Is Not Voting in an Election Nihilistic?

One of the more common complaints about yesterday’s feature by Matt is that refusing to vote for a candidate in an election is nihilistic in a way that goes well beyond whatever nihilism one might see in Dod Crump. (This is henceforth how I will be referring to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz—feel free to join me if you are as sick of them as I am.)

The obvious problem with this argument is that it epitomizes the sort of prioritizing of the presidency above all else that was one of Matt’s main targets yesterday. One of Matt’s chief concerns in yesterday’s piece—and it’s been a concern of his (and mine) for some time—is that a church which subordinates the life of the church to the goal of political power is a church that will be incapable of using political power effectively. You cannot win a culture war without a culture and right now the most pressing problem facing orthodox Christians is the lack of a true Christian culture in many parts of our nation.

To go on arguing that we must continue supporting men who don’t seem to have any actual principles but will vaguely gesture in our direction to win our support because #religiousliberty is to make the very sort of argument Matt has been attempting to rebut for years. Indeed, it shows more clearly than anything else how evangelicals will subordinate the values most necessary to the life of a Christian culture in order to achieve political power. Continue reading

The Undead Religious Right: Why I Cannot Support Ted Cruz

It is a well-known story: The Religious Right first galvanized around Ronald Reagan in 1980. Their ascent was over by 1988, when Pat Robertson’s failed campaign divided its constituency and the Moral Majority was dissolved. But the obituary was premature. Robertson’s campaign rose from the grave as the Christian Coalition, which handed out over 30 million voter guides to help usher in a Republican Congress and Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” securing the Religious Right’s influence on the American political landscape for at least the next decade. George W. Bush (in)famously made evangelicals central to his campaign in 2000 and 2004; by the time his tenure was complete, the “Religious Right” had morphed into “social conservatism” and stories of its demise began reappearing, thanks to the ascendance of Barack Obama and a hopeful media obsession with the moderatish, rapidly maturing “young evangelicals.” In both 2008 and 2012, social conservatives were too divided to do much more than give Huckabee and Santorum the appearance of being serious contenders without any of the substance. In the years since, the stream of stories about the end of the religious right has became a flood, thanks in part the resolution of the gay rights marriage dispute in Obergefell. Continue reading

Should Evangelicals Hijack Black Lives Matter?

I’m pleased to run this guest post today from my friend Steven Wedgeworth. You can learn more about him in his bio below or follow him on twitter @wedgetweets.

The recent discussion over InterVarsity’s Urbana conference and the Black Lives Matter movement has been becoming more and more lively. Jake Meador wrote an overview of the developments here, and in some ways this essay could be understood as a sympathetic but critical engagement with his sentiments. One barrier, however, to this sort of conversation is the perpetual problem of definitions. Are we sure that everyone involved in the conversation knows what “Black Lives Matter” is? Are we talking about the same thing at all? Continue reading

Reviewing John Wilsey’s “American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion”

I’m pleased to publish this guest review today by Hillsdale College visiting professor Dr. Miles Smith. You can learn more about Dr. Smith from his bio below this post. You can also follow him on Twitter @IVMiles

A book exploring the idea of American exceptionalism is especially timely in a year when the political realm has been captured, or at least invaded, by a man promising to Make America Great again. For many Americans, especially American Evangelicals, the notion that America is great is synonymous with the notion that America is exceptional. Few American Evangelicals, after all, believe that the United States is exceptionally bad. John Wilsey’s American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion is written for the educated Evangelical layman and proves to be earnest attempt to reevaluate the idea of American exceptionalism from a Christian perspective. Continue reading

On InterVarsity and Black Lives Matter

Over the holiday break a small storm in the evangelical blogosphere broke out over Intervarsity’s recent endorsement of Black Lives Matter at their annual Urbana event. Most notably, many commented on the speech given by Michelle Higgins, director of Faith for Justice and a worship leader at South City Church in St Louis. (I suppose I should mention at this point that three of my closest friends attend South City and I’ve been there for worship once and was richly blessed by both Michelle’s work leading worship and by the sermon given by her father, who is also the senior pastor at the church.)

You can see Michelle’s speech below the jump:
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Neo-Anabaptists and the Benedict Option

One of the underlying questions behind much of Rod Dreher’s discussion of the Benedict Option so far concerns how we ought to think about a limited withdrawal from mainstream America in order to protect ourselves as orthodox believers against “corrosive modernity,” as Rod has put it.

There are many aspects to this question but one of the most important is this: Is the BenOp a short-term tactical maneuver to correct for unique contextual issues concerning the western church’s immediate situation or is it a more long-term, normative move meant as a sort of repentance for how the western church has related to mainstream culture?

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Fatherhood and Carrying the Fire

(Short explanatory note: My dad has been in the ICU with life-threatening injuries for over two weeks now due to medical issues which you can read about in more detail here. If you want to know more about how he’s doing, you can follow our family blog right here.)

I’ve been thinking a bit more about my dad today because two days ago when I went out to start one of our cars, it was dead. I didn’t have time to deal with it then but yesterday was able to deal with it—just needed a new battery, so an easy enough thing to fix. Continue reading

On the Chestertonianism of Star Wars

One of the most striking things about the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakensis how old the film sometimes feels. Part of the oldness is because the story itself feels more like a remake of A New Hope than a genuine reboot of a storied franchise. The plot feels familiar, as do most the characters. A poor scavenger on a desert world discovers previously unknown force abilities. A planet-destroying space station figures prominently in the film’s climax. A masked and hooded dark figure serves as the dominant villain and serves a far-off master of whom we know virtually nothing.

Even specific lines call us back to the first Star Wars movie, as when we can overhear storm troopers saying that “they split up” while looking for our heroes aboard a new death star. There is also much in Abrams’ technique that calls to mind the older stories, most notably the side-swipe transitions that are used frequently throughout the film. Based on the reviews, however, this is what most fans wanted (myself included) so you can hardly fault director JJ Abrams for making those choices. That he could make a rejiggered A New Hope and create a fantastic adventure of a film is a testament to his strengths as a director. Continue reading