A few weeks ago, Thabiti contributed to our ongoing discussion of the presidential election and race relations with this post. I responded briefly here, and promised to say more about it later on. It is now later on, and so here I am.
Thabiti said that he and I manage to have “good conversations about difficult things.” I have the same sensation, and have greatly appreciated his willingness to interact with me as much as he has. It sometimes feels pretty jaggedy, like the two of us were running a three-legged race in the fair, but somehow or other we get across the finish line.
I actually happen to know the kind of pressure that people receive whenever they agree to do anything with us, and after the charitable comments Thabiti made in his last post, I wouldn’t be surprised if his inbox had actually burst into flames. The fact that he would say what he said about me publicly was not unappreciated, especially when I think I know what kind of grief he had to put up with behind the scenes because he had said it. I do not know if we will ever get a chance to have a beer together, but if we do, it would only be right if I were the one to buy. This conversation has to have been far more costly to him than to me—although I am not a full pariah, I can be somewhat pariah-ish—and from this distance the only reason I can think of for him to do it is summed up in the one word integrity.
A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT AGREEMENTS:
I am grateful also that Thabiti and I agree fundamentally on the fact that we have no political solution to the political disease that afflicts us. Christ is our only possible Savior, and the only way out of the terrible place we have gotten to is massive repentance. Our problem as a nation is not that we have differing opinions about politics—our problem is that our consciences are seared. Nothing will do but reformation and revival.
I agree with Thabiti that he and Wayne Grudem are not doing the same thing, only on opposite sides. Thabiti told us how he was going to vote; he did not in any way indicate approval of Hillary, at any level. Thabiti believes that we have narrowed our choice down to two evil options. He believes that we have some kind of expertise in resisting one of them, and no proven skills at all in dealing with the other. That is the kind of stand which could be productive to debate, whether or not you agree, which I don’t.
When someone says he wants to fight a particular evil differently than you do, that is a tactical matter. When someone says that an evil isn’t really evil, that goes beyond tactics.
Suppose someone said that he was going to vote for Saruman over Sauron because he thought Saruman was a “wizard with flaws.” That is a description of someone who is in the process of being seduced. Suppose someone else voted for Saruman, not because he supported Saruman at all, but because he would rather have the final fight with Saruman. This is quite different. It goes without saying that we were going to be in a fight whichever bad guy won. This is a position I strongly differ with, but it is not a position that gets maneuvered into calling evil good and good evil (Is. 5:20).
NO PROBLEM PASSAGES:
It is very important for me to reiterate again how much I appreciated Thabiti’s acknowledgment that Scripture contains angular texts on the subject of slavery. This means that Christians who profess that every dotted i and crossed t is part of the God-breathed revelation to us—these texts included—are people who must take this angular reality into account.
I have said this before, but I am not an historical romantic. I am not a sentimentalist about the old South. I do enjoy grits, but that kind of thing has almost nothing whatever to do with why this subject keeps coming around to me. From my perspective, the basic reason I get into these imbroglios is because I want to insist that politics, public-shaming, blog-trolling, name-calling, zeitgeist-riding, luge running down the right side of history, and so on, are all absolutely irrelevant when it comes to the exegesis. The text says what it says, and it would have said that same thing had none of us ever been born.
For one example among many, Hillary has said that on abortion Christians have to get with the program. “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Let me think about it, no. The Word of God comes to us from outside time and history. It has a transcendental authority. We don’t get to tinker with the truths of God in order to reduce friction for the agenda of liberals.
If we ever admit the principle that a show of progressive hands can determine what Scripture actually says, then we are done. I submit that when Christians start to cave on this principle, it will be a whole lot easier to cave the tenth time than it was the first time. I believe that we are in the process of discovering this grim reality. We are at #7 now and picking up speed. I am wanting to get back to #1or #2. When did we first start apologizing for the Bible? Repentance will have to go all the way back so that conservativism will cease being the “shadow that follows radicalism to perdition.”
In God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis said this: “In fact, we must at all costs not move with the times. We serve One who said ‘Heaven and Earth shall move with the times, but my words shall not move with the times.’”
That is the issue here, and as far as I am concerned it is the only real issue.
Continue reading below…