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!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A (conservative) Christian response to Ayn Rand: Some final thoughts

            OK, to sum up (and if you’ve actually read all of this, I salute you), how should we as politically conservative Christians respond to Ayn Rand and her followers?
            Well, actually that’s two separate questions. Of course Ms. Rand is dead, having passed over three decades ago. But we need to answer first 1) How shall we approach her philosophy and worldview? and 2) How shall we approach her (many) followers?
            Well, she certainly had a clearer view of economics and government than most atheists. She believed in the Free Market System (FMS), entrepreneurship, human dignity, and self-sufficiency (as opposed to being dependent on government). But her worldview was hopelessly skewed not only by her rejection of any type of theism, but by her rejection of religious believers as potential allies. There’s a lot of truth in the proverb “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but it looks like she didn’t really believe in it. She resolutely refused to allow herself to be called a conservative, since she was also was adamantly “Pro-Choice” and was rather libertine in her personal life.
            I realize that a lot of Christians I respect disagree with me on this, but I believe, when approaching any philosophy, in 1) comparing it to the Bible, 2) keeping what’s true and 3) discarding the rest. That means I’m capable of reading Atlas or other works of fiction by Non-Christians and performing this discerning work. If it’s a good story with some truth in its worldview, I can overlook some things with which I disagree. 
            Of course I could be wrong, but I honestly don’t think she’s going to convince anyone to abandon theism, much less Christianity. But she might actually move someone out of Leftism and towards a healthier outlook on life. I certainly ended Atlas with a new appreciation for the producers who make my standard of living possible. Just to take one example, my mom went through surgery several years ago and only survived all these years because of the accomplishments of people whom Ms. Rand applauds. Obviously I might be biased in the conclusions of this paragraph because I started the book A) Believing in God, and B) Believing in the FMS; therefore, I’d naturally find her arguments against A) as far less persuasive than her arguments for B).
            So would I recommend this book? The short answer is “Yes,” but with lots of caveats. I’d recommend it to a strong Christian (especially one with little understanding of Free Market economics, who's leaning towards the Left) with little reservation, along with some warnings about how her worldview is not completely in sync with the Bible. I'm not sure if I'd recommend it to a nonbeliever or not, probably taking it on a case-by-case basis. If I was trying to persuade them of my political beliefs, I’d use other means along with this, at the very least. 
            That brings up the 2nd major question: How should we respond to her followers? It should be noted that you can easily find plenty of Christians and other religious people who consider themselves her fans. The official Ayn Rand Institute probably is either neutral or hostile to believers, but I’d think her literature would have more of an impact than any organization that carries her name.
            Instead of focusing too much on any organizations that bear her name, she’d probably be far more gratified that her book (by that I mean Atlas, by far her most famous work) is still selling really really well among the college-age crowd. Every year there are thousands of 20-somethings with skulls full of nonsense who get a cold blast of reality by reading her work. 
            You know what a "gateway drug" is, right? Usually referring to marijuana, that term refers to the notion that introducing someone to pot might lead them to using harder drugs. They weren't using drugs at all, then they started using pot, then they move on from that to harder drugs like coke or heroin. I see Rand's work as the rough equivalent of a beneficent "gateway" to questioning and then hopefully rejecting the Leftist indoctrination that young people get. They get fed Leftist propaganda at all levels of their education (starting in Kindergarten), in their pop culture, and from slick politicians who take advantage of their immaturity and naivety. To the degree that her writings start them on the road to questioning that nonsense,  I’m grateful. If they start reading her works, go Libertarian, then join the Republican party after they start to mature, that'd be wonderful. 
            That raises an interesting question: How much should we partner with Non-Christians who happen to agree with us politically on an issue? That’s a great question, and something I need to wrestle with a bit more in order to give you a good answer. We’ll deal with that another time. 

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