Electronic Christianity Five

This is a good time to consider the relationship of politics to eChristianity. I am in no place to tell you what your politics should be but I think I can give you some things to consider in regard to our relationship with the government.

First, we need to remember that we are subject to at least one government. When we read both the Old and the New Testament we see that believers are affected both by the form and the quality of their governance. This could lead us to think we are responsible for both these aspects of government and create a desire in us to rectify what is wrong. However, history shows us, in both biblical and secular accounts, that Christians either embracing a government or resisting one generally leads to adverse consequences for Christianity or Christians or both.

As we eChristians are also citizens of the nation of God, we need to be careful not to grab at the “tar baby” of political influence or the idea that we know perfectly God’s will for how we should be governed and by whom. Holding power leads to an attachment to the events taking place and, as Menno Simons thought, creating actions that it is not proper for Christians to instigate. Resisting a government is as foolish as thinking we know what the weather should be since a government is something that is too large for our understanding and subject to God’s purposes.

However, Jesus in Matthew 16:2-3 told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they had a proverbial saying that went like this: If the sky is red in the morning it means a stormy day, if it is red in the evening it means good weather is coming. So he asked them since they could interpret the signs in the sky why they could not see the signs of the times. This is a second aspect of our relationship to government and politics. Just because we have little influence does not mean we should not be very aware of what is going on and be prepared to adjust ourselves to what may occur. We are in a time of changes, and it is certain that what has happened, what is going on, and what will happen in the political realm will affect our lives.

When Jesus commissioned the Twelve Disciples before sending them out to proclaim the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 10), he told them to be wary as serpents and innocent as doves. This is good advice for us as we evaluate and participate in a turbulent time of political change and unrest.

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Let’s Hear a Cheer for Metaphysics

The rather immodest aim of metaphysics is the comprehension and unification of all understanding. However, we have passed the point where any one mind or even any one system can encompass all of our expanding knowledge of the wonders surrounding us. Nevertheless, there is something from metaphysics we need to retain and this is its search for the reality underlying all appearances. It was the goal and the hope of the metaphysician to find a unifying concept of reality that would invest all things with value. Today we lack a recognized and agreed upon set of values and therefore we need the return of the metaphysical ideal.

Some time ago metaphysical studies were divided, and by the division reduced, into theology, philosophy and science. Contemporary theology is chaos, and even if it were not most of it is unrecognized and unheeded in a secular world. Philosophy, instead of studying our minds, studies words and what is left of the noble pursuit is mostly historical studies of past philosophers and critiques of their systems. As for science as a guide for humanity, the magic has mostly departed. Few think today that science is the road to peace and prosperity. Science is good with facts but poor about values.

Politics, the art and practice of government, has much to do with facts, but its ultimate choices have to do with values. And it is in making choices that our political system is floundering. A quick contrast can be made between the current politician, who tends to obtain his or her value system from public opinion polls, and the founders of our country.

The politicians then generally believed in a transcendent deity who was the source of political values and human dignity, and who was the judge of their actions. The judge of contemporary politicians is the election. And their highest aim is reelection.

This decay in the political value system is not the entire fault of the politicians. It is the result of a declining metaphysic. Instead of a nation with a common set of shared values, our culture has allowed values to become so privatized that it is impossible to reach anything approaching a consensus on any given issue. In fact, many people would argue against the possibility or even the desirability of a shared value system.

Governing, though, is an exercise in reality. Real choices have real consequences in real lives. Political actions based either on wishful thinking, or arbitrary or non-existent values, will in the end be destructive. What we need is a politics based on reality. And knowledge of reality comes from a search for truth. And the search for truth leads us back to metaphysics. Therefore, let’s hear a cheer for metaphysics.