Evangelical Thought Leaders and Twitter

As I keep up with the GOP convention thru Twitter I am absolutely stunned by the absolute bludgeoning Evangelical thought leaders dish out. It’s high school all over again! T

heir journal and blog articles are so reasoned, erudite, engaging. But all of a sudden on Twitter they act as if they have rabies, baring teeth, foaming at the mouth, stalking prey, and biting every step of the way. It really is unseemly.

Perhaps it’s the nature of Twitter which is more conversational, immediate, and by its limit of 140 characters encouragings jab and punch. Still, I would expect these thought leaders to rein in the emotionally launched missiles with a bit more self-control. Alas, it isn’t so.

I don’t think I can read their books and articles the same way, having some idea of what lurks beneath.

We Are A Commercial Republic

The Founders placed the moral qualities required for successful commerce at the center of its social life. In this sense the US could be called a “commercial republic.”

The prospering that comes through free commerce was made to be more central to the purposes of the state than in any other form of civic order. Commerce enhances the cooperative spirit since much that must be done in business cannot be done by one alone. It increases attention to law. It singles out self-determination of the individual as the main source of social energy. It places limits on the state. It incites imagination and industriousness. It disciplines all to common sense. It teaches respect for small savings and small gains. It requires many of those virtues at which religion aims-loyalty, trust, hard work, promptness, meticulousness, honesty, stability, vision, hope, etc. It is proportioned to man as he is, not as dreams would have him. 

Remove the centrality of the marketplace and the essential arena for the development of virtue evaporates. Additionally, greater freedom is enhanced because the work of producing wealth increases choices and opportunities. Deny people the marketplace and you deny them the truly virtuous life. 

The statements above are rephrasing of Michale Novak from The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. 

They make clear that one of the reasons why our current level of unemployment and our subsidy of life without work through the welfare state is so damaging.

We Are A Commercial Republic

The Founders placed the moral qualities required for successful commerce at the center of its social life. In this sense the US could be called a “commercial republic.”

The prospering that comes through free commerce was made to be more central to the purposes of the state than in any other form of civic order. Commerce enhances the cooperative spirit since much that must be done in business cannot be done by one alone. It increases attention to law. It singles out self-determination of the individual as the main source of social energy. It places limits on the state. It incites imagination and industriousness. It disciplines all to common sense. It teaches respect for small savings and small gains. It requires many of those virtues at which religion aims-loyalty, trust, hard work, promptness, meticulousness, honesty, stability, vision, hope, etc. It is proportioned to man as he is, not as dreams would have him.

Remove the centrality of the marketplace and the essential arena for the development of virtue evaporates. Additionally, greater freedom is enhanced because the work of producing wealth increases choices and opportunities. Deny people the marketplace and you deny them the truly virtuous life.

The statements above are rephrasing of Michale Novak from The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. 

They make clear that one of the reasons why our current level of unemployment and our subsidy of life without work through the welfare state is so damaging.

Hardhearted Churches in Times of Cultural Crisis

Does a Pastor saying the answer to all of our cultural and political turmoil is Jesus fulfill his responsibility to his flock and his culture in times of crisis?

Many Pastors struggle to not politicize their pulpits. That is a good instinct. Yet parishioners seek guidance for decision making in the midst of turmoil, particularly in what it means to be both citizens of a democratic society where they are expected to participate in political decision-making and as Christians. I think Pastors need to have a long term strategy for training parishioners how to meet this challenge, lest when a crisis hits they do not have the time or atmosphere for fuller communication.

This is an intellectually demanding task for the Pastor and requires time, not a little mental energy and some risk. The reality is that the New Testament was not written in the context of a democratic society so that much that the Bible says does not readily translate from autocracy to democracy. It takes work. The intellectual concepts employed have to be clear to the Pastor and the application of them to circumstance must be wise.

When I was in seminary there was almost no attempt by professors to handle this. There was no theology of democratic capitalism, no spelling out of ideals, and central concepts. The RC church has taken several passes at it, though it remains skittish about capitalism and warns more than it teaches.

The reality remains that churches have a compelling interest in seeking a flourishing culture, though it is never bound by cultural circumstance. But the church takes seriously human suffering in all of its manifestations, and where culture begins to break down and with it the hopes, dreams and stability of families, the church must have a place at the table.

To consider this irrelevant to its task seems hardhearted to me.