By Robert Capehert
Religious and social conservatives continue to drift. Drifting into fantasy this time, though, former presidential candidate, Gary Bauer, who in trying to rekindle a redemptive approach to American culture announced in a recent column, the definition of what the Holy Gospel is doesn’t matter.
Doctrinal differences remain, of course, but the Catholic-evangelical alliance has reshaped American politics. In many cases, Catholics have provided the intellectual framework and vocabulary to discuss Christianity’s vital role in our democracy, while Protestants have contributed fervour and youth.
We do not agree on every issue. But on the essential ones — those both faiths consider “non-negotiables” — Catholics and evangelicals are allied.
The definition of what the Holy Gospel is even if it is unintentional, becomes unessential in Bauer’s ruminations. Since the divide between Roman Catholics and Protestants centers on the definition of what the Gospel is—which erects consequences; for what the Church, and thus the Christian faith is—it follows, then, the Holy Gospel is central to the Christian faith.
Bauer’s turgidity of mind assumes the point of Christianity is centrally this worldly. Questions arise. Is the Christian faith about social issues, primarily? Is it about consensus building in order to foment political power—is it to capture Washington, D.C.?
It sounds squishy enough to displease. But why is such earthly vision strangely absent the mission of Christ nor the ministerial concerns of the Apostles, throughout Sacred Scripture?
Could it be more helpful, Biblically, to see Christianity as the otherworldly proclamation of Holy Gospel—concerning the triune God and His salvation of men and women’s souls?
Why is the claims of Christ and His Church uniquely about things apart from all other earthly institutions?
If Sacred Scripture is merely a guidebook to the ways and means of this world—and it’s values of power and control, it is strangely sparse in instruction. Instead, the Kingdom of God appears to operate on a completely different ethic altogether, according to Holy Scripture. St Matthew’s Gospel account of the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, where the ethic of the world, in contrast to the ethic of Heaven, is clearly contrasted, throws a wrench into social gospel hoopla.
The message of Holy Scripture, thus the message of the Church, is not about dragging men and women from vice to virtue—a duty of state [in limited capacity to external means] and more importantly, of human institutions in societal frameworks, however imperfectly. Instead, the law/gospel—the two moods of Sacred Scripture, are about driving sinful men and women from vice to Grace—a gift of the triune God alone, earned by Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.
For Bauer, no stranger to the wazzock curse, the state appears more important than Christ’s Holy Gospel and Christ’s Church. It must be, for Bauer rids Christianity of its distinctions and the Apostolicity of faith, in order to reclaim “biblical” morality.
And so, Bauer demands Protestant hands join Roman Catholic hands in cultural rosaries—despite a titanic disagreement on what the Church is, and what the Holy Gospel is—in order to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth. Such makes sense when eschatologically, social conservatives often conflate all manner of Sacred and secular things.
After all, the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ, needs Republicans and social conservatives in order to do His bidding, would seem the thinking here. Such absurdity reminds one of an infamous scene in Star Trek: The Final Frontier—an awful movie—where Captain James T Kirk inquires, understandably, why God—yes, the Almighty—needs a starship.
Never mind St John’s recording of Christ’s own words, announcing to Pontius Pilot the Son of Blessed Kingdom is not of this world. Never mind also, St Matthew and St Paul presume dualistic ethics for the Church, and for the state.
But despite social conservative’s rampage, America’s socialistic transformation continues rapidly, freedom of individuality attenuates, and the culture of decline, accelerates. Nevertheless, social conservatives became louder and far more powerful in a succeeding generations. Showboat power—the electricity of noise!
During social conservative’s media power surge, America continues to drift further away from social conservative stated ideals.
How about we conclude these “Christian” America agitators have taken what they think is political conservatism way far off course? Meaning, conservatism to folks like Gary Bauer no longer means the state declines in power, along constitutional limits, and individual liberty expands.
Bauer and his minions, frothing always, have forgotten a limited state authority has consequences. Individual liberty has consequences. Forcing the state to rule based upon Biblical norms of morality is not a free society, not according to the Founders whose view of the state was not ultimate, but limited.
Maybe the health of the Christ’s Church, which means what the Holy Gospel, is [and is not] and how it is defined matters? And just maybe, the reform of the Church in America along Holy Scripture’s teaching ought to weigh on social conservatives mind more than a moralistic secular government?
If such theological throughway disturbs, just read Madison and Jefferson.
Or Dr Martin Luther. All hashed out a America of dualistic character—its secularity, and its separation from the Church.
Because of the Church’s importance, not its irrelevance.
It ain’t no, never mind. Not if religious essentials matter.
I don’t know about other Christian saints, but being the cold, dead Orthodox Christian, Negro I am, I’m blessed knowing Christianity, an otherworldly revelation of the triune God—Creator of all worlds—concerning His power and Holiness, His Will in Christ; God’s Holy Gospel; the salvation of men and women, is not dependent nor determined on a bunch of clowns in Washington, D.C., or those trying to get in.