The Political Agnostic

politics, voting, elections, republican, democrat

[D]o you ever have a moment where you think you are really clever only to suddenly realize you’re not? Like the guy climbing to an untouched mountain only to find a beer can at the top, reality can bring you down sometimes. I was in a conversation with someone recently when I randomly described myself as a political agnostic. Again, I thought I had just brilliantly attributed a spiritual concept and masterfully applied it to politics. Then I looked up the word agnostic in the dictionary and found this:

Definition of AGNOSTIC

1: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

2: a person who is unwilling to commit to an opinion about something <political agnostics>

It was number two that deflated me. There’s that beer can.

Acknowledging that I’m far from early at this party, I still think there is some merit in this idea. Where I would tweak Merriam-Webster is that I’d use the phrase found in the second definition and apply it under the criteria of the first.

When I think of myself as a political agnostic, I’m not saying that I’m unwilling to commit to a side or that I’m unwilling to get involved. Rather, I’m saying that I don’t think anything regarding politics is really able to be known. What is the truth in politics? How do you really become educated in it? Who do you trust for information when your sources disagree? I find myself incredibly conflicted whenever this season rolls around.

I found this definition in the Urban Dictionary that I like better:

One who is a registered voter and politically informed, but is basically indifferent and non-committal toward the popular political parties (Democrat or Republican in the US). Probably believes that the political parties are so ideologically similar and so mired in their own bureaucracy that they have outlived their usefulness. Voting straight-ticket out of allegiance to a political party would be considered heresy.

Still isn’t exactly what I’m arguing but it is definitely closer. I find myself struggling whenever major elections come around because there doesn’t seem to be an obvious way to live out your faith in politics. In America, I see some things in both the Democratic and the Republican party that seem to be on the side of biblical values. Some Christians don’t seem to have any tension with this. For me, it’s always been a struggle. I’m reminded of what Craig Gross said when I interviewed him:

This one might get mixed reviews but I’ve never voted. Some people don’t like that but yeah, I’ve never voted. I might have registered to vote when I got my driver’s license. Older generations have used their platforms to influence political movements and agendas but I’ve never been that interested. In these college debates with Ron Jeremy it always seems to be about Democrats vs Republicans and people assume “well you must be over here.” I’ve never taken much interest in that.

Maybe Craig’s view could be considered closer to political atheism. (And no, sadly I didn’t coin that term either).

Question: What’s your take? What is your stance when it comes to politics?

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan husband, father, executive pastor, and student of truth

25 Comments

Josh Krize

about 2 years ago

I believe: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2 KJV) because of my belief in GOD's good and perfect will I believe that our votes don't really count and GOD has a plan for this country and this world. Everything will work out to establish is good and perfect will for this world. I've voted maybe once but I never will again. Because of the point you've made here concerning what's really true in politics. In the end it really doesn't matter what candidate America votes for because GOD has already predestined the outcome. ALL WE CAN REALLY DO IS PRAY FOR OUR COUNTRY, OUR LEADERS, THE MEN AND WONEN WHO SERVED THIS COUNTRY AND PRAY THAT THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD IS OBTAINED. This world is not my home I'm just passin through.

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

Thanks Josh

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gomer

about 2 years ago

Personally, I have no problem being Christian and voting. Since I don’t think that the outcome has been predestined, and that God seeks to partner with us to create the future and it is open to change, I try to get out there as often as I can and pray as often as I can for better outcomes. However, after reading Gregory Boyd’s book “Myth of a Christian Nation,” I have a pretty different perspective than I used to. He made a great point about how Christians like to use the Government to advance their own “Christian” agendas rather than working through the body of Christ. As much as you might like our gov’t, it’s a good reminder that the Kingdom of God is not a country or a government here on earth. It exists in the body of Christ. So trying to create that Kingdom on earth by making everyone Christian through laws that force it on others (social welfare, marital standards, etc.) is probably inappropriate. So, for example, I won’t vote for someone just because they are Christian or not. All that to say though, I do have strong convictions on how a government should operate and what keeps a functional government going strong, especially when it comes to how unique ours is when it comes to political freedoms and fiscal responsibilities. So I’ll vote to do what I can to help the government in that direction, but all the time trying to remember that the laws the government enforces are on Christians and non-Christians alike. So if it’s something only the Church can get behind (businesses should be closed on Sundays), I usually have to think twice before voting about it because I don’t think it’s our job to use the law to impress our beliefs on others. The power of the Cross operates differently than that, from the inside out through relationships. Romans 13 seems to imply that God will use the power of the Sword through governments to enact justice to change people from the outside and the power of the Cross to change people from the inside. But when it comes down to it, the Kingdom of God can exist in any country under any government, so if our country suddenly becomes Communist like so many people fear, or starts heading back to the Founding Father’s principles like so many hope…well, whatever! I still get to be Christian. We exist under hostile and non-hostile countries all around the world and will continue to grow until the Second Coming.

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

Well said Gomer. I've wanted to read that Boyd book for awhile now and this is a good reminder.

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gomer

about 2 years ago

Yeah, it's a good book dude. You won't agree with everything, but it'll challenge a lot of things you took for granted as just a given (especially Chapter 9 about non-violence) and it gave me a good plumb-line, I feel, for distinguishing between government and religion. It made it to my Gold Star Collection.

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Wayne

about 2 months ago

Hi Gomer, we’ll have to get together and chat sometime, because I fully agree with your first two sentences, and, wow, we have different views on Greg Boyd’s “Myth of a Christian Nation”. I can’t list all the ways Boyd is flat-out wrong. But generally, as someone who took up arms to defend our nation physically, I also believe I have a responsibility to defend it spiritually. I see this as being quite simple, that we as Christians are supposed to be wise enough to understand, through countless examples in the Bible, the devastating effects of a nation falling out of alignment with God’s laws (just read what follows any of the many “then Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord” statements!). I for one care enough about our country, and about both my children and yours, to fight to keep them from suffering the effects of our nation turning its back on God. Boyd ignores the reality that you can’t tell people about Jesus if you’ve been beheaded or stuck in isolation in prison for speaking God’s word. How effective are the Christians in ISIS-controlled territory currently? They’re not, because they’ve been murdered or kicked out of the territory, much as the Humanists (whether or not they call themselves Christians) want to kick Christianity out of our culture. They’ll tell you the boundary for living out your faith is your church and your home, but the events this week in Houston will tell you they’re already preparing to control the former. Bonhoffer warned about the pernicious Humanist movement in Germany in the 30’s, and we know the outcome of that. But back here in the USA, the Humanist march continues. They told us we can’t have Christ taught in our schools, and we relented. They told us we can’t have Christ in our businesses, and we retreated. They tell us we can’t have Christ in government, and we have “Christians” agreeing with them. Will we be wiser than Martin Niemöller?

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Landon Anderson

about 2 years ago

I think the easy way out is to not vote. The 2-party system is full of flaws & issues, often presenting us with a choosing of the lesser of two evils. However, to just say I'm not going to vote just simply means you are checking out & not making a stance. How about choosing a third candidate? Or speaking up & educating yourself on a different system? Or doing something. Educate yourself the best you can - using as many different medias/slants as you can, and then make the choice you feel comfortable with. Better than sitting out the polls and acting like you are the difference maker.

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

I mostly agree although you imply that to make a difference you have to do it through politics. I don't think investing oneself in the church would be considered checking out just because a person didn't vote. I'm not arguing this, simply playing devil's advocate.

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Margie Pennington

about 2 years ago

My first thought is that I know the future and God wins. I also know that God's man will win according to His plan. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I respect the privilege of voting. It's part of the freedom that this country has always known. I am trying to educate myself about the agenda's and the two candidates. Lou and I will definitely be voting on November 6th. May God's Will be done!

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

Thanks Margie

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Earl Ricker

about 2 years ago

Recently I came to realize that it was time for me to spend some quiet time understanding and evaluating the political issues of our day. So, I have been going right down the list and thinking through, researching, and praying about each issue that represents a plank in the platforms of the two parties. This is a challenging undertaking because of issues like abortion and gay rights that directly touch my Christian Faith. Despite the difficulty, I have stayed the course and have been writing down my precise position on every issue. This exercise will help me considerably on November 6th.

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jeremy

about 2 years ago

I admire your efforts on this. The tricky part is what to do when your list is split between the two candidates on who supports the things that you do.

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Earl Ricker

about 2 years ago

Yes it is tricky when the list is split between the two candidates. This leads me to assigning value to each of the issues. For example, I am currently assigning the economy a high value, and consequently will give more weight to the candidate whose plan I believe to be the best plan for growing the economy. Some battles need to be fought now. Some need to be fought later.

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Robert Tewart

about 2 years ago

Take another look at option number 1 Jeremy. You've shared many agnostic views here.

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gomer

about 2 years ago

So...you think Jeremy espouses views that he wavers back and forth between God's existence?

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Robert Tewart

about 2 years ago

I think if Jeremy is consistant with previous posts, he would ultimately affirm that God is unknowable. This is because of his particular view of scripture.

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gomer

about 2 years ago

Almost everyone I know would say the same. Reformed & non-Reformed alike. In fact, a few of the Reformed friends would be completely offended if someone suggested God was knowable. They love to quote that "His ways are not our ways" bit to show that we can't know God. What a bummer. He's got such a big desire for us to know Him more intimately and people purposefully push themselves away, afraid that they might offend Him if they seek to know too much. However, all that to say, Jeremy is one of the few out there who seems to seek to know as much about God as is humanly possible.

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Robert Tewart

about 2 years ago

Not sure why you bring up reformed folks. It is of note to mention though, that a solid reformed theological position includes "Sola Scriptura" or "the bible alone" which doesn't seem to be a position Jeremy holds. Your reference to Isaiah 55:8 (referring to a portion of scripture as a "bit" aside) is in the context of God's mercy and it surpassing anything imaginable to us. It doesn't have anything to do with a mysterious unknowable god as suggested.

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gomer

about 2 years ago

Eh, I brought up Reformed and non-Reformed simply because that is the most common Christian spectrum people can identify with. I focused on Reformed for two reasons: (a) in my experience they are the most common to remind me that God is basically unknowable and (b) they are the most common to disagree with positions that are not traditional (like Jer's). Your contexting of Isaiah is spot on dude, in my opinion. I don't think it's a valid verse to use in the position I mentioned, so I appreciate that bit of support. Sola Scripta is a great one to bring up about another subject entirely. All that to say: I believe you may have a profound misunderstanding of Jeremy. Definition 1 is speaking to people who are not committed to planting a flag in whether God exists. In every post and conversation I've had with him, he is wholeheartedly committed to God's existence and redemptive plan through Christ. And nearly every Christian ever recognizes there are some things we just simply will not understand about God and His character, which I don't believe is agnostic.

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Jane Bates

about 2 years ago

I know Jeremy and Cal cna;t advise us or even tell us who they will vote for. I wish I knew because I would vote the same. I can not in my heart vote for Obama because I do think he is in the same camp so to speak with the most Evil coming along. But I also can't vote for Romney who follows another added Book of Mormon. Yet, I agree, that Christian beliefs and morals is right for me Government isn't the place to force everyone to act the same way; it is between them and God. Right now I tend to choose not to vote at all unless I know more, and I just don't think I can ever know enough to vote as God would have me do.I also believe God IS in CONTROL and it will all work out as he plans. Regardless, I think it is getting to be a very difficult world to live in, and likely to get harder for Christians very soon. I thought the one who supports Israel the best was the one and the rest wasn't as important to GOD. But we have a treaty in US. So I dunno who supports Israel best. We need to write in another person, but who? Tell me who and I would do that. I vote for Jesus! No joke.

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Wayne

about 2 months ago

I know this is an old post by you, Jane, but I just ran across this blog, and this is pertinent today in Arizona. I just want to point out that what you have been told about a church not being able to advise on which candidates or issues for which to vote is false. There is no law prohibiting the same, only an IRS directive which most believe is unconstitutional and has been challenged by many churches, backed by the wonderful Arizona organization, Alliance Defending Freedom. Pastors have given clear political advice, as they have every right to do, and the IRS has wisely chosen to not try to enforce their old directive even though the ADF sent transcripts of the sermons to them! I will not comment on the willingness of our church to do the same, because that is a choice to be made by the Elders and Pastors under careful prayer, but they do indeed have the choice.

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steve

about 2 years ago

I believe in people - yes, the outcome is predestined by God but the particulars are decided by us. The Lord has said " THIS is where you will go and THIS is the route which you will travel, but the pitfalls you encounter, the trials and tribulation you endure are strictly up to you, you will get to where i want you to be and it will NOT be an easy journey but the hardships you encounter along the way are yours and yours alone to decide the severity of. I am here to help you all i can, but i will not serve it up to you on a silver platter so you better affect all you can WHILE you can - REMEMBER, you are the key !!

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Tanya

about 2 months ago

As another election day approaches, this post caught my attention. My personal reason for being MORE than just an informed voter is help create a cultural environment that allows and encourages the sharing of the Gospel and as well as the blessings that come from obedience to God's laws. How can I personally do that? Well, I definitely engage on Biblical issues that energize me: - I vote for candidates who will not encourage the idea that my 12 year old daughter can go get an abortion without me and her father which is a trend with pro-abortion people. Many girls/women are coerced. - As a veteran who had wonderful spiritual mentors while in the military, I encourage voting for candidates who will not punish military Christians for sharing their faith or just inviting someone to go to chapel or posting a bible verse on a bulletin board as is happening now. - As an entrepreneur, voting for policy that will not put me in the unenviable position of begin sanctioned if I do not want to pay for abortions of my employees. And of course there a long list of other policy areas that will engage others. There seems to be a lot of commentary about the value of "getting involved politically " from people on the "exempt" side of the law toward those of us who can actually be punished for speaking and engaging for Christ where we work and live. I see myself as a missionary who happens to pay her own way (and the way of "full time missionaries") while trying to speak the truth in love as well as living in obedience to Christ. In this country there is a lot of calling good bad and bad good - demanding not just tolerance but approval of sin. How can I retreat from that while saying I care about the world in which I live? As American Christians we have options that Daniel, Joseph, Stephen, Paul and others did not. I personally believe that they would have seen their ballot as tools to encourage the spread of the Gospel and the light of Christ just as Paul went to the effort to note his Roman citizenship while being persecuted. Voting is great, but influencing others to understand the key Biblical issues is also a key to moving the culture and begin salt & light. I do engage in the muddy waters of politics and embrace my responsibilities as a citizen, so that my kids and other Christians can walk across my back to have a country where they can not only work and live out their faith but boldly speak about Christ's salvation without the type of consequences and difficulties that are in other some many other countries. My two cents... God Bless You!

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