Political Theology

I am pretty Augustinian when I come to what I believe about salvation. If that doesn’t mean much to you, that’s OK, its more commonly known and expounded on by John Calvin, and goes by Calvinism in a lot of circles. One of the key points in this system is that humans are totally depraved, meaning they do not seek nor do they want to do good. There are a lot of reasons I believe this to be true, Scripture and the like, but the place I find this to be most glaring is on Twitter. The amount of vitriol and hate that spews from all corners of the Twitter-verse is a confirmation, at least to me, of this tenant of Augustinian thought. It’s almost humorous how people can turn innocent statements into fights to the death; case in point, I saw Beth Moore raked over the coals for buying a new puppy.

Seriously, what has our discourse come to? While I don’t think its fine that we deal with people on social media with an unyielding bent that would make the old Soviet Union seem compliant, it is definitely sinful when we carry this type of discourse, or rigidity to discourse with fellow believers, about areas of disagreement we have in theology. It seems like many of us have taken our cues for discussion from the political area where evisceration of those who disagree with us is required, instead of from the Bible. Sure, there are certainly some areas in the realm of the Christian life that we cannot agree to disagree, but those areas are far smaller than we like to think they are. In my view, those who can affirm the ancient creeds of the faith, the Nicene and the Apostle’s, are brothers and sisters in the faith. We may disagree on how we do church, how we view salvation, and a whole host of other issues, but they are my family. Unfortunately, I believe that has become a minority view. We want to define our circles so narrowly that everyone who doesn’t agree with us on major and minor issues aren’t welcome in our fellowships, cannot be on our leadership teams, and have a questionable relationship with the Lord. I am not sure how we read the words of the Lord and are able to treat those who disagree with us so poorly, but we continue to do this, and not only on social media.

It may surprise us to learn that this is not new. The Apostle Paul had to deal with people who wanted to keep drawing their circles narrowly instead of embracing the unfathomable grace that God gives in Christ. We read his rebuking of the Galatians for wanting to add works of the Law to the Gospel, and laugh at their ignorance; while we make the same type of judgments on those who disagree with us. It has become so bad, at least to me, that I told Rachel recently we are going to have to change denominations and go to one where people are allowed to disagree with the dogma of the “enlightened,” and focus on pushing the Gospel forward. My denomination left me, because they have adopted the ways of politicians instead of the ways of Jesus.

If you have watched the Civil War series by Ken Burns, you no doubt remember Shelby Foote (best present I got this year was his Civil War narrative history, thanks baby!) and his commentary. A stately Southern gentleman, he gave some amazing insights on the War. One of the things he said that struck me was that the Civil War resulted from a failure of politicians to compromise, which was the absolute genius of our political system. Compromise was required to get things done. No one person, or party, or faction, or section of the country got to decide for everyone else. Discussion, debate, and persuasion was required because we were all members of the same family, America. This has been lost in the modern political age, and I fear it has been lost in our modern theological age as well. We are so ignorant of history. Politics and religion mingling as bedfellows and discourse partners brought us the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Remember them, they are the ones who killed our Lord; and the same spirit is destroying our unity in Christ.

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