Jan 302017
 

1. When our fellow citizens are viewed as enemies we’ve lost more than political battles, we’ve thrown away the Gospel…

2. It’s amazing, but true…the information explosion has created the deepest pool of ignorance in my lifetime…

3. Blessed are the peacemakers…someone send a search party out to find them…

4. Fruit flavored whiskey is one of the signs of the end of the age…

5. The divisions caused by doctrine in the church now pale in comparison to the ones caused by politics…I don’t recognize the Jesus of some as the one I worship, nor do they recognize mine…

6. When Jesus asked “when the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?” it used to confuse me…until lately…

7. Nothing damages real discussion more than ignoring the valid concerns of people we disagree with…we can be compassionate and careful at the same time…

8. Being “born again” is the start of the Christian life, not the end goal of it…

9. New England by a smidge…

10. I believe the Beatitudes best describe what living the Christian life actually looks like. The challenge is to make my own life resemble what I say I believe…

  82 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. Regarding #5,

    Christians must not be confused by commitments of solidarity with Christians (I.e., protection, or putting their interests first, or making it great again) into treating political decisions emanating from the oval office as a catechizes of Christian doctrine. That would be the worst possible outcome for the Church.

  2. Very good Things list Michael!

  3. Jean,

    I think the worst possible outcome is when we can’t worship together with people who claim the same Savior because of political differences.

    We’re already there…

  4. Michael,

    As much as MLD and I debated last weekend in Open Blogging, we could walk into a Divine Service tonight and worship together, and nothing in the Lectionary or Liturgy or sermon would divide us. Jesus would be doing His usual great work in us.

  5. Good list Michael! I’ve to delete Facebook friends because of their endless rants.You dare not disagree with them unless you want to read post after post as to why you’re wrong.

  6. I’ve grown accustomed to the old ways of fundamentalists saying that you cannot possibly be a Christian if you do this or that. Now we have another group of more progressive believers saying that you cannot possibly be a believer if you don’t do this or that.

    Zero Sum Dread

  7. Jean,

    That’s because you have a lectionary and a liturgy…

  8. BD,

    Please don’t try to sell me on the notion that only progressives do this…I’ve been told by conservatives that I’m apostate for my own views on one issue…

  9. Bob,

    I’m going to have to pull that trigger soon myself…

  10. I’ve begun calling Facebook “Fracasbook.” Depressing.

    I enjoyed a substantive conversation with my Seattle-abiding left-leaning niece by listening first, then sharing some other personal scenarios that create a middle ground. It starts with relationship and respect…

    Fruit flavored whiskey is anathema. The cinnamon flavored stuff is bad enough…

    Atlanta by three. Maybe.

  11. filberts,

    It starts with the listening…which is becoming a lost art.

  12. Michael,

    I count conservatives among the fundies on that post… I was being broadminded.

  13. YES!! A thousand times,Yes, to repeat…the religious left is just as loud, passionate, and often nasty as the religious right. There is not a lick of difference between the two. It’s just the religious left as had their man in the White House for 8 years and now…they don’t.

    I have no desire to enter the discussion here. But I will repeat this point from time to time.

    There is a viral video on facebook from a Catholic leader, in full clerical garb, actually using the words “reject Christ” if not in agreement with his side of the debate. We are in danger of rejecting Christ and losing our souls based on secular immigration policy in a Constitutional Republic.

    Of course, the Pope stepped outside the confines of his walled city and made it simpler a couple days ago. You simply aren’t a Christian. End of discussion.

    Hey, if the Pope says…imagine that sort of clarity of the politicians who claim Catholicism in one breath and abortion on demand with the next.

  14. Steve,

    I’ll hesitantly put on the robe of the religious left and you wear that of the religious right well.

    You have a much better defined political ideology than I do, so I’m at somewhat of a disadvantage.

    Having put on our garb…how do we fix this problem?
    How do we learn to listen to each other?

  15. I can’t think of a political issue that I have significantly changed my mind on recently, yet the subset of people that I find myself in disagreements with has made a monstrous shift.

    Weird environment right now.

  16. Dallas,

    It’s very weird.
    I don’t think many minds get changed because most of the rancor is meant to mock,not persuade…

  17. When I get online, I sometimes wonder if there is anything in the world other than politics.

    When I am with my family and with my church, there is no such thing as politics.

  18. Michael

    We are going through a very difficult time. My concern is with the witness and the character of the Church, first and foremost. Yes, today I called the offices of both of my senators and my representative to express my views. I’ve yet to find the phone number, or even who I should call, to express my concerns about what is happening to the Church. Apart from a very few voices, I hear (and read) much that is “reaction” and little that is “reflection”. I do believe that the politicalization of the vast majority of evangelicals may have signed the death warrant of the movement…

  19. Duane,

    I think you’re right…but on reflection last night, I believe that all of this means that God is about to do something new…

  20. @19 Duane,

    So are you not politicalized by calling your representatives and blogging your concerns here? I think you are just suggesting the death of evangelicalism for being wrong not for being political. Who is this vast majority you are worrying about? Sorry I do not mean to be contrary I just find that last post completely internally inconsistent.

    I am having sane conversations with radically opposing people of faith…

  21. folks seem to fear that our new President is the 2nd coming of Hitler… what i fear is the mindless chaos – it is mindless – that is gripping our population could lead to just such an event – a real dictator… without respect for our laws and reasoned exchange of views, we’re not what the United States of America has been held together by all these decades…

  22. I’ll just say I agree with Michael and Duane and leave it at that.

    Woke up in the middle of the night last night with anxiety attack wondering what nonsense was happening at the WH while we slept.
    I’ve never had that experience with any other president, right or left.

    Trying to find ways to stay informed and active without becoming obsessed and consumed. That’s my goal for the week.

  23. #20 – i wonder…
    yesterday i stumbled on a broadcast from the old Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago and it hit me like a breath of fresh air… old fashioned, dogmatic preaching, but full of gospel, reason and compassion… i think those who turn up there for help have to sit thru those Sunday sermons before they can get dinner – at least they used to – and i’m not so sure that it’s not a good tactic…
    course, i’m in the “Waiting for God” category now and so i’m probably not too apt to reflect a coming trend 🙂

  24. #21 BD

    I think the aligning of the Church with and/or the “blessing” of any political movement left or right is a mistake with grave consequences. I call my representatives because I am a citizen and, by the way, I cover the field – one senator is Republican, one is a Democrat and my representative is a Muslim…

  25. London, as i noted i am from another generation, but i think…
    what is causing such angst/panic now is that we are seeing what our government is up to and it is coming at us fast and furious stripped of political subterfuge…
    good or bad, for me at least, remains to be seen…
    but is it any worse than a government totally dedicated to promoting their interests behind a facade of politically astute guile? i think of the old snake from the Jungle Book singing, “trust in me, trust in me, go to sleep and trust in me…”
    that brought to mind a picture of Bannon as Baloo the Bear singing and dancing… “you see an ape like could want to be human too…” LOL
    truth be told, i’d rather claim him as a relative than Chuck Schumer 🙂

  26. @25 Did any form of Christianity sign its death warrant by aligning with Obama? A vast array of believers did just that and virtually uncritically so.

    Evangelicals get singled out for special consideration when we talk about the church. What is that about?

    Don’t get me wrong I hate that evangelicalism has become a political voting block since Moral Majority days.

    When you said you were concerned with “witness and the character of the Church,” it was not the whole church it was evangelicals.

    Why is it that you think they are more wrong and more in danger of damaging the witness of the church than the very significant non-evangelical church?

    I am sensitive to the fact that conservatives in the church are simply seen as the bogeyman and I live with these people and it is not accurate. They are engaged in culture,

  27. Bannon is the snake.

  28. #27 BD

    The mainline denominations have become increasingly insignificant with little political clout, at least that’s what the statistics tell us. The Roman Catholic Church, has increasingly withdrawn from the political realm (apart from opposition to some of Obama’s initiatives) in this country, at least in my opinion. The evangelicals, or at least a large percentage of them, were vocal in their support for one side in this last election and backed their support with their votes. It is now out there as a public perception.

  29. #29, you may be right about the Roman Catholic Church, except…
    a rather large percentage of our elected (and appointed) government officials are of that branch of the Faith

  30. #30 Agreed… but then, when I was ordained thirty some years ago, 52 senators were Episcopalian. Today there are five… Things change.

  31. Let me be a bit more specific.

    When I read the Sermon on the Mount and the Gospels I’m confronted with a Jesus who is always on a mission of sacrificial love (emphasis on the sacrificial) and He bids me to follow Him.

    I am confronted with a Jesus who is continually concerned with the least of these…the poor, the oppressed, the captive, the children.

    If I’m going to follow Him, I have to do so in the same sacrificial love with the same concerns for the same people.

    When other concerns, even valid ones, trump the basic mission (forgive the pun) I have to guard my heart.

    It is my belief that too often some sectors of the church have tamed the wild demands of Christ to follow Him and elevated other temporal concerns over the ones He spoke directly to.

    We have done this here primarily by conflating love of country with the love of God and ideology with theology.

    I simply desire to see us get back on mission without having to neglect the other concerns we carry.

  32. You can study the CNN exit polls for both the 2012 and 2016 elections and learn the religious makeup of the electorate and observe tidbits like the white evangical vote being the same percentage…the Catholic/Protestant combo vote the same…the “no religion” vote being HIGHER in 2016 (and overwhelmingly for Hillary)

    Or you can listen to Duane.

    Trump flipped the Catholic vote…which was certainly key to winning the 3 blue states of MI, PA, WI and thus the Presidency. Those who care can argue why.

    But your theories and speculations should be rooted first in the actual vote of the people.

  33. Now, as to making conservatives the bogie men…I’ve been guilty of doing so.

    They tend to speak of things first that I speak of last and and my last concerns first.

    That doesn’t mean they don’t speak of them at all.

    I need conservatives in my life to keep me from giving everything away…we all have impulses that need to be moderated.

  34. #33 Steve

    I do not disagree with your numbers. There was, however, a greater push and visibility with regard to white evangelicals and their voting in the last election, in addition to very visible and vocal support from a number of evangelical leaders.

  35. #32 Michael

    I agree with you but with a caveat, best summed up in a quote –
    “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”

    How, as Christians do we deal with the underlying issues? A real question, not hypothetical…

  36. Duane,

    That’s an excellent question.
    My quick answer would be that I’m not sure we can.

    Let me amplify…one of the reasons I voted for Obama twice was his promise of immigration reform and support of the DREAMER program.

    He utterly failed at both and in reality became the deporter in chief that left a template on how to do it for his successor.

    I still have to advocate for what I believe is compassionate and righteous…but I have little hope that such will be enabled by any in politics.

    My first calling is to be that advocate locally…and hope that the grass roots grow into a hedge around the least of these.

  37. “How, as Christians do we deal with the underlying issues? A real question, not hypothetical…”

    People go to college and get educated in public policy (including specialties) and go into government service.

    Let’s not confuse the two kingdoms.

    As individuals and individual congregations, we love our neighbors.

    If we want to have a public policy discussion, that’s cool too, but that’s not a specifically Christian or Church issue.

    If you think your church is not participating in enough mercy worrks in your community, then preach it.

  38. There is such a lack of giving anything to the 2 Kingdoms. It seems that so many want Church thought to rule the government.
    In my role as “churchman” I can do all the things Jesus wants me to do – go into all the world and make disciples by baptizing and teaching. I can feed the widows and orphans and I can work with refugees etc.

    In the other kingdom, in my role as “citizen”, I am to work my vocation and do what it takes to keep a society safe so all others can carry out their vocation. Part of this in America, and should be so in all nations, is to keep America strong so that America can continue in it’s strong role as the most generous nation – not in the world, but in the history of this world – more “citizens” of the world benefit from this action.

    I think this may be why some of us are not or at least less conflicted as we go through trying to balance our roles in both kingdoms – although we do our share of rolling with the punches.

  39. Jean,

    “If we want to have a public policy discussion, that’s cool too, but that’s not a specifically Christian or Church issue.”

    I would argue that issues like immigration reform,refugees, and even health care are both Christian and political issues.

  40. Michael/Jean

    Both well said, but it leads to another question – is justice (or injustice) within the realm of Christian (or Church) concerns or is it to be left to “the other kingdom” apart from our participation in civil society as individuals? Again, a real question, not hypothetical…

  41. #3 and #10 – Yes! I was reading the Beatitudes over the weekend. Matthew Henry says ‘blessed are the peace makers. Whoa to the peace breakers.’

    Make your own application. 😉

    I can barely stand to log onto FB anymore. Such strife. Also very difficult to know what the truth is anymore. All of this is making me want to turn it all off and go some place very quiet for a long, long time.

  42. Duane,

    As noted in the Barmen Declaration, Christ has a claim on our whole life. Therefore, our voting and exercising our citizenship must reflect our Christian faith. The problem comes when we attempt to add to or subtract from God’s Word.

    Therefore, in many areas of public policy, we cannot say with certainty “thus sayith the Lord.” Honest, Bible believing Christians may disagree on an issue where God hasn’t spoken. However, there are plenty of ethical and moral issues as to which God has spoken.

    What we should avoid is becoming complicit in evil, dishonesty, slander, etc. because it is coming from “our” guy/gal with whom we agree on certain issues.

  43. Thank you, thank you, thank you. For all of it (okay, except that New England part).

  44. “We have done this here primarily by conflating love of country with the love of God and ideology with theology.”

    there’s a whole lot to think on spinning off of that one sentence… IMHO

    this thread has me thinking 🙂 … wasn’t our Lord’s time on earth spent in relation to the common man and his spiritual needs? yes, he fed them physical food, but it was in connection with their attendance at his teaching sessions…
    did he ever once address the world’s condition in any way that could be called reformative or even as an advocate for anything other than civil obedience? thinking… thinking …

  45. “I would argue that issues like immigration reform,refugees, and even health care are both Christian and political issues.”

    are they Christian issues? … or … are they issues that we should adhere to Christian principles as we find ourselves participating in their administration?

  46. It’s amazing how rejecting a politically liberal solution on some issues is quickly concluded to be a disinterest. The conservative AND Christian choices I would make in these areas would, in my conviction, have the added benefit of better success. That can certainly be debated of course, and we all have our different convictions. I have never accused liberal political solutions as being without heart…but history and the larger world are great teachers as to what often does not work. One example-20 years making a living in the insurance world convicted me that Obamacare would ultimately implode and hurt more than it helped. However, there were more than a few liberals in 2009 when it was being crafted that accused me of being uncaring about the health of my fellow neighbors. It goes with the political arena.

    However, an Internet comment is not the usual place for a comprehensive white paper on topics so broad and complicated. That does not mean there is no alternative to declare nor no passion of concern.

  47. #48 Steve

    I am very interested. A friend and I have been looking a libertarian models of city-states for years. “Conservative AND Christian choices” are of interest…. How can they help satisfy the concerns?

  48. “Both well said, but it leads to another question – is justice (or injustice) within the realm of Christian (or Church) concerns or is it to be left to “the other kingdom” apart from our participation in civil society as individuals? ”

    It’s very much in the realm of church concerns…justice and righteousness go hand in hand.

    My concern is that we remain faithful to our calling and speak truth to power…because history tells us that the state is not always interested in our concerns.

  49. #50 Thank you, my brother…

  50. “or is it to be left to “the other kingdom” apart from our participation in civil society as individuals? ”

    The other kingdom is where the Christian carries out his vocation – not through that kingdom but in it.

    The Church is the place where God forgives sin. You are asking the Church to stray from it’s God given task.

  51. while i think that everything in a Christian’s life has to meet the test of not compromising our Faith… i think that i see this issue as MLD describes it…
    did our Lord put forth any effort to mediate between Rome and Israel? am i missing something?
    (wouldn’t be the first time)

  52. em, that was not my point. I don’t think people realize how narrow God’s kingdom of the right really is – the whole project is basically forgiveness of sin through word and sacrament. Most work done by “the church” is actually done in God’s left hand rule.

    Even in church, when I was the congregation president up until last year – all that work, the meetings, the projects, the fund raisers, the food pantry programs, the school are all working in God’s left hand kingdom by our vocations.

    I believe Christians can be fully engages in civil society at all levels, that they can be politicians, police, soldiers, executioners and pie makers.

  53. no, MLD, i was not reiterating your point – just stated that i thot i agreed with your #52 … if we were tracking the Christian life identically, it would make you feel insecure and i wouldn’t want to do that to you…

    London, you may well be right about Bannon, but he’s not the only snake back there – of that i’m pretty sure

  54. Okay, I could use some help from those espousing a strict two kingdom stance or similar singular stances on issues like the refugees or abortion when it seems like you’re saying there shouldn’t be any cross over between our Christian beliefs and the secular world or secular government. How should or shouldn’t our Christian beliefs affect how we interact with secular government or politics?

    I struggle with how the divide is seemingly portrayed sometimes, at least from how I am understanding it to be said. I just can’t see how we can completely compartmentalize the two. Yes, the majority of us do not want to force Christianity as an official religion of the state, or to force people to convert. However, don’t we also want our government to act morally, and doesn’t that come from our Christian faith? Doesn’t our Christian faith compel us to want our government to act justly and righteously? Doesn’t our Christian faith compel us to want our government to outlaw slavery and racial discrimination? And doesn’t it also compel us to want our government to outlaw abortion and to show compassion toward refugees and others in need while balancing protection and other responsibilities?

  55. Kevin,

    You won’t find a one-size fits all definition of the 2 kingdoms doctrine, but I can give you one. The 2 kingdoms doctrine basically has to do with making sure things are done by the person with the appropriate vocation. Some of the time, this is very easy. For example, Conversion of sinners should be the exclusive vocation of the church by the preaching of the Word. The state should not coerce conversion to Christianity. By the same token, the enforcement of civil laws on all people in a nation should be the exclusive vocation of a non-church government. The Church should not be a civil law enforcement agency.

    But from those easy example, the issues get a little murky and thus you will get some different opinions. Should all immorality be prohibited by Law? How do you resolve a conflict between two morals? Is something moral or immoral?

    In the Civil War, some Church bodies split over the issue of slavery. Today faithful Christians disagree about the death penalty and enhanced interrogation techniques.

    But I would say strongly that if a Christian believes a behavior is a sin, then he cannot hide behind a government job and say his Christianity does not apply to that behavior because he’s acting in the left hand kingdom. If he believes the behavior is a sin, then if he does it, he is sinning. He could be wrong about whether or not such behavior is sin, but ultimately whatever a person does which is not from faith is sin.

    These are just opening remarks. If you have follow up or anyone else wants to discuss this issue further, it is a very good topic to discuss.

  56. #56 Kevin H

    Here’s the classic definition:
    “God has ordained the two governments: the spiritual, which by the Holy Spirit under Christ makes Christians and pious people; and the secular, which restrains the unchristian and wicked so that they are obliged to keep the peace outwardly… The laws of worldly government extend no farther than to life and property and what is external upon earth. For over the soul God can and will let no one rule but himself. Therefore, where temporal power presumes to prescribe laws for the soul, it encroaches upon God’s government and only misleads and destroys souls. We desire to make this so clear that every one shall grasp it, and that the princes and bishops may see what fools they are when they seek to coerce the people with their laws and commandments into believing one thing or another.”

    When it come to the secular impinging upon the sacred:
    “We are to be subject to governmental power and do what it bids, as long as it does not bind our conscience but legislates only concerning outward matters… But if it invades the spiritual domain and constrains the conscience, over which God only must preside and rule, we should not obey it at all but rather lose our necks. Temporal authority and government extend no further than to matters which are external and corporeal.”

  57. I agree with everything in Duane’s #58, which as a sequence should be read before my #57. They are both complementary

  58. Jean,

    I think I pretty much agree with what you say. The vibe I have gotten from others, however, is almost as if we shouldn’t let our Christian beliefs affect how we act and think in the “state kingdom”.

    To further your point a little more, I agree that if we are acting in the state kingdom, we shouldn’t behave in a manner that we believe is sinful, even if the state allows for it. However, what if we believe it is wrong for the state to allow that behavior in the first place (be it slavery, racial discrimination, abortion, etc.), or if the state itself is acting wrongly (be it not allowing for refugees, or executing the death penalty, etc.)? Are we as Christians not to speak our convictions or to take actions in any manner to try to get the state to change the way they are doing things because that would be confusing the kingdoms?

  59. Duane,

    Thanks for the definitions. I think I pretty agree there, too.

    What I continue to struggle with is some of what I have seen here and also on Facebook where it seems some are saying that we are mixing up our responsibilities between being Christians and being citizens of the state when we speak out against the recent orders by the state banning refugees or when we speak out against the state allowing abortion, or etc., etc., etc. This is what I’m struggling to understand.

  60. Kevin:

    “However, what if we believe it is wrong for the state to allow that behavior in the first place (be it slavery, racial discrimination, abortion, etc.), or if the state itself is acting wrongly (be it not allowing for refugees, or executing the death penalty, etc.)? Are we as Christians not to speak our convictions or to take actions in any manner to try to get the state to change the way they are doing things because that would be confusing the kingdoms?”

    As citizens, each individual should exercise their vote by choosing candidates that represent his/her convictions. This is plain and Christians are free to vote their conscience. Keep in mind always, however, that our consciences are tainted by sin, so we need forgiveness for our votes which are tainted by fear, hate and selfishness.

    It is the Christian forums (such as put on at Liberty University and elsewhere) before elections that Christians often make a mistake. When candidate Joe gets up to speak and he talks on 10 issues, maybe 3 of them have a clear biblical foundation, while 7 of them are not specifically addressed by God’s Word. In this forum, church and state lines are getting blurred and the Gospel is getting diluted IMO when the moderator gives the candidate a big endorsement.

    The same thing happens at interfaith meetings and protest marches like the one 3 weeks ago. If you go out there as a Christian woman to protest against, for example, deporting undocumented people who were brought here against their will as children, but beside you are pro-abortion on demand protesters, you may be diluting your values in the eyes of the public. The Gospel is getting diluted.

    But, I don’t want my church lobbying the government or my pastor holding rallies or participating in political events on behalf of my church or Christianity in general where the Bible isn’t crystal clear. I want my church and my pastor in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ, where he is front and center. Because ultimately our message is that we are sojourners in the world.

  61. However you want to define it – what has been gained in the right hand kingdom is expressed and acted out in the left.

  62. MLD,

    So if I understand your last statement, if I gain from the right hand kingdom that it is wrong to kill babies in the womb or that we should try to help refugees, that would mean I should act it out in the left hand kingdom to try to prevent babies from getting killed or to try to help refugees. And part of that acting may even be in the form of urging the state to act accordingly.

  63. #61 Kevin

    You’ve hit close to the tension in the two kingdoms doctrine. For instance totalitarianism caught German Lutheranism unprepared to offer a clear rationale for opposing tyranny. The weakness of Lutheran theology on this point became evident during the 1930s. When the government decreed racially exclusionary laws, which had implications for the churches, most Lutheran theologians conceded that it had the authority to do so under the divine order. The impact of totalitarian regimes led some Lutheran church leaders, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Norwegian bishop Eivind Berggrav, to reconsider the traditional Lutheran view.

    Additionally, you have the issue, especially during the Reformation era, of Church leaders making use of secular authority in opposing and sometimes persecuting other religious groups.

    For these reasons, rather than the “two kingdoms”, I prefer the earlier formulations of Augustine on the City of God and the City of Man – each having different foundations, purposes and destinies. A good place to reference is Book XIV Chap. 28.

  64. Kevin H – @64
    ” And part of that acting may even be in the form of urging the state to act accordingly.”

    Yes, but done in your role and vocation as citizen, who has been fully equipped by the church … and I would suggest that in almost all cases if not all, this issues can be proposed and defended by natural law, which is supported by the Bible. In other words we can make a case for not eating out kids by pointing to natural law and save the grief of beating folks on the head with a Bible.

  65. Regarding immigration, I recommend a reading on the discussion of Plenary Power: Should Judges Control U.S. Immigration Policy cis.org/plenarypower

  66. per Kevin’s #56… perhaps, the answer is different for the shepherds than it is for those like myself who occupy the pews…
    i’ve never found it a problem… but then i am of the generation that came just before the activist movement/mindset that began in the 1960s…
    wherever i found myself i was to conduct myself as a representative of the Eternal Kingdom and that meant respecting the laws of the land … it did not mean that i could not voice concerns or disagreements with them and, should those laws have been counter to God’s, in almost all instances that would have meant that i couldn’t obey the law of the land…
    the extreme would have been as a Christian in Saudi Arabia i probably would have died…
    now the popular views in the U.S. have changed on many things that skate close to going against God’s norms and standards, so…
    i maybe should have considered not paying my taxes – put them in an escrow until the government quit using them to fund Planned Parenthood (which should do good work, but is driven by evil and twisted mindsets – IMHO) and i guess that would have landed me in jail here 🙂
    however, i’m not sure that God will hold me accountable on that… i did render unto Caesar what belonged to him…
    now i’ll go back and read what the wiser and more erudite have posted – God keep

  67. Okay, MLD, I think I can pretty much agree with that, too. I am not one who is big on churches getting involved in politics. And I also agree that most issues can be argued from a point of natural law without even having to bring Christianity into it.

    I just don’t get the talk of “confusing the two kingdoms” or of Christians “mixing up their Christian responsibilities with the responsibilities of the state” when a Christian, as a citizen, is only trying to put their Christian beliefs into action in the world in which they live.

  68. “In other words we can make a case for not eating ou[r] kids by pointing to natural law and save the grief of beating folks on the head with a Bible.”

    Just to reinforce MLD’s point, here are a few problems with beating folks over the head with a Bible:

    (1) You are only giving them the Law. You are showing them a wrathful God, but with no solution. This will increase their hate of God, His church and Christians. Note that the Law only condemns; it is the engine for sin. It actually increases sin. No one can keep it and there’s no escape from its judgment, except through the Gospel.

    (2) They will hear that they are bad, while you are good. You against them. God’s side against the devil’s side. When the reality is you’re both sinners in need of repentance.

    (3) The Law should not be proclaimed without the Gospel. The Law is to prepare sinners for the Gospel, not to be used as a stand alone word.

  69. Jean, the other problem with “preaching” the Bible to people when you are trying to enact civil change, is how well do you react to a Hindu preaching on one of his hot topics that he wants enacted – and his defense is that he can point to something in the Vedas to back up his point.
    I pat them on the head and walk away.

  70. MLD,

    Your #71 is a good addition. What’s good for the goose….

  71. Muslims could preach a pretty good case for Sharia law from their book – anyone buying it?

  72. If more were passionate in the abortion and gay marriage battles the last couple of decades as to the political arena and laws of the land in fighting the left, it would be obvious how ineffective Bible quoting is.

    It is/was incumbent on folks like me to make the Christian case from entirely a secular position if the desire is actually to change hearts and minds and not just make noise.

    The only Christian message I see to proclaim to an unbeliever is The Gospel. MLD is (again) spot on. Imagine a Hindu quoting a passage at you as if it is supposed to be authoritative

  73. I begin to think that the deepest truth that we can proclaim in both the City of God and the City of Man, is not the correct division of the two kingdoms, or even the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. I think it is the promise of the Incarnation, of God’s ordering all things in Christ. The dynamic of that “ordering” is love. Our creation and redemption is grounded in that love and the dynamic relationship between us as believers and, indeed, the society at large, must also be one of straight forward Christian love. It must be this love of God, love of God’s creation and love of one another that should inform everything we say and do about the political, social, economic, and cultural realms.

    There may be differences politically and socially about how that love is expressed. If, however, we can at least recognize that motivating love in others, we might be better off here in the City of God.

  74. Duane,

    I agree with you. Paul did say that all of the commandments are summed up in “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It is a foundational principle. A beginning point of reference.

  75. #76 Jean

    It’s interesting that Augustine places love as foundational to the two cities – One, the City of God is founded on the love of God; the other, the City of Man is founded on self-love…

  76. Regarding #7 of the things list, I agree.

    Where is the line between individual and collective safety vs. compassion?

    The ongoing vigorous debate regarding immigrants and proper vetting demonstrates how awry perceptions can go when the facts are skewed on one side or the other and what follows are uncivil acts of verbal and physical demonstrations.

    Mobocracy ensues, and the supposed stance of compassion for the refugees and less fortunate is completely overshadowed and blurred.

    Advocate for strengthened vetting and you’re accused of being a bigot, insensitive to the plight of others and supporting Hitler etc.

    I know there’s a balance and just line somewhere when it comes to these things, I’m having a hard time finding it though.

  77. It’s doesn’t have to be that difficult.
    What makes it difficult is that an issue has become politicized and partisan and at that point facts don’t matter.

  78. Michael can you look at the prayer thread, please?

  79. this latest incident of mob reaction intensifies my sense that the public is being played by some powers that be somewhere (maybe the devil, himself – dunno) as this kind of mob rule will ultimately destroy our government … if the goal is to bring Trump to his knees by crippling the administration, it is a bad pursuit as justice goes in another direction altogether… pray for those in authority over us indeed, pray

    if dusty’s #80 is what i think it is… everyone who comes here should visit the prayer thread, also

  80. Duane
    Thank you. I copied your quote on grounding out interactions on and around the Incarnation and the practice of the virtue of love.
    That is worth elaborating on in your own blog posting or alternative.

    If I ever use it directly or indirectly I will properly reference it.

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