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Joe Carter on Sarah Palin’s Baptism Waterboarding Gaffe

Writing for The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter gives a timely critique of the recent woebegone statements of Governor Sarah Palin. He explains that waterboarding is, indeed, torture, and that Sarah Palin’s particular brand of Evangelical Christianity has more in common with the prevalent civil deistic religion than it does with classic evangelicalism, whether conservative or otherwise.

Also importantly, Mr. Carter has this to say about the contemporary left/right political polarity:

The “liberal” position criticized by Palin (more accurately framed as the liberal cosmopolitan elite position), tends to be overly empathetic in an attempt to understand and “humanize” our foes. As Palin notes (albeit hyperbolically) they take the view that we cannot “offend them” or “make them feel uncomfortable.”

But this is just one of the ways in which we can err. The “right-wing populist” position supported by Palin, seeks retribution and “dehumanizes” our opponents in order to distance them from ourselves, can be just as dangerous, particularly for those who must carry out the fight against terrorism.

These words are so helpful because far too many conservative Christians have felt the need to be Palin supporters. Some of them really are sold out to the GOP, but most simply lack a mature political-theological imagination in general, causing them to not know how to avoid supporting the various Republican front-runners. They default to them because it seems the only alternative to the Democrats who are, truly and quite obviously, opposed to any sort of Christian ethics. Neither Augustine nor Aquinas nor Calvin nor Dabney nor Kuyper would have recognized Palinism as representing any sort of traditional Christian jurisprudence or moral philosophy, but yet here we are. And no one seems to have much energy to propose a true alternative.

Hopefully this latest Palin statement will finally give some motivation to move out of the rut.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.

One reply on “Joe Carter on Sarah Palin’s Baptism Waterboarding Gaffe”

Intentional and unintentional reductio ad absurdum has always characterized politics at the popular level. The visceral and emotive sells stuff and buys votes. Commercial television manages to combine both baser elements. There’s little reason to believe that anything Sarah Palin says or any thoughtful responses to it will change matters for the better. I am afraid, however, that knee-jerk flight to the Democrats may be the practical response of the Millennials, etc.

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