Election 2006 is finally over with. Sort of. There will be extended battles of many kinds; some in the courts of law and some in the courts of public opinion as people spin the results of the election.
As we noted in a previous post, our main concern is and always has been the legal status of Christianity–and Christian behaviour–in our country. We are not blind to the relationship between that and may other important issues–economic freedom, property rights, a straightforward rule of law, etc.. But we know all too well that the composition of the government–and in that respect it took a decided turn for the worse–can seriously affect people’s ability to choose their eternity unhindered by adverse pressure from the state.
But let’s look at another question: how did we get into this mess? The overriding issue is one that Christians don’t support with the enthusiasm that our opponents think we do, but it’s one that’s ended up hitting us hard: the Iraq war. There are many Vietnam-era excuses as to why this isn’t going well, such as the “quagmire” business, but the basic problem as far as we are concerned is that our President has taken a fixed, unrealistic position on this issue that doesn’t advance our long-term national security: his unbending insistence that we work and fight towards democracy in Iraq.
The Middle East hasn’t known democracy from the start; any realistic reading of the Bible will confirm that. But beyond that we have a President whose idea is that a fixed position is the way to victory. A lot of Christians look at world affairs–and life–in the same way. But a fixed position is like the Maginot Line in World War II: it only invites the enemy to go around it, as the Germans did the original and the jihadis are trying to do now.
There are only two really fixed things out there. The first is that heaven is our ultimate objective. The second is that Jesus Christ is the way to get there. Beyond that we have been given flexibility in how to acheive that objective for ourselves and facilitate it fo others, something Charles Finney pointed out a century and a half ago.
We need to ask ourselves some hard questions. What good does it do to spend so much effort defending life when we produce it only to turn it over to the world and the state to direct? Or put another way, if we cannot or will not evangelise people, is it better that they not be born? (There’s a New Testament answer to this, but we’ll leave it up to you to find it.) Is our desire to acheive success in our society part of the solution or part of the problem? Or are we supporting a system that will, in the long run, work against us?
We need to take a more realistic view out of what we can expect from the state. Part of our problem is that there are too many expectionations–from all sides–of what the state can do. Attempts to politicise Katrina have had varying degrees of success, but there’s no doubt that Katrina was the state’s lowest moment, and that low moment was a bi-partisan low moment. We can expect more like it. On the other hand, it was the church’s greatest one.
We as American Christians need to look at things from the standpoint of being Christians more than being Americans, and to not confuse the two. Although we need to recognise that what we do and what we are has social value, we must also recognise that social value isn’t the determining issue–it’s eternal value.
At this point in American history, the state has the power to drive Christianity underground. A church that is caught up in equating Christian life to secular success is very vulnerable to attack. Elections such as this only put such a kulturkampf closer to reality. But the party hung on what we call Dzerzhinskii’s Dilemma will soon find itself pressed by more deadly enemies than evangelical Christianity so, like the persecution spawned by Diocletian and his colleagues, the time of troubles may be shorter than somewhat.
Christians need to stop being afraid of innovation and do so serious “outside the box” thinking on how the church will progress in a hostile culture. Like the Republicans, we need to stop focusing on deals with only short-term gain and start looking at what really counts. Only then will we not only outlast our enemies, but what the Watchtower calls their “system of things” too.