Special for 11/4/14: coining a word

During election week in 2004, I stood in front of a student named Jason — a nice guy, a good student, and a year or two older and a bit more mature than some others.  He was in the National Guard and was a Baptist.  Everyone would have considered him to be an upstanding young man, with good behavior, Christian beliefs, and military service to his credit.

Jason asked about my voting (none of which there was, or would be — because of conscience, not apathy).  I said something about not voting because “this isn’t my world.”  Jason was shocked, and I had the sense that he felt betrayed as a fellow Christian.  Others were listening, so I didn’t go into it, but I probably should have pursued it privately with Jason later.

You know how the Christian right tends to think that every believer ought to “stand up and be counted” and “stand for righteousness”?  My general feeling is that Christian-types who preach “standing up for our beliefs” are often more interested in changing a temporary system than in giving allegiance to a lasting one.  I resist the idea that we must seek to change this world’s beliefs and practices.  First off, I think it can be offensive to non-Christians.  Also, simply put, it is based on a non-sequitur:  simply because we happen to be citizens of a democratic republic doesn’t necessitate involvement in the running of its affairs.

I don’t believe it’s either imperative or logical that everyone should vote.  This position, I’ll admit, is somewhat related to my distrust of, and disinterest in, governmental systems.  But at least 75% of it is based on my scruples about the nature of the kingdoms, the dominions, the worlds.  This physical universe and all its systems, I’m convinced, are destined to pass away.  Life here is temporary, and eternal life is beyond this world and its politics.

Yes, I’ll probably check a few election results tonight and tomorrow morning, but I’m not persuaded that the results will make much difference for the coming 2+ years, and the results absolutely won’t make any difference eternally.  Two kingdoms stand in contrast to one another, and the eternal one is my primary concern.

If you were left aghast or appalled or a-feared or affronted by the above, please just read the quotation below.  This quotation is inserted here, between other essays on a different topic, because it’s election day.

From now on, heaven has come to earth.  There is now overlap.  Intersection.  Invasion.  The kingdom has arrived.  The kingdom has come and is now on the loose in our very midst.  It is at hand, within reach, very near to each of us.  For what purpose?  To begin what God had promised from the beginning:  the reversal of what has become of the created world since its fall and ruin in Genesis 3.”

– Greg Finke (via Roger Thoman), Missionary.”

Greg Finke’s is a kind of voice that deserves repeated hearings among Christians.  (His voice would be lost on non-Christians, although some of them might appreciate it if believers meddled less in this world’s affairs, trying in vain to create another theocracy.)  Note that Greg does not suggest head-in-the-clouds waiting for the glorious “over yonder,” as some of the gospel songs suggest.  One could actually use what he said to encourage political activity if one were of that mindset.  And, the more I read it over, the more I think he is likely suggesting a physical, eternal kingdom along with the spiritual one.  That is a presupposition I do not share, but the main point is really not what we do, or don’t do, in this current world-system; the point is that there is something bigger than this world.  From the Incarnation onward, we view the lasting kingdom as the one that matters.  Its arrival in this temporary, world-sphere means a new set of imperatives that have eternal significance.

For once, let’s lay aside the anxieties (I have them, too) about ISIS and the global & U.S. economies and all the messed-up political systems.  Let’s pay less attention to fear (I have it, too) about the societal effects of abortion, the ever-pressing, encroaching homosexual agenda, and general, moral decline that creates a world-system we don’t want our children and grandchildren to experience.

Let’s rather realize the everlasting nature of the Kingdom of which believers are citizens.  Let’s rather “ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  The Prince of Peace offers a peace not of this world.  “Let not your hearts be troubled,” He said, without reference to wars and persecutions and standing up and being counted in elections of this world.  He said our hearts shouldn’t be troubled because He had overcome the world.  I need to hear this myself.  I need to pay more attention to Kingdom thinking and Kingdom philosophies — and to resultant Kingdom behavior.

Finke’s inspirational thinking is of a type all its own.  Be it premillennial or not, it is not heart-candy with spiritual high-fructose corn syrup at the top of its ingredient list.  No, this kind of inspiration is both grounded and eternally moored.  It is about something beyond this world!  I feel like creating a word. . . .

Let’s label this kind of voice basileic (click the link for the referent).

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18 thoughts on “Special for 11/4/14: coining a word

  1. Steve 11/07/2014 / 5:18 pm

    Brian–interesting approach/viewpoint, not unlike the Jehovah’s Witnesses, if I remember correctly. 🙂 Since there probably isn’t a direct parallel from Biblical times to our situation concerning how political leaders assumed their roles (then–family/appointed; now (US)–voted/appointed), the aspect of a believer voting doesn’t have any precedent for us. But the privileges of citizenship in a country that allows a voice in its leadership should not (in my opinion) be taken lightly. If Prov 14:34 is true, and leadership has strong bearing on the values of a nation (debatable, but likely), then I wonder what is the reason one might choose not to vote? Yes, “our kingdom is not of this world,” but if I am to pay taxes as a good citizen, then I would think that paying attention to who is elected in a leadership role, and perhaps helping to determine that (under God’s sovereignty, of course), would also be a responsible privilege of citizenship. There are certainly other ways to be salt/light/leaven, but voting seems to be one of the ways. Thoughts?

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    • Brian Casey 11/09/2014 / 3:05 pm

      Steve,

      I think this is the first time I’ve disagreed with you. (You might have disagreed with me a lot, but you’re nice enough not to let it show when you do.) All of what you wrote shows the thoughtful care of a U.S. citizen. My reason for not participating in the running of the civil government could be stated in more than one way, but one is that there’s no logical, scriptural imperative to do so. What you recommend appears to be based more on regard for the government and its outcomes than on anything else. Paying taxes is an obligation by law (in this country, and I presume in most/all others), but paying doesn’t necessarily mean I have a right or obligation to determine how the funds are used. I heard someone say once — maybe in connection with Safeway, when the Mormons owned it? — that buying groceries doesn’t give me the right to determine how the store spends its money.

      I came much closer to hearing your suggestion about helping to determine who leads when you added the paren about its all being under God. But I don’t find any solid reason to assume that He wants me to help Him determine who is king over whom at any given time.

      The deepest, most significant concepts along these lines (to my ears) are those about being salt and light. Those are always really probing questions! I can’t honestly say I have a handle on that. It’s a mysterious (non-revealed kind!) notion to me. I tend to think, though, that it’s more the individual acts of kindness and goodness and charity that end up salting and illuminating things around us. You could label me as an introvert here, and you’d be right. Even if I believed that I, as a Christian, should vote or run for public office, it would probably be for other reasons; I have a tough time seeing how even the best-intended, mass-scale political involvement has any real positive effects on society. It’s all too big for me. I think and operate mostly as an individual with individual others, and big groups and institutions both scare and depress me. This may be tantamount to a neurosis, or it may just be introverted.

      Your point about a lack of chronological connection could lead one in either direction. Many might say, “Well, Paul didn’t have the right to vote as a Roman, but if he lived in America, he certainly would have.” Others like me can more easily see Paul going,

      “OK, let me get this straight. In the USA, the people can vote on who the emperor is, and the senators, and the magistrates? Wow, that’s interesting. Pretty different from what I had in Antioch and Jerusalem and Ephesus and even Arabia! Maybe I wouldn’t have ended up sailing to Rome after all, if the people had that kind of voice! . . . Anyway, just let those who are citizens of this world handle all that, and you all, Christ-beings as you are, remember where your allegiance is — with Jesus as Lord. He’s the One of Whom You are really subjects, so don’t concern yourselves with human government. The government is in place for a reason, and God can use it, but it is an it, a they, and you are the ones to whom I write in the 2nd person, speaking about the kingdom of Christ Jesus!”

      Sorry this was so long. As with several of your other comments, this probably should have led to another whole post in reply.

      Oh, and it was a low blow to connect me to the JWs. 🙂 Truth be told, I’ve always had a twinge of jealousy over their church hall name. . . .

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  2. maria mcmoon 11/09/2014 / 1:36 pm

    Indeed, it would behoove us to spend less fearful time dwelling on the “encroaching homosexual agenda” and more time on tending to our own peace and tolerance. In the big scheme of things, in the Eternity, there is no concern for any agenda, other than our own tending to our connection with God. In that present moment, freed of fears of the future and memories of the past there is only stillness and peace and the palpable sense that all is well. That’s huge.

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    • Brian Casey 11/09/2014 / 3:10 pm

      I don’t believe we’ve cyber-met, Maria, but I thank you for these beautiful, well-crafted words. Being still before God — and existing in, and because of, His peace — ought to be goals for all of us.

      I can’t help but wonder whether, since you quoted that particular, three-word phrase of mine (which was not a focus of my piece but included to represent a real feeling of many honorable, good people), that you might have been particularly, negatively struck by that phrase. I completely agree that, in eternal perspective, there are no agendas — and that is another great reason not to concern oneself with politics in the here and now!

      Yet God does have (and has communicated) behavioral and moral expectations. Inasmuch as I can determine those expectations — which include loving others, not stealing, not violently resisting, etc. — it is my pleasure to live and move within them. This constitutes an agenda of sorts *for myself.* It is not for others, and I must not push it on those who opt out of God. I’ll not specify, here in this context, what those moral expectations might be; it is enough to suggest that there are some. “Tending to my own connection” with God (a rich, wonderful expression!) surely includes living by His communicated desires, insofar as I can.

      His,

      Brian

      On Sun, Nov 9, 2014 at 1:36 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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  3. Steve 11/10/2014 / 8:30 am

    Brian–I was once told that in a friendship/marriage/business, etc., if you always agreed with someone, then perhaps one of you might be expendable. 🙂 So different perspectives shared in a good spirit should always be helpful–and that’s one reason I try to read from a wide variety of sources, you being one of them.

    Paul’s unmistakable analogy to his Roman colonized Philippian brethren about their primary citizenship and allegiance is unmistakable (Phil 3:20); nevertheless, his “salty” influence while incarcerated in Rome appears to have reached into the political realms of Caesar himself (4:22). [Nero and his cronies needed all the help they could get!]

    We certainly are not today in the US in a theocracy situation, but when our Lord began raising up and structuring Israel into a functioning nation, he appointed a co-regent king on earth to govern his on-earth kingdom. I’m reminded of King David’s vow as a political leader to surround himself with a certain quality of political leadership so that not only would God be honored but his “constituency” would be blessed through them(see Ps 101). This commitment to place people in his government that shared godly values seems to be instructive to us as we have opportunity via voting to do the same.

    Ultimately God raises up and removes leadership all over the world, but often God’s mechanisms are through His people as we become His hands and feet–and voters…

    I don’t know how much reading you have done from our faith heritage’s prolific discussions about the role of the Christian in government, but this was a huge issue of concern for David Lipscomb. (see http://johnmarkhicks.com/serial-index/–Stone-Campbell History/Theology; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lipscomb#Views_on_war_and_government) He ended up reflecting the views of the Mennonites and became a non-participant in government/voting.

    Well…each must follow his/her conviction on the matter. I certainly do not believe politics is the answer to the world’s problems, although, I do believe it can have a most beneficial role in society. Despite who is appointed/voted upon in politics, God’s purposes through His people have remained the primary expression of His love and justice–or at least it should be that way!

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    • Brian Casey 11/10/2014 / 1:01 pm

      That’s a really valuable notion, Steve — that if two always agreed, one would be expendable. I’ll have to remember that.

      I think I’ll ask a couple of questions, giving brief responses of my own, realizing yours will likely be different, and therefore not expendable! If it’s easier not to give a written response, that’s fine. These may need to be taken as “agree to disagree” things.

      1. Why is it that Paul’s influence in Rome appears “salty” in terms of society and/or politics? [It seems to me that Paul “reached” with his citizenship (and other statuses and relationships) for the Kingdom of God, not for civic purposes.]

      2. What about the establishment of the Hebrew “co-regent” makes it appear to have been God-intended? [I rather think it was more of a concession on God’s part, since I see Him as fairly open to interaction, as opposed to a more Calvinist view of sovereignty. In other words, it seems to me that He didn’t really want the human king thing, but allowed it and interacted within that essentially human system. In any event, that was then, and this is now, so I would say that conclusions about civic/political stuff pre-Jesus is better considered in terms of its own time and particulars. I’m essentially a dispensationalist in this sense!]

      3. Can you help acquaint me with what you mean by a “beneficial role in society” played by politics? I’m hard-pressed to name anything in that category — seeing, for instance, the aisle-tied maneuvering and posturing and the laughable, colossal wastes of time and money in campaigns and in lame-duck time periods. I suppose that, the lower the political level, the more likely I would be to see benefit. (See prior comment on my own relative introversion–I think that relates here.) In other words, I see pretty much nothing in our national presidential or legislative theaters that I would even call meaningful, much less beneficial, but I can more easily imagine a good, small-town mayor who supports and even effects goodness and benefit in a real way. This 3rd question is obviously more pragmatic and philosophical, not scripturally based, and therefore less significant for purposes of this discussion.

      Yes, I’m pretty well acquainted with Lipscomb, although I’ve only read quotes *from* his little book Civil Government. I tend to trace this part of my “spiritual lineage” through apocalyptic thinking: Stone more than Campbell here, Fanning, Lipscomb, and then, I believe, K.C. Moser (for a time, J.D. Bales!), and my Granddaddy Ritchie. The draw of this so-called apocalyptic thinking that spiritualizes and looks for something beyond, something coming outside of our realm — is a significant influence on me. I didn’t say that very well, but you know what I mean. Thanks for the discussion, Steve.

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  4. Steve 11/10/2014 / 2:31 pm

    Q1–Paul’s primary concern was always the eternal kingdom; nevertheless, having people of faith in roles of influence–such as the military, or tax accountants or politics–carries opportunities not available for the ‘common’ man, say, outside of the Beltway or the mayor’s office. A host of scholars propose that much of the instruction found in Proverbs 10-31 is in a ‘privileged education’ setting for those who would be in leadership roles–certainly including govt/politics. Reading the wisdom literature in that light suggests the role of faith in vocations of authority/power–such as politics. God has, can, and will use folks in those roles whose first allegiance is to Him, then to the flag of their country. If I have the opportunity to help place faithful people in those roles, why would I not?

    Q2–Where God-intended or not, God’s analogy of David/Solomon’s kingdom to the coming Son’s kingdom was certainly appropriate. I would think that if this was a total affront to His role as ultimate King of Israel, He would not have allowed that system to be the template used to compare the coming establishment of His Son’s government (“…and the government shall be on his shoulders” 2 Sam 7:14ff; Isa 9:6-7). And as I referenced earlier, I believe David’s careful choice of his political cabinet (using Ps 101 as his template) helps me as I choose/vote for men/women who seek to serve in similar, contemporary roles.

    Q3–Beneficial role of politics? I know the cynicism of our current national govt. right now–the ‘approval rating’ of both Congress and the President are at all-time lows. I would caution against using an extreme to make a blanket assessment about the value of government. Is our current government efficient? Well…is the US Postal system financially sustainable?? I would say that our founding fathers were very leery of the potential evils of any form of government–and rightfully so. But a total dismissal of the role of a system that governs its people because of its abuses is not balanced in my view. And, a view that eliminates me participating in some form or fashion in that government (whether by direct service or by voting/proxy) seems a bit extreme. I know a number of both local and national figures in politics with the highest ethics and with compassionate hearts for the plight of people–and I am very thankful they are in a position of influence in our government. And knowing that I had some small part in placing a few of these into their office is meaningful to me.

    So…back to agreeing to disagree. God wants His people to influence a broken world using whatever vocation or circumstances they find themselves in during their lifetime. That may–and most often is–apart from politics, but it very well may be through the political system. I choose not to limit God’s creativity in how He gets His agenda done…and I feel honored to live in a country that, although far from perfect in its government, allows me to participate in a process of choosing its leadershp. I recall the picture of a young couple somewhere in the Middle East who recently had the right to vote for the very first time in their lives–a picture of them showing their indelible inked purple finger pointing proudly in the air accompanying their huge smiles. That reminds me of that privilege–and at least in my mind, of my responsibility to participate in our political process.

    I guess, as a final thought–or question: do you have any Biblical precedent that instructs us not to in some form or fashion participate in politics–or vote? I did not say or imply–rely solely on government as the answer to our world’s problems, but is there some principle that I would violate when I choose to vote? I would almost venture to say that one might even tend to violate the responsibility and privilege of living and operating productively within our government when one chooses not to vote. But I suppose this issue ultimately comes down to one’s convictions as to how best to honor God and help people–and that does appear to me to be a conscience issue more than a moral directive. /sbk

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    • Brian Casey 11/10/2014 / 2:51 pm

      Quickly, for now (maybe more in a day or three, because there’s a lot to respond to!) . . . .

      2 Tim 2:4 (?) comes to mind, as well, with apologies for loose quoting and lack of contextual awareness at the moment: a soldier actively involved in pleasing his commanding officer won’t get involved in civilian affairs. In other words, with an almost ironic illustration, Paul told Timothy that his purpose was to please his One commanding officer, not to be concerned with other systems.

      I think that the philosophies and goals of the kingdoms (God’s and any earthly ones) are by nature in opposition. This is the crux of the “apocalyptic worldview” thought-train. I find the burden of proof to be on the side of the one who thinks believers *should *participate in it, not the other way around. I honestly don’t know why one would participate in government for its own sake — it’s an opposing system with its own set of allegiances and goals. Participating in it for Kingdom purposes is clearly what you and other strong, well-intentioned believers have in mind, but that appears logically and practically questionable to me.

      I probably shouldn’t have included Q3 at all. It clouded the main concerns. Of course there are good people in most lines of work. The government line of work may not be where they can do their best work, and if they are Christians, I’d say they are (presumably with the best of intentions) expending efforts on a world-system destined to die. I’d rather see those same folks do something else, but I wouldn’t judge their honest intentions negatively.

      And that ties back to my feeling that the whole political system is hopelessly broken and power-centered and … hopeless. I can’t say whether I would have felt the same if I’d lived in the 1950s or 1850s, but I suspect largely so. I don’t think my basic lack of belief in the capabilities of government would be materially different. But you’re right about not basing such feelings on excesses and extremes.

      OK, that wasn’t so “quick” of me. But I still might have more to say later. 🙂

      On Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 2:31 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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    • Brian Casey 11/18/2014 / 6:52 pm

      Trying to get back to this discussion, I realize that it is both a) shadowy as the days and weeks pass and b) perennially relevant. I’m afraid I haven’t thought any about it since I last replied to a different comment.

      (Q1 Reply) Yes, having people of faith in positions of political power and influence can affect things. I would assert that Paul would likely *not* have sought official, civic function for himself or for any other Christ-being, but that he might have capitalized on existing officials if they were converted while serving officially. I would also assert that Paul’s possible use of officials would never have been for civic/political/temporal purposes. Therein lies a large part of my logical issue with so much of Christian-politics mixing these days: the motivations seem so very temporal in many cases, with a thin veil of “Kingdom” sprinkled on the outside. So, I don’t really have an answer to your final question here, other than to suggest that the “faithful people” in those roles ought to be submissive, first, to God, and that’s something they really can’t do, **in toto,* *if they’re in public office. I can’t comment on Proverbs, other than to say that I’ve not heard the “leadership role” take before.

      (Q2 Reply) I sense something of a non sequitur or circular logic here, although I might not be able to explain it very well. Simply because something is of human origin doesn’t mean God can’t/won’t use it. And simply because He uses it illustratively or otherwise doesn’t mean He did/didn’t originate it. Yes? No?

      (Q3 Reply) Although recent presidents and most political news I’ve heard admittedly leads me further to cynicism about U.S. government, please know that my overall feeling that it is ultimately impotent is broader and deeper than that. I may need to apologize for something I said somewhat carelessly before, but I don’t mind holding an extreme view here at all. In fact, I take it as astute, and even complimentary! I’m pretty extreme w/regard to Roman Catholicism, canonicity, immersion, and other things, too. If a position seems warranted to me, I don’t mind being in a minority.

      I’m completely with you on *not limiting God.* But I affirm His ability and prerogative to use things that I shouldn’t, or can’t, be involved in. For the record, I’ve never been divisive on this topic in a local body, and it was years before my then-best-friend, a National Guardsman, found out how I felt about Christians and military service. All this does come down to interpretation and conscience. I continue to believe that the burden of proof is on the one who wants to be active in government, not the other way around. That doesn’t mean I “cut off” those who do participate (I’d be more lonely than I am!), but neither does it mean that I violate my own conscience that sees no viable rationale or precedent for getting involved.

      I still haven’t read that article in the D. newspaper that you pointed me to, but I will.

      On Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 2:31 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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    • Brian Casey 11/19/2014 / 9:17 pm

      As my mind came back to this today sometime, I thought I wanted to emphasize the “agreeing to disagree” aspect. I’ve existed pretty well with other friends who are military- or government-connected (more of the former). I do tend to do things other than go to church on Sundays near Vet. Day and Mem. Day and July 4, for fear I will be more uncomfortable or indignant than edified, but I just choose not to go rather than confronting what is for me a conflict of kingdoms. 🙂 Probably neither of us wants or needs to discuss this forever, and I just wanted to say that it’s OK. Each of us has his own conscience.

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    • Steve 11/20/2014 / 12:21 pm

      Brian–been snowed under (sorry, Buffalo, NY) at work, so–limited time to respond to comments. I would close my thoughts on this topic by simply saying God will place His salt/light/leaven in many spheres of our daily life, including (if Biblical history is accurate) at times the political/governmental spheres. To vacate those influential arenas, to make them practically void of faith influence results in…well, check out those systems that deliberately remove “God” from their structures–and it is not pretty (per Biblical and non-biblical history). Whether one chooses to participate directly or indirectly–or even not at all–in either of these spheres (and I might add the military also) is indeed a matter of conviction and discernment as to where one is being called to service by God at a certain point in one’s life. BTW–ideally, I believe the church and family are intended today as the most visible reflections of God’s kingdom–group speaking. Gotta run…

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    • Brian Casey 11/20/2014 / 1:28 pm

      I hear you on “closing,” and I don’t always need the last word, but. . . . 🙂

      With you, I do believe that God can use/inhabit most things, but I’d say He doesn’t need or want us to be involved in everything He can use.

      The word “vacate” is charged and betrays assumptions, so I resist that, but I’m sure some of my words are charged, too.

      The calling in of biblical history begs the related questions of 1) theocracy vs. non-theocracy and 2) nature of covenants. I see the current state of the human relationship with God as qualitatively, radically different than it was for the Jews, pre-Jesus (I imagine you would agree with this much, so far as it goes), and that understanding leads me down a different path regarding civics and military and such. Therein lies the difference between me and most other sincere believers, I know.

      Loved your closing sentence. (Well, before the “gotta run” part. I gotta, too.)

      On Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 12:21 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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  5. Steve 11/11/2014 / 11:23 am

    Brian–well…if 2 Tim 2:4 teaches us not to get involved in politics, that would be a new interpretation/application that I’ve not considered before (always learning something!)–and in my limited checking of commentaries on this verse, apparently few others (actually none) have also. I tend to think Paul’s specific advice to his young mentee is for the evangelist at Ephesus to keep his focus on his work, which had to do with making disciples and maturing a church and keeping away from divisive controversies and personalities. Well–there you go: avoiding “church politics”–so I guess there is a direct application!

    I’m posting a link that will take you to a question and answer(s) segment in a recent Dallas Morning News paper that coincidentally was published last weekend–that has several ties to our discussion, that provides a wide number of viewpoints, and that I thought you might find interesting.

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    • Brian Casey 11/11/2014 / 11:36 am

      Looks like a good article to read. Thanks. Will save the link.

      As for 2 Tim 2:4, I wouldn’t have guessed many commentators would apply it as I do — after all, comparatively few Christians share my general position on government involvement and military activity for Christians. I think the idea you expressed is the same as mine at its root: “Timothy, keep your eyes focused, and don’t get involved in periphery.” That’s perhaps my best summary to date of my current scruples in this whole topical area.

      On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:23 AM, NT Christianity wrote:

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    • Brian Casey 11/13/2014 / 8:31 am

      I haven’t read this article yet. I got distracted in reading one of its original source — the Karen Armstrong article. I’m no historian, so I shouldn’t really comment much, but I found her insights provocative and informative. Here are some quotes I pulled out just because they were one or other or both:

      Regarding the Muslim world:

      “Why do they cling with perverse obstinacy to the obviously bad idea of theocracy? Why, in short, have they been unable to enter the modern world?”

      . . .

      We now take the secular state so much for granted that it is hard for us to appreciate its novelty, since before the modern period, there were no “secular” institutions and no “secular” states in our sense of the word.

      . . .

      Gandhi would have agreed that these were matters of sacred import: “Those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.”

      . . .

      The Crusades were certainly inspired by religious passion but they were also deeply political: Pope Urban II let the knights of Christendom loose on the Muslim world to extend the power of the church eastwards and create a papal monarchy that would control Christian Europe.

      All of the Armstrong article seems historically analytical, and astutely so. She even brings historical context to bear on interpretation of an isolated action of Jesus.

      But I’m not so sure she gets Christianity. I’ll bet the following is on target, but I can’t really say for sure.

      If some Muslims today fight shy of secularism, it is not because they have been brainwashed by their faith but because they have often experienced efforts at secularisation in a particularly virulent form.

      And one more. Interesting (but not newly motivational to me personally):

      Many regard the west’s devotion to the separation of religion and politics as incompatible with admired western ideals such as democracy and freedom.

      On Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:23 AM, NT Christianity wrote:

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    • Brian Casey 12/30/2014 / 9:55 am

      Steve, I am *finally* getting around to reading this long, thought-provoking article. I find even more consider here, of course. I think “Fr. Joshua Whitfield” is presumptuously dismissive on one hand, and thoughtfully probing on another. The guy from Dallas Theol. Sem. said little, and avoiding saying much while he was saying little. Mike Ghouse struck me as a trifle presumptuous, as well — probably in the same vein as my own (nearly flat!) leanings toward apoliticism for the Christian. Our unhelpful presumptions may have to do with definitions of terms such as “pluralism” and “politics” more than with actual patterns of living. The Baptist pastor falls prey to a sectarian introduction (“as a Baptist, I . . .” or “Baptists believe . . .”) that makes me lose interest before I even get started. McKenzie of the Bush organization observes historically/pragmatically that religion and politics have mixed in the past — not a startling observation. 🙂

      I didn’t read Cynthia Rigby’s (Austin Presby prof) comments carefully throughout, but she might have been using a working definition of “politics” that would allow me to align with her somewhat. For instance: if political involvement equals caring about who has bread for lunch, and doing something about it, then yes, the political arena is absolutely for the Christian. Thank you for pointing me to this collection of thoughts.

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  6. Steve 11/13/2014 / 9:38 am

    Yes, as I said–there are a variety of viewpoints collected/presented that intersected both your and my perspectives that I thought might provide a broader context for discussion.

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