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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Martin Luther King Jr. And The Voices We Snuffed Out

kingphoto

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 above tragedy. 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.”

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.

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

Orcs, Gunmen, and Bad Guys Like Me

While watching a Lord of The Rings Scene my four-year old son, Josiah, caught a glimpse of an Orc, a miserable snarling subhuman warrior for the “Army of Shadows.”

As his inquiring mind processed the battle scene before him, Josiah asked,

“Why is that guy mean?”

Before I could respond he answered his own question:

“Because he’s bad?”

Sounded like a sufficient reason to me:

“Yes, baby, he’s a bad guy.”

Such a description easily rolls off the tongue when encountering hypothetical terrorists on a movie screen. But when the perpetrators become human and the victims flesh and blood it seems our ability for succinct language becomes squishy and vague.

Whether it is the recent murder-suicide by NFL player Jevon Belcher.

Or the more recent Portland mall killings by a crazed gunman.

The response of many public network pundits has been the same the past few years:

Legal experts and resident psychologists will try to psychoanalyze the mind of the killers: social constraints, political persuasions, chemical reactions, or stunted emotional growth are all posited as the source of the madness. The whole world goes straight Dr. Phil in its obsession with the dark mind(lessness) of these murderers.

I don’t want to neglect the socio-economic, genetic, psychological, etc, factors that make up a person’s character. I don’t have anything meaningful to add to the timeless nature vs. nurture debate. But I believe something unfortunate is lost in our culture when we try to process man-made tragedies while altogether omitting words like “evil”, “bad”, or even “depraved” from our vocabulary.

Some times the “bad guys” aren’t just in a movie script.

Whether the heartless violence happens in Arizona, Norway, Columbine, or a mall, the social commentary in the aftermath shouldn’t always swirl around periphery issues like gun control, childhood upbringing, bullying, and poverty. Not that any of these don’t matter. Just that most of this chatter is to the neglect of personal responsibility for the evil actions of an evil man.

I know the world bristles at any value judgment that has moral overtones but that shouldn’t matter.

I want my son to keep this “bad guy” moniker in his vocabulary.

Not because he is “better” than anyone else, but because he could be much worse than anyone else. I want him to see that apart from the grace of God the natural bad guy that lives within his own nature can also manifest itself in horrifying ways.

I want him to see his daddy as one of the “good guys” not because I have anything inherently noble about me, but because I don’t. What separates any good man from the bad man is nothing but undeserved grace through the God Man.

Sometimes my mind goes places I don’t even begin (or want) to understand. I imagine if our thoughts could be projected for all to see we would be horrified, embarrassed, and left utterly friendless in less than a few hours. If we don’t believe in words like “evil” it may be because we haven’t lifted up the floorboards of our own nature and peered in to see what really lies beneath our daily facades.

There is real evil.

There is real invincible grace that trumps real evil too.

That’s the story we should tell. But if we keep denying with our words the natural-born bent toward wickedness in us all, then we’ve denied the need for the overpowering righteous given at the cross (2 Cor 5:21).

And for bad guys like me, there is no other hope in the world but the gospel of Jesus that saves sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)

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

Say “Nice Doggie” and Pray You Don’t Have To Throw A Rock

Diplomacy is the art of saying, “Nice Doggie!” until you can find a rock.

Will Rogers

Not very long ago I was taking a friendly jog in my neighborhood. As I passed a house about a quarter of a mile from home out jutted two unfriendly pit bulls from the garage.

On a full-bore sprint.

Towards me.

I stopped in my tracks as they neared and watched in dismay as the leading dog went airborne about three yards from me.

I realized her aiming point was my right arm, which I subsequently stuck above my head in the nick of time as she flew by my torso. When she turned to collect her wits I found myself squared off eye to eye(s) with two angry pups. From the garage a woman’s voice rang out. An angel diplomat, and maybe a derelict owner, hollered the names of the dogs and ran to corral them as they stood staring me down.

She apologized and I continued my run (shaken). Sometimes the authority of a mediator can calm an angry beast.

As I ran, I was reminded of a childhood friend who encountered two stray pit bulls in the woods with his playmate. There was no owner to restrain the dogs for him. One of the dogs latched on to his face and commenced to tear it to shreds. Eventually, the friend was able to fend off the animals with a machete. Years and tens of thousands of dollars of facial surgery (and a court settlement) later and deep scars still remain from that attack.

Sometimes the authority of a sword is the only thing that can calm an angry beast.

Let’s hope and pray peaceful diplomacy rules the day for Israel and Palestine. I know it’s unlikely, maybe humanly impossible, for the “City of Peace” to preserve much longer without major battle conflict; but we should at least shun the sure international domino effect a Gaza War would have on invested nations.

How long will America be able to speak soft words to a rabid situation, while merely carrying her big sword and pocketful of rocks? How long until diplomatic solutions necessarily give way to machete solutions?

I don’t know.

This is why I’m glad I’m not the president. And it is one sure reason we should persist to pray for our political leaders making earth-shaking decisions in the crucible of the moment right now. Even the fiercest political opponents of the Obama administration better plead for uncommon wisdom on America’s behalf.

Lord haste the day humanity has exhausted its diplomatic and military resources, and the Prince of Peace takes his rightful place in the New Kingdom. Instability will give way to the unshakable One sooner now than ever, peeps.

Bryan Daniels

PS-If you’re a pitbull advocate, please don’t make the comments about that. Thanks.

Post-Election SackCloth and Ashes

I like what a local Baptist church sign marquee displayed the day after election: “Join us: Instead of 40 days of purpose, 40 days of repentance.”

Some say with clenched absoluteness,

“God is judging America!”

Which could be true. But in the midst of red-faced talking heads and predilections of coming doom we sometimes forget that judgment begins in the house of God first (1 Peter 4:17).

So I offer some post-election repentance on behalf of my fellow brethren and sist(ren), and mainly….on behalf of me. If you don’t consider yourself to be a apart of said “house” feel free to exclude yourself from the following tearing of garments!:

On behalf of my Republican brethren, I repent for pridefully acting as if my political stance is always the moral/spiritual/ high ground, from marriage to abortion to Fox News. We can appear to be right philosophically/religiously and still be very wrong in nature (Matt 23:27).

On behalf of my Democratic brethren, I repent for pridefully acting as if my political stance is always the moral/spiritual high ground, from welfare to women’s rights to MSNBC. The Red Letters of Jesus aren’t inherently more important than the rest of His inspired revelation (John 5:39).

On behalf of my Libertarian brethren, I repent for pridefully acting as if my political stance is always the moral/spiritual high ground, from the debt crisis to states rights to Ayn Rand. The Bible is the only totally inspired work of God, not the US Constitution (2 Tim 3:16).

On behalf of my non voting brethren, I repent for pridefully acting as if my political stance is always the moral/spiritual high ground, from end times prophecy to food storage to illuminati conspiracy theories. Jesus doesn’t want our vote for President anymore than He wanted to be the one up “Apostle” in the ancient Apollos/Paul argument (1 Cor 1:12).

So I personally turn, not mainly away from any of these convictions, but to something so much greater. This:

Christ is our treasure, only hope, and His love reigns supreme. We need not rescind into some monkish lifestyle. But our priorities should be blazingly clear in these days. The King lived, the King died, the King is coming again. Every president and king, living or dead, will one day bow to this One (Phill 2:10).

He is the only spiritual high ground, all other people and their ideologies must appear facedown before His righteousness.

Bryan Daniels