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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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At A Crossroads

Posted by: John Schroeder at 07:42 am, January 3rd 2013     —    3 Comments »

At Human Events, John Haywards says:

Cultural battles are fought before political contests, and as we saw in 2012, they largely pre-determine the outcome of elections.


It’s very difficult to re-define the terms of such an engagement in just a few short months, especially since so much of the “news” media is energetically working for the other side.  Politicizing culture sometimes seems repulsive or unfair to conservatives.  We need to get over that, because the other side does it every day, in countless ways.  Those low-information voters tend to be very high consumers of popular culture.  Sometimes it’s the only medium for effectively communicating with them.

And yet we learn:

According to a new Gallup poll, most people trust their pharmacist more than their pastor.

And at it is less about what we do than how we do it:

Over the years, some politically active Christian leaders seem to believe that at stake in their work is nothing less than the influence of Christianity in America, as if Christ depends on them instead of the other way around. There are multiple effects to such a mindset, including apocalyptic rhetoric and absolutism. At some point, though, characterizing every election and every important piece of social legislation as a moral tipping point for America begins to wear thin.

My own sense of things is that an increasing  number of evangelicals, particularly younger evangelicals, want their brand of politics to be less partisan and bitter than in the past, as well as more high-minded and more firmly rooted in principles. They want their leaders to display a lighter touch, a less distraught and angry spirit, a more gracious tone. In short, they seem to be looking for a politics that is both moral and civil. And they are thirsting for more serious Christian reflection on human society and the human person — on first principles.

So, the picture is that we need cultural influence, but that we have squandered it.  That’s pretty much the picture I have been thinking was emerging.  But there are two problems.  While there are indeed the “apocalyptic” voices that Wehner is worried about in the final quote, they are not all of the Christian voice.  They have; however, drown out the more reasonable.  Reason, by nature of its very reasonableness, will always get drown by the exaggerated in this media culture.  Superhero movies sell a lot more tickets than small human drama.  It is not enough to declare the kind of approach we need – that approach has been around for a long time – How, specifically does that approach gain traction?  That’s the issue.

Secondly, we have lost many important fights for the sake of graciousness.  Civil unions are a gracious and reasonable concession, but to our opponents on marriage, they are insufficient.  A gracious response to such will put us where it put Christ – to death.  At least the only graciousness our opposition will accept as gracious There is a theological case to be made that such is the path we are to choose, but it will be generations before any possible cultural resurrection.   Am I speaking “apocalyptically” here?  It seems simply logical to me.

Yes, our home is with God, but our children have to live here, at least for a while.  One must admit it is painful and difficult to consign our children to the future that seems apparent if we are “gracious” to that extent.


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