speaking my mind on politics: a Q & A


This is a rare moment … I’m speaking my mind on elections, human politics, etc.

Q. David, where exactly are you in all of this political business these days?

A. I consider myself firmly apolitical.

Q. To which party do you belong?

A. Jesus Christ is my only “party.” Some of the words of a well-known hymn we still sing come to mind: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand. … His oath, his covenant, his blood supports me in the whelming flood.” I mean those words when I sing them. Wholly. Especially in flood years, like election years. Jesus is Lord.

Q. I’ve heard you say you dread “election years.” Why?

A. Frankly, because anger, division, hate, rancor, and resentment grow like strong, abundant weeds in our society during those years and I consistently see those same things even increase among many Christians at the same time. Election years prove to be fertilizer for some of the worst of things with people’s attitude and behavior toward others, not the best. Such grieves me.

Q. Who will you be voting for?

A. You speak in the future tense. I do my voting in the present tense; daily. Such voting is called “prayer.”

Q. Who would you hope Christians would vote for in this Presidential race? Steer us a direction. Be specific; name names.

A. The last time I answered that question was when I was a very naive young man, a still new Christian, and an exceedingly green preacher. The year was 1980. I believe it was a mistake to answer that question then and I’ve not answered that question since. I plan to never answer it again.

Q. Don’t you think that the only reasonable candidate to vote for is _____ because they believe _____ [insert one specific issue here] is _____ [right or wrong]?

A. No. A single human life is far, far more complex than any single issue. A single life is such deep water that only God can fully fathom it. How much more so then when we’re talking about one life influencing and/or directing the lives of millions, or billions, of people on an ocean full of matters?

I will venture further. This question is usually put to me – usually, but not always – with abortion being the subject that fills in the blank. I will only say that while abortion is an extremely important matter, it is only one of a great many matters of life and death that a President decides daily that affects a multitude of lives. That is to say, there is much, much more to being truly “pro-life” than being “against abortion.”

Q. Is there some Scripture you can give me for guidance as to what a Christian needs to do in regard to elections, politics, etc. … and if you would, comment on it, please.

A. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2.1-4 (NIV))

Many things could be said. I will offer three thoughts. First, I would observe just how much emphasis is placed in this passage on prayer. This is the whole point of the passage! And so, I would seriously ask: how do you engage the politics of this world with prayer? At all? Randomly or sporadically? When whipped into a frenzy on a certain matter by some persona in the media? Or is it quite deliberately, steadily, and with real faith in God as our only true Savior?

Second, it only seems reasonable then that those who would direct society toward the ends of peace and quiet are themselves to lead lives that exhibit peacefulness, quiet, godliness, and holiness. If not, how then could they lead others to such? These qualities are not private matters, rather, they are exceedingly public. They are qualities that are to be exhibited not merely before, but toward, all people. And, a leader’s ways are contagious. If you want a peaceful and quiet society then you need a peaceful and quiet leader who lives a life of godliness and holiness. Pray to that end.

Third, this Scripture prompts us to consider who it is that is inevitably trampled underfoot when lives are not at peace, not quiet, not godly, not holy. The answer? The weak and vulnerable, the marginalized and forgotten, the dehumanized and destitute. And so, such people must constantly be at the forefront of our mind when matters of human government are on the table. If they are not, we are only deceiving ourselves if we believe we are truly seeking the matters of peaceful, quiet, godly, and holy life.

this went thru my mind


Climate change & global warming: How High Could the Tide Go?

“‘I wish I could take people that question the significance of sea level rise out in the field with me,’ Dr. Raymo said. ‘Because you just walk them up 30 or 40 feet in elevation above today’s sea level and show them a fossil beach, with shells the size of a fist eroding out, and they can look at it with their own eyes and say, ‘Wow, you didn’t just make that up.’”

Fear: Quit Asking Fear for Permission by Jon Acuff

“Quit asking fear for permission. Fear will never tell you it’s time to do the thing you’re afraid to do.”

Hell: * What Did Jesus Teach About Hell?; * Hell: From James to John

* “The traditional view of hell rests on four pillars: that the OT says nothing; that the Jewish view at the time of Jesus was one of eternal conscious punishment; that Jesus’ view was thoroughly Jewish; and that the NT authors follow Jesus. Edward Fudge, in Hell: A Final Word , subjects each of these to examination in a readable, accessible format. The first pillar is wobbly; the OT does speak about the “end” of the wicked and the idea is one of a “consuming” fire (not tormenting fire). The second? Wobblier. There were three views: a consuming fire, a purifying fire, and a tormenting fire. Third? Today we sketch Fudge’s short chapters on what Jesus taught, and I shall sketch his sketch.”

* “The Book of Acts does not motivate by fear.”

Pro-life: A Dialogue on What it Means to be Pro-Life by Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo

“Our ideologies come with responsibility. In my neighborhood, to be against abortion means we have to figure out what to do when a fourteen-year-old girl gets pregnant. If we are really pro-life, we had better have some foster kids and teen moms living with us to prove it. I don’t want to just be an anti-abortion or anti-death person. I want to be pro-life.”

Relationships & work: What If You Could Truly Be Yourself at Work? by Tony Schwartz

“Each of us is far less likely to succeed by forever pushing to stand out from the pack than by building communities of care and trust committed to raising the bar for everyone.”

Retirement & work: God at Work: Mission Work by Jonathan Storment

“The Greek view of work was that it was a necessary evil. … But Genesis, starts off radically differently. It involves a God who intentionally works and creates the world with care. In fact, the word that Genesis uses for God’s creative word is just the Hebrew word for everyday work. The Bible starts off with God working. And then he creates Adam and Eve and immediately puts them to work And that’s important, because before the fall, there was work. God didn’t finish creation, he started it and then joins in a partnership with them as they create culture, name animals and pioneer… well basically everything. …

“It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t have [an] … idea of retirement. Instead the Bible has the idea of Sabbath. That is you don’t just work yourself to death until you turn 65. You work with the pace of someone who knows they aren’t the Savior and creator of the world. You rest for a season and then work for a season. But you never just decide to not work again.

“In fact, the closest thing in the Bible that would resemble what we call retirement is death.”

Social security: To Save Social Security, Raise the Minimum Wage

“… we have to do something that will top up benefit levels twenty years from now, not something to stave a complete collapse tomorrow. One thing we could do is simply make up the projected 27 percent shortfall in Social Security benefits through general government spending. At today’s prices, that would cost about $200 billion per year, or about 6 percent of the federal budget. That’s a lot, but not an unmanageable sum of money for the federal government. It could be done. Another thing we would do is just raise the minimum wage.”

this went thru my mind


Church attendance: Roll Call by Tony McCollum

“Churches don’t have a roll call before services but perhaps they should.”

Culture wars & judgment: Judging the World by Jonathan Storment [required reading]

“See judgment was always meant for those of us on the inside, not primarily for those on the outside. And I would argue that the Western church has reversed this. We have churches filled with people who are Christians but don’t look much like Jesus, yelling and screaming judgment at people who don’t even claim to want to be like Jesus. But on what basis? They don’t believe like we believe, they don’t have the same hope, they have no reason to try and live like Jesus.”

Golan Heights: The Golan Heights—Bastions, Burials, Battles, and Borders by Wayne Stiles

“For thousands of years, the Golan Heights in Israel served history in countless ways—from pasturelands to burial grounds, from battlegrounds to borders. It’s no wonder this region has remained the envy of its environs—even to today.”

Hurricane Sandy & prayer: For Those Serving by Scot McKnight

“A prayer for those serving those who are suffering and displaced due to hurricane Sandy …”

Influence: The Ten Ways to Gain Influence by Dan Rockwell

“Increasing your influence means gaining permission to lead. … People want to join with others and make a difference in the world. In short, they want to be led. But, if the led don’t consent to your leadership, command and control are your only options. When leadership is influence, those you lead give permission to your leadership. They aren’t forced.”

Pro-life: Why I Am Pro-Life by Thomas Friedman [required reading]

“In my world, you don’t get to call yourself ‘pro-life’ and be against …”

Spiritual formation: Spiritual Formation Movement: A Challenge

“We don’t believe classes create mature believers. Classes create smart believers.”