Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Fea on Pastors Preaching Politics

Dr. John Fea has another good post here about pastors involved politics. A taste:
400 evangelical pastors are heading to Liberty University this week to participate in an event sponsored by the American Renewal Project.  The goal of the closed meeting is to mobilize pastors for the 2020 election.  Speakers at the event include former Virginia congressman (now Liberty professor) David Brat, Christian nationalist David Barton, and Christian Broadcasting Network political analyst David Brody.  (I am guessing that they are not mobilizing pastors to vote for a Democrat :-)) 
The American Renewal Project is run by David Lane, a Christian Right politico who wants pastors to preach political sermons, run for political office, and use their ecclesiastical authority to convince parishioners to vote for Donald Trump in 2020. We wrote about him here and here. 
Lane and other Christian nationalists and court evangelicals believe that they are a modern-day “Black Robe Brigade,” a name given to revolutionary-era pastors who supported American independence in 1776. 
The appeal to the Black Robe Brigade reveals a fundamental problem with these kind of history-based Christian Right arguments.  Lane, David Barton, and others give a moral authority to the past that is almost idolatrous.  In other words, if pastors used their pulpits to promote a political agenda in 1776, then they must have been right.  If it happened in the eighteenth-century it is somehow immune from any moral or theological reflection today.  Thomas Jefferson said that our rights come from God, so Christian nationalists conclude, with little theological reflection on whether or not Jefferson was correct, that our rights indeed come from God.  This leads them to make all kinds of wackadoodle arguments that the amendments related to quartering soldiers, trial by jury,  excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishment are somehow rooted in biblical teaching.


Tom Van Dyke said...

"Lane, David Barton, and others give a moral authority to the past that is almost idolatrous."

That is a theological judgment. Once again, Mr. Fea, like his much of his scholarly ilk on the left, thinks a PhD in history gives him standing in theology.

It does not. And John's language is getting more and more intemperate. A pity he can't keep it in his pants anymore, in this Age of Trump.

Our Founding Truth said...

Mr. Fea should not comment about theology in the founding because he doesn't understand it.

Art Deco said...

Clergymen who actually teach, sanctify, and govern their parishes and dioceses will be controversial with their own flock. In following their vocation, they're going to have scant occasion to remark on political controversies. When they do, the modal issue will be the harassment by elements of the liberal establishment of dissenters and of religious institutes devoted to corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Another sort of controversy would be the content of public education, where again, you have professional guilds making impositions on ordinary people. A third would be issues of peculiar urgency, such as the abortion license. Of course, Fea and his ilk will side with the lawyer left contra religious bodies every time.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Of course, Fea and his ilk will side with the lawyer left contra religious bodies every time.

Meanwhile, the Dems scramble over each other to preach in the black churches. Mr. Fea and his left-wing pals have no problem with a "Black Church PAC Presidential Forum."

Art Deco said...

And Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo will never be referred to as 'court evangelicals'.