There has been a lot of Christian handwringing about American politics and the 2020 election. Al Mohler updated the same line of thought that has led to four decades of alliance between conservative, pro-life evangelicals with the Republican Party by arguing for the overriding, all-consuming importance of the prolife cause. By contrast, Tim Keller and John Piper made waves when they suggested Christians do not fit well into the two-party system, that they should embrace their political independence, and that they should recognize the evils of both sides. Piper emphasized that character matters and bad character can be just as ruinous to a nation as bad policy, while Keller emphasized that the complexities of politics required practical wisdom not easily amenable to simplistic moral reasoning.

So much Christian analysis of the election implicitly frames the contest as, more or less, the evils of Trump’s character against the evils of abortion. American politics is reduced to a contest between “Trump is mean,” against “abortion is murder,” the only difference being how different commentators weigh the relative evils. Piper twisted himself into knots to say that Trump’s character is as destructive to the body politic as murdering babies, while Mohler goes through the same convolution in reverse to say that the evils of abortion outweigh racism, separating families at the border, the destruction of the earth’s environment, and the out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over a million people worldwide (which Mohler somehow does not even mention).

If you are dissatisfied with either or both analyses, you’re right. American politics is about more than abortion and more than Trump’s character. As we weigh our vote and our civic participation, we owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to take fuller accounting of the goods and evils of both sides. American politics is not the contest of abortion advocacy against one president’s twitter feed. It is the contest of nationalism against progressivism.

The Right

Let’s start with the right. The root problem is not that Trump is mean. The problem is that he is a nationalist, a problem that infects much of the right and thus will outlast Trump himself. Much of his meanness is not a character flaw so much as an ideological choice. Trump is mean because of what he believes about the world, about American identity, and about his fellow citizens.

Nationalism says that America should be defined a specific way: America is a “Christian Nation,” as the Christian Right claims. America is the cultural nation of Anglo-Protestantism, as Samuel Huntington argued in his 2004 book, Who Are We? and as Rich Lowry argued in his 2019 book The Case for Nationalism. In their view, America is defined most fundamentally not by our creed of liberty and equality, but by a specific cultural inheritance and a specific set of religious values.

The problem with nationalism is that lots of Americans do not conform to nationalists’ preferred cultural template, in which case they are accounted second-class citizens. Trump is mean to Mexicans, Muslims, African Americans, progressives, Black Lives Matter activists, and secular social justice warriors because he does not believe they are real Americans. Trump belittles, demeans, and excludes because, to him, such people do not really count.

Commentators routinely wonder why Trump has never tried to reach out, expand his coalition, or broaden his base. But seen from within Trump’s nationalist worldview, it would be much more surprising if Trump actually did any of those things because they would require him to betray his most fundamental beliefs about what it means to be an American.

The problem with the arguments about Trump’s character is that they are fundamentally shallow, ignorant of American history, and overly-focused on Trump’s individual personality. We have had many presidents who were unfaithful to their spouses, and essentially all of them were liars to some degree or another. Trump is worse than most, but if you rest your case against Trump on his libertinism or his penchant for exaggeration, you’ll end up with a standard that would condemn most presidents—most political leaders of any country—in history.

More to the point, you’ll end up with a standard irrelevant to policymaking, executive competence, and public service. While I do think that “character matters,” I don’t think it matters in the way that Piper or Mohler seem to think it does. So many Christian commentators seem to think that sexual faithfulness matters because it is a reliable proxy variable that indicates how trustworthy a man is in the rest of his life. I don’t know how else to put this: no, it isn’t. Franklin Roosevelt was an adulterer and Adolf Hitler was faithfully devoted to one woman throughout his life. Sexual promiscuity probably tells us nothing at all about how well someone would look after the common good.

Again, the problem is not Trump’s character: it is his nationalism. The political right has been prone to nationalism for decades; Trump only brought it out into the open. Trump’s bizarre and outsized personality make it seem like he is wholly unique and therefore that the nativism, xenophobia, and footsie-with-racism that has characterized his administration will go away when he leaves office. By such logic do Trump’s apologists and defenders avert their gaze from the destruction that nationalism does to the ideals of the American experiment, to a shared and broad understanding of who “we” are, and to the norms of equal justice under law.

Nothing in American history suggests that nationalism will simply go away. Racism, nativism, and xenophobia are persistent and strong tendencies in American political culture. They require active, sustained opposition. The right does not embody active, sustained opposition to them; instead, the right, at best, turns a blind eye, cultivates deliberate historical ignorance, and then, like Captain Renault, is shocked, shocked to find out there’s been racism going on in this place when one or another devotee is found in bed with the alt-right, with conspiracy theorists, or with neo-Confederate sympathizers. At its worst, the right is actively complicit with the worst strains in American political life.

When Trump called for the murder of terrorists’ wives and children in December 2015, when he initially declined to condemn the Ku Klux Klan in 2016, when he said there were “very fine people on both sides,” in Charlottesville in 2017, when he told four nonwhite Congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” in 2019, when he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” in 2020, he was not just acting like a bully and the problem was not his “character.” He was giving voice to a belief system about who matters, about who counts, about what America means, the nature of American identity, and America’s role in the world—beliefs that are wrong, un-American, and unjust.

And if you cannot hear those overtones—if your first response is to defend, spin, and explain that that’s not what Trump really meant—then you are deliberately ignoring a repeated pattern of behavior over the course of decades of Trump’s public career, and you are choosing not to heed the voices of millions of your Christian brothers and sisters who have pled with you for years to hear with their ears, and you are well beyond persuasion.

The Left

But Trump is prolife and the left celebrates abortion, so no matter how bad nationalism is, is there really any debate?

I am pro-life, and I have talked at length with my progressive Christian friends about how they can, in good conscience, support the political party that has made abortion on demand central to its identity. I understand the counterarguments (some Democratic policies make abortion less likely; abortion policy is only indirectly affected by our votes; etc.). I understand how some Christians can find their way to voting for pro-abortion candidates.

But the problem with the left is not simply abortion. It is progressivism. Progressivism, like nationalism, is a totalistic political religion that is fundamentally inconsistent with the ideals of a free and open society.

Progressivism is best understood as a philosophy of history, a belief that history unfolds in the direction of progressive policy preferences. Today’s progressive elites act like a self-appointed vanguard commissioned by history to open up the next chapter in our story. Such a self-congratulatory, self-aggrandizing narrative has no moral horizon or framework and no way to justify what its policy preferences are, other than vague appeals to “the children,” “the future,” and “the right side of history,” which means whatever they want those empty phrases to mean on any given day.

Shorn of any fixed moral commitments, the goals of progressivism deteriorate into the lowest common denominator available within the rhetoric of freedom: individual autonomy, personal discovery, self-expression, fulfillment, and empowerment. Progressivism is an endless pursuit of ever-greater liberation, freedom, autonomy, and self-discovery.

But what is there to discover within the empty progressive self? What is there to express? The lonely progressive soul gravitates to the only commitments and attachments available in a world stripped of God, nature, reason, community, and tradition: commonalities of race, class, and gender, which are experienced both as inescapable, essential defining attributes and as constricting burdens that must be transcended, transgressed, redefined, and thrown off in a never-ending replay of personal liberation.

Progressivism is a demeaning view of human personhood, trapped between essentialism and rebellion, forever. We are fundamentally defined by the unchosen categories of our race, class, and gender, which means we must be empowered to explore, define, and express these identities even as we rebel against any external effort to tell us what they mean and rebel against the felt limitations they impose—and simultaneously we are encouraged to approach the world primarily as a never-ending fight against an irredeemable system of racial, sexual, or economic oppression.

In this light, the progressive commitments to extreme views on abortion, the sexual revolution, and identity politics are a feature, not a bug, of the movement: they express the fundamental core of what progressivism is, a religious devotion to rebellion against any and all constraints and limitations on personal independence and self-expression, including the limits of nature itself. As Justice Anthony Kennedy infamously wrote in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning of the universe, and of the mystery of human life,” the best single-sentence definition of progressivism ever written. It is no accident that it was written in a case affirming the constitutionality of abortion.

Progressivism is also corrosive of cohesion, solidarity, and true tolerance in a pluralistic society. The hectoring, authoritarian temperament that gives rise to speech codes and cancel culture flows naturally from progressivism. Progressives’ belief that they are on the “right side of history,” (an empty phrase of rhetorical bullying) means that they cannot conceive of any rational basis on which someone might not be a progressive. Departure from progressivism is not rational disagreement; it is to run counter to the grain of history, to obstruct the vanguard of our new future. It is a form of insanity—or, worse, heresy.

That is why when progressives encounter disagreement, they rush to label it “hate speech” and routinely accuse their opponents of bigotry, racism, fascism, and various -phobias so often that critics have learned to dismiss them as so many Chicken Littles. Worse, progressives work to get opponents ostracized, de-platformed, fired, humiliated, and permanently branded with the scarlet letter of their apostasy. It is simply astonishing to me how many Americans think that the appropriate response to encountering someone who believes differently than they do is to think, “I must get this person fired from their job.”

These progressive activists are essentially economic terrorists, threatening to deprive people of their livelihood, their ability to raise children and pay bills, for the sake of enforcing progressive orthodoxy. The mere existence of the twitter mob and past examples of cancel culture—and yes, it is very real—hang like the unspoken threat of Damocles’ sword over everyone employed by a secular institution. The activists respond the way inquisitors respond to wrong belief. Progressivism is a religion, but one without grace. It is a return to Puritan roots in the worst sense of the word, an endless crusade of moral reform with no forgiveness, no atonement, and no savior.

That is why progressivism is increasingly at odds with free speech and the freedom of religion. Progressive activists are deliberately working to redefine what those freedoms mean, complaining that the right is “abusing” the First Amendment as a shield for its “bigotry” against the LGTBQ community (by continuing to affirm traditional Christian sexual morality). Their view logically would conclude in the proscription, censorship, or silencing of religious beliefs and the forcible closure of religious schools, hospitals, charities, adoption agencies, and advocacy groups (not just Christian ones, by the way).

Progressivism is intellectually authoritarian—and, if given the chance, almost certainly would become actually authoritarian in practice. There is some truth to Rod Dreher’s hyperbolic warning that the left represents a new form of soft totalitarianism. The hostility to free speech and freedom of religion, the insistence that words are violence, the cult of safetyism, the antipathy to American history and American ideals, and the extremes of identity politics are increasingly endemic within the left.

These views were extreme yesterday; today they are mainstream on the left; and tomorrow they will be affirmed by federal courts. The left is expert at patiently nudging the Overton Window decade by decade until what was unthinkable becomes inevitable. If it is true that the ridiculous extremes of the campus left do not yet represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party today, it is also true that they almost certainly represent its future.

This, more than the single policy of abortion, is what makes the progressive left wrong and unjust. And it is this that I would want my Christian progressive friends to grapple with. Progressivism in its ideal form is oppressive, un-American, and illiberal. Like nationalism, it is a belief system at odds with the American experiment, with the norms of a free and open society, and with the virtues of political order, justice, and liberty.

Conclusion

American politics is more than abortion policy versus Trump’s character. It is better understood as nationalism versus progressivism. Both are bad. So how should we vote?

I will add to my previous arguments that, in addition to nationalism, Trump is also guilty of criminality and administrative incompetence (which, unlike nationalism, are unique to him, not to the political right more generally), qualities that are right now directly and immediately exacerbating the untold economic and human catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the alternative is hardly better. The danger of progressivism is not simply its victory today and tomorrow; it is the path-dependency, the bureaucratic inertia, the institutional drift leftwards that has characterized American governance for a century. Progressivism has been the dominant ideology in American law, culture, and administration since Woodrow Wilson, with a minor speed bump in the form of Ronald Reagan and the Republican Congress. It is nearly impossible to conceive of how progressivism could be stopped, except that the Supreme Court, like a supertanker at sea, began an excruciatingly slow and almost imperceptible turn against some aspects of progressivism under Chief Justice Rehnquist, a turn that needs every encouragement to continue.

The best argument for Trump is to list the evils of the left; the best argument for Biden is to list the dangers of nationalism. Neither party has any virtue of its own; it is only tolerable insofar as it fights against the bad guy you fear most. If you think I haven’t answered the question about how we should vote, consider that when faced with an impossible game sometimes the best choice is not to play.

The most urgent and most moral necessity in American politics is to dismantle the two-party system that artificially forces us into an impossible choice between two immoral options, neither of which represents a majority of Americans, embodies the aspirations of the American experiment, or articulates a vision of ordered liberty and human dignity. The American experiment is a miracle of political order, a miracle that is increasingly fragile and has no champions, no defenders, and no partisans in our contemporary political landscape except for the large and growing number of voters who reject the two parties who claim to govern in their name.

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Posted by Paul D. Miller

Paul D. Miller is a research fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

18 Comments

  1. I appreciate this analysis. If it is accurate, I wondering if it doesn’t suggest that the best voting strategy for a believer is to always vote against the incumbent in order to slow both sides in the realization of their ends.

    I do have one question though about the diagnosis of nationalism on the right. There has been a lot of discussion in the past week about Trump making up ground with black men and Latinos. His support in these groups certainly still lags the democrats, but I wonder how that fits in with the “nationalism” characterization? Do you think we should just view this the same way you might view, say, support among Trump for principled evangelicals? That there are definite incompatibilities between their identity and their support of Trump, but they see other, more compelling, compatibilities within other aspects of their identity and heavier-weighted incompatibilities with the other side of the aisle?

    Reply

  2. My conclusion from reading this is that Biden is the obvious choice – left-leaning, sure, but historically moderate. A vote for Trump is a vote for nationalism, but I do not see how a vote for Biden is a vote for Progressivism and the “cancel culture” elitism seen in academia. Am I missing something?

    Reply

    1. You’re missing the fact that Biden is not historically moderate. Biden himself has admitted that if he is elected he will “go down as one of the most progressive presidents in American history.” Bernie Sanders said Joe Biden will “become the most progressive president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” An article for Vox reported that according to many on the left, Biden’s platform is considered “‘the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in the modern history of the party,’ Waleed Shahid, communications director for Justice Democrats, a group famous (or infamous) for backing left-wing challengers to incumbent congressional Democrats, tells me.” And of course analysis from conservatives or those leaning conservative have reached similar conclusions. Lanhee Chen, for instance, writing for CNN: “If Biden is elected and signs into law even a fraction of what he’s proposed, he would govern as an unabashed progressive and would be one of the most liberal presidents in American history.”

      That Biden is in the more moderate wing of where the Democratic party currently stands does not mean that Biden is currently occupying the “historically moderate” position. The Democratic party has shifted far to the left on virtually every issue.

      Reply

  3. As a Christian progressive, I do have difficulty with his description of the left. What he is describing are the fringes and the excess. 97% of progressives do not fit into this description. Many progressives are also pro-life. I for one am appalled by abortion, but I do understand it is a religious issue. I do not have the right to impose my religious beliefs on others, especially within the confines of politics in this country. We were founded on religious freedom. Cancel culture and moral authoritarianism are BS. Only a fringe group of people believe this, they just get more press because of the contentious nature of these beliefs. Eliminating racism and sexism sometimes requires consequences for that type of behavior. None of it is punitive as much just doing the right thing.

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    1. I for one am appalled by abortion, but I do understand it is a religious issue.

      It’s not a religious issue anymore than, say, abolitionism was a uniquely religious issue. Basically, the only premises one has to accept are:

      1. Killing innocent human beings is murder, unless we are faced with a triage scenario.
      2. The government should outlaw murder.
      3. The unborn are innocent human beings.

      None of those premises requires religious grounding – aside from the way in which all moral facts require religious grounding.

      Reply

      1. The determination as to when life begins is religious in nature and at this point abortion Is not considered to be murder both on a legal basis and in the minds of many people who don’t share the same religious convictions. There are many people that consider human viability as the standard for morality. Since we live in a country that does not promote a specific religion, the views of those without a religion are just as valid.Your contention that it is murder is inaccurate but you have the right to that opinion. Legally and in many cases morally, it is not considered murder. There is no comparison with slavery . To compare the life of a living, breathing, viable and enslaved human being to that of a newly created embryo is a false equivalency at best and an insult to humanity and especially to African Americans at worst. Finally while your premises are your own beliefs, they are not shared by everyone and they are certainly not factual. You are absolutely incorrect to state that all moral facts require religious grounding. Nothing is further from the truth. Religion requires a basis of personal morality to exist. Personal morality can exist and thrive without any religion. That’s a fact

        Reply

        1. The determination as to when life begins is religious in nature

          So if I determined that for black people, life doesn’t begin until they reach the age of 60, you support the government removing human rights protections for them until they reach the age of 60, eh?

          Reply

          1. Straw man argument. You certainly have your right to that opinion, but the law, especially constitutional law, science and basic human morality and standards of decency dispute that opinion with facts and evidence. This is quite unlike abortion rights which have to account for a biological construct that has a gray area that is unsettled by facts. whether and when an embryo can be defined as a human being IS debatable . Even Christians have a variety of opinions on that subject. No one can reasonably suggest that anyone from birth onward is a NOT a viable human. This does not even take into account a women’s right to choose. If her health is at serious risk, is abortion murder? If she is raped ? If the baby has a terminal and dangerous health condition? Can the term murder have conditions? Do men have a right to tell women what is moral? Lots of gray areas here. The best way to end abortion is through education , free birth control, accepting the fact that consensual sex is not immoral, and to let women make the decision within reason and based on their morals . Side note: If men REALLY wanted to end abortion they would pass a law requiring mandatory vasectomies at 13. Vasectomies are 99% reversible so when they want to have a family and prove their capability, they can procreate responsibly.

          2. It wasn’t a straw man, it was an entailment from your assertion. You asserted that “The determination as to when life begins is religious in nature” and it therefore follows that my hypothetical determination as to when life begins is also religious in nature.

            It further follows that any belief you have about when life begins for people generally or black people specifically will be religious in nature.

            And since you do not believe that the government can promote a specific religion, it logically follows that you cannot believe the government should favor your view over my hypothetical view.

            Now, after falsely claiming that I have created a strawman – and I have not – you have attempted to restate your position by in fact modifying your position. Your original claim was that the reason we can’t legislate against abortion is because beliefs about whether x is a human must be religious. Your new argument is that the reason we can’t legislate against abortion is because whether x is a human is debatable.

            But obviously your new argument is no better than your old argument. You cannot merely assert that a position is debatable – otherwise I can just assert that your position against my hypothetical is debatable. And now you are back facing the same problem that I originally presented: you must support the government removing human rights from black people under the age of 60.

            Why do you think one set of baseless assertions should dictate society, but not another?

          3. A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making. To suggest that any post birth living, breathing human, regardless of age, race gender etc has any equivalence to a developing fetus is an extreme false equivalency. Hence the straw man fallacy. There is no logical, scientific, moral or ethical reasoning that could create that equivalency. To define a pre-60 year old black person as anything less than a viable human is illogical and irrelevant to my argument. What I am stating is the fact that any living human at birth is inarguably just that , a human being. That is a fact. An embryonic life , while defined as a living thing, is not necessarily a viable human, so by definition there is a grey area as to aborting that embryo and whether it is a moral problem. I know that I believe it is wrong, but as a freedom loving American, I do not want the government or those with different religious beliefs making that decision. As a male that will never deal with personal pregnancy, I think it is immoral to make decisions, within reason, for a woman in relation to her own body. To restrict abortions on fetuses that are demonstrably viable is logical and moral. That is what we do now. But even late term abortions make sense if the life of the fetus and/or mother are in serious jeopardy. But to blanketly label abortion as murder is illogical, illegal and in my opinion as a Christian, immoral.

          4. John Dwyer’s Premise:

            The determination as to when life begins is religious in nature…

            Thus, the determination that life begins at the age of 60 for black people is religious in nature. The determination that life begins post-birth is also religious in nature.

            That’s not a straw man fallacy. It’s a straightforward application of your claim.

            Are you abandoning your position or not?

  4. […] life in the womb somehow devalues the rest. But it doesn’t. This Nov. 2 essay “Politics is More than Abortion VS Character,” by Paul D. Miller, senior research fellow at the ERLC, reflects what has been an […]

    Reply

  5. “and the out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over a million
    people worldwide (which Mohler somehow does not even mention).”

    I’m missing how worldwide COVID-19 numbers play a role in the U. S. election. And while I don’t really remember if I’ve read the Huntington book I feel pretty sure the assessment of Lowry is off or at best incomplete. Given that Lowry’s first example of “cultural nationalism” is the far-reaching influence of blues music it would seem if he has a “preferred cultural template” it’s a bit wider than this piece suggests.

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  6. I think Mr. Miller presents a hearty and reasoned argument, but I would not separate ‘character’ from ‘nationalism.’ I do believe Trump’s character issues have him in a class all his own. David Brooks says it well: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/28/opinion/donald-trump-behavior.html

    Reply

  7. The title of the article and some of the lines in the body of the article (e.g., “American politics is reduced to a contest between “Trump is mean,” against “abortion is murder,” the only difference being how different commentators weigh the relative evils.”) are misleading.

    Mohler acknowledges that politics is more than abortion: “I agree that there are many other issues that press on the Christian conscience—questions of economic policy and foreign affairs and energy and the stewardship of the earth. The searing pain of racial injustice and the unraveling of our social fabric demand Christian response and urgency. Christians must be concerned about questions of immigration policy and refugees—and these issues defy the simplifications of the sound-bite and tweet culture.”

    And I’ve never talked to a single progressive who thought politics was only about character.

    The entire framework of the discussion that this article sets up looks self-defeating. What people like Mohler believe is that killing unborn children is the weightier matter. What you believe is that your stipulated characterization of “nationalism” (which I doubt Rich Lowry would recognize… and isn’t that a problem in the ethics of discourse?) is the weightier matter. In that respect, Mohler doesn’t seem to be any more reductionist than you.

    By contrast, Tim Keller and John Piper made waves when they suggested Christians do not fit well into the two-party system…

    It wasn’t the claim that “Christians do not fit well into the two-party system” that made waves. That claim has been repeated ad nauseum for years. What made waves was other details of the their argument. Such as Piper’s speculation that Trump being prideful is as bad as facilitating the killing of the unborn.

    …that they should embrace their political independence, and that they should recognize the evils of both sides.

    You begin this thought with “By contrast…” but by contrast with what? Mohler’s piece. But did you read Mohler’s piece? Because it recognizes the evils of both sides. Mohler: “I believe that, in a fallen world, all politics is some mixture of good and evil, all political gains are partial, and the perfect is—often tragically—the enemy of the good.” That’s after Mohler lists many bad things about Trump.

    etc. etc. I didn’t find this piece to be well-reasoned or argued.

    Reply

  8. Sorry just want to add that He has condemned KKK many times and he did not say they were very fine people on both sides referring to white supremest. The media had us believe that however after lots of digging for full context videos I’ve come to the conclusion the entire mainstream media & Hollywood is out for him. He clearly is an outsider who got things done which is exactly what we still need. I can’t deny what he’s done for our economy, prison reform, for religious freedoms, human trafficking.. Biden wants lockdowns, masks mandates, mandatory vaccines… which in the end will be the end of our freedom. I’m sorry as a Christian I think Biden is the opposite of decency especially digging into his family history and recent uncovering of pedophilia, scandal, and how his running mate now calls for prostitution to be legal?!? Come on. This is not the moral high ground choice. I’m happy we haven’t had a war in 4 years. I sure hope we uncover all the fraud that stole votes from the American people so we can have another 4 years of Trump.

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  9. Dr. Charlie Coil November 16, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    Paul, Unfortunately you’ve glossed over the meaning of nationalism as though the very idea by default is unChristian. Cf. https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/08/a-sloppy-attack-on-national-conservatism Nationalism and what is labeled imperialist and colonialist are still being hotly debated in the university. There is no accepted view within in the secular academy or the schools of theology that nationalism is a sinful position.

    Another unfortunate set of glaring mistakes in your article is to repeat the outright lies about President Trump in the claims that he is some kind of terrible racist, white supremacist demagogue. The examples you offer are simply not true and have been shown OVER and OVER to be falsehoods. This makes me wonder about your own power of discernment towards what you are being fed in the media reports that you consume.

    But, to your main point. Think about the distinction that can be made between an empirical fact that life in the womb is human and the intentional destroying of that life fits under any legal definition of murder. Add to this the Christian perspective that life is precious to God.

    Then, compare this with the standard progressive issues that Christians are asked to elevate to be on a par with the prolife vs prochoice divide. Here’s truncated 3-part version of your list:

    1. The king’s character is awful therefore we will be made free and show ourselves to be a righteous nation if we will declare him and his followers an abomination and “rise up” get rid of this evil king;

    A number of self-anointed “wise” academics and bureaucrats have also decreed for all that certain governmental policies are more righteous and thereby more God-honoring, namely …

    2. The restriction of external expressions of Christian faith (other religions are exempt in the name of tolerance) in order to avoid the sin of proselyting for one’s Christian faith which is not frowned up in academia, the media and certain regulatory agencies in the federal government.

    3. Accepting the authoritarian, paternalist “nudge” of the wise sages who counsel absolute government control over everything from

    –the amount of sugary beverage we can drink at one time to whether automobiles and airplanes and the use of fossil fuels is violating our Christian covenant to be good stewards of God’s earth and our “carbon footprint” upon it. And further we are told that the only “true science” is that of the climate alarmists and that we must give the government even more taxes to somehow “control” this claimed threat. Never mind the equally qualified scientists who are unbelievers and offer equally valid arguments and hard data to suggest that the alarmists are wrong. But we who try to discern these things are to be thought of as anti-science rubes and religious fanatics. All of this requires higher and higher taxes of course, which we are asked to accept in the name of compassion.
    –speaking of compassion, we are told that the only Christian compassionate view of immigration is to lift all barriers, tear down all fences and welcome all in the name of Christ without thought of the historically-clear reasons why strong borders have made the U.S. the most welcoming nation in the world to outsiders who are asked to follow legal procedures that are thoughtful, fair and imminently compassionate; and we are to avoid any suggestion that there might be an ulterior motive lifting restrictions on immigration as a sheer power play to add voters to one side of the 2-party system in our country.
    –furthermore, we are being preached to that, in light of the inevitable increase in crime, if we dare try to up arms to defend life and personal property that we are somehow contributing to rising gun violence and all of this is laid at the feet of the deplorable, gun-toting, Bible-thumping deplorables who happen to inhabit most of the interior of our country.

    I’m sorry but given the comparison, it seems crystal clear to me that Albert Mohler and Wayne Grudem are the better theologians / political thinkers and that pastors John Piper & Tim Keller are missing the political/historical trajectory given in scripture of nations who reject God and even the simple notion of moral proportionality.

    The concern that we are killing our children, especially our children of color, “trumps” these other issues that politicians try to elevate and thereby guilt Christians into voting for. To be more specific, being guilted into voting for an historically-failed, tragically-flawed and ultimately anti-compassionate political system typically going under the name of socialism.

    Reply

  10. Paul,
    Unfortunately, you’ve glossed over the meaning of nationalism as though the very idea by default is unChristian. Cf.https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/08/a-sloppy-attack-on-national-conservatism
    Nationalism, and what is labeled imperialist and colonialist, are historical labels that are still being hotly debated in the university. Despite your limited citations there simply is no “received view” within the secular academy much less the schools of theology that nationalism is by definition a “sinful” position.

    Another unfortunate set of glaring mistakes in your article is to repeat the outright lies about President Trump in the claims that he is some kind of terrible racist, white supremacist demagogue. The examples you offer are simply not true (as another comment has noted) and have been shown OVER and OVER to be falsehoods. This makes me wonder, Paul, about your own power of discernment towards what you are being fed in the media reports that you consume.

    But, to your main point. Think about the clear distinction that can be made between an empirical fact that life in the womb is human and the intentional destroying of that human life, fits under any legal definition of murder. Add to this the Christian perspective that life is precious and of inestimable value to God.

    Then, compare this with the standard progressive issues that Christians are asked to elevate to be on a par with the prolife vs prochoice divide. Here’s truncated 3-part version of your list:

    1. The king’s character is awful therefore we will be made free and show ourselves to be a righteous nation if we will declare him and his followers an abomination and “rise up” and get rid of this evil king;

    A number of self-anointed “wise” academics and bureaucrats have also decreed for all that certain governmental policies are more righteous and thereby more God-honoring, namely …

    2. The restriction of external expressions of Christian faith (other religions are exempt in the name of tolerance) in order to avoid the sin of proselyting for one’s Christian faith which is not frowned up in academia, the media and certain regulatory agencies in the federal government.

    3. Accepting the authoritarian, paternalist “nudge” of the wise sages who counsel absolute government control over everything from …

    –the amount of sugary beverage we can drink at one time to whether automobiles and airplanes and the use of fossil fuels is violating our Christian covenant to be good stewards of God’s earth and our “carbon footprint” upon it. And further we are told that the only “true science” is that of the climate alarmists and that we must give the
    government even more taxes to somehow “control” this claimed threat. Never mind the equally qualified scientists who are unbelievers and offer equally valid arguments and hard data to suggest that the alarmists are wrong. But, we who try to discern these things are to be thought of as anti-science rubes and religious fanatics. All of this also requires higher and higher taxes of course, which we are asked to accept in the name of Christian compassion.

    –speaking of compassion, we are told that the only Christian compassionate view of immigration is to lift all barriers, tear down all fences and welcome all in the name of Christ without thought of the historically-clear reasons why strong borders have made the U.S. the most welcoming nation in the world to outsiders who are asked to follow legal procedures that are thoughtful, fair and imminently compassionate; and we are to avoid any suggestion that there might be an ulterior motive lifting restrictions on immigration as a sheer power play to add voters to one side of the 2-party system in our country.

    –furthermore, we are being preached to that, in light of the inevitable increase in crime, if we dare try to up arms to defend life and personal property that we are somehow contributing to rising gun violence and all of this is laid at the feet of the deplorable, gun-toting, Bible-thumping deplorables who happen to inhabit most of the interior of our country.

    I’m sorry but given the comparison it seems crystal clear to me that Albert Mohler is the the better theologian / political thinker and that John Piper & Tim Keller are missing the political/historical trajectory given in scripture of nations who reject God and even the simple notion of moral proportionality. The concern that we are killing our children, especially our children of color, “trumps” these other issues that politicians try to elevate and thereby guilt Christians into voting for. To be more specific, being guilted into voting for an historically-failed, tragically-flawed and ultimately anti-compassionate political system typically going by the name of socialism.

    Thank you for allowing comments to your article.

    Reply

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