Christians far too often operate in what is called the “secular / sacred divide.” We bifurcate reality creating a private personal religion and a secular “neutral” public world. We essentially create two buckets. We erroneously categorize our lives to where God’s truth applies and where we believe it does not. We misjudge the secular as neutral, even sending our children to “neutral” secular education. Consider the two buckets where we compartmentalize sacred and secular.
In the religion bucket we have:
I cannot think of a word strong enough to express just how much I love America. I am the girl who read the handbook on the American flag etiquette. I used that knowledge to write an editorial when the local fire department planned to stop keeping a Bible in their department. The Virginian Pilot ran my letter to the editor and my pastor printed it in the bulletin the next Sunday. I fought my way through the State University constantly fending off ideologies that undermine the American way of life because I love my nation. The anti-biblical worldview of secular humanism, Marxism, and postmodernism that has overrun the universities is detrimental to the stability of our nation. I have since published two books to argue for the reformation of America upon her biblical foundations.
I am an Evangelical Christian
I fit squarely within evangelical Christianity historically and yet I do not join without remainder all the modern voices that are so classified today. The more nuanced I become the more I cringe at some of the current trends of communicating a love of country. I am so happy that there are those who hold the fort even if it is with an extremity that I do not share.
Modern evangelical conservatism is creating a surge in liberalism. Unlike many headlines, my provocative statement is not an overstatement device simply intended to garner your attention. Though I hope I have your attention, because this is a very important observation for which I have great hope in seeing this trend reversed. In fact, my thoughts are often arrested trying to solve the puzzle of this all-too-common occurrence.
While a great deal more thought is required, I will share the insight I have thus far. Some I have shared before because it is ever present on my mind. My writing returns to it again and again as of late.
Avoid the Extremes
The more extreme our perspectives become the more nuance is discarded. When our worldview reduces to the party line it becomes combative of the other party to an extent that any common ground is lost. We stand on opposite sides with a large gulf separating us leaving no room for interchange. We create the false idea that we cannot come to any agreement together. Polarized thinking requires that we label any idea that takes any step towards the other party as joining the other party. I am not advocating a middle of the road merging of two extremes – but a return to thoughtful argumentation which requires exploration and understanding of the worldviews we do not hold as our own.
When truth is lost error grows exponentially in many different directions. We are watching the consequences of the loss of truth playing out in our nation. As a result, powerful people and businesses compete to control information as if it is a commodity of consumerism.
Information alone does not create knowledge – that requires wisdom to take accurate information of real facts and produce knowledge of what is true. Careful investigations take time, discipline, dedication, and integrity. Instant tweets, pictures, and videos from a variety of vantage points all dumped into social media do not produce knowledge. It takes more work to arrive at truth. We would do well to remember that when combing through all the instant information looking to make sense of it.
I understand in a world where we do not trust the professional journalists and investigators that we would want to look for alternative sources of information. But sometimes those who try to fill in the gap are simply not equipped to handle the burden of suddenly becoming an expert in investigative research and reporting.
In these trying times it is imperative to practice patience, pausing before believing the latest meme claiming to have the real truth which fits neatly on a digital square. What is true would fill more than a book and still we would have unanswered questions. We can have partial information instantly, but truth takes time. Knowledge requires patience.
Another loss of truth is in theology. There is a great deal of reactionary theology going on today. We witness the ugly results of one theological extreme and we pull hard the other way to avoid being like the ones we critique only to fall into the ditch on the other side. Case in point, I hear people react to extremism in support of the President with a denouncing of what gets termed “Christian nationalism” or “white nationalism.” As I have written before, at length, nationalism has no color. However, the very concept of nationhood comes from Judeo-Protestant theology. We cannot eschew nationalism without embracing a non-biblical theology destructive to modern nations.
The last few days of 2019 found me suffering with the effects of a bad cold that had me sleeping instead of watching the ball drop as we passed into the now infamous 2020. Little did I know that instead of a year of 2020 vision we would have a year of great confusion, deep divisions, a health crisis, economic uncertainty, social turmoil, and a mad dash for toilet paper!
Despite such a tumultuous year, I have experienced deep enjoyment of the Lord and all His bounty. I have found joy in the smallest of things, a well-made sandwich, a juicy strawberry, a walk along the shore or around the block on a pleasant evening, or a great conversation with my husband. When all the fast-paced parts of life are sidelined the important things come into focus.
I have paid close attention to the ensuing cultural battles polarizing our nation. I watch the dueling swords wielded with unrestrained tongues. I see the fearmongering and shock tactics, the victim mentalities, and carelessness and strife in social media posts.
Watching this election coming down to such a narrow margin we can see that we are witnessing the effects of a divided nation. Perhaps we have become numb to our deep seeded divisions which have so polarized our nation. How do we participate in the healing of a nation rather than participating in its divisions? How do we do this without compromising truth? The answer is not standing in the middle of the road trying desperately to merge one worldview with another. It is not claiming neutrality for no worldview is neutral.
Theological Nature of Politics
Politics is both theological and spiritual, but it is not to be religious. There is a difference which I will flesh out. How we see nations and their inner workings on every level is deeply theological. The very idea of nation comes from the Bible. Majoring on personal responsibility or on programs to provide welfare for the poor are both derived from biblical theology. It does not mean that both arguments are equally correct, but that their origins are both coming from a Christian worldview expressed in how we look at economics and government.
In the wake of looting, my fellow conservatives take to social media to complain about the destruction of personal property. I have paid careful attention to the counter argument. These well-meaning individuals argue that it is ludicrous to be moved by the destruction of property, but not injustices to black lives. I can understand why the conservative outcry invokes this response. It does appear heartless. More needs to be said than what a meme can hold.
Without the proper space for real discourse we tend to emotively argue based on memes and click bait articles instead of wrestling with the substance of these topics.
Inanimate objects, stuff, things, personal effects, and buildings are not, and will never be, on par with a human life of any age, color, ethnicity, or nationality, born or unborn. However, to take issue with destruction of personal property is to take issue with the destruction of the value system of liberty. Personal property is tied to the dignity and liberty of free people. This is where it is indeed a matter of lives and livelihood and not only a matter of stuff.
We have entered the political season where there is a race of the century to see which path America will take. Worldview is a crucial component of this election. How we see what is going on and how we see people amid the political conflict is also a matter of worldview.
In this bulletin I am going to break down the different elements of this complex situation before us. To be clear, I am a conservative evangelical Christian. But I will be stepping on the toes of my own group as well as other groups in this discussion.
It is Only About the Kingdom
First, I want to speak to those Christians who believe being pro-Kingdom means being anti-nation. We hear from this group that Jesus is on the throne and all that matters is King Jesus. While I am ever so grateful for their devotion to Jesus, Jesus is not running for President. Our theology is useless if it does not make a difference on earth in the present-day reality. Jesus not only rules in heaven, but on earth. And on earth, God designed us to live within nations. We see this from His call of Abraham to be the father of many nations. Then we see the progression of Moses leading a people out of Egypt, training them in the laws of God to prepare them to be a nation in a physical land where God desired for them to flourish within its borders.
Welcome to my WORLDVIEW BULLETIN:
I hope everyone had wonderful celebrations of our nation’s Independence this past weekend. While we are aptly reminded that not all Americans experienced liberty on that famous day of July, the groundwork was laid for a nation under God and not under a foreign monarchy or a nation where the State is god. Without that liberty being foundational to America, we would all be experiencing a very different world. But at the same time, we would be grievously remiss to ignore those whose freedom came much too late and who are still rightly fighting for the full enjoyment of that precious liberty.
It is easy for those of us who do not face challenges of race to think all this was taken care of with the civil rights legislation in the 1960’s. But how many of us know that laws alone do not change a culture? Even when good laws are in place, laws and policies of injustice can and do remain.
Do we really want to return to normal?
America’s public square is in dire straits. The public square is the public discussion of all things cultural, political, religious, and societal. The people who participate in this discussion in America are citizens from every walk of life, background, gender, race, economic status, and from a vast variety of theological and political thought. This square becomes broken when conversation deteriorates into group think, quarrelling, and emotional attacks against thinkers with which we disagree.