“Politics is God”

Given the amount of column inches and air-time given to politics, one could be forgiven for thinking that politics is actually a religion, or even a deity with Sovereign and Savior-like qualities. But no one really believes that do they?

In the communist era maybe, but not today, right?

In Russia maybe, but not in the USA, right?

In the extreme left of the Democratic party maybe, but not among conservatives, right?

Think again, last week, in the USA, a highly respected conservative journalist revealed that politics is his god. Dr Charles Krauthammer (yes, I’m afraid so) used his Washington Post column as a call to worship with him:

For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics…Because if we don’t get politics right, everything else risks extinction…

We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics — in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations — is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it…

Fairly or not, politics is the driver of history. It will determine whether we will live long enough to be heard one day [he means heard by aliens – I’ll get to that!]

I find this so hard to believe, coming as it does from a man whose opinions I respect and whose character I’ve admired. “Everything depends on politics…politics is sovereign…politics is the driver of history…politics determines the length of our lives and of the earth’s existence.”

(By the way, if you substitute “Jesus Christ” for “politics” in these quotes, you come pretty close to an orthodox confession of faith. But that would never have got past the Washington Post censors, would it!)

I found it doubly hard to believe because it came in the same article that Krauthammer expressed the opinion that extra-terrestrial life exists and that it shall soon be discovered, even within the next few years!

At this point, my incredulity was so far off the scale that I double-checked to see if it was all written tongue in cheek. I wasn’t sure which claim was the most outlandish, that politics was God, or that ET was just around the corner. But I couldn’t find any evidence that Krauthammer had written with his tongue in his cheek or with a New Year’s dram in his mouth.

And people say believing in God is difficult! For all my interest in politics, I find it easier to believe that ET will phone us one day than that politics is our last best hope. If ever there was an opportune time to call everyone away from vain hopes of societal transformation via politics, it’s now. The problems are too huge, the people are too small, the proposed policies are too trivial.

While Christians should strongly support the political process and play an active role, we must do so with the base belief that neither the best personalities nor the best policies give us any hope of “saving” a nation. If we believe otherwise, we are dishonoring God by substituting an idol for Him, and risk  therefore forfeiting His all-too-necessary blessing. We are also doomed to despair.

We so desperately need politicians who recognize and confess the limitations of even the best politics and policitians, and who will say instead, “Everything depends on God…God is sovereign…God is the driver of history…God determines the length of our lives and of the earth’s existence…Therefore let’s seek His blessing by honoring Him in all we say and do.”

Alternatively, and more briefly: “In God we trust.”

Lunch Links

How to end 2011 and begin 2012
May I wish all my blog readers a happy and holy 2012, and offer Doug Phillips’ post as a great way to start the new year.

The Year Ahead
Don Sweeting takes a “prophetic” look at 2012.

Keeper of the great seal of heaven
As John Flavel is my favorite Puritan, and as Brian Croft’s recommendations are always worth listening to, this book has just been slotted in at #4 in the 2012 reading list.

The Tide is turning
Trevin Wax compiles a list of comments on a recent 37 week abortion to build hope that perhaps the tide is beginning to turn on the abortion issue.

Top 50 iPad Apps
Just in case you wanted to pour more money into Apple’s coffers.

Republican Leadership “Fail”

It looks like the frantic and desperate and search for a non-Romney candidate has failed. On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, the leadership skills of each candidate have been tried and found wanting. Where did they go wrong? Although much could be said, I’m going to highlight just one leadership lesson from each failed candidacy.

And I include Romney in this “fail” too, because although it looks like he will eventually soon emerge as the nominee, his continued inability to capture the hearts of most Republicans, despite the “carnage” of fails around him, is a terrible reflection on his own candidacy.

Rick Perry: Think fast, speak clearly.
A leader must be able to communicate clearly and confidently, not just in set speeches, but in debates and interviews too. You can press the hot-buttons of pro-life and traditional marriage as often as you want, but it will never make up for an inability to think on your feet and articulate your thoughts under pressure.

Michelle Baachman: Be positive and happy.
People want leaders who are not just against things, but who also present a positive and hopeful message. Happy leaders are usually popular leaders.

Rick Santorum: Be a friend of tax-collectors and sinners
There’s a difference between being the moral-values candidate and being the holier-than-thou candidate, If you’re going to take the moral high ground, you must not make people feel as if you are looking down your nose at them.

John Huntsman: You can be superior without making people feel inferior
If Santorum sabotaged himself with an air of moral superiority, Huntsmen did himself in with an air of intellectual superiority. No one ever connected with the masses by projecting the image of a pin-stripped diplomat or of an intellectual snob.

Ron Paul: Distinguish between personal preferences and people’s needs
You can have lots of great ideas, but two or three loopy policies will close people’s ears to anything you say.  In a time of great national peril, Paul sadly and selfishly  failed to distinguish between what the nation desperately needs (fiscal responsibility) and his own personal hobby horses (e.g. legalizing of Class A drugs and prostitution). Sometimes pragmatism is a moral virtue.

Herman Cain: Be sure your sins will find you out
Cain was finished as soon as he starting aggressively attacking his accusers. We’ve all seen guilty people react this way. An innocent man in his position would surely have come in front of the media and said something like, “As a man of great moral integrity, I’m humbled and shaken by these accusations. Having prayed over this before God, I can honestly say that I have a clear conscience. However, I’m deeply concerned for the women making these allegations, and plan to meet with each of them to see if I have ever done anything that would have made them say what they are saying.”

Newt Gingrich: People hate hypocrisy
Newt grasps the size of the nation’s problems, and has the brain and courage to produce the necessary policies, but he’ll never get the opportunity because of his moral and financial hypocrisy.  Although he seemed to be overcoming the moral failings with his “redemption and forgiveness narrative,” the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac “history lessons” millions ruined the story.

Mitt Romney: Say “Sorry.”
Mitt Romney would have had so much more and so much warmer support if he’d simply said sorry for Romneycare. The defense that, “It was a tailor-made solution for my own state and never intended to be a model for the rest of the nation,” just doesn’t make any sense to anybody but his campaign.

Far better to have said, “We were pioneers in trying to find solutions to healthcare problems. I don’t apologize for trying, but with the benefit of hindsight, it’s obvious that we made mistakes for which I apologize. And with the benefit of that experience, I’m now in a position to lead our nation forward in finding a solution that will combine fiscal with moral responsibility.” Is it too late to say that? Of course, that alone won’t win over everybody to Romney. But it would at least indicate that he is sympathetic to, and wants to be supported by, the Tea-partiers and other Americans who rightly fear the over-reach of government into their lives.

Although I’ve picked out a flaw, in some cases a fatal flaw, in each of these candidacies, I think we must also express considerable admiration for the courage and sacrifice it takes to put oneself up for election in today’s media climate. America has thousands of leaders, from all walks of life, who would make better Presidents than any of the present candidates. They have all the character, morality, experience, knowledge, skills and abilities to lead this great country. But when they look at the moral and social consequences for themselves, their families, and their friends, they conclude that the cost is simply too high. That’s understandable, but deeply regrettable.

While we continue to pray for better leaders and for those in authority over us, it’s at times like these when it really is a comfort to remember Christ’s words, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Children’s Bible Reading Plan (60)

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

The first 6 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

Daily List: 11 Trends in Biblical Counseling in 2011

Bob Kellemen traces 11 trends in Biblical Counseling in 2011.

11. An Increasingly Positive Perspective and Presentation

10. A Growing Appreciation for the History of Christian Soul Care

9. An Expanding Second and Third Generation of Leaders

8. A Maturing Emphasis on Compassionate Care

7. A Developing Culturally-Informed Approach

6. A Blossoming Collegial Spirit

5. A Nuanced, Comprehensive Model

4. An Ongoing and Increasingly “Balanced” Commitment to Progressive Sanctification

3. A Robust Presentation of the Sufficiency of Scripture

2. A Focused Vision for the Entire Church

1. A Maturing Gospel-Centered Focus

Read his exposition of each point here.