Why I Dreaded a Reporter’s Call Last Week

Jan 11, 2024 by David Fowler

Why I Dreaded a Reporter’s Call Last Week
A newspaper reporter called last week to ask me questions “about the local, state and national political issues that you see as increasingly salient to the conservative Christian community in Tennessee, and what sorts of forces drive these trends.” If you’re interested in why, after twenty-nine years in state politics, I dreaded that conversation, read on.
I dreaded it because I am not so sure anymore what is meant by “conservative Christian community,” and whether I am a part of “it” anymore.
What passes as that community seems to me to fall into three camps. One seems conservative in an Enlightenment, rationalistic, and pragmatic way rather than Christian; a second seems to act like political power is more powerful and effective in ordering society than the gospel, though they would deny that propositionally; and a third seems convinced that the gospel makes politics irrelevant or even sinful. The latter group is waiting to fly away to glory while either wringing their hands over and lamenting the state of things or living in ignorant bliss. I find myself looking for a fourth camp, and not finding it at the moment.
Then there is another division. Increasingly it seems that Christians who say they want to take the Bible seriously, at least at some level, when it comes to public policy and politics are divided between two main camps.
One camp seems to be made up of those who don’t want to have to think too hard or too deeply about what the Bible says and want everything dumbed down. The days we live in are not simple. Those in that camp sometimes roll their eyes at me.
The other camp is subdivided over their view of what constitutes wisdom in applying the moral laws of God to complicated and complex situations in a culture that at best relegates any supreme being to somewhere “out there” and at worse denies any objective and universal moral laws, period.
Those who try to delve into that complexity in search of such wisdom tend to get accused of being either loosey-goosey, warm-and-fuzzy, subjective-oriented antinomians or mean-spirited, ungracious, and un-loving pharisaical legalists.
I’ve been caught between those two factions and sometimes simultaneously, like on abortion legislation and on what the legislature should have done after the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex “marriage” ruling. Not fun being blasted by both sides at the same time.
Who would want to be associated with all that mess?
Me. Not because I like the mess, but because I love what that mess says about how good, loving, and great the God of the Bible is.
The Book begins by telling me about the God who created all things very good, and that is because God is what good is. But then here is the greatness and loving parts that follow.
On every page of the Bible from Genesis chapter 3 where Adam and Eve turn away from God to the end, God assures us He can work with and through such a motley and unlikely group of people as I’ve described and of which I am a member. How great must He be!
And what He is doing is remarkable: refurbishing the image of God in the men and women who believe Him and in Him and rolling back the effects of sin on everything human beings have fouled up until He is ready to complete the masterpiece He intended when He first created His working easel of time and space.
How great He must be!
But isn’t God good and loving to want to restore what we fouled up rather than scrap the whole project, including us, when we can add nothing to His eternal bliss and infinitude of love and goodness?
Completion of that masterpiece and playing my small part in its completion is important to this “conservative Christian” because that is important to the One who made me.
But that’s not all. In Him I get to enjoy its consummated and gloriously embellished beauty forever! The reward is so wonderfully and graciously disproportionate to my part in its completion, because He is the one who first works in me to want “to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). That is incredibly good and loving!
As to everything else, and with respect to the reporter, I think it best only to say what I think, give my best scriptural and prudential basis for what that is, check my conscience before God through Scripture and prayer before saying it, and, before I call back, pray, “Thy Kingdom come. They will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

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