Search

Category Archives: Christianity and politics

Apologies, Clarifications, and Slavery

It’s hard to give a hearing when shackles rattle in your ears.

| Tagged , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Always Get More Than One Estimate

If I can’t beg off of debates about the election, Doug Wilson surely can’t silence dissent to his ideas about slavery’s end by pointing to my estimations while ignoring his own.

Also posted in Christian living | | Tagged , , , , , | 58 Comments

On Abortion and Racism: Why There Is a Greater Evil in This Election

NoteThe views and opinions expressed here do not represent TGC or any of its council members, staff or supporters. They are the views of the author alone. This is a personal blog that happens to be hosted at TGC. Such hosting should not be construed as an endorsement from TGC for anything written here.

The Uneasy Evangelical Ethnic Alliance

It’s been more difficult to be an African-American and an “Evangelical” or “Reformed” these last few years. It was never an easily negotiated identity or space. But a certain quietude about matters of “race” and racism made it possible to enjoy a measure of unity in theological matters and some seeming trust as spiritual family. A degree of political affinity, defined largely by the obvious wrongs we opposed, created a co-belligerence that kept our eyes off our differing political needs and emphases along ethnic lines. Suspicion and mistrust were kept at bay by a tacit sense that some things were more important.

For many, all of that is over, like childhood summers remembered fondly but blurring in the fading distance of time. Things are more difficult in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin, Mya Hall, Mike Brown, Alexia Christian, Tamir Rice, Meagan Hockaday, John Crawford, Sandra Bland, the Charleston Nine, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Natasha McKenna, Freddie Gray. Things are less quiet following the various grand jury decisions that seemed once again to betray African-American pleas for a recognized humanity. Not that all those cases were the same or deserved the same outcome. They …

Also posted in race | | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 116 Comments

Can We Talk? Or, Why I Think a Trump Presidency Is Intolerable Even Though You Might Not Agree

Note: The views and opinions expressed here do not represent TGC or any of its council members, staff or supporters. They are the views of the author alone. This is a personal blog that happens to be hosted at TGC. Such hosting should not be construed as an endorsement from TGC for anything written here.

I’ve made a mental start to this post more times than I can count. But each time I wad it into a ball of imaginary paper to shoot hoops into a mirage wastebasket. The problem isn’t so much writer’s block or not knowing what I want to say. The problem is attending to the easily predictable “outrage” and “disgust” and attempts at shaming for “even thinking such a thing.”

How do you write for an audience that really wants to ban any thinking other than its own? How do you make a case for something different with people who seem to accept their political orthodoxy as equivalent to gospel faithfulness? Is it possible to effectively engage people who think their Christian bona fides are shored up by assaulting yours?

Well, I’ve decided I can’t. So if those questions describe you, this post isn’t for you. You are, of course, welcome here. And I hope something here changes your mind about how to talk with others even if it does nothing to change your position. In fact, I’m really quite happy if my muddled thought experiment drives you deeper into your prior position with more reasons for it. …

| Tagged , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Evangelical Leaders: Tell Us to Vote for Clinton

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from a friend, fellow church member, and leader at Anacostia River Church, Nick Rodriguez. By day, Nick works in education policy and reform. But he’s a full-time husband and father who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. The views expressed here are Nick’s. They do not represent the views of Anacostia River Church or The Gospel Coalition. If interested in more of my personal views on this topic, see here and here.

———————

Last week, Donald Trump officially secured the number of delegates needed to win the Republican nomination for president. And while it’s not quite over on the Democratic side of the race, Hillary Clinton is overwhelmingly likely to be that party’s nominee.

Trump’s nomination has presented evangelical Christians with a difficult choice: support Trump, support Hillary Clinton, vote for a third alternative who is unlikely to win, or don’t vote at all. To their credit, many evangelical leaders have ruled out that first option – they recognize just what an unacceptable candidate Trump is and what harm he would do to our country as president.

But these same leaders are divided on what the alternative should be. Some believe that while Trump would be bad, Hillary would be just as bad (or close enough that it doesn’t really matter). So they counsel no vote, or a vote for a third party. Others are undecided. But a very small minority, including my host on this blog, have decided (at least for now) to …

| Tagged , , , , , , | 71 Comments

A Quick Word on the Conscience and Christian Witness

A number of people have asked me if my conscience troubles me with the thought of opposing a Trump presidency by checking Clinton in November if it comes to that. In yesterday’s post I offered a brief and simple reply of “Yes.” But I also went on to say that a spotlessly clear conscience may not be open to Christians of conviction if we seriously think we face two “evil” outcomes. Part of what “choosing the lesser of two evils” necessary involves is a conflict of conscience.

As I’ve been asked this question it’s seemed to me that many people think their conscience is the final arbiter of what’s right and wrong. They’ve suggested an implicit trust in their conscience, that internal witness to right and wrong that God has placed in every human heart. But we ought to be careful of implicitly trusting our conscience because the conscience can be weak, defiled, uninformed, overly sensitive, dull or even cut. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in our spiritual lives for our consciences to function properly.

To be clear, no one is arguing that anyone should “vote against their conscience.” What I’m suggesting here is that we have to have a biblical view of the conscience, inform it by the Bible, before we can act in ways that properly satisfy it.

In that spirit, here are ten summary statements about the conscience from the Bible:

1. We should seek to live in good conscience before God all of our lives (

| Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Vote to Check Unpredictable Evil with the Predictable

Let me say from the onset that I’m not looking for a debate with anyone. I’m not looking to sway anyone’s vote or to suggest that someone viewing things differently from me is in sin. I’m not wanting to pit my “moral outrage” against your “moral outrage” in a battle for “moral supremacy.” I’m certainly not interested in casting aspersions or receiving any. If you’re looking for that, then you’ve come to the wrong post. I’ll delete anything I think comes close to violating an Ephesians 4:29 approach to communication.

I’m interested in thinking out loud about a dilemma most Christians feel they’re in with this election: who to vote for or whether to vote at all. I’m going to write passionately. How can I not? But you take responsibility for thinking actively about this and making your own decision. I’m trying to share how I land where I do today (might be different tomorrow).

For personal context, you have to consider my argument over the past several years. I’ve argued on principled grounds that I could not vote for anyone in the last couple of presidential elections because I found their moral positions on vital issues unconscionable. In addition to my own principle, I found historical support in the likes of W.E.B. DuBois and others. The key question then, as now, is: “Why are you voting the way you are?”

For some people it’s a simple matter of disgust or repulsion with one candidate or the other. You sometimes hear that phrased …

| Tagged , , , , , | 132 Comments

Three Problems with Asking Religious Questions of Political Candidates

Last night I tuned in to the Democratic primary debate between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. It’s the first Democratic debate I’ve watched during this election season. After watching a couple of big tent circus acts called the Republican debate, it was refreshing to actually see two accomplished leaders in our country spar over ideas.

Granted, Clinton and Sanders share the same basic world and life view. Consequently, their debate was within a shared framework. But the exchange included very direct questions from the moderator and panel of questioners as well as some substantive policy discussion. It was far more than I’ve seen elsewhere.

Among the things that stood out to me were the direct questions about religious faith. An audience member asked Senator Sanders whether God was relevant in his view. The same questioner asked Secretary Clinton if she prayed and to whom she prayed. Frankly, the answers were lackluster.

This morning I’m more concerned about what such questions suggest about those of us who ask them and the place of such questions in our political discourse. Here are three such concerns:

    The questions encourage hypocrisy.

As I think about it, Sanders and Clinton (any candidate) asked about their religious faith are tempted to hypocrisy. How do you answer that question in a way that presents yourself honestly and avoid offending significant swaths of the American voting public? The politician feels a responsibility for not offending people. They are, after all, seeking to be public servants.

But we live …

Also posted in Christian living, Christianity, leadership, politics | | Tagged , , , , , | 34 Comments

Letters to a Young Protestor, 7: On Racists

Dear Niecie,

It’s been too long since I’ve heard from you or written. I was glad to talk with your mom and see that she’s doing well with the new cancer treatments and to hear you’re doing well in school. I praise God for that.

I was also in turns a little amused and a bit shocked to hear about the run-in you had at a recent protest. I guess you’ve discovered that “racist” is a loaded term! There’s no longer any safe way to use the word, unless the person uses it of himself.

In fact, we’ve entered a time when any use of the term excites anger, confusion, feelings of abuse or manipulation, and a fair amount of eye-rolling. It’s become more difficult to prove that racism exists, not because the evidence isn’t there but because the term has been so misused and over-used for so long now. There’s a cultural backlash. No one likes to be called a “racist.” It’s become one of the ugliest labels you can use. The racist receives no respect from anyone. They are now reviled in much the same way they once reviled others. So it’s at once a powerful and a hated word. My dear niece, use it as sparingly as possible that you might label only when necessary and that it might retain its proper force.

That means we have to know a racist when we see one. And since being thought of as a racist is such a hated thing, many people work …

Also posted in Christian living, race | | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Letters to a Young Protestor, 6: Evangelical Escapists

Dear Niecie,

Thank you for your question the other day. I thought it was a good one and I’ve been spending some time trying to get my mind around an answer. “Why don’t some Christians seem concerned or interested or even oppositional to calls for social justice?” There are a great many answers that could be given to your question. But, personally, as an evangelical Christian, I find your question has more teeth if I ask it specifically of myself—of evangelical Christians like the pastor who told you all that the only thing that would help is the gospel. I know how hollow that felt to you, and I have at least one idea for why.

There are many Christians who are escapists but don’t know it. Learning to spot gospel escapism is vital as you try linking arms with Christians. They think escapism is a matter of believing falsehoods. But strictly speaking believing false things is not the strongest form of escapist. The strongest form relies on the comfort of the truth. It’s that escapism which embraces abstract truth without bothering with actual application.

The escapist is like the kid whose balloon slips from his hand and floats away. He can still see it and recognize its bright red orb against the cerulean sky. But the child’s actual enjoyment of the balloon is entirely a matter of memory or imagination. He no longer feels the actual tug of the string as the wind jostles the balloon or the ability to make …

Also posted in Christian living, Christianity | | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off