Politics

Staking out my political position.

politics4

After careful reflection, I want to declare . . . 

politics5I’m a liberal in the classic sense of being broadminded, welcoming ideas and voices with which I may disagree while learning from the dialogue.

I am a conservative in the ancient sense of being a preservative of perennial principles, ideals which connect universal standards.

I am a progressive in the modern sense of being forward thinking, interested in the present application of comprehensive ethics.

I am a libertarian in the revolutionary sense of being glad to allow others to live as they would like, as they refuse to impose their rules on me.

I am a socialist in the Scriptural sense of being compassionate toward those who have less, needing help, reminding individuals who have more to serve those who have less.

politicsI am a constitutionalist in the originalist sense of being certain that law and liberty has a primary source which gives foundation to earthbound directives.

I am a Biblicist in the eternal sense of being subservient to The Personal Triune Creator who has given Timeless Wisdom to His temporal world.

I have come to these political conclusions based on five “readings.”

  1. My reading of the Bible tells me that The Personal Eternal Triune Creator of the universe has established a transcendent standard for all people, places, times, and cultures.

  2. politics6My reading of America’s founding documents tells me that the flawed individuals who established the nation knew the only way to overcome their faults was to rely on accountability for all through shared rule.

  3. My reading of human nature tells me that human corruption permeates everyone’s being, needing correction by a source of Wisdom not our own.

  4. My reading of literature tells me that great writers throughout history have pointed to the corruption of our nature while seeking redemption.

  5. My reading of culture tells me that there is always a need to limit and lessen abuses, careful to provide benefit and goodness for others in my own place and time with the gifts given me.

politics3Now I know that I have friends who may not agree with my conclusions. They will read my “readings” in a different way. I will never give up basic beliefs nor would I expect others to give up theirs. But folks who disagree with me will always be greeted with open arms. I try to avoid conflict. I love to find common ground. We truly need each other, keeping each other politically accountable.

How will that happen? Five attitudes may help us engage different political perspectives:

  1. Clarification: questions allow exploration, inquiry moves toward understanding

  2. Discernment: honesty, carefulness, and kindness appraise problems with ideas, not people

  3. Allowance: being lovingly tolerant of people means we are willing to challenge their beliefs

  4. Reserve: humility teaches if we never think we could be wrong, we already are

  5. Audacity: saying we are “correct” depends on “truth” which depends on an outside source

politics1It is imperative for all of us to remember that we live in a free country, protected by a strong military, governed by laws, where we are in agreement about basic ideals of life, liberty, and virtue. I could not write these words nor could you, the reader, publicly respond with your own views in places like China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, or Russia.

America is a great nation. Our politics should produce careful reflection.

At the age of 16 Mark thought about becoming a politician. Focusing the fire hose of Truth upon the coals of human sin instead of the heat of politics, Dr. Mark Eckel became a theologian instead. Mark is president of The Comenius Institute.

Afterword.

Teaching George Orwell’s 1984 in an upcoming class, I am well aware of the dangers of government power.

Political decisions are important.

We like to think that things were better in a former age. Wrong. Some of the worst attacks I have read in politics came from our founding fathers. Check out a few scenarios.

We complain about various candidates, parties, and persuasions because we think their actions are awful.

I would like to say this to everyone: we bring it on ourselves.

Our emotive, vitriolic, bombastic, shrill, and profane diatribes splinter, fracture, divide, and fragment us. Our politics are so loudly partisan, so intensely personal, that we cannot hear anyone else.

Beside our attitudes, we have numerous problems. We are not reading the same documents. We do not know America’s history: good, bad, and ugly. We are not moved by the same speeches, writings, and stories. Instead we are listening to commentators. We only travel in our tribes. We only read those with whom we agree. We attach ourselves to our labels and think no further than our nose.

If America survives the future it is building, some will look back on these days to lament. 

We need to commit ourselves to be OURSELVES. Read, learn, revere, gasp in horror, and redeem our national history. Only we can do this. No one will defend a nation if they have no idea why that nation should be defended.

Before November commit to reading The U.S. Constitution, Federalist Papers, Washington’s addresses, Lincoln’s inaugurals, MLK’s “I Have a Dream” Speech, Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, and the speeches of Ronald Reagan. If we are to be be E Pluribus Unum (“from the many, one”) we must hear many in order to be one.

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11 comments

  1. Wow, Dr. Eckel! I loved this article!

    I think you offer great wisdom, as usual. This time, you offer wisdom in the realm of politics. I cannot tell you enough how much I agree that this country is heavily divided because of partisan issues and demonizing rhetoric. It’s everywhere, and it’s terrible. I think it’s a real danger to this nation. People treat the other side as “the enemy”, not as fellow Americans. Respect has gone out the window. Reasonable discourse has gone out the window with it. I fear that this country is in serious trouble and may not survive this partisan division that is so rampant, so intense, and so pervasive.

    My wife, when we were having a discussion some time ago, said something that I think is profoundly true. She said, “This is the United States. We have to be able to give a little to others in order to get a little. With so many different types of people, you have to learn to share. You can’t appease everyone 100% of the time, and people need to get over that.”

    My problem is that I’m a Centrist. I believe in taking care of the less fortunate through programs that help them. I believe in taking care of the environment, and I do believe that the threat of climate change is real. I also believe that women should be paid the same amount as men in the workforce, and I believe that #BlackLivesMatter. If homosexuals want civil unions granted to them by the State, so be it, as long as churches and religious people are not forced to participate. But I must insist that homosexual practices are *sin*, regardless of what the State, in its attempt to protect everyone’s liberties, may say, or what people may say.

    …But I cannot condone the sophisticated murder of unborn human children, and I cannot vote for anyone who condones it, either…

    Never.

    Anyway…I have friends from a lot of different political stances. Lots of differing opinions helps us grow. In all of my dealings with them, I try to be open-minded, honest, and fair, but more than anything else I try to emulate Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, my Savior. Based on your article, I think I’m on the right track. I’m glad for it–because all I’m trying to do is please my God.

    Thanks, Dr. Eckel.

  2. Joshua W. – You “insist that homosexual practices are *sin*”, but you allow the state to encompass that sin (I agree). Then you “cannot condone the sophisticated murder of unborn human children”, and yet you refuse to recognize the state’s role in encompassing such medical procedures (I disagree).

  3. Dr. Eckel,

    Your “political conclusions” at the beginning are very interesting! Today, all of these labels you attribute to yourself (liberal, conservative, libertarian, socialist, etc.) have assumed (often, rather ugly) lives of their own.

    I thought of this Proverb: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5). There is so much heat packed in political words. And sadly, its often misunderstanding that continues to kindle the fires. Just as we have reasons for our political convictions, so do others. As Christians, we should do the hard work of “drawing out” of our neighbors the “purposes” that drive them.

    So I think your advice is imperative today, for we are threatened with political tensions amongst even some who we would have previously considered political allies! Thank you for the essay.

  4. I always feel more informed after having spoken with you or if I read what you wrote. In our few discussions I believe that I have intimated that I feel like a Civil Rights leader born out of due time. The position of a Black believer is one that is in great tension at all times. I don’t think your conclusions per the political labels can be contested as they are all rooted in eternal virtues.
    As a Black man I’m told not to play the “victim,” to overcome shortcomings that have been forced upon me but in the 21st century Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner,and Dorimond look no different than “Strange Fruit” and Emmitt Till. Charter schools systems look no different than segregation.
    I feel as though I’m playing catch up. As though I’ve just been allowed into a Monopoly game where Park Place and Boardwalk are already out of my reach. Conservatives say I’m race baiting and Conservative Christians say to pray for the repentance of those who practice racism. But if racism was institutionally erected (and I believe it was) shouldn’t it be institutionally razed?
    What am I do to? I believe in the death penalty while I watch it discriminately applied to people who look like me? I don’t believe in abortion but I agree that single mothers with children should wonder how they’re going to eat. How do I support a conservative agenda that seeks to obliterate public assistance when it makes up less than 2% of the budget while we spend more on defense than the next 15 nations combined?
    There is hope I see in the next generation. My youngest and her friends (black and white) sometimes refer to themselves as “New Americans.” A people group not weighted with the unfortunate baggage of our past.
    For me, applying labels such as conservative, libertine, socialist…etc. is another burden to bear when old ones have yet to be lifted.

  5. I fully subscribe to tenants of this article. This is a remarkable statement of fair-mindedness and recognition that we exist in a pluralistic society in which our Christian, biblical standards are not threatened by people who disagree. In fact, our points of view and biblical stand become more persuasive when people believe that we truly care about them and that we will not adopt a dismissive mindset.

    We need to un-circle our wagons and and leave our intellectually gated communities so we can again become the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.”

    Our Lord Jesus lived this example in Scripture for us to follow.

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