The Smoke & Mirrors of Culture War

 
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Reformed blogdom of both the confessional and evangelical variety seems abuzz with sex lately–of the deviant variety. If I didn’t know any better (and I don’t), I’d wonder if the world is still setting the church’s agenda. That’s mostly a joke. But does anyone else feel a small pang of ickiness when Christians get frank about a subject best left to modesty?

Nevertheless, my recent set of exchanges with Outhouse saint and friend Scott Clark reminded me of a post a few months ago. So I am re-posting it. The very right reverend and scholar hasn’t convinced me. I still would rather give up my seat at the culture wars, however thoughtful they may be, and be satisfied to wait for the bread and wine to come my way at the Lord’s Table.  Deviant politics turns my stomach way more than deviant sex.

 

In his book Deconstructing Evangelicalism, Darryl Hart makes the provocative and persuasive case that evangelicalism is a façade:

The theological critiques and historical soul-searching of the 1990s raised important questions about how to fix evangelicalism…The one response that few have considered is perhaps the most radical and the point of this book: Instead of trying to fix evangelicalism, born-again Protestants would be better off if they abandoned the category altogether. The reason is not that evangelicalism is wrong in its theology, ineffective in reaching the lost, or undiscerning in its reflections on society and culture. It may be, but these matters are beside the point. Evangelicalism needs to be relinquished as a religious identity because it does not exist. In fact, it is the wax nose of twentieth-century American Protestantism.

I wonder. If it is true that evangelicalism is a false construct, perhaps it is also true that one if its favorite pass times is also something of a mirage: culture war. If by “culture war” one means a “disagreement which has become a fight about how the world should shake out” then it sure seems like that has been going on ever since Adam and Eve were sent packing east of Eden. But most seem to speak of culture war, having just popped up over the last thirty-some years, as if it were more than this. Something tells me a modern arrogance is, yet again, at play: “Nobody at any other point of time and place has ever really disagreed like we do in ours—let’s call it ‘culture war’ to denote just how special and unique our squabbles are.” The term itself seems like a power-phrase designed to get everyone to pay attention to your particular beef, especially when you talk about it as if the things on the table will decide the fate of humanity. “It has all led up to here and now, exactly where the best people in human history live. We are so advanced in every way that what we decide will make or break the human condition.” The way that transformationalism is modern religious fantasy, culture war, as most understand that phrase, seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors.

In terms of time line, Hart grounds his critique in the 1990s. Some would likely trace culture war back to the upheaval of the sixties. But the term actually caught fire in the nineties. In 1991 James Davison Hunter published Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America, and in 1992 Pat Buchanan employed the term in his famous “culture war speech” at the Republican National Convention. My own father, a textbook Baby Boomer who was a SDS leader on the campus of Michigan State University turned executive and closet liberal in the 80s, never had the term in his vocabulary. I certainly don’t remember it growing up in the 80s. I do recall, however, the term being fashionable in the early 90s upon my own conversion into broad evangelicalism and nurtured in the local fundamentalist economy. Culture war was all the religio-rage in the early 90s the way peace must have been in the late 60s.

Punditry during the 2008 presidential campaign speculated that the McCain-Palin ticket ignited a return of culture war and the values voter. This time it included the things marked out by Hunter (abortion, gun politics, separation of church and state, privacy, homosexuality, censorship issues) but appended a sort of intellectual war that pitted Joe Six-pack against those who had the audacity to write books. Perhaps. Most intriguing, though, was that the hypothesis seemed to assume that culture war had gone AWOL under a George W. Bush administration. But I am not sure it ever went away. Even today some confessionally Reformed, who otherwise take to task evangelicals and Romanists for their kingdom confusion, argue that Christians ought to some extent be involved in “defending creational norms.” Well, if that is true, I am not so sure why the evangelicals and Romanists are guilty. To maintain at once that evangelicals and Romanists confuse the kingdoms but also that Reformed Christians have a burden to defend creational norms borders on saying they can’t do it because they are them, but we can because we are us.

But it has always seemed to me that Reformation theology and piety is a brutally materialistic one. It has a profoundly high view of creation. As such, it has a disdain for the world-flight spirituality of Gnosticism. In a word, it expects believers to be neck-deep in creation. And there are many ways to be involved in creation. But I am not so sure that culture war is as legitimate a way to be involved as many seem to easily assume. It would seem that a doctrine of liberty should be liberal enough to afford fellow believers to participate in culture war if their consciences so dictate. But it is also true that not all that is permissible is profitable and not all that is lawful is wise. True enough, Christians are at war, but not a worldly one. So why the sympathy for a term and phenomenon that sounds so, well, worldly and shot through with power? Why the sympathy for a thing that interprets everything through a two-dimensional political lens preoccupied with either taking rights away from certain people or making sure rights are ensured for others? Short hand for the biblical witness, if Calvinism places its accent on grace, why do we think it is beyond question as to why Calvinists as Calvinists should be found in the ranks of projects that necessarily place their accent on law? What is it in Calvinism that attracts adherents to worldly and law-laden warfare? How is culture war, either as karate or judo, consonant with minding one’s own business and not being a distraction from holding out the gospel?

If its contemporary origins swirl around a certain neo-con agenda, it could very well be that culture war is also a hunt for things that don’t exist based upon intelligence that is closer to ignorance.

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33 Responses to The Smoke & Mirrors of Culture War

  1. Whiskeyjack says:

    The “culture war” I think is a way for evangelicals to convince themselves that their faith is meaningful and viable. The emphasis on grace, in regards to the Gospel, among our evangelical friends has grown increasingly absent in an environment which has begun to, in their circles at least, democratize the Good News. In many ways, they personify the notion that God helps those who help themselves. The “culture war” is simply an extension of rational arminianism, and as such, no self-respecting calvinist should engage in it in the name of “divine” culture.

    This is, in my opinion, for whatever that is worth, the modern crusade, wherein the “servants of God” set forth to convert and conquer the “infidels of paganism and relativism.” It simply is not about the Gospel, it’s really just about power.

  2. Zrim says:

    Jack,

    Agreed.

    Now, explain why so many Reformed Calvinists join in the party and 2Kers aid and abet culture warriors.

  3. mboss says:

    Father Abraham (Kuyper) had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham (Kuyper)…

  4. Wout says:

    Whiskeyjack , Your comments:
    “The “culture war” is simply an extension of rational arminianism, and as such, no self-respecting calvinist should engage in it in the name of “divine” culture.”
    “It simply is not about the Gospel, it’s really just about power.” Absolutely right on target! Hallelujah!

    Zrim, Maybe so many Calvinists join in and 2kers aid and abet is that too many of us find it too hard to accept Grace and need to DO something for God, or maybe we don’t really believe in 2k, or maybe we just hate too much.

  5. Machiavelli says:

    Don’t forget that culture wars are a easy way to define orthodoxy. Especially in the contempary christian landscape in wich the teachings of a particular church aren’t easy to define and follow the latest trend in evangelicalism, be that Todd Bentley, the Emergent fellows or something else. No difficult stuff like the three forms of unity, the book of concord and the like, but plain and simple issues. Afainst gay-marriage. Against Abortion. Pro torture, Against Democrats, Against whathaveyou.

    That it appeals to reformed shouldn’t suprise anyone. There is (unfortunately) quite a legacy of Kuyper in the United States, there are the contacts with ‘calvinistic’ Baptists wich share our convictions concerning predestination but not on, well mostly everything, but church and culture too. And what Wout said too.

  6. Chris Sherman says:

    It seems to me then that “culture war” must be antithetical to the Gospel. With a goal of obtaining power and creating a Christianized society, culture war finds more in common with a theology of glory than that of the cross. As such, winning a culture war would only serve towards distancing the unsaved (even the saved for that matter) members of that society from realizing their need of grace/faith/Christ.

    Along those lines of thinking, CS Lewis once said, “We must not suppose that if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world.”

    Zrim wrote,
    “But it has always seemed to me that Reformation theology and piety is a brutally materialistic one. It has a profoundly high view of creation. As such, it has a disdain for the world-flight spirituality of Gnosticism. In a word, it expects believers to be neck-deep in creation.”

    Not being so clever as to come up with something to say of my own-

    From Luther’s Sermon in the Castle Church at Weimar, “The prince should think: Christ has served me and made everything to follow him; therefore, I should also serve my neighbor, protect him and everything that belongs to him. That is why God has given me this office, and I have it that I might serve him. That would be a good prince and ruler. When a prince sees his neighbor oppressed, he should think: That concerns me! I must protect and shield my neighbor….The same is true for shoemaker, tailor, scribe, or reader. If he is a Christian tailor, he will say: I make these clothes because God has bidden me do so, so that I can earn a living, so that I can help and serve my neighbor. When a Christian does not serve the other, God is not present; that is not Christian living.”

  7. The Ninja says:

    “Now, explain why so many Reformed Calvinists join in the party and 2Kers aid and abet culture warriors.”

    You want an explanation? Speaking for myself, I heed the prophet’s words as well as the one of the more sophistacted, scholarly advocates of 2K out there, DVD. And thus:

    “However, this is not to say that we as Christians should not participate in the culture war, and it does not mean that all the methods or goals of those on the frontlines of the culture war are wrong. Not at all. God commanded the people in Jeremiah 29 to seek the peace and prosperity of the city in which they lived, and this applies to us as well. We know that a nation with increasing numbers of cocaine-addicts, abortions, thefts, child-abuse cases, illiterates, etc., etc., will not retain desirable levels of peace and prosperity for long. Therefore we do have an obligation to do things which will, if not eliminate such things, at least substantially reduce their rate of occurrence. The peace and prosperity of our society, not to mention our personal peace and prosperity, depend on it. And the political sphere certainly is one of the institutions of culture which will make its indelible stamp on the peace and prosperity of the society. Christians therefore should have an interest in the political process when their form of government allows it, as ours does. To turn our backs on politics would mean to turn our backs in part to the command of God to seek the peace and prosperity of our nation.”

  8. Zrim says:

    So, Ninja, when it comes to culture war you’d prefer, what, judo over karate, or what?

    Yes, I’m familiar with that quote by DVD. It’s precisely what I have in mind when I ask fellow 2Kers just what stake we have in any culture war (does that make me “unsophisticated”?). I’m a big fan of liberty, and I’m no pacifist, so if one wants to participate in the wider world by way of war feel free. I’m just not convinced of the wisdom of such warring. I don’t think seeking the peace and prosperity of the city is to join the ranks of cultural rightists or leftists, activists and those more at ease with civil disobedience than the complicated and oft-disappointing institutional means. I think culture war has a lot more in common with the theology of glory than the cross. I think culture war degrades the dignity of God-appointed means of authority and undermines the very goodness of the political process. I think culture war cannot tolerate losing and understanding what it means to lose the day on something. I think culture war is worldly and ironically undermines seeking the peace and prosperity of the city, and I’d invoke my liberty to respectfully dissent from it.

    It also seems to me that what is suggested is that, on the one hand, evangelicals are faulted for their participation in the culture wars because they are them (i.e. “Evangelicals and Catholics Together”). But, on the other, we may (and probably should) because we’re us.

  9. The Ninja says:

    Zrim,

    A ninja is specially trained in variegated unorthodox arts of war. Including, but not limited to, assassination, illusion, espionage, and myriad martial arts.

    Since I care for my society, and feel strengthened to love neighbors after I’ve rested and fed on Sunday, I think engaging in “culture warring” is a good. Of course, helpful and constructive dialogue might be hindered by copious uses of euphemisms. So, what some call “culture wars” I call “loving as many neighbors as possible,” or, less cumbersomely, “culture loving.” Though the hippies may have a patent on that term. If so, I’m open to suggestions.

    Yes, it is true that these “wars” (or love sessions !) are tangled with all manner of nasty, anti-intellectual, ideologues spouting invective and seeking polarization, same with churches too. That doesn’t stop me from wanting a church ran right. In other words, guilt-by-association charges can be passed around liberally. I’m called to seek the peace and economic health of where I live, so I seek.

    Stated that way, there’s no theology of glory here—though some fighting for the same causes may mix that oil and water. It furthermore does not degrade God’s appointed means of authority. God didn’t authorize a “dictatorship.” Since he didn’t, and since we live in (putting aside technicalities and quibbles of political science) a representative democracy, then I think I can respond by claiming that you may be degrading God’s appointed means of authority. We don’t just let “gov’ment” make every single decision for us, falling in-line and saying, maybe in 2016, “Yes’m.” As ole honest Abe said, we have a “…government of the people, by the people, for the people, that I hope won’t “perish from the earth” until Jesus comes. As far as Babylon’s go, this one’s pretty swinging. Thus it seems that God’s “appointed means” authorize me to engage in some culture loving, but we already knew that from Jeremiah.

    Now, as I said, I agreed with VanDrunen, I can “tolerate losing” (depending on how you cash that out) because I recognize I live in Babylon, and Babylon’s going to be here until the second advent. But so long as I have the benefit of common grace to have been born and now live in this project called “the great experiment,” I’m going to seek the peace and well-being of my neighbor in ways unheard of in other civilizations. Of course the invective and warmongering needs to stop, and civility regained, but God’s appointed means so happen to work out here in a way that allows me more freedom and power to, I don’t know, help little unborn babies—and future gospel hearers—have a voice (they can’t speak for themselves, if they could I’m sure they’d rather not be chemically burned to death or chopped to bits), those in poverty due, so I say, largely to progressives looking for victims, and promote or argue for economical policies which seek the prosperity of my city. Again, all things I am commanded to do as exile in Babylon.

    At the end of the day, it looks like my view has the theology you desire but also loves neighbors in a way that many of your readers intuitively know we should be doing but don’t do because they swallowed the camel while straining a gnat, and an important gnat no less. In other words, I took your cake and I get to eat it too. If that sounds mysterious and confusing, well, that’s life in the world-in-between. It’s a confusing place where illegitimate quests for religious certainty are frowned upon.

  10. Todd says:

    Ninja,

    You are correct, DVD’s use of the term “wars” was unfortunate – wars assume a good and evil side, as well as undue antagonism. While we are not suggesting a believer cannot engage in the political process to seek the peace of the city, does your view allow Christians to be disengaged from the political process, as in a Christian who chooses not to vote or know the issues, or a Christian who engages in the political process differently – as in a pro-choice, or pro-socialist Christian?

    Thanks,

    Todd

  11. Zrim says:

    God didn’t authorize a “dictatorship.”

    Isn’t that what we moderns would render Caesar and Herod? Yet, Jesus said to render unto him his due (Mark 12 is more about submission than honest tax returns, though the latter is certainly implied by the former), and said nothing about what you seem to be suggesting.

    If anything, to the extent that the Xian life is obedience, and to the extent that ours actually invites and rewards civil anatagonism toward leaders, I wonder if our modern polity is actually antagonistic a better Xian piety. Don’t get me wrong, I love America, but I really think what is being suggsted in your response is that modernity and Xianity are better friends than the NT seems to suggest.

  12. The Ninja says:

    Zrim,

    By “God did not authorize a dictatorship” is meant: God never set up that style government as the “blueprint” for all goverments. If you recognize this then you’ll recognize that some governments have me include in the process, and so I awkwardly bear a sword, in a sense. Thus, engaging in “culture warring” isn’t as opposed to God’s appointed means as you might think.

    As far as what you think I’m sugesting, I’m not. You might be painting with that broad brush again.

    Todd,

    Hmmm, wars don’t necessarily assume a “good and an evil side” as any sociological analysis of war will show. For me, though, it’s more about right and wrong. Pro-choicers are wrong. Period.

    Now, it does seem to me that you guys are suggesting that believers should not engage in the political process. That’s the impression you give. To many. Maybe some clarification is needed? For example, when Zrim suggests that all those engaged in “culture wars” are evidencing a “theology of glory,” and that they “degrade God’s appointed authority,” that might shame some into non-engagement. So talk and walk don’t always equal out here.

    As far as me allowing disengagement; well, as Hart puts it, “it’s a free country.” However, my question would be: Do you allow for Christians to not seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which they are sent?

    Your question is ambiguous (and vague), though. If we were in Cuba, what would “participating” be? Or, if the “issue” was over some minutia of buerocratic posturing, could we all “know” the issues? So, you’d have to get more “concrete.”

    For example, “participating” in a vote in America over the “issue” of legalized abortion. I’d say every Christian (of age) should vote and know the issue, and vote a certain way on the issue. But then, I’d say that for every rational citizen, Christian or not. It not norammly good for the peace or economics of a city when you kill its most defenseless members and future contributers to the GNP.

    I recall Horton saying that churches should have excommicated slave owners (cf. Christless Christianity). I emailed him about slave owners running for public office on the platform of continuing slavery. He told me church leaders should take a stand there as well. He said it couldn’t help but have a direct impact on the conscience and policies of church members that held public office. He told me that there may be other vialble public and civil strategies to take in rooting out “unjust” activities.

  13. Todd says:

    Ninja,

    Ask almost any conservative Christian in America whether the culture war is about good and evil, opposed to simply good vs. bad policy, and they will answer good and evil. That is my point.

    As far as clarification for engaging in policy, we can only repeat ourselves so many times. I guess you’ll have to show me an actual statement from Zrim or me where a Christian voting or promoting a particilar political position is considered sub-Christian.

    As far as allowing Christians not to seek the peace of the city, my question to you is, why does being a good neighbor always end up being a political thing? The elderly lady in my church who does not vote or stay up to date with the news, but who graciously waters her neighbor’s flowers when she is away, and who always has a smile for people in the neighborhood, is she somehow not seeking the peace of the city? The first president of Princeton Seminary, Archibald Alexander, never voted and did not care for politics.

    And why does this always come back to legalized abortion? Sometimes I wonder what American Christians would do without legalized abortion. What would be their policy that they knew God’s position on? Well, I guess there is always Prop 8.

    You are confusing right and wrong with public policy; they are not the same thing. Beastiality is evil, yet I do not want the goverment involved in outlawing it. A Christian can believe abortion is normally wrong, and yet see the difficulties in outlawing it. It just seems seeking the peace of the city usually ends up meaning; agree with my political views.

  14. Chris Sherman says:

    Would it be correct to say that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God informs what we do or ought to do in the kingdom of men? – act justly, love mercy etc.

    And that we must not confuse the two kingdoms, (both as ordained spheres of authority) thinking that either has a viable solution for the ethos of the other as they both serve two different objectives?

    And that when the two are confused, such as in the religious right, you end up moving more towards civil religion.

    Which White Horse in was it when Michael Horton said something about letting the church be the church and the state be the state?

  15. Zrim says:

    Now, it does seem to me that you guys are suggesting that believers should not engage in the political process. That’s the impression you give. To many. Maybe some clarification is needed? For example, when Zrim suggests that all those engaged in “culture wars” are evidencing a “theology of glory,” and that they “degrade God’s appointed authority,” that might shame some into non-engagement. So talk and walk don’t always equal out here.

    The confusion that I am suggesting a form of political withdrawal is based upon a conflation of “the political process” and “culture warring,” as if they are analogous. This is part of the problem I mean to examine. Why isn’t my voting and being relatively informed as a voter enough? Why do I need to sign petitions and generally join the ranks of the obnoxious?

    I know folks who have withdrawn from being politically active, and I find it unfortunate. And I think what is more to blame is the stuff of culture warring (sacred and secular) before anything I have suggested. I think people withdraw because they begin with a shared over-realization of just what politics yields, then are let down that a better society really never comes about, then give up. People need to have a more realistic set of expectations for politics. Culture warring, in its quest for exact justice, helps to perpetuate the unrealistic expectations, whereas the view I am trying to champion is quite comfortable with a proximate one.

    My wife was born and bred fundamentalist culture warrior. She gave up on the political process, and I was the one who had to encourage her not to be apathetic and withdraw. I find it very odd that you think I am suggesting withdrawal just because I think waarirorizing is bad participation, yet not surprising.

  16. Zrim says:

    For example, “participating” in a vote in America over the “issue” of legalized abortion. I’d say every Christian (of age) should vote and know the issue, and vote a certain way on the issue.

    Oh, you mean everyone should vote for states’ rights? No, of course you don’t, you mean everyone should vote for a federal ban. Sorry, those aren’t my politics on the issue. You can have your federal ban politics. May I have my states’ rights politics, or isn’t that enough, perhaps even impious? I like the doctrine of liberty on things indifferent, Ninja, but I prefer the hard stuff.

    Oh wait, that’s right, I am all about withdrawal. So how did I get to have such specific politics on reproductive rights?

  17. Zrim says:

    I recall Horton saying that churches should have excommicated slave owners (cf. Christless Christianity). I emailed him about slave owners running for public office on the platform of continuing slavery. He told me church leaders should take a stand there as well. He said it couldn’t help but have a direct impact on the conscience and policies of church members that held public office.

    I hesistate when people easily reach across time and place and declare who “should have been excommunicated.” It’s easy to stand in the 21st century and know what was righteous and what wasn’t. The harder thing to do is stand in one’s real place and time and deal with it honestly.

  18. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    Would it be correct to say that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God informs what we do or ought to do in the kingdom of men? – act justly, love mercy etc.

    Yes, I think it would be correct to say that. The hard part is defining what that looks like. Culture warriors, soft and hard, don’t seem all that puzzled by what what it should look like, which I find disturbing and puzzling.

  19. The Ninja says:

    Wow, looks like people think the Bible speaks against my view on politics and political action. Good thing y’all have a blueprint to go by.

    First Todd, then Zrim.

    Todd,

    U: “Ask almost any conservative Christian in America whether the culture war is about good and evil, opposed to simply good vs. bad policy, and they will answer good and evil. That is my point”.

    You’re being simplistic. Sometimes it is about good vs. evil. Sometimes not so much. More pragmatic, or just right vs. wrong.

    U: “As far as clarification for engaging in policy, we can only repeat ourselves so many times. I guess you’ll have to show me an actual statement from Zrim or me where a Christian voting or promoting a particilar political position is considered sub-Christian”.

    I never asked for repetition. In fact, I quoted Zrim. Now you’re asking me to repeat myself. Fine, will do:

    ==========

    “I’m just not convinced of the wisdom of such warring.”

    “I think culture war has a lot more in common with the theology of glory than the cross.”

    “I think culture war degrades the dignity of God-appointed means of authority and undermines the very goodness of the political process.”

    “I think culture war is worldly and ironically undermines seeking the peace and prosperity of the city, and I’d invoke my liberty to respectfully dissent from it.”

    ==========

    Now, if Zrim (and you) think that the above is true, rather than mere private opinion, then a call to disengagement is rather obvious.

    This was said in response to me claiming that culture warring (in DVDs sense) was a way to seek the good of the city. Do either you or Zrim think the things mentioned by DVD should have Zrim’s condemnations associated with it? To wit:

    “We know that a nation with increasing numbers of cocaine-addicts, abortions, thefts, child-abuse cases, illiterates, etc., etc., will not retain desirable levels of peace and prosperity for long. Therefore we do have an obligation to do things which will, if not eliminate such things, at least substantially reduce their rate of occurrence.”

    Engaging in said battles is what has been labeled culture warring.

    If I do-so am I “worldly”, “unwise”, and “a degrader of God’s appointed authority”?

    U: As far as allowing Christians not to seek the peace of the city, my question to you is, why does being a good neighbor always end up being a political thing”?

    It doesn’t. Did I ever say it did? In fact, I said I like to get concrete. Look at specific examples. Did Zrim let you borrow his rather wide paintbrush to respond to me?

    U: “The elderly lady in my church who does not vote or stay up to date with the news, but who graciously waters her neighbor’s flowers when she is away, and who always has a smile for people in the neighborhood, is she somehow not seeking the peace of the city”?

    This ignores the mild detail so you could avoid these kinds of mistakes my post went into ever so briefly. You’re dealing in Plato’s realm again. Being too abstract. It seems like you have a cookie-cutter approach to dealing with everyone that does not fall lockstep with your particular take on this issue. Sieg heil?

    U: “The first president of Princeton Seminary, Archibald Alexander, never voted and did not care for politics”.

    What force is this supposed to have? I ran out of cookies, so I can’t give him one.

    U: “And why does this always come back to legalized abortion?”

    I gave a specific example. It doesn’t “have to.” Letting gays marry also affects the society negatively. Welfare states do too. Viewing college education as a “right” also affects things, colleges have to dumb things down to get everyone to pass—wouldn’t want to hurt feelings. Minimum wage affects the economy (ask almost any major economist, e.g., Mankiw, Bernanke, Sowell, etc) negatively. Political parties that are for the “poor” and the “minority” have desires to keep and grow their voting blocs—which creates poor (or dependant) citizens and fosters poor race relations (to keep alive the need for the party “for” you).

    U: “Sometimes I wonder what American Christians would do without legalized abortion. What would be their policy that they knew God’s position on? Well, I guess there is always Prop 8”.

    Of course I never said anything about “God’s position.” In fact, I said this should be the position of every rational citizen. I don’t have to appeal to the Bible to argue abortion; in fact, I’m not sure what that kind of appeal would look like. But hey, if it helps you to sleep at night to attack (at least you’re not “warring”) straw men, be my guest. You’re doing a bang-up job as it is.

    U: “You are confusing right and wrong with public policy; they are not the same thing”.

    No I’m not, you’re trying to fit me into your box to make ignoring my arguments easier. I think getting 5 from 2 plus 2 is wrong, I wouldn’t make a public policy against it. However, if it is a public issue up for debate, then one side is wrong, or both are. Just like with math I don’t want to hold false conclusions, I assume the same goes for things pubic—and killing babies is of public concern; or, do you deny that? Same thing goes for how blacks were treated earlier. It wouldn’t be right to sit by and “plant flowers” while your neighbor plants blows from the whip on Kunta Kinte, and rapes his mother all while not fearing the law. If something outlawing that were put to a vote, staying home and watering flowers would be the wrong thing to do. Period. If you disagree; well, thanks for that reductio ad absurdem, just make sure to say your position loud and clear so everyone can hear.

    U:“Beastiality is evil, yet I do not want the goverment involved in outlawing it”.

    That may be, do you want them involved in outlawing murdering pre-born babies?

    On second thought, maybe someone like Peter Singer’s arguments will win the day and to make a distinction between beasts and your children will be to be guilty of “speciesism.” Then, would you want the government to step in and stop people from raping your kids?

    Zrim,

    U: “Why isn’t my voting and being relatively informed as a voter enough? Why do I need to sign petitions and generally join the ranks of the obnoxious?”

    You don’t. Sit by and plant flowers for all I care. Your problem is that you have a problem with me “getting involved.” I cited the things you had to say, and they weren’t nice. You want to be left alone but you don’t leave others alone. You can’t pin any of your “glory story” stuff on me and so are now just shooting from the hip. You think it’s okay to be “obnoxious” so long as you don’t form a group? That’s obnoxious.

    “People need to have a more realistic set of expectations for politics. Culture warring, in its quest for exact justice, helps to perpetuate the unrealistic expectations, whereas the view I am trying to champion is quite comfortable with a proximate one.

    None of this can be pinned on mine or DVD’s position. You should learn to make distinctions. Think more carefully. Throwing everything in a box—as you so often do—is just, well, messy.

    U: “My wife was born and bred fundamentalist culture warrior. She gave up on the political process, and I was the one who had to encourage her not to be apathetic and withdraw. I find it very odd that you think I am suggesting withdrawal just because I think waarirorizing is bad participation, yet not surprising.”

    I have a problem with your responses to me. You wouldn’t get the ninja’s katana if you were more careful. Maybe you should define, in necessary and sufficient terms, just what “culture warring” is so I can demarcate it from “getting involved.”

    U: “Oh, you mean everyone should vote for states’ rights? No, of course you don’t, you mean everyone should vote for a federal ban. Sorry, those aren’t my politics on the issue. You can have your federal ban politics. May I have my states’ rights politics, or isn’t that enough, perhaps even impious? I like the doctrine of liberty on things indifferent, Ninja, but I prefer the hard stuff”

    So you’d allow some states the rights to kill 6 month olds because the parents found out they were an inconvenience? Flush them down the toilette maybe? Throw them in the woodchopper? Sorry, that’s not my politics. Reductions to absurdity get to getting’ in a hurry over here.

    U: “I hesistate when people easily reach across time and place and declare who “should have been excommunicated.” It’s easy to stand in the 21st century and know what was righteous and what wasn’t. The harder thing to do is stand in one’s real place and time and deal with it honestly”

    Right, I’m in-line with DVD and Horton, you’re not. That’s all I was trying to say in my first post. I’m presenting the 2K position here, you’re not.

    U: “Would it be correct to say that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God informs what we do or ought to do in the kingdom of men? – act justly, love mercy etc.

    Yes, I think it would be correct to say that. The hard part is defining what that looks like. Culture warriors, soft and hard, don’t seem all that puzzled by what what it should look like, which I find disturbing and puzzling”.

    Of course, I don’t think it’s easy. Zrim just likes to pick on Falwell and Dobson rather than more sophisticated advocates of “culture warring” (or whatever, I just call it “getting involved”).

    What I find puzzling is Zrim’s Darwinist approach to debate: Pick off the weak. He just didn’t read far enough in the Origin, the strong and fit survive.

  20. Wout says:

    To the ninja culture warrior:

    It is clear you are against abortion, but neither of your political parties have made it illegal. In my country Canada no political party is anti abortion, including the Conservative party run by a member of the Alliance church. Individuals are anti abortion, but have no power within any party.

    The trouble is you have already decided for everyone what is good and evil. For instance you state: ” Letting gays marry also affects the society negatively.” Does it? In Canada marriage is defined as between two persons. The battle is over. There are still some people who want to overturn the law, but no political party will return to the issue. One hears almost nothing about the issue anymore. Did it devalue my marriage? No. Did it affect the church? No. Did it change anything for children of heterosexual parents or homosexual parents? No. You indicate welfare states are bad, and so is a minimum wage. If I am hospitalized, it costs me nothing. I like that. I vote for a left of centre political party (originally started by Christians) as I believe its policies are more just.

    So yes, if I became a culture warrior, I would probably fight very different battles than you. But I have the Christian liberty to believe in earthly policies that I think are best in this kingdom, and does not effect my place in His Kingdom.

    So much of what is important to us is determined not by our Christianity, but by our secular culture. Your country is originally based on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, mine is originally based on “peace, order and good government” . One is not better than another for being able to serve God – just different.

  21. Zrim says:

    Right, I’m in-line with DVD and Horton, you’re not. That’s all I was trying to say in my first post. I’m presenting the 2K position here, you’re not.

    Oh. Well, I guess I don’t have any need to be “in-line with DVD or Horton.” I agree with them when they are right and raise my hand when I disagree. I sure thought 2K was more about that sort of liberty than “being in-line with” certain fellows. Do you have a category for “disagreement amongst fellow 2Kers” or are you really that legalistic?

    As to the rest of your post, I don’t know, you seem a bit angry for a Ninja.

  22. Todd says:

    “Now, if Zrim (and you) think that the above is true, rather than mere private opinion, then a call to disengagement is rather obvious.”

    Ninja,

    Zrim is criticizing a culture war mentality, not being engaed in the process. There is a way to engage that is respectful of authority, submissive, and humble enough to admit that we may not know the politcal answers to every problem, even the so-called obvious ones.

    “Engaging in said battles is what has been labeled culture warring.”

    For most Christians it is a cultural war, fighting for God’s side against the enemies of righteousness. You say it is simplistic, but that is the reality for most conservative Christians in America.

    “If I do-so am I “worldly”, “unwise”, and “a degrader of God’s appointed authority”?”

    No, it depends how and why, not the actual doing.

    “Did Zrim let you borrow his rather wide paintbrush to respond to me?”

    Yes, but I have to return it by Saturday.

    “It seems like you have a cookie-cutter approach to dealing with everyone that does not fall lockstep with your particular take on this issue. Sieg heil?”

    So we can ignore the fact that in a post where you accuse a brother of painting with a broad brush, you use the Nazi salute. And to a Jew at that. Can you be more offensive? There’s always my mother.

    “I gave a specific example. It doesn’t “have to.” Letting gays marry also affects the society negatively. Welfare states do too. Viewing college education as a “right” also affects things, colleges have to dumb things down to get everyone to pass—wouldn’t want to hurt feelings. Minimum wage affects the economy (ask almost any major economist, e.g., Mankiw, Bernanke, Sowell, etc) negatively. Political parties that are for the “poor” and the “minority” have desires to keep and grow their voting blocs—which creates poor (or dependant) citizens and fosters poor race relations (to keep alive the need for the party “for” you).”

    Ahh, so there it is. If you are going to rightly engage the culture as a Christian, you must be pro capitalist, pro-federal abortion ban, against the rights of gays to marry or have civil sex unions, anti-public education…did I miss anything?

    “Of course I never said anything about “God’s position.”

    But is not God the author of right? You said it was about right and wrong in these cases. Whether you discern the right from the Bible or natural law, surely you are arguing for a standard of right and wrong on these political matters that is God-given, no?

    “However, if it is a public issue up for debate, then one side is wrong, or both are. Just like with math I don’t want to hold false conclusions, ”

    Politics is not like math, bad analogy. Politics is complicated – but 2 plus 2 is always 4, even in the public schools.

    “I assume the same goes for things pubic—and killing babies is of public concern; or, do you deny that?”

    There is a difference between saying most abortions are sinful and abortion politics. In the same way, there were valid arguments from both sides in the civil war that an immediate, large scale dissolution of slavery would not be good for society. Even the so called clear issues are not so clear when it comes to politics.

    “Same thing goes for how blacks were treated earlier. It wouldn’t be right to sit by and “plant flowers” while your neighbor plants blows from the whip on Kunta Kinte, and rapes his mother all while not fearing the law. If something outlawing that were put to a vote, staying home and watering flowers would be the wrong thing to do.”

    Earlier you said my elderly lady example was too abstract, but now you are answering the question. She must go and vote on srious matters to be a faithful Christian. Thanks for answering my question.

    “That may be, do you want them involved in outlawing murdering pre-born babies? On second thought, maybe someone like Peter Singer’s arguments will win the day and to make a distinction between beasts and your children will be to be guilty of “speciesism.” Then, would you want the government to step in and stop people from raping your kids?”

    This is why, by the way, Christians never get anywhere fighting the so called culture wars. You cannot seem to engage with intellegent people on the other side without calling them baby-killers, etc…and you already brought up the Nazi card, which is very common in these debates. You
    might be shocked to know that when a member of my church wanted to be involved in the community, I asked her if she’d be interested in volunteering for the local Crisis Pregnancy Center. She now is a volunteer. And yet she knows to be respectful with those who support abortion, knows not to be obnoxious and call them names, and engages in culture without considering it a war, for the only war the Bible speaks of is not of flesh and blood, but is for the eternal souls of men. Now that’s a war we should be passionate about.

    And by the way, I don’t pretend to argue for “the” 2k position, whatever that is. I argue for me alone.

  23. The Ninja says:

    Zrim,

    Right. And I don’t fall in-line with you. Not all 2kers do. So why complain about aiding and abetting? They’re just “living according to their conscience.” And, not angry. Should I include one of these next time— 🙂

    Todd,

    No idea you were Jewish, but I think the offense was feigned. And, “brothers” have been accused of “degrading God’s appointed means,” or, are “Arminian Evangelics” not “brothers?” So, take back the Zeige heil, I should have said, “Yes comrade.”

    The things I think are right are positions I would argue for, and I think their denials are less rational than their affirmations. BTW, not against public school, got kids there myself. But keep painting with that broad brush. Oh, did I “judge a brother” again? Sorry. Keep nailing it. There, now I lied to a brother.

    You also need to understand contexts of dialogue. Of course I used the term killing babies here, I was assuming you agreed. You have no idea how I engage the other side. In fact, you keep making all sorts of judgments about me while complaining about me doing that. The “Zeige heil” was not intended to be racist AT ALL. It was an attempt at humor. It was about “falling in line.” Sheesh. You know how to extract blood from turnips.

    You also imply that I’m not passionate about “winning souls.” You’d be depressed to hear that many of your 2k leaders would tell me that I shouldn’t be “passionate” about that. That “winning souls” is just a burden. Anyway, I’m passionate about both. In fact, so passionate that I’d rather not be for the killing of “souls” that could be won. As a Calvinist, you know that aborted babies might end up in hell. Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    Lastly, I never said that the old lady needed to vote to be a good Christian. I think it was obvious that I said she should to be a good human.

    Wout,

    I’d read some Sowell and some Dalrymple if you care what the empirical evidence for the outcomes of your beloved social policies look like. Liberals who mention “justice” mean very different things than I do. I also loved the bit about “free” healthcare. Liberals tend to be economically challenged. You don’t get “free” health care. Nothing’s free in an absolute sense. Even Jesus had to pay to give us a free gift.

    All,

    Cath up with you another time. I can see you have all the answers on how people should engage culture wars. You are certain that we should be uncertain about myriad political questions. You are right and I am wrong yet I am wrong for saying I am right. Got it. And Zrim, that’s called sarcasm, not anger.

  24. Todd says:

    “No idea you were Jewish, but I think the offense was feigned.”

    Glad you know my heart. I don’t ever remember
    challenging your intergity. Just for the record.

    “And, “brothers” have been accused of “degrading God’s appointed means,” or, are “Arminian Evangelics” not “brothers?” So, take back the Zeige heil, I should have said, “Yes comrade.”

    You are confusing me with someone else. I never made these comments. Or is this the dreaded broad brush?

    “The things I think are right are positions I would argue for, and I think their denials are less rational than their affirmations. BTW, not against public school, got kids there myself. But keep painting with that broad brush.”

    You stated you would fight against the idea that education was a right. That is an anti-public school position at a certain level. I never said I agreed or disagreed with that position, but was stating yours.

    “Oh, did I “judge a brother” again? Sorry. Keep nailing it. There, now I lied to a brother.”

    Why does rigourous debate have to be so personal to you? We don’t take ourselves so seriously. This is an outhouse after all.

    “You also need to understand contexts of dialogue. Of course I used the term killing babies here, I was assuming you agreed. You have no idea how I engage the other side. ”

    This is the Internet; this blog is a public forum. If you publicly call people names on the Internet, that is partly how you engage. Abortion advocates read blogs also.

    “In fact, you keep making all sorts of judgments about me while complaining about me doing that. The “Zeige heil” was not intended to be racist AT ALL.”

    I didn’t take it as racist. I knew you didn’t know my background. I am just amazed in these blog discussions how often Hitler and the Nazis are utlilized. The use of those terms and images is offensive, period.

    “It was an attempt at humor.”
    Got it – wasn’t funny, but I believe you.

    “You also imply that I’m not passionate about “winning souls.”

    I never said that either. I just said the war we are to be pasionate about is the war Satan is waging, which is eternal in scope. Applies to me as well as you. Thick skin helps in these debates.

    “You’d be depressed to hear that many of your 2k leaders would tell me that I shouldn’t be “passionate” about that.”

    I didn’t know I had 2k leaders, I must have missed the organizational meeting. I have never read anywhere that we shouldn’t be too passionate about souls. Can you provide an example?

    “As a Calvinist, you know that aborted babies might end up in hell. Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

    Why are you assuming I don’t think abortion is evil?

    “Lastly, I never said that the old lady needed to vote to be a good Christian. I think it was obvious that I said she should to be a good human. ”

    You wrote, “If something outlawing that were put to a vote, staying home and watering flowers would be the wrong thing to do. Period. ”

    Well, a good Christian would also be a good human, correct?

  25. Zrim says:

    Ninja,

    Right. And I don’t fall in-line with you. Not all 2kers do. So why complain about aiding and abetting?

    Why not, if that’s what I think it is?

    But somebody gave me this blog. I have to do something with it.

  26. Todd says:

    Zrim,

    Stop making people so mad.

    Signed – 3rd degree Junior 2ker

  27. The Ninja says:

    Zrim,

    If you don’t mind intellectual inconsistency, go ahead. After all, a public blog is just a good a place to apply double standards as any.

    Todd,

    When people don’t know you’re Jewish, and they are clearly using a term that signifies “locksteppedness” and you make the typical liberal move to “racism”, that challenges integrity.

    “You are confusing me with someone else. I never made these comments. Or is this the dreaded broad brush?”

    Oh, I’m truly sorry. I painted with the wrong brush. I should have used the “you get indignant about the comments people who don’t share your unique 2K take on things make while letting them slide without so much a whimper” brush instead.

    “You stated you would fight against the idea that education was a right. That is an anti-public school position at a certain level. I never said I agreed or disagreed with that position, but was stating yours.”

    Well, I do think the level of education at public skewel isn’t near where it could or should be, my comment, and to those familiar with the broader debate, the comment was about higher education. The empirical facts about college students and how today’s fit into the bigger picture, with the level of education going down, i.e., how much they know, are out there to read. You need to read your theology and your sociology and your economics and your philosophy and your…. otherwise you start to sound like a typical 2K know-nothing-about-anything-other-than-your-pet-doctrine. Just another take on theonomists and 6/24 dayers. I’m trying to help, but you have to want to change.

    Oh, I guess I forgot to add one of these 🙂

    “Why does rigourous debate have to be so personal to you? We don’t take ourselves so seriously. This is an outhouse after all.”

    Two things: (a) it’s not serious, you wouldn’t like me when I’m serious, and (b) debate here is not “rigorous” in the technical, philosophical sense of the term. It’s actually rather sophomoric. But what do you expect when your bigest targets are those schooled in the ways of Falwell or Robertson or Dobson?

    “I didn’t take it as racist. I knew you didn’t know my background. I am just amazed in these blog discussions how often Hitler and the Nazis are utlilized. The use of those terms and images is offensive, period. “

    Believe it or not, that’s the first time I’ve ever typed that phrase. I think I’ll use “Yes comrade” next time. Just hope I don’t run into a Russian. Oh wait, there’s nothing that isn’t “offensive” anymore. That’s gay. Oh shoot, did it again! I’ll stop, it’s wrong to offend. Oh great, I just offended the relativists! What’s a guy to do? Oh no! I just offended the feminists.

    Uh-oh, think I forgot another one of these 🙂

    “Got it – wasn’t funny, but I believe you.”

    Wasn’t funny to you.

    I wrote:

    “You also imply that I’m not passionate about “winning souls.”

    You responded:

    “I never said that either. I just said the war we are to be pasionate about is the war Satan is waging, which is eternal in scope. Applies to me as well as you. Thick skin helps in these debates.”

    I said “implied.” Cautious reading helps in these debates.

    “I didn’t know I had 2k leaders, I must have missed the organizational meeting. I have never read anywhere that we shouldn’t be too passionate about souls. Can you provide an example?”

    Yeah, start on the left and look under “S” for “Saints.” So, shoot me, I should have said “Saint” rather than “leader,” apparently it’s better to have “saints” than “leaders.”

    Anyway, the example is given ad nauseum. Some directly from WSCAL classrooms and I can’t divulge names due to privacy reasons. The second is in places like Christless Christianity.

    I wrote:

    “As a Calvinist, you know that aborted babies might end up in hell. Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

    You responded:

    “Why are you assuming I don’t think abortion is evil?”

    I’m not assuming that (thick skin helps, remember). Anyway, you seem to have a have a bad habit of not grasping points. You complained about “winning souls” over “winning abortion debates,” I said that you seem to work at cross purposes when you get down on those fighting to replenish your “mission field.” Kind of puts it into perspective. If you’re all about “winning souls,” then the depletion of millions of potential gospel hearers puts quite the ding in potential prospects.

    Me: “Lastly, I never said that the old lady needed to vote to be a good Christian. I think it was obvious that I said she should to be a good human. ”

    You: You wrote, “If something outlawing that were put to a vote, staying home and watering flowers would be the wrong thing to do. Period. ”

    Well, a good Christian would also be a good human, correct?

    Me: Not necessarily. But you’re changing the debate ground now. My point wasn’t a religious one. I’m not placing any constraints for heaven or anything like that. The reasons the Christian should vote that way are the same reasons the atheist should.

    Got anymore straw men to burn?

  28. The Ninja says:

    Zrim,

    Watch out, don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like it when I’m angry. I turn green and my clothes rip and I don’t remember where I’ve been.

    Signed — the 2ker who has more in common with DVD and Horton and Clark than you two do. 😉

  29. Todd says:

    When people don’t know you’re Jewish, and they are clearly using a term that
    signifies “locksteppedness” and you make the typical liberal move to “racism”, that challenges integrity.”

    I can see how you would think I was accusing you of racism, but I wasn’t. My humor never has come across well on blogs (nor to my kids.) I was noting the irony that you were using the Nazi salute to a Jew. What is offensive is the use of that language in any debate like this. I especially do not like the Nazi language being used in the abortion debate.

    “Oh, I’m truly sorry. I painted with the wrong brush. I should have used the “you get indignant about the comments people who don’t share your unique 2K take on things make while letting them slide without so much a whimper” brush instead.”

    That’s funny. My views are such a minority in the conservative Christian community that if I became indignant when others disagreed I would have been dead years ago from heart failure. I don’t care of you don’t share my views, but I like to challenge your views.

    “You need to read your theology and your sociology and your economics and your philosophy and your…. ”

    It always fascinates me that when I don’t share someone’s political views they assume I haven’t read up on them, as if anyone who disagreed with their perspective must be an idiot.

    “otherwise you start to sound like a typical 2K know-nothing-about-anything-other-than-your-pet-doctrine.”

    I thought you were a typical 2ker and Zrim and I were off the 2k plantation.

    “Two things: (a) it’s not serious, you wouldn’t like me when I’m serious, and (b) debate here is not “rigorous” in the technical, philosophical sense of the term. ”

    (a) You sound like the Internet Clint Eastwood
    (b) Agreed

    “Oh wait, there’s nothing that isn’t “offensive” anymore. That’s gay. Oh shoot, did it again! I’ll stop, it’s wrong to offend. Oh great, I just offended the relativists! What’s a guy to do? Oh no! I just offended the feminists.”

    You’re ranting. Maybe a little less Rush Limbaugh would help.

    “I said “implied.” Cautious reading helps in these debates.”

    Implications come from words. I really don’t have time to write between the lines. Just making a general statement.

    “Anyway, the example is given ad nauseum.”

    One would be nice.

    “The second is in places like Christless Christianity. ”

    Good, then you should be able to quote it to us.

    “You complained about “winning souls” over “winning abortion debates,” I said that you seem to work at cross purposes when you get down on those fighting to replenish your “mission field.”

    Go back and read again. I never said working to stop abortions was wrong. What can be un- Christian is the way you do it.

    “Me: Not necessarily. But you’re changing the debate ground now. My point wasn’t a religious one. I’m not placing any constraints for heaven or anything like that. The reasons the Christian should vote that way are the same reasons the atheist should.”

    The post is about evangelicals and how they fight the culture wars. You began by quoting DVD on how Christians should engage culture. Who is changing the debate?

  30. Zrim says:

    Oh, all right, Ninja, I’ll bite: how exactly have I shown “intellectual inconsistency,” by not agreeing with everything some other 2Kers say or imply?

  31. Todd says:

    “You need to read your theology and your sociology and your economics and your philosophy and your…. otherwise you start to sound like a typical 2K know-nothing-about-anything-other-than-your-pet-doctrine. ”

    Well, if my pet doctines have to do with a correct gospel, I’ll take the criticism. I am a 2ker. I do not need to be schooled in economics, sociology, etc… to preach Christ’s kingdom correctly or teach people on sanctification in Christ’s kingdom. These subjects above are areas of Christian liberty as to how Christians view the applications of these matters in society. Not suggesting basic college courses in philosophy for pastors are useless, I enjoyed them. But why stop at those? What about biology, chemistry, pig-farming, mechanics, Olympic bobsledding? What we need are more pastors who do not assume they can speak as experts on earthly matters and leave it to others more called and gifted.

  32. Zrim says:

    Oh, come on, pastor Todd. Are you seriously telling me you don’t think a course in Olympic bobsledding would be totally awesome? And how on earth do you plan to reach Olympians if you don’t know the first thing about something totally awesome?

    Signed, 2Ker who thinks Olympic bobsledding would be totally awesome.

  33. readerjohn says:

    It’s cute how WordPress generates a list of possibly related posts. I just learned on Hunter’s new book, blogged about it (intellectualoid.wordpress.com), and found you here though such a list.

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