The political conventions are over—the Democrats gave it their best shot and Donald Trump screamed at the world. The highlight of the Republican convention for many was calling back Chachi from what I presume was a stage in Branson, Missouri.
By the way, if you have some down time this summer, a fun game to play with family or friends is Dead or Branson? Someone names a famous comedian, singer, or band, then everyone guesses whether the reason you no longer hear about them is either because they have passed on or because they are on the cusp, playing out their remaining days in Branson. You only need an Internet connection to play. It’s more fun, and informative, than you might think.
This year’s political quandary for serious Christians reminds me of Karl Barth’s situation one hundred years ago. When World War I began, ninety-three German intellectuals issued a manifesto that supported Kaiser Wilhem II’s war policy. To Barth’s dismay, the manifesto was signed by nearly all of his liberal German teachers, such as Adolf Harnack and Wilhelm Herrmann. Their compromise cast enormous doubt upon their teaching.
Barth later explained: “Their ethical failure indicated that their exegetical and dogmatic presuppositions could not be in order.” Thus, “a whole world of exegesis, ethics, dogmatics and preaching, which I had hitherto held to be essentially trustworthy, was shaken to the foundations, and with it, all the other writings of the German theologians.”
Barth said Schleiermacher “was unmasked. In a decisive way all the theology expressed in the manifesto and everything that followed it proved to be founded and governed by him.” Barth had discovered that if theology is the do-it-yourself method of liberalism, then one can compromise and produce any theology at will.
Something similar is happening today. I understand any Christian leader who lists reasons why we should vote against either Clinton or Trump. But what I don’t understand—and what Barth would say is dangerous—is any Christian leader who argues a positive case for either. Both are morally corrupt candidates who support morally corrupt policies. Trump supports divisive, racist policies, and Hillary supports divisive, religious policies. The Democratic platform espouses “a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.” You have been warned.
As we begin the final stretch of our worst presidential election ever, let’s make sure we Christians avoid arguing why either candidate is a good choice. Anyone who says that has given up the moral high ground. Their view of God has been unmasked. They might get a few more votes for their candidate, but how many people will they drive away from Jesus?
Don’t sacrifice sound theology on the altar of political expediency. As Harnack and Herrmann did for Barth, you might ignite a revolution against what you hold most dear.
Photo by Diego Cambiaso. Via Flickr. Used by permission.