Sunday, 14 June 2009

A "Fundagelical" on Obama

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.)


PW said...

Amen. You have keen insights from the outside. Very good observations, and well formed points about the joining of Evangelicalism and Politics. I truly wish they would be separate and focus on the Gospel.

In some churches, the political/national holidays are given much ado as if they were Christian holidays. Whose God are we serving? I ask rhetorically, the nation or the True God?

Acroamaticus said...

Thanks, PW. Great to know you're still reading my humble blog!
I was very interested to read your response as an American. While we in Australia have our 'culture wars' like you do in the US, they do not seem to run as deep and are generally more civilly conducted from what I can see. Australians are somewhat more reserved and polite than Americans in their political discourse, perhaps it's a legacy of our British heritage.

PW said...

Yes, I'm still here. I have merged my three blogs into one new one PW~The Real Me. If you scroll down a little and read some of my '1000 gifts posts', esp. #12 you'll see some of our current status. We're in the midst of a pastoral move. We're actually straddling two houses until Kiddo finishes school final exams for the year. 99.9 percent of our belongings went on the moving truck last Monday. We are living with very little, I mean very little furniture. I will never take a couch(or whatever you call it, sofa, davenport, chesterfield for granted) again. Our couch right now for Kiddo and I are two afghans on the floor, with two pillows up against a box along the side of the wall. giggle

Anyways, to be honest, last fall when all the election hoopla was coming in the dad was dying, so I don't know a lot of Obama's campaign platform. I had too much else on my mind, and then he died, and election day was here before I knew it.

However, over the years as you may recall from one of my former blogs I have been in a multitude of churches. I have witnessed almost (and I say this quietly) an idoltary with politics in the church. It's almost as if politics is a religion mixed with Christianity. I don't know really the roots of it. Maybe it has something to do with the melting pot of our country. How religious freedom attracted many, including my own ancestors. I don't know.

I don't know much about Australian history. Maybe, after things are unpacked, and settle down, I'll do some research. I think being a British colony (correct me if I'm wrong) originally had a lot to do with the shape and formation of Australia, even the reservedness.

I do know from my visits to Canada that the US is viewed differently around the world then what we think we are.

I have been told people in many countries would rather wait, (, restaurants) Canadian, and other countries' tourists rather than USA tourists, because US tourists have lost a lot of their politeness.

Well, sorry to get off of the original topic, but its always interesting to read your blog. You have good insights. I still am following you and will read many of your updates, but may not be able to reply, esp. in the coming days.

Acroamaticus said...


Hope your move goes smoothly and is not too much of a disruption for Kiddo - we moved half-way across the country last August, know what it's like, especially for PKs!

I'll add your blog to my list soon - I have been catching up with it and noticed your merger.

There is a significant difference between Australia and the US - in the US your "civil religion" is Christian based, whereas in Australia I would describe it as Stoic (refer ancient Greek philosphies!). So, the distance between the church and the general culture in Australia is greater than in the US. However, I notice things seem to be changing in the US, maybe the East and West coasts becoming less Christian than the Mid-West and South?


Do catch up when your transition is complete.

PW said...

quick sidenote, before I begin. I asked Kiddo this morning before school what he knew about Australia. He said it 'happened' to be on his test today. His unit test, in Social Studies. He rattled off about how Australia was an English colony and gained independence in the 1800's. He rattled off what he called the colonies, maybe you call them something else. New South Wales, Victoria, Van Dieman's Land ???? Anyways, when he came home I asked him if he had any Australia questions on the test and he said he did, it was about a governor or something. He loves Social Studies/history. For the past three years we bought his school text book on EBAY so that he could finish reading the sections over the summer (at his request) that they didn't get to during the year. So after the move I'll 'borrow' his textbook and see what I can learn.

Anyways, that's interesting about the difference between Australian society and church. I'd like to explore that concept a little more, after the move.

My Kiddo this morning was discussing, how he observed that the US seems to have become a place of many religions, such as Christianity, Muslim, Hindu, etc etc...while other countries around the world seem to have a narrower variety. He thought that many countries seem to have one particualar main religion and then a couple others..but not to the extent that we have. Is that true for Australia too?

You are correct in your perception of the differences in geography and beliefs in the US. I have lived in various parts of the US. The Southeast, is generally known as the Bible belt...which you may be aware of. The Northeast, especially the coast is becoming very liberal and hard to breakthrough with the Gospel. It's becoming a real big mission field. The East and West coast are the most liberal. The Midwest is generally conservative, and more Bible based, though not as heavy as the South.

I believe a lot of the Lutherans, esp. WELS is Midwest based.

We have lived on the prairies of the Midwest, and it was heavy Lutheran. We also noticed in that town, that society was linked to the church. Yes there was secularism, but for example, when we lived there, no school activities were held on Wednesday nights due to church services. YET, because of distance, school sports teams could travel and compete on weekends including Sunday mornings.

It's countdown time. By the end of this week, Kiddo will be done with exams, and the straddling of two houses will be over, and we'll be in the new house. That will mean I'll be offline for several days at the end of this week and into next.

Only a couple of days left in our 'camping out' with so little furniture....I am SOO looking forward to having a couch again!

Thanks for your very insightful posts.

Acroamaticus said...


Wow! I'm impressed by Kiddo's knowledge of Australia. We only hear bad things about the US education system here, but I have always suspected that it is better than we think. We studied a lot of US history in high school in the 1970s, which is probably formed the basis for my continuing interest in the US.
Van Diemen's Land is now the state of Tasmania, btw, named after Abel Tasman, the Dutch explorer who was the first European to sight the island. If ever you want to know anything about Australia, don't hesitate to ask.