Friday, April 20, 2012

Christ's Lordship is the Answer, not Political Pragmatism

Despite the Christian Right's secularism
during its alliance with the Reagan
administration, according to Christian
Right scholar Matthew C. Moen, "The
penetration of the Christian Right by
Reconstructionists may halt, or even
reverse, the process of secularization"
by Steve C. Halbrook

(Based on Appendix E of God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws)

The Christian Right—the largest group of politically-active Christians in America—rejects the Bible’s requirement of the state to uphold the Old Testament civil laws. Instead, it embraces political conservatism. But conservatism, as pointed out, lacks an unchanging moral anchor (see Appendix D).  Thus the Christian Right is handicapped by its marriage with political conservatism. 

Without getting into whether we agree with all of the Christian Right policies mentioned below, but to point out how unstable the Christian Right is politically and ethically, consider the following from The Changing Nature of Christian Right Activism: 1970s-1990s, by Christian Right scholar Matthew C. Moen.  In this chapter, Moen lists several social issues where the Christian Right has softened.  Its leaders stopped pushing for a ban on sodomite teachers, for the quarantining of AIDS patients, and for the “Family Protection Act.”  Regarding Christian education, many religiously conservative homeschoolers began embracing state standards and accreditation, and the idea of tuition tax credits for solely private religious schools gave way to “school choice”—a universal educational voucher program.  Public school prayer stopped being as major an issue as “equal access” for all religions in public schools.  Moreover, there was “some shift toward the societal consensus” on the matter of abortion.  No longer a black-and-white issue, most Christian Right leaders made “room for the standard exceptions (rape, incest, or the life of the mother).”[1] 

That was during the 1990s.  The Christian Right’s leftward shift has continued ever since.  Without endorsing the Republican Party, we draw attention to the following written in 2009 by Paul Gottfried:

[A]s the last election showed, evangelical younger members [of the Religious Right] are sliding leftward, in the direction of the antiracist- and socialist-obsessed editors of Sojourners magazine and the faculty and administration of the leftward-trending evangelical Wheaton College. … [I]n 2008 evangelical support for the GOP had slid from 55 percent in 2001 to 40 percent. According to Pew Research poll conducted in July, 2008, only 61 percent of evangelicals backed the very centrist Republican presidential candidate John McCain; while 25 percent were behind Obama. Moreover, on immigration, some evangelicals are leaning left, as VDARE.COM showed as early as December 2006. Evangelicals in Central Pennsylvania sport a red bumper sticker produced by Sojourners with the slogan “God Is Not A Republican.” This is true, of course, but the slogan indicates to me that these putative members of the Religious Right have the same electoral preferences as the New York Times.[2]

The Christian Right’s inability to maintain a consistent political platform stems from ignoring the Bible’s civil code; thus platform-wise, those in its movement are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 2:14b).  Thus the Christian Right is easily duped into supporting statism.  A case in point is when the Christian Right supported the statist neoconservative agenda during the Bush Administration. 

[Irving] Kristol [the “godfather of neoconservatism] got what he wanted because the Religious Right made themselves into willing tools of neoconservative purposes—in return, incidentally, for pitifully little. While the neoconservative master class and W’s GOP, as it came ideologically under neocon control, mobilized evangelicals to support their Wilsonian foreign policy and Near Eastern politics, they compensated their happy foot-soldiers by merely refusing to give public funding to stem-cell research and abortion.[3]

Republican humanists have the Christian Right figured out.  Just tell them you are pro-life (whether or not you act on it)—the closest thing to a core issue the Christian Right has—and you can get almost whatever you want from them. 

The Christian Right should not support the Republican Party.  The Republican Party not only ignores most of God’s laws, but it is officially polytheistic, since it does not acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and considers all religions to be equal.  Christians cannot expect to join hands with the Republican Party and expect freedom.  Being humanistic, the Republican Party is not an acceptable alternative to the Democratic Party. 

"[Irving] Kristol [the 'godfather of neoconservatism'] got what he wanted because the Religious
Right made themselves into willing tools of neoconservative purposes—in return, incidentally, for
pitifully little. While the neoconservative master class and W’s GOP, as it came ideologically
under neocon control, mobilized evangelicals to support their Wilsonian foreign policy and
Near Eastern politics, they compensated their happy foot-soldiers by merely refusing to give
public funding to stem-cell research and abortion." --Paul Gottfried

An important principle behind 1 Samuel 8 is that the rejection of a civil government based on God for a civil government based on man results in tyranny.  Thus it doesn’t matter whether the Republican Party officially supports more freedom than the Democratic Party.  As long it rejects the King of kings, it is just another path to tyranny.  “As long as Christians ... become water boys for the Republican Party, we're not going to get very far. Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party represent a distinctively Christian approach to the political and civil issues that are tearing our country apart.”[4] 

Some in the Christian Right realize the Republican Party’s serious failings, but nevertheless support the party for pragmatic reasons.  The thinking is that not enough people will vote for a more explicit Christian party, and so in order to defeat the Democratic Party, Christians should support the lesser-of-two evils, the Republican Party.  But where has political pragmatism gotten us? 

A good example of the failures of political pragmatism is the following commentary on the Republican Party by Ricardo Davis, State Chairman of the Constitution Party of GA.  While upholding his political party’s commitment to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, he observes:

Some argue that such a political party dooms itself to failure in today’s culture, for such a political party will never attract enough support to accomplish its purpose. The fallacy in such a view is in how success is defined. This view defines success by adjusting the principles or policy of the party to include as many voters as possible to achieve electoral victory. The recent history of the Republican Party is an instructive example. Note how the leadership of the party intentionally disregarded the stated platform of the party in order to “cut in” as many voters as possible—almost always at the expense of the taxpayer. Conservatives in the party who hold to the previous principles gripe and complain; those who had a vested interest in the party supported the variance and are rewarded by party leadership. The Republicans used this strategy and gained electoral victories to the point that from 2000 to 2006 they had control of the federal legislature and executive. A majority of the federal Supreme Court’s justices serving during this period were nominated by Republican administrations; this means that the Republican’s victory was complete at the federal level. But far from the reversal of the Democrat’s failures, the Republican’s failures were greater still. Our constitutional and religious liberties have suffered more damage, our federal government has sunk deeper in debt yet creating more welfare subsidies to individuals and corporations, our military stretched thinner as our troops are dispatched to more international police actions and our borders remain minimally defended against foreign invasion. This is not victory; this is failure on a grand scale![5]

This should be a lesson:  God doesn’t bless pragmatism, but curses it:  “Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD’” (Jeremiah 17:5).  The Christian Right’s adopting of the humanistic strength-in-numbers fallacy will never bring about justice; ignoring or diluting God’s Word in order to be with the winning party does not work. 

The more the Christian Right tries to combat the nation’s secularization by making void the Word of God, the more secular and tyrannical the nation becomes.  Despite all of the Christian Right’s efforts, our nation now suffers under the tyranny of Democratic president Barack Obama. 

Obama, with his radically polytheistic, pro-sodomite, pro-abortion, and pro-socialist views, is possibly the most wicked and anti-Christian president the nation has ever had.  In its pragmatism and ignoring of the Bible’s civil code, the Christian Right promotes the very method it proclaims to be combating:  disobedience to God.  The more the Christian Right secularizes, the more it uses its political influence to fuel totalitarianism.  If Christians in this movement continue down this road, they should not be surprised to very soon find themselves ruled by an outright Nazi-type regime. 

While some in the Christian Right would justify pragmatism by arguing “desperate times call for desperate measures,”[6] we must ask, in the words of Joe Morecraft, “Do desperate times justify disobedience to the Word of God?  Or are desperate times caused by disobedience to the Word of God?[7]  Pragmatism is never justified, even when the majority of the public would never accept the Bible’s civil code.  It is not about perceived political success, but obedience to the King of kings.  

The Christian Right's strategy of voting
for the lesser-of-two-evils leads to
supporting a Mussolini to keep a Hitler
out of office, supporting a Hitler to keep a
Stalin out of office, and so on.
(Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-
13774 /
 Unknown Heinrich Hoffmann /
If obedience means losing politically, so be it.  The criterion for what “works” legally and politically is not what appears to bring the greatest amount of happiness (utilitarianism), but obedience to God’s commands (Eccl. 12:13).  Man’s duty is to obey God and God alone.  Period.  And so by God’s standards political pragmatism doesn’t work.  Obedience is more important than perceived political success, although God might very well grant political success for obedience. 

But it is self-defeating to attempt political success and disobey God in the process.  Compromise—even when attempted in order to transform a corrupt political party from within—only leads to statism.  “As the light of the world, we must set the standard. Our Lord never called His people to help build the tower of Babel in the hope of getting a Bible study in the basement. He commanded us to build our own city on a hill.”[8]

Outside of obedience to God, there is no success, only death, since the wages of sin (disobedience to God) is death (Rom. 6:23).  The Christian Right thinks it supports a pro-life party, but despite the Republican Party claiming to be so, it is not pro-life at all.  Besides the fact that, generally speaking, Republican politicians are officially only a little less pro-death regarding abortion than Democrats (but pro-death nonetheless), and besides the fact that Republican politicians seem to rarely act on whatever weak pro-life views that they have, any party that refuses to recognize the Crown Rights of the Lord Jesus Christ is pro-death: “all who hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36b).

Another problem with the argument that God’s truth must be compromised because not enough of the U.S. population are Christians is that it denies God’s absolute sovereign control over all things, including the civil realm.  The Bible is clear that God doesn’t need the majority to turn the political tide.  Whenever God pleases, He can raise up a King David, or turn the heart of a wicked ruler, such as a Nebuchadnezzar.  Whenever God pleases, He can put it in the heart of a pagan ruler to enforce the Bible’s entire civil code (Ez. 7:25-28).  And whenever God pleases, He can deliver His people from the slavery of a totalitarian Egypt.

Furthermore, all influential political movements begin as a minority.  They go from a minority to gradually influencing the larger population.  So it is self-defeating to argue “we can’t run on a Christian platform because no one will vote for us!”  Joe Morecraft III wisely observes,

I don’t expect many of our people to get elected—if they’re distinctively Christian in character and policy.

But I don’t despise the days of small beginnings. We’ve got to be pioneers, is the point. We’ve got to cut the trails, politically, show them how to do it, how not to do it, for future generations to build on what we’ve done.

I ran for Congress in 1986 as an overt Christian, obviously, self-consciously aware that I was a pioneer, praying that people would build on that. If we have political parties now that are overtly Christian it is a great training program for future days. …

And I think there’s another purpose for a political party, too, rather than running its own candidates, sort of like, you remember the old, [William] Buckley Conservative Party in New York, years ago? It was a restraint, for a while, on other political parties, and I think that if a Christian political party became strong enough—even though it couldn’t run a candidate, or elect a candidate in a certain area, it can began by being a clear restraint on candidates, who maybe wouldn’t run on their platform.[9]

Morecraft’s strategy, in short, can at best lead to eventual political victory, or at least possibly serve as a restraint on wicked rulers. 

But the Christian Right’s pragmatic strategy of embracing the lesser-of-two tyrants brings tyranny nonetheless; a lesser tyrant is still a tyrant. Such a strategy logically leads to supporting a Mussolini to keep a Hitler out of office, and eventually supporting a Hitler to keep a Stalin out of office.  Supporting  tyrants to keep out other tyrants does not take us in the direction of liberty—at best it slows how tyrannical the nation becomes.  And so it is better to gradually bring about liberty via distinctly Christian candidates than to gradually bring about tyranny via distinctly humanistic Republican candidates.

Of course, this is even assuming that the tyranny caused by the Republican Party is even gradual.  Perhaps it is just as much or even more rapid than the Democratic Party, only in a more steathful way.  In a parody of the Republican Party’s surreptitious statism, a representative of the Republican Party says the following upon being asked whether the Republican Party opposes Obamacare: 

Being the Republican Party we initially oppose things, but in the end our reforms are much more sweeping than those of the Democrats.  Whereas the Democrats promise you socialism in 5 years, we promise you Communism in 10.  That way you get to pretend to be more conservative, while all the time being far more radical than the liberals. …

… President Obama is too honest about what he believes; if you really want a soviet republic then you need to do it by stealth.  Just convince the voters that you believe in capitalism and limited government, when all along you are introducing state totalitarianism, and before you know it you will have so-called conservatives acting like socialists.  Lenin could not have come up with a better plan.[10]

The interviewer then posed the following series of questions to the Republican representative:

            Q: You know, that reminds me so much of George W. Bush.  Who would have thought it?  If you really want socialism, it is best to vote for the GOP.

            A: Yeah I am not really supposed to say that as it might upset the evangelicals who support us, but we will just tell them that we are Christians and they will keep voting for us.

            Q: Even though your Christianity does not affect your politics?

            A: Christianity and politics have nothing to do with each other, we just use it to get votes.[11]

The interviewer then responds, “Yes, I always thought that was the case.  After all, the GOP has been saying it is anti-abortion for years, yet it never does anything about it.  Moreover, we can hardly call your foreign policy or jurisprudence biblically informed.”  The Republican answered, “No, we don't claim to be biblical, just less wicked than the Democrats; the voters swallow it every time.”[12]

Matthew C. Moen, in a book published in 1992, touches on the secularization of the Christian Right during its alliance with the Reagan administration.  He didn’t see much probability in the Christian Right reversing its Reagan-era secularization.  However, he did see a possibility through Christian Reconstructionism: 

Other evidence that the secularization of the Christian Right may be limited to that time frame [the Reagan era] is found in the emergence of Christian Reconstructionism.  It emphasizes the utility of the first five books of the Old Testament for ordering contemporary American society, a goal that Bruce Barron and Anson Shupe have noted proceeds well beyond the Christian Right in scope yet has certain affinities related to ‘recapturing’ institutions from secular forces. … [T]he penetration of the Christian Right by Reconstructionists may halt, or even reverse, the process of secularization described.[13] 

Russell Kirk, father of
American conservatism,
considered attempts to
implement the O. T. civil
code a "foolish notion."
(credit: Russell Kirk Center)
While today the Christian Right and Reconstructionists are not always on the friendliest of terms, and the Christian Right has continued in its secular drift, Moen’s comments point to the necessity of the Christian Right to base its political platform on the Bible to help reverse its process of secularization. 

To the extent the Christian Right rejects the Bible’s civil code, it rejects Jesus as Lord and is polytheistic.  This is because acknowledging Jesus as Lord over all includes acknowledging Him as Lord—and thereby His law—over the state.  As King Jesus says, Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Lk. 6:46).  God requires in the First Commandment “You shall have no other gods before me,” and, as R. J. Rushdoony remarks, “To have none other gods … means to have no other law than God’s law.”[14]  

Regarding its political conservative philosophy, the Christian Right should keep in mind that since traditions continually change, conservatism, which bases its laws on tradition, is morally relativistic and thus rejects God since it rejects God’s absolute, unchanging law.  In one of his works, Russell Kirk, father of American conservatism, called it a “foolish notion” for his “Puritan ancestors of Massachusetts Bay, like their fathers the ‘Geneva Men’ of Elizabethan England,” to hope “to make the laws of the ancient Jews into a code for their own time.”[15]  He reasoned that “the particular laws of a people ineluctably mirror the circumstances of an age.”[16] 

This rejection of the laws of the Massachusetts Bay Puritans—one of the strongest examples of a society influenced by the Bible’s absolute, unchanging civil code—was by the nature of the case a rejection of absolute law for relativistic, circumstantial law.  As such, to the degree Kirk was consistent in his rejection of biblical law, he found himself embracing the relativistic ideology of humanism. 

What is interesting—but not surprising—is that in the very book that Kirk condemns implementing biblical law, he denies that secular humanism is in itself evil:  “The body of belief, or non-theistic religion, called secular humanism is not a creation of the Evil Spirit.  Some honest and able scholars subscribed to the two Humanist Manifestos.”[17]  Kirk does go on to say that if society were to adopt secular humanism, the civil social order would become decadent due to secular humanism’s “feeble humanitarianism” absent a “pervasive religious faith.”[18]  Nevertheless, Kirk’s denial that secular humanism is evil displays terrible discernment on his part and reveals his ignorance of the fact that moral neutrality is impossible—and one’s view of moral neutrality affects one’s view of civil law itself, which is based on morality.

The Christian Right has followed in the tradition of Kirk’s idolatrous rejection of absolute Divine law for relativistic law based on the traditions of man.  The Christian Right ignores much if not most of the Bible’s civil code at best, treats it with contempt at worse.  The syncretistic result is that the Christian Right is willing to entertain laws as conceived by Roman Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, secularists, and other anti-Christian humanists—just as long as they are based on “common-ground family values” (whatever that means). 

Another reflection of the Christian Right’s syncretism is its referral to “our Judeo-Christian heritage.” R. J. Rushdoony writes that “the term ‘Judeo-Christian’ is most commonly used by the adherents of the religion of humanity, who are insistent on reading their religion into both Judaism and Christianity.  No doubt, if Buddhism were a factor on the American scene, we would hear references to our Buddho-Judeo-Christian heritage.”[19] 

Among the most fatal fruits of the Christian Right’s political polytheism is the compromise of the gospel itself.  Consider the 1994 Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) statement, which reads:
In the exercise of these public responsibilities there has been in recent years a growing convergence and cooperation between Evangelicals and Catholics.  We thank God for the discovery of one another in contending for a common cause.  Much more important, we thank God for the discovery of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Our cooperation as citizens is animated by our convergence as Christians.  We promise one another that we will work to deepen, build upon, and expand this pattern of convergence and cooperation.  Together we contend for the truth that politics, law, and culture must be secured by moral truth (emphases mine).[20]

The Christian Right, in its political
pragmatism, has help pave the dangerous
road to Rome for American Christianity.
(photo by Michael Taylor)
The evangelical portion of the document even recognizes the compromises of the gospel it makes, but then treats them as insignificant.  It states: “Evangelicals hold that the Catholic Church has gone beyond Scripture, adding teachings and practices that detract from or compromise the Gospel of God’s saving grace in Christ” (emphasis mine), then turns around and states, “We are bound together by Christ and his cause” (emphasis mine).[21] 

Here unity trumps salvation and thereby the author of salvation, Jesus Christ.  Is the gospel a side issue, since those who hold to different gospels are according to ECT saved?  Are there two paths to God?  Apparently for the evangelical signers of the ECT, there is:  the Protestant way, and the Roman Catholic way.  Thus in rejecting the gospel for political pragmatism, the alliance of conservative evangelicals with Roman Catholics has, practically speaking, resulted in an acceptance of the liberal social gospel. 

Ironically, Charles Colson, a principle author of the ECT, said years before the ECT movement, “Our well-intentioned attempts to influence government can become so entangled with a particular political agenda that it becomes our focus; our goal becomes maintaining political access.  When that happens the gospel is held hostage to a political agenda, and we become part of the very system we were seeking to change.”[22] 

Recently, in 2009, a similar gospel compromise was made in the name of political unity in The Manhattan Declaration.  (Colson was again involved.)  Not only did evangelicals again embrace Roman Catholicism as Christian, but Eastern Orthodoxism as well.[23]

Thus the rejection of Jesus as Lord over the state can and does lead to the rejection of Jesus as Lord and Savior over the church.  And so in this sense there is no separation between church and state:  to reject the Lord of the state is to reject the same Lord over the church; Christ rules over both.  How we approach politics matters.  We never compromise holding to Jesus as Lord over the state by compromising His law, and we never compromise the gospel and thereby destroy the church in the name of political expediency. 

However, not only can Christ’s lordship be denied in political activism that rejects His law.  It can also be denied in rejecting political activism in and of itself.    Some churches have the attitude that says that politics has nothing to do with Christianity.  To hold such a position is to implicitly deny that Christ is Lord of the state.

And if Christ is not Lord of the state, then some other "god" is—whether it be the people, the state itself, or Moloch.  Thus to affirm Christ’s lordship over the church but to deny His lordship over the state is to affirm polytheism. 
Christianity and the rejection of biblical political activism, then, are incompatible. 

     [1] Corwin E. Smidt and James M. Penning, eds., Sojourners in the Wilderness: The Christian Right in Comparative Perspective (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1997), 26, 27.  
     [2] Paul Gottfried, “A Tale of Two Conservatives,” Taki’s Magazine (September 18, 2010). Retrieved January 27, 2010, from
     [3] Ibid.
     [4] Joe Morecraft, “With Liberty & Justice For All: Christian Politics Made Simple,” interview by Chris Arnzen, Iron Sharpens Iron (December 4, 2007).  Retrieved January 27, 2010, from
     [5] Ricardo Davis, On the Lordship of Christ and the Future of the Constitution Party of Georgia, Remarks given at the March 15, 2008 State Convention (Ricardo Davis, 2008), 3.
     [6] Joe Morecraft III, Women Civil Magistrates? (Cumming, GA: Sept. 14, 2008).  Retrieved December 21, 2009, from
     [7] Ibid.
     [8] David Chilton, “What’s Really Wrong With Public Schools?”, The Biblical Educator,  March 1981, vol. 3, no. 3.   Chilton is speaking in the context of public schools, but the same principle applies to civil government.
     [9] Joe Morecraft III, Exclusive Interview: Rev. Joe Morecraft III On The Usefulness (Or Not) Of Political Parties To Rebuild Our Christian Country, John Lofton, ed. (The American View, July 12, 2006).  Retrieved December 21, 2009, from
     [10] Daniel F. N. Ritchie in “A Conservative View of Healthcare,” Xtra Normal (Daniel Ritchie, April 2, 2010). Retrieved May 1, 2010, from
     [11] Ibid.
     [12] Ibid.
     [13] Matthew C. Moen, The Transformation of the Christian Right (Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1992), 159.
     [14] Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law: Volume One  (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973), 47.
     [15] Russell Kirk, Rights and Duties: Reflections on our Conservative Constitution (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing Company, 1997), 142.  Kirk also criticized his “Scottish Covenanting ancestors,” who “aspired nearly to that.” Ibid.
     [16] Ibid.
     [17] Ibid., 192.
     [18] Ibid.
     [19] Rousas John Rushdoony, The Nature of the American System (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1978), 69, 70.
     [20] First Things, Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium (1994).  Retrieved March 15, 2008, from
     [21] Ibid.
     [22] Moen, The Transformation of the Christian Right, 159.
     [23] At the declaration’s beginning, the following is said:  “We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities.”  Manhattan, Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience (2009).  Retrieved June 16, 2010, from
     Notice how the declaration makes Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox adherents to be Christians:  “We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians …”  The document goes on to say “We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right …” (emphasis mine).  R.C. Sproul writes of this document:
     “The drafters of the document, Charles Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George, used deliberate language that is on par with the ecumenical language of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) movement that began in the 1990s. The Manhattan Declaration states, ‘Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God’s Word,’ and it identifies ‘Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelicals’ as ‘Christians.’ The document calls Christians to unite in ‘the Gospel,’ ‘the Gospel of costly grace,’ and ‘the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness.’  Moreover, the document says, ‘it is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season.’” R.C. Sproul, “The Manhattan Declaration: Why Didn’t You Sign It, R.C.?,” Ligonier Ministries (December 8, 2009).  Retrieved June 16, 2010, from

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