Thursday, September 22, 2016

Considering Erick Erickson's Reconsideration

AUTHOR'S NOTE: After having published this article, a friend was observant enough to draw my attention to a few issues. I have edited these changes in, but for the sake of being able to see how it may have read prior to those changes; and thus why said changes absolutely had to be made; they will be made in this type. Thanks again to all who have read and responded, and by all means, keep it coming!

Recently a good friend shared an article via social media written by one Erick Erickson. It is a good article, and it is worthwhile reading as I agreed with many of the points and issues he brings up. However, I also found it necessary to take issue with some of what he said.

Below are those which I take issue with and my reasons as for why. I have also included a few of the points I agree with for the sake of balance.

"I believe the founders of this country recognized individual liberty as negative liberty." ~ Erick Erickson

Individual liberty IS what the Constitution has laid out; it is NOT what has been lately defined. Individual liberty is the individual being free (reasonably) free of government restriction, invasion and micro-rule. I interject "reasonably" because there is a need for law- Just not on the level that we see today. There is a need for enough stricture to convict criminals and safeguard life and liberty; what we have now is too much stricture, meant to protect wealthy and elite criminals and rob the average citizen of precisely what law is meant to protect.

Mr. Erickson goes on to clarify what he means by this statement, writing the following:

"It was not what individuals could do if government helped them that made this country great. Rather, it was what individuals could do if government left them alone."

It is strange to me that in an article which begins by examining compromise, the author seems to compromise on the language and tone of the article. Just my personal take on how this section's communication was constructed; you get it free of charge.

What I believe Mr. Erickson may have originally been going for is that the founders of this country recognized government mandated liberty as negative liberty; that is certainly what was going on in the British Empire under King George, and precisely what said king was attempting to accomplish within the American Colonies. I firmly believe in clear communication, but I also believe in factual communication. Even when factual communication requires more writing, it is far better to be accurate than to propagate a false dichotomy, pretense or idea.

"I am under no delusions. With Clinton as President, the church in this country will be in for a difficult time, besieged from the outside. The forces of Mordor will be fully on the march." ~Erick Erickson

First, let me just award 100 points to Mr. Erickson for the Lord of the Rings reference. Well done sir, and a terrific analogy. I do not disagree with this statement, but I do believe that it does not go far enough. The problem with this statement is that Mr. Erickson seems to believe that the church would only be besieged from without, yet due to Ms. Clinton's self-affiliation with the Methodist Church, there is grave danger of Christianity being besieged from within.

On August 8, 2016, Snopes published a fact checking article debunking a rumor that Ms. Clinton stated Christians must deny their faith in a speech to the Women in the World Summit in New York City. Yet, though Snopes was correct in debunking this as a direct quote, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton did in fact suggest that traditional Christian values, morals and ethical codes of conduct must be changed to fit the world today. The pertinent quote is below, and I have taken pains not to emphasize or leave out any aspect of this statement:

"Yes, we've nearly closed the global gender gap in primary school, but secondary school remains out of reach for so many girls around the world. Yes, we've increased the number of countries prohibiting domestic violence, but still more than half the nations in the world have no such laws on the books, and an estimated one in three women still experience violence. Yes, we've cut the mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth.
"All the laws we've passed don't count for much if they're not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.
"As I have said, and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the twenty-first century, and not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States." ~Hillary Clinton 

Please note that though the forum of this speech implied global context, she finishes this quote by saying "and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States." Note also what she believes must be done to ensure the closure of gender gaps, the end of domestic violence, mortality rates and proper reproductive health care: "Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."

Snopes and other political fact checking sites can dismiss this as not being a direct attack on Christianity because from an outside viewpoint, it is not such an attack. From an outsider's vantage point, this is an observation on the state of women's rights and what must be done to achieve equality. Furthermore, liberals of all stripes can argue that this is not an attack because their worldview would have them believe that Jesus Himself would be at the forefront of this movement; indeed, I have heard liberal Christians make this very argument.

However, conservative Christians view this as an attack because of the very sections of the quote I point out: The call for cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases to change "not just in far away countries but... in the United States." Liberals and fact checking sites do not understand how and why this constitutes an attack, but those of us who recognize that the Scripture does not change to fit societal demands also recognize this as a call to delegitimize the Bible itself. This, readers, is the very definition of an attack on genuine Christianity.

Now why would I bring up the Methodist Church as being something of note when examining Ms. Clinton's impact upon Christianity?

During her time as First Lady, Ms. Clinton attended Foundry United Methodist Church, a body which in their own words rejects aspects of the United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline: Specifically when it comes to views on homosexuality. The Methodist Church she is currently listed as being a congregant with is also reported as being "liberal, forward-moving and freethinking." I will add a caveat here: As that church's website is nothing more than a blank page as of this writing, I cannot verify the statement- Take with a grain of salt.

The church in which she spent much of her adult life in Arkansas would also be described as liberal; for example, it supports interfaith meetings claiming "we are more alike than different." Finally, the church in which she spent much of her earlier life also embraces homosexuality in opposition to the UMC's Book of Discipline.

Finally, in an address to the United Methodist Women's Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, Ms. Clinton stated that her love of the UMC is due in part to its promotion of "social gospel." So what is this "social gospel?" Social gospel in a traditional sense was a movement to awaken the Church to the plight of the destitute, the widows and orphans and others to whom the Lord Jesus showed deference and kindness. Today, the original meaning of the phrase has been co-opted to include gay rights, reproductive rights, and other such things that the Bible specifically speaks to as sin, iniquity and abomination. It is this form of social gospel that Ms. Clinton supports, evidenced by her own actions, deeds and stated agenda. (You can read more about social gospel here.)

This is why I believe that Mr. Erickson is remiss in his assessment of Ms. Clinton's total impact upon the Christian Church within the United States.

"...I see the election of Hillary Clinton as the antithesis of all my values and ideas on what fosters sound civil society in this country. Further, she should be in jail." ~Erick Erickson

I heartily agree with this statement, and would reference anyone who wishes to argue the point to simply look at every documented instance of her lies, misrepresentations, and outright attempts at deception. They are many, they are evident, and they are very much accessible to anyone with the ability to access Google.

I urge everyone to keep this one, vital fact in mind regardless of their faith: Ms. Clinton is a pathological liar, and voting for her is very much an ethical crime for all but the most ethically and morally corrupt.

"A Clinton Administration may see the church besieged from the outside, but a Trump Administration will see the church poisoned from within. ...I do recall God choosing Abraham, Samson, and David and all of them repenting of their sins. That repentance stands in studied contrast to Donald Trump who has three times said he never had to ask for forgiveness and only recently said his advance of the church, if he is elected, might be the only thing that gets him into Heaven." ~Erick Erickson (emphasis E.E.)

I understand where Mr. Erickson is coming from on this point. It is a terrible choice being offered those who do not feel that a third party candidate has any chance to attain the White House. In fact, those who do vote third party are likely to do so in full knowledge that if either of the two major candidates succeed, they will be blamed by family and friends. This is not an enviable position for any of us to be in, nor is it one that any of us would willing choose if we felt that we did indeed have a choice.

With this being said, it is a flawed example that is being used here in my estimation; both for and against. While Mr. Erickson does an excellent job of showing why such arguments for Mr. Trump are flawed, he fails to see why his argument using the same examples is equally invalid.

Mr. Erickson seems to forget that while these men did indeed seek forgiveness and repent, they continued sinning. While I am not suggesting that he intended to suggest that the examples were perfect upon seeking forgiveness, I find it frustrating that so many, not just Mr. Erickson, turn to such biblical examples as to why or why we should not support a specific candidate.

Abraham was the father of a nation, and yet his sins continued until the day he died. Sampson was a judge of Israel, yet his sins not only caused his downfall but also brought on his death; the consequences of his sin were felt even as the pillars toppled, in spite of his repentance. David was a king of Israel, and yet his sins so stained his entire life that God refused to allow him to build the temple.

I would remind Mr. Erickson, and all who would utilize such examples, that we do not live in a Theocracy, as did Israel during the time of the Judges. We do not live in a Monarchy, as Israel was during David. We live in a nation originally conceived as a Democratic Republic; a nation wherein the popular vote elected officials, while the Constitution ruled the land.
It is not in error that Mr. Erickson later states:

"And, in truth, I... have concluded we are already past the point of redemption... The seriousness and virtue of the voter is in the grave already and my Christian brethren for Trump yearn for an idolized past that never existed in a future that is not theirs, but God’s, to shape." ~Erick Erickson

I have stated this many times, and I will continue to make this statement: This nation only came into existence through the concerted efforts of Christians, Deists, and Atheists who worked in unison to birth a nation wherein freedoms unseen in much of the world existed without the government's approval. Today, we live in a nation wherein the government is slowly removing those freedoms; so it was in the early 1800's, when the Danbury Baptist Association wrote to the newly elected Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, of their concerns regarding religious freedom and the agendas of those within the government he now led.
Jefferson, a man who denied the deity of Christ; the possibility of divine power on display through the Holy Spirit; and stated that he viewed much of the Bible as little more than folklore; also reassured the DBA and history shows that he worked to ensure religious freedom in his presidency. Indeed, it was during his tenure that many Supreme Court decisions were made which are still referenced today. Many of the protections that local churches enjoy today are the direct result of Jefferson and his peers; yet he was a man of sin, of vile wickedness, and of questionable moral and ethical character.

In short, I do not agree that Mr. Trump is poisoning the Church from within based upon the examples given by Mr. Erickson, though his observations do serve as a warning to all Christians to keep their eyes upon the Lord. These same arguments were made for and against President Obama; for and against Bill Clinton; for and against George W. Bush; and on back. They are arguments that are old, tired and worn out, simply given new life for yet another election cycle. I am not suggesting apathy, by any means; rather I am simply pointing out fact. To reiterate, I believe that the points which Mr. Erickson brings up are worthy warnings to the Church.

So, my question then is why people believe that the whole of the choice becomes this: Do we vote for a candidate that will uphold the law of the land and seek to rein back the federal government's encroachment? Or do we vote for a candidate that will expand the government's reach, strengthen its grip, and further reduce the sum total of freedoms?

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Erickson when he writes:

"Christians looking for a strong man to protect the church instead of the strongest man who conquered death is a terrible thing to see. ...They seemingly argue that if the nation falls, the church falls and for the church to rise the country must rise. But Christ has already risen so the true church is in no danger of falling." ~Erick Erickson

With that agreement being voiced, I wish to point out to him and all who agree with him: If this statement is true, neither candidate poses a threat to the Church. If you, dear reader, hold this statement to be true, then you have no reason to fear either candidate. I personally hold this statement to be true and thus fear no candidate; instead, all I attempt to do in my writing is to shine a light on the practical effects of each candidate's agenda.

"Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant." ~Erick Erickson

It Scripture does tell us that we are to shun an unrepentant believer (2 Thessalonians 3:6) and 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 tells us to avoid the company of one named a brother. This last passage also tells us that we are not to operate the same way with those outside of the Church, because God judges them Himself. So if Scripture tells us this, as Mr. Erickson correctly states, then how are some people still supporting Mr. Trump while also claiming Christianity?

They do so in much the same way that others claiming to be Christian support Ms. Clinton: They find loopholes. In the case of Ms. Clinton, I can find no justifiable loophole. In the case of Mr. Trump, I can find only one justifiable; and even that is a stretch. Yet this loophole is one which I have heard referenced time and again. (Allow me to reiterate for clarity: I do not support the idea of loopholes. This is an argument which I have heard many times before, and in which I find an understandable plausibility for Christians who support Mr. Trump. However, I do not subscribe to the notion.)

The basic premise of the "Trump Loophole" is that the context of this passage from 1 Corinthians is for those who have been upstanding members of the Body of Christ who have fallen into unrepentant iniquity. If Mr. Trump had been such a person, then Mr. Erickson would have a valid point; yet if the "Trump Loophole" is accurate, then Mr. Erickson has invalidated his own argument by previously suggesting that Mr. Trump has never been such a person.

One might ask at this point if I am arguing for or against Mr. Trump; I am doing neither, as I do not believe him to be any better or worse for this country and the Church than his opponent. Their impact upon both would simply take different forms.

"All Christendom should be ashamed we are putting our needs in this temporary place ahead of saving a soul bound for eternity." ~Erick Erickson

This is perhaps the most accurate statement ever made for this election cycle, and yet it is applied in the strangest manner: It is directed as supporters of but one candidate, when supporters of both are as worthy of this criticism.

"God did not tell the Jews to throw open the gates of Jerusalemn (sic) for Nebuchadnezzar. God did that himself." ~Erick Erickson

Yes he did, Mr. Erickson. It's found in Jeremiah 38:17, and before anyone says that God did not specifically state that Jerusalem should open its gates, first one must know what surrender at that time entailed. A rather brief time of research will reveal that in order to surrender, King Zedekiah would first need to send a messenger, then open the gates of the city, receive the Babylonian envoy, and hand over his crown before the people. So yes, God did in fact tell them to open the gates to Nebuchadnezzar.

I am not saying this to pick at the man, but as Mr. Erickson has stated, "This is the inerrant word of God..." If one makes a statement based upon the Word of God, then it must be accurate. (Some have suggested that this is nothing more than a distraction and a low-blow; comments from two different sources. I do not believe it is. I believe that an article calling out misrepresentation of Christianity and the Word of God should in no way misrepresent the Bible itself- That is why I correct the Jerusalem argument. If I were simply being petty I would have gleefully pointed out another mistake; which I did not do then, and will not do now.)

The final word I have on this matter is well said by Mr. Erickson, and I believe it is a fitting end to this article. Bearing in mind that I believe all Christians must do as the Holy Spirit leads:

"If God wants Trump in the White House, he does not need my vote or a violation of my conscience to get Trump there."

As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. Feel free to share this across social media also. God bless!

Some have requested that I distill my opinion for easier consumption. They pointed out that when they initially read this, they were coming off of a double shift and coming out of a three day bout with insomnia, respectively. So for the sake of tired minds and bodies everywhere, it all seems to boil down to this for me personally.

Mr.Trump is not a Christian, no more than is President Obama. Thus, in my view he cannot be held to the same standards. With that being said, everything said in Mr. Erickson's article for why Mr. Trump should not be supported actually applies more aptly to Ms. Clinton; I am not saying that because I dislike her, but because she is a professing Christian; has attended a local body of believers her entire life; and supports these individual churches financially. She should not be supported for the reasons in this article; Mr. Trump should not be supported for the simple fact that he is a textbook functional sociopath. 

For me personally, it truly is a moral and ethical issue; it seems that my reasons and logic are simply different from those of others. Hillary Clinton is a "No Vote" because of every reason in Mr. Erickson's article. Mr. Trump is a "No Vote" because he embodies everything the Lord hates. Trampling the poor and the widow, despising the orphan- Just a few examples of this. 

So what is the choice? Many states allow a write-in, and I personally may utilize that option for my preferred candidate. Others have third-party candidates on ballot; perhaps I will place a vote for one of these. Regardless of what I personally will do, I urge all who read this to vote- Simply do so in such a way that does not violate conscience or the leading of the Holy Spirit.

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