In this week’s episode of Veracity Hill, Kurt Jaros talks with guest, Krysti Wilkinson about religion meeting with politics. Krysti talks about how discussing different political ideologies can remedy the polarization that is so prevalent in today’s political climate, the place religion has in politics, and more.
Kurt: 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 pleasure to be with you here again. Episode 55 and we’re going to be talking about the role that religion plays in the political realm, and I hope that you will join us in on the conversation today. If you want to have your voice heard, you can give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. Also, this is a reminder, to myself that is, I’m going to load up our texting plan, so if you want to engage with me via text message, just text the word VERACITY to the number 555-888 and during this episode, we’re going to be doing a book give away. Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme. by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons and so along with this book, we’re going to be giving away a Defenders Media bookmark. How about that? These little neat bookmarks that we recently made. The way that you enter here is if you’re following us live right now, all you have to do is share the livestream on Facebook, so go to our Facebook page, share the video with your friends, and you’ll be entered to receive the book. Go ahead and comment that you’ve shared it as well. I’ll be keeping tabs on comments on the livestream as well so for those that are engaging with us there, I’ll be watching. I know last week, Jake, I hadn’t acknowledged your comment Jake, about my hat, which is the Chicago Cubs World Series champions. I’ll put it on for you there, Jake, if you’re following right now, just for a little bit.
Before we get into today’s discussion about the role between religion and politics, I want to talk about a news article that’s been making the rounds here regarding a study that showed that Canaanite DNA is found in present-day Lebanese. What this means is that the Canaanites survived from the Old Testament, that’s really not surprising to people that read the Bible, but apparently, there’s some journalists that haven’t read the Bible, so journalists have come out titling their various articles, “Study Disproves The Bible’s Suggestion That The Ancient Canaanites Were Wiped Out.” “Bible Says Canaanites Were Wiped Out By Israelites, But Scientists Just Found Their Descendants Living In Lebanon.” “DNA Vs. The Bible: Israelites Did Not Wipe Out The Canaanites.” and various sorts of different headlines. I think this is really fascinating because this is not surprising to anybody that reads the Bible. Regardless of your own theological views, if you just read the text itself, it says that the Canaanites survived. Now, of course, there are some Christians that believe God meant what He said, He wasn’t being rhetorical when He gave those commands to the Israelites to wipe out everyone. Nevertheless, the people failed to do that so the Canaanites still survive, or if you take my position which is the position that Paul Copan talked about in one of our earlier episodes, it may have been one of the first ten episodes I think, the commands were rhetorical in nature. It’s equivalent to ancient Near Eastern war rhetoric. Nevertheless, regardless of your position, the Canaanites survived, so the fact that journalists are saying disproves the Bible or presenting this dichotomy between the Bible and these folks’ DNA, sadly it comes from a place of ignorance. I wish they would interview any Old Testament scholar, really any, and they would tell you that. If you see that article going around Facebook, if you’re coming across it on Twitter. Tell folks to just to go check out the Bible, because yes, they did survive, and that’s not shocking to anybody that is aware of what the text says.
Alright. If you haven’t yet had a chance, you can check out last week’s episode either on iTunes or Google Play or we host every episode on our web site, Veracityhill.com. It’s a fine discussion I had with Dr. Bob Stewart of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We were talking about if Jesus is the only way and different objections to that, different approaches to it even. We got a little bit into the problem of the unevangelized, and interestingly enough, my reason for wanting to bring him on the show was so we could talk about universalism, but we never got around to it so we’ll have to bring him on another time to talk about that.
This week, we have Krysti Wilkinson on the show today and she is an author at Relevant magazine. Krysti. Thanks so much for joining us today on the show.
Krysti: Thanks for having me.
Kurt: Yeah. So I came across this article that you’ve written called “Does Religion Belong In Politics?” It really resonated with me and my own views so I think we’re going to have a lot of common ground, but we might come across some points of disagreement so what I’ll do is, actually, let’s see if I can share this on the livestream for people following along. I will try to do that and so they can take a quick look at that article, but essentially, this is something that perhaps you and I have both perceived in our world today that there is a lot of polarization between the political views in our societies, chiefly Democrats vs. Republicans. I’m not too naive to suggest it’s that simplistic. Of course, there are independent thinkers and people with Libertarian bents and now Socialism is becoming more popular. What do you perceive are the reasons for this increased polarization?
Krysti: Yeah. I think a lot of things contribute to that, but I would say right now, I think we just aren’t having conversations about subjects, we’re having debates. I don’t see people sitting down and actually talking about things with people who they disagree with or asking their friends, “What do you actually think about this?” We all just want to debate about politics. We all want to prove each other wrong. I’m sure you see this in your Facebook news feed as much as I see it in mine where people are posting articles and people are commenting back without reading the articles.
Kurt: That’s the worst.
Krysti: Yeah. It’s just like we don’t actually want to take the time to sit and listen to people. We just want to hear enough of what they’re saying so we can jump in and explain to them why they’re wrong. I think that’s the biggest thing I see. I also see a lot of people, again, not wanting to actually talk about things, so if they see that someone disagrees with them, instead of talking about that issue, they just start attacking the person. They start saying, “Oh. You’re a liar. You’re heartless.” You’re all of these personal attacks instead of actually talking about issue and so then people don’t want to talk about politics because it just turns into this nightmare fight that doesn’t go anywhere.
Kurt: Definitely that’s the sort of thing I see on Facebook a lot. One of the tips that I give to people when debating online is I say, “You should never write something you wouldn’t tell the person face to face.” I think that’s a very good tip because sadly the sort of anonymity or the space between each other, via the computer, just brings out some of the worst in us I think.
Krysti: Also social media has given us a cool platform to have these debates with people that we might not see everyday or people who live across the country from us and I think there’s merit in that, but also having a political debate via a Facebook comment thread is just asking for trouble because people have typos and you don’t have people’s tones of voice, you don’t know what they mean by certain sentences. You take one thing out of context and get this whole other debate and at the end of the day people are just yelling at each other instead of actually having a conversation about the topic at hand.
Kurt: Right. You definitely, I’ve seen some of the worst, it’s awful. You’re right. You’d mentioned their sort of tone. You can’t pick up the precise meaning that someone has when they’re writing something and that’s something, we’ve got to be a bit more charitable in our discourse. For some people, they think they might get so frustrated that they just will stop talking about politics, and we’re going to get into this later. That doesn’t seem to be the right course of action either. We’re just sort of political in nature, but before we get further into that, does the failure to talk about political issues, for some people when they sort of just avoid the topics, do you think that contributes to the polarization or do you think maybe it allows people to see a perspective differently?
Krysti: I would say generally speaking, it probably does contribute to the polarization because if we’re not talking about it, we don’t understand where other people are coming from. If I’m on one side of the party line than someone else, and I don’t want to talk to them about why they think that, I’m never going to fully understand the other side. I’m just going to sit in silence and think that I’m right. I think we need to be talking about this whereas to be able, not only to understand where others are coming from, but also find common ground and find compromises and find the best….[NP1] Right now with where Congress is at we aren’t finding the middle ground and we aren’t talking about things and I think refusing to talk about politics is just going to make things worse.
Kurt: And you brought up that word compromise. When you look at the history of politics, even just in our nation’s capitol, there used to be compromise. Sometimes people got one thing they wanted and the other party got on or a couple things that they wanted, and then there was a willingness to move forward, but we’re not even getting that. Hardly anybody’s willing to compromise, and I’m not sure why. I think of, I think it was maybe seven years ago, we had president Obama and there was talk, I think this may have been before the stimulus package even, I’m not sure. At any rate he had made available the so-called sacred cows of Social Security and Medicare being put on the table to get some of the other things he wanted and Republicans came out very much against compromise and I thought to myself and so you know, I know we haven’t met before, so I tend to be fiscally conservative, I thought, “Why not? Why not just take the compromise?” I think Obama was trying to raise some taxes…
Krysti: Get something done.
Kurt: And get
something done, exactly! I think that they should have done. Nevertheless, no
compromise. So for many people though, and perhaps all of us, we’re inevitably
caught up talking about politics so even though some of us, we don’t like the
polarization and some folks just get into these heated discussions, why is it
that we can’t help but be intersted in politics?
Krysti: I think we should be interested in politics because it affects us. You know what I mean? I think we are constantly talking about and constantly…[NP2] it and constantly debating it. Even people who are like, “Oh I’m not so political.” Even people who aren’t campaigning or people who don’t vote. You are a political person because the laws affect you whether it’s the laws of the street you’re driving on or the city you live in. All of these things affect our daily lives and so we’re going to be talking about it. Going to the grocery store, taxes. I live in California. Now you have to pay for plastic bags. That was a law put into effect that now affects my daily life. We live in a democracy where all of these things are going to be affecting us and we even vote on a lot of things so that we should be talking politics. Not that we should be talking about politics 24/7. There’s a time of place and there are other things to talk about, but I think we should be embracing the fact that we should be having these conversations and we should be asking our friends and the people we care about, “What do you think about this?” and “How do you see this?” and “What are your thoughts on this candidate vs that person?” because I think we should be having more discussion and we’ll be better for it.
Kurt: That’s a good point. It is important to learn from other peoples’ perspectives too. Even in the way you phrased that question. “Hey. What do you think about this?” instead of, “What are your reasons for holding to that?” Some of that could be tone as well. You got to have a nice open welcoming conversation about politics. I know some people that they just won’t talk politics at all and of course a lot of people that know me know that I love to talk about politics and some of it just deals with how we do so. Part of my motivation for wanting to talk about politics is because I want people to become comfortable themselves about discussing political issues and even still, if we just stuck to issues, I think that would be so much more beneficial than say party or candidates. Here on the show we just stick to issues from time to time when we do talk politics. It’s definitely something that our society’s lacking and yet everyone is affected by it, down from federal regulations all the way down to local grocery bag taxes.
Now a few weeks ago, religion and politics made its way into social media, at least on C-Span, when Bernie Sanders and Russell Vought, who is a nominee for the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. What a position. A number cruncher of sorts and Sanders had brought up an old article that Vought published on a Christian media website, the Resurgent, and in that article, for those that are unfamiliar with the context here, in that article, Vought talked about how he didn’t believe Muslims were saved. This Sanders found very offensive and thought for that reason if I’m understanding the discussion between those two correctly, for that reason, believed that Vought was disqualified from holding that position. I thought that was a staggering position to hold because I didn’t think that Vought’s position on this would, of course, affect his job in any way, especially as a number cruncher in the Office of Management and Budget. Nevertheless, that was sort of a religious criteria that Sanders used. So if I could talk a little bit about that, one of the questions I have is, to what extent then should our religious beliefs affect public policy?
Krysti: This is such a hard question because, on one hand, I think that our religious beliefs affect everything. I am a Christian and so I try to view everything through the lens of Christianity so if I’m a teacher or a politician or a lawyer or whatever, my religious beliefs will affect everything I do and I think that’s okay. I don’t think we should be upset about that. I don’t think we should try to make politicians leave their religions at the door. I think that’s just a part of who we are and so on one hand, I think it affects everything we do, including public policy, including our day to day jobs. On the other hand, America was founded on the ideal of religious tolerance.
Kurt: The classical sense of tolerance here.
Krysti: So on the other hand, we shouldn’t have religious beliefs showing up in our laws and public policy in the sense of we’re putting one religion over another or religious mandates or things like that. I think that middle ground is very murky, and again I don’t know the whole context of the Sanders debate. I read two articles on it, but it seemed to me a very out of context question and kind of just wanting to stir the pot a little bit that I didn’t think was necessary. I think obviously we shouldn’t have people in elected offices who aren’t tolerant of people that are different from them, rather that’s religious tolerance, whether that’s sexism, I don’t think we should have people in office like that, but I also don’t think that just because you believe according to your religion that other religions are condemned. I don’t think that makes you intolerant. I think that might be other things that go…but[NP3] I don’t think based on that one comment that Sanders was quoting there’s something wrong with Vought.
Kurt: Right. I mean, imagine if the nominee were a Muslim. I highly doubt that Sanders would have asked this of the Muslim because Muslims believe that Christians won’t be saved on their view and so for him to sort of select the Christian guy, I perceive that there’s sort of an unfair standard here, because I just don’t think Sanders would have ever raised the topic at all because it would have made him look bad.
Krysti: I mean with everything in Washington right now, I think it was definitely a political play of Sanders trying to make a bigger point about tolerance as a whole right now, you know what I mean?
Kurt: It sort of backfired on him though.
Krysti: Yeah. Totally. That’s why to me it was kind of annoying. You’re taking this very small thing that we really shouldn’t even be talking about right now, and you’re blowing it out of proportion. I just felt it was an unnecessary debate that had to happen that day.
Kurt: So back to the relationship between religious beliefs and public policy. You had mentioned that especially for Christians, we want to perceive the whole world through that lens, but yet at the same time we don’t make religious laws. Where’s that line though? You mentioned it’s a grey area, but for example, I think all Christians should agree that torturing babies for fun is wrong, and so we want to have laws against that. On the other side of the case, there are some Muslims, even in our country, that believe that female genital mutilation is a good thing, even though to my perspective, I think it’s an awful thing. I would want to have laws against it, but they wouldn’t. Where is the line then between integrating our religious beliefs with public policy. It seems like it’s a really tough issue on some issues. Maybe not so for others.
Krysti: That’s hard and I think that in America as it is right now, we live in a Democracy. Not a pure democracy but a representative Democracy. For some things majority rule. I don’t think that’s the best answer here, but given our current government, what the most people want is reflected in the law, and obviously, that’s not always the case. There’s always a lot of different things like that. That’s just the way our government works at the moment. I think that we as Christian Americans have to operate within that. If we live in parts of Saharan Africa where female genital mutilation is legal, that’s a different thing, but where we live in America, it’s “Okay. Is this a law right now? What do the majority of people think about this?” I guess moving forward from there…
Kurt: It’s like a very practical aspect that there is this system in place and the system will reflect, at least you’d like to think, it reflects the viewpoint of the majority of the people, while still respecting the rights of minorities and so maybe in this respect it’s our duty as Christians to be a part of that process because we want to have our voice heard as to what we think is right and wrong, and two, what we think is the proper role of government. All those things considered and then apply them into the system. Maybe that’s sort of that dance between religious beliefs and public policy.
Krysti: Yeah. And I think we have to also take a wider scope of if I’m a Christian and I believe certain things because I’m a Christian, I have to realize not everyone has those viewpoints, but I would also hope the majority people, Christian or not, would believe torturing babies is wrong. You know what I mean? What is that line and what is the definition and what is torture vs circumcision? Do we believe that tortures babies? Most people don’t. Are there medical things here at play? Do we just have different definitions of that word? I think that’s the way we can go about, this might be your religious belief, but this also might be, I don’t want to say common sense because common sense is very specific to the person, but is there medical reasons why this law should or should not pass? Are there things at play where if someone’s a minor should we let their parents make decisions for them or should we not let their parents make decisions for them? I think there’s a lot more things like that that we have to take into context. Maybe as a Christian I believe this, but also as a citizen I believe these things as well and so also moving forward from that place of deciding what should be legal and what shouldn’t?
Kurt: That’s good, and I smiled when you mentioned children. I’ve got a three year-old at home. She loves watermelon and blueberries, but the other day she was firm in her belief, “I don’t like watermelon. I don’t like blueberries.” Even though they were on their plate and my wife and I know that she loves those things, she was stern in her somehow newfound belief that she doesn’t like them. It was a nice reminder to me of why sometimes you don’t let little kids make the decisions because they are making things out of spite almost sometimes.
Krysti: Yeah. Definitely.
Kurt: Okay. You had mentioned that when we come to the political realm, we don’t leave our religious beliefs at the door, because after all, if Jesus is Lord that means He’s Lord over the whole universe and that means, including the political realm. Now some people think that the secular model, that is keeping your religious beliefs at the door, the secular model’s the way to go, but what do you think are some of the shortcomings of a secular political model?
Krysti: Obviously, I think the idea of leaving your religious beliefs at the door just doesn’t make sense to me. I get in theory why people want that. They want us all to come to the table with no ulterior motives and find the best way forward, but I don’t think we can leave our religious beliefs at the door, but also I don’t think we should. I think we vote certain people into office or replace certain people at certain positions, because we want them as that person to be making those decisions and they’re made up of their religious beliefs just as we are made up of, you know, if we had you as a politician, we’d be “I don’t want you to be a dad in this position. I want you to leave your parenting roles at the door.” You can’t do that. Now that you’re a parent you’re going to be thinking, “How does this affect my daughter? How is this going to affect her in twenty years?” I don’t think we should be asking people to be doing that. That’s asking them to bring half their brain to the table which I personally do not want our politicians to be doing.
Kurt: You mean they do bring their brains as it stands right now?
Krysti: Let me bold here. I don’t know if it’s actually happening. I just think when people say, “We should want them to be religious” or we should have that come up in conversations[NP4] .” I’m thinking, “We should want all of them to be coming to the table. Every belief that they have. That doesn’t mean I agree with all their beliefs, but I want them as a full person to be having this conversation and so I think that’s also why we need more diversity in Washington. We need more women at the table and the few women we have there, we shouldn’t say “Leave your femaleness at the door and come to the table just as a politician.” I want women at the table making decisions because they’re women, because they know what I’m going through, and moreso than men do. I want female parents at the table and I want people of color at the table and I want people of different religions at the table because I think that’s what makes America beautiful. We’re not making laws based on one morality and one religion. We’re coming together and saying what is the best way forward here for all people? All the people in our country. All the people we’re representing. I personally don’t want people leaving their religion at the door.
Kurt: I would be sympathetic toward the approach here for having a plurality and a diversity of views. One of the big concerns I have with secularism is that the role of government I take it is to come up with laws and regulations, but on a strictly secular model, I don’t see how we could make objectively good decisions, good laws, objectively good laws, because secularism doesn’t provide an ethical basis or grounding for our beliefs and that would be concerning to me from a philosophical standpoint. This has been great, Krysti. We’ve got to take a short break we’ll continue our discussion and we’ll even going to have a round of Rapid Questions coming up so stick with us through this short break from our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or just want to support our show in general, you can learn how to do that at Veracityhill.com/patron, and now Chris, I think is just a good time for me to mention the fundraiser we’re going to be starting next month. We’re going to be looking to raise some further support for the work that we’re doing here. I don’t have any promotional materials yet Chris, but hopefully next month I will get around to doing that, but we’d love to get your support. We want to help the show grow. We’re looking to bring in some further money for advertising and Chris here, who has been the trustee, week after week, except for a couple weeks during the summer. You have been a devout volunteer for us. Some of that fundraising money that we’re going to be doing is going to be show Chris here that we appreciate what he does for us and if you appreciate what he does for the show, then we would love to get your support. We’re going to be coming out in a couple of weeks with a sort of official formal announcement, but if you’re listening now whether it’s live or on the downloaded podcast, we’d love to get your support.
We’re talking about the role of religion and politics today and I’m here with Krysti Wilkinson who’s an author at Relevant magazine and she has kindly agreed to participate here in a fun round of Rapid Questions which we’ve recently brought back so Krysti, I’m going to get the old-fashioned gameshow clock up. Are you ready here?
Krysti: I hope so.
Kurt: You’ve got sixty seconds and we’re going to try to get through as many of these as we can. Here we go.
Kurt: What’s your clothing store of choice?
Kurt: Taco Bell or KFC?
Krysti: Taco Bell.
Kurt: What school did you go to?
Kurt: Okay. Favorite sport?
Krysti: To watch, baseball. To play, basketball.
Kurt: What is your favorite movie?
Krysti: Way too many, but probably The Count of Montecristo.
Kurt: Nice! Do you drink Dr. Pepper?
Krysti: I don’t. I don’t drink any soda.
Kurt: I’m sorry to hear that. What is your inner milkshake flavor?
Krysti: Probably neopolitan.
Kurt: Neopolitan and I’ll ask one more here. The hokey-pokey, electric slide, or the Macarena?
Krysti: Probably the Macarena.
Kurt: Macarena. Okay. Nice. Thank you for playing a round of Rapid Questions.
Kurt: Before the break, we were talking about, well we covered a lot, we were talking about the polarization that we’re witnessing in our society today. We talked about how we are political creatures. It’s a part of our everyday lives. There’s this fine dance as well between bringing our religious beliefs into the political arena and then just quickly before the break, we also just briefly covered secularism and one big shortcoming of that you mentioned was it lacks the plurality and diversity of worldviews. That is an important thing when we’re considering public policy. In your article here which we have shared on the livestream that people are following here, you had mentioned that the Gospel will always be political. What did you mean by that?
Krysti: I think when we hear the word political we automatically assume government laws, which those are political, but I think political at its core is power structures of people and of government and I could look up the actual definition here, but politics to me is about people. It’s about how people are governed. We think of the office of politics and religious politics. It’s all about how people are interacting with other people and who’s in charge of that. Things like that. To me, politics is about people and so God is about people and so the Gospel is God loves each and everyone of us and I think that means he[NP6] loves me as much as that person down the street. It means I have to learn that homeless guy as much as I love my sister. That means I have to respect someone who’s going off on Facebook on a political rant that I don’t appreciate just as much as that one I see eye to eye with. I think on a bigger scale, the Gospel is political because it demands of us to live in a way that is caring for other people and is caring for the power structures that are affecting people that aren’t us and that’s a very political thing. Does that answer your question?
Kurt: I think so, and it’s good because for some people their religious beliefs are these things that they hold privately on the side. That’s not what the Gospel is about. You’re right. It’s about integrating our beliefs into everything else that we do. It’s not just something that we hold on to the side. When you mentioned that distinction between office politics as opposed to politics politics, I think that helps people realize, “Oh yeah. Religious beliefs have a way of working in our lives and we need to apply it into our lives. We can’t just keep it private.” Also, this is a great point. You said on Facebook if you see someone that’s one of your friends sharing an article with which you disagree, well, we still have to be Christians. We still have to love our neighbor. We still have these duties and we can’t lash out and be insulting, that sort of thing, and we wouldn’t want to do that, especially if it’s someone that’s a real friend, not just a Facebook friend. The Gospel is political in that sense.
Krysti: We see Jesus in the Gospels. We don’t see Him running for office or kicking Caesar our of power and so I think people are like, “Jesus wasn’t political. He didn’t deal with the government.” But I think we do see Him change the religious political landscape a ton. He goes in and He sets…[NP7] straight and He goes to the least of these and He chooses disciples as people who weren’t in power and weren’t necessarily the smartest. They’re fishermen who shouldn’t be used to following a rabbi. To me, when I read the Gospel, I see so much political upheaval. That Jesus was a…[NP8] so when people tell me, “Jesus wasn’t political.” I say “You’re not reading the same Bible that I read.”
Kurt: I know. There was someone that commented on your article that quoted from the Scriptures where Jesus and the Pharisees were talking and Jesus has that famous saying, “Render unto Caesar’s and give to God what’s God’s.” and the person took it to mean keep politics and religion separate, but I don’t take it that way at all. When Jesus says, “Give to God what’s God’s” and we bear the image of God. The image of Caesar is on the coin, but God’s image is on us. That means everything we do has to be for God and that also includes politics. We can’t just separate these things in our lives. For those that perhaps are just joining us a bit later on the livestream, earlier in the show I announced here that we’re doing a book give away. Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thanks You’re Irrelevant And Extreme by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons and a Defenders Media bookmark. Look at that. If you want to enter for the giveaway, just share this livestream video, and you will have your chance at winning this book and we’ll send it to you for free. All you have to do is share that and just comment as well so we’ll know that you’ve done so. The next question I have for you is this. So the Gospel is very political. God picks political parties. God’s a Republican isn’t He?
Kurt: Yes. Good. Right. When we talk about God and politics, of course there’s going to be some people that think God’s a Republican or God’s a Democrat. Some people might even think God’s a libertarian or a socialist. But it’s one thing to say that, and of course I think people are mistaken, but it’s another thing to come to a good knowledge of how we ought to vote on a political issue or a political candidate. I know for some people they’re like one-issue voters and they will always vote for the person who agrees with them on that one issue. For other people, it’s more complicated. It’s like an Algebraic formula where you’ve gotta value the candidate’s position on a variety of topics, but do you think we can be confident in knowing how we should vote on an issue?
Krysti: I think we can be confident to a certain degree. I think there are definitely candidates or policies or laws that voting one way versus another is very clearly towards the heart of God than others, but I don’t think that applies to every candidate, every election, everyone, so I’m hesitant to tell people that because then they think, “In everything we should be able to know what God would want”, but I do think to a certain degree, if we are really researching these things and really looking at candidates’ policies on a variety of things instead of one issue and if we’re looking at what are all the…[NP9] and have really dived deep and looking at “How is this going to affect me? How is this going to affect other people? How is this going to affect my country as a whole?” and then if we, the way I go about it is I look at the issue and then get as much information as possible and then talk to people I respect, and not only people I agree with, but people I respect. “I like how you come to your opinions and I really respect I hold to certain things. I might not see eye to eye with you, but I would like to discuss these things with you, because I think I would leave the conversation a more well-minded person” and then I pray about things. I think about, “God. What would be the best option here?” and sometimes it’s not there’s a good option and a bad option. There’s two options and one could go either way and I don’t necessarily think God has a yes or no on every candidate or every bill, but it’s more “God. What is your heart on this issue and how can I vote according to that?” It’s hard because I think that two very strong Christians can come to opposing sides of the same issue and still be confident that they are voting the…[NP10] way if you want to call it that and so it’s a very hard line. I just think we at the end of the day have to do our best to vote in a way that honors God, but also understand that we are not God and that we will never fully understand these things, and also the way I vote vs the way you vote, at the end of the day, I think we have to see our small role in the bigger picture.
Kurt: I know at least this last general election, some people thought it was crystal clear who God would want them to vote for for president, and of course I’m sure you had people on both sides of the aisle thinking that. The two most disliked party candidates in history. I remember I was watching, I think I was watching CNN, and we don’t talk about candidates all that much here on the show, if at all, but I just remember it was so funny, I was watching CNN and the segment of the show started off “Hillary Clinton, the most disliked nominee in the history of the parties, were it not for Donald Trump who is the most disliked in history.” Unbelievable. I know for a lot of people, who they should vote for either was really clear or was so clear that they wouldn’t vote for either of them.
Kurt: I know you had mentioned a little bit in your last answer here, but what sort of advice would you have for how Christians should think about politics? You talked about talking to people, having people in our lives that can speak intelligibly and thoughtfully about politics, I think is important regardless of the perspective. Sorry. I’ve already given some of my thoughts. Maybe you agree with me here. We’re such an entertainment society that the political ads can just be such straw men or so fierce and harsh and soundbitish that we might not be getting the whole picture and so we should be talking to people that are thoughtful about politics. What do you think are some of the things that Christians should do specifically for thinking about politics?
Krysti: There’s so many. I think talking to people you may not agree with is huge. I think actually researching the law you’re voting on or the candidate or the history of the issue that you’re passionate about. I think that’s so bad. I think here in America we have a lot of uneducated voters and they are okay with that, and it’s hard because there are fifty issues every election. I live in California and there’s fifty ballot measures every election. It’s hard and I get that, but I also think we should be okay with being ignorant on really big issues that we have power on our hands, and so I think just educating ourselves. I think also with Christians, actually diving into the Scripture that we quote so often to back up certain political beliefs, like you mentioned earlier. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. That’s thrown around a lot during political or election season and actually diving into what does that mean and what did Jesus mean by that and what do different commentaries think this is about? I think there’s so many verses quoted out of context every election that it frustrates but also is really sad to me. You think you’re using faith here, but you’re actually not really getting your faith. You’re actually not understanding what you’re saying. I just think we need more Christians really examining their close beliefs and not just taking something at face value. I think that’s huge. I think also as Christians we use micro-small political beliefs, but I think we’re called to be using a law or a candidate on how this affects other people instead of how this affects me. I think it’s very American to see “Oh. This law if that passes, my life will be impacted this way.” “If we vote this person to office my life will be impacted this way”, and I get that. Obviously to a degree you’re going to be thinking that, but I think as Christians we’re called to be looking out for other people, especially people who might not have a voice or might not have the same rights as us. I think especially Christians we should be looking at “How is this going to affect people that aren’t me? How is this going to impact their lives? Will it make it easier or harder? How are other peoples’ lives going to be impacted by this?” Not even thinking about my life. Not even considering that.
Kurt: Yeah. That’s a great point. I know in his book Money, Greed, and God, Jay Wesley Richards talks about this and he says, he calls it the piety myth, and he says we really need to think about how policy is going to affect people. What the outcome of this policy is going to be, because even if the policy sounds nice, if there’s good rhetoric behind it, one example of course in local elections when schools are looking to raise more money. They always say, “It’s for the kids.” That sort of tagline, “It’s for the kids”, just has a way of tugging at the heartstrings, but we don’t necessarily look at the policy itself to see what the outcome is going to be, whether it will hurt the kids or help the kids, that’s a different distinct point, so I think that’s a great observation that you had there that we have to look at how it’s not just going to affect me but other people as well. Surely that fits with the second greatest commandment of loving our neighbor. Krysti. I want to thank you so much for coming on the show today and giving us your thoughts on the relationship, the dance if you will, between religion and politics. I’ve shared the article in our livestream and we’ll put it up on our web site as well. For those interested, you can follow Krysti at her website. Krystiwilkinson.com. We’ll show that on our website as well.
Krysti: Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun.
Kurt: Thanks so much. Have a good one and I’m sure as I follow you now here we’ll see some of your articles and we’ll reach out to you again sometime in the future.
Krysti: Sounds great. Looking forward to it.
Kurt: Thanks. God bless.
Kurt: That was a very nice conversation with Krysti there on that dance that we’re doing between religion and politics. If you’ve got other questions either for me or even for Krysti, I’d be happy to pass those questions along to her. Probably the best way is you can follow her on social media and her website, she’s got a contact form there. If you’ve got a question for me, you can shoot me an email, Kurt@veracityhill.com. And now it is with my great pleasure.
Kurt: Alright. That is the mailbag sound and so we had a caller this week. His name was Bridger, and he’s left a message here for me so I’m going to go ahead and play that and might have to play it a second time because it’s kind of a long one here, just so we make sure we’ve got all the question here. Here’s the question from Bridger.
Kurt: Okay. That question there from Bridger. He’s asking about my apologetic methodology and for those that are unfamiliar with this area of thinking, apologetic methodology is the method and strategy for how we defend our faith to non-Christians and so there are a variety of perspectives on apologetic methodology and Bridger mentioned two of those perspectives, the classical or the covenantal or what’s historically known as the presuppositional model. Bridger. I’ll just try my best to answer your question here.
It depends on the issue. How does it relate to classical? As it pertains to the existence of God, I, in terms of God’s existence, I would say that I’m similar to the Reformed Epistemology position. I don’t fully identify with it though. Reformed Epistemology basically says belief in God is a basic belief, properly basic belief. I would say that belief in God is self-evident and so while I think God’s existence is obvious to those that perceive the natural order, I don’t quite think or hold to that same model as Alvin Plantinga who’s one of the more famous Reformed Epistemologists, of course, epistemology being the study of how we know things.
With regard to Christianity, I would not be sympathetic to that model. When I view the Bible, I see that the disciples used evidence for the truth of Jesus’s Messiahship, His Lordship, and they cite the Scriptures and they use argumentation. Paul went into the synagogue and debated people. I take it that there was a need to argue and present evidence for Jesus being Lord. In that respect, I would be a classicalist or even more so, an evidentialist, on the truth of Christianity. I sort of hold to this sort of two-pronged approach.
With regard to presuppositionalism, I have some commonalities, but some of the more dogmatic points I would disagree with. The commonality here that I would have is that the Scripture says God has written eternity in their hearts. That’s in the book of Ecclesiastes. I think God has made us in such a way to desire a relationship with Him. In that respect, we are created to worship God and so we do presuppose things. I think for instance, especially when it comes to ethics, I think sort of an ethical objective norm I think is sort of, to use a computer or coding word, programmed into us, and so we can’t help but reason from a specific vantage point, so I would say there are commonalities with the presuppositional model, but I wouldn’t be as dogmatic as Reformed philosophers and theologians. For example, on the topic of inability, whether humans are able to do anything toward their own salvation, I think that humans can do something. I would hold to the synergistic model.
To your last question about neutrality, which is a great question. I don’t think we live in a vacuum. We live in a context. In this context, there is a shared common experience I think for Christians and non-Christians. I think that there is common ground, I should say there’s some common ground, between believers and non-believers. In other respects we’re going to find large disagreements. The common ground might be very small, but I think what common ground we do have we can utilize to our strategy. For instance, I sometimes get Mormon missionaries that come knocking on my door and there was one time a pair of missionaries, I spent a lot of time with them, and as I discussed with them, I would understand the arguments that they were using and even in using the Book of Mormon to argue for my position, let me give a fine example here.
In the Book of Mormon, salvation is by faith plus works, so it’s faith and after all you do. That is sort of, works is the clincher. On my understanding though, I think the Bible articulates the position that salvation is by faith alone. It’s a gift that we accept and the accepting itself is not a work, at least not in Paul’s mind. If it’s a gift, then you don’t earn it. You don’t earn a gift. That means it’s not a gift. This is to say when Mormons say that they believe the same thing I do and they believe that the Bible is one of their holy books, how do they reconcile the Bible and the Book of Mormon? I would utilize their holy book in conjunction with the Scriptures. In this sense, there was common ground between us and leveraging that common ground to I think illustrate the point that they both can’t be true. I hope I made that point to the Mormon missionaries, and of course, I hope I’m making this point clear to your question as well. I hope I covered all of that there about my apologetic methodology. Let me just briefly summarize again.
As it pertains to the existence of God, I believe God’s existence is self-evident. With regard to the truth of Christianity, I would be an evidentialist. I am sympathetic to some of the tenets of presuppositionalism, but not all of them. Chiefly, the more dogmatic points. I don’t think there’s a neutral ground. I think there’s common ground. I just don’t like that word neutral, because it sort of seems as if humans live in a vacuum without a context, but there is a shared common experience that all humans have. I think we should use not only that common experience, but in times where we have further common ground, so for example with the case of Mormons. They believe that the Bible is one of the holy books so using the Bible that instance.
I hope that answers your question. Thanks so much for calling in. I really enjoy it when folks call in, ask a question, or email me. If you want to have a question that’s been on your mind addressed here on the show. You can call our line any time during the week. The number is 505-278-7483. That’s 505-2STRIVE because here at Veracity Hill, we strive for truth and so if you’ve got that question, I’d love to take it.
One final reminder here. We’re doing this book giveaway this week. Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant And Extreme along with a Defenders Media bookmark. I hope you will share the livestream there on Facebook and spread the word about what we’re doing here on the show.
That does it for the show today. I am grateful for the continued support of our patrons and the partnerships that we have with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Evolution 2.0, and Ratio Christi. Thank you to the tech team today, Chris. I appreciate your work there, running the livestream, working the mixer, thank you so much for your support there, and then also a big shoutout to Krysti Wilkinson for coming on our show to talk about the dance between religion and politics and finally I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.
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