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, October 23, 2014

One Nation Under God, Indivisible: An Introductory Plea

            In case you don’t know my personal background all that well, I was born and raised in Dallas, TX. Except for a few years in the army, I’ve always lived in Texas. As long as my wife and I live in the U.S., we have no desire to live anywhere else. I’ve been a political conservative for as long as I’ve been politically aware, although it only a short time ago when I really sat down and tried to work out what I really believed.
            On this website, on the left side, you can see a collection of what I’ve written about, and the top two entries are A Précis and Raison d'être. The former is a summary of what I believe and hope to provide evidence for re: politics and economics. The latter is a short essay on why I’m writing what I’m writing on this blog. Anyone can read those posting and see what I believe. I’m pretty confident that I’ve made myself clear on where I stand politically.
            Why am I pointing this out?
            Because I’m about to issue a plea that’s going to tick off a lot of my fellow conservatives.
            I beg of you.
            I plead with you.
            To all my fellow conservatives, especially my fellow Christians who lean to the political right, I make this special plea:


            I mean it. This is not a minor issue, a little spat which we can paper over. This is not a trivial disagreement. There are conservatives—even Bible-believing ones—who part ways with me on a host of issues, such as the death penalty, or how high taxes should be, or whether or not we should’ve gone into Iraq. That’s fine. Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of modern conservatives, famously stated that if someone agreed with him 80% of the time, that person wasn’t his enemy.
            I’m not saying that people who adamantly defend the Confederacy (by which, of course, I refer to the Confederate States of America) are my enemies. As I’ll explain further, I believe that the vast vast vast majority of Neo-Confederates (apologists for the Confederacy) are not holding onto this because of racism, either conscious or unconscious. I think all but a sliver of them are sincere political conservatives with an affection for the (modern) South which they’ve conflated with a need to defend the Confederacy. I think their beliefs are misguided and a sign of historical confusion, but most importantly—again, as we’ll discuss further later—they’re incredibly damaging to the conservative cause which they claim to support.
            Let me make a historical parallel. During the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s the John Birch Society was a leading organization of political conservatives which sought to influence society. The only problem is that while a lot of what it believed was true and good and with which I’d agree wholeheartedly (it was strongly anti-Communist), a lot of what it stood for was, quite frankly, nuts. It ended up accusing President Eisenhower of conscious and treasonous Communist sympathies. One of the main leaders of the conservative movement, Bill Buckley, the founder of National Review magazine, took a public stand against the JBS and called upon his fellow conservatives to disassociate themselves from it. No one could accuse Buckley of being soft on communism*, but he recognized and made it clear that if the conservative movement—as expressed in the Republican party--was going to actually make headway, it had to relegate unacceptable viewpoints to the fringe wherever possible. He and other like-minded people succeeded. The JBS was largely shunned and treated as a fringe group by the vast majority of conservatives from that point forward, and to my knowledge virtually no one on the Left today treats conservatives as somehow associated with it.
            This is what we have to do. The notion that secession and the Confederacy were noble pursuits has got to be dealt with decisively, to the degree that Neo-Confederacy is officially rejected by the conservative movement and its most viable expression, the Republican Party. Let’s clarify: We don’t want to “purge” anyone from our ranks. But for reasons I’ll get into with the next few posts, this thinking is poison, and it’s a destructive lie that way too many conservatives—people whom I respect greatly--have bought into. Like any other lie, it has to be energetically repudiated and well-meaning people have got to be willing to listen and turn away from it.
            So that’s what we’re going to be examining for the next few days: I’m going to make the best case I can against Neo-Confederate advocacy. Per usual, I’m going to assume the good intentions of those who disagree with me, and if you’re among those I plead with you to hear me out. Once more, if you doubt my conservative “pedigree,” then I urge you to read my “Précis” and “Raison d'être” postings.
            Before I say anything more, however, I need to issue this disclaimer. On this blog I try (and mostly succeed) to base my arguments on what the Bible says. That’s my slogan at the top of the page: “Where I try to work out where politics, pop culture, and the Bible meet.” But apart from being an anti-slavery book in general, the Bible doesn’t say much which directly addresses whether the CSA was justified or not in seceding. So the postings on this topic are going to be pretty light on Scriptural citations and heavy on arguments based on logic, reason, and history.
            My earnest prayer is that this effort will produce a lot more light than heat in the days ahead. I might be overly optimistic, but that’s what I’m looking for.

*According to Buckley’s Wiki page, “George H. Nash, a historian of the modern American Conservative movement, states that Buckley was ‘arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States in the past half century... For an entire generation, he was the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure.’”


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