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Kingdom of God

>Hoping For, Even If Not Expecting, A Successful Obama Administration

>Hoping for Success, Not Meltdown
Some of my conservative brethren are hoping for total political and legislative chaos during the next four years. It goes something like this, “OK, America, if this is what you want, this is what you got. We’re gonna see just how bad its gonna get.” To this I say, let us not lose our dignity. Lets not imitate the disgraceful behavior of the “Bush-haters.” Bush could do nothing right in the eyes of these zealots (although it was just as bad to think he could do no wrong). He was attacked mercilessly on a very personal level. Irresponsibility abounded as fictional accounts fantasized about assassination. One commentator writes,

“It seems to me that conservatives have a golden opportunity to offer criticism and advice in a manner that many liberals did not during the last eight years. By that I mean I hope there are no conservative versions of the Nicholson Baker Knopf-published ‘novel’ Checkpoint, the creepy documentary by Gerald Range, the attempt to name a sewer plant after an American President, or the celebrity outbursts that we have witnessed with the tired refrain of Hitler/Nazi Bush—that all have cheapened political discourse. When I hear a partisan insider like Paul Begala urging at the 11th hour that we now rally around lame-duck Bush in his last few days, I detect a sense of apprehension that no Democrats would wish conservatives to treat Obama as they did Bush for eight years.

In the future, criticism should be offered in unified pro-American tones, rather than anti-Obama screeds. When disagreements arise, they should be couched in a sense of regret rather than ebullition. There should be no conservative counterparts of Bill Maher, Michael Moore, or Al Franken.”

Conservatives seek to conserve the good and true values of those who have gone before us. One of these values is civility. Many on the left have shown that they have abandoned this value. Some of us abandoned civility during the Clinton years. Let us not duplicate this error.

We do not want a total meltdown during this time in which the legislative and executive branches are under the control of the Left. We hope Obama will moderate his views as President. We want his presidency to have a positive effect upon race relations. We want the economy to improve. We do not want it to worsen merely to see Obama damaged politically. We hope that Joe Biden was wrong when he predicted that foreign leaders will try to test Obama. We do not want things to get as bad as they can get just to humiliate Obama and the Democrat Party. We do not want things to go to hell in a hand basket just so we can kick the bums out in 2010. Do I think there will be much to applaud during the “age of Obama”? No, but we ought to look for the good and support it when/if it occurs.

Disagreeing Honorably
That being said, we will be true to our principles. We ought to praise the good Obama does but we will continue to vigorously fight on behalf of our deeply-held convictions. Some condemn all the “fighting” in politics but there is a difference between contending for your principles, ie. “fighting,” and nastiness. There is nothing inherently indecent about forcefully fighting for our beliefs. The end of the conservative era along with the onset of the permanent “progressive” majority has been pronounced. So there is a “fight” taking place whether we want to fight back or not. We will continue to struggle but it must be done honorably and decently with respect and civility.

Further, I am not “uniting behind Obama.” I respect him as our President-elect and as a person and professing Christian. If that was all it meant to unite behind Obama, that would be fine. But I do not unite behind his philosophy and policies. I do not unite behind his radical roots or his extreme agenda. I do not join with him in his desire to “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.” None of this contradicts what I just stated in the previous paragraph. Honor, decency, respect, and civility have nothing to do rolling over or throwing in the towel.

More Than Mere Party Politics
I am not just talking about Republicans vs. Democrats or conservatism vs. liberalism however. We need to transcend party politics and shift our priorities to kingdom advancement. The kingdom of God was the central theme of Christ’s proclamation on earth. Evangelicals have neglected kingdom theology for many years but thankfully we are experiencing a resurgence in interest. Finding common ground on the nature of the kingdom of God is a key to renewed, balanced, and biblical engagement in sociopolitical activity. As Russell D. Moore writes, kingdom theology is nothing new but “what is ‘new’ is that many evangelicals have stopped arguing about the Kingdom of God – and have started seeking after it.” We are not stuck with the 20th century’s paradigm for debate over the Kingdom. There is an alternative to choosing between the “Social Gospel” of Protestant liberalism and the evangelism-only disengagement of fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. The common ground established within evangelicalism by an ‘already-not yet’ view of the kingdom, inaugurated eschatology, and the believer’s union with Christ has opened the door to another way. The recognition that Christ is now reigning as King and that his rule encompasses the entire cosmos eliminates cultural withdrawal as an acceptable Christian alternative. The reality of the inaugurated, though not yet fulfilled, reign of Christ and the cosmic scope of his lordship has many implications for our current sociopolitical activity. But that is a post for another time. Our sociopolitical activity must spring from the kingdom activity of God’s people rather than the struggles of two opposing political parties.

We ought to genuinely hope for a successful Obama administration even if we have grave concerns over what is to come. He has not done anything yet and we should give him a chance. We will probably oppose his ideas on a great many things but let us be decent, honorable, and respectful about it. And as we examine what went wrong on “our side,” lets not merely strategize over how we can win next time. We need to reexamine our entire approach to politics and reorient our activity according to Kingdom priorities because we are members of the people of God first and foremost.

Resurrection by Piero della Francesca

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Discussion

8 thoughts on “>Hoping For, Even If Not Expecting, A Successful Obama Administration

  1. >I see your point, and I realize now that my own point was inadequate. I suppose I should have said that it’s a common political move to conflate, say, people who have philosophically valid objections to Bill Clinton’s policies with those people who were publishing “365 Reasons to Hate Bill Clinton” calendars before he was ever sworn in. The former is perfectly valid, and an honest assessment of things should not assume that both sorts of people have the same basic mindset. The fact of the matter is that one is looking at two very different sorts of text there, and although the call not to be a “hater” is a valid one, a parallel call should go out not to reduce every moment of criticism that one does not like to irrational hatred.

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | November 13, 2008, 11:13 am
  2. >”…but, since nobody could possibly disagree with Y’s policies and remain sane, those who do must be irrational ‘haters.'” If the Bush-haters were just your average folks who merely disagreed with some of Bush’s policies I would not call them Bush-haters. They are ideological opponents of Bush but the haters are the irrational and, yes, hateful ones who then go on to call for Bush’s death, call him a mass murderer, want him arrested, delight in his daughter’s drunken misshaps, claim that Bush is still on coke when he fell and scratched his face a few years back, claim that he masterminded 9-11, and we could go on and on. I have plenty of objections to some of Bush’s policies so I would be calling myself a Bush-hater if it were just a matter of disagreeing over policies. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m just playing both sides of the “game”! 🙂 Nonetheless, I hope conservatives can avoid becoming Obama-haters.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | November 12, 2008, 2:50 am
  3. >I think the “Bush-hater” label is another species of political hypocrisy. It’s one of those games where I disagree strongly with X’s policies, but, since nobody could possibly disagree with Y’s policies and remain sane, those who do must be irrational “haters.” It’s a game that both “sides” play without any discernible sense of irony.

    Posted by Nathan P. Gilmour | November 12, 2008, 1:06 am
  4. >It has apparently become popular to be a “Bush Hater.” I voted for Bush twice. The first time I felt pretty good about it, the second time I felt disenfranchised. I had hoped that his inability to be able to put two intelligent sentences together would change over time, though it never did. However, as a Christian I cannot say I am a “Bush Hater.” This goes back to 1 John 2:9-11. I may dislike Bush’s policies and some of the poor decisions he made, but I do not hate him. I still feel he has served our country well, and he has kept us safe from additional attacks on our own soil. There have been many attacks abroad, but his harsh position against terrorism has kept Americans safe.On the other hand, I did not vote for Obama. However, I am very proud that our country has elected its first ever black president and I look forward to seeing what he will do. He is a very intelligent man and I admire his tenacity, his ability to assemble a team that works together, and the fact that he is an inspiring individual. I disagree with Obama on quite a bit concerning his political and moral views. However, I am not an “Obama Hater.” I think as Christians we should be downright ashamed to use such language. It’s actually a pretty quirky brand of Christianity to have that attitude. I know Obama won’t do everything right and certainly won’t do everything in agreement with my views. But he is my president and I will pray for him. I hope he goes down in history as one of our greatest presidents. After all, wouldn’t it be great to have one greater than some we have already known? It would be a great day to be American.The Christians who are vilifying Obama are giving American Evangelicalism (whatever that means anymore) a bad name and are unaware that they sound like fundamentalists. Moreover, it makes them sound like the liberal, international, far-left, socialist Bush Haters in other parts of the world.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | November 9, 2008, 2:44 pm
  5. >OSO,I have to differ with your long response, albeit much more briefly. 😉 You say that “Bush haters” only became so after Bush’s mistakes in office. Were you under a rock during the 2000 election and the immediate aftermath of that election? There was enough anger and heated rhetoric from the Left to contribute to global warming!

    Posted by Dwight Watson | November 9, 2008, 3:59 am
  6. >There is a big difference between the “Bush haters” and the “Obama Haters”.It has to do with the difference between fear and facts.I quite readily believe that Bush is the worst president in US history. In your eyes that probably makes me a “Bush hater”. The issue is that I was never a Bush hater from the beginning. I certainly didn’t like the guy when he got elected but, I thought, time will tell whether he is successful or not.It was Bush’s actions which turned me into a “Bush hater”. The bombastic attitude of the Bush administration during the Hainan Island incident prior to 9/11 alarmed me – they seemed willing to use aggressive diplomacy and threaten war.But the moment which made me turn into a “Bush hater” was the invasion of Iraq. In 2002 I supported an invasion of Iraq based upon the idea that Saddam Hussein was still developing Chemical Weapons. But as time went by it became very obvious in the pre-war period that there were no WMDs in Iraq. UN inspectors couldn’t find any and Saddam Hussein had complied with many requests for information, albeit reluctantly. By the time the invasion came around I was convinced that no WMDs were in Iraq – a belief that was borne out quite obviously after many years of fruitless searching.I believe that military action – especially the invasion of a foreign nation, no matter how “abhorrent” – should be the last choice made and one that is made seriously and carefully. Yet the facts seem to be that the Bush administration was pushing for war. Colin Powell’s address to the UN was humiliating as he described water trucks as “mobile chemical weapons manufacturers”. Information got released to the media ostensibly proving that Iraq had WMDs, only for careful analysis to reveal them to be forgeries.In short, Bush invaded a foreign nation for no real reason. Iraq was neither a danger to the US or to its neighbours and nor were they involved in 9/11. The result of this invasion has been the direct and indirect deaths of over 1 million Iraqis and millions more as refugees. The long term ramifications of this are obvious – millions of people whose lives were ruined by America has the potential to create many terrorists in the future.There are other aspects to Bush’s rule: Warrentless wiretapping, sanctioning torture, keeping prisoners without trial, kidnapping suspects off the streets of foreign nations without approval. None of these things made America safe and all of them destroyed a piece of America’s integrity.Then there’s Katrina. And then there’s the current economic collapse, brought about in part due to unwise tax cuts in Bush’s first term.Okay, enough about Bush. What about Obama?The only way I would ever become an Obama-hater is if Obama makes stupid and irrational decisions.Obama-haters, at the moment though, hate him not for what he has done (which is nothing yet) but what they fear he will do in office. Obama was painted as an closet Muslim, a baby-killer, a terrorist, a “Socialist” – in short, he was depicted as the devil incarnate.But the difference between Bush-haters and Obama-haters is based upon Time: Bush haters hate Bush because of what he has done, while Obama haters hate Obama based upon what they think he will do – Hence the rush to buy firearms in some sections of the country.I, for one, will readily and fearlessly criticise Obama for anything he does wrong. What I won’t do is buy into the “America is going to collapse” moaning that many hardline conservatives have been crying out in the last few months.In other words – I won’t judge a person until it can be proven that they have done something wrong.When Obama’s time as president is up (2012 or 2016), historians and ordinary people will look back upon his time as president. What they will see will be a mixture of successes and failures. Obama will make bad decisions, he will make mistakes, he will do things that he may or may not be proud of later. That is certain.But the question is – will Obama’s successes outstrip his failures? Every president’s career is under that question.Only time will tell, not fear.We can only hope and pray that he will be a net benefit to America and to the world.

    Posted by One Salient Oversight | November 9, 2008, 1:14 am
  7. >The good thing is that Focus on the Family doesn’t speak for everyone. I don’t even pay attention to them so I haven’t seen the letter that you’re talking about.

    Posted by J.Wizzle | November 9, 2008, 1:06 am
  8. >I appreciate your attitude about this, Jeff, but I am not optimistic.Neither side has acted honorably in the past 8 years (or past 30 years), and I don’t think that will change. The only thing that has changed is that the tables have turned.Conservatives will defend shrill conservatives by invoking how liberals behaved while they were in opposition.Liberals will defend Obama no matter what and circle the wagons.In the midst of this absolute insanity, you’d hope Christian conservatives and liberals would be a beacon of light.Judging from the letter from Focus on the Family likening Obama and Democrats to Hitler and Nazis, I think we are in more insanity.Christian insanity.

    Posted by David Cho | November 9, 2008, 12:48 am

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