Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being politically engaged. For the first time in my life I made a financial contribution to a candidate back in the Republican Primaries. I put my prayers and money behind the man I thought would do the most good in the office of president…Rand Paul. I didn’t think he was perfect or agree with everything he said or did. Simply put, I think he’s a decent person with good ideas, moral sentiments, and leadership potential.
Certainly, Christians ought to do what we can to shape our government and nation in a positive way. We are blessed to live in this Representative Republic and we cannot vacate the public sphere in some feigned personal piety.
However, since the current nominees clenched their respective party tickets, I have spent my political capital making fundamentalist Christians of both political camps angry. Their vitriol is sad and embarrassing…and very educational.
I have made the argument before that fundamentalism is not merely a religious right phenomena, but a specific mood or approach to the Christian message manifesting itself in both right and left political versions. All those “former fundamentalists” you find online seldom leave fundamentalism…they simply leave the right-leaning politics of their parents. They are as fundamentalist as ever. I say more about that here and here and here .
This election cycle provides the perfect case-study for my view of fundamentalism. Specifically, we can see that fundamentalism is a politicizing heresy of people who don’t really believe in the God they claim. The God of the fundamentalist is an absent God. We must accomplish his work for him through political (or other) means. Prayer is a pointless exercise. Shame is their powerful weapon. Hence the apocalyptic tone of the current political debate between those endorsing Trump and those supporting Clinton.
After all, if Clinton is elected we are done for, right. No way God could intervene; no chance he would want to use her corruption to judge us as a nation; no possibility he might change her heart. We assume we know the outcome of her presidency–it is a bleak future in which we finally succumb to the corruption the Democrats have foisted upon our nation and meet our end. (That judgment is obviously the fault of liberals, because we all know God hates gay marriage and communists and is therefore a Republican.)
Or, Trump will be the end of us. He is the madman with a finger on the button. His ego will drag us into nuclear conflict. We cannot survive his presidency. We must stop it…because evidently God cannot. (Jesus is after all a meek socialist and expects the proletariat to rise up and elect Democrats who will redistribute the wealth of the nation and relieve us of our duty to care for the poor.)
And so they talk about pride and self-righteousness of those who won’t vote for anything but the “perfect” candidate. They play on the fears of those who agree with them on certain key policies. Unconcerned with the Truth that anything not done in faith is sin, they use fear and shame to cajole other Christians into the sin of faithless voting.
The formerly pro-life progressives pretend that Hillary is not corrupt, that she is deeply devoted Christian, that her policies will somehow end abortion (by expanding government funding of it). And those champions of King Jesus and family values on the right applaud the egomaniacal adulterer as he claims to be the only one who can fix our problems and restore Pax Americana.
Interestingly, until recently I have always wondered how in Revelation, after experiencing such horrible woes, people failed to repent. John says:
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts (9:20-21).
Now I think I understand. It is what comes of having a form of godliness while denying its power. The power of godliness is in prayer, in poverty, in humility, in repentance. But we are committed to some other power…political power that forces our opponents to live up to our standards of righteousness. (Chesterton was right even when applied to the political right–first do away with God then the government becomes god.)
What neither side wants to see is perhaps we are already under some judgment, and our only hope is real repentance–not merely the calling of our political enemies to repent and side with us, but painful, self-abasing, self-examining repentance.
But such repentance requires a real vision of the True, living, active God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And because of that I begin to think we are doomed as a nation. Simply put, seeing what I see now I am quite convinced this is all happening because we are a nation of fundamentalists who don’t really believe in God.