Hi @Armando. I’m not comparing this or that politician to Hitler (which generally hasn’t furthered any discussion), but did God set up Adolf Hitler in particular? Was Hitler God’s man of the hour? Did God raise up Stalin to establish an atheist society in which fewer and fewer people heard the gospel and millions starved? Did God raise up Pol Pot? In order to really make sense of what the Bible says about God raising up kings, I think those questions need to be faced.
I too have trouble accepting Reformed Theology in its entirety because of their concept that if God allows it, therefore God ordained it. I don’t agree with this and I think that that’s stretching the meaning of the word ordain far beyond what it really means. But as we see, God does let the likes of Hitler be the man of the hour. Scripture reference of this for example:
Isa 10:5-6 O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. (6) I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
And along this line i think the doctrine of concurrence (from our Reformed friends) becomes relevant.
But what I would say is this, we were never called to fix this world. We were called out of the world and our mission is to call others out as well. Because in the end God is going to destroy the one we have now and bring in a new heaven and a new earth. I believe this to be a literal replacing of the planet! Or maybe not. But my point is, I think we tend to be short sighted by investing ourselves in politics. We can exercise our right to suffrage or even campaign for the one politician we like, that’s fine. But for Christians to see this as a necessary thing to fix our social woes, I think is wrong. This world will get worse by the day and Bible tells us this. I do not think that we can stop it by electing the right officials.
Can you explain the Biblical and sociological evidence that the world will get worse by the day?
For instance, I see the world getting better in many ways. RZIM Connect wasn’t even around five years ago, and look how far we’ve come since then. And I think we can both think of many other (and better) examples.
Good questions. In reflecting on your post for a few days now, I think my discomfort is with overly broad labels for groups of people. I feel this for religious terms as well. For instance, “Buddhists think…” Well… which Buddhists, where, at what time period? “The Democratic position is…”
For the unique purposes of this community, I think we can get the benefits we need by discussing particular ideas. E.g., “What is the best argument for third trimester abortions - and how would you respond?” That approach will stimulate more valuable conversation for the purposes of our community.
Biblical prophecy is at the heart of this. For example in Mat 24:36-39
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (37) But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (38) For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, (39) And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
That pretty much illustrates the direction that the world is headed. And just look at the laws that we framing these days, in every Country in every Continent. I don’t think this is hard to see.
Social media is fun and we can definitely use it to our advantage in reaching people to Christ but I wouldn’t even consider that it makes life better. It’s got more downside than upside. The Bible does paint a picture of the last days doesn’t it? And I don’t think it’s a pretty one.
Yes, the judgment of the Lord will be a terrifying experience for anyone who does not know Christ. However, I think that over-emphasizing this truth can discourage our desire to make this world a better place - or, in other words, to love our neighbor.
Further, I think we also have Biblical reason to believe the world can be improved. For instance, the world was certainly improved by the coming of Jesus! And he makes an astounding promise in John 14:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
As R.C. Sproul says in his discussion of this promise,
I know a lot of people look at the history of Western civilization and say that the bulk of the church’s influence has been negative—the black eye of the Crusades, the Galileo episode, and holy wars, etc. If you look at the record, you will see that it was the Christian church that spearheaded the abolition of slavery, the end of the Roman arena, the whole concept of education, the concept of charitable hospitals and orphanages, and a host of other humanitarian activities. I think, personally, that that’s what Jesus meant when He talked about greater works.
As we consider that there are many hundreds of millions of people who are following Jesus and seeing his transformative work in their lives, neighborhoods, and nations, we have great reason to be encouraged.
As a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explained, there are other reasons to be encouraged. For instance:
For most of recorded history humanity lived on the brink of starvation. As recently as 1980 nearly half the world lived in “extreme poverty,” that is, consuming less than the basic necessities, which the World Bank values at $1.90 a day in 2011 dollars, adjusted for the differing costs of goods and services between countries. The proportion of people in extreme poverty was projected to fall to an estimated 8.6% last year and, given the correlation between growth and poverty, is almost certain to drop further this year.
You can find many more encouraging trends at the website Our World in Data:
I think our Heavenly Father is pleased when children are not raised in extreme poverty, but rather, have adequate food, access to health care, and a good education.
If we want to look at the world from a strictly spiritual viewpoint (which I do not think the Bible encourages us to do), we can also be encouraged that Christianity is growing around the world:
According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, approximately 2.7 million converting to Christianity annually from another religion, World Christian Encyclopedia also cited that Christianity rank at first place in net gains through religious conversion. While according to “The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion”, approximately 15.5 million converting to Christianity annually from another religion, while approximately 11.7 million leave Christianity annually, and most of them become irreligious, resulting in a net gain of 3.8 million. Christianity earns about 65.1 million people annually due to factors such as birth rate, religious conversion and migration, while losing 27.4 million people annually due to factors such as death rate, religious apostasy and immigration. Most of the net growth in the numbers of Christians is in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
For these reasons, I think we can be encouraged that the world is getting a better place, and to be strengthened in our commitment to love our neighbors for the glory of God.
I’m late in this discussion but I am learning a great deal from all the different perspectives. Thank you for raising the question.
I think If Jesus were here today, He would be our King and we wouldn’t need a worldly leader.
Romans 13 may address your question to some degree.
As of yet, before I vote, I simply get on my knees and pray diligently that God would give me wisdom to vote for the right candidate who lines up with my worldview. Once they are elected I pray they will seek God for wisdom.
Hi @CarsonWeitnauer, thanks for these insights.
@Brittany_Bowman1 @iDan @CarsonWeitnauer
I wonder if people in general would make of the tone of Frank Viola’s article ‘Why the Christian Right & Christian Left Won’t Adopt Me’. I think it’s worthwhile. Viola has a natural caveat about generalizations. I could get offended at a possible implication that conservatives care less about the poor, but something about Viola’s broader purpose intrigues me.
Speaking of broader purposes, if political platforms are not mere grab bags of positions on issues, then there is something to identifying and clarifying an underlying philosophy that explains how positions are connected for people in their political tribes. Tribal behavior is based around holding something in common. If we understand the ‘ism’ . The problem, of course, is that ‘isms’ have ‘ists’. Knowing the philosophy puts us in a place to hold to it or not–and this may seem like a label. (RZIM seems rather sympathetic, in most circumstances, with recognizing the philosophical underpinnings of a position.) As Greg Koukl has at times pointed out, removing the ambiguities may make us distance ourselves from the position we think we hold. It is only through dialogue that we find out what might be the errors in our perceptions of the isms.
I don’t necessarily agree with Jonathan Haidt’s breakdown (I think his ‘authority’ category is very problematic) but I have to give him props for trying to bring some nuance to the problem. As I tried to relate earlier (perhaps poorly), in whatever sense it makes to reduce the spectrum to a single dimension, “conservatives” and “liberals” are confusing stand-in terms for ‘left’ and ‘right.’
Ironically, my attempt to bring some philosophical distinctions to the Left-Right spectrum seems to have given the impression that I’m painting with a broad brush. My attempts to find out why that is have been somewhat discouraging. There’s a wide range of Islamic thought. That doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop us from speaking about Islam as having some continuity. In the same vein, we should be able to identify the borders of our isms with their continuities and discontinuities. If a Christian doesn’t know his own political ism (murky as it may be) how will he know how its principles may potentially conflict with his worldview as a follower of Jesus?
Thanks for sharing these resources, @jvaughn. They were interesting, and I’m still pondering some of what was shared.
I think some of my previous posts may have seemed like I was discouraging talking about politics. I’m sorry about that, as I really value political discussions. Sometimes, politics can be a door to a deeper conversation about worldviews, as it can be a conversation starter to know how a person is thinking. However, I say that with the caveat that religion and politics are often incorrectly used to justify one another. Tying a human-created system too tightly to a God-created system can lead down a dangerous road.
I’m not certain I follow the thoughts of your last paragraph. Could you elaborate a bit?
With regard to Islam as an example, for there to be a meaningful comparison between Islam and religion X, it seems to me there must be a Muslim worldview inherent to Islam and a worldview similarly inherent to religion X. Otherwise, one is merely describing incidental ideas that happen to pop up more in one religion than the other. Here is an interesting piece where David Pakman (atheist, I think) criticizes the notion that religions (or at least their central texts) do not lend themselves toward an outlook (in this example, violence).
In this particular case, I believe Pakman is wrong about the evidence that Nazi leaders were typically men who believed in and followed Christian doctrine–but what I find more interesting is his notion of whether there is something essentially Christian about the Holocaust in terms of “a direct line.” Is fascism inherently at odds with Christianity? If so, why or why not is Marxism less so? Are most/all variations of coercive collectivism at odds with the faith? If a political philosophy has an ideological center, then, as with any religion, one can potentially see how it interacts with Christianity’s center–is it in conflict and to what degree? Is merely its implementation in conflict, or its essence? When we are sold on a position, it will include some philosophical baggage (bit of a package deal) even if we are only vaguely aware of the philosophy to which we find ourselves conforming our thoughts. Of course, this only makes sense if religions do have ideological center; if as Reza Aslan asserts, religions are mainly matters of affiliation (e.g. I am Muslim because I identify as such) with at best a set of religious symbolism, then there is no basis for conflict.