I Hear It Tastes Like Chicken

He who channels all things Francis Turretin writes back. There isn’t much new. It still isn’t clear why cautioning against bringing politics into the church means one is somehow opposed to preaching the law. After all, it is possible to clearly preach the sixth commandment without addressing late twentieth century American jurisprudence or comparing it to mid twentieth century German tyranny. I’ve heard it done pretty effortlessly countless times. Nevertheless, this did sort of stand out:

I know, I know. I’ve deal [sic] with Zrim before. His response is that he just meant that we shouldn’t bring politics into church. But Zrim has it backwards. We shouldn’t identify something like abortion primarily as political, but as moral. It is first moral and afterwards political. In America today (unlike America 100 years ago) it is a matter that has become politicized. But just because something has become politicized doesn’t mean preachers can’t or shouldn’t preach about it.

Indeed, the politicization of an issue may coincide with an increased need to preach on that very issue! The fact that people may be unhappy to hear the preaching is simply the cost of standing up for what is right. The Bible never tells us to avoid preaching about sins that are well-loved in a community or society. Quite the contrary: in the midst of a society full of fornication, John preached that fornicators have their place in the lake of fire.

But this is my point and one about which TurretinFan is right to suggest that there are opposite understandings between his and mine. Contrary to his assertion, the fact that something has become highly politicized is precisely why more caution is called for, not for the amplitude to be turned up. This actually sounds like the sort of reasoning that compelled Protestant liberalism to suggest that the world sets the church’s agenda: the bigger the worldly deal the more the church should get involved. Thus it follows that one of the most explosive and bitter sets of politics in America (to paraphrase Robert Bork) should receive a relative amount of attention from Christian pulpits in the land. But one lingering question remains: if there is such a thing as the spirituality of the church, then what would its violation look like, at least in twenty-first century America, if not the taking up of one of the most politicized issues of the last thirty-five plus years?

It is also a fairly common anti-spirituality of the church move to say that the issue is first a moral one. It’s a way to justify politicizing faith amongst those who would also moralize politics. But, again, this only helps show how little care there is for the spirituality of the church. That is until the other guy who doesn’t share your politics is found baptizing his ideology. It sounds good to say that “we shouldn’t identify something like abortion primarily as political, but as moral,” but since every aspect of life has moral dimension then wouldn’t the church also have to take on everything in terms of its moral primacy? And then wouldn’t the church be finding herself addressing virtually every social, cultural and political care? This seems to be one problem with assessing all of life morally. And one is left wondering where the line gets drawn. Going by those who laud and honor the Baylys it would seem the line gets predictably drawn at the legal sanctioning of abortion and homosexuality. For whatever reasons, when it comes to the danger of politicizing faith the rules are just different when it comes to these legislative concerns. So it would seem that there really is a place for the church must be relevant to the ideological felt needs of the wider world.

And so it has never been very clear to me what keeps the likes of TurretinFan innocent of aiding and abetting a form of social and political gospel. One option is simply to admit that there is such a thing as good social gospel. That might demand eating a little crow and writing few letters of apology to the Protestant liberals, but isn’t that a small price to pay to make sure everyone knows heaven’s opinion on reproductive legislation and the cost to ignoring it?

This entry was posted in Abortion, Spirituality of the Church, The gospel, Two-kingdoms. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to I Hear It Tastes Like Chicken

  1. Chris S says:

    Z- Just trying to grasp all of this… are you basically saying that TurretinFan is confusing and/or conflating kingdoms? Am I correct in thinking that you are not saying that we should not stand against abortion? That the church’s role as ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom is to preach Law and Gospel (without confusing them)- and that will (but not primarily) inform us as to how we function in the civil kingdom as citizens of both kingdoms?

  2. Zrim says:

    Chris, let me answer this way: I am myself morally and politically opposed to abortion. In fact, I consider my views to be even more conservative than the typical pro-lifer, even when it comes to labelling my own political views which I prefer to characterize as anti-abortion and not pro-life. I also think the political question in our own American context is driven much more by the category of jurisprudence than the typical pro-lifer who thinks the category is morality. IOW, I think the question first is “Who gets to decide?” and only secondarily “May she or mayn’t she?” My answer is “local authorities” and then “she mayn’t.”

    That all said, I don’t want the church to baptize (sprinkling or immersion) my states’ rights political views. However opposed I am politically against certain reproductive practices, I am even more opposed to the church giving those political convictions any sanction. The question of jurisdiction, however, is important. So while the church should remain silent politically about what the state may or mayn’t allow its citizens to do in their own bodies, the church has every right and duty to say what her members may or mayn’t do in theirs. Which means that the church ought to oppose abortion, but only morally and amongst her own members.

    I hope that’s clear enough.

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