Religious Right R.I.P.

I'm not a fan of conservative columnist Cal Thomas. Plenty of his articles have made me mad enough to spit. But this recent article really caught my attention. Frankly, if conservative Christians held this sort of worldview, I wouldn't personally have all that much to complain about. What do you think?

Religious Right R.I.P.
Cal Thomas

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, he will do so in the 30th anniversary year of the founding of the so-called Religious Right. Born in 1979 & midwifed by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Religious Right was a reincarnation of previous religious- social movements that sought moral improvement through legislation & court rulings. Those earlier movements -- from abolition (successful) to Prohibition (unsuccessful) -- had mixed results.
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Thirty years of trying to use government to stop abortion, preserve opposite-sex marriage, improve television & movie content & transform culture into the conservative Evangelical image has failed. The question now becomes: should conservative Christians redouble their efforts, contributing more millions to radio & TV preachers & activists, or would they be wise to try something else?

I opt for trying something else.
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What is the answer, then, for conservative Evangelicals who are rightly concerned about the corrosion of culture, the indifference to the value of human life & the living arrangements of same- & opposite-sex couples?

The answer depends on the response to another question: do conservative Evangelicals want to feel good, or do they want to adopt a strategy that actually produces results? Clearly partisan politics have not achieved their objectives. Do they think they can succeed by committing themselves to 30 more years of the same?

If results are what conservative Evangelicals want, they already have a model. It is contained in the life & commands of Jesus of Nazareth. Suppose millions of conservative Evangelicals engaged in an old & proven type of radical behavior. Suppose they followed the admonition of Jesus to "love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison & care for widows & orphans," not as ends, as so many liberals do by using government, but as a means of demonstrating God's love for the whole person in order that people might seek Him?
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God teaches in His Word that His power (if that is what conservative Evangelicals want & not their puny attempts at grabbing earthly power) is made perfect in weakness. He speaks of the tiny mustard seed, the seemingly worthless widow's mite, of taking the last place at the table & the humbling of one's self, the washing of feet & similar acts & attitudes; the still, small voice. How did conservative Evangelicals miss this & instead settle for a lesser power, which in reality is no power at all? When did they settle for an inferior "kingdom"?

Evangelicals are at a junction. They can take the path that will lead them to more futility & ineffective attempts to reform culture through government, or they can embrace the far more powerful methods outlined by the One they claim to follow. By following His example, they will decrease, but He will increase. They will get no credit, but they will see results. If conservative Evangelicals choose obscurity & seek to glorify God, they will get much of what they hope for, but can never achieve, in & through politics.

10 comments:

Existential Punk said...

AMEN!!!! i agree, Pete, about Cal Thomas. i am not a big fan of Cal Thomas either. but, in this article he redeems himself a bit for me. Now, if more conservative Christians could be open-minded like this maybe we could have some serious dialogue. Not gonna hold my breath though!

Adele

rjlight said...

Can you imagine if all the evangelical political money (that has been spent to try to make the US more comfortable for christians)would have been spent on AIDs relief or maybe feeding the hungry? thanks for visiting my blog, by the way.

Al said...

Hear, Hear!!
Being open minded and dialoguing is incredibly important, existential punk, but what will ultimately affect even a small chunk of the world is just simply doing.
Talking about compassion, or forming task forces about serious problems won't go as far as a simple kind word, giving a cup of water, or other good deed.
When the church starts following the example of its illustrious Leader, our world will be a better place.
I'm trying to do my part here, and together we bring love and brighten our corner of the world.
It may not look like much of a Kingdom, but that makes it even more wonderful.

Monk-in-Training said...

One thing I am interested in is; what is the difference in the "means" and "ends" argument he makes when he takes a lil stab at liberals?

Al said...

M-I-T, your question got me to thinking. I just posted some thoughts at: http://al-muses.blogspot.com/2008/11/end-vs-means.html
Let me know what you think.

Peter said...

Yes M-i-T, I had the same sort of, "wait a minute" gut reaction when reading the means-v-ends argument.

Goodness or good works cannot be ends in and of themselves? God can't appreciate goodness for the sake of goodness?

It reminds me of being dissuaded from joining the Peace Corps, 12 years ago. More than one Christian voice in my life suggested, "Earthly works are all well and good, but the only thing that matters is winning souls."

That "winning souls" is what I assume Thomas is referring to as a valid end. And it's an unfortunate and common nearsightedness in the church, I think.

rjlight, I agree. So much money gets wasted, as you said, on things that simply attempt to reaffirm a worldview (vs. changing the world for good - which would ultimately be for God, if God is good). You can probably tell from my blog here that I won't spend much time criticizing Barack Obama - I'm a big fan - but there's a little voice inside that says: "$600 million dollars on a political campaign? Think of what he could have done..." It's certainly not Obama's fault that political campaigns cost as much as they do. And I am proud of the fact that the vast majority of the monies he collected were in increments of under $200. But I sure wish that sort of money could have instead been raised to help transform the lives of those less fortunate.

AL, I'll be over to check out your post in a moment!

Monk-in-Training said...

Al, I will check out ur blog

Monk-in-Training said...

Al, I attempted several times to leave this comment, but could not get it to work. - so if Peter doesn't mind, I will leave it here for you.


Al,
All I can speak to is myself. I do these things because in doing them, I serve Jesus. I strive to see Jesus in all that I meet. It is as simple for me, as that.

Please check out my "Christ in the ditch" post by a Friar in my Order, Br. Ron Fender. It describes my feelings - not to "win" them for Christ, but to serve Him in them.


http://monasticmumblings.typepad.com/monastic_mumblings_a_fria/2008/11/christ-in-the-ditch.html

Peter said...

Al, FYI, I've run into some trouble leaving posts on your site, too. It won't let me leave a post with my blogger/gmail account. I have to leave a generic post with my name and url.

I have no technical knowledge to help you with that ;)

Al said...

M-i-T--thanks for the awesome link. Also, I hope I fixed my comments issue. We've got to get a better way to communicate than thro' Peter's blog! Facebook?

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