There are some who tackle political issues on the Patheos platform, from a religious standpoint. For the most part I do not, although I do have political leanings like anyone else. Today, I was struck by a video opinion by Tucker Carlson.
I’m sure most people develop their own opinion about his opinions very quickly. However, I was struck at another level. I was struck with his approach. I began to wonder about the church in this day and age.
Could Tucker Carlson inadvertently be a voice of conviction to the Church?
Before I look at this question, and before anyone gets up in arms, here are some guidelines I have for this particular post:
- This is not an endorsement of Tucker Carlson, Fox News, or any political party.
- It is only an observation of his approach, from perhaps a Theological praxis or sociocultural perspective.
- This is not in any way meant to be a comparison between Tucker Carlson and the Apostle Peter.
- It is a retelling of the healing of the Lame Man with an eye toward Peter’s tenacity despite resistance from those who hold the political and religious reigns in that time.
- This is not a complete answer, nothing ever is.
- I hope it is at least a good question to consider.
My suggestion is that you take 6 minutes and 40 seconds to watch the video. This may be difficult to do, but try to keep my questions in mind. What if the church had the same tenacity? Then perhaps take a few moments to peruse my retelling of Acts 3-4 through a socio-political lens.
Tucker: The great American outrage machine
Tucker Carlson | Fox News | 03.12.19*
i. The lame healed
Peter and John enter the Temple to pray, as is their custom. Today a lame beggar reaches out to them, asking for money. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us” (Acts 3:4).
In our tradition, healings are not uncommon. However, to have the boldness of Peter, an absolute certainty that something is going to happen, is not so common. Would we criticize Peter today and categorize him with faith healers that we consider to be “showboating”?
Is Peter overconfident, or is he just seizing an opportunity? Does Peter know with certainty that God is about to do something? Sure enough, Peter is right and the man is healed.
ii. 5,000 saved
Everyone on the Temple grounds rushes to see what is going on because they all know the lame man. He has probably been sitting here begging for years. Now he’s dancing. When Peter saw it, he addressed the people (verse 12).
Now today wouldn’t we say Peter is going too far? He’s using his platform to discuss religion, a counter-cultural religion at that, this sect of Nazarene “exclusivists.”
His message is neither “tolerant,” nor “politically correct.” He preaches like there is no other way, and he expects people to get saved. Peter seizes another opportunity and may be right after all, because 5,000 people come to Christ (Acts 4.4).
iii. Peter and John stand for Christ
In the process, Peter and John are hauled in for questioning. The religious leaders believe this has gone too far. They assemble the next day as the Sanhedrin, the same religious leadership that put Jesus to death. They begin their interrogation. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said . . . (Acts 4.8).
Not only is Peter right on a couple counts up to this point. Not only is he bold despite the odds. Peter is now directly empowered by the Spirit to speak against his opponents. Does the Spirit still empower His people to speak out in the marketplace and to our leaders . . . or not?
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus (Acts 4.13).
The healed lame man is standing right there beside them. The leaders are dumbfounded (verse 14). Peter would later say that by submitting in the proper way to authorities, we can silence the ignorance of fools (1 Peter 2.15).
Wouldn’t we rather rail on those we disagree with, throw them under the proverbial bus, and use the same tactics described by Tucker Carlson in the video?Read Acts 3-4, not just my summary. Peter and John are respectful even though they now have the masses on their side. We all know that 5,000 is only the men because that is how they count during that era. There are thousands behind the Apostles in this moment, but Peter and John are not trying to usurp authority or take the Sanhedrin down.
The leaders command the Apostles to stop, but they answer, Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard (verses 19-20).
Is this “civil disobedience”? This may be a question for an ethics professor. From the beginning, the Church has been at odds with the dominant culture, and it only leads to persecution by chapters 7-8. It is the same way today. We cannot even speak of the persecution happening in other regions of the world.
Despite the culture of our earthly empire or kingdom, we are citizens of an older one.
In this story, the leaders are vastly outnumbered and afraid to speak against the Apostles because of the miracle (verses 21-22). Peter may not only be right, he may be leading an entire movement by now.
Today, are people afraid to criticize Christians with contempt (and I do mean with contempt)? Are people afraid to take action against Christians? Despite all odds, could Christians still be a real presence in society, like those who stand for Christ in Acts 4?
Are we afraid to be counted?
Could Tucker Carlson inadvertently be a voice of conviction to the Church?
Politics aside, I applaud his approach and that of Fox News. What if we had that same type of tenacity in the Church? After all, we still have freedom of speech, something the New Testament Church does not have.
iv. Praying for boldness
Peter and John report back to the other believers and everyone prays for boldness. When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness (verse 31).
There’s an earthquake! When was the last time a mystery or miraculous event shook up our Christian gathering? Then the Holy Spirit empowers them to speak boldly. Once again, Peter is on the right side of these issues, and it is confirmed by God’s miraculous hand. Then the Spirit empowers Peter to keep on proclaiming truth.
For those who have a distaste in their mouth for political arguments such as Tucker Carlson’s, consider this:
The Primitive Church is in the middle of a political nightmare. The kings of Israel are the puppets of Rome. The Roman governors like Pilate maintain the peace with violent veracity. The Sanhedrin and the religious elite are in bed with Rome as well. There are probably gifts exchanged at much higher levels, but let’s just follow the money. Everyone flocks to Jerusalem for all the feasts. There are taxes collected at the city gates and in the Temple. Rome gets a cut of the lucrative Jerusalem holy feast vacation business. Why do you think the Sanhedrin has so much influence with Pilate in the first place, when it comes to the crucifixion of Jesus?
By Acts 3-4, I believe the Apostles are facing far more sociopolitical pressure than we are facing today. Yet the Apostles are right . . . and the religious elite of that time are in need of repentance. Can we even openly declare that we have the truth anymore . . . that we are right?
If a news show can declare that their political stance is correct in this earthly empire, then how much more do we have to say about the Kingdom of God?
* Tucker Carlson, “Tucker Carlson: We will never bow to the leftist mob’s attempts to silence us, no matter what,” Fox News: Tucker Carlson Tonight, March 12, 2019, accessed March 12, 2019, https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-we-will-never-bow-to-the-leftist-mobs-attempts-to-silence-us-no-matter-what