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What we want to continue doing in some of these Wednesday Updates is begin to look at major events in the news in their larger historical context.... And maybe even how some things will be viewed in 50 years, 100 years or even 500 or 1000 years...
Subject: American Politics and Demographics
(Wed., December 9, 2009)
(approx. 4625 words, 9 pp.)
On Understanding Almost Everything Political, in America anyway
It is all a matter of "demographics," pretty much anyway, simple enough...
The goal in this writing is to explain almost everything political in the larger picture of history and of American history. In America, in particular, understanding politics tends to be a matter of religious demographics because of the highly religious nature of the American society in terms of the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish traditions, and variations on these groups.
What are America’s current demographics...
The structure of this analysis is not original with me. In fact, it is also in Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope as well in many other places, but I am one of the few people who is "doing the math" on this analysis and what its larger implications are for understanding almost everything political in America and world history. It is all a matter of "religious" or "spiritual" demographics, and this is true apart from which particular group one sees as being right or wrong. For example, Barack Obama sees himself (he says) I think correctly to be in the center of American leftist and moderate politics, between the moderate left of, say, a Jimmy Carter and the radical left of, say, a Jeremiah Wright. As I understand Obama, he is not comfortable with the radical position of a Wright, but he is also not comfortable with the liberal moderation of a Carter, and he tries to reason with all these groups in a common cause and vision for "re-making" America.
I think this is how he sees himself, and for better or worse, I think his analysis of himself is accurate, in fact very accurate. And further he sees conservatives in general and traditional or evangelical Christians not to be a part of this group or demographic of such people, that is, those people who lie politically, philosophically, religiously, and spiritually between Wright and Carter, and I think that is correct too. I have no actual data, but I would guess or speculate that maybe 55 to 60% of the country lies politically between the self-professed "Christians" Wright and Carter, and 30 to 35% of the country are self-identified conservatives outright or they are conservative evangelical Christians, leaving 5 or 10 or maybe 15% of the country not being part of either of these groups or maybe even not knowing what they are!
If this is so, we have something in America today that looks like this...
55 to 60% 30 to 35%
radical leftists liberal conservative
Wright Carter Christians
One man’s meat is another man’s poison...
Obama in his book does not seem to attack, outright, conservatives or evangelical Christians, but they clearly do not seem to be a part of his "re-made America" because he does not see them to be on board for his new leftist vision for America, and indeed his leftist rhetoric does not resonant with conservatives generally or evangelical Christians in particular, whether it is hate crimes, abortion, limiting free speech, racial quotas, or his taking over General Motors or his taking over private healthcare, or his radical man-made global warming legislation, homosexual marriage, etc.
To conservatives generally and evangelical Christians in particular these things do not seem visionary at all, let alone very good, as they do to liberals and radicals, but rather very bad. That is to say, the long list of things on the leftist agenda tends to have just the opposite reality for conservatives or evangelical Christians in terms of the agenda’s desirability. Even Obama understands this, or so he says, but no politician can please all the people all the time, and in truth some people (like supposedly uneducated Christians and conservatives) will, presumably, never be on board for so-called "progressive" change, and that is just the way life is.
For better or worse the facts and demographics are what they are...
This analysis is, in my opinion, very common, and certainly not original with me or Barack Obama, and in fact Obama’s supporters tend to think his leftist agenda (where he tries, in effect, to balance Wright and Carter) is wonderful, while traditionalists tend to be appalled by Obama’s leftist liberal to radical agenda. Not complicated. The truth is conservatives in America, Christian or otherwise, are a sizable minority in America, but they are in fact just that a sizable minority, which is, for the left, attempting to block their leftist humanist agenda, but the conservatives do not have the numbers to do so, and for conservatives they see their own efforts to be saving America from the leftist and even humanist destruction of the country, rightly or wrongly, and this is just two radically different views, you might say, on what is good or bad for the country.
In fact over the last 4 or 5 decades the leftist, radical even outright humanist agenda of the ACLU and other groups has attracted more and more numbers to reach at this time a sizable majority of the country, perhaps due to our excessively humanist liberal to radical education system over these same decades, among other factors, but for whatever the reason this liberal to radical "demographic" certainly seem to represent 55 to 60% of the country, and America’s political fate would appear to be now sealed for years if not generations to come. However, the plot now thickens, as the expression goes.
The plot thickens, conservative evangelical Christian awakening on the horizon...
Though on the surface, it is not a particularly political thing, I am convinced that we are on the verge of a great spiritual awakening to the theological and cosmological truth of the Gospel and its spiritual reality. Why? Because the literal new spiritual life in Christ by accepting the New Covenant atonement offer for one’s self is theologically and cosmologically valid and it’s spiritually real, simple enough, and this can be shown or demonstrated or proven to be the case by good old fashioned Reason, a bit in short supply in an openly postmodern age but nonetheless Reason supports the Gospel truth and its spiritual reality, and that is just the way it is. But this religious and spiritual reality is not particularly a political reality, as such.
Being a Bible Christian is not necessarily immediately "political"
While, praying to receive Christ and new spiritual life in him and accepting his atoning sacrifice for one’s self is not particularly political, it generally does have all sorts of moral and cultural fallout and eventually, with time, even political fallout as is evident with our above demographic analysis (that is, 55 to 60% versus 30 to 35% politically). And more than that one’s spirituality can even determine things that one holds to be important or even newsworthy. If this current administration appoints a Maoist to high position, for conservatives and Bible Christians this is very newsworthy and even scandalous, but for liberals and radicals it is hardly worth mentioning. However, both liberals and conservatives would see their views to be "rational" and both views are rational given their starting spiritualities.
Depending up what type of "Christianity" one starts with, it will tend very strongly to determine where you wind up on moral, social, cultural and even political issues, and it tends to determine what you think is important, true, and good, and even rational in politics, law, education, and so forth. Even more to the point both Jeremiah Wright with his radical black liberation theology and Jimmy Carter with his "moderate" liberal Christianity see their political views to be based on their own personal versions of Christianity, be they good or bad, and to be in opposition to Bible Christianity and its moral and cultural and political views, be they good or bad. The swing factor here is clearly what is one’s underlying spirituality and what is true underlying Biblical spirituality. This means because most Americans are some form of "Christian," the real divisions in America are in fact in the Church and those underlying spiritual divisions and understandings of Christianity just play themselves out down the line in social, moral, cultural, and political divisions.
Bottom-line key point: because so many Americans are some form of "Christian"
Bottom-line key point: It is only because so many Americans are some form of "Christian" that if the various churches get back on track with some form of Bible Gospel Christianity, it will significantly change the population demographics due to the numbers of people involved. This means at bottom our "political" problems are in fact really "religious" ones, particularly in America with the vast majority of people professing some form of Christianity.
There are some atheists in America, of course, but the overwhelming majority of people in America are some form of "Christian" or some other form of "theist." And when we return to traditional concepts of God in general and of Christianity in particular, it will change America culturally, no doubt, and in the end politically as well. And there are in particular three large Christian groups that will change dramatically in such a shift to Bible Christianity, namely, the mainline Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Black Church. For better or worse, each of these 3 churches has often left a Biblically based concept of the Christian faith and of a Gospel centered faith.
Jesus himself warns of 3 types of spiritual corruption or "leaven"
Jesus himself outlines three "leavens" that can corrupt the Church, and have certainly corrupted the Church over the last few generations and even centuries in America and the world. They are the leaven of the Sadducees, the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of the Herodians, and, interestingly, these three corruptions reflect the 3 ways the mainline Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Black Church have gotten off track.
Mainline Protestants and the leaven of the Sadducees
The mainline Protestant denominations started buying into a "higher criticism" message (that is, the Bible is not and cannot be true in its supernatural claims) in the mid 19th century and, hence, began to re-define the literal Gospel message. "Christ died on the cross for our sins in order to give us new spiritual life in him" becomes not true and/or irrelevant for the liberal "higher critic" whose views take over the mainline Protestant denominations, becoming a bunch of Sadducees (more or less anyway). The Sadducees were the Jewish theological liberals of Jesus’ day.
This radical Biblical liberalism has almost completely taken over the mainline Protestant denominations and seminaries. And former Senator John Danforth even wrote a book based on an outright postmodern higher criticism (words mean other than their clear meanings) in order to pursue a political agenda, no less, and he is quite up front about this. May the scales fall from his eyes on the truth of the Gospel as well as from the eyes of all liberal Christian higher critics (modern or postmodern) Protestant, Catholic or otherwise...
The Roman Catholics and the leaven of the Pharisees
The Roman Catholics are historically seen to commit the errors of a Pharisee sort, namely, substituting the irrelevant and even false traditions of men for the clear teachings of Scripture, and though many individual Roman Catholics today see themselves as believing on Jesus as the essence of their Catholicism, this is hardly "official" Roman Catholic teaching, and though Vatican II made a serious effort to correct this, it fell well short of embracing outright a Bible-based faith, which presumably it will eventually do as more and more Roman Catholics personally become de facto Bible Christians, and politically this means they will increasingly join the conservative political demographic as well, since Bible Christianity is overtly morally conservative. But, regardless, the swing factor here is how the Roman Catholic comes to see and understand his Christianity. I have seen polls which indicate today that about 18% of Roman Catholics see themselves as "evangelical" (in essence Bible Christian) and as that number grows to 80 or 90% in its political fallout it is not going to bode well for the Democrat Party, clearly.
The Black Church and the leaven of the Herodians
The Black Church is up to its eyeballs in the leaven of the Herodians, that is selling out its Bible spiritual message of new life in Christ and moral living for political power. The Herodians were the Jews of Jesus’ day who had sold out their Judaism to the Roman occupying forces for political power. This represents not only a corruption of the Civil Rights Movement as founded by Martin Luther King (often reversing it putting color of skin over content of character, or equality of outcomes over equality of opportunity), but it also represents a corruption of the main Gospel message of Bible Christianity. Further, the Black Church has been the main political enabler of the generally humanist abortion disaster, which might easily with time prove to be America’s greatest sin (knocking slavery from its top national sin spot?), if innocent life is indeed being taken. A lot of irony to life and history?
This whole situation has become so bad that Barack Obama, a self-described "community organizer" (which means follower of Lucifer according to Saul Alinsky), says he joined the Black Church for its making light of sin and its worldliness and its political power plays in order to further his own political agenda. And the situation is so bad that, I think, the Black Church took this as a compliment! Is life crazy or what? But, regardless when the Black Church returns to preaching the Gospel of Christ as its primary function it will desert the Democrat Party in droves since it will no longer be a part of the Wright to Carter demographic but rather will fall into the conservative or Bible Christian demographic. Tough luck for the Democrats no doubt.
Church’s greatest hour of crisis since Good Friday?
The Body of Christ may or may not be in its greatest hour of crisis since Good Friday, but in my opinion if it is not there, it is damn close! When will these 3 groups turn or return to a Bible Christianity as the case may be? I do not know, but I think it will happen sooner or later, probably as the postmodern "higher criticism" of the Bible by the theological liberals goes bust, and that will in turn trigger a return to a Bible Christianity in all mainline Protestant denominations and presumably that could trigger a Vatican III which could overtly embrace a Bible Christianity.
In my opinion, if a Vatican II could occur to correct the errors and excess of Trent, something no one had ever thought even possible, then clearly a Vatican III could possibly occur at some point and correct the errors from the Reformation era, itself, more generally, but regardless tens of millions of Roman Catholics are said to be embracing an Evangelical faith personally without leaving their denomination. And in the Black Church there is a small but growing sense that certainly something is truly amiss with the current radical Civil Rights agenda now widely embraced in almost all black churches, when not embracing a black liberation theology agenda outright. There has been, clearly, a tremendous failure of leadership here in the black community, as Cicero would say, but certainly as well in the Vatican as well as in the mainline Protestant denominations. But perhaps what is most interesting is that these 3 major Church groups think they are improving and going forward not backward in their almost completely (apparently demonically) corrupted condition. All 3 groups rather than seeing themselves in perhaps their darkest hour tend to think they are doing better than ever!!! What a mess, but things may change, and if so, the political impact will presumably be dramatic. Do the math...
Bottom-line: Do the political math as well as the theology:
When the Body of Christ, that is the Church, turns or returns (as the case may be) to a Bible Christianity, the Democrat Party will cease to exist (literally) because there will not be enough spiritual liberal Christians or radicals of one form or another or even outright humanists left in America to elect a Democrat to office. Quite clearly as the 30 to 35% evangelical Christian group grows dramatically, the 55 to 60% liberal to radical group will shrink equally dramatically, and hence the political fallout will be no more Democrat Party left, be that good or bad. Do the math politically on the these changing demographics.
The Apostate Protestant denominations drop the leaven or corruption of the Sadducees or higher critics and come back to the Biblical faith, and there goes 15 to 20% of the population from the Democrat Party. Similarly as increasing numbers of Roman Catholics go Evangelical and drop the leaven of substituting the traditions of men for the Gospel, and there goes yet another 15 to 20% of the population to a moral, cultural, and political conservative position. Similarly when the Black Church returns to the Biblical faith and dumps Wright and Castro as well as the radical Civil Rights agenda as their reason for being, and there goes another 10% or so of the population. Similarly, the leaven of the Herodians often corrupts the Hispanics as well (legal or illegal), and if they go Evangelical, there goes another 10% or so of the population.
By contrast, if the Mormons were to go Bible Christian, it would have little political impact for two obvious reasons. One, there are so few Mormons, and two the Mormons are already moral conservatives, anyway! Or, if the liberal Jewish community went Messianic or even conservative Bible Judaism (for goodness sake) it would have little impact except in some limited localities because of the small numbers of the Jewish community in the nation as a whole.
So, what happens if...
So, what happens if the 3 main Christian groups (that is, the mainline Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic Church and the Black Church) return to a Gospel-centered Bible message? It will create a totally new political landscape as the inevitable fallout from the underlying spiritual shift, which really happens for non-political reasons, but rather for new life in Christ reasons, but be that as it may, the new political landscape with the restoration of the various churches and denominations will change dramatically, if one does the math, especially if one assumes at least 5 or 10% of non-Christians will be swept up into this Great Spiritual Awakening to the (theological and cosmological) truth and (spiritual) reality of the Gospel. So, after the Great Spiritual Awakening political demographics will presumably look something like this>>
5 to 15% 85 to 95%
radical liberal conservative
Wright Carter Christians
The leftist rhetoric will start to fail to resonant with almost everyone...
While Carter and Wright with their own particular versions of "Christianity" may not change or go anywhere, the actual numbers of people in the nation lying between the two of them will become small indeed, and this will happen simply by a restoration of the 3 specific Church groups, and it is not actually a political thing specifically at all. The fact is the political rhetoric of the left (to "re-make" America, etc.), be it moderately liberal or radical, simply does not resonate with the conservative or Bible Christian, who is actually often highly offended by such rhetoric, no less.
But note, this failure of the leftist rhetoric to resonate is due to an underlying shift of the spirituality of the population. Just as C. S. Lewis said over 50 years ago, to change a society politically, "...the longest way around is the shortest way home." The "longest way around" being winning individual souls to God and his moral law, etc., which is generally done by way of the Gospel. And, in fact, the 3 main Church groups we are looking at here have gotten off track in spirit and truth in relationship to the Gospel, and turning or returning to the Bible Gospel message in spirit and truth will get all 3 groups back on track and have tremendous political fallout in the long run.
This represents a shift in political strategy and reasoning...
Notice how different this analysis is from how we usually think about things. We tend to think of liberals versus conservatives with about a third of the country being outright "liberal" and a third an outright "conservative," and each group vies in each election for the middle "moderate" third, and no doubt there is some truth to this analysis, and each side looks to have a charismatic leader like a Reagan or Obama to lead their group to victory, etc., but with a restoration of the Church, this model will no longer be very relevant. And the major change in political demographics will not be a result of simply winning individual souls to a Bible faith (as we usually think of a Great Awakening), but rather 3 entire Church groups, which also happen to constitute the bulk of the American population.
At this point we will move beyond mere interest group power politics to a rational discussion of the issues for what will be best the nation as a whole with good and wise legislation. Obviously, if the Republicans are holding 85 to 90% of House and Senate seats, the debates will be pretty much among and between Republicans, though no doubt remaining Democrats should be included in debate and be allowed to voice their opinion in a free society, maybe the Democrat liberals and radicals will be able to set up some talk radio stations or something similar to reach their remaining fringe groups in the overall population. And in fact, to be fair, liberals and radicals sometimes have something worthwhile to contribute to the national political debate, in my opinion. And in a free society they should still be allowed to express their opinion freely in appropriate forums without question.
We may wind up with new "yellow dogs"!
Having conceded liberals and radicals may or at least occasionally have something worthwhile to say, the day of the yellow dog Republican may in fact be fast approaching if the Church can get back on track to a Bible message, and then the day of the yellow dog Democrat may be behind us? That is, those infamous Democrats who would vote for a Democrat even if he were a yellow dog. The interesting question for political junkies is what will happen to the political party system if the Democrat Party does not die so much as it just fades away?
Will the Republican Party (containing 85 to 95% of the electorate) break into two groups or will the era of political parties be behind us as George Washington had hoped? But is no political parties really realistic, let alone desirable? Hard to say? Time will tell on this I guess, but the fact remains, be it good or bad, the whole thing (in America anyway) will be determined by the underlying spiritual and theological reality of what happens in the Church in its 3 main groups in the U.S., namely, the mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Black churches. Is a return to the Gospel and new spiritual life in Christ as the point of Christianity for all Church groups at hand? Maybe, maybe not...I guess we will know soon enough if it is "at hand."
Reason stands at the door and knocks...
To wrap this up, again apart from politics and apart from who is right or wrong, clearly Wright, Carter, and the Evangelical are all claiming to be the real "Christian" deal as such, and equally clearly only one of them is, from a Biblical perspective anyway. And this is not a tough call for many, but it is for some, and in my opinion the way to settle the issue is to get out the Bible text and see which of the churches lines up most closely with the text, that is the Bible, and then let the chips fall where they may? Not very complicated really, and it is, in fact, purely a rational discussion. But because we live in such a postmodern age we are not prone to want to have rational discussion about religion in general let alone Christianity in particular or much of anything else!
I say as my old philosophy professor mentor Stephen Toulmin used to say, "Return to Reason" and we can sort this whole thing out! And not just Christianity but politics, law, education, human rights, the works! But in fact this "return to Reason" is the ultimate challenge for a postmodern age, which in fact does not believe in Reason, but only radical subjectivity, uncontrolled passions and unbridled power of the state or of one group over another. Still, in my opinion, Reason stands at the door and knocks, and I think we should let it in... but this is a decision each and everyone of us must make for ourselves... not just as Americans in our political system but as human beings on this planet in our ultimately very limited time on earth. In any case, in America at least, so goes the overall Body of Christ so goes the nation, politically and otherwise, just as a matter of demographics if nothing else...
Not just Reason but Repentance for Revival
In reality to have a Great Gospel Spiritual Awakening requires Repentance in conviction for sin as well as Reason to the truth and reality of the Gospel. Reason, preaching, and prayer may get the job done, but in the end we may need a true heartfelt repentance, which tragically may not come short of a severe judgment or chastisement by God upon us. I certainly hope this is not necessary not because I always fear I will be one of the first people taken home if it does happen! But as the Psalmist says, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray." And for us as a nation this might be, "Before we were afflicted, we went astray." From a Biblical perspective, we are it would seem in many ways in great sin, too many sins to list in a "wicked and adulterous generation" as Jesus said, but as Jefferson said specifically of the sin of slavery of his day, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever." Will we turn with a whole heart to God and His law and ways without a severe affliction upon us? Maybe... I sure hope and pray so...
But whether we do or we don't repent, the political reality is such that if one Church group of the 3 turns or returns, as the case may be, to a Bible Gospel message, it will change the political landscape dramatically, and if 2 do it will probably change American politics forever, and if all 3 Church groups turn or return to a Bible Gospel message, it will be virtually "the Kingdom come," presumably anyway. And we will then return to Reason as the basis for law, politics, education, and so forth, and we will return to a real sense of truth, justice, and righteousness in all our ways, personally and as a nation... "the longest way around" is indeed "the shortest way home"? So it would appear...