The day after the 2012 election was heavy. We were gut punched. Shocking almost every conservative and evangelical Christian, Barack Obama was re-elected president. Easily. It left that telltale sick feeling deep in the stomach for many. How could we have all been so wrong? Not pollsters. Polls are just a manifestation of impatience. No, conservative, evangelical Christians (for lack of better terms) were uniformly wrong about the outcome because we thought we knew our fellow Americans.
And I realized that if we can come to grips with the fact that many Americans — probably the majority — see the world and this country in dramatically different fashion from us evangelicals, then we have a start.
In fact, among all the questions drifting from the debris of Tuesday’s wreck, it’s the one stark answer we have. We weren’t wrong on the issues, or campaign strategies or candidates or ground games. We were wrong about who we are as a country. We can no longer assume that the majority of Americans think the Founding Fathers were some of the wisest and best men in all of history, that America is the world’s last best hope, that we are, as Reagan put it in biblical terms, “A shining city on a hill.”
A majority, albeit a slight majority, of our American neighbors just do not see us that way.
In part, this has come about via the domination of the institutions that move and shape public thought — schools, Hollywood and music, academia and the media. We need to retake those institutions that govern public opinion and shape worldviews. This is critical; either re-take them or neutralize their impact. Those will all come in future posts.
But none of them are the actual heart of the matter. We were outmaneuvered for the past century in all of those institutions, but the strategy would have failed — or never started — if not for the biggest failure of all. That biggest failure softened the ground nicely for the planting of the poisonous roots that bore such shocking fruit Tuesday.
The biggest failure?
This is on the church, not politicians or politics. Tuesday’s loss is the result of a declining Christian church in this country. I point no fingers. I am part of this church. I follow Christ and represent Him here on earth. It is on me. If you are a Christian, it is on you.
Charles de Montesquieu said, “The deterioration of a government begins almost always by the decay of its principles.” In a democracy, those principles derive from the morals of the people. In a Christian nation, that would be great. But does it need to be said? We are not a Christian nation. We once were. We no longer are. Whose fault is that? Not the politicians.
Serious Christians need to reengage the culture. I do not mean a reenactment of the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, not abortion and gay marriage, not economics and taxes and immigration and gun rights and school prayer — although all of those need illumination. No, we need to reengage the culture with the truth of Christ. It is past time to take Jesus with us when we leave our comfortable pews where we enjoy great worship and preaching and coffee afterwards and take Him into the streets, into the offices, into the schools, into the hospitals and nursing homes, into the neighborhoods and the restaurants and bars, into the grocery stores and auto shops, into the prisons — everywhere there are people.
We need to stop hiding, coasting, shrinking back, being fat and lazy and compromising, parked in front of American Idol or listening to Beyonce or Eminem, or going after the biggest house or biggest church building or whatever it is that we have been doing, and start being what we are called to be: Light. A light needs to be turned on and shined to be of any value. We better know what we believe and be able and willing to defend it. Anywhere. Anytime. Because the opponents of Christianity certainly are.
The hour is later than we thought as a nation. But it is never too late for the author of true hope.
Our job: Stop all the junk and start living like Christ-followers. One by one, we start winning souls. When we win souls to the Christ of eternity, we have won all. But in the process, we will win hearts and minds, and the blinders of deception will begin to fall from our fellow Americans. It will be a long process, but the opponents of Christianity have been at it a very long time. They will not go quietly into the night.
This is a battle — a battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. A battle for souls for eternity. This goes far beyond the United States of America, but America’s future as a shining light or a backwater has-been will be determined in it.
It goes ill for the entire world if we lose. And we will lose, if we do not engage.
We would all do well to watch the works do David Barton in his efforts to clarify how our value system, as imbedded in the Declaration and Constitution was no mere accident, but one that followed out of the Founder’s understanding that the values derived from scriptures provide a foundation for society and the basis for self governance – IF we are up to the responsibility. This acknowledgement forthcoming even from deists like Jefferson and agnostics like Franklin. Tocqueville of course wondered as to how this would last in the face of self interest and Madison, in Federalist 10, warned of the pernicious nature of faction, self interest and party. I too fear that we as a society of several hundred million little understand this. And worse yet, those elected to public office may not be
able to pass the the civix tests I was required to master throughout middle school. Rod, I believe that you are correct the “the church” may itself have to look inward as to its role in this erosion of the connection between self governance, liberty and responsibility. Sadly, through my 35 years in public service, I found the faith based community to be totally introspective (focused on “their” church) and even insular in accepting its responsibility to lead a moral, self governing, personally responsible republic. The attitude was often, “that is what we elect people for.” Believing in the potential of human beings given by God and represented by the sovereignty of the individual that only he could declare as the natural law, I have to hope for better lest I despair that it is I impossible
Barton’s 2012 book The Jefferson Lies was voted “the least credible history book in print” by the users of the History News Network website. Jay W. Richards, senior fellow at the Christian conservative Discovery Institute, stated in 2012 that Barton’s books and videos are full of “embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.”
I am not as concerned about the election results like you are. If the economy crashes, both parties are responsible. Romney was no different than Obama. So, I am not shocked and I don’t feel punched in the face, as an evangelical. Christ is still in His throne.
I do agree with your approach to win people to Christ one by one. The Institutional Church has always been controlled by money – the one on the top of the spiritual totem pole gets paid the most. So, how to you measure spirituality in the Institutional Church? Cash. You don’t need to know share the message of Christ or even know the message of Christ. All you have to do is invite people to the show and let The Pastor doe the rest – oh yeah and tithe 10%. All you have to do is invite, invest cash and sit passively and there you have it Christianity at its finest. After salaries, facilities, and equipment for the show then 10% goes to Missions.
I. too, am hopeful because of Christ.
Mostly what concerned me about the election results — and I do think there was a difference between the men — was that it felt like the most obvious, latest wakeup call as to where we are as a country. And more importantly, where the church is in this country. And where it is, is off. Way off, I’m afraid. The election was more of another revelation of that, and the desperate need for it to change. But also a great opportunity for that change. Despite all, I remain optimistic — perhaps because of the joy that is within.
I am an evangelical Christian and I wanted Obama to win. If Obama lost, I wouldn’t have felt punched in the face, as a Christian. If the Denver Broncos lose, I don’t feel punched in the face. Now, you might say that politics is more important than football, I agree. But to say that God is on the side of one team over another is not accurate to say. I am thankful that I live in a democracy where two teams “battle” it out. Would I like a more civil contest? Absolutely. I see a lot of whining and “end of the world” declarations from people who don’t value the incredible democracy that we have – it’s not perfect but it’s still the best in the world.
However, even though I am thankful for our democracy, I am more thankful for my Savior and the Savior of the World – Jesus Christ. Again, I agree with you that we, those who have put their faith in Christ, republicans or democrats or Denver fans, are the Church. The Church is the conduit of Hope in the world, not political parties or democracy for that matter. Jesus Christ is the Hope of the World. Can we disagree civilly, yet connect around the unbreakable bond of the love of Christ by the power of Christ?
On your last paragraph, I can only agree with an exclamation point! And I sure hope so.
It’s not so much that I think God takes sides — although he clearly did throughout the Old Testament — but that I feel the election said much about the state of Christianity in our country. The numbers show that you are in a small minority among evangelicals. And Christianity seems to be in clear retreat.
Do you mind me asking why you supported Obama? More specifically maybe, what in your Christian worldview informed your vote for him? It’s all right if you prefer not to go into it.
In answer to your question, “Do you mind me asking why you supported Obama? More specifically maybe, what in your Christian worldview informed your vote for him?” I don’t mind attempting to answer.
Actually, there are many reasons why I don’t support Obama but more reasons why I didn’t support the republican offering. One issue: the response to 9/11. I think that the republican are “in bed” with big oil. The Iraq War was a grave mistake to American and to the world. It was about oil. The death toll in Iraq and the financial cost caused me not to support a man, like Romney, who might take us to another war. The financial tab for Iraq should not have been added to American deficit – there should have been a plan to pay off the war. I am a fiscal conservative but republicans have proven themselves not to be fiscally conservative in recent years. That’s just one reason in response to your question. There are more.
My Christian worldview informs me that all people have a sinful propensity. I am concerned with and I don’t trust absolutists (those who know the truth for themselves and others) – Jim Jones type of characters. I don’t trust these folks in the institutional church or elsewhere like the government. So, the potential abuse or misuse of power is a big concern to me. Now, when there is inevitable abuse of power, I give it over to God and trust him – I think about Sandusky and the Penn State issue. I trust God for healing in the lives of those young men.
The Iraq War became very problematic for me when we never found the weapons of mass destruction. I can’t explain why so many nations from Russia and England to the United States and Saudi Arabia were so sure of it and we never found them. A mystery. I still pray it goes well eventually in Iraq, and there is some form of freedom, but knowing now what we do, I don’t think I would support the Iraq War again.
The only absolutism I am comfortable with is that found in the Bible, where it is quite clear what is right and what is wrong. On that point, would one of the reasons that you don’t support Obama be abortion? That has always struck me as morally unambiguous, from both scripture and common sense.
You asked, “would one of the reasons that you don’t support Obama be abortion?” My answer is, Yes. I hope that one day, roe v. wade will be overturned. In the meantime, parents need to educate their children on abstaining from sex and teaching about contraception – I say this, as one who never received sex education. Young women or shamed if they are pregnant and have abortions often out of shame. Women, typically, are not the iniators of sex, men but men don’t experience or the shame or responsibility, yet, women are labeled as sluts. I was raised Catholic but I put my faith in Jesus in my 20’s. Catholics do not believe in contraception for unmarried or married which is ridiculous.
It has been my experience that we, as Christians, need to step out of our bubble and get to know those who are separate from Christ. The best way to stop pregnancy is to befriend young men and women and help them make good and then help them when they make bad choices too – like abortion. Christian parents need to befriend their children and neighbor’s Christian, especially if they are not Christian. The Body of Christ needs to start in the home andninnthe neighborhood. Voting for republicans or democrats won’t change things on the ground – the Body of Christ democrat or republican can.
Rod, It’s ok with me if we are no on the same page politically. By the way, I am centrist pragmatist but I accept that I have blind spots like everyone. Thanks for the question.
Thanks for the answer, John. I’m not looking for political conformity, either. I just like to understand where others are coming from and why. Even if it is not persuading, it is broadening.
The encouraging trend, for me, on abortion is that the majority of Americans are now essentially pro-life. More than 50%. When I came to consciousness on the issue in the early 1980s, it was only about 38 percent. I think part of positive movement has been the revelation of science on the “fetus.” But I hold out hope there are other reasons, also. Because despite a few shrill opponents that get a lot of media, there are an awful lot of Christians who are out there helping young pregnant women and adopting the babies if they are unwanted or finding adoptive parents. Plus, the long-term emotional impacts of abortion are getting more clear. So…reason for hope on the ground.