We Don’t Have To Elect A Donkey for President (Never Trump/Never Clinton)

GK Chesterton once wrote, to the chagrin of those who demand a person’s political and religious views remain in the private sphere, this:

I never discuss anything except politics and religion. There is nothing else to discuss. Nothing of importance can be separated entirely from its social effect, which is politics, or from its ultimate value, which is religion.

As a tandem post to my last political piece, “Never Trump and Never Hillary (Letter To Those Stuck In Two Parties)”, I wanted to add a small political and religious addendum (which may grow).

Many well meaning conservative Christians have thrown in the political towel this election cycle. They admit the two major choices aren’t inspiring. They concede Trump has many character deficiencies as a candidate and is likely not as conservative as he lets on during his speech rallies. But all those glaring weaknesses matter little compared to this: He’s not Hillary Clinton at least (overtly pro choice progressive).

The fragile hope of these reluctant Trump supporters is that at bare minimum he seems open to the conservative view of things, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll appoint brilliant political minds around him to cover his deficiencies. Maybe even God will knock him off his high horse like Saul of Tarsus and he’ll grow to be an unlikely champion of Christian ideals (different post). Even if no personal epiphany occurs, look at Scripture they may say:

God used evil kings like Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1)

And Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 43:10).

I mean, shoot, God can use a donkey if he wants! (Numbers 22:28)”

The following is why I believe we can reject such fatalism in our current political climate.

As the American electorate we’re in a unique position the ancient Israelite citizens never were. Our constitutional republic affords us certain rights, one of the greatest is our ability to vote concerning our political leaders. At the birth of the US, the power was placed in the hands of individual people, “We the people” specifically, not an over-reaching central government leader.

Israel’s political climate was much different and typical for its time. As a monarchy Israel was given a king or a judge (1 Samuel 12:13). You don’t vote in a monarch you simply submit to it. God preferred to be the only King of Israel but reluctantly conceded the Israelite people’s impatient urging and gave them over to Saul (1 Samuel 8). Saul wasn’t voted in. World history shows kings in other nations gain their position by family lineage or outright violence but the greater populace has little to do with his position of presumed power. Kings are not voted in. In contrast, Americans, and hat tip to the collective genius of our constitutional forefathers, have an active role in voting in the most principled men and women of character we have available to us.

Never Trump and Never Hillary

I am a strong believer in God’s sovereignty in human affairs, even the current wonky political affairs that make my stomach churn (Daniel 2:21). He can and does use whomever he pleases for his glory.

But the fact that God used an unrighteous Babylonian King for his glory 2800 years ago is no reason for his people to clamor around modern day unrighteous Babylonian authoritarians. Ancient autocratic political structures limited the involvement of the masses to mere recipients of the given King’s graces. Modern democratic political forms seek (or at least should seek) to energize and empower the masses to actively participate in the process of electing their given leaders. Electing especially those leaders who would consider authoritarian power to be anathema to the founder’s ideal.

We have a litany of choices before us. Not one. Not two. But many.

And yes, God used a Donkey to speak on his behalf once. But 1. That is not the normative way he wants to get his message across, and 2. That is not license for us to vote Donkey’s into the highest office in the land.

To the donkey’s defense, he’d probably be less of a jackass than the limited choices now before us.

And it goes both ways.

To apply ancient Israel’s governance to the modern American model will lead to hermeneutic headaches.

If God can use evil Kings and donkeys, why care whether Trump or Clinton is elected? He can use either of them right? Such a view inevitably leads to an impotent fatalistic view of personal ethics. Christians should not be forced to make choices that sear their personal conscience just because one candidate is better at pandering to them than the other. The same could be said of every evil totalitarian this side of Nero. God can use them, right? So let’s just wait and see what happens. This logic is a slippery slope that will leave everyone paralytic and tumbling down a ravine of shrugging inaction.

I still plan on voting in the general election. As far as president, I’m still not sure who that will be. The Libertarian Party and apparently David French are becoming more viable options as I write this. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write in a literal donkey as my choice on election day.

God uses donkeys

Couldn’t be much worse than what we’ve produced thus far.

Bryan Daniels

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Never Trump and Never Hillary (Letter To Those Stuck in Two Parties)

Dearly Beloved Voting Americans,

I am writing this as a voter who does not shy away from the “Christian” or “conservative” political labels. Pro life and pro family are positive titles to me I’m proud to wear as a committed pro human (pro human on most days). Given those personal predilections, it is rightly assumed I would never vote for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming presidential election. I empathize with both the #neverTrump and #neverHillary social media movements. But, since I’ve always been a registered Republican voter in my voting lifetime, I feel the need to speak to the deficiencies found in my own “home team” before I speak to the away side.

This will be the first year I will not be voting for the GOP nominee in the general election.

The first objection raised with this statement from Republican adherents is inevitably, “Don’t you know not voting for Donald Trump is a vote for Hillary Clinton?!” (Or “Killary, Billary, Or Hitlery” or some other witty* alt right modification on the name)

To which my knee jerk reply is,

“Don’t you know a vote for Donald Trump is indeed a vote for Donald Trump?”

It’s not just that he has a nasty public persona: Yes, his whole faux tough guy veneer, his jingoistic rhetoric, his misuse and abuse of Bible texts, his 7th grade girl Twitter tirades. All those are bad enough. But what’s worse is this: we don’t even know what he really believes about the Constitution or how executive powers are limited by it. He wants to fix the nation like he can buy and fix a dying hotel property with his brand of CEO style authoritarian leadership. But the office of president wasn’t designed to work that way.

It’s apparent he’s making up important public policy and platform decisions on the fly, like a contestant on “Whose Line is it Anyway?” Except this isn’t funny anymore and the points do matter this time around. Once you get past his talking points about a wall, China, and bombing oil fields you realize his chamber is spent. And we’ve gotten to the point where his unprepared incoherence is actually endearing to many voters. Oh, he’ll figure it out later, he’s smart. He’ll fix America.

Bush and Obama are examples of what it looks like when the left or right uses unconstitutional executive powers to “fix” things. Bush used executive decrees that gave way to Obama using executive decrees that will gave way to Trump/Clinton using executive decrees. And that magic scepter will forever continually be passed down the line until the peasant democracy rebels with their vote.The issue isn’t with the partisan team one identifies with, they both are to blame in this game of thrones.

We need a statesmen who will keep the government restrained from it’s natural impulse to fix everything. As the old Reagan adage goes: The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

The government just wants to help you like a young Kylo Ren just wants a hug from his daddy, Han.

There goes American voters falling off the cliff of two party moral oblivion.
There goes American voters falling off the cliff of two party moral oblivion.

We don’t need those types of hugs. Nor do we need in the most powerful office in the land

a King,

a CEO,

or a celebrity obsessed with his own exploits.

The next objection in line will be, “So what, Hillary doesn’t care about the constitution either? We KNOW that from her decades of political experience.”

And I concede that. That is why I’m not voting for her.

To which one might respond, “We only have two dominant parties, so we only really have two choices.”

This is where I’d diverge:

We will always only have two choices for president for as long as we passively believe we will always only have two choices for president. For now, I’m leaning voting Libertarian but that can change. It may be true that a third party candidate has little chance to take on Democratic royalty and a billionaire Republican celebrity. But that is not the point. “Of two evils, choose neither,” Spurgeon advises us from the grave. You can choose the candidate that closest fits your principles and values. They just may not reside in the currently anointed two parties.

It is not so much about winning this election. Right now the choices between the two major parties are marginally different this election cycle. The line between Democrat and Republican has disappeared and the true line is between authoritarian and libertarian. And one thing, other than authoritarian political philosophy, the two parties also have in common: People’s disenchantment with these two presumptive candidates is historically high. The unfavorable ratings for both are astronomical. One would have to go back decades to find such  a parallel hatred for both dominant candidates on the same election year.

A third party is primed to make a serious statement. Not necessarily win. Is the magic vote number 10, 15, or 20+% in the general election to begin a movement that lasts? I don’t know. But my hope is a enough noise will be made by a principled constitutionally coherent third party, that, maybe, down the road, a three party system can develop. When a Trump/Clinton term gets done crashing and burning in a brilliant display of attempted autocracy in 4-8 years then maybe a libertarian republic can rise from those ashes.

Maybe 8, 12, or 16 years from now the two party system will be broken for good. Dream with me here. Maybe when all three of my sons reach voting age they will have more than the two viable presidential choices their daddy did in 2016. Can I get a witness? Maybe those choices won’t violate their conscience and make them physically sick to their stomachs at the prospect of voting for only the “top” two candidates.

Protesting with our collective vote and waiting for that to happen will be difficult. It may be a long shot and I know it’s not the most expedient sexy revolution that can happen. Fox News and CNN will probably not even televise it. But maybe that’s when America will be great again.

At least that’s my hope for this 2016 election, beloved.

Bryan Daniels

*Not really

Driscoll and Ditches and Dirt and Us

As an old-young man: There’s some things I don’t wrestle with anymore.

Yet there’s other things that have my psyche crippled like a Rhonda Rousey armbar.

Ten, OK maybe two, years ago I would gladly jump into a variety of online political or apologetic debates. Acting like my two cents was a million bucks I’d weld philosophic catchphrases like a Thor Hammer:

“Out of context!”

“Straw Man!”

“Ad Hominem, sir!”

Driscoll is wrong and so is everyone

I don’t inject myself into those blog comments and Facebook threads anymore. Maybe it’s life taking me by the shoulders and shaking some sense into my big ornery head. Maybe I’m blinded by the apparent planks protruding from my own eyes. Maybe that sounds humble-bragish, it probably is.

But my mission has become more simple lately. To love my beautiful pregnant wife as the Bridegroom has loved the church. To rear my sons and model manhood to them in a way that makes them see their daily need for Jesus. To put to death the nasty flesh that still lurks around the corners of my own heart. To sow into fellow strugglers and friends the gospel seeds of grace. To teach and coach in such a way that my students and athletes will see that life is bigger than school and sports.

If I strive to do these well: How will I have time to be the interweb keeper of theological/political/philosophical/ecclesiastical/whatever fidelity?

I’ve admittedly spent too much time on Twitter and Facebook (just reactivated) this last week of my summer. One common article theme was regurgitated within my social media circle: The scandal(s) of Mark Driscoll and his Mars Hill Church outing of Act 29 Network.

Five years ago I would have cared a lot more about this cultural Christian news. That’s not to say I don’t care, because there’s still a latent scandal-seeking rubber necker inside me scratching to get out. But there’s too many battled and bruised souls (including mine) in the world to give two rips about the latest fabricated scandal. You could replace “Driscoll” with “Gungor” here and nothing would change about my sentiments.

This isn’t a just Christian problem. It’s a human problem. If it wasn’t Mark Driscoll or Gungor for us it’d be the Kardashians or Jay Z or insert some other political or celebriscandal.

What we humans end up having is a strange echo chamber of faux outrage towards fresh juicy news about public figures. And we almost never really know the people we rage against. Their public persona is largely made by the marketing whims of others. So we breathe our own fiery rhetoric into the heated reactions to reactions all clamoring for anonymous interactions with people we don’t care to meet or know.

If I may corner my own “tribe”: The online Christian community spends so much time and energy being angry at people they don’t know or never will meet I wonder how they have any time and energy to love the people they do know and meet everyday.

I believe the scandals we long to gaze into say more about us than the people involved. Maybe we want to see a chink in the armor of the best among us. Maybe if we peer close enough we’ll see through the shiny marketing and find a soul that’s hemorrhaging a bit like ours. A fellow sinner stumbling in the dark yet desperately reaching for the light.

We need to know the imperfections of our perfect. That we’re not alone in frequently falling into the ditches our own shovels have dug.

I’m with you.

And I believe grace lifts us out of those ditches again and again.

And it enables us to help lift others. The nearest ditch faller is the one we run towards. The souls closest to us need the hand of grace we’ve found in Christ. Not our self-righteous posturing, just our honest forgiven self.

I may pull you out today. Tomorrow I’ll need you to pull me out. It can’t be from afar or from the safe confines of a raging online persona. Let’s make this commitment to one another:

We’re gonna have to get dirty at some point.

Bryan Daniels

An Open Invitation To Those I’ve Hated

Come you bumper sticker theologians and activists

The 33 item man in the 10 items or less lane

All you opinionated e-hard drive by commenters

and my neighborhood speeders.

Come all you cat lovers and treehuggers

and the doomsday preacher of Law keeping

KJV onlyists and skeptical materialists

and Joel Osteen.

Come MSNBC and Fox News hollerers and pundits

Right and left puppet dancers

IRS directors and ambulance chasing lawyers

and Sean Hannity.

Come Kanye come Kardashians

Hollywood bring your elite and your plastic surgeons

Julia Roberts and Lindsey Lohan and Oprah

and Bill Maher.

To dead beat dads and chain smoking pregnant moms

To everyone else in the world I can’t stand

My heartfelt apologies as I stumble to lead the way

To death and falling like dead

before the dying God Man;

Where life begins

Where the worst are forgiven

and the hateful and hurtful put down swords of spite

Like David and Peter and Paul

and me.

Bryan Daniels

Martin Luther King Jr And The Voices We Snuffed Out (Abortion)

Abortion is a civil rights issue

Sanctity of Life Sunday is followed by Martin Luther King Jr Monday.

Martin Luther King Jr Monday is followed by Roe V. Wade’s 40th anniversary on Tuesday.

To me, the timing of those three successive days seems eerily prophetic.

I don’t presume to know what Dr. King’s view would be in the modern-day debate.

I do know my heart breaks for the souls involved in the tragedy of abortion. For the babies. For the women. For the doctor. Especially for him. A granite heart that has committed slow suicide with a million tiny compromises has found itself charged with murder.

This may sound hollow coming from a middle class white dude who wasn’t even alive during the Civil Rights era: What struck me most about the above video was what one black gentleman said as his group peacefully protested outside of the Philadelphia clinic of horrors:

“Everything that was gained during the Civil Rights movement doesn’t mean a thing to a dead black baby.”

The Dirty History of Abortion

I can’t help but see the racial overtones in the abortion movement’s history. Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s founder, was firmly committed to the pseudoscience of negative eugenics (the same “science” the Nazis used in Germany). She found abortion to be a necessary instrument to contain the growing class of societal “undesirables.” It’s no coincidence Sanger started her movement in the South where she had a wealth of young uneducated poor black women she could easily “educate.”

Unfortunately, Sanger’s racist vision for America has worked better than she ever could have dreamed.

Germany’s racial holocaust ended with World War II. America’s racial holocaust carries on shrouded neatly under the guise of health care.

In New York city 40 % of pregnancies end in abortion. An overwhelming majority of those are African-American babies. According to the CDC, black women are three times more likely to get an abortion than white women. Most shocking: the leading cause of death in the African-American Community since 1973 is not heart disease, cancer, or violent crimes: It’s abortion. Most abortion providers like Planned Parenthood have abandoned rural areas and created a lucrative business by setting up shop in the poorest minority-dominated urban neighborhoods.

I believe without apology: A baby in a mother’s womb deserves as much protection as a baby in a mother’s arms.

What will Change the Infanticide Movement?

But I am also aware that a political shift will not happen until the culture shifts, and the culture will not shift until hearts are shifted by the grace of God towards King Jesus and His Kingdom.

That’s my prayer.

That God supernaturally transforms hearts of mothers and fathers to protect and cherish the precious life they have created. That the thought of an abortion would become anathema to renewed urban minds; and as a result, abortion clinics would close down en masse due to lack of business. That it would get done in such a way no man or political party gets the glory, but only the Father of life who makes dead men and women live.

May another Martin Luther King Jr. rise up in this generation to speak the truth in love to this justice issue. May God’s word to us not be:

“I sent many prophets, and you killed them all before they could speak one word.”

Bryan Daniels

Mass Murder Is Why A Suffering Sovereign Came

“Mass murder is why Jesus came into the world the way he did. What kind of Savior do we need when our hearts are shredded by brutal loss?

We need a suffering Savior. We need a Savior who has tasted the cup of horror we are being forced to drink.

And that is how he came. He knew what this world needed. Not a comedian. Not a sports hero. Not a movie star. Not a political genius. Not a doctor. Not even a pastor. The world needed what no mere man could be.

The world needed a suffering Sovereign. Mere suffering would not do. Mere sovereignty would not do. The one is not strong enough to save; the other is not weak enough to sympathize.

So he came as who he was: the compassionate King. The crushed Conqueror. The lamb-like Lion. The suffering Sovereign.”

John Piper

Read the rest of the article.

Suffice to say last Friday was the saddest news this nation has faced since 2001. As a father of two sons (1 a year away from kindergarten) and a public school educator the heartache was twofold for me.

I hope this reeling nation doesn’t get too obsessed over tertiary political/social issues in this time.

The only agent that can change the hardest human hearts is not of this world or public policy. Saul, David, and Moses were all once murderers turned servants of the righteous King.

The only agent that can comfort the most shattered human hearts is not of this world either. The perfect hands that were wounded on the cross are strong enough to bind our wounds forevermore.

I pray Sandy Hook turns to the “Suffering Sovereign” alone for comfort.

I pray the other broken on looking souls in America do too.

Bryan Daniels

An Old Man Schools The Founding Fathers On Providence (Benjamin Franklin)

In the infancy of our Constitutional Republic, America’s founding fathers found themselves deadlocked after 5 weeks of heated deliberation (first makings of the filibuster?). Large and small states were in a standstill over state representation in Congress.

After many days of quiet observance an 81-year-old statesman of legendary prestige rose to address the Convention. These are the words of Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787 directly addressing George Washington. I know Franklin was a self-proclaimed Deist but modern Bible believing men and women would do well to have their minds this saturated in Scripture (some of this language flatly contradicts Deist doctrine). The old man despaired at the prospect that this budding country would be led by fallen “human wisdom.”

All the Scriptural parentheses are from me:

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings (James 1:17)? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection (Psalm 50:14-15).- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered (James 1:5-6).

All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor (Psalm 5:12). To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend (James 2:23)? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance (Romans 4:20)?

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men (Daniels 2:23). And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid (Matthew 10:29-31)? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1) I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages (Genesis 11:1-9). And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

Bryan Daniels