How Books By Old Men Are More Significant Than The 2016 Election

books-1It is October of an election year. This means that millions of people who are not interested in politics suddenly have a vested interest in the outcome of the next several months. After the election, people will either spend the night celebrating or lower their head in defeat, and then they will move on, as if their favorite team just competed in the Super Bowl. But until that time, people will become defensive, divisive, they will unfriend their longtime Facebook acquaintances after they dared to speak a word of criticism of their preferred politician. People will use words like “demon” to describe the other side and everyone on every side of the debate will be slandered. Social media will be overcome with terms such as “supreme court justices,” “religious rights,” “the religious right,” “the liberal media,” and all of the other talking points that emerge during an election season. In this article, I would like to take a different perspective and remind everyone of how books by old men are more significant than the 2016 election.

books-2Before beginning, though, I want to point out that I am not attempting to diminish the significance of the 2016 Presidential Election. Issues such as the Supreme Court Justices surely are significant. Abortion is one of the most powerful threats to peace, because by undermining human value and the doctrine of the image of God, human beings are left vulnerable. Not to mention the fact that it actually takes millions upon millions of lives of innocents for the sake of selfishness. But most of the people who are talking about the election are not even talking about abortion anyway. They are more worried about what offensive remarks one person may or may not have made. Rather than peeking into Hillary Clinton’s emails or posting “Trump may have said X, but Bill actually did X,” read some good, theological and philosophical books that were written by old men.

The Big Man In Washington Won’t Solve Your Problems

For the moment, let’s use “the big man” as a gender neutral phrase because if I said, “the big woman,” people might say that I am calling Hillary Clinton fat, and saying “the big man/woman” makes it sound like we are electing a transvestite. But why do I make this point? Upon reading the first two paragraphs, the overzealous Facebook campaigner may point to some of the great woes of the United States and remind us of how we need the big man in Washington to solve those problems. Recently, somebody pointed me to an column in a local newspaper titled News And Advance. The author explained why he was voting for Donald Trump. He expressed sentiments like, “I am sick and tired of calling customer service and being received by somebody who barely speaks English.” There were many other similar points made. What does he think the big man in Washington is going to do about that? Is he saying that Donald Trump will influence the direction of the country such that corporations will no longer have incentive to outsource customer service to India?

The big man himself has made similar remarks. When he spoke at Liberty University, he said something to the effect of, “We are going to have department stores saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again, believe me.” People often have the underlying assumption that a President is something like a Dictator. He will decide the laws of the land for years to come. But the truth is that even if Trump is elected in November, those same department stores will still utter the treacherous words ‘Happy Holidays’ every year between 2016 and 2020. Hollywood will still be liberal and sex-crazed. You will still need to watch your children when you go to the park. There will still be shootings across the country. The President does not have top-down control of the nation.

The Fight For Life Does Not End At The White House

So if you vote for Trump, he will win the election, install pro-life Supreme Court Justices and they will overturn Roe Vs Wade immediately and install a constitutional amendment protecting the lives of the unborn. You have done your part for the fight for life by voting Republican. Right? Well, that seems to be a highly naive and grossly simple view of legislation. The fight for life does not end at the White House. When somebody is running for President, they often have a political history. They were Senators or Governors. The voting turnout for the senate is quite scant compared to the turnout for the presidential elections. But having conservative senators and governors is almost as, if not more important than having a conservative President.

But the fight for life does not even end there. Even if you vote in all of the elections, still you are not contributing to the pro-life cause. That is something that takes time and energy. It is something that you need to be willing to make sacrifices for. Contributing to something is not as simple as casting a vote then going home and crossing your fingers. You would need to do something. Contribute to a pro-life pregnancy center. Give them time or money or both. Help people to understand the sanctity of life. Examine the philosophy of abortion in a compelling blogpost or two. Read books by old men that defend the sanctity of life so that you can understand the issues. Read books by old men who criticize the sanctity of life so that you can understand your opponent. Many of these issues are not as simple as a few one-liners. Use what you learn to persuade people.

Reading Books By Old Men Will Help You To Distinguish Reason From Empty Rhetoric

A reader will shake their head in disbelief when everybody else applauds. A famed politician just recited a powerful one-liner, captured the audience and probably swayed a few voters. But somebody who has become accustomed to assessing information and responding to evidence and sound reasoning will not be so easily persuaded. When somebody stands up and tells you everything that you want to hear, you have to make a choice. You can either believe them or not. Many people choose to believe them because they want to believe them. People train themselves to respond to their desires rather than their reason. But if you spend your spare time reading books by old men, you will be more capable of discerning information from misinformation and logic from error.

This means that if you want to be a competent voter who casts a worthy ballot, then you should immerse yourself in good books that will train your mind to think critically. That is not to say that you are not an intelligent person. People are intelligent in different ways. You might be brilliant in your field, in creativity, in relating to people, but not necessarily in this way. It is very easy to be taken in by a skilled rhetorician. Even a born again Christian might be led astray, doing and saying things that they should not. Turn off CNN and FOX or that unadulterated Trump speech or whatever outlet you are relying upon. Read some Christian philosophers and theologians. Train yourself to think. Reading books by old men will have a far more significant impact upon you and your ability to see through empty rhetoric.

Meditate On The Cross

vickersWhen you cast a ballot for the 2016 Presidential Election, what are you trying to accomplish? If you are a Christian, then hopefully you want the nation to align more closely with Christian principles. But what are Christian principles? What does it mean to live in a Christian nation? Does it mean that we have a President who claims to be a Christian? Does it mean that we have had 43 consecutive Presidents who claim to be Christians? I should not think so. When we say that we want Christian principles to govern the nation, people often subtly shift to conservative principles. Conservative principles may be a good thing, but they are not necessarily Christian principles. The right to bear arms, border control, et cetera, are not necessarily Christian principles. That is not to say that they are un-Christian or evil principles. But it is to say that they are not strictly Christian. They are secular principles that are good for the governing and prosperity of the nation. So what is a Christian principle and how do we discern them?

If you want to answer this question, do not just start prattling off conservative ideals on Facebook in all caps lest you embarrass yourself and diminish the power of the cross. Meditate upon the cross of Jesus Christ. Think about that perfect exchange – the sin of his people nailed to the cross and his righteousness imputed to us (Romans 3:21-25). Consider the life of Christ and the writing of his apostles. If you want to know what Christian principles are, meditate on the cross. Read books written by old men who have dedicated their lives to the services of Christ. Allow yourself to be discipled. I would rather have everybody in the nation sit down and read Jesus’ Blood And Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation By Brian Vickers in their spare time then worrying about the election. In fact, I would prefer that everybody read that rather than casting a vote.

Overzealous Commitment To A Candidate Can Compromise Your Principles

There is no doubt that somebody can become too invested in theological books. Sometimes people are so overcome by the academic element of Christianity that they do not focus on the cross. Yet people often overlook the very same thing when it happens during a presidential election. People are so thoroughly committed to their candidate, or opposing the other candidate, that they put their Christian principles aside. This is probably no more evident than the Christians who are pro-life and yet will cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. It is no more evident than when Ben Carson said that we need to set our Christian principles aside for a brief period and focus on issues such as the national debt. If you are so thoroughly committed to one candidate that you need to set aside your principles, then perhaps you are not voting for a man or woman of principle and you need to assess not only your vote for your own spiritual state.

Set aside the presidential election for awhile. Do not spend all of your spare time watching these interviews, searching for ways to slam Hillary Clinton, conjuring up defenses of Trump, devising new ways to regurgitate the same talking points that we have raised again and again. Set it aside and focus on principles. If Christians had done that, then they would have voted in somebody of principle and would not be telling us to stop worrying about principles. Someone recently said that if you can set your Christian principles aside, they are neither Christian nor principles. Ground yourself by reading good, philosophical and theological books written by old men. Think more about the cross, about Christian principles and about how to live as a disciple of Jesus. Set the election aside for awhile. Turn the caps lock off, turn the computer off, stop worrying about the accent of the customer service representative and strive to live out Christian principles as expressed in God’s inerrant word.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Recommended Reading:
Is Unconditional Election A Random, Arbitrary Election?
Is Justification By Faith Or By Faith Alone?
Is The Gospel of John Reliable?

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