Sometimes all it takes is a morning glimpse of winter sun to shake all the evils from one’s mind, at least, for the moment.
Sometimes all it takes is a morning glimpse of winter sun to shake all the evils from one’s mind, at least, for the moment.
In next week’s election, I do not plan on voting for any federal or New York State officials, obviously including President of the United States of America. I have been asked by a friend to explain my choice. To my best understanding, the reason he is asking me to explain is because traditionally we conservative evangelical types see voting as a civic duty. We have learned from when we were wee lads and lasses that voting in democratic elections is a near-sacred duty, wrapped in all the somberness and ritual of a religious sacrament.
And therein is my first issue with voting for federal and state office holders. As a Christian, my primary citizenship is in heaven, where Christ is. He is preparing the New Jerusalem—the eternal city of God—and He will bring that consummate kingdom upon His appearance and judgment of the living and the dead. You’ll notice I said “primary” citizenship, and that’s because of course we are also citizens of the nations on earth as we live here. In simple terms, Christians are dual citizens, and we have duties in each realm. And what is our most important duty in the civil realm of this age? It is to be salt and light—to stand out. We are to be a different, holy people, and we are to be the fragrance of Christ everywhere we go, and in all we do.
What am I getting at? Only that in all areas of our lives, we are to show our pagan and post-Christian neighbors that we have a better hope, a higher kingdom, and accordingly, a fearless posture toward the evil in this world. Now of course none of us does any of this perfectly, which is why we keep returning to the church gathering each week where we hear of our sin, the forgiveness we have received, and the promises of the age to come. We are often fearful, though our Lord commands “fear not.” We are often mired in the same idols as the Gentiles, though our Lord commands “come out from them and touch not the unclean thing.” I think many wonderful Christian people in America have succumbed to the fear of man, namely, the liberal and Progressive man, and are placing their hope in democratic elections as a temporal salvation. In a narrow sense it is true that good civil policy saves us from lawless men, so I understand the need for the State in our present world; however, I think the manner in which our politics have become all encompassing and overwhelming shows the idolatrous fear and rage intrinsic to this present system.
Today we can and should repent, re-form the line if you will, and face the world as a fearless, holy people.
And I believe abstaining from the vote is one of the more powerful means to do so right now. Ask yourself what drives 90+% of the voting in federal and state elections today. You know what it is: fear. And not only fear, but jealousy, rage, insecurity, and tribalism/racialism (in all directions). Why are Christians blending in with this portrait of ungodliness? I’ll tell you what I think—I believe we’re in a rut of tradition that we can’t see from above. We think voting always helps secure liberty and justice for all.
We think it’s our sacred duty to cast our ballot because men shed their blood to give us this right. We think we owe it to the brave guys who charged the machine gun nests on Normandy’s beach, we think the 58,000+ who never returned from Vietnam cry out “go! Go to the voting booth and vote! We died in a jungle ditch so you could do so!”
We think we must make our voices heard.
And on that last point, I fully agree. We must make our Christian, fearless, faithful voices heard to those in power, and I propose our message be something like this:
We are not your slaves, and we are not afraid of you. Do what you will to us, but we will serve the Lord Jesus Christ, promote His kingdom, and speak out against your ungodly policies. We will no longer be complicit in propping up this sham democracy.
This nation is captured by an oligarchy of lifetime politicians, corporate pirates, and usurious thieves on Wall Street, and voting has only distracted us from your injustices, as if we ever had a chance in a rigged game. We are tired of having our income stolen to propagate antichrist doctrines in the schools, violence in the womb, violence throughout the world in conflicts that are unjust and unnecessary, and general economic discord domestically.
We protest the system of credit and debt that is forced upon us, we protest the postmodern worldview of our leaders, and we refuse to participate in a system that fingers the wind in making law. Our vote will not save the United States of America, only mass waves of confession and repentance in the churches will begin to turn the tide of evil in this land.
We now turn to our families and to our churches to each show the way of confession and repentance, and to take responsibility for all the injustices that we have allowed in our name, and worse, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that to any longer participate in this democracy is to betray our profession of faith in the One who is able to protect, provide for, and to keep His people while in the valley of the shadow of death during this evil age. We will submit to the authorities as He has commanded, but we will no longer sign our names to the vile means and aims at work in the places of power.
First, the old Christian republic has long since passed away, and the Enlightenment constitutional republic that replaced it is also long dead. We have been living in a straight-out democracy for a long time; we are at the mercy of the majority of voters, and the rule of law is a mere phrase in the imaginations of optimistic, flag-waving patriots. Ever since Lincoln denied the South the right to secede, we’ve all been living in a post-constitutional democracy, now fatally compounded by 1,001 unjust decisions by the Supreme Court and Congress.
Second, what is left of law and order in this society is rapidly being folded into the tyranny of a man-centered foundation for law and justice. From the time merchants began arriving on the heels of the first Puritan pilgrims, the law of man (unjust and ghastly in any society) has been warring with the law of God for the central place in American law. We have always been a flawed, inconsistent nation whose lust for happiness has led to countless crimes against God and man (think chattel slavery); yet there has also been a remnant of the Christian instinct to hold our society to the standards and mores of the Scriptures. Now in 2016, this instinct has been suppressed and defaced to the point of utter mockery—we have pretty much fully embraced a culture of corruption, radical subjectivism, and self-serving. Sure, there’s a remnant of Christian and civil people who wish no harm to their neighbor, but we’re outnumbered, and we have almost zero representation in the halls of power.
Even where decent men and women inhabit an office or two somewhere in Washington DC, the system as a whole is oriented toward injustice at every level. There is no saving it. There is no political solution left in these United States. Let’s read that again. There is no political solution left in this nation, or in our individual states. We have been given over to the full measure of our wishes, to have the riches and blessings of freedom and liberty become the slaves of our lusts and evil desires. The only outcome possible for such a people is total slavery and war.
And so let’s talk about what it means for a Christian to vote in 2016. When we vote for federal and state officials, we are explicitly stating with that vote:
– I believe that participation in this democracy will somehow promote justice and equity under law.
– I believe that choosing new individuals to occupy these specific federal/state offices will create better representation for me, my family, and my clan of people.
– I believe that by my vote I am securing my right to redress of grievances, representation in legislation, and financial entitlements.
– I believe that without my vote I am somehow made responsible for the injustices of the tyrannous majority.
– I believe that voting pleases my Lord.
And I do not agree with any of these points. I hesitate to attempt to fully bind other Christians’ consciences with this same conviction, so I will simply state how I see things, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you as He does in me.
We are Samson with his eyes scooped out, pushing the Philistine grinding wheel. We have been with the Philistine prostitutes, and our Christian souls have clung to them under the sheets of comfort, entertainment, career, prestige, cultural acceptance, and academic clout. We have been fooled—we have been fools. In this last hour of the American experiment in democracy, I would wish for us to press the pillars of the Philistine temple, to bring down the weight of this corrupt nation upon its head… but unlike with Samson, I am not wishing for the death of our enemies, but only for the end of their sin against our holy God. The only way this world will see its sin is for the church to be the church, and that will require a great cost be paid by us, as it was by Samson in his last act.
If all true Christians in America quit voting, within a short while we would be standing in the place of greatest influence of all people, even while the roof of prosperity and comfort was falling on our own heads. The voting booth is a substitute for Christian courage in this day of moral anarchy.
If I am wrong in my framing of the issue, you are welcome to bring a loving rebuke in the comment section.
In Christian charity,
If I were an atheist, I would try to really believe it and live it. What do I mean? Well, first of all, most atheists would pull out their first debate card right here and retort “Atheism isn’t a thing to believe and live! It’s non-belief – it’s a non-identity!” This is their favorite first chess move, because they really do see themselves as neutral observers on a seemingly ungoverned universe. They believe they are making no positive claims about what is, only what is not, namely, a supernatural realm, gods, or a God.
This push of the pawn into the center of the chessboard seems strong at first glance, but with a little examination, it fails to deliver on its promise. First of all, no human being can escape a life of -beliefs-. We are all believers by nature, inescapably, because no person has all knowledge. If one does not have all knowledge, and if that one is going to make any, any claim about the universe that cannot be objectively known and proven, then that person is swimming in the realm of belief.
No atheist can avoid this life of belief without evidence. My atheist friend on Twitter confirmed this for me here:
Agnostics, not atheists. So what’s the reason to call oneself atheist (or as some do, anti-theists)? My guess is that for some, it’s the feeling of satisfaction, and for others, a lack of self awareness. To be “atheist” by self label is to be a bold unbeliever, to strike at the heart of the vast majority of one’s human family with a shocking “you’re all way off!” (which is a positive claim of belief, mind you)…
Yet this seemingly bold statement of unbelief is nothing more than a belief in a philosophical materialism – that is, a belief that all of reality is a physical phenomenon – and that everything can be explained in terms of purely natural origin and conclusion.
Among the many and fatal logical problems with this belief system is perhaps the most emotionally unsatisfying of them: the atheist is forced into the twin buzz saws of Nihilism and radical subjectivism.
And it was recently in an extended conversation with the same atheist as noted above that I pressed the problem of Nihilism. Here I will post a snatch of our conversation (with his permission) where I was pleading with him to see and embrace the implications of his atheism, hoping that to do so for any person would lead to the abandonment of said atheism. Have a look:
I’m in blue, our atheist in gray.
I remind you that in the cosmic scale of our existence, rape and murder are just things that happen given enough time and chance. Moral value cannot be assigned to these things beyond the subjective sensations of the individual primate, in this case, you.
You’re jumping WAY ahead
Let’s baby step through this.
I know how difficult it is to remain in the abstract, false world of philosophical materialism, but you’re the one who has the lock and key. Yet I keep finding you out here with me, arguing from the bases of true meaningfulness in the moral categories!
It’s like you’re a man arguing against the existence of numerical objectivity but can’t help wanting to discuss mathematics.
I disagree. I don’t see any reason why a moral framework cannot be reasoned out in the absence of a deity.
Just because there is no cosmic prohibition against certain actions does not mean we cannot figure out how the best way to treat others.
What that means, with respect and care for you, is that you cannot reason through your stated beliefs. You’re bound to borrow mine.
I can’t? That’s news to me.
“Best” implies a scale of “good” and “bad” – how do you get these categories from stellar explosions and future thermonuclear winter?
Because human beings have preferences. We can know what can be universally preferred and what cannot.
It doesn’t take an advanced degree to understand if someone steals from you, a negative outcome had accrued to you = bad
What if by some cosmic calculus you cannot fathom, stealing benefits the race? What if the death of certain groups is a feature of evolutionary progression?
What do you mean, “what if?”
Utilitarianism is not in the realm of morality.
It seems that when stars explode, several aeons later carbon-based bipedal protoplasmic organisms sometimes turn off each other’s biological functions in physical conflict. What does it matter to a blind, pitiless, indifferent universe?
It doesn’t matter to the universe. It’s not a sentient being.
I think this view helps make us more focused on morality than less.
And in your worldview, we are little eyeballs of the universe that appear for a fraction of a second, then disappear back into the abyss.
In a way, yes. Like I said yesterday, consciousness is a deep mystery and highly profound.
That we are actually the universe coming to perceive itself. It’s beautiful.
I’m trying with all my might to convince you of the implications of philosophical materialism. If it were me, I could see no problem embracing these things.
Which implications am I missing in your estimation?
Am I supposed to be dragged down into the dark pit of Nihilism?
You should be believing: Morality is *merely* a trait selected blindly by chance evolutionary progress.
Morality is an illusion that we pull over our eyes to stave off the true nature of our existence: unknowable, meaningless, extremely fleeting, and forgotten.
All sensations of meaning, love, and beauty are the desperate paroxysms of agonized, highly self-aware biomechanical robots, like us.
We’re dying. We’re about to disappear from all hope. All memory. We are atomic accidents.
What is a species’ benefit in a world that will be eaten by its own star?
What exactly is your problem with this fact?
I understand the desire to want to live forever. Man…you’re dark.
These are the implications of philosophical materialism. Atheists & antitheists should be brave enough to embrace them, in my opinion.
Life is short. It’s precious. It’s special.
Precisely because of how fleeting it is.
And it’s comforting to believe we’ll live forever, but it’s just not true.
I embrace those things. I’m just not depressed by any of it. I’m energized by it. And I soak in every second of this amazing life.
 Note – he calls me dark for explaining the implications of his own worldview!  Really, this makes me very sad. He instinctively uses all the categories of a theist, because of course he is one by nature. He knows the value and beauty of life because he is not an animal, but rather a human being made in the image of his personal Creator.  The atheist “embraces” hopeless Nihilism in the same breath as he assigns meaning and value to life. The terminus of atheistic thought is pure contradiction.
So there you have an astonishing bit of honesty from our atheist friend. He sees my description of atheistic Nihilism, and “embraces” it (and the bold lettering is all my emphasis). Yet he tries with the other hand to force meaning, value, beauty, and a standard of goodness into the world.
Well sir, you can’t have it both ways.
If I were an atheist, I’d go for it. None of this “let’s make something nice out of a hopeless, meaningless situation.” No, if I were an atheist, I’d really live like there is no meaning, no external moral, no hope, no love. I’d pull off my best Jim Morrison impression (of course with far less success, ha). I’d be eating and drinking and filling myself with pleasures. I’d be the nothing I was born to be.
But you see, most atheists can’t be consistent within their claims. It’s too hard to do while living under the sovereign presence of our personal, unchanging Creator. We all have an awareness of His primacy and judgment. We know Him, and we fear Him.
Anyways, I’ll leave it off there. This is a really mediocre post with a need for wit or some unifying story that pulls you in, but if you got this far, I must’ve done something right.
Love to you all, including my atheist buds. Go easy in the comments, because I’m very reasonable to talk with.
How did we get here? How did the West turn into a self-immolating nut house? Simply put, we’re all believers in the god of progress. We’d prefer to perfect ourselves rather than to admit we’re terminally broken and unfixable. We’re all born Progressives, born with pride poisoning our reasoning. We know we did not make ourselves, yet we would be the experts on our own perfection.
Progressivism is the insistence that we march forward, trampling those who are weaker, grinding into the earth the memory of a Christian gospel for hell-bound sinners, and marching as hard and fast as possible… to an unknown, unlocatable destination. Think Star Trek here: no god but humanity, no goal but progress, no future but death—but by all means, we must progress as fast as possible!
Progressivism sees the perfection of man just over the horizon (Rousseau, Voltaire et al – via the Enlightenment). If only we can enact just the right policies, prescribe just the right medications, and fill our lives with just enough information, then, oh yes… THEN we will have a perfect society. To the Progressive mind, “there is no original perversity in the human heart” (J.J. Rousseau, Émile, ou De l’education/Édition 1852/Livre II). There is no excuse, therefore, for our continued imperfection.
In 1789 the French rose up and cut the throat of their king in their Revolution. If we look a bit closer, donning the theologian’s spectacles, we see them reaching a bit higher than the human king, feeling around with bloody fingers for the throat of that old Semitic deity who had made Himself at home in the hamlets of Europe for so long.
Yes, the fruit of the perfectionism of Progressivism is a frenzied impatience with human imperfection, and an outright denial of the nature and effects of sin. If the king protects the Church, and the Church speaks of our terminal brokenness in sin, then we must kill the King of France, and then move on to the Church.
The Progressive is therefore an eternal optimist wielding an axe. He knows that it is you, the unenlightened religionist, who is lying in the way of his utopian plans, and so he knows you must be minimized and/or executed.
Welcome to America, 2016, or rather, 1789 France with iPhones and the NFL. The political right is a stale, crumbled biscuit under the boot of the progressivist left. Our conservative forefathers were actually Progressives with a touch of nostalgia, and so we’ve lost the culture, we have lost the right to speak freely and without fear of reprisal, and we’re being marginalized in every area of life, public and private. Public intellectuals are openly calling for ostracizing of conservatives and moral traditionalists, and we have almost no representation in the halls of power.
And just for a moment, let’s really call this what it is. The Progressive has not changed his stripes from the burning of the Bastille until now: every form of God-given authority must be guillotined and then replaced with the machinery of total control. The human being is not an image-bearer of God who holds intrinsic worth, but rather an automaton needing correct programming and governance.
The Progressive left is achieving this using the tools of visual propaganda (media and the film industry especially), higher indoctrination, erm…education, emotionalism (critical thinking hasn’t been taught in American public ed for decades), perpetual victimhood, identity politics (tribalism), hedonism, appealing to our sin nature of greed, envy, and jealous rage. They are now fighting explicitly to replace the old white cultural dominance in the West (a flawed yet proper dominance) with an irrational, multicolored non-culture, which is to say, cultureless culture—the left’s goal is to always devour the fruits of long cultural growth and to deconstruct authority for the sake of animal passions; the ultimate goal, though somewhat unseen by the well-meaning pawns of the left, is the freedom to seize, consume, rape, and murder without so much as a pang of guilt, let alone an enforcement of the law from outside the individual.
The Progressive, as he is winning, forgets his higher pretentions as he feasts on the carcasses.
The goal, in other words, is to put God to death in every person—to finally reach His throat with our little knives—or even better, to pull Him down here so we can put Him to an open execution. Like on a crucifixion stake or something.
What would be the hope here? Of course as it always is, our hope is that the Church would be the Church. Too bad in America and Europe the churches have long ago adopted the assumptions, ideology, and posture of the Progressive. Even many of our best public theologians are mired in contradiction between doctrine and life, causing the last of our influence to burn away like tissue paper in a bonfire.
I’ll leave off here. I’m too angry to spell this out any further.
Our uncertainty about anything is covered up by our assertiveness about everything – that’s how children deal with the big, scary world – and that’s how Western culture now deals with its past and present.
A generation of fools, we are.
We modern Westerners have lost the significance of history, even while having the History Channel. We flip through the channels, looking for bits of the past on which to heap our boiling hot scorn, or perhaps our detached bemusement. Those people were a little dopey, amirite – racists, sexists. Who? Everyone until around the year I was born.
History comes through pop culture as a sort of entertaining curiosity – we tweet and retweet interesting photographs from the turn of the century (the 20th, that is), and feel a bit… haute in displaying our cultural sensibility. “I…… know a thing or two about the Boer War – see my retweet of that photo of the British soldier with the cigarette, staring into the distance?”
But we don’t know. We have victimized history: pulled it out of shape, boiled it down to choppy images and soundbites, and now we gawk at the past as a specimen to be scoffed at – we’re the masters of time, us postmodern men and women.
In the realm of reality, however, we are simply the forgetful children and discontent toddlers of philosophy. We don’t know history, and worse, those things we do know about the past are pushed through the merciless prism of “enlightened” postmodernism – which is to say, ultraskepticism and chronological snobbery.
Our ancestors cannot be a source of wisdom and knowledge, at least in any direct manner like in picking up an old, old book and reading it as its pupil… no, those people didn’t have the internet, or auto-mobiles. We look backwards almost exclusively to learn how not to live our lives today.
And for all of this, we are impoverished and isolated like no human culture has been over the past 3,000+ years. We are locked out of the great storehouse of human experience and wisdom as soon as we judge our grandparents as homophobic rubes who didn’t know of modern dentistry.
Yet, here we are… a collapsing civilization. We have annulled the marriage to our cultural past, we’ve crowned ourselves the kings and queens of history, and many of us expect a full-blown transhuman utopia to awaken any day now. In other words, we are the fools of all history.
In trashing the past, we’ve shredded the future. I just hope our sore descendants – 1,000 years from now – will be able to look at our time period in light of the greater scale of human history and properly condemn our philosophical idiocy as the hyperbolic moment of hubris, never to be repeated.
Yep, lively and light thoughts for tonight, I know.
My interlocutor’s name on Twitter is @saykojack – a friendly atheist who enjoys a vigorous exchange of ideas – but I get tired of trying to discuss weighty matters in miniature form, so I am inviting him to talk more broadly here in the comment section with me. If anyone else wants to join in, please wait for our conversation to come to an end before you jump in. It’s really hard talking through the internet to even one person who is intelligent and serious about his or her message, let alone two or more.
Here’s a recap from Twitter (and I may accidentally omit something) –
1) Jack (as I’m calling him) asked me to defend/explain the purity of the New Testament text. We went back and forth with questions and answers of the nature of the New Testament. He asserts corruption of the original NT writings through the process of hand-copying transmission (the Bart Ehrman thesis), and I countered with the argument of multiple copies made and disbursed throughout extensive regions of the Roman world (thus securing the independent copying of all NT documents in isolated regions, therefore allowing the later comparison of these isolated text traditions for the purposes of ascertaining the original writings, always and still present within the whole family of 6,000 Greek, handwritten copies.)
Our disagreement is on whether or not some central control came upon the canon of the NT such that other, legitimate parts of the Christian tradition were discarded. I suggest reading Philip Comfort, Daniel Wallace, Richard Bauckham, and James White for further considerations here.
2) Jack asked me what I think of Thomas Jefferson’s edited NT, wherein the Founding Father and third president of these United States actually cut the miracles out of the pages of his Bible, to make it more amenable to his own presuppositions of anti-supernaturalism.
My answer Re: Jefferson directed our conversation to the question of our underlying, foundational assumptions, here:
I fully affirm the brilliance & blessing of the many humans who are not Christians. It’s just they are living upon a world constructed by the Son of God, for the Son of God, and which will be consummated in a restored earth to reflect the beauty of the Son of God. Folk like T Jefferson simply miss the reason for the world and their [own] brilliance – [which is] sad to me.
3) This led to Jack strumming the strings of his favorite guitar (I’m guessing) – evolutionary, atheistic psychology. But before I hit that, I want to note a really funny slip by my friend:
He asks me “So if all your senses are not enough to understand the world what do you use? All that is left is imagination. Do you have some “other” sense?”
He then continued “I sense the answer will be Super-natural but again with what do you sense that?”
So my question, to continue our discussion, is “what do you mean “I sense,” Jack? Which of the five physical senses did you mean to indicate here?
I hope to see you in the comment section…
Time. Time is the real matrix.
Matrix, from the scholarly bastion of a Google search: “an environment or material in which something develops; a surrounding medium or structure.”
Time is the matrix God created inside of which humanity could develop and come to know Him. Even more than that, it is the matrix we need in order to interact with God.
I heard someone recently talking about how God is outside of time–which is true–but regarding this universe He created, the first thing He did in creating the cosmos was to enter into time.
Without God subjecting Himself to the matrix of time, we could not have interacted with Him, because as such He would be absent from us.
The matrix of time. The matrix of Mary’s flesh. The matrix of His own flesh, and the passing of 30+ years. The matrix of human temptations, hunger, thirst, joy, and suffering. The unchangeable One took the changeable humanity upon Himself in order to change our destiny.
God made a universe so He could enter into His own creation, first as the One over us, then as the One who served us as a slave, even to the point of death… even death for our sin against Him.
And now, for all the passing time of eternity, God will accompany us in the matrix of time, never leaving or transcending away into His own private heaven. We are eternally bound to His loving being… that is, those who are re-born in Christ Jesus.
I would not want to be a human eternally bound to Him in time, yet under His wrath. Won’t you flee to His mercy today? Romans 1-3 is a good place to start.
Thanks for reading,