Biblical Patience

A quote, for your enjoyment:

Wrong-headed Activism

James intends neither to inflame nor pacify his readers.  His bold prophetic content is meant to convict, not enrage; to instruct, not incite.  His analysis is honest and his direction straightforward.  He does not want to mount a campaign, inspire a movement or lead a crusade.  He entertains no grand illusion of changing the system, but has every intention of breaking the world’s powerful hold on the community of faith.

Activism should never become a substitute for Christian thinking.  Zeal without knowledge, no matter how well-intentioned, leads Christians astray.  There are no quick fixes to social evil or to the evil within.  We only frustrate ourselves when we feel we can change the world by marshaling public opinion, sponsoring an economic boycott or marching on Washington.  Many evangelicals today are swayed by certain activists who distill Christian commitment down to a few issues.  These activists then lead their “forces” against evil, hoping to capture media coverage and public attention.

Seldom do wrong-headed activists see eye to eye on abortion and apartheid, the justice system and the environment, big business and pollution, nationalism and feminism.  The selective social agenda produces confusion and partisanship, reflecting a liberal or conservative platform rather than Christian ethics.  The American church has substituted left- or right-wing political strategies for the patience James calls for.  In the face of grave social injustices, many have neglected the meaning of Jesus’ kingdom ethic.

Many of today’s so-called Christian activists lack the understanding and resolve to endure patiently.  The end product of easy-believism, religious individualism and fuzzy relationism is a Christian whose patience is in short supply.  When the whole counsel of God is neglected and the principle of the cross is forgotten, bursts of wrong-headed activism are commonplace.

Douglas Webster, Finding Spiritual Direction, pp 144-5, commenting on James 5:7-11.

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39 Responses to Biblical Patience

  1. Zrim says:

    That’s all good and fine, Rube, and I’ve nothing against St. James, but don’t you realize there’s a holocaust going on, and that creational norms and the institution of marriage are being completely trampled? Doesn’t Webster care one lick about earth? I’m sorry, but these pie-in-the-sky, limp-wristed “pilgrim rules” just don’t apply when stuff isn’t going the way I think it should.

    Kidding. Fantastic quote. I’m sure it will go by the boards as “an under-realized eschatology” or something like that.

  2. RubeRad says:

    The funny thing is that this quote really jumped out at me against the background of the rest of his commentary on James. Basically how to live the gospel out in our lives for the world to see. But this quote, choice!

    I like how he labels wrong-headed activism as “impatience” with God’s plan for the world, and even ties it to easy-believism, individualism, and relationism. It all fits together so nicely!

  3. Zrim says:

    I’ve learned to take what I can get. But follow the bread crumbs long enough and transformationalism is based on “living the gospel,” which begets wrong-headed activism. Or maybe it’s a chicken and egg thing.

    But, yeah, the im/patience is a great taxonomy to use.

  4. sean says:

    I think funerals are a great remedy, to culture transformation rhetoric. My pastor looked and acted and preached in a decidedly more subdued manner this sunday. Great sermon.-be content with what you have. Life is a vapor, think in terms of eternity, don’t be absorbed in only the issues of this life et al. No mention of claiming every square inch. Nothing emasculates triumphalism like death. If you can’t conquer death and sickness, everything else just seems trivial.

  5. Chris Donato says:

    …All the more poignant, given Tiller’s being gunned down in the lobby of his church, Reformation Lutheran.

  6. Zrim says:

    Chris,

    The trick, it seems to me, is not really to point to criminal activism. All criminal activism is wrong-headed activism, but, clearly, not all wrong-headed activism is criminal. To not make the distinction is to give many ample room to “compare themselves down to easy devils and handily declare themselves fit.” And it is to push those of us with yet serious reservations about the pro-life/culture of life movement to the periphery. I need no gunman to maintain my criticisms.

  7. Zrim says:

    And, evidently, civil DISobedience may be justifed.

    http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=3866

    I’m sorry, Dr. Mohler, but I just don’t see any biblical warrant for being civilly disobedient. All I ever see in the NT are imperatives to obey Caesar and promote peace, even when the cause for which one feels so adamantly is having a rough go of it (in fact, especially then). The sympathy for disobedience is way more American than Christian.

  8. Phil Baiden says:

    “When the whole counsel of God is neglected and the principle of the cross is forgotten, bursts of wrong-headed activism are commonplace.”

    Ooof. As a mainliner I might quote this at my next Synod meeting. I’m sure it’ll go down well.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Indeed. But we’d be remiss to not point out, where appropriate, the connection between civil and uncivil disobedience.

    Was reading a bit about Cramner the other day and his consistent obedience to “duly constituted”royal authority (“It is not given to private citizens to amend what is amiss but to quietly suffer what they cannot change.”). And he was largely frustrated with respect to what he saw as amiss yet saw the principle of obedience to such authority as firmly grounded in Scripture.

  10. Zrim says:

    Anon,

    I think the sort of parsing you may suggesting is what confuses. Disobedience is disobedience, whether it’s civil or uncivil. The better taxonomy is between worshipping Caesar and obeying him. I realize for American-Christians this is not the default mode, but it seems to be the biblical default mode.

  11. RubeRad says:

    I just don’t see any biblical warrant for being civilly disobedient. All I ever see in the NT are imperatives to obey Caesar

    C’mon, how about Acts 5:29? If the civil government were to interfere with our religious duties, then as far as it is possible, we live in peace with all men, but we also do church and preach the gospel. Granted, abortion is in a different category, but you can’t categorically assert that there is no biblical warrant for civil disobedience.

  12. sean says:

    Rube,

    I thought the same thing, but didn’t he clarify just that distinction with the “better taxonomy” reference distinguishing between worshiping caesar and obeying him? The point being we have to distinguish between rightful submission to the emperor and opposing/refusing the emperor when he seeks to suplant the almighty’s claim to cultic fealty.

  13. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    Context always helps:

    And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand asLeader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

    It’s true that disobeying Caesar is warranted. But it’s a cultic or spiritual disobedience, not a cultural or civic one. Mohler is not making that distinction. The politics of abortion have to play by the same rules.

    Plus, what Sean says I said.

  14. Todd says:

    Plus, when Paul appeals to Caesar, he is not doing so to demonstrate how Christians can appeal to the state, but in the consciousness that he was to testify of the gospel in Rome. I’m not sure we can strip Acts of that context and use Paul’s activity as a guide to church-state relations. Not that it is wrong to appeal for rights, just don’t think that is what the Acts passage is about.

  15. Zrim says:

    Todd,

    I agree, of course. Paul did appeal to Caesar, but Jesus also rebuked Peter. And the biblical data seems to line up much more with the latter than the former. Besides “stripping Acts of that context” it also seems odd to me that Paul’s rather extraordinary appeal to Caesar is used to form our ordinary experience. That is to say, if we want to appeal for rights doesn’t the Constitution work way better than the Bible?

  16. Matt Yonke says:

    So what, if anything, does this elusive “right-headed activism” look like?

    The vast majority of people protesting abortion do absolutely nothing against the law, what’s wrong with what they’re doing?

    Speaking for my own organization, the Pro-Life Action League, we’re not trying to get pastors to preach anything in particular, just trying to get Christians to stand up against a cultural evil on their own time and to help women in difficult situations.

    I fail to see how any of that contradicts anything St. James exhorts anyone to.

    Of course the Catholic Church views the 2K thing a lot differently than reformed folk, so Bishops encouraging their pastors to preach about certain social ills is not unheard of, but that’s not the activists, that’s the Bishops.

    But the original question is the real point. This all seems to be “Boo Activism!” But is there such a thing as “right-headed activism?”

  17. Zrim says:

    Matt,

    At least in the way I am conceiving of activism I don’t see a lot of room for “right-headed activism.” I realize how hugely unpopular that will seem, as well as extremist itself. But one might as well ask if there is a good way to behave poorly. It seems to me that what some mean by a “right-headed activism” is really a way to comment on the content of their cause.

    For instance, from what I can tell, pro-life activists think their activism is good and should be given all the room in the world to exist but that pro-choice activists should likely not be afforded as much liberty to exist. And vice versa. Both tend to think that the world would be better off if the other just went away. Neither will admit to such blunt interpretation, but both inwardly glee when the other breaks some rule and is kept from having a float in the parade, as it were.

    One of the many problems with activism is that it subverts liberty. It secretly wants its ideological opponent to lose his right to exist just because he disagrees. Activism wants to engage the ideological fray by shouting loud enough so that nobody actually hears the other guy. At its worst, activism trafficks in disinformation, fear and loathing, emotional devices and all manner of manipulation, even as it may do so in an ostensbily “civil” fashion.

    At the same time, this isn’t to say that there doesn’t exist noble elements within the rank and file of a particular activism. But I think it is very difficult for these more noble aspects to thrive. I have no doubt that the Pro-Life Action League contains plenty folks who want to genuinely help another human being, just as whatever the-pro-choice-equivalent-entity does. But the trade-off for them is to be in cahoots with a larger system that is really about ideological victory at virtually any cost. It’s pretty sad when you think about it. Well, when I think about it anyway.

  18. Matt Yonke says:

    Zrim,

    I’m gonna have to call Shenanigans on you on this one.

    There’s nothing I love more than when pro-choice activists come out to counter-protest us or hold their own demonstrations.

    Why? Because they inevitably make it unquestionably clear that a) they exist in an unbelievable minority and b) they routinely resort to unsound if not illegal protest tactics.

    While I know of not a single instance of violence in a a protest held by the League, I can point to numerous acts of violence committed against us, including the throwing of knives, ink, soft drink cups and more.

    I would go so far as to say that one of the primary reasons we do what we do is to protect everyone’s rights to free speech.

    The front lines of pro-life activism are the very front lines of the protection of free speech and we would love for our opponents to clearly display what it is they protect as a “constitutional right” and further, we stand firm in their right to display a distorted version of what their position that benefits them and could potentially hurt us.

    While meaning no disrespect, I fear you’ve done very little research into the actual methods and motivations of pro-life activists like us.

    The simple fact is that there is nothing on the pro-choice side that can possibly hurt our position. At their worst they hold signs like “Pro-Abortion” which only hurt them. No one’s pro-abortion except the abject fringe.

    So bring on the opposition. We welcome it and make photographic and video evidence of it whenever we can. That way, when someone says, “No one is pro-abortion, they’re only pro-choice” I can hold up the picture of the person with the “Pro-Abortion” sign and say, “Really?”

  19. RubeRad says:

    we’re not trying to get pastors to preach anything in particular, just trying to get Christians to…

    Here, I think, is the point. I’m not as anti-activism as Zrim, I’m just not an activist by temperament. I’m anti-abortion, but am I anti-abortion because I’m Christian? No, I’m anti-abortion for the same reason I’m anti murder of grownups — because of Natural Law. There’s nothing about anti-abortion that I don’t hold in common with Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and even atheists that hold an inconsistent but correct view of the inherent value and dignity of human life. And if anti-abortion is something shared by all those groups, then one thing it’s not, is Christian.

    So to answer your bigger question, I would say that right-headed activism, instead of what you said above, would be more of the form: “We’re not trying to leverage the Church for any particular purpose, we’re just trying to get people to stand up against a cultural evil on their own time and to help women in difficult situations.”

  20. Zrim says:

    But, Matt, you’re making this about abortion. That’s OK if this was a discussion about abortion, but my point really isn’t about non/reproductive rights. It’s about activism. I don’t care what application anyone uses or how they fill in the lines.

    The problem with lifers/choicers is that they have defined things in terms of morality. So, anyone who raises his hand to lifers is making the world safe for baby killers, and anyone who raises his hand to choicers is making it safe for mysogyny and the loss of individual rights. This is how activism injures more than helps real discussion.

  21. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    You make a really good 2K point about how we can find common ground with those not of our religious persuasion. But I’ll see it and raise another: even fellow 2Kers can take issue with each other in the common sphere and agree with perfect pagans. I take issue with how politics are moralized, and if a pagan does as well then good. And if the political question revolves around abortion (as it inevitably becomes), I don’t get many sympathizers for being content with states’ rights. Should I try to “get people to stand up against the cultural evil of federal moralism on their own time”? Somehow I don’t see that catching on like the pro-life movement.

    I consider my political views on the a-word pretty conservative but not needful of any form of activism. Activism is for those who have confused morality with politics and can’t stand that their views have lost the day.

  22. Todd says:

    Matt,

    Would a pro-choice Christian be an oxymoron in your thinking?

  23. Matt Yonke says:

    Ok, I could have phrased a few things better in that last post.

    Zrim,

    I would again have to disagree with you on your analysis of our motives and approach to protest. Someone committing an act of violence against a protester is committing an act of violence and I oppose it for that reason.

    I’d just as soon call the cops on a pro-lifer who threw something at a pro-choice protester as I would in the alternate situation. Probably sooner because violence is not only reprehensible on its own but antithetical to our cause.

    RudeRab,

    I shouldn’t have said Christians, but I have to be honest, the slip of the tongue came because the overwhelming majority of pro-lifers who are willing to do something like go to a protest or hold a poster with a picture of an aborted baby on it are Christians.

    That said, one of our most stalwart activists is an agnostic Jew and we welcome one and all who support life.

    Finally, Zrim,

    Depends what you mean by that last question. Does holding pro-choice opinions make a person not be a Christian anymore? No. Is “consistent pro-choice Christian” an oxymoron in my thinking? Pretty much yeah.

    I’m sure there will be people in heaven who were pro-choice on earth, but I don’t think there’s any way to square supporting laws that condone murder with the Christian ethos on the value of life.

    But I really didn’t mean for the conversation to get sidetracked on the abortion issue, I used it because it’s what I know. I should’ve known better as it’s obviously a lightning rod.

    So I’m genuinely curious, is there such a thing as “right-headed” activism on any subject, like tax laws or human trafficking or genocide in Darfur?

  24. Zrim says:

    Matt,

    Someone committing an act of violence against a protester is committing an act of violence and I oppose it for that reason.

    I’d just as soon call the cops on a pro-lifer who threw something at a pro-choice protester as I would in the alternate situation. Probably sooner because violence is not only reprehensible on its own but antithetical to our cause.

    I don’t doubt that for a minute. But, like I said above, I don’t need a gunman to maintain my criticism’s of the pro-life movement.

    The last question was posed by Todd, not me. Nevertheless, your answer is interesting. All you accuse the pro-choice believer of is inconsistency. Fair enough. But then why is the Pope’s public chastizement of Pelosi acceptable, or priests witholding the wafer against senators with ceryain views and politics? Since when was being inconsistent grounds for any form of discipline, public or private? Is the pro-choice Christian merely inconsistent or scandalous?

    So I’m genuinely curious, is there such a thing as “right-headed” activism on any subject, like tax laws or human trafficking or genocide in Darfur?

    To my mind, still no. There are, however, institutional ways to deal with these things. It’s called making laws and enforcing them. I realize that is quite boring and that working within the bounds of institutions doesn’t always ensure that the right thing will happen. But that is part of the point as well.

  25. Matt Yonke says:

    Zrim,

    Sorry to have mistakenly attributed that question to you.

    The difference between pro-choice Joe Catholic the pews and Nancy Pelosi is that Pelosi is actively advancing pro-abortion policies and therefore aiding and abetting people in procuring abortions. This action, for a Catholic, brings down a sentence of excommunication latae sententiae.

    It’s not an excommunicable offense to hold pro-choice positions in your head. It is such an offense to advance legislation or policy that helps proliferate abortions and protect those who provide them.

    Here’s a question, honest as can be, would a reformed pastor, zealous for 2K thinking tell a politician under his care (privately so not to be accused of politicking from the pulpit) that he ought not support pro-abortion legislation?

    And could we back the question up a few decades and ask, if a SCOTUS judge happened to be a member of said Church in 1973, who was about to hear Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, would said pastor be within his bounds to implore his parishoner not to allow unfettered legal abortion to become the law of the land by his decision? Or does this pastor have no voice to speak to such a judge about his decision?

    To my mind, still no. There are, however, institutional ways to deal with these things.

    I really don’t want to make a straw man out of your position here, but are you alleging that people have no business imploring their governing officials to make policy one way or another?

    That sounds rather draconian and certainly out of step with the fine American tradition of vocal public protest informing the proceedings in the halls of government.

  26. Zrim says:

    Matt,

    The difference between pro-choice Joe Catholic the pews and Nancy Pelosi is that Pelosi is actively advancing pro-abortion policies and therefore aiding and abetting people in procuring abortions. This action, for a Catholic, brings down a sentence of excommunication latae sententiae.
    It’s not an excommunicable offense to hold pro-choice positions in your head. It is such an offense to advance legislation or policy that helps proliferate abortions and protect those who provide them.

    But aren’t those in the pews, who pull voting levers or work for certain agencies, also “actively advancing” pro-choice policies and “protecting those who advance them”? I see no reason why Pelosi should be reprimanded and Joe Catholic shouldn’t. But to my Protestant mind, what are grounds for discipline is what one does in faith and practice, that is to say, one’s doctrine and life. By the latter I mean what one does in his/her own body. Pelosi having certain views, and even certain consequential politics, is not the same as what she does in her own body. In other words, she can make certain laws but she can’t have an abortion.

    Here’s a question, honest as can be, would a reformed pastor, zealous for 2K thinking tell a politician under his care (privately so not to be accused of politicking from the pulpit) that he ought not support pro-abortion legislation?

    That might be a good one for Todd, as he is a Reformed pastor (OPC). But I don’t see what would be wrong with having a lively debate between pastor and parishioner. But that is different from telling a parishioner how to think and act politically.

    And could we back the question up a few decades and ask, if a SCOTUS judge happened to be a member of said Church in 1973, who was about to hear Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, would said pastor be within his bounds to implore his parishioner not to allow unfettered legal abortion to become the law of the land by his decision? Or does this pastor have no voice to speak to such a judge about his decision?

    These decisions were about states’ rights, Matt, not the “unfettered legality of abortion.” Granted, a consequence of the decision was the latter, but it wasn’t the essence of the decision. That said, I would say that no pastor has the right to implore his member “to not to make a decision that divests states of their power.” That a political question, not a spiritual one. Same goes when the question is the legality of abortion: if a member makes state law, it is out of the pastor’s spiritual jurisdiction to dictate to him/her how to make law. It is, however, within his jurisdiction to have a say on what that member does in his/her own body.

    “To my mind, still no. There are, however, institutional ways to deal with these things.”

    I really don’t want to make a straw man out of your position here, but are you alleging that people have no business imploring their governing officials to make policy one way or another?

    That sounds rather draconian and certainly out of step with the fine American tradition of vocal public protest informing the proceedings in the halls of government.

    No, I am not alleging that. I freely concede that these things are not always clear cut. When does being active become activism? I am not always sure. Maybe it’s like porn, I know it when I see it. I’d say I’d pay good money for a special machine that told me, but that would be too QIRC (quest for illegitimate religious certainty).

  27. RubeRad says:

    I take issue with how politics are moralized

    I see the God-ordained function of civil government to restrain evil, and that inherently has moral aspects

  28. RubeRad says:

    is there such a thing as “right-headed” activism on any subject

    You have to understand, Matt, that in Z’s vocabulary, “activism” is distinguished from regular political participation (i.e. “activity”) precisely by being overboard. I think, for Z, the word activism is equivalent with fanaticism, and so by definition you will never get him to endorse it.

  29. Zrim says:

    Me, too, Rube. But saying there are moral dimensions to politics is different from a moralized politics.

    Do you agree that there is such a thing as moralized politics? If so, what would it look like?

  30. Zrim says:

    Rube,

    That is more or less correct. I would want to distinguish, though, between fanaticism and mainline activism. Not all activism is fanaticism but all fanaticism is activism. It’s the difference between gunmen and good faith protesters. It’s like the difference between false religionists (Mormons) and cultists (Jim Jones).

  31. Todd says:

    Matt,

    Before answering your abortion question, let me ask, would it be just as right for a pastor to instruct a congregant on how to vote for a gay marriage or civil same sex union bill?

  32. RubeRad says:

    Is this a semantics question? I sense that what you mean by “moralized”, matches what I would mean with “overmoralized”

  33. Zrim says:

    Ok, “over moralized.” What’s that look like?

  34. Matt Yonke says:

    Zrim,

    But aren’t those in the pews, who pull voting levers or work for certain agencies, also “actively advancing” pro-choice policies and “protecting those who advance them”?

    Work for certain agencies? Yes, culpable. Pull voting levers? Not so fast.

    Catholic teaching is clear that, if there is a weighty enough reason to vote for a pro-choice politician in spite of their stance on abortion, a Catholic may do so.

    Our bishops here in America have been quick to remind the faithful not to be hasty in assuming a cause to be weighty enough, though.

    These decisions were about states’ rights, Matt, not the “unfettered legality of abortion.” Granted, a consequence of the decision was the latter, but it wasn’t the essence of the decision.

    Zrim, I don’t want to get into a scuffle over constitutional law issues here, but what was decided in the one-two punch of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton was that the choice of a woman to have an abortion fell under the constitutionally protected right to privacy.

    It seems plain that the primary effect of those cases was the legalization of abortion. The states losing the right to decide that question was a secondary effect.

    But all this posturing over the difference between promoting a law that permits something and promoting or committing the act itself seems a lot of quibbling over words.

    Let’s simplify the issue. Say a pastor is approached by a parishoner who feels that he absolutely must steal something. Let’s further suppose the parishoner has some plausible reason for the theft. Is there a situation in which the pastor says, “Yeah, you know what, that’s a hard circumstance, go ahead and steal.”

    Of course not.

    So why is it that, when the pastor is approached by a lawmaker asking counsel on a law that would permit stealing, the pastor is forced to say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s above my paygrade. You’ve got to figure that one out for yourself.”

    What’s changed between the two instances? Does sin cease to be sin if we’re considering in the context of law? Does the pastor lose his authority to preach the minute the question begins to involve government?

    I feel all reformed talking this way, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ extends to all areas of life. It makes claims even on governing officials. Who but the minister of that gospel is qualified to expound on it as regards practical application?

    Again, speaking as a Catholic, I find this whole question baffling. We’ve a long history of our pastors speaking truth to power to great effect. You can thank John Paul II, may his memory be eternal, in large part for the ending of communism in Eastern Europe. Was he a meddling fool dabbling in areas beyond his sphere?

    I fear you’ll say he was, but man, I just don’t see how one can make the case that the world is better off when God’s ministers clam up and let politicians take care of things.

    Todd,

    In case the above didn’t make my position clear, yes, I believe it would be right and proper for a pastor to tell a parishoner what the gospel says about gay marriage or civil unions and use his God-given prophetic voice to call said parishoner to promote justice and sexual sanity in the world rather than making a wider berth for perversion and sexual license.

  35. Zrim says:

    Matt,

    Work for certain agencies? Yes, culpable. Pull voting levers? Not so fast.

    Catholic teaching is clear that, if there is a weighty enough reason to vote for a pro-choice politician in spite of their stance on abortion, a Catholic may do so.

    Catholic teaching is clear that, if there is a weighty enough reason to vote for a pro-choice politician in spite of their stance on abortion, a Catholic may do so.

    So, if one works for Planned Parenthood s/he will be disciplined. Is there any distinction between the abortion provider and the janitor? On voting, no, let’s say I vote for candidate X because s/he has pro-choice policies. Now what?

    Our bishops here in America have been quick to remind the faithful not to be hasty in assuming a cause to be weighty enough, though.

    So, you can vote in spite of the particular stance, but the message is that likely there will never be anything more important than this issue. How is this not a way to ecclesiastically ensure single issue voting?

    What has changed between the believer who thinks he needs to steal something and the believer who makes law is what is being done in one’s own body. I understand you see that as an illegitimate distinction. But if there is no such distinction then where does the line get drawn, what keeps the pastor/priest from dictating everything the believer may or may not do or think?

    You ask, “Does the pastor lose his authority to preach the minute the question begins to involve government?” That’s an important question. The answer is yes. To the Reformed mind, the pastor’s only charge is over things spiritual, not civil. I know you think that is an illegitimate and dangerous distinction, but we don’t. It’s a doctrine called “the spirituality of the church.” It has fallen on very hard times even within the Reformed and Presbyterian community. If you ask me, in practice, we seem more Catholic than Reformed anymore. Many of us applaud Pelosi’s public reprimand and priests holding the wafer closer to his chest when certain senators come forward. But that’s only because we’re being functional Catholics and dysfunctional Protestants. It is the role of the church, and her officers, to hold out the unfettered gospel to sinners to be reconciled to God in Christ alone. Easier said than done, granted, but that is precisely the point of Reformed Protestantism.

    Making the world a better place is not the role of the church or her officers. I know, that really aggravates. But, if you are trying to tell me the world is better because of ecclesiastical meddling, I find that a jagged little pill. The world is the same as it ever was. The 20th century was the bloodiest of them all. How has the world been made better by pastors “speaking truth to power”? Nothing changes, there is nothing new under the sun. Christendom had a long time to change the world for the better—doesn’t the Third Reich alone demonstrate the futility of such thinking? Call me greedy, but I don’t want men’s pathetic attempt at making the world better, I’d rather have it absolutely perfect. And I am willing to wait for the only one who can pull that off. In the meantime, I am content with proximate justice.

  36. Matt Yonke says:

    Zrim,

    I think we’ve covered our bases as far as our political differences go.

    To briefly answer your questions, yes, voting for a pro-choice candidate because of their pro-choice stance incurs the same penalty of latae sententiae excommunication, and, yes, the bishops’ position does push Catholics into a sort of de facto position of single issue voting. So be it when it comes to the mass extermination of undesirable human beings, if you ask me, but again, I know we have our differences here.

    Moving on, though, what’s the Biblical basis for the 2K position? Not saying there isn’t one, but it seems to me, and I held this position before being Catholic, that it’s perfectly natural for a pastor to speak gospel truth to both churched and unchurched alike. That would seem to include calling both private citizens and politicians alike to oppose the killing of innocent people (or whatever issue of justice you want to fill in the blank with here).

    You guys just seem very confident in this position and it’s one I’ve not really run into before stumbling on Pastor Stellman’s blog. So what’s the case? Feel free to start another thread if you feel like we’ve exhausted the dialogical potential of this one.

  37. Zrim says:

    Matt,

    To briefly answer your questions, yes, voting for a pro-choice candidate because of their pro-choice stance incurs the same penalty of latae sententiae excommunication…

    I wonder how anyone figures out that Joe Catholic votes deliberately as a pro-choicer. But maybe it’s an “honor system” thing?

    Anyway, as to the biblical basis for 2K, good question. It’s an answer that deserves more space and better abilities than you’ll find here, I suppose. Let me recommend some reading. First, look on the side-bar here under “The Sites That Dazzle” and hit the “Two Kingdom Social Theory” link. I’d also recommend a little book called “The Biblical Case for Natural Law” by David van Drunen. I’d also suggest plumbing the archives at Stellman’s place.

    Yes, it is “perfectly natural for a pastor to speak gospel truth to both churched and unchurched alike.” That’s because it is the human default setting to mix the kingdoms. That is an intutional function of natural religion, not the counter-intuition of Christianity.

  38. Matt Yonke says:

    Zrim,

    I have to apologize, I misspoke earlier. People who support abortion in a tertiary way like voting or law-making do not incur excommunication, but they do commit a mortal sin if they understand what they are doing and know that the Church forbids it.

    The penalty of excommunication Latae Sententiae in the abortion question is only incurred by the doctor who performs, or the person who procures, a successful abortion. Excommunication Latae Sententiae means the penalty doesn’t need to be applied by trial and conviction, it is applied by the very action itself.

    Other acts that fall under that heading are a priest breaking the confessional seal, heresy, or sacrelige against the Eucharistic gifts.

    Thanks for the links, I’ll definitely look into those!

  39. Zrim says:

    People who support abortion in a tertiary way like voting or law-making do not incur excommunication, but they do commit a mortal sin if they understand what they are doing and know that the Church forbids it.

    So, the Church does forbid someone from voting for a pro-choice candidate for that particular policy, knowing she can’t really enforce this. So in order to enforce it the church must depend on some form of “honor system.” Does that mean it would be conceivable that someone would confess to his priest, “Forgive me, I voted for candidate X because I wanted to see choice politics advanced”?

    How about someone like me with states’ rights politics? Would it be a sin to vote for a candidate who wanted to return rights to states, since most states are poised to maintain the current policies should Roe be overturned?

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