Friday, September 16, 2022

Accurately Handling the Word of Truth (Part III)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV) 
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line
"I Walk The Line" from the 1956 album Johnny Cash with His Hot and Blue Guitar! (Johnny Cash)
...the English now hailed the Bon Homme, to know whether they had struck. Jones himself answered, ‘that he had not yet begun to fight.'
from The Life and Character of John Paul Jones, a Captain in the United States Navy During the Revolutionary War (John Henry Sherburne)
Put on the full armor of God. Stand firm against the left’s schemes. You will face flaming arrows, but if you have the shield of faith, you will overcome them, and in Florida we walk the line here,” DeSantis told the audience at Hillsdale College in February. “And I can tell you this, I have only begun to fight.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, speaking at Hilldale College (Miami Herald)

Two years ago, I wrote a post admonishing former vice-president Mike Pence over his misuse of Scripture. In 2021, I did the same for President Biden when he did the same thing. It seems only right that I do the same now as I've become aware of this February 2022 speech.

I get it. I understand rhetorical flourish and echoing classic passages of literature to evoke emotion. (In this case, echoing Holy Scripture, popular music, and an iconic though likely incorrect quote of a U.S. naval hero.)

But we as followers of Christ are called to "be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB). What Governor DeSantis did is not accurately handling Scripture.

You can have a conservative political viewpoint (whether or not I or anyone else agrees with you)... but this is playing fast & loose with the Bible - conflating "the Left" with Satan, suggesting that political disagreements are the flaming arrows of the evil one metaphorically referred to in Ephesians, calling for a "shield of faith" to defend against those on the "wrong side" of the political spectrum.


I almost let this one go... but then on Wednesday, Gov. DeSantis joined in the "fun" that Gov. Abbott of Texas has been having by sending migrants (from San Antonio, no less) via planes to Martha's Vineyard. 

I cannot possibly express my outrage at this better than Jonathan V. Last in his Bulwark newsletter yesterday:

Let’s put aside the theology of immigration. Let’s pretend, just for a moment, that Jesus would have nothing to say about whether or not the state should seek to discourage undocumented migrants as a high-level matter of government policy.

Those planes were filled with actual human beings. People with dignity. People with hopes and dreams, problems and challenges. People with names and families.

And this Christian man used them as props. He didn’t clothe the naked or feed the hungry. He literally did the opposite: Evicted them—and not because he felt that he had to, because it was a requirement of the law. But because he saw that he could use them as a means to the ends of his personal ambition.

I’m trying—really trying—not to get too hot here. But Christians should look at this act and be revolted. They should be horrified.

Because using vulnerable human beings for your personal gratification is evil. Full stop.

If you want to construct a Christian ethic for immigration restrictionism, you can do it. It’ll be twisty and tortured. It probably won’t be terribly convincing, by the lights of Christianity. But it’s doable...

The Christian ethic of dignity and life isn’t easy. It can be uncomfortable. It often asks us to do exceptionally hard things. But whatever. You can see the outlines of a defensible position.

But even that position would hold that immigrants who do arrive here illegally must be cared for with love and charity.

And it would look with horror on a politician who sought not just to abdicate this affirmative duty, but to do the opposite: to take advantage of his neighbors.

If this politician were a conspicuous, self-avowed, follower of Christ it would be a thousand times worse. Because now he’s not just doing evil. He’s doing evil while claiming Jesus as his justification.

Read the whole thing.


I wanted to come up with something wise and convicting to close this post with... I wanted to turn on my "pastor mojo" and finish with marching orders to my fellow followers of Christ.

But I'm tired. So tired of watching Biblical truth being used as a prop... by both political parties.

So, I once again leave you with this.
Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how! And keeping all this in mind, pray on behalf of God’s people. Keep on praying feverishly, and be on the lookout until evil has been stayed.

Ephesians 6:18 (VOICE)


Daniel Brown said...

Thanks for posting this and a thanks for letting me know about The Bulwark. I know I will not have much time read but what I have read was provocative.

NickDanger said...

It gives me hope that there are still some real Christians out there and see this as a political stunt wrapped in false and twisted Bible quotes. If you want to believe the stories that the Republicans are selling about immigrants, fine. Just don't wrap it in the Bible. In addition you'll need to reconcile it with your Christianity.
I could write a novella on what in Religion needs to be in politics and the law. It isn't separate but it isn't easy either.