Thursday, August 11, 2011

Should your tithe go to a lobbyist? (Part 3)

Part 1, Part 2

Here's a different take on the issue. If you subscribe to the Dominion theology school, then you will probably say "Yes" to my question. The wiki definition:
"Dominion Theology is a grouping of theological systems with the common belief that society should be governed exclusively by the law of God as codified in the Bible, to the exclusion of secular law (and) in which the Kingdom of God will be established on Earth through political and (in some cases) even military means."

Ryan Lizza has followed Michelle Bachmann for years and wrote this recent piece in The New Yorker. Lizza explores the spiritual roots of Bachmann's political beliefs, including Dominionism. Bachmann, like many on the Religious Right, was influenced by Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer's ideas have become repopularized lately by people like Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, who together wrote the Schaeffer-inspired How Now Shall We Live (which I read and led a group study on in college. I should say I'm not sure Pearcey should be lumped in with some of the others in the article).

You can read the article for yourself, research the various names, and draw your own conclusions.

I find an odd symmetry on the far religious Left and Right.  Dominionists on the Right and Liberation Theology or Christian Anarchist types on the left seem bent on using political means to dictate what they believe to be biblical outcomes (both sides also approve of violent change in some cases).  For Schaeffer, John Rushdooney, and the Right, it's an Old Testament-style theocracy with Austrian (Von Mises school) economics at the core.  For Jim Wallis and those on the Left, it's essentially communism, and the focus is more socio-economic. Both sides openly hate each other. Both sides have co-opted philosophies of non-Christians for their own use (even though Nancy Pearcey is quoted as saying that all systems created by nonbelievers "must be false"). And churches in both camps currently spend a large amount of resources lobbying and working to change laws and government, and not so much the Church.   (Both extremes scare me.)


Mark Van Steenwyk said...

I'm not sure how your critique fits Christian Anarchists. Christian Anarchists almost always advocate for autonomy rather than trying to use the political machine to force change. said...

Yeah that is crazy! I have unfortunately never read Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto so I really cannot speak to where he lies along this continuum. I have read several of his other works and am familiar with Pearcey as well. In Total Truth I do not think she was calling for a political revolution but rather being able to address the philosophies, held by individuals, that shape our culture.

I think we should shape culture, through living and proclaiming the gospel, not through legislation. The fundamental human problem is only addressed by the gospel; you cannot legislate a solution for man’s rebellion against God. I feel a lot of our political talk is unique to the American situation and cannot be applied in a communist country or by believers under Sharia law; because of that I find most of what I hear to be problematic.

Dominion and Liberation theology both deny the gospel in that humanity’s fundamental problem is political. A lot of pro-Israel people, which means a lot of the SBC, are closet Dominion Theologians. This comes through their recognition of modern Israel as the fulfillment of prophecy and the coming of the kingdom is now dependent upon Israel and the US blowing up everyone who opposes Israel. Every time I hear some pastor referencing the future of Israel, in relation to some military conflict and not the gospel, I vomit in my mouth!

On a different note I really enjoyed The Subversion of Christianity by Jacques Ellul but a lot of people consider him an anarchist :) . . . but not in the way that liberation theologians are.

I have no idea if any of that is useful information.

JDTapp said...

Thanks for the comments.
Mark, if you visit the Jesus Radicals (Christian anarchist) website, you'll always see a list of political actions they implore readers to take. Whether it be lobbying congress, protest march, a sit-in, or whatever. There is a lot of talk about changing laws among those professed anarchists.

JDTapp said...

So, Keith, how do you feel about your tithe? If you don't like it going to Land or similar stuff, do you wrestle with dropping it in the plate? That's a personal question but a serious one. said...

We are a part of a baptistic network not affiliated with the SBC.

JDTapp said...

My fault, I remember now. You're probably much more at peace than I am then. :^) And much more loved by your peers.

Mark Van Steenwyk said...

Hmm. I'm one of the editors of Jesus Radicals. We accept reader submissions. While most folks who write for the site affirm protest and direct action, that isn't necessarily the same thing as "forcing change." It all has to do with whether or not you see the action/protest as an act of prophetic witness, or as an act of political leverage. There is a big difference there and reveals a lack of political imagination if one cannot see the difference.

Show me three pots that advocate the changing of a law.

JDTapp said...

Mark, there are numerous posts advocating changes in fiscal policy (ie: laws regarding taxes and government spending). The protest against oil extraction in the tar sands is another example of trying to change laws and policies. Otherwise, I don't think you'd be advocating a White House sit-in.

Mark Van Steenwyk said...

There is a leap that you are taking that to witness against the government is advocating for legal changes or, perhaps, coercing change. That is not an assumption I am making in such actions.