Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Politics of Jesus in the Year of Trump

Say what you like about Trump but he is not only the one politician everyone now has heard about, he is the one politician that people definitely have views on, for or against and, it seems, no one fighting the middle ground between those poles!

In the Politics of Jesus posts this year - NZ election year - I will try very, very hard not to make it all about Trump. But on January 2017's form so far, he is going to make it very, very, very hard not to make it "all about him."

Anyway, to start this series I have an easy way to not mention DT again in this post because a commenter here has brought my attention to an article which is salutary for all who think they have some kind of raison d'etre as a Christian to comment on politics. It is by Oliver O'Donovan, and begins in this way:

"Preachers ought not, I think, constantly to be preaching on political topics. As a student at an American University during the troubled Presidency of Richard Nixon, I recall a University chaplain who repeatedly made use of the pulpit for personal attacks upon the President. I don’t know what effect this had on the congregation in general; on me it merely created a disposition (unjustified, as it turned out) to give the President the benefit of the doubt. It also instilled in me a strong distrust of political preaching as such, and for the first ten years of my ministry I never once undertook it. "

Read the rest here.

Incidentally, we now have a date to work towards with this series of posts: our NZ election will be on Saturday 23 September 2017.

19 comments:

Brian Kelly said...

A very salutary read. Read it in its entirety. I see also that O'Donovan has written a three volume summa on Self World and Time. One of the greatest theological ethicists in a very long time.

Shawn Herles said...

"our NZ election will be on Saturday 23 September 2017."

Yup, we get to "choose" which brand of liberalism we want to run the country. Coke or Pepsi? Honestly, I can't see any substantive difference between the two main parties. This is both sad and monumentally boring.

Still, I am hoping that the only mildly interesting party in NZ ends up holding the balance of power, and forcing tweedle dumb or tweedle dumber to coming begging cap in hand. That's something worth praying for! :)

Jean said...

I think we probably have a good example in the US of what happens when there is too much politicising from the pulpit! (apologies Shawn for any offence).

That said, I don't believe Christianity is at all non-politcal. In fact on many accounts individual christians and the church act as an independent voice (sometimes labelled subversive) - in NZ we can look at the Hikoi of Hope; the emphasis on child poverty prior to the last election. While individual christian's within the government act out their faith in a personal way.

Advocating one party or putting down another while preaching - nah. But emphasising the qualities of good leadership, and biblial teaching as to what is good governance - yeah. Being given the wisdom to able to look beyond rheotoric used to win votes and our own personal benefit - the promises (yeah), to what they wiould mean systemically yeah.

I remember upon 'coming back to the church' being totally shocked when learning a member of the congregation voted for a certain party. Oh my gosh, I realised differences of opinions on many things exist within the christian community, Christ is the unifying force. It was the same shock as reaalising the knowledgable, mature and spiritually gifted indivduals I had come to know where actually human too! Jars of clay!

Admittedly, as Shawn points out the two parties have looked pretty similar in outlook in the last few elections but I hope for something differrent. I am way more interested in the personal character of those in each party, alongside workable policies than I am in hearing slagging off another party or multiple 'how great we are' speeches.

Shawn Herles said...

"I think we probably have a good example in the US of what happens when there is too much politicising from the pulpit! (apologies Shawn for any offence)."

None taken Jean! But I wonder if, at least as far as Evangelicals go, lay people actually voted opposite to what (if anything) they heard from the pulpit. A few notable exceptions aside, most of the Evangelical leadership was not pro-Trump.

"Advocating one party or putting down another while preaching - nah."

I'm inclined to agree. Unless it's an issue that directly affects the liberty of the Church, I think pastors should avoid partisan politics when preaching.

"as Shawn points out the two parties have looked pretty similar in outlook in the last few elections but I hope for something differrent."

So do I. But I suspect you and I have radically different views as to what that might hopefully be. ;)

The slightly frustrating thing for me is that I am so far out of the mainstream that even the parties or individuals that I may support (including Trump) barely rate as adequate to the task. But hope springs eternal. This age too shall pass.

Jean said...

Ha, ha yes Shawn I think our our hopes for different political policies may be radically different : ). On the other hand we may agree I suspect with positions on some of the more moral/ethical dilemma's that occassional enter parliaments sphere. FYI when the legalising prostituion bill was passed it was not long before people in residential areas in Wellington were complaining about brothels opening next door to them, or teacher's having second jobs as prostitutes, and I was bemoaniing people's lack of foresight - what did they think would happen!

Perhaps in kiwiland we are fortunate to have escaped the alignment between certain christian persuasions and political parties, it seems to lead to the abuse of the gospel as a political drawcard. As you say that does not necessarily mean the laypeople listen ... but it certainly appears (by this I mean in media/public perception) to undermine the true power of the gospel - give what is Ceasar's unto Ceasar but the Church belongs to Christ alone.

Shawn Herles said...

Political discernment at it's best.

A Short Guide To Reactionary Political Theory

http://www.socialmatter.net/2017/02/09/short-guide-reactionary-political-theory/

Father Ron said...

The Trumpet seems no longer to be capable of a 'Certain Sound' - having been silenced by the Courts of justice in the United States of America. The Donald's latest reaction - to this ruling against his 'power' to halt the lawful immigration of foreigners with the appropriate entry visas to the U.S.- seems rather like the shenanigans of a naughty little boy denied free access to the cookie jar he thought was his alone to manipulate.

Mr. Trump has had to learn that no U.S. President can be allowed to rule by fiat. That may be expected in certain totalitarian regimes, but not - thank God - in 'the Land of the Free'. I can see Donald being drawn into the prospect of putting his foot so far into his mouth that he may have to have a total knee replacement!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am with you in not wanting totalitarianism but if we separate ourselves from the hysterical reaction to Trump's EO on immigration, can you explain to us how his exercise of presidential power in this matter materially differs from President Obama's use of EOs re immigration (e.g. in one instance directing border agents to not implement the law of the land)?

(I am not in any way trying to support Trump's draconian and harsh ban on migration from seven countries; but I am aware that EOs are within the constitutional prerogative of the POTUS and thus not intrinsically totalitarian. The EO which Obama used, noted above, arguably paved the way for a resentful US citizenry to elect Trump!)

Shawn Herles said...

" having been silenced by the Courts of justice in the United States of America."

Nah, just the Ninth Circuit, which is notoriously Liberal and more often than not has it's decisions overturned.

It's not even a matter of if the temporary ban is reinstated, but when. The sooner the better.

Mr. Trump has had to learn that no U.S. President can be allowed to rule by fiat.

Funny that Liberals did not care one bit about that when Obama was doing it. Gee, I wonder why? Obama used Executive Orders more than any President in recent history, and had at least one overturned by the Supreme Court.

Oh and Obama halted immigration from Iraq for six months during the worst of the terrorism there. There were no protests about that. Again, gee, I wonder why?

Shawn Herles said...

"I am not in any way trying to support Trump's draconian and harsh ban on migration from seven countries;"

Nonsense. It's only a 90 to 120 day pause so a better vetting system can be implemented. Hardly draconian and harsh.

If it were up to me it would cover every single Islamic majority country on the planet, and be permanent.

Shawn Herles said...

"The EO which Obama used, noted above, arguably paved the way for a resentful US citizenry to elect Trump!"

Yes, and as I said it was not the only time he ruled by fiat. He used EO's repeatedly, and on two occasions his orders were rejected by the Supreme Court.

Yet when he was doing so, there were no cries of "totalitarianism" by Liberals. Ron certainly had no concerns about Obama using EO's and ruling by fiat.

Liberalism is hypocrisy masquerading as principle.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
By "draconian and harsh" I mean:
a. I see no reason for the ban being given other than a vague threat to security (no evidence so far given to the courts) and the asserted need to spend time on a new vetting policy. I do not see why such a policy could not be developed while the current policy is in force.
b. it was poorly thought through so that initially Green Card holders were included in the ban and then excluded from the ban.
c. it caught up all people with no exceptions made for the sick seeking treatment in the States, for those seeking to rejoin families (otherwise contributing to the States, e.g. through postgraduate research) and not even for a US Olympic star!

Shawn Herles said...

"I do not see why such a policy could not be developed while the current policy is in force."

238 people have been killed in France in the last two years alone by Islamic terrorists, all recent immigrants or "refugees". I could have added Belgium and Germany to that, not to mentions literally dozens of thwarted attacks throughout Western Europe.

That's why.

Why should the US make the same mistake?

No, the ban is neither draconian or harsh. It is overly moderate. Liberal diversity is soaking in blood. It's time to atop the slaughter of Westerners just so some Liberals can have warm fuzzy feelings about how "compassionate" they are.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn
I am not unaware that terrorists from those seven countries (i.e. some of them if not all of them) have caused havoc and mayhem in Europe which has porous borders.
The US already has impressive vetting on travellers and migrants from all nations (with a very select few such as NZ having a slightly easier means of getting into the States).
Moreover, with the exception of those who try to land by yacht, or hope to not create an alert when they land in Canada, or join the Mexicans (!!), every visitor to the States has to pass through its immigration system.
Which presumably is working well already since no terrorist act on US soil has been committed by someone from those seven nations.

Shawn Herles said...

"which has porous borders."

So does the US.

"The US already has impressive vetting on travellers and migrants"

That would be the "impressive" vetting system that completely failed to notice the San Bernadino female Muslim terrorist? Even failing to notice her posting pro-Jihad material on her facebook page? Yeah, it's impressive alright. Just not in a good way.

"every visitor to the States has to pass through its immigration system."

And every Islamic terrorist who has either carried out an attack or been caught planning one did so.

That should make people think.

In time Peter we, as a society and a civilisation, are going to have to figure out that Muslim immigration at any level is playing Russian Roulette with our own people's lives. It's morally indefensible. There is no rational or practical reason for having any. And it's not compassionate to play Russian Roulette with peoples lives. Christians who want to be compassionate to Islamic refugees should go to Syria or Iraq and put their lives and money where their mouths are. Putting your own life at risk to be compassionate is laudable. Putting other peoples lives at risk and pretending it's about compassion, when it's really easy virtue signalling, is not.

Anyway, starting tomorrow I'm trying another fasting period from all social media. Hopefully this time I will get past a week!

God bless.

Brian Kelly said...

A sovereign nation has an absolute right to determine who may enter its territory, just as I have an absolute right to determine who may be a guest in my house.

Whether the court has judged rightly in this case is a matter of US Constitutional law and will no doubt only be resolved by the US Supreme Court. AS far as I know, they didn't issue any legal argument, which leaves the whole thing still in the air. What is the case is that a large majority of Americans agree with the order - just as the overwhelming majority of Europeans are opposed to Muslim immigration there, as Chatham House disclosed the other day. The crisis in our day is a disconnect between the liberal elite in politics and broadcasting and the actual populations of our nations. The liberal churches (attended by about 1% of the population) are part of the problem too.

Trump was using the list of states prepared by the Obama administration. I have strong suspicion that if Obama had issued the temporary ban in his time, no state would have launched a challenge. To modify a saying, litigation is the continuance of politics by other means.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brian and Shawn
I accept that a sovereign nation is indeed sovereign over who it welcomes across its borders (cf. Australia ... and North Korea!!).
Consequently I judge a good deal of the reaction to Trump's ban as hysterical since it is an emotional response to a rational imposition.
Hypothetically Obama might have done that but I suspect he would have done it with better evidence to support it.
Shawn: understood about fasting ... but I simply do not agree with you (and one or two other commenters here in recent months) that a total ban on Muslim migration is the answer.

Andrei said...

" Hypothetically Obama might have done that but I suspect he would have done it with better evidence to support it."

It is not hypothetical, he did do it! Ccheck this out from 2013

And in the dying days of his administration he sent people back to Cuba - presumably Catholics so that's OK

Anyway this hysteria from the elites over a 90 moratorium on processing visas is utter hypocrisy

Good old Hollywood got in on the act the other day but I bet you those airheads living in their gated communities would be up in arms in thousands of Somalis were to be resettled in the Hollywood Hills and Bel Air but are all dumping them on the poorer communities of the mid West

And how you can show any respect for Barack Obama, the man the bombed Libya into chaos, fought other illegal wars in Yemen and Syria and set Ukraine on fire beggars the imagination

The crime against Libya in particular is equivalent to the barbaric sack of Constantinople by the Latin crusaders. If it was anyone other than the West that did this it would be called a crime against humanity, which it was but the West is so morally superior in its own eyes it can do no wrong



Father Ron said...

While discussing Donald trump's presidency, and comparing it with the previous incumbent - Barak Obama - it should never be forgotten that probably the most abusive attitudes towards the non-American world ever taken by an American President occurred during the 'reign' of J.W.Bush - a Republican.

The religious implications of the Trump Regime so far seems to include the sin of Islamophobia. This is no longer considered to be a 'Christian' virtue - especially in today;'s world where religious fundamentalism happens to be rife - not least among fundamentalist Christians. Jesus no doubt weeps at this misinterpretation of His Gospel. Jesu, Mercy; Mary, Pray!