Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Election (2)

635924331778920089-603679492_tzoneHillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton appears to have a far more credible claim to Christian influence than does Donald Trump.  A substantial report by America Magazine examines her faith and its implications, with this as a starting point.

Growing up, Mrs. Clinton attended First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Ill., a white, upper-middle-class suburb of Chicago. She has said in speeches and in her memoir that she recalls her father praying each night before bed and her mother helping out in various church ministries.

The report goes on to discuss the limited information on how Christianity has influenced her life.  For example, here is another quote from the same report as above.

Calling Mrs. Clinton “a child of the Methodist Church,” Mr. McCurry said she probably could not offer “a long dissertation on the Wesley Quadrilateral, but she knows her faith tradition and she knows that thinking because it’s very much what you’re exposed to when you grow up in the Methodist Church.”

Were I to stop here Mrs. Clinton would hands-down have more credibility as a candidate influenced by Christianity.  The issue is that there is much in the public record that indicates Mrs. Clinton is far more influenced by the secular Progressive left.  That is, when the beliefs of a majority of Christians, or even those of her Methodist denomination, conflict with secular Progressive positions, it is the Christian positions that are demeaned and discarded.

In the United States of America there are tens of millions of citizens who, due to their Christian (and other religion’s) convictions, oppose major Progressive policies.  Thus, there is a clash between those who demand immediate and uniform adherence to each and every Progressive position and those who demand respect for their Christian beliefs.  Where does Mrs. Clinton stand on this major question.  She stands squarely with the secular (i.e., Christian godless) Progressives.  Following is some information on Mrs. Clinton’s position on religious liberty.

Mrs. Clinton holds those who publicly disagree with her policy positions based on  religious beliefs in contempt.  Her “elevator speech” for the Presidency could be: “By electing me you will be able to continue destroying the lives, livelihoods and culture of those ‘irredeemable’ ‘basket of deplorables’ who dare to oppose our perfect morality!”

Let there be no mistake, those of us who oppose same-gender marriage are “homophobic,” who affirm inherent distinctivenesses between men and women are “sexist,” those who judge a person by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin are “racist,” those who are concerned about unlimited illegal immigration are “xenophobic” and those who recognize that radical Islam is the source of massive terrorism are “Islamaphobic.”  And, the “you name it” covers any other mortal sins that the secular Progressive Left will gin up from now into the future.  All of this “evil” will be stamped out by a Hillary Clinton presidency.

With regard to same-gender marriage, Mrs. Clinton is at odds with the Methodist Church’s teaching.  At the 2016 United Methodist Church General Assembly:

the [Methodist] church did not repudiate its historic position on marriage, despite angry protests by “LGBTQ” Methodist activists. The slim majority thereby affirmed the United Methodist Church’s official Book of Discipline, which states explicitly: “We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman.” The Book of Discipline also states: “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.”

It’s apparent that Mrs. Clinton included many of her supposed Methodist co-religionist “sisters and brothers” in Christ to be in her irredeemable basket of deplorables.

Mrs. Clinton supports the actions and legislative agenda of those who are directly attacking religious liberty.  For example:

She has opposed all state versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was signed into law by her husband, falsely casting them as bigoted attacks on the dignity and rights of LGBT people. The recent Indiana and Arkansas RFRAs — and the distinct-but-related “bathroom bill” in North Carolina — do not in fact legalize discrimination against LGBT citizens, but rather allow business owners to freely exercise their religion by not participating in activities they find unconscionable, such as same-sex wedding ceremonies. No one is permitted by these laws to deny service to a customer on the basis of his being gay, for instance, as is often insinuated by liberals.

Mrs. Clinton supports a minimalist definition of religious liberty in which it covers (for now) only what goes on in the sanctuary during a worship service.  Here’s how she narrows “religious freedom” down to only that which occurs in the worship service, with associated commentary on the dire implications.

“We hold fast to the belief that everyone has the right to worship however he or she sees fit,” she writes. “Americans know that democracy ceases to exist when a leader or ruling faction can impose a particular faith on everyone else.”

In fact, she has actively worked against religious minorities for the sake of her other cherished causes. These are important parts of robust religious freedom, to be sure. But they are not the only parts. Liberals such as Clinton are famous for claiming that religious liberty is flourishing because all Americans are free to go to church and worship however they’d like while attending their services. But actual religious freedom includes the ability to exercise one’s beliefs in the public square, not just inside a church building. Among other things, it means being free from government coercion into actions that violate one’s religious conscience.

Finally, as a good Progressive, Mrs. Clinton is an extreme advocate for abortion on demand.  Even after Planned Parenthood’s vile practice of trafficking in aborted baby body parts was exposed, Hillary Clinton doubled down on her support.

Abortion activist Hillary Clinton made her first speech as the Democratic presidential nominee to the nation’s largest abortion corporation, Planned Parenthood.

“I have been proud to stand with Planned parenthood for a long time and, as president, I will always have your back,” Hillary said. “We need to protect Planned Parenthood from partisan attacks.”

“I will be your partner in the election and for the long haul,” Hillary promised the abortion activists cheering her on.

“I want to start by saying something you don’t hear often enough: thank you,” Clinton said.

She is also at complete odds with the Methodist Church and most Christians on the question of abortion.

Clinton’s stance on abortion wholly conflicts with what most Christians think about abortion, and with her own church’s stance indicating abortion should be a rare exception. Hillary Clinton is pushing to repeal the ban on taxpayer funding for abortions and advocates for late-term abortion—she told Chuck Todd perhaps there could be restrictions “in the very end of….the third trimester,” while admitting to him “unborn people don’t have constitutional rights (emphasis mine).”

What’s clear is that, while Mrs. Clinton claims to have religious roots, her true religion is the secular Progressive movement.

One last comment is necessary.  In the previous post I criticized Evangelical Christians for throwing their support to Donald Trump.  I should point out that many Mainline Protestant denominations (e.g., the PCUSA) have been wholly owned subsidiaries of the secular Progressive movement for generations.


Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Election (1)

635924331778920089-603679492_tzoneAs you have likely guessed by now, I am extremely dissatisfied with the presidential candidates nominated by our two major political parties.  I have discussed my reasons for this dissatisfaction in some detail for each candidate.

Neither Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are the kinds of people to whom I am comfortable with wielding the power of the Presidency.  However, the issue isn’t at is essence personal.  In a nation of 330 million people there will be many, many citizens who should not be elevated to the Presidency.  The issue is that the Republican and Democratic electorates chose to elevate each of these people to one-step away from that very position.

Thus, the fact that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the nominees of their respective parties speaks more to the state of the electorate than is does to their characters.  That is, the Republican and Democratic electorates selected these two individuals out of the many who pursued the nomination.

I believe that in each case the victor was that person who best fit the “strong-(wo)man” political mold.  That is, the respective electorates chose that person who, they believed, could be most counted on to favor their supporters and smite their opponents.

How did we get to such a sorrowful point?  I could write a dozen blog posts on this question.  However, since this blog is primarily about religious issues, I’ll limit myself to a few comments in this domain.

Donald Trump

One of the most troubling things about Donald Trump’s nomination is the group that most likely put him over the top is Evangelical Christians.  Far be it from me to comment on the ultimate status of his (or anyone’s) soul, but with regard to visible evidence Mr. Trump doesn’t appear to have been under the Holy Spirit’s regenerative powers.  It’s always possible that, starting from far down the road to perdition, Mr. Trump has indeed been saved by the hand of our gracious and forgiving God.  Were that the case, we can grant that there is much road to be covered on the way back.

However, Mr. Trump appears to be unaware of his sinfulness and associated need for confession and repentance.  For example, here is what he has said since beginning to run for President on this topic.

“I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.”  …

When asked if he had ever asked for God’s forgiveness of his sins, he has said:

“I am not sure I have, I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. … I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

I’m at a loss on how to square these statements with orthodox Christian doctrine, though they, sadly, are representative of far to many Christian’s understanding of sin.  Certainly if you adhere to President Obama’s definition of sin

Do you believe in sin?


Falsani: What is sin?

 Being out of alignment with my values.

Falsani: What happens if you have sin in your life?

 I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.

then Mr. Trump likely stands on firm ground.  That is, as an extreme narcissist, he believes that whatever he believes must be “the good,” and that he is extremely good at “being true to himself.”

If we combine the above comments with Mr. Trump’s ownership of Casinos, including all which that entails, and, his multiple marriages with the associated infidelity, Evangelical Christian support becomes quite a puzzle.

My belief is that many in the Evangelical community, being beset by a rising progressive tide, decided that what was needed is not a politician with a solid Christian conviction but rather a “strong man” to protect them.

The reason many Christians back him apparently is to gain a tough champion against an increasingly hostile culture and politics. “We’re going to take care of you,” Trump recently promised evangelical listeners. They worry about religious liberty as the state attempts to squeeze out spiritual concerns while expanding inexorably. They also fear a PC and redistributionist culture. The usual Republican Party suspects have done little to arrest the advance of darkness. So evangelical voters decided to hire someone from the dark side for protection.

This is a sea change.  Rather than the Evangelical community expecting a candidate to show credible fruits of the spirit, they have sought the protection of a “strong man.”  Thus, they have subordinated themselves and their faith to a mere man.  In so doing they have also subordinated their trust in God’s providence and protection to Donald Trump.

In all likelihood the Evangelical Christians who played a decisive role in nominating Donald Trump will rue the day that they despised their birthright for a mess of pottage.  If Mr. Trump does win the presidency, let’s hope that his director of African-American outreach Omarosa Manigault’s statement to PBS Frontline is the fantasy of a troubled person (who rose to a position of high responsibility in the Trump campaign 😮 ) rather than an accurate assessment of who Donald Trump really is.

“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

She likely knows of what she speaks.

The Democratic Nominee: Hillary Clinton (2)


Hillary Clinton’s Victory

I’m certain that the reader will understand that the following is an explanation, not an endorsement.

Hillary Clinton’s path to the Democratic nomination was the exact opposite of Donald Trump’s to the Republican.  She entered the race as the presumptive nominee and ultimately obtained the goal.  However, her progress was seriously impeded by the unexpected popularity of a 75 year old socialist from Vermont who wasn’t even a member of the Democratic Party.  Whereas Mrs. Clinton struggled to generate even modest levels of popular enthusiasm, Mr. Sanders regularly spoke to large crowds of almost delirious supporters.

Over the course of the primary campaign, Mrs. Clinton eventually vanquished Mr. Sanders, with the scandalous assistance of the DNC.  Along the way it emerged that no one in the Democratic Party was able (or, more likely, was willing) to provide a cogent explanation for how socialism differs from Democratic economic policy.  Mr. Sanders eventually endorsed Mrs. Clinton and appears to be quickly receding into the political oblivion from which he came.

To the extent that Mrs. Clinton actually won Democratic voters approval, I believe that the following two decisive factors led to her victory.

  1. Whereas Mr. Sanders (eventually) sought direct state control over the means of production, Mrs. Clinton proposed indirect control, by requiring individuals and companies to use their property in the international interest defined by her and her progressive followers.
  2. Mrs. Clinton can be counted on to run to the head of every progressive parade to claim leadership of its social justice cause du jour.

With regard to the first point, that which separates the elite leadership of the Democratic Party from its radical Progressive base is the realization that actual Socialism is a monstrous failure.  You need only look to Venezuela for the most recent practical example, although you need to go way back to the 20th Century to find the genocidal truth in the Soviet UnionPeople’s Republic of China, and Cambodia.  As currently in Venezuela, the best case result is “only” economic, cultural and social ruin.

Certainly the base doesn’t want these outcomes either.  However, unfortunately, many don’t know anything about Socialism’s bloody history and many others are convinced that ‘this time we’ll get it right!’  So, the trick during the primary season was to keep the base on board while not explicitly embracing an actual Socialist program.  Mrs. Clinton accomplished this by moving aggressively to the left on as many issues as possible and by rhetorically railing against Wall Street (while keeping their massive donations pocketed and withholding the texts of her many private speeches to them).

Thus, the economic machine that creates the abundant wealth necessary for the comfortable existences to which the Western Progressive Left has become accustomed will, by Mrs. Clinton’s assurance, go on unabated.  Her economic program doesn’t seek to completely destroy the benefits of nominal private ownership of property, rather, it promises to allow enough wealth to be created to continue funding her supporter’s lifestyles while maintaining the facade of government deniability for the certain negative consequences of government control (it’s those bad companies again!). All of this wealth will supposedly be created even as the culture that enables it is pulled down.  Of course, this is pure fantasy.  But it is absolutely necessary that both contradictory ideas be simultaneously believed in order for the Progressive project to advance.  This disconnect from truth and reality brings us to the second point.

Mrs. Clinton has shown, over 25 years of public life, the ability to lie with astounding effectiveness.  In the most recent scandal over her appalling negligence in protecting classified information as Secretary of State, virtually everything that she has said has been shown to be a lie.  She brazenly lied over the coffins of the four dead Americans, murdered in Benghazi Libya, then called the grieving parents who objected liars.

Let me be clear.  All politicians lie, and Mr. Trump also lies with a frequency and  shamelessness that simply stuns.  However, Mrs. Clinton’s above lies were told while and about her service as Secretary of State, the senior Cabinet Officer and person fourth in line to be the President of the United States.   That raises the level of seriousness considerably.

With regard to consistency, Mrs. Clinton now pretends to care about the presumed veracity of women claiming sexual assault, but spent her husband’s two terms as President destroying the characters of the many women who accused her husband of sexual assault.  Anyone who lived through Mr. Clinton’s two terms as president knows that, going in, presidential lying was considered a serious fault, but by the end was considered by many to be an admired art form.

Thus, personal truthfulness or consistency has no role in Mrs. Clinton’s political positions — from the assumed veracity of women claiming sexual assault, to economic policy, to same-sex marriage, to international trade agreements, to crime and punishment, to immigration policy (I could go on) — the only “goodness and truth” is what the progressive movement declares it to be on any given day.  And, Mrs. Clinton will be in the lead, condemning anyone who deviates from that day’s progressive orthodoxy and demanding that our society uniformly comply which each and every demand.

How then does she convince so many decent, generally honest people to vote for her?  I believe the answer is twofold.  First, the Progressive movement gives all practical appearance of owning the moral high ground and running the show.  Thus, many people just assume that they deserve this position.  Secondly, they see progressives such as Mrs. Clinton speaking with utter conviction and without contradiction by the mainstream media, and assume that they must be telling the truth.  This misplaced trust may well be enough to elect her President.

Then again, misplaced confidence my be enough to elect Donald Trump President.


The Democratic Nominee: Hillary Clinton (1)


A good synopsis of her biography is:

Hillary Clinton was born on October 26, 1947, in Chicago, Illinois, going on to earn her law degree from Yale University. She married fellow law school graduate Bill Clinton in 1975. She later served as first lady from 1993 to 2001, and then as a U.S. senator from 2001 to 2009. In early 2007, Clinton announced her plans to run for the presidency. During the 2008 Democratic primaries, she conceded the nomination when it became apparent that Barack Obama held a majority of the delegate vote. After winning the national election, Obama appointed Clinton secretary of state. She was sworn in as part of his cabinet in January 2009 and served until 2013. In the spring of 2015, she announced her plans to run again for the U.S. presidency. In 2016, she became the first woman in U.S. history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party.

The following posts will contain my commentary.

The Republican Nominee: Donald Trump (2)


Donald Trump’s Victory

I’m trusting the reader will assume that the following is an explanation, not an endorsement.

How could a novice politician have demolished a field of supposedly accomplished and savvy competitors with such apparent ease?  The nation watched in stunned amazement as he dispatched Governors, Senators and even other political “outsiders” in rapid succession.  With every victory the chorus would rise saying that he had this time (finally) hit his peak and it would now all come crashing down.  It never did.  And so, on July 21, 2016, Donald Trump accepted the nomination of a party whose establishment despised him and with a significant minority of members who had difficulty convincing themselves to support him.

I believe that Mr. Trump achieved this astonishing result due to two decisive factors, those being:

  1. He positioned himself as the unrestrained spokesman for the anger and frustration of a large segment of citizens who had watched their country being “fundamentally transformed” by the Obama administration without effective opposition by the Republican Party, even though they had been given control of both chambers of Congress.
  2. He deemphasized the role of Constitutional governance and emphasized his personal success, wisdom and will to power.

The feckless response of the Republican leadership in Congress to President Obama’s policies created the space necessary for Mr. Trump’s candidacy.  These supposed tough politicians were obviously cowed by the absurd and disingenuous argument that to effectively oppose the policies of a President who happens to be black, is racist.

Yes, they did oppose “Obama Care,” the IRS targeting of conservative groups, immigration and many foreign policies (among many others).  However, to many citizens their opposition appeared to be feeble if not merely for show.

So, the issue was effectiveness.  Congress has precious few credible tools by which to reign in an Executive Branch that ignores and bypasses legitimate roles of the Legislative Branch.  Under normal conditions, the only credible tool is the “power of the purse.”  That is, Congress can refuse to appropriate the money necessary for the Executive Branch to fund its policies.

Once President Obama assumed office it was immediately clear that Congressional Democrats had no interest in upholding the prerogatives of Congress.  So, in 2010 and 2014, the Republicans won control of the House and Senate, respectively.  The promises of Republicans to effectively stand up to what many viewed as a corrupt, out of control Executive Branch suddenly evaporated once they assumed office.

So, with regard to the first point above, Donald Trump entered the campaign with statements that made it absolutely clear he was not cowed by the political correctness that had shielded the President in particular and progressives in general from direct political attack.  These statements, almost because of their coarseness, appeared to some to be a breath of fresh air.  Here’s what he said on June 16, 2015 while announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

This formulation was designed to signal to the many U.S. citizens concerned about illegal immigration that Trump was not beholden to the PC speech limitations imposed by our elites (of both parties).  It certainly was a key reason that Mr. Trump catapulted to the front of the Republican pack (and stayed there).  But, what can be said other than that this was a crude and cruel characterization?  My point is that Mr. Trump was likely using his skills as a self-promoter and marketeer to differentiate his product (himself) from every other candidate for the Republican nomination.  And, it worked.

Mr. Trump thus benefited from a visceral, emotional reaction to someone who finally had the guts to stand and fight.  In fact, the more outrageous the non-PC statement, the more convinced were his supporters that he was the man to turn back the progressive tide.  It made no apparent difference that Mr. Trump had, for decades, lived comfortably in the hyper-liberal bubble that encompasses New York elite society.  In spite of Mr. Trump’s demonstrably liberal past, his core support was so powerful that it withstood lies and gaffes that would have destroyed most any other candidate.

With regard to the second point, the serial failures of Congress and the Supreme Court (e.g., their “Obama Care” decision) to effectively constrain the Obama Administration undermined many a citizen’s confidence in the Constitution.  For all of Mr. Trump’s opponents, none had used their political office to oppose President Obama’s policies with the vigor of Ted Cruz.  Yes, Senator Cruz won the second most number of delegates and was second to last to drop out, but, in the end, Mr. Trump decisively defeated him.

My conclusion is that many Republican primary voters rejected Senator Cruz because he clung to the Constitution as the primary means by which the people should oppose overbearing government.  After almost eight years of work to create Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress, with virtually nothing to show for it, they concluded that Senator Cruz, for all of his commitment to conservative principles, had placed his hope in a demonstrably ineffective source of power.

Finally, returning to the first point, it’s likely that many of Mr. Trump’s supporters viewed the cruelty and crudity with which he treated his opponents as a marker of  power that would effectively oppose the progressive’s march towards a “fundamentally changed” nation.  And so, Mr. Trump, in spite of conduct clearly unbecoming of a presidential candidate (or any office of public trust), won the Republican nomination for President.

The Republican Nominee: Donald Trump (1)


When Donald Trump entered the Republican primaries on June 16, 2015 there were already eleven well known politicians in the race.  Over time, that number would grow to an astounding seventeen candidates.  By many accounts this was one of the most formidable, talented group of Republicans to seek their party’s presidential nomination in many election cycles.  And yet, less than eleven months later, on May 4, 2016, Donald Trump had defeated all sixteen of his rivals and stood as the presumptive Republican nominee.

A good synopsis of his biography is:

Real estate developer Donald John Trump was born in 1946, in Queens, New York. In 1971 he became involved in large, profitable building projects in Manhattan. In 1980, he opened the Grand Hyatt, which made him the city’s best-known and most controversial developer. In 2004 Trump began starring in the hit NBC reality series The Apprentice, which also spawned the offshoot The Celebrity Apprentice. Trump turned his attention to politics and in 2015, he announced his candidacy for president of the United States under the Republican ticket. After winning a majority of the primaries and caucuses, Trump was pronounced the official Republican candidate for president on July 19, 2016.

The following posts will contain my commentary on Donald Trump the candidate.  Hillary Clinton will be considered in a subsequent set of similar posts.

The Presidential Election

render_to_caesarThe nature of the current presidential election represents a sea-change for the relationship between the citizens and government of the United States.  This result is not a sudden discontinuity, but rather the visible manifestation of shifting beliefs that have been occurring over decades.

The central question that has been debated over recent decades is are we a nation of laws or men (to use the traditional phrase)?  By “a nation of laws” I mean something far beyond the existence of a written legal code.  After all, even the most vile totalitarian governments have written laws.  Rather, I define “law” to mean a philosophical conviction that there exists a standard of truth that is unchanging and above the shifting opinions of men.  Thus the right purpose of law is to discover and then apply this ultimate standard to human affairs.  Similarly, “a nation of men” designates an opposing philosophical conviction that mankind is the fundamental standard of truth.  In this phylosophy, to tie a nation to ideas that are presumed to be “unchanging and above” men is to pretend the existence of a standard that doesn’t really exist.

Prior to this current election cycle there existed two political parties that, incompletely and imperfectly, but nonetheless clearly, held these opposing views.  The Republican Party, for all its compromise and failings, sought to advance the “nation of laws” philosophy.  The Democratic Party, for all its compromises and failings, sought to advance the “nation of men” (though they would substitute a new term for “men”) philosophy.

I’m certain that there are many readers who would strenuously object to this partitioning of philosophies between our two main political parties.  Democrats might argue that they are no less wedded to “the rule of law” than are Republicans.  Certainly, in a party of millions there exists significant variation in political principles.  However, what can the dominant position, sustained over generations, that the Constitution must be interpreted as a “living document” mean other than that current human opinion trumps foundational law?  Republicans might likewise argue that they are no less wedded to “the rule of law” now than they were in the past.  However, I contend that with their current presidential nominee, the Republicans have embraced the “rule of men” in the person of Donald Trump.

This situation could not have occurred independent from the Christian religion.  After all, Christianity remains the dominant (by far) claimed faith in the United States.  Therefore, we will need to include examination of the shifting Christian landscape to understand how we arrived here.

Thus, this presidential election represents the first time in generations that the two major political parties are philosophically united (though, they remain far apart on how this philosophy should be applied to our current situation).  This fact alone is of the gravest consequence.  In future posts I will discuss my understanding of the reasons behind this shift, the likely consequences and the possibility for renewal.




A Brief Hiatus from Considering Things Eternal

A-Different-PathWith Wednesday’s post I completed the meditation on God’s acts of providence as they relate to formation of the primitive Church.  At that point the Church had experienced bewildering (from the world’s perspective) success.  After all the powers of this world had conspired to utterly destroy its founder, Jesus of Nazareth.  His followers should have slunk back to their homes to pretend for the rest of their insignificant lives that they had never known Him.

Yet, because God so willed it through His acts of providence, the opposite happened.  Christ’s death and resurrection led to an empowering by the Holy Spirit that breathed courage, wisdom, love and hope into those who the world considered to be as nothing.  So, we leave off with the world’s counter attack in full swing, with Saul on his way (so he thinks) to wiping this new Way from the face of the earth.

The story will be taken up again in “Effectual Calling: Becoming The Apostle Paul.”

It’s my hope that these meditations will provide confidence and trust about God’s work in this fallen world, even when everything appears to be crashing down around us.

Speaking of that, the topic I’m taking up is, surprise, the current presidential election.  The offerings from our two major political parties present concerning evidence of social disfunction.  I will expand on this concern at length in the following weeks.

What’s fascinating and challenging about God’s providence is that He includes us in its acts.  That is, though the eventual outcome is safe in God’s hands, He yet demands that we “do our part.”  The apparent logical contradictions in this formulation can cause rejection or passivity.  Under orthodox Reformed theology they lead to neither.  Rather, they provide the confidence to act, knowing that, as we seek and do God’s will there is no opposing power on earth that can prevail.  We also know that, as we, being frail and foolish, make mistakes that deviate from God’s will, He will yet use us to ultimately accomplish His perfect ends (see The Chief End of Man: Abraham and Sarah).

So, I will dive into the presidential election commentary with this thought as my comfort and hope.