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Friday, July 09, 2010

Replay: When A Coin In The Coffer Rings...

[Written April 9, 2010]

Johann Tetzel was a Dominican monk who was allegedly the motivation for the writing of Martin Luther's "95 Theses" nailed to the door at Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Luther's intent was to reform the church from the selling of indulgences, to call into question some of the financial practices therein. The aggregate result was not the reformation of the Church, but rather the Protestant Reformation itself.

Thus, the rule of unintended consequences.

In my opinion, the consequences reclaimed the ideology of sovereign grace, the priesthood of all believers, the supremacy of the Scriptures, the belief that faith alone in Christ alone were all good things. But to say that there weren't bad things is to hold the protestant reformation in far too high regard. No doubt, the Peasant War that came about was terrible and even Luther mentioned that the pastorate had learned to "live as pigs" as the protestant churches sprung up all across Europe.

So, you take both the good with the bad.

Today, there is very little difference between the indulgence-peddlers of the 16th Century and the politics of today. It is a foregone conclusion that many in this great nation consider partisan politics to be a religious experience, the rallies and gatherings resembling a hyped-up religious worship service with music and guest "preachers" who push forth their message of salvation through political activism. The attendees walk away feeling charged up emotionally, a heightened desire to "do something," though that "something" has yet to be determined.

Rather like loading up a hyperactive child on candy, coffee and energy drinks and turning him loose in the back yard to go play.

The tune, "when a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs" has been replaced with a more familiar, less foreboding tune entitled, "Constitutional conservatives are we." The verses themselves and harmonies have yet to be worked out fully, but the message of political salvation is still the same. Which part of the Constitution we need to "restore" is really irrelevant in this religious movement because to discuss specifics would be very much like arguing how many angels could - or should - dance on the head of a pin.

But we all know that dancing is of the devil so it's a moot point. But I digress.

In all fairness, there are serious problems within the GOP and the problem begins with the mindset that the GOP is, in and of itself, able to save us. The GOP has no Christological merit any more than the Democratic Party has saved the poor from poverty. As a matter of fact, THE Christ warned us that "the poor you will have with you always." The GOP is becoming as fractured and splintered as the Church did in the 16th Century, but the split of the Church actually had and has for some, eternal consequence.

At a recent Bible study, we discussed whether or not at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the tables would be garnished with American flags and segregated by political affiliation. We all agreed, thankfully, that it would not.

We agreed that Matthew 22 is pretty clear about "rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" and it makes sense, and we also agreed that Paul's declaration of priorities regarding the Christian's view of government is also important as stated in Romans 13. Most importantly, we agreed that the Constitution is not to be considered canon nor should be added to the accepted books of the Bible - contrary to popular "Constitutional conservative" world views.

No militia necessary.

There are a multitude of meritorious aspects of various political movements in contemporary America to be certain. Less wasteful government benefits everyone and in this time of fiscal crisis, the concept of good financial stewardship is critical for our future success. The fact that some who have been disengaged from the political process over the years are now coming forward and taking part in the process is a good thing that benefits every American whether we accept that fact or not.

There are good candidates for political office running right now and each are doing so for their own reasons and only the Father can determine just what their desires are and will be in the future. I have candidates I support and my reasons are often very clear - but I also know that all of them are human, fallen creatures who are created in the Imago Dei.

At the heart of the issue is just that - our hearts. If we realize that in many ways, we're polishing the proverbial brass on the Titanic, it makes it all much easier to swallow from a theological perspective. We know that we can be active in politics but we also should know that politics themselves are not salvific.

It's just my opinion, my take on things, and I could be wrong...but I seriously doubt it.