HOW THE “NEVER TRUMPERS” WILL NUANCE CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN POLITICS IN THE RUN UP TO 2020.
Rev Thomas Littleton 2/10/2019
Conservative Christians need a wake up call to the political and social activism going on in our midst. We need to know who is trying to influence our “worldview”, our view of social issues and our vote. Christians need to know who and what influences those people and publications who are writing and editing and advocating a “Rethink “of all that defines us. In short we must first know and THINK about the forces attempting to redefine Americans and Christian Faith. There are real reasons behind the often bizarre and confusing discourse of men like Tim Keller and Russell Moore and the organizations they head. This article seeks to shed some helpful light on what is shaping up to be one of the main “conversations ” for change being marketed as a “fire side chat” or “thinking in public” for the run up to the elections of 2020.
AN UNHAPPY CAMPER AT THE DALLAS 2018 SBC CONVENTION
During the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas as Vice President 9MARKS editor and council member of the ERLC Jonathan Leeman tweeted out his displeasure over the SBC invitation to the Vice President of the United States Mike Pence. Leeman quickly penned an article about his feelings which was published by TGC here . https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/truth-power-pence-sbc/ “I’m sitting here at the Southern Baptist Convention. Earlier today Vice President Mike Pence addressed the convention. We were told he initiated the offer to speak. I wish we had not accepted.” He goes on to give his “four reasons why ” while acknowledging that TGC (ERLC for that matter ) justify their own invitations to politicians to speak.
Leeman wrote another article on the reasons why he thought inviting the Vice President to Speak at the SBC meetings in Dallas 2018 was” Controversial” which was published in The Washington Post ,a favorite outlet of progressive political voices in the SBC.
Leeman says “Permit me to remain neutral on Pence himself. Whether you love or hate him, reason one our churches and associations of churches should ordinarily not receive political leaders to address their assemblies is that it goes against the pattern of the entire Bible. You never see Jesus asking the Roman centurion to make an appearance at his next speaking event to “share a word from his heart,” even after the centurion proved to have “great faith.” No, Jesus had a different mission. He taught us to keep church and state separate.”
Leeman’s use of the interaction – or fictional non interaction – between Jesus and the Roman centurion is hardly a contextual one for the TGC expository hardliners.
HILLARY CLINTON INVITED TO SBC BY RUSSELL MOORE IN 2015
There was no outcry when ERLC head Russell Moore invited Hillary Clinton(who did not accept the invitation ) to the SBC 2015 meetings as reported in this TGC 2018 article. The pushback appears to be over office holders or candidates from the GOP being invited .
” In spite of his Baptist background, Bill Clinton never addressed the SBC. George W. Bush addressed the SBC in 2002. President Obama never addressed the SBC. It was not hard to see a pattern that had developed. In spite of SBC leaders’ routine insistence that the convention was and is not affiliated with any political party, the SBC had become firmly aligned with the GOP. (Russell Moore did invite Hillary Clinton to speak at an ERLC forum in 2015, but she declined.)”
LEEMAN’S UNKNOWN BACKGROUND AND THIRD WAY MESSAGE INCLUDING PRO-LIFE
In an interview from the 9MARKS meetings at the same SBC 2018 meetings, Leeman discussed his book with a group of SBC pastors who got a heavy dose of nuancing on the problems of being a “single issue (pro-life) voter “. In the interview Dever boasted in the Q &A that Leeman holds a Masters degree from London School of Economics. This fact is not part of Leeman’s biographies on TGC/ ERLC/ 9MARKS or other organizations Leeman works with. When recently asked about this omission he responded that the did not want it to seem boastful. Problems with the influences from liberal globalist politics and economics as well as the Fabian Socialist founding of LSE make non disclosure problematic by an influential member of the SBC writing books , teaching, working in our Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission ,and on a national tour promoting “Rethinking” our political engagement . More on this issue and the nuancing of the pro life discussion with Mark Dever is discussed in the link below .
LEEMAN WILL NOT ANSWER A QUESTION ABOUT HIS PAST EMPLOYMENT
On January 22nd of 2019 this author asked Jonathan Leeman if he would identify the name of a global economics magazine he worked as an editor for in DC which is included but NOT NAMED in his bio . Leeman responded -showing displeasure – but would not answer.
“Jonathan . Hello we spoke on twitter. I have your book “How the Nations Rage” and am finishing it soon. I saw in your bio that you ” worked as an editor for an international economics magazine in Washington, D. C. ” Would you say which publication. Thanks . Thomas”
Response – “Thomas, Forgive me for adopting a severe tone, but I’m not sure why you would expect me to trust you…. If I were to give you the benefit of the doubt, the best I can say is, you maligned me in your first article in sincere ignorance (not that I understand why one Christian would ever malign another w/o due diligence; non-Christian reporters do better). But for you to continue as you’ve begun, having been corrected several times, is for you to choose deception. Let me encourage you to take a better route”
– Leeman would not disclose the name of the publication while he accuses the author of “choosing deception” . In the same way he does not disclose his London School of Economics political education in his biography . He does discuss the LSE background briefly in this interview . https://www.bhacademicblog.com/an-interview-with-jonathan-leeman-on-baptist-foundations/
TGC 2019 LECTURES ON “THINKING IN PUBLIC” WITH ALBERT MOHLER “RETHINKING FAITH AND POLITICS ” FROM LEEMANS BOOK
“Join us for a live recording of Thinking in Public with Albert Mohler and Jonathan Leeman. Each attendee will receive a Southern Seminary mug and be entered to win a library of 100 books from Southern Seminary faculty.”
JONATHAN LEEMAN’S APPROACH TO RETHINKING FAITH AND POLITICS STRIKES A DISTINCT THIRD WAY TONE ADVOCATING CHRISTIANS HAVE A “POLITICAL REBOOT”
“Religious liberty feels in jeopardy today, as cultural power brokers grow ever more suspicious of Christianity. Meanwhile, Christians cannot agree with one another politically. Some want to strengthen the evangelical voting bloc. Others advise focusing on social-justice causes. Still others would leave the public square to get on with the so-called spiritual work of the church. Prominent Christian leaders criticize one another in the news. Members of church small groups find themselves divided and angry. Clearly, Christians in America need a political reboot.”
“Jonathan Leeman, a scholar of political theology who has taught at various seminaries, believes this restart begins in local churches. Before we can truly do good and do justice, we need to be a good and just people. We cannot talk with integrity about family values if our marriages are falling apart. Or advocate for tax policy changes if we’re not being generous with fellow believers. The restart needed is conversion. Conversion makes us first citizens of Christ’s kingdom and then puts us to work as ambassadors to the world. Our focus must shift from redeeming the nation to living as a redeemed nation. Only when we realize that the life of our churches now is the hope of the nation tomorrow will we be the salt and light Jesus calls us to be.”
LEEMANS BOOK IS ENDORSED BY SOME OF TGC’s LEADING “RETHINKERS” WHO CITE ITS ALTERNATIVE TONE
ENDORSEMENTS of “How the Nations Rage ”
“What has the church to do with politics? Is there a proper, biblically informed relationship between church and state? In How the Nations Rage, Leeman exhorts the church neither to withdraw from nor to dominate the political sphere, but to represent heaven to a world in turmoil. What timely counsel, especially to the American church! This work is highly accessible and deserving of praise.”
– John MacArthur, Pastor Grace Community Church Sun Valley California
“The last 20 years, evangelical Christians have been politically mobilized in an outpouring of moral concern and political engagement. Is this a good development? To what extent should Christians be involved in the political process? In his new book, How the Nations Rage, Jonathan Leeman provides a careful and theologically compelling treatment of the relationship between faith and politics. This book is an urgently needed resource for Christians seeking to faithfully integrate their Christian commitments with their political engagement. Leeman is careful, cogent, and unflinchingly biblical in his presentation. This book deserves careful consideration by any Christian who seeks to walk faithfully in the public square.”
– R. Albert Mohler President of SBTS
RACIALLY FOCUSED AND SOCIAL JUSTICE PROMOTER TISBY GIVES HARDY AND INSIGHTFUL TAKE ON THE POLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS -“SQUIRMING ”
Jonathan Leeman’s How the Nations Rage contains truths that will make any Christian—Republican, Democrat, Independent or otherwise—squirm, and that’s what makes it worthwhile. In this time of political polarization, Leeman offers an opportunity for people to step back from the headlines and the harangues to re-evaluate what it means to represent Christ in the public square and one’s local community. If read carefully, How the Nations Rage, can smooth some of the sharp edges of our current political discourse and move people of faith toward being truth tellers and peacemakers instead of mere partisans.”
– Jemar Tisby, President, The Witness, a Black Christian Collective; Co-Host, “Pass The Mic” podcast
FELLOW ERLC COUNCIL MEMBER AND FRINGE ACTIVIST GIVES A HARDY HIGH FIVE
“These are fraught political times, both inside and outside the church. The “culture wars” model of the previous century has proven inadequate in addressing the polarization of our current social climate. How the Nations Rage provides a more mature, deeply biblical, and much needed pastoral understanding of the relationship between the church and the public square. In these pages, Leeman balances correction and encouragement, as well as principle and wisdom.”
– Karen Swallow Prior, author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions–The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer Abolitionist
ERLC November 2018
“Christians are rethinking their relationship with politics as American culture moves away from certain moral Christian principles. Jonathan Leeman, author of How The Nations Rage, joins Steven, Travis, and Jeff at the Leland House to talk about the church, the state, and how to have confidence in this divided age. From the conversation:”
“What I’m trying to help readers do is to understand what is the state, what is the church, how to read the bible politically, what is justice, and perhaps most importantly, envigorate, encourage, and inspire with a vision of the the church as this embassy of light, of justice and righteousness that shows a model to the nations of how we can move forward with a happy confidence of what God is doing, whether America gets better or worse.” – Jonathan Leeman
GET READY FOR TGCs TOUR OF THE NEVER TRUMPERS HIP HOP /SOCK HOP FOR YOUNG AND OLD.
Leeman’s book offers a rambling set of perspective enabling stories that cover a range of conflicted souls on their own journeys .The emotional discussion is laid out for Christians on the usual divisive topics like” finding solutions ” for modern positions on age old divisive issues between Christians and culture like abortion, homosexuality, race etc.etc.etc.
WAKE UP AND SMELL THE …WHATEVER THIS IS GOING ON
Christians in the SBC and The Gospel Coalition must begin at some point to make lives easier on themselves as they attempt to understand what is taking place with their leaders like Leeman and those who endorse this book . Their leaders hate their predictable and conservative voting patterns. They hate Trump- or at least that he was elected. They are far more comfortable either appearing on CNN or at home watching it than you are with your Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. They must assume you are not very smart and assume of course that you will assume the best of them and their intentions. They would never want to think you believe they would act as if they set in a room with someone offering them something in return for using their influence ( and even your $$$ that pays their salaries) over you for something like something influence peddling . You would never think something like that could happen . Except perhaps the millions of Christian voters who were looking high and low for the source of the smell after the 2016 elections and the long endless moans of the Evangelical Deep State elite. Do they really object that much to Donald J Trump or are they just disappointed Democrats ? Some are no longer asking the question about operatives like ERLC’s Russell Moore . By the end of the 2020 election the same will likely be true of many more of our political thinkers and rethinkers .
The answers provided , though presented most often in theological terms ,certainly bear the greater, more defined marks of the authors political philosophy training and underlying disdain for classic conservative Christian political views. The discussion projects an assumed political spirituality and political /theological mixture including and espousing a mangled sort of collectivist thinking about Christian faith in the public square, a submission to authority that is requisite for both salvation and healthy identity for the believer .
Knowing some of Leeman’s other work on “Church Discipline”, pastoral and elder authority and the SBC 9MARKS review on the book focusing on “a plurality of elders” as the answer for the poor little lost Christian in Leeman’s world view creates some doubts. This author was made to feel as though we are being primed to not feel confident about living out our own “deeply held religious convictions ” in the public square or in the voting booth. There is an unsettling notion indicating we will by some forces of natural and divine law be compelled to look to Leeman and TGC leaders like Moore/ Mohler / Keller/ Macarthur ….and dare we think it Karen Swallow Prior -for guidance on how to live and vote in the future.
Leeman starts off with pointing out the book’s opening was written on the evening of the 4th of July while he was filled with emotions and recalling the patriotic sights and sounds of PBS celebrations on the Mall in DC. Perhaps from the start Leeman wants us to see him as a real Yankee Doodle Dandy or perhaps he simply wants to conjure up in us the sentiments he describes to make us pliable for what is to come, This is political philosophy in play here, not just patriotic emotions .The book book ends with several quotes in the last chapter from the current ERLC favorite social justice and wealth redistribution warrior John Perkins His final quote in the book is from Perkins “True justice is wrapped up in love” .They are “intimately tied together “.
TGC /ERLC ARE FORCING THE CREATION OF A SOCIAL JUSTICE VOTER BLOCK
Leeman considered naming the book something like “Reboot” or “Rebooting Politics ” which perhaps makes one think of Hillary again with her SOS office big with the BIG red RESET button ( something that got lost in translation by the way). Leeman certainly intends his approach and the answers he provides to be or appear to be “heart-felt” and “Justice Driven ” . He frames his final thoughts in a “more robust practice of justice ” and goes on to offer comments on “Love of Nation” and “Hope for the Nation”. In reality TGCs broader political narrative ,of which Leeman is a part, insist we must reconsider how deeply harmful our evangelical identity is to the Gospel. Christians who stand for conservative faith and family values about abortion, gay marriage, secure borders, holding candidates and one another accountable are somehow suddenly so egregious and inflammatory that we should disown our identity and redefine ourselves. Otherwise the risk is to lose the hope of gaining the culture by acclimating to it . The harsh light of history and pure light of Scripture soundly disprove these foolish notions. We impact our world be being salt and light in it.
Believers Are Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
A REALLY BIG MESS – THE TRUE POLITICAL OVERHAUL – LEEMAN/ MOHLER/ PRIOR ARE ADVOCATING
The most compelling part of Leeman’s discussion of his approach is in considering the outcome of his efforts in light of the word picture he paints for it. In his zero budget/ deconstructionist approach Leeman likens Joe Christian as having a big pot of stew containing chunks of meat and carrots and potatoes already in it. Leeman insists all these contents must be removed and seems to thoughtlessly suggest we ” dump it all out on the counter ” and “Start over” with just the approved- justified essentials allowed back in. All this author could see in this word picture or envision in the coming TGC / ERLC effort to force this political RETHINK is the mess it is going to make. A picture of a young Leeman and the boyish looking Russell Moore and kid sister Karen Swallow Prior – playing in the kitchen – under the watchful eye of big brothers Mohler and MacArthur and instigator middle child Mark Dever urging them on as the mess is made. These look to have ZERO consideration in their efforts for the mess OR they have the full assumption that someone else will have to clean it up. Wait until mom gets home – or the people in the pew who have already had enough Obamanomics and social justice policy. They are happy with their own STEW and voting decisions thank you very much.
Jonathan is quoting Perkins to sound like this effort is driven by love -while he should be looking at the fact that Truth is as important as Love and being motivated by BOTH is essential. “The Nations Raging TGC/ ERLC tour ” is on and already going national . BUT- Let’s get real TGC/ ERLC guys -the motivation here is political not spiritual.
Ephesians 4:12-16 (NKJV)
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the [a]edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.