This is a long post. Sorry, but the topic is a bit complicated. Thanks for tuning in.
One thing that the 2016 US Presidential Election has shown the world is that Americans are having an identity crisis. Shall I narrow this? Nominal American Christians (70%) are having notable identity crisis. Shall I go further? Evangelical, born again leaders and laity (30%) are having a shattering identity crisis.
Jesus Christ told his followers to make learners wherever they went. He gave them a message that turned the Roman world upside down a few short years after his death and resurrection, supplanting the lucrative market place pantheon of demi-gods with flesh and blood, still living, community benefiting saints.
What were some key principles that accomplished this?
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,”
was enlarged with
“…call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions…made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions…took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”
Early Christians invested in local community with abandon and grace, not demanding a reward from their fellows, but being confident of a reward in the after life. This was a tactic that was irrepressible by their foes.
Centuries later, a church whose identity had shifted into empire, not charitable holiness, was turned upside down by reformers, who again made learners of the serfs and tradesmen that bishops and princes had used and discarded like face tissues. The reformers got down and dirty with “sinners” like Jesus did.
Leading reformers searched the Holy Bible for clues on successful governance and market place ideology. A stream of Biblically sifted public polity insights from the Hugenots in France, to the dissenters in England and Scotland, to the Pilgrims and Puritans in America, led through town hall governance to the Old World Order defying American Revolution and Constitution.
These past Christian pioneers in governance, over centuries, faced down tremendous opposition, even amid death of many of their number. In the Anglosphere—England, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, even India, the fruits of Christian governance multiplied. At the same time, as Christians indulged themselves, increasingly giving up on earning and saving to give, [aka John Wesley], progressive dons stepped into the void, and the socialist seeds of Voltaire, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, Darwin and Sangor spread quickly in fertile soil.
Fast forward to today. Have you tracked the 2016 national evangelical debate over #NeverTrump? Have you have seen the parade of conservative and evangelical media, church, business and educational leaders who are staggering and roaring and moaning and sweating in the tug-o-war over a “binary choice” vs a third candidate protest vote?
The “elephant in the room” is that Christian “salt” has lost its influence on America. Whether by external, strategic anti Christian driven activism in the last 200 years (Mann, Dewey, Dawkins), or by internal supplanting of the sacrificial cross life by materialism and hedonism (Presley, Bakker, Driscoll, Sproul Jr., Duggar Jr.), Christians seem to be suddenly discovering their values are mocked and they are targeted for silencing, with fewer and fewer predictable political champions for Christian concerns.
As long as there was an “evil” political opponent, the nagging question of failing larger influence was quenched by short term, feel good, united posturing in political campaigns for “prosperity”, best seen in races against socialist, tax and spend candidates with Leninist/Frankfurt Marxist ideologies, or Wilsonian quasi-Christian progressive bona fides.
The current reality of two morally bankrupt candidates for president, exacerbated by media “reality show” news bombs in the last weeks of the presidential campaign has prompted many evangelical leaders to begin to jump from their burning ivory towers.
These “thought leaders” do not want to walk the gauntlet of government with morally “failed” leaders. Rather than scrutinize the failed “saltiness” of their own systematic theologies and denominational orthopraxies, as seen in lost influence in media and public educational venues, they plan to go AWOL from voting. They appear to hope that washing their hands of Trump and/or Clinton, will convince others they cannot be associated with any part of what has or is to come.
Why are Christian thought leaders now in meltdown over Donald Trump? Did not Jesus tell his disciples to find the “worthy” man (a locally recognized leader) in each village and bring help and blessings to that village? Was not Jesus’ test for involvement with secular leaders their openness to receiving help, and not their prior virtue?
Did not the patron apostle of Reformed Soteriology, Paul, say that the first communal priority of any church was prayers for holders of public office? And included in those prayers were even governors where power came often by corruptions of dagger and purse, not observable purity?
Identity drives choices of association. If a Christian identifies with Jesus Christ, with a view of sure reward in the life to come, he or she will not fear loss or shaming in this life, even forced association with one like Donald Trump. Jesus Christ said the soul of man was eternal, but the comforts and shout outs of this life were transitory and should be rated secondary and disposable.
When Christians adore loan and credit ratings, and despise having children by using contraceptives, they have lost their salt. When Christian thought leaders can rave and admire sex and violence laden story plots in Game of Thrones episodes, they have little ground to criticize Clintonesque peddling of influence or Trumpian pimping of fleeting pelvic and pocketbook pleasures.
Christian, what will you do when you wake up the morning after November 8, 2016? Will you roll up your sleeves and seek to influence public policy with grace? Or will you extend your abstention from voting and disappear from the public square for the next four years?
On the local level, will you shut your ears, eyes, and mouth to the skewing of local school board policy because the school board members are all hardened progressive activists and you cannot not find a sympathetic ear?
At the state level, will you refuse to vote for either Republican Washington State Treasurer candidate, because one has received funds from Planned Parenthood, and the other funds from SEIU?
This identity meltdown can only be addressed at the level of personal saltlessness. When our good works as Christians are funded by walking our own capital through hard work and savings and answered prayer to God, rather than prayers to bank loan managers, then we will begin to have an identity with clout.
When our educational guidelines promote wisdom and discard folly, when we can equally accept or disdain the shifting praise of elite educators, businessmen or media stars, even Christian superstar theologians, then we will become at the same time stable local community leaders and radical world change agents.
When we abandon “Beach Boys to Rap pelvic libido culture” in our recreation and youth groups and worship services, then perhaps we will obey the still small voice that builds lasting foundations of peacemaking that over ride human bankruptcy with God’s wisdom and workings.
Until then…the saltless meltdown and identity crisis of conservatives and evangelicals will only continue to grow.
I voted for Trump.
I voted against the EMS levy.
I voted against I-1501.
Last Tuesday, I took the day to testify in Olympia on solutions to improve the Growth Management Act, where I suggested that that the Growth Management Hearings Board be repopulated with one industry qualified specialist specific to each of the 14 elements. I would further suggest that these positions be elected, not appointed.
I voted for DeWolf, Zempel and Larsen for State Supreme Court. The Hirst v Whatcom County ruling should be a wake up call for all Washington citizens on progressive strongarm takeover tactics. Saul Alinsky is a viper, but so is Mitch McConnell. Property rights is Life 101. In the Bible it comes right after the 10 commandments (Exodus 20-23). Private philanthropy (vs government funding for everything) is Life 201.
In this above list, if Trump is the only thing that you as a Christian or “conservative” can talk knowledgeably about, you need to get out from under your rock. Please don’t lecture me about being judgmental of sinners when these observations above come after six years of quite close involvement in local and state public policy issues.