December 14, 2017

Bob is Angry on Election Day

UPDATE: How did Jesus Fight The Culture War?

UPDATE II: Why angry Bob is angry?

Today being election day, and many of my evangelical friends being in somewhat of a foul mood, for reasons that, as of 12:28 p.m., are suspected and not yet clear, I found myself thinking about a fellow I’ll call Bob.

I met Bob while I was on sabbatical. He was a very dedicated conservative evangelical, and a pleasant enough fellow….when he wasn’t angry. And Bob was angry. Angry, afraid, frustrated and ready for a fight.

Bob was your stereotypical culture war evangelical. He was a Jesus follower, but his passion was what was going on in America, particularly the issues we broadly call the culture war: atheistic advances in the public schools, restrictions on Christian practice in the public square, the aggressive agenda of homosexual rights advocates.

Bob was obviously devoted to Christian and conservative media, particularly radio. He believed what he heard. Dobson. Point of View. 700 Club. There was some Michael Savage in there. Some short wave programs from the Art Bell side of the dial. And all the usual culture war channels on Christian radio and television.

In general, Bob was stuffed full of information that was only available through his devotion to a kind of Christian underground pirate radio, web sites and a regular diet of Christian authorities convinced the culture war was all-important.

Bob was mad and he was mad that more people weren’t mad. Of course, most people didn’t know what Bob knew. They had the general outlines of the problems, and sided with Bob on the issues, but few people had Bob’s zealous focus on the culture war. On more than one occasion, Bob’s assessment of the situation of Christians vs militant atheists, homosexual activists and the rising time of Islamists was quite similar to the attitude of the Confederacy. Secede and arm yourselves. This is a real war.

Now…Bob was part of a local church, but as you can imagine, he wasn’t very happy with his church either because…..that’s right, they didn’t see the situation to be quite as dire as Bob did. I had the feeling that more than a few people in Bob’s church might not be looking to share a cup of coffee with him after the service. Intense fellow, that Bob.

I was only around Bob for a few days, but in those few days I saw a kind of Christian for whom the term “culture warrior” and not the term “disciple” was much more applicable. Emphasis on the “Warrior.” This was Jesus vs Allah; Jesus vs Dawkins; Jesus vs Hollywood…and it’s time for the followers of Jesus to see the most recent Rambo movie or WWE event for some inspiration.

Of course, politics was Bob’s game. Christians had to rise up and vote in order to take back the culture. We are losing because we won’t fight in the arena of political power.

I imagine Bob’s not very happy on this election day. I’m guessing he’s voting for Chuck Baldwin and is upset that more Christians aren’t doing the same. I’m sure he has a small library of information on Obama that none of us have heard, even on Fox. I’m sure he’s alarmed and is frustrated that many of us aren’t taking the threat seriously.

Bob wants good things for his country, family and fellow believers. He sincerely believes those good things are closely related to freedom, conservatism, traditionalism and Christianity. He senses the death of a kind of Christian dominated culture, and he wants to fight with all he’s worth — even with weapons if necessary — to keep his rights and his Christian heritage.

Over at his blog today, Frank Turk basically said this:

Pray. Vote. Then Pray again. Then go live like a disciple of Jesus.

Bob, are you listening?

Michael- and the many readers of this blog- are you listening?

Go live like a disciple.

It’s hard to say this, but Bob isn’t seeing the big picture. Our American culture war is not worth the demise of authentic discipleship. Trading following Christ in love, even in post-Christian times, for fighting and defensiveness, is a bad trade. Bob is frightened. Our faith says “Fear not.” Bob says prepare to fight. Our faith says prepare to love.

I am particularly impressed that these days should call us together in real community, not separate us according to Christian media audience niche. There are some helpful voices out there in the culture war, but I’d like to suggest that it’s time to listen to your pastor — assuming he’s showing you how to follow Jesus — more than James Dobson or some angrier, more paranoid manipulator of fear.

I really is time to go Biblically deep into Jesus shaped spirituality, and not into the spirituality of fear and misbegotten patriotic fervor.

Unfortunately, Bob is not a rarity. He’s not a majority report among evangelicals by any means, but he represents a significant number of Christians who are pursuing a very different kind of Kingdom than what we see in the book of Acts, the epistles and Revelation.

Jesus told his disciples that to follow him a lot has to die. We find a new life in Jesus, but it comes at the expense of the old life. I can’t help but believe that Bob, for all his zeal, his holding on to some of the old creation. There are some good things in this American Christian heritage of ours, and no one wants to see it taken away.

But it may happen, and if it does, Frank is right: Pray, then go live like a disciple.

Don’t feed the voices of anger, fear and the justification of violence. These were the same choices that the Zealot movement presented to Jesus; the same Zealots to whom Jesus said “Love your enemy. Don’t resist the evil-doer. Pray for those who persecute you.”

I’m sure it sounded ridiculous at the time, but in the end it was another invitation to discipleship, to Jesus shaped spirituality, to taking up the cross and finding a new life beyond it.

Those choices come to us every day. They sometimes come to us when we are tightly holding on to things we believe enough to be angry.

Put them all down. Pray. Go be a disciple of Jesus.

A good word for a chastened evangelicalism.

Comments

  1. I wonder if Bob is not making the same mistake that I’ve heard Liberals accussed of: loving everyone in general, yet loving no one in particular.

    There are definitely people who are simply acting like Bob just because they are afraid of their way of life being threatened, but I think many Bobs think that they are truly loving God and others by pushing for cetain things in the political arena. In many cases they are right, but I think that the problem is often perspective.

    We are all really small and our voice and vote really doesn’t do all that much when it comes to swaying things, but we can really have an impact with the people in our immediate spere of life. A lot of Bobs just put too much energy where it will yeild too little result (and often even hinders other service). It is a hard balance to maintain: serving the mass of people through being civicly responsible and serving your actual neihbors by investing in them.

    As far as Jesus’ political activism goes, EVERY interacting with the Scribes and Pharisees was a political interaction. From a human motivation that is why He died. He was confronting and undermining them. Jesus did not deal with Roman issues because He was focused on dealing with Israel. Unlike many Bobs He chose His battles more wisely.

    Thanks for posting this Michael. After what seems like an OD of political ads and commentary, it is good for us to reflect on where our priorities and energies should go.

  2. I’ve known a number of people named Bob or Robert who seem to be that way. So many, in fact, that I dubbed it ‘The Bob Syndrome’ (believe it or not). It’s weird.

    Some profess to be Christians, and others are…other. Among the traits they all seem to share: They tend to see issues as very black and white; scripture (especially a lot of the NT) has little, if any, influence in their world-view/conduct; and they tend to think the world would be a lot better place, if people were a little (or a lot) more like them.

  3. Memphis Aggie says:

    Isn’t anger itself indicative of sin? Who am I to be angry? I’m forgiven and blessed beyond measure with priceless gifts I certainly do not deserve. It’s God who has the right to be angry at me for being slow to follow him, weak in faith and lax in works. It’s not my place to say so and so should do such and such (although I do do this, more evidence of my own weakness). Certainly it is an act of mercy to correct someone , if it’s done charitably, but angry condemnation is driven by pride and self righteousness.
    I’m not perfectly free of “Bob” moments. I had an episode of hyperbolic political rhetoric this campaign, which I regret. Fortunately God is forgiving (and Confession is awesome) and my failure is necessary reminder to this slow learner of both God’s great generosity and my ingratitude.

    “Bob” is focused outward: he blames his problems on others. Christ called us to look within. My problems are my own fault and more to the point I need Christ’s help to fix them.

  4. “Isn’t anger itself indicative of sin?”

    “Be ye angry, and sin not.”

    “As much as lies within you, live in peace with all men.”

    Anger is not sin. Arguing isn’t even sin. Even people who love each other deeply have disagreements and fights. It’s how you handle the anger that matters.

    DD

  5. While it’s true that anger itself and arguing itself aren’t necessarily sin, I know that my own anger is unquestionably fraught with sinful self-aggrandizement or self-justifications, therefore making my anger sinful and my arguing sinful. I cannot make a single step forward without God’s constant mercy.

  6. I didn’t really have anything to say about “Bob”. I’ve encountered a number of instances of him, usually but not always male. But I don’t really understand him.

    But then I read the following. I’m still digesting it, but I think there’s a lot in it which just feels right. Maybe I’ll understand “Bob” a little better in the future.

    http://www.palamas.info/2008/11/confession-evangelism-of-faithful_07.html

  7. What I absolutely ‘luv’ about your posts, Michael, and all the comments..is the fact that it is seldom possible to completely express oneself in a single sentence or even, maybe, in a single paragraph. But..it is in the debate where communication truly happens. Love it!

  8. Ky boy but not now says:

    abmo

    “I think Bob and his friends cut their own throats when they decided to go into politics. They supported Bush and he sowed more mistrust than any other president. From now on, any person that Bob and his friends support and endorse, will be viewed with mistrust.”

    This goes back way before Bush. Bob’s were being bred and raised back in the 80s and 90s and I’m sure earlier but my political sense doesn’t go back that far. FoTF, MM, and others (as mentioned in another IM entry) hung their hat on supporting the Republicans back in 94 and got very upset when that party took control of Congress and didn’t basically turn the US into a theocracy. Very upset.

    And they still are.

    And when I try and say maybe this isn’t the true Christian way, the “Bobs” around me bring out their baseball bats.

  9. I am so glad that someone is talking about this.

    1 Corinthians 5 addresses the thinking behind the “culture wars” by the back door. It is the section about expelling the immoral brother. He ends that thought by saying “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are we not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Cor. 5:12,13a). It’s pretty difficult, nay impossible to engage in culture wars without passing judgment and when we do, we have in essence, decided to step into God’s shoes and help Him with His job.

    More importantly what have we accomplished if we succeed? We’ve imposed Biblical morality on people who don’t believe the Bible. We run the risk of convincing people that their morality is the problem as opposed to the fact that they don’t have Jesus. We make moral people who are going to hell.

    I think we’re seeing a backlash now. We’re seeing the “persecution” of Christians which is often justified anger at our meddling. It’s one thing to be hated for preaching the gospel and doing the things God specifically asks us to do but it’s another to bring down wrath upon ourselves by doing things God told us are none of our business.

    Paul talks about Christians minding their business in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 where it says to “Make it our ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business,…” the Lord in His wisdom makes it clear throughout scripture that we have enough to do by first fixing ourselves and then fixing the church. God has the rest under control and He doesn’t need our help.

  10. Could it be said that Judas was a “culture warrior”? I believe he loved Jesus and believed that he was the King of the Jews. However, he didn’t understand the message of the Gospels, and by betraying Jesus he was trying to force Jesus to usher in the kingdom by overthrowing Rome right then and there.