Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Political...

When news about the federal election started to heat up (oh, about two years ago--ugh), I promised myself that this year I would be a quiet political activist. I’ve always been politically minded, but as an evangelical Christian growing up in these “scary times,” I spent most of my life in the expected role of staunch Republican. Isn’t every good and godly Christian a Republican? I’m learning that the answer is a resounding NO. And I’ve discovered that single issue politics is not always wise, just like it’s never a good idea to swallow anything you hear whole--especially when it comes to political propaganda.

Anyway, I vowed that I wouldn’t talk, debate, or discuss politics, much less blog about it. But here I am, breaking my own commitment to myself because when it comes down to it I just can’t stand idly by and twiddle my thumbs. Now that my code of silence is officially abolished, I’d love to expound on my political views and what brought me to the crossroads where I find myself today. But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m writing this afternoon because I feel a deep-down need to address something that keeps rearing its ugly head at me: political forwards. Specifically, political forwards among Christians.

Though I have received more than my share of Obama-bashing email forwards, I got one this morning that put me over the edge. For your reading pleasure…

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This will make you re-think: A Trivia question in Sunday School: How long is the beast allowed to have authority in Revelation?

Revelation Chapter 13 tells us it is 42 months and you know what that is. Almost a four-year term of a Presidency.

All I can say is 'Lord, Have mercy on us!'According to the Book of Revelations: The Anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40's, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal.... The prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything. Do we recognize this description??

I STRONGLY URGE each one of you to post this as many times as you can! Each opportunity that you have to send it to a friend or media outlet, do it! I refuse to take a chance on this unknown candidate who came out of nowhere.

-Dr. John Tisdale

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Obama is the Anti-Christ?!?!? Wow, if I swallowed this sort of thing without thinking I'd be rapture-ready, that's for sure. But, since I don't believe in the rapture and since I think emails of this sort are full of holes, misinformation, ignorant conclusions, and downright lies, I'd rather test Mr. Tisdale's theories. My brilliant husband and I quickly discerned several reasons why this email is nothing more than fodder for the junk folder.

  1. Revelation does not explicitly say that the anti-Christ will be necessarily a man (perhaps a force? an economic structure? an ideology?) or that he will be in his 40s. Furthermore,
  2. Scripture also does NOT teach that he will be Muslim (Islam was not even created yet as a religion—Muhammad did this several centuries later). This is preposterous!
  3. Though some people interpret the book of the Revelation literally, most theologians agree that the specific numbers and time periods mentioned in Revelation are symbolic (the same way that forgiving your neighbor 70 x 7 doesn't literally mean that you should only forgive 490 times and then stop).
  4. Mr. Tisdale asserts that Obama is an unknown candidate who came out of nowhere. The truth is, Obama has been in the spotlight now for two years, and every little fact about his life, past and present, has been paraded in the media. If we are going to be concerned about an "unknown" who "came out of nowhere," shouldn't we be scrutinizing Sarah Palin, who we've known for 8 weeks?
  5. Based on the actual Scriptural rationale provided in this argument, one could argue that office of the president of the US in general IS the anti-Christ, not a particular candidate.
  6. Subtract the really poor exegetical work indicative in this email and one could argue the very same about John McCain, especially because he claims much more adamantly to be Christian. This is more in keeping with the Rev. 13 warning than one who doesn’t argue for a “Christian nation.”
  7. For the argument that we currently are “a Christian nation” to be begin with, refer to Gregory Boyd’s, The Myth of the Christian Nation. This ploy, used in emails like this is a scare tactic. It also borders on hate-mongering and ethno-profiling. The hard truth is that:
    a. Little of our current (or past) policy reflects Christ-centered values.
    b. Little of our social services reflect the social justice concerns of Scripture and its prophetic voices.
    c. Our founding fathers were primarily deists with a view of God wholly removed from the unfolding of history. In their day-and-age it was as common to write the word God into legal documentation as it is today to swear on a Bible in court (even if you don’t believe in it) or to wish someone “God bless you” when they sneeze. Let’s not look back into history with rose-colored glasses!
    d. The US was founded upon Enlightenment, Lockeian, democratic, capitalistic, individualistic ideals, not Christian ones. We’ve just been living inside the system so long that we’ve learned to baptize the language of democracy to be synonymous with Christianity. This cannot be so.

The bottom line is: Emails like this are horrible. They slander someone terribly and attempt to manipulate Scripture in order to prop up (or tear down) a particular political candidate. This absolutely cannot be what Jesus had in mind when he ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is Scriptural abuse. Nothing less. (And I would say the same thing if the tables were turned.)

It's not my intention to raise up Barack Obama or tear down John McCain or Sarah Palin. I happen to deeply respect all the candidates and their obvious dedication to our country. But it saddens me when Christians participate in these sorts of ill-informed acts of character assassination and fear mongering... We are only perpetuating the popular myth that Christians are ignorant Bible thumpers with no concern for the facts. I don't care who you vote for, but please don't buy into the hateful rhetoric that both sides are slinging. You're better than that and you're smarter than that.


  1. Thank you Nikki!! I just received the exact same email this morning and was in a huge tizzy about it... and you put into words very eloquently what I was feeling :)

    Love from AK!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. As a fellow believer I was so happy to read your comments which express my thoughts exactly. So I would encourage you to take time and respond to people when you get this type of emails. They usually have a list of other people's email that have also received the same message. I write a hopefully coherent reply stating my opposition and email it to everyone on the list. And often a get several replies in return that say thank you for sharing something different. I think as believers we are to fight for truth and not allow our faith to be used for propaganda. So keep up the good work and God bless you and your family.
    A older Texas Christian woman

  3. The original e-mail props up the whole notion that evangelicals are paranoid, dim-witted and gullible. Thankfully, your examination of the issue shows that there are thinking Christians out there that use the brain that the good Lord gave to them. Thanks for the very well-written and well-thought-out essay on this topic. I just hope you sense that what you have written has provided food for thought that has nourished minds such as mine. Keep up the good work and God bless you!