Friday, April 04, 2008

Emerging Politics

For a long time, I have been reassessing my political beliefs. Aaron challenged me a while back to develop a political approach that mirrored the emerging church. My reassessing predates that challenge, but ever since that challenge, it has been running around in my head more frequently. Additionally, the results (so far) of the 2008 political campaign have given me a chance to reassess things since I am for the first time in my life an "undecided." I thought originally that I would wait until I had some answers to share before I blogged about it, but I have decided instead to start a conversation. So, I'm going to just start talking about what I'm thinking about without any answers in sight. I hope you'll join me on the journey.

About 5-6 years ago, I went through a process of reassessing my theological beliefs, which ultimately led to the existence of Vintage Fellowship. That was an interesting process for me because I feel like it led me to a very unusual place, like a theologian without a home. Much of what I grew up with and was taught in college or wrote in my ordination paper, I continue to affirm. As has been documented here, for instance, I remain a Calvinist, needing to believe in a big God. But other things have been abandoned. For instance, I am no longer a Baptist. Additionally, I have adopted an approach to theology that is far less certain and, in my estimation, far more humble and hopeful. I don't claim to know all the answers. I try not to demonize those who disagree with me. And I am willing to ask a lot of questions, even questions about things that others in my more theologically conservative past would deem unquestionable.

Politically speaking, I think I am moving in a similar direction. Like I am skeptical of the ecclesiastical structures of the established church (I really like the term "postdenominational"), so too, I am skeptical of the partisan structures of the political establishment ("postpartisan"?). While I remain a Conservative, needing to believe in a small government, I am questioning whether I will remain a Republican. I have come to reject the certitude of the God-and-Country patriotism of the Religious Right. I am also refusing to demonize those who have a different political philosophy than me. And ... I am asking myself a lot of questions, questions that I will post in an upcoming blog entry.

Ultimately, I think I can say with some degree of confidence that this political evolution on my part is initially one of attitude. (This is similar, again, to the theological process I went through). The evolution of particular beliefs and approaches will come in time as fruit of a more humble, more honest, and more hopeful perspective.


Matthew said...

Oh well, as a registered independent, I'd like to welcome you to the glorious realm of the "straddled fence" and the "lesser evil." ;-)

And we can have some wonderful discussions (disagreements, arguments, hair-pulling, fist fights, block wars, whatever) on the proper role of government in society and the general scheme of things. Oh--it will be ever so much fun!

Myself, I probably should be a Rebublican...after all the vast majority of my friends and practically anyone in my life who has been even remotely edifying to me has been a Republican. The problem is...I just don't identify with them. Never have. I agree with a lot of what they believe and claim to believe, but I also disagree with some fairly key points of the party line. Furthermore, in my lifetime they seem to have failed to live up to a lot of the principles they claim to hold. I waited 8 years for them to fix social security, reduce regulation, cut spending, and shrink the government. In that time, they did pretty much the opposite of what I helped vote them in there to do. Also, they basically embraced a number of the evils that I had previously associated with their opposite number. What am I to think?

Culturally, I have as much in common with the average Republican as I do with the average Martian. The term Family Values means almost nothing to me (of course, it doesn't come up so much any more, so I guess the point is moot).

I'd like to call myself a libertarian, but as a practical matter, the term doesn't really mean much. There are left-aligned libertarians who vote with the Democrats and right-aligned libertarians who vote with the Republicans (assuming they vote at all), so you basically wind up with the same old dichotomy. Of course, you can throw away your vote for a libertarian candidate but don't expect to see him/her in office.

Enough rambling. I think Machiavelli might have some interesting perspectives for you, but I'm going to go home and dig out my book before I can subjec-er, umm...share them with you.

Oh...and before Anonymous gets around to it, you're a bad person and a poor excuse of a Christian for not being...well...whatever the heck Anonymous is supposed to be (judging from it's last anarchist?) and not living up to Anonymous's impossibly high yet undefined standards. ;-)

Clint said...

You should definitely read Jesus for President if you haven't already. "reassessing beliefs" is an understatement.

It's like starting out with the intentions of doing a kitchen renovation and ending up with a pile of rubble where the house used to and all!!!

That's a teaser and a warning.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the dark side my friend!! Both parties are corrupt and they will do anything to keep others out.

Two Party System Politics Agenda
1. Power
2. Special Interests
3. Do all you can to keep another party out.

Robb said...

Yeah, something tells me that I am not going to end up very close to where Michael Savage is. He doesn't strike me as a very gracious person. Attitude before positions.

Matthew said...


Just out of idle curiosity, are there any institutions you do not think are corrupt?

Anonymous said...

"Yea marriage is wonderful institution but I've heard you've gotta be nuts in an institution" -Gene Simmons

Mankind is corrupt - I'm sorry that I ever made man. God

Anonymous said...

Mr. Robb, Mr. Savage isn't very gracious? Is the bible God? Since God has already decided who will be saved and who will not, there is nothing humans can do to change this. You belive as I do that God has preordained everything, he knows beforehand who will and who will not receive salvation, a "big God" per your words. Is this gracious? Calvinism=Gracious Hmmm!!

Robb said...

Mr. Anonymous,

Maybe you are more of an astute theologian than I. We wouldn't know because you still haven't given us the link to your blog. But isn't Calvinism widely regarded as the "doctrines of grace"? Doesn't Calvinism teach that all of us deserve eternal damnation under the infinite wrath of God? And yet, God, not because we have earned it or deserved it, has chosen a different destiny for us? That seems pretty gracious to me.

Anonymous said...


1. Joe is either - Saved or damned to hell.
2. God is all-knowing, therefore can never make a mistake, and knows all events "Big God".
3. God knows that Joe will be damned and not saved.
4. Therefore, Joe must be a damned as he cannot be saved.
5. Therefore Joe could not choose between being saved and damned.
6. If God is all-knowing, then he knows who will be saved and who will be damned, and he knows which ones (including God himself)who will be involved in which events, and God cannot be mistaken.
7. Therefore all existences must be involved in all events as previously known by God.
8. Therefore no existence can choose between any of the events.

This why I am a Calvinist, I know I am not Joe.