In this episode Kurt is joined by Dr. Os Guinness, author of Impossible People, to discuss the election, the status, and future of American democracy. If you have a question or comment regarding this episode you can comment below or give us a call at (505) 2-STRIVE.
Kurt: Well a good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It’s a great joy to be here talking to you this afternoon. We’re going to be talking about the U.S. elections, the presidential elections, and also other elections occurred this past Tuesday so I’ve seen a lot of people have been angry, there have been protests in certain cities throughout the country. There’s been certain claims of racism and hatred of sorts and so it’s really been a divisive campaign, a divisive election, and so some people are even blaming the Electoral College for what has transpired because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump won the Electoral College and so I want to briefly talk about that and then after that we’ll be bringing on Dr. Os Guinness to speak with us about his thoughts and also we’re going to be talking about his new book called Impossible People so I’ve very much looking forward to talking to him about that and so for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Electoral College, basically the way it works is this. The Electoral College is comprised of 538 people, actual people, that in December, I forget which date it is, might be the twelfth or the fourteenth, they actually come together in their respective states and they submit their votes for who should be president and those are the people that elect the president. Not you. Your vote is for who should be those electors. If your state votes for the Republican nominee, then you are essentially voting for the Republican electors and if your state votes for the Democratic nominee then your vote goes toward electing those electors that will vote for the Democrat. What’s really fun is sometimes in history we have what’s called a faithless elector, that’s an elector who says they’re going to vote for the Republican nominee or the Democrat nominee, but who does not, and this actually happens rarely but it does, and so it’s quite interesting, one proposal out there in fact I think on change.org, I think it’s got over half a million signatures, is for these electors to be faithless. Now it’s rare when just one person is faithless. For thirty plus, I’m not sure that’s going to happen, but we’ll see. Next month it happens officially so that’s essentially the way it works and a lot of people, I know I was talking to people online, some people were just unhappy with the Electoral College because of the fact that it doesn’t vote America. Right? I mean it should be the majority winner that becomes president. Well there are a few problems with that. The first problem to start with is that despite gaining a plurality of the votes, Mrs. Clinton did not get a majority of the votes so none of the candidates received 50% which means if we’re going with majority rules then no one wins so you’ve got to come up with a backup system for how that works. Maybe you’ve got a weighted voting system or something like that, but I love the Electoral College. It is like a puzzle with colored pieces that are constantly changing and their values change as well. The worth of the puzzle pieces changes every ten years. It’s a lot of fun trying to play the game and there are rules to this game and it’s really great because I think it does give an accurate representation of America because if you just go with the popular vote winner then what you’re going to find are candidates just spending their time in highly populated areas and so whether that be cities or even large suburban areas where they might corral the voters and the next time you know is cities and those suburban areas that are determining who should be the leader of our nation so really the Electoral College helps support the small man, the minority groups. Our system is built upon supporting minority groups and I think it’s a beautiful thing. It creates a hybrid like system so that it’s not just a mob rule essentially. It’s not just 50.1% decides. Those are built in throughout and across our system in different ways. There are some benefits to the Electoral College. One of them for instance is voter fraud. If voter fraud were to occur, then it’s going to directly affect the totals of the popular vote, but if voter fraud occurs, it’s only restricted to that state in which it occurs so if there is voter fraud, say 30,000 votes are fake votes and that’s the difference or makes up more than the difference in outcome, then that means it’s only in that state that’s been affected while yes, those are so many electoral points, electoral votes, it may not affect the whole outcome so it’s a sort of preventative measure against cheating, gaming the system.
Of course the two nominees agreed to the terms here about the Electoral College. They know that’s the way it’s played and so they based their candidacies, they base their campaign strategies on that and voters also base their voting habits upon that as well. Suppose hypothetically you’re a Democrat, but you know your state is not going to elect the Democratic nominee. You might want to if it’s an open primary vote for the Republican primary ticket so you can try to wiggle in someone more close aligned with your views, so voters have a strategy as well and so at least for the general election here, a number of voters in mountain states voted for the Libertarian nominee because they knew that their vote wouldn’t affect the outcome, but if it’s a popular vote, you can kiss third parties good-bye. I mean entirely, just no chance. No chance whatsoever because it will just further degrade into the two-party system so there’s a beautiful thing to the Electoral College. Perhaps some of you disagree with me. If you do, I’d love to get your thoughts on the matter. You can give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. Later on towards the end of the show we’re going to be talking with the panel about the Electoral College. I’d love to get their thoughts. In studio today we’ve got Kevin, Joel, and John so thanks for joining me here guys, gents, and those watching on Facebook live can see all of our beautiful faces that are made for radio. Right? So give us a call. We’d love to get your thoughts if you’ve got comments or questions on that. So those are my brief thoughts on the Electoral College and so it’s just really been fascinating to see how the outrage at the system has all of a sudden turned on the Electoral College. This has happened before a few times in American history where the popular vote loses out to the electoral vote and I like it. It’s a preventative measure. It prevents mob rule and maybe if you’re unsatisfied there are two states, Maine and Nebraska that have hybrid systems, so the popular vote winner gets two of the electoral votes and then it’s based on congressional district. Maybe there’s a nice advantage so say the state of California did that, well then all of a sudden some Republicans would be represented in the general election because they would have congressional votes and vice-versa. I mean even in Texas you’d get the same thing.
Maybe there are pros and cons to that. Kevin was shaking his head but we’ll ask him why later, but without further ado I wanted to bring on a very special guest, someone who I’ve looked up to myself who I highly respect, and who I believe is a prophet to this nation. He is our modern day Alexis Du Tocqueville who is correctly recognizing American society for what it is and providing a way, providing not just good advice, but in a sense, holy advice. He is looking to Scripture and noting that it is only the Gospel that will save society and so without further ado, I wanted to welcome Os Guinness on to the show. Os. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Os: Kurt. It’s a tremendous pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Kurt: Great. Great. So maybe just generally here, sense we’re still in the relevancy of talking about the election, this has been an untraditional campaign season for both parties it seems, for the whole country. What are your thoughts on the campaign season and then also on the outcome?
Os: My word. You want me to be alive at the end of this? Often historians say that however bad things get there was always the election of 1800 which was simply awful and that’s taken as the gold standard of bad elections, but the election of 2016 and the race for the White House has joined 1800 as maybe the most negative, the most rancorous, the most bitter election in American history so I think it’s been an appalling way of doing things and sadly even the responses to the election via protests and the violence we’ve seen, you can see that the country is divided as at any time and so just before the Civil War and there needs to be a profound healing, but is there a Lincoln-like leader in the country? That’s what’s needed now. Someone who knows the American experiment and knows how to pull things together.
Kurt: There is the concern now that we have lost our way isn’t there? The society has changed and our, I don’t like using the term values, but our values, the things that we do value, the morals that we have, even our religious beliefs have changed so it seems that we’re fighting a new battle in a sense. Maybe it just has a different face, but it seems to be the same battle. Would you say that’s right?
Os: Well I agree with you. It’s an extraordinary moment. If you look wider Kurt, we’re seeing the decline of the West. We’re seeing our faltering search for a New World Order. We’re seeing a whole crunch of global problems that need to be handled and at the same time you’ve got this very profound crisis in the American republic and I would argue that what we’re seeing is an attempted takeover by progressive secularists from the Jewish and Christian faith as being the working or defining faith of the West and that’s the struggle for our time and you have two very different views of freedom for example and whichever comes out, it will profoundly affect the future of America. Now the trouble is, in debating the exchange, we don’t have a debate. We have a culture war that grows more bitter all the time so trust is completely broken down and that’s the saddest thing to me after the election.
Kurt: Yeah. I’ve told people that we can’t just be culture warring for the sake of culture warring. That doesn’t win over souls in any way. We need to be, if we are going to be culture warring, it should be done on the basis that we’re trying to make disciples of Jesus, we’re trying to win people over to the faith. That should be our first priority because interestingly enough I think there was an ESPN/NBA analyst who said you get guys in sportsworld commenting on politics and religion but at the end of the day he knows who’s on the throne. He said this on cable TV which is quite surprising and I think that’s very true.
Kurt: Yeah. It was just a beautiful thing because it’s true. At the end of the day Jesus is on the throne and that’s how we need to be working, with that mindset. We can’t just be culture warring and that seems to be what we’re witnessing here with, there are people on the streets protesting what seems to be a free election. It’s not like rights have been infringed upon. What would you say to those that are currently protesting? What’s a way we can reach out and say “Hey. We need to work and heal and reconcile on this. Move forward.”?
Os: Those who win, in this case the Republicans, have to reach out and say we are all Americans and we have the interest of all Americans and in genuinely Lincoln terms, bind up the wounds, and I think that means for those of us who are Christians since….is the religion that’s right, you cannot turn, as you said, the country around by culture warring or by winning election campaigns. Do it on a much deeper level. Now I have no hesitation to say that in the present state of things we, followers of Jesus, we are the great defenders of human dignity, of a genuine grounded view of freedom and equality and things like this so it’s an extraordinary moment for Christians with an unshakable confidence in the Gospel to move out and to really heal the wounds and to point towards a better way.
Kurt: You’ve said that two of the largest threats to American democracy are secularism and radical Islam and so my observation here, at least in this nation, is that secularism is having the larger influence, although radical Islam is a global issue, and though we’re becoming more secular it seems, correct me if I’m wrong, but secularism has trouble making sense of even human rights. I don’t think it can accurately present a case for why we should have these rights. Would you agree or what are your thoughts?
Os: No. That’s true, but Kurt, I would argue, you’ve got three s words that all overlap and they have the same sort of effect but they are different and we need to understand the differences. Secularism ending in ism is a philosophy and you can believe it or not believe it and argue against it and so on. And then you’ve got Separationism which is a policy. In other words, those two unite to drive all religions out of the public square, and that’s very different although it overlaps, and then you’ve got secularization which is not so much a philosophy but a process, the way the modern world seems to shift us from a supernatural reality to a secularist world reality and that is happening willy-nilly. Those three forces overlap and together when they converge, they’re extremely dangerous to Christian faith. In fact, they undermine us, but we’ve got to separate them so we are openly arguing against secularism and we disagree, I think all true liberals should disagree with separationism, but we’ve really got to be aware of how secularization is affecting even Christians. Many Western Christians unlike our sisters and brothers in Africa or else say Asia, they’re actually almost operationally atheists. Their worldview is almost as secular as their secular neighbors next door, and that’s something we’ve got to really face, and part of the reason, put it another way. The scandal of the American church is that in this country, uniquely in the Western world, the church is numerically the majority but culturally very weak and you’ve got tiny minorities like say wonderful groups like the Jews or people we would disagree with like say gays and lesbians, but they are less than two percent of America, but those groups have far more cultural influence than Christians who are far more to 50, 60, maybe even 70 percent of America, and that’s the scandal of the church. The Christian church is not salty. It’s not lightbearing as our Lord called us to be.
Kurt: Yes. That’s a provocative thought that for all the Christians in our society today, that we are failing at our duty.
Os: Well I think you really have to begin there. Because you look, globally speaking, the Christian faith is the first truly global religion. We’re the most numerous faith on the Earth, but we’re exploding on Earth in the global south, South Sahara, Africa, China, Asia, and so on, and not doing well anywhere in the West. In other words, we capitulated, caved in, to the seductions and the distortions of our advanced modern world and as I said, if you look at Europe or Australia, Canada, and New Zealand and so on, in most countries Christians are a minority. The scandal here is we’re a majority and still incredibly weak.
Kurt: Yeah. We’re functioning like a weak minority.
Os: That’s right. In other words the challenge is us. We’re the problem.
Os: Pogo. I’ve seen the enemy and it’s us.
Kurt: Yes. Yes. So speaking of seeing the enemy, I want to get into your background a little bit. For our listeners that are first time hearing you speak, they’ll say “Hey. He’s got an accent. Where’s he from?” But you’re not from the United Kingdom are you?
Os: Well I was born in China and my parents were medical missionaries. My family’s actually Irish in background from Dublin. So I did for my first fifteen years go to school and college in England, so I am basically English, lived in Switzerland and then more recently lived over here.
Kurt: Right. Right. Yes. Of course you’ve got the Irish heritage because your name attests to the wonderful beverage that just happens to be my favorite alcoholic drink.
Os: Splendid. Also tied in with the Guinness Book of Records.
Kurt: Yes. Yes. That’s right. Okay. So you spent time in China and you were a schoolboy when Mao Tse Tung took over. Is that right?
Os: Yes. I well remember the day in January 1949. I was seven and my Dad said to me, “Son. We’re in trouble.” Chiang Kai-shek, the nationalist leader has just founded Taiwan, and sure enough three months in came later the hundreds of thousands of troops of Leitbow and the Communist regime and the reign of terror began including the terrible persecution of the Chinese church.
Kurt: So you have witnessed it firsthand, you know. For a lot of us Christians today, we talk about “Hey. Yes. We’re a majority, but we’re not doing much.” It just seems like we’re complacent. We’re comfortable here in our 21st century America. Of course, our comfortability is being threatened, but there seems to be greater issues at stake here and someone like yourself who has seen so much in your lifetime, it’s amazing to read your books, to learn from you, to listen to you, and so I thank you for all of your labors for the Kingdom. I wanted to move into your new book here. You’re the sort of fellow that published about a book a year. I don’t know how you do it, but it’s a blessing to God’s people that you do, so Impossible People, correct me if I’m mistaken, but the name comes from Peter Damien’s background in history. Is that right?
Os: That’s right. He was not very well known, but he was an eleventh century reformer at a time the church was incredibly corrupt. Theologically, economically, financially, sexually, and he was so sold out to Jesus that he’s described as unmanipulable, unbribable, incorruptible, and I loved George Orwell’s latest term, unprobable, so people called him the impossible man. In other words, he simply couldn’t be manipulated and some people undoubtedly said it with enormous admiration of him, and others with extreme exasperation because they wanted to manipulate him and they couldn’t, and that’s what we need followers of Jesus to be today. This soft accommodationism in much of the evangelical movement, a kind of openness to syncretism in a soft way and we need to be people of real backbone, strong convictions, of course with all the grace, the mercy, the love of our Lord, but at the same time, unbribable and unmanipulable.
Kurt: And so you also talk in the book about how we need to be speaking to an audience of one, the voice of God, so if we are to be impossible people, we should be unclubbable. We need to keep in mind that there’s only one voice to whom we are obligated to follow and that of course is the voice of God and so that’s really a challenge that you present to us that we shouldn’t care about even what people to a certain extent, we shouldn’t care about what people think about us because we can’t be accommodationists, as you said, we can’t hold to this soft syncretism. As we read the Old Testament, we learn about how the Israelites became syncretists. They incorporated other religious beliefs into their own theocracy, their own society, their own religions, and they worshipped other gods and that was a problem. Now speaking of the Old Testament, tell us a little bit about how you think that the Old Testament covenant is sort of an analogy or reflective, maybe I’m not finding the right word there, of the American Constitution. It seems that the founding fathers were deists after all. Right? They weren’t exclusively Christian might suggest.
Os: Well, I’d put it to you differently. If you look at the founders, you go one extreme from Patrick Henry who was an evangelical, to really solid believers like George Mason who was 100% Orthodox to believers who were somewhat vague like George Washington, right out to deists like Thomas Jefferson and almost freethinkers like Thomas Paine. In other words you had a tremendous variety, but there’s no question that most Americans were Christians and the overwhelming, the majority, the ideas that shaped this republic were Christian, but here’s the point. Talking of covenant, if you ask Americans today what’s behind the founding, they would say “Well of course it was the Democratic Athens” and the answer is absolutely not. The framers were extremely wary of the direct democracy of Athens and they tried to build something different, but actually the thing that shaped the republic more than any other single thing was the covenants at Mt. Sinai in the book of Exodus. If you put it like this, from the fourth century when the church won right down to the Reformation, the church was hierarchical in its structure and historians say borrowed too much of Roman institutions so the Papacy was a reflection of the Caesars, so the genius of the reformation is it recovered covenant and you can see covenant jumps from Sinai to Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, Cromwell, and England was a lost cause. It failed. The king came back in 1660, but what was the last cause in England became the winning cause in New England and you can look at the Mayflower or the Arbella, the model of Christian charity that John Winthrop, it was all covenant. It borrowed directly and you can see covenant shapes what later became in a more secularized somewhat nationalized form Constitution and there are a number of incredible implications, the most important being covenantalism of what became Constitutionalism reunited faith and freedom. You can see this in .The trouble is Americans take faith and freedom for granted. The two words for a lawpreacher. So if you read, his introduction, he says in most of history people that loved religion attacked liberty and people who loved liberty attacked religion and of course, he’s referring to France, the Christian state were hierarchical and oppressive and the religion threw off both of them and says the genius of this category, the spirit of religion and the spirit of unity went hand in hand, and you know Edmund Burke, the great, when he was defending the American colonies in the House of Commons, he said to the English House of Commons, “You shouldn’t have been surprised because these are the Protestants of Protestantism. They’re the descendants of descent.” Why? Because they took the Reformation seriously and they went back to the covenant, so we need to recover this incredibly important idea and it’s the secret of the American past and it will be the remedy for the American future.
Kurt: Yeah. It’s quite fascinating that covenant is the thing here and though it seems that in our society today, not a lot of people want to hold to their word. They’re willing to change their word or they don’t want to be bound by these rules and so we’ve got to take a short break here, but after the break I want to pick your brain about where you see these trends are going and maybe some advice for Christians as to how we can respond to the trends these days and to win people over back to a covenantal backset, so let’s continue after a short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Well, thanks for sticking with us through that short break. I’ve got the great honor this afternoon to be joined by Os Guinness. He’s a prolific author and an esteemed social critic and that’s a great pleasure to have him on the show today, but Os, I’m wondering before we get back to discussing your book Impossible People, which was kindly provided for me by Intervarsity Press, I am wondering if you are open to playing a round of rapid questions.
Os: Sure. Go ahead.
Kurt: Alright. So for those of you who are first-time listeners to our show.
Os: You’ve got to remember I’m not American so some of your questions are often things I haven’t a clue about.
Kurt: Well that’s why I think this will be a great opportunity. So we can get your answers to some of your questions. For those who are first-time listeners to the show, rapid questions is just a segment we have where we ask short light-hearted questions and we’re looking for fast responses. So Os, you’ve got sixty seconds. Are you ready?
Os: I’m Ready.
Kurt: What is your clothing store of choice?
Os: Ralph Lauren.
Kurt: Okay. What song is playing on your radio these days?
Os: My favorite composer is Bach and Mozart.
Kurt: Alright. Favorite sport. What’s your favorite sport?
Kurt: Are you left-handed or right-handed?
Kurt: Do you drink Dr. Pepper?
Os: Very very occasionally.
Kurt: Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?
Kurt: What is your inner milkshake flavor?
Os: Oh gosh. Caramel?
Kurt: And if you were a Cricket pitch, which one would you be?
Os: The Oval. It’s the greatest Cricket Crowd in my way. I used to be a member there.
Kurt: That’s awesome. Great. Well thank you so much for playing rapid questions. Okay, so before the break in case you’re just joining us now, I briefly talked a bit about the Electoral College, I explained the system and how it functions and why I like it and if you’ve got your comments or questions on that issue, we’re going to be talking about that with the panel at the end of the show, but please give us a call if you want to join our discussion. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. So Os, Impossible People here really presents a challenge to Christians to hold fast but also we must be winsome as well in the way we engage our culture and our society and we can’t just as we’ve talked about and we agree, we can’t just be culture warring for the sake of culture warring. It’s not about that at all and it won’t solve anything. Right? It doesn’t solve the root of the problem. So what do you think are some of these trends that you are seeing in our society today?
Os: Well Kurt, let me get back to what you were saying about the Electoral College.
Os: Because the Electoral College is one part of a very ingenious system of checks and balances all of which was curtailed because of the danger of the abuse of power because people were sinners and that’s what’s missing today. If you read things like anyone on the sins of the sexual revolution, which comes from the Marquis De Sade and Andre Breton and Wilheim Reich. If you read Wilheim Reich’s Sexual Revolution, the book, he coined the term. What’s amazing about it is his incredible Utopian naivete about human beings. There’s no problem. The only problem is repression. If you can remove repression, and he thinks sexual repression is the worst of all the repressions, then you’ve got total freedom to human beings and his naivete is absolutely incredible whereas the framers, they had an incredible radical realism because they did believe in sin and the danger of the abuse of power and we need to ask ourselves as Americans in America today, do we really believe that it’s a problem in human nature or not and that’s one of the big divides.
Kurt: Right. Right. Yeah. Even human nature, how does it function? It will be…
Os: You mentioned before the break that people don’t keep promises and Nietzsche says being a human being is being an animal entitled to keep promises so that’s actually rather biblical whereas Machiavelli and David Hume and most of the people in the Enlightenment believed that humans could never keep promises and certainly we see with covenants the Lord keeps His word, but we don’t and that’s the weak link.
Os: In covenantalism and in constitutionalism and you’re putting your finger on something incredibly important. You actually asked about the Religious Right. I would say the two greatest dangers of the Religious Right since 1975 and the birth of Moral Majority, are 1, which is called politicization, a trust of the politics to do more than politics can ever do and that was a fateful mistake. We will never change the world through politics alone, very important though it is. The second thing, they made another very bad mistake, they tried to do the Lord’s work, like fighting abortion and so on, they tried to do the Lord’s work but in the world’s way and as soon as our means don’t serve our ends, they undermine the ends so whatever we do in public life and we’ve all got to be involved politically, no question, but we’ve got to do it in a Christlike way if we’re really going to honor Him and be effective servants. Someone like William Wilberforce is a far far better leader and model than the leaders we’ve had more recently.
Kurt: Yeah. Boy, that’s a good word. We can’t do it the world’s way and it’s so true that if we were say, on the pro-life issue, if we were to pass a Constitutional amendment as some politicians are suggesting, I’m not convinced here that’s the right strategy to go about it, but if that were to happen, abortions may go on the decline, but it’s not going to stop the root of the problem and abortions will still happen. The point is we need to go about loving people in our everyday lives. We need to love our neighbor as ourselves instead of living comfortable lives here in America, we need to go out and start being uncomfortable. We need to be reaching out to people that some people might think poorly with us. Jesus went and ate with sinners, right, the Scripture says? We need to go and do that, because those are the people that Jesus wanted to reach and we should have those same desires if we’re going to be Christ’s followers.
Os: I do think we should change hearts and minds over abortion through persuasion. I think late-term abortions are an absolute crime and a scandal and the way Hillary supported those in the campaign was appalling, but even say early-term abortions which are a matter of convenience in our culture. We should be people who are arguing for life and responsibility and persuading hearts and minds that that’s wrong.
Kurt: Yeah. And we’ve got to do in in a winsome and loving way for sure and it seems that…
Kurt: Over the past few decades we’ve failed on that front so hopefully we’re getting better at it of course so some of the argument has been helped even by technology for instance, but we’ve got to be persuasive in a great way which also reminds me Os, I know we’ve just got a few more moments here with you, but we’ll have to bring you on again to talk about Fool’s Talk, because I want to have an episode just on that. What a great book.
Os: Thank you.
Kurt: Getting back here to Impossible People, I had a question about the fourth chapter so the fourth chapter is called Exploring The Heart Of Darkness and in Exploring The Heart Of Darkness, you first start off with an anecdote about a time you spent in U.S. Congress. Was there any intention there between using that anecdote and talking about The Heart Of Darkness?
Os: No. No. Not in terms of place. The Congressman actually put his finger in something. He said to me, “If you have a flood, a small boy can put his finger in the dike and be a hero.” Obviously he took the story from the Netherlands. “I’m looking out at America and what I see is a mudslide. Who can stop that?” And there’s a lot of people who talk about the fraying, the unraveling, the eroding, now what on Earth is behind that? That’s what I was interested in in that chapter and one of my heroes in the social sciences, Zygmunt Bauman, he calls the fact we’re living in the modern world in a liquid society, things that were solid, like the family or like faith, are just melting down and evaporating and just disappearing between our fingers as it were and we’ve got to explore that because Nietzsche once said, when God dies in a culture, that is the reality of God is no longer there, the culture becomes weightless, lighter than air, and you can see in the Scriptures the glory of God is awaiting us, but the opposite of that is what the Hebrew called Ichabod, the glory is gone. The weight is gone. And that’s the idea of Gone With The Wind. Just pushed away in the air, and a lot of American convictions and institutions like the family which have certainly become insubstantial and almost unreal today and we need to explore why that’s happening and how we can stand against it.
Kurt: I’m active on social media and on Facebook I get into some debates from time to time and I am strongly sympathetic to the view that the family is the fundamental building block of a society and it is really the structure, the social structure, that provides great opportunity for not just social success, but religious success if you will for great advancements and for stability even in our society and without it we are just raising, we’re raising generations of people that are lost and confused about even what their purpose in life is and how we should make our laws then of course. If you don’t know what your purpose is, how do you know what the country’s purpose is?
Os: Yeah. That’s right. If you go back, the family for most of our Western history, served two obvious purposes. Generation, the creation of new human beings, and transmission, in other words the heritage of the past was handed on to the present above all through the family and through things like family dining tables. I mention Wilhelm Reich earlier and his book The Sexual Revolution. His open attack, he attacks two things above all. The family, number one, and the church, number two, and he says quite openly the decisive battle against the Christian faith will be the sexual revolution and so if you want to undermine the family and the Christian faith and then you’ll win and you can see both of them under extreme assault today.
Kurt: Yeah. So with these things being under assault, what is your advice to us for how we can in a sense fight the battle? How do we defend those things, but engage our culture and society? What would you say is our way forward?
Os: Kurt. I began by saying, it may sound too basic, we’ve got to take heart in God. We need followers of Jesus who have an unshakable conviction. The problem is not that we’re not up to date or not that we’re not relevant. The problem is we haven’t got an unshakable confidence in God and the good news of Jesus so we’ve got to start there, and then I think really living out our faith in all our callings wherever they take us. High school teaching, law, medicine, computers, whatever it is. Every sphere our life takes us we should be living out our calling as followers of Jesus with salt and light, and then thirdly we need a great recovery of persuasion. The Christian consensus is gone for good and now with a thousand languages spoken around us we need to be advocates and witnesses for our Lord who are skilled, so for example we need to abandon all the formulae and recipes. All of the 1, 2, 3, 4s that we trot out for everyone. They’re absolutely useless. Jesus never spoke to two people the same way and nor should we. We need to have the skill in knowing whoever we meet, atheist, Buddhist, whatever, we know how to talk to them and persuade them about the good news of Jesus and so on and so on. Basically very simple foundational things that we need to recover today and just move out with confidence. God is greater than all. He can be trusted in all situations. Have no fear. Have faith in God.
Kurt: Os. Thank you so much for your time this afternoon and coming on the show and allowing me to pick your brain about where our country’s going, correctly diagnosing what some of the problems are so that that way we can have a good prescription forward. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really appreciate you and the work you’re doing. I think you are a prophet in our society today and you are our modern day Alexis De Tocqueville, who as a foreigner has come to our land and correctly viewed our society for what it is and what the proper strategy forward is so thank you and God bless you for everything that you do, Os.
Os: Well very kind of you to have me. Thanks so much your kind words. God bless you too.
Kurt: Thanks Os. Take care.
Kurt: Okay, so that is just a great opportunity that we have to hear from Os and so he just has a way about him of speaking about things in such succinct terms but in a way of elaborating upon ideas. I mean he has words for concepts I haven’t even imagined. Maybe you’ve felt the same way as you were listening in and so it was just a great opportunity. I feel quite blessed to have him on the show. So now I want to spend the time talking about the Electoral College, but I’m game to open it up to the panel to also talk about some of the things that Os had mentioned because I feel like the discussion on the Electoral College could go for awhile. Why don’t we talk a little bit about the family? That seems to be something that is debated in our society today. What is the role of the family and how important that is to the social structure? Kevin. Let me throw this at you, the first question, because I know where you stand a little bit, and maybe you don’t agree with them, but by and large libertarians tend to think that the individual is the building block of a society. Right?
Kevin: Right. Yeah.
Kurt: Where would that then cause a breakdown say of the family which seems to be important?
Kevin: Right. I think the breakdown would come if the federal government, or any government, started interfering with, A, the contract between the man and the wife, and B, the responsibility that they have distinctly have for their children, because children need to be forced more than adults. Most libertarians accept that. It’s like an exception to the non-aggression principle that you need to instill a sense of morality in children and the best people to do that are the parents so at the very least we should give them some deference when you have these borderline cases.
Kurt: Interesting. Interesting. For these cases of children, where then becomes the line when all of a sudden they are adults and who gets to decide where that line is?
Kevin: That’s a very difficult question and that’s a problem for libertarian philosophy. Some people go to extremes and say the parents don’t have an obligation to their children which I think is a terrible thing and it’s contrary to pretty much all of society, but knowing where that line is, that’s debatable.
Kurt: Interesting. What are your guys’ thoughts in general from the discussion with Os about his people which for those watching here on Facebook I will hold it up for you. Impossible People: Christian Courage And The Struggle For The Soul Of Civilization by InterVarsity Press, so good opportunity for you to check that out and if you haven’t, Os has a number of wonderful books as well and he’s just a great guy to learn from so I recommend checking out his books if you haven’t already so, any thoughts on Os and what he had to say?
Chris: I’m just excited. I kind of want to check that book out. I haven’t read it yet, and it looks like it’s going to contain a lot of, I mean just things to start a thought process which I’m excited about.
Kurt: Yeah. Like I mentioned, one of the first issues is that we need to correctly diagnose the problem in our society and I think that’s where a lot of people fall short, because if you can’t correctly diagnose what the problem is you’re going to give the wrong prescription, the wrong course of action, and so as he had noted for secularists, they think some problems aren’t problems at all so for example religion, that’s the problem. So here we get, what were the three things he said? Separationism, being sort of “Hey. You keep your religion private, but don’t bring it into public life,” and even noted how liberals should be against separationism.
Chris: True liberals.
Kurt: Yeah. True liberals. If we’re talking about a free society, people should be actively involved in all, not just privately but publicly as well. So it’s so important for us to correctly diagnose the problem and I think Os does that. I think he just has a brilliant way. We can listen to how “Oh our Christian nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian values.” Right? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that or heard politicians talk about it, but to listen to Os speak about it that way, it’s not just his accent guys. I know that’s what you’re thinking.
Voice: That doesn’t hurt.
Kurt: But the way he talks about it. The covenant, the Jewish covenant, it’s just amazing. It’s like hearing it again for the first time and it’s so inspiring to me and so like I said, I think he gets the problem right and so maybe then there’s a difference on, I don’t know, right course of action. I think he gets it right there too. I just don’t have any disputes with him.
Kevin: I agree. And especially how he unified, he pointed out how it unified religion and freedom in doing that and that’s the thing. Once you have a religion that esteems freedom of religion, that’s no longer just a secular value. We aren’t a secular government. We are actually in a sense theocratic because we’re following the rule.
Kurt: To a degree.
Kevin: In a sense that if God wants us to be free to pick our religion and stuff like that, well, we’re establishing that. That’s like a confluence of secularism and religion as opposed to conflict.
Chris: Right. It’s the foundation for where we came from. It doesn’t mean that the government forces everyone to believe in God so it’s not a theocracy in that sense, but it certainly is a foundational part of where we come from. It comes back to the issue of rights, of our rights.
Kurt: So to a certain degree there is a sense in which we are making theological claims, but now to the person, to the secularist that might say, “Well you can’t do that.” Okay. A. Why not? Because we’re coming to come up with a structure of society here. We’re trying to recognize where do rights come from so for the person who says, “No you can’t.” From A follows B. “Okay. Where do the rights come from on secularism?” Do they just come from the government? That’s typically what they think. That could change whichever way the wind blows so good luck in creating the society that you want and so I think that’s a very dangerous thing.
Kevin: And how do you distinctly define religion such that orthodox ones are obviously religions, but then you have a lot of these personal religions. You have a lot of personal beliefs that act like religions and why do we exclude only certain reilgions…
Kurt: If we do any more.
Kurt: You’ve got the religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You’ve got Star Wars fans that are creating the Jedi Church.
Kevin: And I think you can go back to the founding days and see some of our founding fathers who weren’t explicitly Christian as we consider them today and they didn’t object broadly to the foundation of God, of the Christian worldview forming our country, because you can go back and say “Are these good ideas or not?”
Kurt: Yeah. Right. There is a line between an overarching, even religion interfering with a free society and Os made that point too. It’s kind of like a fine dance that you have to have because if you have religious views that are too invasive in society in a public setting I should say. I want Christianity to be invasive in every part of society, but if it’s from the top-down as opposed to grass roots, if it’s from the top-down that can be problematic because you’re hindering a certain degree of freedom which is good for a flourishing society.
Kevin: Right. I think at the end of the day it’s the compatibility with liberty that makes it a solid worldview to base government off of.
Chris: That’s what I said.
Kevin: It doesn’t have to infringe or ever infringe on people’s individual rights. It actually ensures them.
Kevin: And so when you have a limited government, I think that Christianity is actually super compatible with a limited government, the ability to give people their own choice, and it doesn’t have to force a belief system on anyone.
Kurt: John. I wanted to pick your brain on the concept of secularization and what Os called syncretism where you get all the worldviews entering into Christian worldviews. As someone like yourself, you work in the city so you see a diversity of people. What’s been your experience in people that may call themselves Christians, but you see, hey, they’ve got these other influences.
John: Right. I think what I hear a lot of times is “As long as you’re a good person you’re okay. I don’t agree with certain things in the Bible.” And as a Christian they think that, they do love everyone, I’m not saying their intentions aren’t good, but sometimes if you follow maybe what the media says or what the masses want, it kind of starts to distort your own view and what Christianity really is about. People are afraid to disagree with things, especially in the city downtown. If I say something that a lot might not agree with….
Kurt: Sure. Sure.
John: And I say well we’re both Christian. Right? Shouldn’t you kind of discuss these things, but a lot of minds nowadays, especially in modern society are set, and you really have to show people love to start the discussion and opening up about it and I think that’s really important to from our standpoint, to start a dialogue about those types of things. Going to the Electoral College to cities…..You can’t have them dictate the masses.
Kurt: Yeah. Funny segue there.
Kurt: Yeah, but let me say just to close on that point, we really need to persuasive in reaching people, especially when the syncretism or what Os called the secularization has infiltrated their minds. If they’re going to call themselves Christians, there are certain beliefs that follow from that and so we need to then do our best to engage with even the nominal Christians because culturally speaking, these nominal Christians are joining the nones group, they’re joining the secular group here and so it’s really important that if we’re not reaching out to those, the nones, we need to be reaching to those nominal Christians and saying, “Hey. Stay home. Stay home.” In responding to those ideas. It’s funny because I saw there was a study done, I don’t know if it was by Lifeway, I saw the article on Christianity Today about heresies in the evangelical church and how it surveyed evangelical Christians and pretty much like over 60 or 70% of evangelical Christians were heretics because they didn’t know their orthodox Christianity so hopefully we’ll discuss an episode to discussing that though I did give that one talk at the conference on Christian orthodoxy so that will be fun to get to that, but yeah, there’s work to be done on persuading people and talking to them about their beliefs. We shouldn’t be scared of talking about religion and politics. John. You’re a childhood friend. You know I’ve said this to you time and time again. Those are the two most important things in life? Why aren’t we supposed to talk about them?
John: They say don’t talk about it at what, the dinner table?
Kurt: At the dinner table. Right.
Kurt: Okay. Let’s move along to the Electoral College because I’m sure you guys have some thoughts on this and so Kevin, let me start with you again because you were shaking your head earlier on in the episode when I had talked about Maine and Nebraska and their hybrid system. You don’t like the hybrid system, huh?
Kevin: Right. Not as much. I think it contradicts your point that it would force the candidates to go to each state because you would basically, the candidates would just go to certain districts. You’d segment that and it destroys the solidarity within the state. The state itself no longer has as much power and I’m for states’ rights.
Kurt: It doesn’t have much power in the Electoral College, is that right? So you would still get the two votes for the popular vote, so there is some importance.
Kevin: Right. You’d still get those two.
Kurt: But yeah, in a state like California all of a sudden that becomes…
Kevin: Right and California might split. North and south.
Kurt: And east and west too. You know, because you’ve got the farmland in Central and Eastern California. So you’re not a fan because you feel like it would still….
Kevin: The second reason is that, and I wrote this op-ed that I shared with you, that people who lose in these states whose vote would be more counted your way, in my way where it’s winner-take-all in a state, the people who know they’re going to lose, the people in New York, in California, in Illinois, they can use their vote to expand the field, and if they switch to your way then they would be more forced to only pick between the two and I think that’s a latent power that people have not accepted that they have and have not embraced it because unless you’re an ardent Trump fan, no Republicans in those states should have voted for Trump because their vote didn’t matter in that respect, but it would have mattered a lot if they had voted Libertarian or even if they liked Greens or anything like that.
Kevin: Would have made a big difference in the system as a whole so their vote is more systemic the way it’s currently structured. You divide it into districts and you become stuck with two candidates again.
Kurt: Interesting. Joel. What are your thoughts? I’ve got a buddy on Facebook, he lives in California, and he feels like his vote just does not count and that was part of the reason why I think he’s supporting the popular vote winner because his vote doesn’t matter in California.
Joel: Right. I mean, I think one Republican I think went solidly, California went solildly Republican in what, 1988?
Kurt: Up until 1988.
Joel: Yeah. I mean, clearly it shifts around. I mean, that feels like forever ago right now, but it’s not, so changes happen and the Electoral College helps that just as we saw this election with Ohio and Wisconsin and Michigan.
Kurt: Yeah. When you say the Electoral College helps that I couldn’t help but think in a sense that’s true. Every ten years the census occurs and the numbers on the states change. A lot of them have stayed the same, but many of them there are changes. A few points here and there. So Florida has become more valuable just because of the shifting population trends either because people move out of states into new states or just natural growth, generation occurs.
Voice: We saw that with Virginia. That used to be a red state until after George Bush, a lot of people from the east coast move into Virginia and now….
Kurt: Some of those might be government workers to. I read something about how they’re more government workers than manufacturing jobs in the country today so that’s just fascinating to see that, but you’re right, Virginia used to be a red state, used to be swing, now I don’t even know if it’s swing any more so that’s just fascinating, then again, the Rust Belt was some people thought kind of swing, maybe not, Ohio, for sure. Pennsylvania, Michigan.
Voice: Michigan was thought to be solid Democratic.
Kurt: And Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton didn’t step foot in Wisconsin during the campaign season because she thought she had it in the bag and so the map does change. That’s part of the reason why I have fun with it. It’s like a puzzle with the pieces ever changing.
Voice: And I think the game is fair because the rules have been the same the whole time. That’s the important part I think. Even if it feels distasteful if you’re a Clinton supporter this election cycle, I think it’s just a reminder to the other side to be open to the result because the rules are the same, so if it happens the other way, the opposite needs to accept the results.
Kurt: Alan here on Facebook writes that we should outsource government jobs to China.
Voice: Probably be cheaper.
Kurt: Yes. Nice humorous comment there by Alan. Thank you for listening in. Yeah. It is fascinating. D.C. was, did see a lot of growth, so it’s very interesting. We’ll see what happens. I am, shall we say, open but cautious to see what happens. I’m not guaranteed that enough of the policy things that I like will be advocated for. Some of the things spoken of what would be advocated for wouldn’t go with my views, but we’ll see. I don’t know if a president Trump will do the things he said on the campaign trail. That’s the way it goes. Even Barack Obama on the campaign trail talked about a lot of things and things didn’t happen. Even when I was in sixth grade I said, “Hey. I’ll bring an arcade room” and of course I won peoples’ votes over, so that sort of thing happens. We’ll see what a President Trump will bring in the next few years. It’ll be fascinating because speaking of divisions of power, Congress is in favor of the GOP in both houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate so that will make it easier for a President Trump to get done what he wanted to get done.
Voice: And in two years there’s a lot more Democratic seats up.
Kurt: So we’ll see….
Voice: The majority could grow.
Kurt: It could and the outlook I have for that is it might not be just two years. It might be four years of him getting what he wants for example President Obama had those two years between 2009 and 2010 where they had a supermajority even for a short time and that’s when he passed a lot of this stuff, some of the financial reform, the Affordable Care Act, the supposed Affordable Care Act I should say, and other things so we’ll see if President Trump gets four years of policy and I don’t know what he’ll bring. Maybe it’ll be the man behind the curtain, the Wizard of Oz you know. Trump is the face. Pence is the man behind the curtain. I don’t know. It’ll be interesting. Of course I think some people are going overboard on this in their reactions and so I’m a bit disheartened at that. Don’t get me wrong. I think we just need to have an open mind here to see what happens. We need to wait until policy’s implemented and people on Twitter are calling for his assassination.
Kurt: Oh yeah. Tons of people. Loads.
Voice: Well it doesn’t look good on their side if they said Trump ran such a divisive hate-filled campaign….
Kurt: And they’re doing.
Voice: Worse beyond leagues. I was watching the news the other day and they’re writing capitalism kills.
Voice: That even has nothing to do with what just happened. They just want whatever they want.
Kurt: Yeah. So my piece of advice would be to wait and see. Wait and see what policies come. It’s not going to be as drastic as people are making it out to be and even still on the reverse side, politics has a funny way of bringing that out of people. During the general election, during the campaign season, people were saying “Oh we can’t elect this person because it’ll be the end of America”, and this person was whichever candidate you disliked. You get that rhetoric on both sides and so I was talking to someone and I said “Hey. What would that look like? Do you think that will really happen?” The answer is “No.” Politics has a way of bringing out the worst in people sometimes so perhaps it’s our duty to stay true to Os’s advice that we need to be grounded, we need to be unclubable people, and we need to have our priorities straight true to that, that we are called to be Christ-followers first, and we then need to go from there, and I think if we do that, if we’re unclubable, if we’re impossible people, if we are the Peter Damiens, right? We are going to be strong in what we believe and we will know how to be wise as serpents and engaging with people and being winsome so we ourselves won’t be making those bombastic predictions because that doesn’t convince anybody. It doesn’t win people over to your cause and it just plays on peoples’ fears about the unknown and I don’t think that’s a very good path forward so it’s good advice by Os. He is a shaman to use the non-biblical term. I don’t know if you guys have any other closing thoughts on the Electoral College on that.
Voice: I think it’s a great system. I think there’s a reason why and that’s why the country’s so incredible is because we’re genius enough to know that you need a split of power and everyone needs a voice and states need a voice. Everyone says Hillary might have won the popular vote. Well, in the states where she needed it she didn’t and that’s why Trump won the Electoral no matter who you voted for. It would be the same if Hillary won.
Kurt: It’s the rules of the game.
Voice: And I think it’s also important not to label voters whether you voted for Hillary or Trump, everyone might have had a different reason and when you see these things on TV calling Hillary supporters names and Trump supporters racist, it’s absurd and that’s not going to help peoples’ voices. It’s going to turn people off. You gotta start a debate based on fact and not crazy emotion.
Voice: I think that’s what actually led to Trump’s firm hold on things is that when you call somebody a racist for saying “Build a wall” or “Make America great again.” These things like kids chanting “Build a wall” is in the category of hate crime that is being promulgated right now.
Voice: And all the people that talked about that, why don’t they leave their doors unlocked and open at night? Don’t you want security? And that’s not being racist.
Kurt: I think that’s the key. We can’t be making these leaps from a certain policy point to being racist.
Voice: And when Trump confronts that and he doesn’t care that people call him a racist, they clung on to him and wouldn’t let go. He’s honest even if he’s totally confused about a lot of things.
Voice: He comes across as being honest and speaking for them and I think basically that’s what led to his victory.
Voice: And all of that doesn’t mean that there aren’t racists who supported Trump and there may be racists who supported Clinton too. I know some liberals who I would consider to be more racist than any Republican I know and I think it can be a factor but it’s not the thing necessarily.
Kurt: Yeah. I like the Electoral College. We live in a Democratic republic and that finds itself in many areas of politics. Even just at the state level, your state is likely a Democratic republic where you elect politicians to go and represent you so if you really have beef with the Electoral College, you should also have beef with the way that other areas of American politics functions and then I would expect that you would also then just hold to majority rules but I would warn against it. Mob rule I think is a very bad thing. It leads to a lot of change very quickly and it leads to a lot of minorities having their rights infringed upon.
Voice: And one thing I mentioned earlier is the irony of, you have somebody like California who’s been very liberal and advocating for a strong central government and now that it’s switched, there’s a movement to secede and that’s popular in the news now.
Kurt: Right. Right.
Voice: And the whole reason for a limited federal government is so the states have more power and the people who are advocating for secession and don’t want to be part of this anymore, well you shouldn’t have made government so powerful in the first place. Let’s get together and advocate for the reduction of power of the federal government and then we can each live more closer to how we want.
Kurt: Laboratories of Democracy.
Kurt: Hey. Well that does it for our show today. Thanks guys for those faults on the Electoral College and for the discussion with Os. I’m grateful for the continued supports of our sponsors. Those are folks that just chip in a few bucks every month to support what we’re doing here. If you’re interested you can just go to the website Veracityhill.com to learn more about that. I’m also thankful for the partnerships that I have with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, and Evolution 2.0, and thank you to the tech team today here, John, Joel, and Kevin, and to our guest thank you Dr. Os Guinness for your wonderful thoughts and your great ministry work although it’s not formally a ministry it is that, and I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.