Sunday, 14 June 2009
Guy Davies, the Exiled Preacher, has done several series of interviews with bloggers; his latest series starts off with Dan Phillips, a self-described 'CalviDispieBaptoGelical' (a Calvinistic Dispensational Baptistic Evangelical, for the uninitiated) whom, I must say, I had not previously heard of. Anyway, Guy, who is Welsh, asks Dan, who is American, his opinion of Barack Obama:
GD: What is your early assessment of the your President and the "Leader of the Free World", Barak [sic] Obama?
DP: Obama is the triumph of postmodernism. America elected a hollow image, a human projection-screen, prepped and served by our media. They gave arguably the most powerful office in the world to a man with no accomplishments, no preparation, and no qualifications. Worse, they elected a faux-Christian who sat under a viciously racist, marxist ministry for 20 years, who embraces abortion in every form and wants to crush liberty under totalitarian governmental control.
Comment: Don't hold back, Dan!
Now, all of that may well be true, and the insight into Obama as the first PoMo President spot on, and let it be said that I have grave reservations about many of President Obama's policies myself, especially his recent overturning of President Bush's policy against using overseas aid for abortion programs in Third World countries (a policy change which the Australian government has also, lamentably, implemented). But the tone of comments like Dan's makes me think that American Evangelicalism is too politicised for its own good and possibly too bound up with the electoral fortunes of the Republican Party to be a genuine good news bearer to the unchurched populace of that great nation. The well-known linkage between Evangelicals and Republicans raises the question: Does one's politics have to change as well as one's heart upon conversion?
American Evangelical Christians threw in their lot with Ronald Reagan in 1980, even though the incumbent Jimmy Carter was one of their own. That probably made good sense in the political context of the times, as subsequent history bears out, but, to paraphrase Dean Inge, whoever marries the political spirit of the age may soon find themselves a widower.
Don't get me wrong, as far as I'm concerned a Christian is free to be a card-carrying Republican if he or she wishes, it's the de facto public alliance that concerns me, the quid pro quo of Evangelical votes for Republican promises on this or that plank of Evangelical social policy, promises which, as history again bears out, have not always been honoured - but such is the nature of politics. Sooner rather than later, American Evangelical Christians will have to ask themselves the question of whether their public alliance with Republicanism has not cost them dearly, or even become a stumbling block for some.
Meantime, I thank God for the Biblical-Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms, which enables one to make proper distinctions between the temporal and spiritual realms, and which informs me that I should respect and pray for President Obama even though I disagree with him on many things.
(Click on the post title to go to the full interview at Exiled Preacher.)