Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rick Perry -- "called" to be president?

Recently a number of readers of the Los Angeles Times wrote in with their choice to be president -- Rick Perry, current governor of Texas and an overt evangelical who has called for statewide prayer. At least two people have convinced themselves that he can beat Obama next year, and some believe that Perry is "called" of God.

I can understand their preference, but "called of God?" That's theologically dubious at best, for two reasons.

Let's consider their context of "calling": This nation is under the spell of evil liberals and liberalism, so we need to find a champion who will defeat [choose the target of your choice] and restore our nation to greatness -- you know, "the way it used to be."

We've seen that one before -- Palestine in the first century. Recall that the Jewish people of that day were living under the rule of Rome, which they resented deeply and wanted overthrown and understood well the prophecy of a Messiah, who they believed would be the person who would kick the Romans out.

But in their desire for political freedom they missed what Jesus, who of course was the Messiah, came to do -- change the entire calculus in showing the world Who God really was. They ended up rejecting Him because He turned out not to be the political leader they wanted.

Two, "calling" in this context is connected to service and sacrifice, not as a will to power. It's perfectly appropriate to "call" a pastor or other spiritual leader to a place of authority; however, in such cases he or she has been specifically raised up to give of him/herself, not simply to be "in charge" and push people around. (See John Eldredge's description of the "King" in the book "Fathered by God.")

Those Christians who want Perry to be president have missed that point. You see, they have always sought someone who will fight the battle against what they consider demonic forces (read: Those who disagree with them politically) so that they can go about their lives and not have to engage in spiritual warfare themselves -- something that God will never allow. To wit, they want the "blessings" of God but not really to know Him personally and permit Him to change who they are, making Him in their image in the process.

They have also forgotten that God Himself raises up and takes down leaders for His purposes; I'm convinced that Barack Obama and, before him, Bill Clinton became president at least in part to demonstrate to politically conservative Christians that He is, and they are not, running the show. Sadly, some still don't understand that concept -- just before the general election of 2008 I received an emergency e-mail asking folks to pray that, by some miracle, Obama would be defeated. (I responded by saying that it was inappropriate.)

This is why "anointing" a presidential candidate -- keep in mind that the term "Messiah" means "anointed one" -- is flatly dangerous. And if Perry does decide to run, he needs to understand that he would lead all the people of this great country, not simply those who agree with his politics. Sadly, I don't think he does based on his speeches and record, which is why the "calling" is bogus.


Roland Hunn said...

I'm a quite fearful of anyone who is a "self-anointed" leader. Regarding the comments about people wanting to defeat President Obama (I've gotten in trouble with this before): Many, not all, seem to be racially motivated. I've been disgusted by the comments that my so-called friends have made regarding our President. I don't understand how self-proclaimed Christians can spew forth such hateful messages. I guess Christianity is all in what we want to believe rather than what we ought to believe.

Mark said...

Hi Rick,The church has often looked for a leader in secular politics to take the burden of responsibility off it's back for things Jesus commanded us to do.The trade off is a false security is that we can rest when "all" is acheived.Christian influence was and is so important in America that politicians left and right court us , for our support with promises they don't themselves beleive in.When the one sucsessful guy brings us all together under one roof on one "platform"'Like the group, The Who, will we be singing we wont get fooled again.

scat said...

The folly of following someone who claims to have been "called" by God to lead has been horribly exemplified by the recent conviction of Warren Jeffs for raping two children. He has convinced hundreds of followers that this is his "calling" and they blindly follow. It's scary how easy it can be to keep people from doing thier own critical thinking.