Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First Things First

"Theologians, they don't know nothin' 'bout my soul." Many would agree strongly with this statement penned by Jeff Tweedy, frontman for the iconic group, Wilco (a personal favorite). And I'm beginning to think that maybe he is right, at least in light of the recent and rising scandal surrounding Dinesh D'Souza, a name that is gaining in popularity among evangelicals, and his apparent engagement to a woman not his wife.

A few weeks ago WORLD magazine printed a story highlighting D'Souza's seemingly improper relationship with a woman which came to light at a Christian Apologetics conference, at which D'Souza was the keynote speaker. You can read the article here. When confronted by event coordinators about the inconsistencies that surface when one is married, yet engaged to another woman, D'Souza said that he had been separated from his wife for a few years now, that divorce papers had been filed, and he was quite certain that he was meant to be with his present fiancée. Admittedly, the whole situation seems odd, if not downright reprehensible.

Shortly after, D'Souza responded on the Fox News website. He defended his actions as being above reproach and claimed that WORLD deliberately reported false information as part of an elaborate conspiracy theory involving Marvin Olasky, who has intimate ties to both WORLD (editor) and King's College (former provost). D'Souza claimed openly stating that he and his fiancée stayed in different rooms at the conference, and that if he had thought he was doing something wrong by being engaged before the finalization of his divorce, he would not have introduced her at the event as his fiancée. So, he vindicates himself by (1) declaring himself innocent of the apparent accusation of the appearance of sexual immorality, (2) by pleading ignorance of any moral/biblical standards regarding divorce and remarriage, and (3) by passing the blame on to the sinister forces of Marvin Olasky and his minions over at WORLD magazine.

His first defense could be legitimate, at least in reading both the WORLD article and his own response. I acknowledge that it is entirely possible that D'Souza and his 'fiancée' could have stayed in separate rooms, and that they could very well maintain a high standard of physical purity in their relationship. Regarding his third claim, Marvin Olasky may as well have adamantly opposed D'Souza's rise to leadership at King's College, but I doubt that he would encourage poor reporting in order to have some sort of journalistic revenge.

What really floors me about the entire situation is that D'Souza has risen to relative fame as an apologist, even in evangelical circles, while obviously being ignorant of basic Christian doctrines involving marriage and family

I think this highlights some important weaknesses in American evangelicalism.

First, we are suckers in the realm of politics. Political conservatism has become so strongly linked to conservative evangelicalism that as soon as their is a Christian who offers some intelligent response to the dominant liberal political climate (the media, at least), we latch on to him in the hopes of establishing legitimacy in the political arena. But, as in this case, perhaps we are too quick to seek political recognition and in so doing sacrifice our spiritual legitimacy. After all, it seems obvious that evangelicals, and King's College in particular, were too quick to promote D'Souza to a position as spokesperson for a movement that should be better known for it's Biblical orthodoxy rather than its political strength.

Second, this leads me to ask the question as to why evangelicals are so quick to ally themselves with people who will grossly misrepresent us? Frankly, I think it proves that our priorities are out of order. In the name of regaining political credibility, as mentioned above, we give spiritual authority to people who specialize in another area. Sometimes, as in the case with D'Souza, you wonder how this man ever came to be a leader of a Christian college, or a keynote speaker at an apologetics conference. If he is a political expert, then let him be just that, and leave him out of the Christian spotlight. This sort of thing happens all the time with celebrities and professional athletes who have some sort of conversion experience. Christian organizations, desperate for a platform, put an inexperienced or unverified convert right into the spotlight just to eventually shame themselves, the Lord, and possibly ruin the soul of one of God's beloved children.

Third, in getting our priorities out of order, we are substituting foundational truths for nonessential areas. Surely politics should be important for a Christian, but it is not an essential aspect of Christianity. In fact, the New Testament paints a portrait of the Christian as being an alien and sojourner in this world, awaiting the return of our true King and the final establishment and confirmation of our true Kingdom. We can't trade the scriptures, and knowledge of God's revealed will therein, for aligning ourselves with someone from our preferred political party who just takes his political philosophy and just slaps Christian packaging on it. We are to test everything by the word of God.

So, in this election season, if you find yourself being more passionate about seeing your candidate win a debate than Jesus Christ saving sinners from condemnation, remember to put first things first. You are a citizen of heaven before you are an American, and you should care greatly about the theology and beliefs of those Christian spokesmen that you get behind. Jeff Tweedy was right in criticizing theologians and pointing out their ineptness in helping lost souls, especially if he was referring to those who, at least in regard to their faith, have the equivalent of a mail order license practice spiritual medicine.

Choose your doctors well and know what they believe.

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