Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cal Thomas sez: The Religious Right is dead (AMEN to that!)

A few days ago on this blog I wrote about how conservative Christians bore much of the blame for the election of Barack Obama. That they had let their pursuit of power blind them so much that they failed to see Christ and what He stood for anymore.

And now, writing in Jewish World Review (a very good publication, I might add), Cal Thomas doesn't just echo those same sentiments, he articulates them far better than I could.

From his essay "The Religious Right, R.I.P."...

Thirty years of trying to use government to stop abortion, preserve opposite-sex marriage, improve television and movie content and transform culture into the conservative Evangelical image has failed. The question now becomes: should conservative Christians redouble their efforts, contributing more millions to radio and TV preachers and activists, or would they be wise to try something else?

I opt for trying something else...

Too many conservative Evangelicals have put too much faith in the power of government to transform culture. The futility inherent in such misplaced faith can be demonstrated by asking these activists a simple question: Does the secular left, when it holds power, persuade conservatives to live by their standards? Of course they do not. Why, then, would conservative Evangelicals expect people who do not share their worldview and view of God to accept their beliefs when they control government?

The essence of Thomas's piece is of such brilliance, that I sincerely believe that every self-declared "evangelical"/"conservative" church in America would do well to read it from the pulpit... and take his wisdom to heart. Click here to read the rest of his column.

18 comments:

Jeff Baity said...

Chris,

The Religious Right is not the reason that Obama is the President-elect. That would be like saying that something other than the Depression swept FDR into office in 1932.

People vote their pocketbooks. That's a sad fact - but true.

Cal Thomas may not agree with the Religious Right in politics, but there is a strong Religious Left out there that is vibrant and vocal. The local churches in the Winston-Salem area who have been in jubulation since Obama's victory represent a huge slice of religious zealotry that cannot be linked to the Religious Right.

In your attempts to demonize men like James Dobson, you fail to mention, Biblically, why a Christian leader does not have the right to get involved. Book and chapter please!

I didn't surrender my citizenship when I became a Christian. James Madison, the FATHER OF THE CONSTITUTION, said:

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity to sustain ourselves according to the TEN COMMANDMENTS of God."

Again, since you claim to know the Biblical position on these issues, please support your rhetoric with viable, Biblical, evidence. Until you do - you have more smog than blog.

Jeff Baity

Anonymous said...

You have every right to participate in democracy and I hope you do just that. However, many people will try to prevent you from passing laws based on your religious views. Our country is founded in the constitution, not the Bible. Otherwise, the supreme court would be interpreting the Bible, and probably not the way you would want them to. They have enough problems with the constitution. It's called separation of church and state. No Biblical citation is needed. There are a number of countries where the laws are based largely on religious text ... I don't think you would like them. It would put a real crimp in your worshiping style.

Chris Knight said...

A lot of people since the founding of this country have argued that there is a "separation of church and state". And in most aspects, they are right.

But there was never supposed to have been a separation of CONSCIENCE and state.

I noted a few days ago that John Adams declared that the Constitution was only meant for a virtuous and enlightened people. Virtue and enlightenment are only possible if a person acknowledges that he or she is NOT perfect and that he or she is hopelessly lost without the grace of God.

I realized a long time ago that such grace is found through Christ. But that it was also not given to me to beat people over the head with Christ in order for them to have enlightenment on my own terms.

What Thomas is arguing, and what I've been arguing for awhile too, is that the Christians of this land and this world must "decrease so that He might increase", and throw down and let die our dreams of power and conquest. This is NOT how the war for the culture will be won: God Himself is seeing to that. God does want us to be examples and ambassadors of His Son, and demonstrate the love and grace that He has shown us, so that the world might see and desire Him also for no other sake than simple love.

If this much is done, it will be enough.

Chris Knight said...

And Jeff Baity (I'm assuming you are the son or some other relation of Ron Baity)...

You still do not understand.

You are still clinging to the very foolish belief that you have an obligation to wield a sword against your "enemies". Indeed, all too often whenever I find myself tuning in to your church's radio station, I hear more railing against those "evil liberals" than I hear any sincere and humble devotion to Christ.

Which is it going to be, Jeff: saving the lost from a dying world or saving a dying world from the lost?

You must choose. You cannot have both.

Jeff Baity said...

Why can I not have both?

Again, you have offered no Biblical proof, yet you still claim to represent the Biblical position.

Was John the Baptist beheaded for preaching the Gospel? No, he was beheaded for preaching against the sins of Herod.

Your attempt to silence Christian leaders from the political arena is misguided and unBiblical.

You can write blog after blog on this subject if you want to, but you have no Biblical proof to substantiate your opinions.

The Gospel is paramount, but if it's wrong to "appeal to Caesar" then your argument castigates a large part of the inspired writers of the Bible you claim to believe in.

Again - book and chapter, please.(This is the second time that I've asked). If you have no basis, then be honest enough to say so.

Jeff Baity

Chris Knight said...

Jeff Baity,

"Why can I not have both?

"Again, you have offered no Biblical proof, yet you still claim to represent the Biblical position."

Ahem...

Matthew 4, verses 8-10.

Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. And Jesus turned him down.

If it was good enough for Christ to reject power and glory over this temporal realm, then it should be good enough for you too.

"Why can I not have both?" you asked.

Are you admitting that you want power over this world, Jeff?

Now, that's a very scary thing for anyone to acknowledge.

And then you say this...

"Your attempt to silence Christian leaders from the political arena is misguided and unBiblical. "

Jeff, these people are not "Christian leaders".

James Dobson is not a "Christian leader". He happens to lead a lot of people who have chosen to follow him. That does not, however, identify him as a God-appointed "leader".

I would even say that Dobson is the furthest thing from a "Christian leader". His vision is too narrow. He is only determined to see the false dichotomy of the "Democrat versus Republican"/"conservative versus liberal" mentality.

That is not a "leader". That is merely the proverbial "blind leading the blind".

Jeff, you believe people should respect such a person as one possessing wise counsel?

They will "lead" us, all right... right over the cliff, if we let them.

Jeff Baity said...

C'mon Chris. You're not as dense as you are seeming, surely.

A basic understanding from a New Testament Survey Class would tell you that your verse has nothing to do with your argument. Jesus stood before Pilate, Paul stood before Caesar, John the Baptist stood before Herod. The OT is filled with examples, like Nathan going to David, Moses before Pharoah, Nehemiah, Solomon, David, etc.

If you removed the characters from the Bible that were involved in government then you would have little to quote from.

Many of the men who attended the Constitutional Convention had theology degrees.

The degree of Christian isolationism that you are promoting would have made the American Revolution impossible.

You seem to be advocating that everyone, except Christian leaders, can get involved in government. You have no Biblical evidence, or American historical precedence (before the 1960's) to support your arguments.

I love the way you dodge the evidence, and firmly stand on indefensible opinions.

So far, no evidence. For the third time, give Biblical evidence, (IN CONTEXT), to refute the Biblical examples of government involvement. Your current arguments fly in the face of Biblical examples. (Unless you are accusing the inspired writers of the Bible of being un-Biblical).

Chris Knight said...

"Jesus stood before Pilate, Paul stood before Caesar, John the Baptist stood before Herod. The OT is filled with examples, like Nathan going to David, Moses before Pharoah, Nehemiah, Solomon, David, etc."

Here is part of your problem, Jeff: you have made an idol of something that was never meant to be deified.

Namely, executive power, which in this country is found in the office of President.

Earlier today someone cited Romans 13:1-2...

13:1 Every person must be subject to the governing authorities, for no authority exists except by God's permission. The existing authorities have been established by God,

13:2 so that whoever resists the authorities opposes what God has established, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.


I will give you, Jeff, the same response that I gave that person, even though you probably will not like it:

Who exactly is "the authority" in America?

It's not the President. It's not Congress. It's not the Supreme Court.

In fact, it's no elected official at all.

The authority in America that is "over us", is We The People.

Go read the Constitution. It's right there, written in ink for all the ages to behold.

America might be unique among all the nations in history, because there was never supposed to have been a king or some other sovereign ruler over her. From the very beginning, the Founders intended for her people to govern themselves.

The President? As Theodore Roosevelt said, he (or she) is merely the most important public servant among a body of servants. In fact, Teddy Roosevelt outright condemned worshiping the President as some kind of absolute "ruler".

So it is that as much as I pray for those in elected office, I pray more for the people of this land, that they might earnestly seek that wisdom which is necessary to govern themselves, per the charter of our nation.

Without that, there is no America anymore at all.

Hope for America is not to be found in "Christian leaders" like James Dobson or Pat Robertson or Ron Baity, any more than it is going to be found with Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Louis Farrakhan.

There is only going to be hope if there is sincere and earnest repentance before God for our longstanding folly. And that repentance must not be for sake of worldly advantage (i.e. political power).

The sooner you abandon your desire for power and influence, Jeff, the sooner you will be free to be the ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven that God expects you to be.

But that will not come so long as you chiefly cling to your desire to sway such petty things as "culture".

Jamie Green said...

Chris,
Jeff Baity ought to read Luke 12:34

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jeff's treasure is earthly power. That is where his heart is. Not heaven.

Jeff Baity said...

Chris, I am a part of "We the people." So are you.

The battle today is a battle of worldviews. Someone's worldview will create the laws of our country. Currently, humanism is the dominant worldview in our classrooms and government. The Judeo-Christian worldview that dominated the minds, and times, of our forefathers is what made our
country free.

You argue that "We the people" make up the government, then you separate Christians from your own definition.

I don't crave power. I'm not running for anything, like you once did. If there is a person who has sought power in this blog its the person seated above the cushion in your chair.

I have given example after example, and even quoted the author of our Constitution, and you still resort to baseless rhetoric

Sooner or later, you need to back up your arguments with something other than personal opinions.

I'm glad you mentioned TR. He was famous for his "Bully PULPIT." It was called "pulpit" because he was constantly moralizing the activities of politics. He received constant criticism for trying to legislate morality. His primary basis for his "Bully Pulpit" were lessons he learned in the Bible.

Thanx for the concession.

Chris Knight said...

Jeff,
You still do not understand.

And by the way, the only reason that I ran for office is because I was asked to. On live television. It hadn't even entered my mind before then to run at all. But I did, and did not win but not once since then have I felt any regret. I like to think that God showed me too much good from the experience to consider it a bad one.

Here again, you betray your true motives...

"The battle today is a battle of worldviews. Someone's worldview will create the laws of our country. Currently, humanism is the dominant worldview in our classrooms and government. The Judeo-Christian worldview that dominated the minds, and times, of our forefathers is what made our
country free."

Is there a "battle", Jeff? I wasn't aware that there was one.

Or are you referring to the battle that you self-professed "conservatives" are waging against the "liberals", the "humanists"?

No doubt that you take great pride in your conflict. But not once, over many years of observing the "cultural war", have I seen either your side or the other side ask of themselves if they should be seeking such power and influence.

Go and read Cal Thomas's essay again (if you haven't already). That is precisely what he is addressing. And he is asking you and everyone else in the "conservative Christian" camp: what have you obtained in your thirty-some years of battling "the liberals"?

The fact of the matter is: the "conservative Christian"/"religious right" has not achieved anything.

Oh, it's "won" a few elections. But what long-lasting good came of those? Abortion is still legal. If anything the so-called "radical homosexual agenda" has gained significant ground. Everything that your "side" has railed against has come up more in the margin of victory than the so-called "conservatives".

And yet, people like Robertson and Dobson tell us that we are supposed to keep electing people like George W. Bush: the worst President in American history (and who has set a very frightening precedent of executive power that Barack Obama is now threatening to use, and you can definitely thank Bush for giving him that).

Here is the dirty secret of the "religious right", Jeff:

People like James Dobson do not want abortion and "the homosexual agenda" to go away.

If they were to be vanquished, there would be no more money coming into Focus on the Family. There would be no more reason to drive the "evangelicals" to keep voting straight Republican at the ballot box.

The die-hard religious right never intended the "culture war" to be won. It only needs the war to be continuous.

It's something straight out of a George Orwell novel.

Jeff, we aren't supposed to be fighting a war for our culture. We as followers of Christ are supposed to diminish however, and decrease so that He might increase. If there is a war, let it be won by Him who is in our hearts, the Light that is supposed to shine out to the world. Because you cannot win this war with your votes or your money or your fists.

I will say again as I have said in the past several days: this past election, the American people got what they deserved. Especially the "conservative Christian" camp. And I've no doubt that Obama will be just as terrible a President as Bush has been.

The biggest question in my mind is, and that Thomas asks also, is: Have the Christians of this land finally realized that we are not called to pursue power?

Time will tell...

John Ellsworth said...

Chris:
I know you've watched Berean Baptist's tv show some. They used to brag that their school is 'preparing spiritual patriots for tomorrow's America.' They showed the Bible behind the American flag.

Jeff and Ron Baity do not worship Christ. Their church worships the United States. Today is the 70th anniversary of Krystallnacht. If Ron Baity was a German pastor then he would have supported Hitler because he would have been the one in power.

The real Jesus Christ is someone these people do not want to know.

Jeff Baity said...

John E.

Actually, it was the conservative theologians who were sent to prison in Nazi Germany. The liberal pastors who believed in the goodness of man endorsed Hitler.

The silence in the German pulpits against the atrocities of Nazi ideology made the political rise of Nazism inevitible. The few theolgians who opposed Hitler were either imprisoned, or disappeared.

Jeff Baity said...

Chris,

Someday, maybe we can talk in person about our differences. I'm going to exit for now.

Thanx for the dialogue. I look forward to meeting you sometime.

Chris Knight said...

"Someday, maybe we can talk in person about our differences. I'm going to exit for now. Thanx for the dialogue. I look forward to meeting you sometime."

Jeff,
Perhaps.

Though I have already spent much of a life witnessing the "conservative fundamentalist" mindset up close. I doubt you would be able to provide anything that would dissuade me from my "difference" of opinion. It is in all likelihood something that I have already heard many, many times before.

To your credit, you are correct - in some part - about the churches in Germany at the time of the Nazi regime.

Anonymous said...

What about the great commission?

aaron said...

a lot of christians have twisted the great commission into meaning controling those who do not believe as they do.

Anonymous said...

Too many people have come forward on this page and many others to mention one single truth about the Berean Baptist Church leadership which personally will tear anything and anybody apart in the name of their so called God. Their God would never endorse the actions of a mighty few hot heads and the destruction of young and older people's life alike. I only pray the days of this church are short and that the leaders answer to God for their horrible and unmentionable actions.