What Concerns Me the Most About #CarsonEndorsesTrump

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“Hypocrite”

“I have lost all respect for him”

“I am never going to invite him to a potluck”

And many other sentiments were used to express the frustration people felt when Ben Carson, an early favorite of the Republican Party, unreservedly and unapologetically endorsed Donald Trump.

Let me say this at the very beginning – I would not endorse a demagogue who has repeatedly discriminated and demonized groups of people for the sake of a misguided ideal for this country. At the same time, I also would not side with another whose political naïveté is unmistakably clear.

I could not agree with both of ’em.

The endorsement from Carson is troubling for many reasons. My social-media feeds have run amok listing all of them, and I resonate with most of them.

But the endorsement is not what is concerning me the most.

What’s concerning me the most is the response to Carson from a specific demographic: My Seventh-Day Adventist church family.

Yes, we have every reason to feel like he’s let us down. The endorsement seems almost anomalous considering his diatribes against Trump’s ideals. Some, if not most of us, have looked up to him as a man worthy of adoration and emulation – a real life illustration of a rags-to-riches story. So the collective angst we feel is valid.

However, I wonder if that’s enough reason to write him off as someone who has “sold his soul”

I wonder if that’s enough reason to openly vilify the man in social media through memes and the like which border on cyber-bullying.

If we are so quick to write off Carson because he’s endorsing someone who seems diametrically opposed to his personal beliefs, then we should also consider writing off Daniel who worked for Nebuchadnezzar.
Sure, Daniel was coerced into his position and never explicitly endorsed the king, but he worked close enough with the political affairs of the king to merit a special sense of favor from him which eventually led to his conversion.

If it took an endorsement of a potential threat for us to ostracize Carson, would we include him back if we found out that President Trump (Heaven forbid) is now attending a local SDA church because of Carson’s influence?

If God can use individuals who were written off as “pagan”, or “unclean” (Rahab the prostitute, The Syro-Phoenician woman, Wise men from the East, Cornelius etc) to make an impact for His kingdom, why is it so hard to imagine that God can’t use the likes of Carson to do the same?

Do we really believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to transcend political and theological barriers?

“Oh but Kevin, Carson is not in it for theological reasons, but for political ones.”

Yes. So was Daniel. But that didn’t turn out to be so bad after all.

What if “Carson’s with HIM???” is turned to “Carson’s with him!”

Also, Ostracizing one of our own for a theological difference is one thing (that’s another topic for another day). Ostracizing one of our own for an ideological difference is another. While ideology and theology may well overlap, and one may shed light on the other, I’m curious as to what would happen if we can learn to distinguish between ones ideological (or theological) views and ones person.

Am I able to distinguish between Carson’s ideological or political leanings from the rest of who he is? Does a single act from an individual many looked up to discredit the many commendable things he has done, and may well continue to do, for broader society? And can I not still accept, and even enjoy, fellowship with a brother or sister in my own church who does not necessarily see things in the same way?

I am convinced, more than ever, that it is this mode of thinking that has exacerbated an ethic of acceptance determined by expected beliefs and behaviors in many religious institutions. That is, if you believe what and how I believe, you are now expected to behave in certain ways, and then you get to belong.

But we forget that Jesus turned this upside down! He asked a motley crew of disagreeing individuals to follow him (belong), makes them “fishers of men” (behave), and all of whom, like Peter, will eventually confess through their martyrdom that Jesus is the Christ (believe).

At the end of the day, while Dr. Carson and I may not see eye-to-eye in issues of politics, I will do well not to overlook three fundamental theological similarities between us:

A) both of us are made in the image of God,
B) both of us continue to fall short of the glory of God, and
C) both of us have access to the redeeming, transcending, wall-breaking, grace of God through Jesus Christ.

So this is what I’ll tell Dr. Carson at my place over potluck if he cares enough to come.

“I don’t agree with what you did. Not one bit. And I wasn’t planning on voting for you either. But if you need a place to worship, my church is open. And if you’d fancy some rice and curry, our home is open. Our theological similarities trumps our ideological differences…”

…and no pun intended.”

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I Was So Angry at Bernie Sanders Until I Read This…

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I have been completely entertained during this past season of campaigning. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina aren’t part of the regular “establishment”. It is crazy to think that this business man, Trump, might actually become president. It isn’t the first time that something like this has happened though. Ronald Reagan became the president of the United States and he also had an acting career. Jesse Ventura became the governor of Minnesota. Of course, there was always Mr. Terminator himself who became the governor in California (or should I say governator?!). Between Arnold, Reagan, and Trump I’m beginning to wonder if there is something to the way Republicans vote. The establishment is definitely fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant and in control while America sits back and enjoys the reality TV that is being inspired by our highest office… the oval one.

I can’t tell you how many times I have read posts on Facebook by Republicans about Reaganomics and how those were the glory days. Follow those with videos like this one, and a series of comments where democrats speak about the 98% (99%?…95%?….I have seen different numbers on this). I am sure you have seen so many debates about racism, religion, or economics.

What has really struck me recently though, is wondering how economics work in the kingdom and country that I belong to – The Kingdom of Heaven – and if they could be applied to this country.

Bernie Sanders is a big proponent of a progressive tax that has the most dramatic numbers raising with the “upper class” (this is a term I find hard to identify the line with, because we are all pretty rich in this country). Here is our current progressive tax system, Here is Bernie Sanders suggested progressive tax system. It should be noted that Bernie isn’t really reinventing the wheel, but rather just enforcing a stricter and more intense wheel.

People have called the progressive tax system which Bernie is pushing either evil or great. In my perspective, most republicans say that people that work hard and become rich shouldn’t have to pay for people who don’t work at all. Democrats seek to use the money of the rich to support the poor regardless of the reason they are poor (whether circumstantial, laziness, or birth).

So, bottom line question that I’m asking for people to engage with in an honest and objective way is: If we were to actually try to create the best economic approach in based on God’s economics, what would that look like? I would love to actually hear what you think (comment on the blog, Facebook, or e-mail me).

Here is what I think:
In God’s kingdom Socialism reigns (I probably don’t have a clear enough grasp of socialism, but read on to see what I mean). God owns everything, and people share with each other liberally. They are always careful not to take too much or to leave anyone in a tough situation, but if you are walking through a field and see some strawberries that you want to take home and make a pie out of, well… you pick em. The richest people are the ones who give the most, because in God’s kingdom you aren’t really rich, you are just a steward of God’s stuff. God gives you stuff so that you can take care of each other and bless those who have nothing. Rich people are constantly giving away their wealth to the poor.

Many times I hear people quote Christ’s text “The poor you will always have with you…” in order to excuse the constant helping of the poor. If you balance that with the actual life of Christ, you find that Christ spent His life reaching out to poor and helpless. He would go into villages and tirelessly heal all of their sick and diseased. He never owned His own home, and we only know of Him owning 1 pair of clothes, yet He lived a life of constant giving and teaching about how the Kingdom of God is based on loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Christ had some very sharp words for rich people, but you don’t see many words (if any) about poor people. I don’t remember Him calling them lazy at all, and I’m pretty sure that He said they would inherit the Kingdom of God. He told a rich dude to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor and followed that up with saying that it is hard for rich people to even make it to heaven. That is pretty hard core. He made a lesson out of people working hard and people barely working getting the same wage (salvation). He even told us that the way He will judge between goats and sheep is by how they took care of each other.

Something I have yet to see is: A rich person paying for a poor person to enjoy a week at an all paid for resort in the Caribbean because they are treating them as they would treat themselves… but hey, maybe that will be the next viral video.

Either way, in my estimation Bernie’s tax plan and attitude toward the rich and poor seems like it is possibly a step closer to Jesus’ than Trumps. IDK! What do you think?

p.s. I honestly don’t care about politics if it causes us to debate and get angry at each other, so if you think that might happen, please don’t comment.

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