So What's This All About?

In case you didn't know, I'm in the multi-year-long process of posting a Christian devotional at the TAWG Blog. The TAWG Blog is, and always will be, mostly apolitical. For the most part, Bible-believing Christians will find little to disagree with there. But I also firmly believe that God's word can--and should--inform everything in life, and this should include politics and popular culture. How should we vote? How should we respond to hot topics such as abortion, capital punishment, taxes, and other issues? Which party, if either, is closer to the Biblical ideal? Tony Campolo and Ron Sider, Evangelicals whose political leanings are on the Left, have made the case in several of their writings that God wants his followers to vote politically on the Left more than on the Right. At times, some of them have gone so far as to equate voting on the Left with obedience to Christ, either subtly or not-so-subtly contending that the converse is true as well: If you vote Republican, you're sinning against the Savior.
I don't agree. I think that to the degree they actually resort to the Bible, they're misinterpreting it. With a whole bunch of caveats, I think politically conservative positions are a lot more compatible with the Scriptures than the Leftist positions.
Just to clarify, I would never accuse people who disagree with me--especially siblings in Christ--of what they accuse me of. I don't judge my own heart, much less anyone else's, and I don't equate political disagreement with theological fidelity to God. I have no reason to doubt their love for the Lord and "for the least of these," but I believe that they're sincerely wrong.
So there are two main purposes for this blog. One is to make a case for my political beliefs based on Scripture. The other is a bit more vague, basically to work out my political beliefs and figure out what's based on Scripture and what's based on my own biases. I certainly don't have all the answers. Some of this stuff I'm still figuring out. And I'm certainly open to correction. As long as you make your case civilly and based on Scripture, feel free to make a comment, and I promise I'll post it and consider your arguments thoughtfully and prayerfully. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn a little something from each other.
May God bless our common striving together towards both the "little t" truth and "Big T" Truth. Our watchword here is a line from C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle: "Further up and further in!"

P.S. -- Below on the left is "Topics I've Covered" which lists everything I've posted topically. It's come to my attention that some people would like to see everything just listed for them. If that's you, you can get it here. Thanks to my friend Stephen Young for the tip!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A (conservative) Christian response to Ayn Rand: Some more on her thoughts on Christianity

            I have another major parting of the ways with Ayn Rand regarding her views on “altruism,” but for today I’d like to address her views on Christianity (and Christians) a bit more.
            Atlas is as much a presentation of her philosophy (Objectivism) as much as it is a piece of fiction, and her view of Christianity fits right into her stereotype of them. Actually, in her novel religious figures are nearly completely absent. I seem to recall one time in the story in which the hero happens to hear a preacher/pastor publicly pronouncing that he’s joining the chorus of supporters for the government administration and its business partners. I also seem to recall (it’s been a while since I read the book) in which a news reporter breathlessly announces (the media are all in the pocket of the collectivists in power) that all the church leaders have publically signed on with the administration’s plans. Other than that, religion and religious leaders are pretty much absent from the book. There are plenty of business leaders, government officials, and media people represented in the book. The heroes who flee the outside world and set up their own little community of freedom-lovers have artists, scientists and philosophers. To my knowledge religious people are pretty much missing from the picture.
            In one of the longest chapters in the book, John Galt (the leader of these freedom lovers) gives a very long speech over the airwaves in which he expounds his philosophy and what’s wrong with the world. He does heavily criticize “mystics” who are just as guilty of collaboration with the collectivists as anyone else. In fact, he considers any type of spiritual belief as a holdover from our primitive ancestors who believed in tree spirits and river spirits.
            As I was reading Rand’s attack on religion (and of course by sheer numbers in America this would refer mostly to professing Christians), I was wondering to myself “Did she never meet any politically conservative Christians?" I know the Moral Majority didn’t come about until the mid-70’s, but surely she met or heard of some Christians who believed in the Free Market, a strong military, etc., who weren’t Leftists.
            And as a matter of fact, she did. She had some dealings with Bill Buckley, the founder of National Review and primogenitor of popular political conservatism. From the early 1950’s he was the most popular voice for what would be known as conservatism. He was a practicing Catholic, and he believed (as far as I know) pretty much the same things as Rand as far as economics and politics were concerned. He reached out to her as a potential ally, and she liked him personally, but couldn’t get over the fact that he was a professed Christian.
            My point about the above paragraph is that she couldn’t claim ignorance on this score. Even before she became famous (late 50’s), there were plenty of people who considered conservatism not only compatible with their belief in Jesus, but naturally sprouting forth from their religious beliefs.
            But in fairness, she died in 1982, so she didn’t see the rise of the Christian Right in all its fullness. But her followers (and I use that term purposefully) have much less of an excuse.
            Today, Evangelical believers make up the single hugest voting bloc of the Republican Party. The strongest supporters of the Free Market System, a strong military, the death penalty, etc., are Evangelical Christians. You know why I know this? Because Tony Campolo wrote a book called Is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat? in which he presents the case that it’s wrong for either political party to claim it has a monopoly on God. That he feels the need to say that shows that his side has lost ground.
            To the fans (and absolute followers) of Rand, I’d like to say this: “Your best friends are Bible-believing Christians. Statistically speaking, the more theologically conservative a Christian (or Jew) is, the more likely he is to wholeheartedly or mostly agree with you in politics and economics. And the converse is true: The less seriously a Christian or Jew takes his faith, the more likely he is to be on the Left. And quite frankly, have you noticed how lonely you tend to be among fellow atheists, as far as politics and economics are concerned? If someone is an atheist (a really hardcore materialist who not only doesn’t believe in God but openly despises religion), he’s much more likely to be on the Left.”
            Ms. Rand, to my knowledge, never wrestled with the fact that the freest nation in the world (and in history) is also the one in which Christianity had such an influence. As I pointed out yesterday, the opening words in our Declaration of Independence reveal how much this was so. Read the writings of the Founding Fathers, especially the “big names.” Try to find a speech by Abraham Lincoln which doesn’t allude to or refer to or appeal to the Scriptures.
            We’re probably the best friends you have. Please don’t make the same mistakes she made. 

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