Friday, November 20, 2009

With God on Our Side (2004) (Choosing to Be an Advisor, Not a Prophet)

To me, the most fascinating part of the film came in the discussion of Reagan’s first term as president. After the election, Jerry Falwell held a press conference where he spoke with pride of a president and congress committed to helping conservative Christians enact laws and implement policies to make abortion illegal, permit “voluntary school prayer,” and restore America’s military might. In an interview for the film, Jerry Falwell later spoke of the feeling of “elation” from that election victory. Similarly, Ed Dobson (the vice president of the Moral Majority) spoke of the thrill of eating lunch at the White House. The film notes that in helping Reagan win the presidency, conservative Christians relished their proximity to power.

Early in Reagan’s first term, there was a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Falwell describes in the film that he was on vacation with his family when Reagan called him to tell him of his decision to nominate Sandra Day O’Connor to the Court and to ask Falwell to not raise opposition immediately. Anti-abortion activists were concerned about O’Connor’s pro choice voting record in the Arizona state senate. Nonetheless, Falwell explains in the film that he did agree to keep quiet and ultimately became a supporter of O’Connor’s nomination.

Ed Dobson then explains this decision with a “biblical paradigm.” He noted that in politics one could choose to be an advisor or a prophet. Dobson states:

If you choose to be a prophet, then you don’t have a lot of influence on the political reality, but you are always free to speak what you perceive to be the truth for the current historical moment. Or you can be an advisor with a sense of truth, a sense of value, but your objective is simply to influence the process. And I think the Moral Majority moved from a prophetic role into more of an advisor role and lost some of its ability to speak against, even the administration it was for.

To me, it seems clear that Dobson is saying the Moral Majority deliberately chose to compromise their sense of truth in order to have a seat at the table with Caesar. That is a stunning admission. In my own opinion, it was also a frightening, tragic choice.

Matthew 12:18

"Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.”

Luke 4:5-8

“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

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