First published on Christian Converser
This is the longest series of posts ever written on this blog, but that’s not been intentional. It just seems this theme keeps on going with new events and insight, and so a new part is added.
The annual Southern Baptist Convention is being held this weekend in Nashville, TN, and will have to address many controversies that have occurred in the past year. A great deal of these continue to revolve around secular politics in the USA, as seems to be almost inevitable for the evangelical community over there, and is a salutory lesson for evangelicals worldwide about the perils of political entanglement on the scale that it is currently practiced in the United States, which is almost unparalleled elsewhere in the Western World.
For the purposes of expanding and extending theological knowledge, the authorship of this blog keeps a watch on events and situations within the Christian church worldwide. The United States seems to dominate everything of a Christian flavour, which we believe is typical of the culture of US society as a whole. As we wrote in the earlier parts of this series, the desire for theocracy appears to be very strong in conservative evangelicalism in the US, both in the case of the nation of Israel and in the nation of the US itself. The theocratic support for Israel is justified by an interpretation of certain Bible verses which imply special favour. This and other considerations seem to imply the US has a desire to be dominant in the church worldwide.
Not all US conservatives agree with this position taken by evangelicals. Rod Dreher of the American Conservative website has taken a position supportive of Moore, which he articulated in a post soon after the 2016 election that brought Donald Trump to the office of POTUS. In noting this view, we should be clear that Moore was viciously attacked by some SBC pastors who believed his role was to advocate for them in the Trump White House. Dreher makes clear in his article just exactly why Trump’s election was such a coup for these church leaders – because few in Republican administrations prior to Trump actually took much notice of Christian lobbyists. Here’s a quote from just such a person: “This message that has been sent out to Christians for a long time now: that Jesus came primarily for a political agenda, and recently primarily a right-wing political agenda – as if this culture war is a war for God. And it’s not a war for God, it’s a war for politics. And that’s a huge difference…”
This blog is getting round to the view that the political war that is being waged within the US evangelical community in recent years is probably motivated not just by a desire for supremacy in US life, but for supremacy over the Church worldwide. There have, of course, been many different ways that different groups have claimed some measure of this over the years. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, claimed that the members of their church were the 144,000 given a special status in the Book of Revelation. Most cults, in fact, claim that their members have something similar. In this blog a lot has been written about Revelation which has become a highly controversial book of the Bible because of the widely varying interpretations of it and especially the views espoused by futurists through premillenialism, dispensationalism and other controversial theologies. Christian nationalism in the US is focused on the idea that theocracy should be the most important objective of their evangelical community – although it tends to be more a preference of the white, rather than black, churches there.
Dreher’s article lays out very clearly why Moore has lost the confidence of some in the SBC – simply because he has eschewed the political entanglement cult. He made it clear he would not vote for either candidate in the 2016 elections and called out what he saw as massive hypocrisy within the evangelical community he had grown up in and was now elected to represent. This blog is enamoured to discover Moore rejects the cult of dispensationalism, which is another factor that points to his strong theological grounding and insight. The real issue that Moore highlights is that the younger generation of evangelical leadership in the US does not have the same kind of adherence to political activism as their predecessors. This generational shift is likely to weaken the power base of older evangelicals which probably explains the kind of political jockeying that has been taking place recently in the SBC and explains why it has been compared with a retirement home. It points to an overdue change and shift that is necessary in the Church particularly in the US to be more responsive to the cultural issues in their society and actually focus on preaching the Gospel and that can only be good. In other words, a Church where it is possible to hold conservative theological views and yet have a free choice according to one’s conscience of whom one should vote for – something that this blog wholeheartedly agrees with and endorses. With such a trend coming through in the US evangelical community, the future of the Church there will be in good hands. This then implies that the church there can start to become a real force in society again and experience significant future growth as long as it gives up its expectations of special privilege in US society and in the Church worldwide, in accordance with the key theme set out in this series of posts.