Saturday, November 3, 2012

Widgets

The Political Church V: The Theocracy Bogeyman and Pulpit Corruption

Election Day is Tuesday!  You know what that means ... poor little Abby can finally find some peace.



In the meantime, why does your normally mild-mannered Jailer rail on and on about church-state entanglements?  Because I fear theocracy?  Puh-leeze.  The chances of that are approximately zero, hyperventilating doomsayers like Kevin Phillips aside.

Phillips observes the activities of evangelical Christians with a mixture of horror and Margaret Mead-like curiosity.  Take his bemused observations about such odd rituals as "spiritual rebirth":
Conversion on the part of adults — the deep personal experience of being "born again" in Christ — is also far more important in the United States, with its emphasis on individual choice and personal experience, than elsewhere. In the mid-1980s some 33 percent of respondents told the Gallup Poll they had been "born again"; by the early 2000s the number had climbed to 44 to 46 percent.
Fascinating.  It's almost as if these people read the words of this guy Jesus in the third chapter of John's gospel and, um, took it seriously.

(Or maybe they just all read the Born Again series on this blog?)

Likewise, Phillips notes with alarm that these people seem to have an awful lot of *gasp* Bibles:
Likewise notably American is the pervasive influence of the Bible, from the first English migrations a staple of belief and interpretation. Bible publishing in the new republic quickly became an industry — some 1,800 different English-language editions were published between 1777 and 1865 — and remains one today, with more than seven thousand editions available as of 1990.
Oh, the humanity!  These people must be stopped!

Honestly, the fear of encroaching theocratic rule in 21st century America is something for the tin-foil hat crowd (and yes, Mr. Phillips, I'm looking at you).

Is Newt Gingrich preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ 
at this pulpit?  I think not.
No, the country's body politic need not fear a stampede of Puritans across its bulwarks.  Rather, the danger is for the church, which must be wary of the corrupting influence of politics.  When worship services become political rallies; when churches modify their doctrine to line up with party platforms; when politicians are invited to address congregations ... these are indications that the church has fully embraced worldly ends by worldly means.  It has succumbed to the siren's song and put its trust in princes, "in human beings, who cannot save." (Psalm 146:3)

Again I should say that I very much believe in Christians voting, supporting candidates and causes, and even running for office if so called.  But there is a line we must not cross for the sake of the gospel--politicians must NOT invade our pulpits, from whence we exalt only one Name above every name.

After they have dragged our "souls to the polls", they will discard us until the next election.  
In the meantime, what has become of our souls?
If the church wants to impact the world, the Bible has a great prescription:  the church should preach and exalt and live for Christ.  That is more than enough.  Politicians--yes, even "good" ones--will promise us the moon and the stars for our support.  "Trust in us", they say--but they cannot save.

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