Friday, February 03, 2006

Politics & Religion 1: Doctrine Matters

What are the conditions in which one may write bold affirmations about political figures?

My last posting was percieved as harsh by some. It was not the tone (I don't believe) of the posting that was offensive, rather is was the content: that president Bush desires a form of political salvation.

Now, unfortunately one cannot write every argument defending such a proposition in any given paper, let alone in a blog. Blogs are supposed to be pithy and, hopefully, profound (at times).

In answer to the question: one writes bold affirmations when the truth needs to be told.

As for defending my assertion, it is best to know from whence I come socio-politically and above all philosophically and theologically. Let it be known that I am not a modern Republican in principle and especially not a neocon. I am more closer to a traditional Conservative or, perhaps, a Christian Libertarian of the J. G. Machen type or the Progressive Calvinists of yesteryear.

Theologically I am a conservative Calvinist Presbyterian. Philosophically I am a Van Tillian.

Why is this relevant? It means that I am not "heresy hunting". I am merely expressing my analysis of the political scene in accordance with the above reference points. Furthermore, my assertions arose from several facts and quotes. One simple fact is the president's lauding of the Iraqi constitution because it was Democratic--regardless of its explicit socialistic nature. The remainder of the post will focus on the theological issues and the next will cover more explicit quotes and facts.

I voted third-party because Bush was not conservative enough: too much governmental expansion, too much debt, health care, etc. Many already know the rest.

In the case of my previous posting, the analysis was based upon the premise that salvation is the fundamental issue with man (and was stated as such). Another premise is that culture is religion externalized: it expresses, although not in a one-to-one manner, basic religious beliefs.

I also believe that every area of life (sometimes called sphere sovereignty--personal, familial, ecclesiastical and political) is rooted in the Word of God. Obviously, this would entail critiquing those "ministers" of the state (Roms. 13) with that Word. This necessarily means that salvation is not merely individualistic (you and me) but also familial, ecclesiastical, political, etc. All of creation, especially the human moral relationships in said spheres (and more besides), will be transformed at the Eschaton. In the here and now, they are being transformed, especially through the sanctification of the Christian individual and the Body of Christ. Thus, Christ will save the "world"--that entire system of inter-related moral relationships among men.

So, when president Bush states:

"In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead.
These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines. " (2003 speech).

--I naturally must reply. Granted this statement was spoken in 2003, but it was never retracted. Recently he stated, "Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity." (sciencedaily). More quotes could be multiplied (and will be in the next posting).

This statement alone (read the entire speech if you are unsure) proves the statement of my last posting: that the government is the savior. These problems listed (and presumably more) are from sin: the fall of Adam brought about the total ruin of all creation and all relations, social institutions, governments, etc (Rom. 5; 8; etc.). (That is why Paul applies the Law of God to those in child-parent, slave-master, and citizen-ruler relations.)

If salvation in Christ includes his sanctification of politics, then only Christ has the answer to solve that problem area: and it is not government. It is religion. Or the sanctification of culture. Specifically, Christianity is needed to leaven such cultures. In this case, the problem of poverty, etc. is related to the culture and the fatalistic ends-justifies-means religion known as Islam. Poverty does not simply arise because of wrong "political and economic" doctrines but, fundamentally, because of theological doctrine.

Granted, in God's common grace, societies can impliment certain policies that may temporarily aliviate the problems (for instance European socialism is "working" enough--for now--but that does not justify its existence). But that is not the issue: the issue is "what says the Lord".

My intent is not to besmirk president Bush, but whether he realizes it or not, his is not a Christian conservatism worth emulating. President Washington's farewell address (to name but one religious-political speech of that era) did not withdraw religous convictions from the limelight; he was not "talking politics", but integrated his religion and his politics. He knew that doctrine matters.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16).

And that means politics.

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