortable using masculine pronouns when I write about God.

I do not however, believe that the Bible boxes the trinitarian creator God into a particular gender.

Is it possible Andrew, that throughout scripture God has revealed himself with gender in the same way that other anthropomorphic qualities are attributed?

And isn’t it true, that even though the majority of references to God use masculine names/pronouns (one other reason for my choice to do the same), there are several cases when overtly feminine qualities are applied?

Disclaimer:
I’m not an expert.
What I share on this blog are my thoughts, often right off the top of my head.
So anything I write or reply on Strong Odors could be totally wrong.
I write to stimulate thinking and challenge readers’ preconcieved notions about God, life, death, art, music, “good and bad,” and how they interpret things that “stink.”
I do not write to deliver answers… just hope you can seek them more thoroughly after reading some of my random thoughts.

APostema
Reply

Good thoughts, Troy. And I must say, your disclaimer makes me smile. Your “off the top of my head” is usually more thoughtful and clear than most. I was hoping to contribute to the conversation by noting that the broad strokes do have borders/boundaries.

Oh, and I saw that Tim Clark is a part of this conversation, so how could I resist joining in?

So here are more thoughts:
Yes, the issues are often muddled and the policies are nuanced. When God speaks on an issue (or a political activist speaks for God) the issue should be very clear.

I think we are saying the same thing about being involved in government without allowing big brother to take the place of the church.

Your comments on God’s gender remind me of a phrase I learned from a professor: “Little ships should stay close to the shore.” I’m reluctant to pilot my theological boat away from the safe harbor of orthodox Christianity. The answer to both of your questions is yes, and I agree with your point, that God is bigger than the categories by which we understand him. Human language is certainly incapable of fully describing God, however, he considered written revelation as a suitable means for making himself known. The Triune God is comfortable with the terms Father, Son and Spirit. These terms are more than boxes or preconceived notions.

Ok, I’ve got to get to work. Thanks for making me think.
Make it a great day.

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