Meeting your parents

I was speaking at the Texas Confessional Lutheran conference over the weekend, so I missed the visit of Tropical Storm Hanna. I’m kind of sorry I wasn’t there, but my wife battened down the hatches for what amounted to just a really heavy rain. But at the conference, imagine my surprise when I met the parents of some of you readers! There was the mother of Lisa. And the parents of constant commenter tODD! I did not realize that tODD grew up in Faith Lutheran church in Plano, TX, a fine congregation that I’ve spoken at before. tODD is a good reminder to us all of the Two Kingdoms truth that one can be conservative theologically while being liberal politically.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I still think it’s funny that you met my parents.

    Just a note, however (would it be a comment from me without nitpicking details?): I didn’t actually grow up at Faith Lutheran. Our family attended other LCMS churches in the area for most of my childhood, one of which was notably less conservative than Faith.

    Once I went off to college, my parents went looking for a, well, better church, and they found (and have remained at) Faith. I attended there when I was home for the summer, though, back when Pastor Hill was the head pastor (I enjoyed his sermons a lot), and I know and appreciate many of the people there.

  • Sam

    Thank you, Dr. Veith, for acknowledging that one can consistently be a political liberal and a confessional Lutheran.
    When posters here say it ain’t so, I will happily cite your authority. :)

  • Carl Vehse

    “the Two Kingdoms truth that one can be conservative theologically while being liberal politically.”

    Well, probably not. But it would depend on how one defines (or spin-doctors) “conservative theologically” and “liberal politically.” It would also require stating what the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms specifically states about the authority and range (limits) of the two kingdoms.

    In the common understanding, one could not be conservative theologically and liberal politically on one of the obvious signal definitions of being politically liberal, in today’s terms – abortion (as well as embryonic stem cell research).

    A few of other common key liberal political positions which are contrary to Scripture:

    – Unionism and syncretism (ecumenism and pluralism)
    – General pacifism
    – Polygamy
    – Homosexuality and homogamy (falsely called “gay
    marriage”)
    – Euthanasia and assisted suicide
    – Claimed immorality of capital punishment
    – Exclusive morality of all components of what has
    been labeled the “just war theory”

    Coincidentally with the Two Kingdom topic, a discussion of whether pastors should be allowed to directly endorse (or oppose) political candidates by name is in the WaPost article, “Ban on Political Endorsements by Pastors Targeted”.

    As it stands now a (Lutheran) pastor could not oppose the Antichrist by name if he ran for a political office.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Right, Carl, but it’s my impression (he will correct me if I’m wrong), that tODD does not take the liberal position on these issues. He is liberal when it comes to economics, welfare, etc. (I don’t know if there is a “liberal” position on foreign policy, since liberals and conservatives have traded positions on isolationism, interventionism, realpolitik, and the like.)

  • Sam

    Carl, you’re right that much depends on how the words we use (particularly political labels) are defined. For instance, I am definitely a political liberal, though my pro-life views fit neither the liberal nor the conservative stereotypes. But on the whole, I am a political liberal and seldom qualify the term. Yet I’m a conservative Lutheran at the same time. (I can distinguish between Mother Jones and Martin Luther.)
    That said, I am intrigued that you list polygamy as a liberal vice. No liberal I know or liberal publication I read (the Nation, the aforementioned MJ, etc.) advocates such an arrangement, but perhaps the topic just isn’t a hot one now. And I don’t know everyone.
    But the actual polygamists that I see on TV or read about in the newspaper look to me like pretty (ultra-?) conservative folk. Why don’t you agree?
    I suspect that the men may even vote GOP; the women probably can’t vote.

  • Carl Vehse

    Liberal bastion HBO had an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated ‘Big Love’ about a polygamist family, with Tom Hanks as executive producer.

    But I was not thinking so much of Mormon polygamy as two other liberal views supporting polygamy:

    1. Tolerance of Mohammadean practices, including polygamy. Other Mohammadean practices have already been accomodated by liberals at airports, and some schools have instituted Mohammadean awareness training.

    2. The liberal view that by making “…of opposite sex” an option in the definition of marriage, one might as well make “two…” an option a well, for all kinds of permutations. I wouldn’t be surprised to soon see “people” replace by “entities” (probably initiated by demands of “veterinary benefits for life partners”).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith (@4), correct — I do not consider myself liberal in those political areas that are actually spiritual areas, most of which comprise Carl’s list (@3). I’m not even sure that I’d qualify as much of a liberal outside this group — such labels can be tricky — but I do understand that, in this context, I appear relatively to the left.

    That said, I’m amused by Carl’s list of “key liberal political positions”. I mean, honestly, Carl, “key”?! Wow. If that’s so, then surely it will be easy for you to find a key liberal politician that advocates for “general pacifism”, “polygamy”, “euthanasia”, the “claimed immorality of capital punishment”, and “unionism and syncretism”. (I’m not convinced that anyone in the political sphere outside of a few Lutherans could even define syncretism.)

    Of course, when we say “liberal” in the “political” frame, unless I’m mistaken, the reference is to the Democratic Party, so I’m looking for a key Democrat who supports such measures (note that not every politician elected as a Democrat is “key”, or else Zell Miller’s views would also define “key liberal political positions”). Or, if you want, a plank in the party platform would do.

    Anything less, and it isn’t really a “key liberal political position”, is it? Sure, you can find nuts on the internet espousing such things. That is a truism. And no doubt some liberals espouse these things in varying degrees. But it should be no work at all to prove that these are, in fact, “key liberal political positions”, as you claim.

    Carl (@6), when you spoke of “the liberal view that by making ‘of opposite sex’ an option in the definition of marriage, one might as well make ‘two’ an option a well, for all kinds of permutations,” you are actually thinking of the conservative reductio ad absurdum argument that goes along those lines. I’ve heard many conservatives say such things (without, of course, advocating such thinking), but never a liberal.

  • Neb

    the problem with this discussion I see is that you cannot throw out spiritual conservative issues to vote liberal. so conservative Christians will vote into office a liberal politician who believes it’s OK to abort babies or kill babies who survive abortions just b/c their economic policy seems better. How are we serving our neighbor if we allow the killing of the unborn?

    I cannot see how a Christian can vote liberal. if I make $70k a year and get to keep more of my money b/c of less taxes then I can decide where I finance support. The liberal would want to take more of my money and then I’m at their mercy of whom they decide to support even if that includes homosexuals and abortion clinics.

    believe you me I’m not giving Republicans a free pass. I think all politicians are crooked and I’d love to see term limits for house and senate as well as less gov’t.

    sorry to be a newbie rambling. can you guys straighten me out?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    Thanks, Neb, and good points. Jump in on a more recent post. I suspect not many readers are keeping up with this one from nearly a month ago.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Neb (@8), to put this in context of voting for McCain, I would change only a few words of what you wrote:

    The problem with this discussion I see is that you cannot throw out spiritually conservative issues to vote for McCain. So Republican Christians will vote into office a Republican politician who believes it’s OK to abort some babies or kill babies created from stem cells just because his economic policy seems better. How are we serving our neighbor if we allow the killing of the unborn?

    In short, there is no possibility that I can see that, come November, America will elect a truly pro-life President. The problem I have is that many Republicans look down their nose at those who vote Democratic and say, “How can you vote for him? He is not pro-life!” All the while missing that the same is true — if to a lesser degree — of their candidate.

    Now, if you can see how it is possible to vote for McCain in spite of his less-than-pro-life stance, perhaps you can see how some can conclude that they can also vote for Obama in spite of his stance on abortion, etc.

  • Neb

    tODD (@10). no one is labeling McCain as this perfect candidate. Unfortunately, for me the perfect candidate would be someone like Gene Veith or Todd Wilken and other conservative Lutherans with brains however, those 2 men are smart enough to not get into politics.

    The scary thing for me about Obama is when asked when do Human rights begin he gave a 5 minute dissertation and basically said “it’s above my pay grade”. Do we really ever want our president saying something is above their pay grade? McCain stated human rights begin at “conception”. This is a stark difference.

    In today’s age no candidate will ever satisfy me. I think abortion is NEVER OK. The whole to save the life of the mother has been disproven time after time. Let God’s will be done.

    IT’s funny you mention economic policy b/c many conservatives I know like to say “well I don’t like Obama’s stance on abortion but he’s economics is better. ”

    So which is it? will higher taxes really make america better? Or will allowing Americans to keep more of their money and do with it they please be better for our economy?

    And don’t get me started about the “stimulation” of the housing industry by the Carter and Clinton adminstrations. You see where that got us


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