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Episode 246: 6 Spiritual Truths that Won’t Change with the Election, with Frederick Schmidt

by Scott Jones
October 31st 2020
My guest if Frederick Schmidt. He holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. He's also an Episcopal Priest. He recently wrote a p... More
Welcome to give and take. It's a podcast where yours truly. Scott Jones talks with artists, activists, authors, theologians, philosophers, scholars, political pundits and a host of others about their world, their work and the lens to which they experienced life. I engage my guests in a conversation that's free flowing, entertaining, unexpected, occasionally bizarre, oftentimes enlightening and informative and, above all else, deeply human. Thanks for listening to this episode of Give and Take. My guess is the Reverend Dr Frederick Schmidt. He's the author of numerous books, and he holds the Reuben job chair in spiritual formation at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, where he also directs the Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He's an Episcopal priest, spiritually director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer and consulting editor at Church

Publishing in New York. He and his wife, Natalie, live in Chicago, Illinois. We had a great conversation about the upcoming election and a piece he wrote about spiritually truth that won't change after next Tuesday's election on his pathos block. Wait a great conversation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I give you Fred Schmidt. Fred, welcome back to the podcast. Thanks Scott. It's good to be here. So Fred, you wrote one of the most interesting pieces which I want to get into in a few minutes about what we all need to do is responsible agents of people of faith or just people that of goodwill after the election. But you and I were just talking in In the age of Internet connection, we had some times reconnect, and I remember when I was a freshman at Messiah College and then a sophomore for the first two years, I s O I. There was a group called the Community Florin Miller Dorm, and there were some intellectuals that were taking your classes and everyone was worried

they were becoming liberals or something. And this was back when Messiah College was a little more conservative than it is now. It's now a very mainstream. It's one of the top universities in the country, I mean by any standard Christian or non Christian. But you would kind of come in this like, button down blue blazer within Oxford tie, and you you blew these guys away and these guys would come back to Miller dorm and I was a novitiate, just looking around to learn some things and your students were blown away by your classes. Eso my questions. Like what? What was your background? This is we're talking circa 1993. You come into an evangelical college from you know, you did your doctor at work at Oxford. I did, You know, with George Cared and Robert Morgan. And finally with E. P. Sanders. So these air, you're you're you're a the top of the New Testament game in your time, and you come to Messiah College. And what

are you thinking? When you come in, you move your books in Thio. Would Hoffman Hall or whatever it is there's after? Yeah. Insert generic farmer Mennonite donor name here. What were you thinking when you were, like unpacking your books and how you were going to teach? Well, what I was what I was looking for And it in part, it reflected my own background. I was trying to look for a way to help the students navigate a confrontation or an encounter. Better word with scripture that took what I used to call the phenomenology of the text seriously and yet allowed people to go on believing when you say phenomenology you're talking about like normal people usually don't use words like that. But like you're thinking, like what your experience is right when you read the Bible and Jesus says like, if you even have hateful things in your heart, you're condemned. And what do you do with that? You are

or cut your hand off for all these things. Like you're talking about how you feel when you read the text. Well talking, Yeah, you're talking about encountering the language of the Bible, whether you're dealing with hyperbole or you're dealing with metaphor or you're dealing with story where the truth is mythic. In other words, it it doesn't lie necessarily in the history city of the story. It lies in the story that's told in the truth that is embedded in the storytelling. And, you know, part of the fact that I found myself kind of grappling with all of that, even as a student myself, was that I I grew up like I think you did in a mainline Protestant church. I grew up united Methodist. Uh, I didn't know anything about seminaries. I ended up going to Asbury Theological Seminary

for an M. Div primarily because of the fact that I grew up in Louisville, where there are listening for listeners. A lot of listeners don't know that the landscape like that would be center right. Evangelical people that believe the by the errands. He might be strong, but I mean, it's a pretty conservative view of the Bible. Yeah, it ISS and I, you know, I found myself in some sense, is exactly where I found my students in their first year of college. When I got to Messiah, I was taking courses with a professor by the name of Robert Lyon, who had worked with Metzger at Princeton, had worked with Matthew Black at ST Andrews and who was who was, I think would have called. He would have called himself in evangelical, but he was alert to the challenges that were embedded in trying to interpret Scripture. He was alert to the fact that there were differences

in gospel accounts. Uh, he was alert to the fact that there were debates about whether some books job, for example, was historical or whether it was it was a a fiction meant to tell another kind of truth. Those kinds of issues and a weird thing for secular or religious people. Right? Is a lot of scholars think Job is the oldest book in the Bible. I mean, there are scholars Target, which is a weird thing because you think well, of course, you open the Bible whether you're conservative or liberal. And Genesis one is the oldest book in the Bible, and you're like, No, Well, this is a complicated story. This is like a It's like the New York Times. You know, we're We're editing something, but But when you read The New York Times, you don't think it's BS. I mean, you think it's a beautiful edited thing. We love the New York Times, right? Sure, it's editorially responsible. Absolutely. And you know what? What happened to me is a student

was was. You know, Bob was really helpful in terms of the biblical text. But when I tried to work out the theology around Scripture, is it? It's inspired. What does that mean? It's God breathed. What does that mean? What's the impact of inspiration? What's the nature of the revelation that you find in Scripture? Uh, and I found myself in a place where I got very little help. Actually, in that day and age from the system petitions the theater, the purely theological folk at the seminary. I'm sure it's actually quite different thes days. This was a long time ago, but when you're saying that like for our listeners who are secular Jews or just secular people, you're in an advanced graduate level thing. And and and they're people. They're teaching you the Bible like they're teaching how to read Deuteronomy or Mark or Matthew

or Jude or Second Address or whatever. And they're there. They're teaching and languages and source and where the sources of the texts are. And then the people are doing theology or almost like the Christian philosophers they were saying. Well, these are the people were hiring to tell us what Christians believe every like and and and so they've got to tell us what the Bible people do. And the church historians that people disabled. Augustine thought this and the Qantas thought this. And then they look at the pastoral psychologist or whatever, and and they try to come up with the Christian thing right on. What you're saying is, when they were saying, the Christian thing is this you were saying, Well, look, I'm I've been in the graduate education level and I'm looking at source criticism and languages and Bible, and you're not holding up to the Christian thing well, and the Or, to put it another way, the struggle for me, Scott, was that, uh, what I was seeing in classes that were devoted

to biblical studies. Taught me things about the biblical text that didn't line up with what I was being told by the systematic theologians, the guys who were saying This is how it needs to be. And so I was trying to navigate the connection between what one group of teachers was saying had to be and another teach while other teachers who were showing me things about Scripture that said, Well, this is how it iss Maybe the most accessible kind of example to give you would be, uh, Thio. Focus may be on the use of the word literal. Ah, lot of people who talk about how the Bible needs to be will say the Bible is literally true. Well, when you begin to study Scripture, it's really quite clear that the word literal doesn't work it all in Scripture. You are the salt of the earth, literal

truth, your sodium chloride. Uh, there's a truth there, but it isn't a literal truth. It's a metaphorical truth. It's a poetic expression. Uh, it's no less true for being that, but it zits, not literal by any means. Or could you re own literal in the sense of literarily, I mean literally means the plane sense in the sense of literal, really mean understanding. Metaphor as metaphor and poetry is poetry and historical fiction, historical fiction. It would be. And the problem is, is that a lot of people don't use the word that way, especially when you get to something slightly more complicated. I mean, is the book of job of biography or a story about a real person? Well, it doesn't seem to me that there's any sort of reason to believe that the truth of the Book of job is actually tied to whether or not job is a real

person. And you think we don't want it to be literally true in the sense of we don't want God to like. Let the accuser to run these experiments z true. That's a really terrible story, because but although maybe is literally true. Are literalist likely. True, this isn't. Maybe that's how we got Trump, right? Like maybe e even today. That's what If we had God for president. Well, you know, when you when you look at the literary function of that opening scene, you know, coffee time with the accuser, Uh, and you ask yourself, What's the function of this conversation? The function of the conversation is to really sort of set the whole story up and say, Here's a guy who's righteous, absolutely righteous. Everyone knows he is. Even the angelic host knows he is. But is he that way? Would he be that way if it

didn't work out that his faithfulness yielded a family, a farm wealth and what have you? And so that's the set up for job losing all of those things in the story. And the point of the story really is to say, You know what? Good things don't necessarily happen to good people. Be faithful anyway. I mean, it's it's, uh, it's a contradiction to the health and wealth gospel. Do you think there's some, like rabbinic guy who's I mean? Of course, we don't have rabbis at that time because they always do. You think there's some guy that's sitting writing a story and looking at some guy that's got it all together in this pre geodetic kind of community? He's like, Come on, dammit, My might go to getting by wolves and this guy doesn't seem to be I mean, that's what I find interesting. What's the? And I think it could all be inspired, right? I mean, God, spiritually

inspired. But don't you think there's got to be some story behind this were like some S O. B is like, really getting over on everybody, and he looks righteous and somebody's got to be thinking who's maybe a pious guy And he's thinking, Well, I'm gonna start writing a story and then he thinks, Well, gosh, now I'm gonna ask. I'm a jerk. I'm a real jerk if I say you know he's a bad person and I'm a good person and he just you could imagine this is Homeric, right? Like it's it's It's basically Jewish Homeric figure that is writing this grand poem. Yeah, well, and that's where a lot of writing comes from. I've written two books on the problem of suffering and on why, you know, to put it in the lingo that you so often, why bad things happen to good people. You know, apologies to Calvinist because all our Calvinist listeners and for you guys that don't a Calvinist are they really think we're all really screwed up in evil? The Calvinists will

say, Well, there's no good people. Well, there is, There is there is that issue too. But of course, you know, the question still remains. Why does it happen to people? I mean, one of the books I wrote on the subject and this is just a prop. Oh, of your comment about what might have prompted job One of the books that I wrote about the problem of suffering I wrote in the wake of my brothers struggle and eventual death from a brain tumor. I'm so sorry. And, uh, in a way, it was a means of kind of processing my own grief. In a way, it was trying to make sense of the kinds of things that he was told he was a hand surgeon, had a glioblastoma great for, uh, lived a lot longer than anyone expected him to live. But he had people who came along and told him, You know, this is a blessing in disguise. God's got something great in mind that's going to come

out of this. And my brother's response to that was Look, I'm a 50 something year old hand surgeon when the used by date stamped on my head almost literally. Wow. Uh, what is it exactly I'm going to do with the rest of my life? He can practice is a surgeon. Yeah, he waas he waas to show you, show you how far apart two brothers could get and still get along. Hey, was a Southern Baptist e. I mean, there's so one brother. One brother becomes a Southern Baptist. The other one becomes an Episcopalian. There's probably a really bad joke there somewhere. Well, there's a great Episcopalian joke. I love where the Episcopalian priest, um, he's testing the mic, and he can't figure it out like what's going on? He says, There's something wrong with this Mike and the congregation says, and also with you. But can I just want to go back before we get into your path? Theo's piece, which I thought was fascinating. You you talked about this tension

in your graduate work between the biblical scholars and theologians. Did you like that? Theologians? I mean, were you drawing them? Oh, well, I was drawn Thio. I was drawn to theology for sure. Um, and I was drawn to figuring out the theological task because there's nothing in either the old or the New Testament that is a theology. It's such both were filled with theology. But you know, everything in the in the old and the New Testament one way or another was written to a specific circumstance. It it wasn't an abstract thesis written and since, or an attempt at it, right? I mean, would you say the difference for secular listeners? Or, you know, like it's a little different than like what Plato is trying to write? Universally, he's contextual, but he's trying to write in a way that's toe every place in all times. So he's trying to get to the forms, and even Aristotle is trying to do a similar thing right there

. They're thinking, How could we get these truths about God? The good, the truth, the beautiful everywhere. That's not quite the way the biblical writers right now, they not at all but I worked on trying to resolve those questions for myself. So when I began working with students at Messiah, my effort was really to try to help them confront the realities that the Bible presented to them and yet give them a means of thinking about it in a way that was life giving and and a means of reading it, uh, with a with a view to building their confidence that it had something to offer to them spiritually. Would you teach differently now than you did? I mean, they catch That's got to be 25 years ago or something like It's been a long time. Thio. Imagine you're walking into Messiah College Blue Blazer, British Education, episcopate like, Would you do it differently

? Uh, well, the scholarships change some, so there would be those There'd be those changes, but in one sense, that's kind of superficial. Um, I think a lot of what I did back then I would probably do again. The thing I discovered about first year students was that they had never really been forced to grapple with Scripture at that level, and the way I sort of framed my understanding of what was going on for them is that they weren't really angry. They were afraid they were the ones that were angry as you, as you pointed out earlier on, not all of them were, but the ones who were angry were afraid they were going to lose their faith. And the thing I discovered teaching undergraduates was that I think we all come to learning about our faith with the assumption that the one and only authority in our lives is God, that nothing

, nothing else mediates the authority of God and that we have this kind of direct dependence upon God. But the fact of the matter is, is that there are also a lot of what I would call proximate authorities, intermediate authorities that that really stand between us and a faith in God. So, yes, we believe in God. But we believe in God because we believe certain things were true about the Bible and therefore we believe about God and what I discovered teaching biblical studies. Thio, college freshman was that when I began to teach them new things, I was teaching them things that pulled away at those intermediate authorities and what they were anxious about, and their anger was grounded in being anxious. What they were anxious about was they were anxious about losing their faith. So, for example, if a student came to class, you know, we'd very often start with Genesis. And a student

came to class thinking that, you know, Genesis taught a seven day creation, and I taught them instead that, uh, the first chapter Genesis was effectively a kind of creed or a kind of declaration of faith in one God, and that what the ancient Jew or Jews who wrote Genesis one were saying, is that on the first day, my God created your God and your God and your God On the second day, my God created your God and your God and your God. What they were saying is, those things aren't God. The God of Israel is God and and probably from a place of disruption. Not like it's not like the rabbi, the pre the pre rabbinic tradition we're sitting around like it's probably they're on the run or they're in the exile and some kind of thing where there were going to write this down. We gotta come up with a creed or we're gonna lose this thing, right? Like and what? My students? What What took time working with my students

and I chose toe actually surface the faith question. And that's the thing I did then. And I think the thing I would do now is I tried. I began reassuring them that what I was trying to do was not take their faith away from them. I was trying to help them build a faith that could withstand scrutiny, Could withstand inquiry, could withstand study. That's interesting, because it beside a college like when you were walking around with the Blue Blazer, the Oxford vibe and I was intimidated by you. I'm a little intimidated now, but like I'm getting, you know, I'll get over it. Get over, Please. Please dio Doctor spit. I'll get over it. But it's interesting because I read your stuff now and you strike me is almost center right in the sense of your not fundamentalists, But you're also not you don't strike me on path. Use your tag. His progressive Christian and I don't see in the sense of

you're a defender of the faith. I mean, like, it's in some places you're getting tagged as a conservative. Yeah, probably. So. And I describe myself as unorthodox Anglo Catholic. Um, and that's and that's the way that you can religion this side book, Richard, that makes you lots of friends. I'm unorthodox. Anglo Catholic. Alright, check, please. I Well, I ended up on the progressive Protestant page almost purely by accident. When I began writing for patios, it was the main line channel, right? Right. And there was this big debate about whether or not to switch to the word progressive because a lot of people understandably were raising the question. You know, can we really talk about this? Is mainline Christianity anymore when mainline Protestants are no longer a majority voice in American religion? Uh, and that was fair enough

. But I was never really enthusiastic about the label progressive, uh, for lots of different reasons. For one thing, I was fairly sure that it was a label that played to, ah, kind of loose set of theological assumptions that I wasn't entirely comfortable with. And in another way, honestly, it felt like a It felt like a stylistic statement, a fashion statement. Uh, instead of a substantive theological position, we believe in science. Okay? Christians have believed in science for centuries. Christians have been at the forefront of science for centuries. They, author of the Big Bang theory, was a Christian. Uh, so why, you know, progressive? Do you find yourself, like when you dialogue with evangelicals? What you do often, I mean, and you oughta Evangelical institutions do you find evangelicals

is are almost seem to you like revisionists, Aziz. Muchas progressives do, like I mean I mean, do you find yourself like a lonely kind of guy? Like a curmudgeon? Like I'm just defending what everybody is believed. Klein is Cavin Luther. It got, you know, like, uh, you know, Justin martyr. I'm in this. I'm old school. I'm not a new school G. I'm an old school G. Yeah, There's a case for that. I think. In fact, I I and my wife is an Episcopal priest and a theologian in our own right. We find ourselves talking a lot about that. I mean, if your if your unorthodox Anglo Catholic, your ah theological duck bill platypus these days. Yeah, because And it's not that I don't, uh, don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't appreciate what evangelicals hold to be true. I

think evangelicals, sadly or in a really tough place these days, uh, in the United States, because they've been they've been co opted and plastered with a label that not all of them deserve. There's a there's a completely different There's a huge world of difference between a Jerry Falwell, for example, Uh, and, uh, the people I learned from when I was in seminary, a Robert Lion or a Bruce Metzger, who would have described himself as a as an evangelical in the day. And for our second listeners, you could. I mean, my friend Met Milner is one of the top art historians in the country. I mean, and he did his M David Princeton Seminary, Um, PhD, the university art history, and now he teaches at Wheaton College. He is among the best art historians in the country believes Jesus Rose from the dead. You know, he believes the Bible's leather is genuine even, you know, although I never understand

stand, though, why evangelicals by bonded leather. If you really believe it's really infallible, inerrant, why don't you spend the extra 30 bucks and get the real leather where, like a catcher's mitt on your hand, right? They bonded. Leather betrays the Hermeneutic like if you really believed it, you get the catcher's mitt leather, right? I have no idea. Maybe it's a simple lifestyle statement or something. But you Episcopalians, you get the real leather. You get a nice like, you know? Yeah, we do. Our problem is, we don't actually, you know, value the study of Scripture. A soften as we should. The joke among Episcopalians is that we think the Bible is a great book, but it's we don't understand what the fuss is because it's just a book of common prayer taken out of context. So So I find myself with a degree in biblical studies. I sometimes find myself in a strange place to even in my own church home. But

you do do the stuff with I. I follow your Facebook and you do this men's fellowship stuff and you cook it guys and you hang out with them. And yeah, I love that kind of stuff. Yeah, that's the best of evangelical Christianity or these kind of things. Like it. ISS Yeah, we've got a new program going now called Men, Movies and God and restarted with the Avengers age of Ultron. And this next month we're going to watch a man for all seasons. So talk about I'm moving out. There can be no vision. Absolutely. I'll just you know, I'll be the custodian. I mean, I'll like, work my way up. I think you probably have a lot to offer, actually, Scott. Alright, so let's talk about your piece. Okay, so this this really struck me. Um, in contrast to there were several election pieces that really I I thought were, uh, extremely unhelpful. This was a helpful one. Um, you kind of six truth

that like whoever you vote for and I don't know who you're voting for it. I'm sure it's like maybe Rodney Dangerfield. That sounds like an idea. Yeah, it's a possibility. Uh, your first one is The world will never be what it should be, right? Like this is Don't you have to think this if you're a religious person, even if you're not Christian, right? Isn't this the religious impulse Thio to think that it's not going to be ever be what it should be? Yeah, I think that I think that's true. Although I think that magical thinking, uh, inserts itself into the way that we all think about life. Uh, and sometimes it's really difficulty to distinguish between ah valid kind of hope and magical thinking. Uh, let me see if I could explain what I mean. There was, ah, book years ago by a man by the name of David Bridges, who wrote a lot about transitions, and

he explained that he thought that people needed to learn the difference between being disenchanted and disillusioned. And, he said, people who are disenchanted going into a new situation or electing a president will typically come into those situations with magical assumptions about what can be accomplished about what the relationship will be like about what the president will do about the differences that will arise out of it all, he said, people who are mature become disenchanted. They measure the reality and what's achievable against the magical assumptions that they have, and they chart those magical assumptions they turn loose of them so that they're more realistic in the way that they think about what could be accomplished. People who are disillusioned

. On the other hand, Bridges says, are are people who they can't get over the magical assumptions. They're the people who get married four or 56 times, looking for a relationship that's filled with the magic. They assumed it would be a part of it. They go from job to job, to job, to job, looking for the perfect place to work or four years after four years. After four years, they expect a president who's going to heal the oceans and make everything come right in terms of people's lives. So I think e think s so I think you're right. I think we should be realistic, You know, about the extent to which the world's broken. But I don't think we always are. And do you think this is a place where it's interesting? As I was reading your piece, I thought, You're a guy that again strikes me, is becoming kind of more conservative over age or their Your again, your center right

? Um, but you also have a radical openness to the world and human experience. You kinda have a Chester Tony and Vibe, but But you you would probably say right, you could find this and in any deep, transcendent faith, right, like there'd be uniquely Christian way to find it. But but you could Anybody has access to transcendence. Could could access. Um, this the first axiom, right? Like, should be able to Absolutely. All right, let's move on. To axiom to you and I have responsibilities. And those responsibilities cannot be discharged by electing the right person to do our work for us. And so you say, Like, we can't have the paterfamilias we can't like, say, Oh, my gosh. Biden is gonna come in, fix the world, or Trump's gonna be like, it's gonna be even greater again. It's going to be fantastic. Second, Corinthians two, Corinthians five of a 50 50 guy. I mean, you're saying like you like these kind

of things. Air. Just it's advocating. I think what you're saying, right? It's advocating human responsibility. What were created for exactly, exactly. There's a kind of profound in maturity wrapped around the idea that we can elect someone who will discharge our responsibilities from a Christian point of view. I mean, that's not what we're called to. We're called to actually come alongside Christ to be companions of Christ, to do the work of Christ in the world, uh, to be light to be salt, Uh, and our political choices important? Sure they are. But will they will they actually exhaust what we're called to do as human beings? No way on, I think. E think part of the reason we're there these days is because politics have really become, ah, substitute religion for Americans. You know, it's it's a it's amazing. And their studies

. Sociologists across the board talk about the extent to which people will carve up their relationships and carve up their families over political differences. It's it's, you know, it's it's really amazing to me. We we sort of did away with fire and brimstone teaching, and we did away with preaching that we were going to send people to hell. But now you know, we're willing to send people to a metaphorical hell over the differences we have in politics. So do you think the most inclusive thing we could do is get a dating app we were dating, having other people from other parties dating each other and just, you know, well, that might be a cure for it. I think you know Bret Weinstein, who taught it. Evergreen lost his job out there in Portland, Oregon. Uh, he actually worked on a project for part of the year this year where what he was hoping he could convince Americans to do was

to elect one representative conservative and one representative liberal and make one president and one vice president. And after four years, flip the positions. I love the have and have the have them trade offices and take another four years. All right, let's move on to number three. Okay, you and I will be hurt. We will all struggle and we will all experience losses. And this is hard because we're taunting each other sometimes, right? And like it makes, the more we taught each other with cable news clips and we text each other like Oh my gosh, your candidate sucks. And people that were actually connected Thio and you sometimes like text these awful things, Thio we're all gonna be hurting like and it on Wednesday like that's the reality that we're all going to be hurt. Absolutely, absolutely. And I don't and I don't think that the election will make one bit of difference in that regard. The

other thing I think we've got to remember is is that no political choice we make is actually going to resolve a lot of our existentially problems. It's not, you know, when you begin to actually look at what people struggle over and what they need to thrive. So very little of it has to do with issues that politicians can address. And so we're folding into actually issue number four. As such, life requires courage, endurance and faithless from all of us. I mean, I feel like you're gonna emerging, were hurt. And the response to the hurt is not more partisanship. It's It's these kind of little things about, like making your bed loving your kids. Teaching your class is like being nice. If your barista, if you're a Congress person, don't take the easy like bribe level fig of special interest. It's everybody's agency. At some level, we have agency, right? Exactly. Uh

, the way Jordan Peterson puts it is pick up your cross. Yeah. Have you ever have you ever seen G Jack debate? Peterson? Yeah, because I feel like the weird thing is, Jack understands Christianity. And when when Jesus talks about the cross, Jordan Peterson is like, I've never heard of that. Yeah, I know well, that's the blind spot in in Peterson's work is that I think he gets, I get. I think he gets, ah, lot of the sort of profound true's, but he's still working away at understanding the vocabulary, and and I the thing I don't think he reads a lot off is probably Christian theology. Right when Jack gets like, I feel like Peterson has never grappled with the cross and the resurrection. Jesus gets it. He's like, I don't believe it. But I like the preacher because Paul's Yeltsova Marxist E. I find Jack so refreshing sometimes

because he's like he gets the paradoxes of Christianity. And, like Peterson, if you just read a little bit of Jack, you get it a little bit of Fred Schmidt, a 1 to 5 now this is the most controversial thing, I think. Well, it's not controversial in the sense of your writing for Christians, but I'm wondering how I'm always trying to think, because the listeners, the podcaster from all different kinds of backgrounds, so you say the locus of God saving work in the world is the church, the body of Christ, not the body politik right on. And you're saying, Like, basically in the Christian story, it's the church that saves the world. The church is the body of Christ. He's married himself to this surly, motley crew of weird people, right? Like that are all over the place. And would you translate that to, like, if you couldn't get your head around the resurrection of Christ or something? Get your head around like the thing that makes you believe in your own

community or something. I mean, how would you How would you translate this? And I'm with you on this? I mean, conservative, I believe Jesus Rose from the dead. I even believe the Bible's leather is genuine, but I mean, but what would you do? Like, how would you translate that Teoh wide spectrum? Yeah, well, this this passage you're right. I mean, I was I was writing for Christians, so it has that focus. And, uh, what I'm trying to say to Christians is that from a Christian perspective, the way that we understand justice and we understand mercy, we believe we find in all of its perfection in God that's that's our window into what justice is all about. And so believing that and believing that we've been baptized into the effort of of making that a reality. Uh, the church is the place where that witness gets done. Now, I don't mean by that. And

maybe this helps get to the get to the question for broader readers. I don't mean by that. The Christians ought not to make common cause with people who believe in other gods or who don't believe in God at all, but believe in treating people, uh, with dignity and with respect or believe in honoring their rights. And I guess what I'd say to A to a broader audience. And I think this probably is the thing that applies to all of us. Scott is that you need you need some sort of inspiration that will endure the disappointments that arise out of life, including politics. Uh, if if you if you do think that you know, one of the most important things to be involved in is changing the political life of the nation, and that's a and that's a worthy, that's a worthy goal

, and you don't believe in God. You've still got to carry yourself somewhere deep down inside, through the potential for cynicism. bond and and to go back to a term I used earlier disillusionment, Uh, for Christians that lies in the fact that, you know, no matter what happens in the political world, our hope for the world is grounded in our understanding of God. Where you disillusion these days? Where, um where am I disillusioned these days? Um, I you know, if we stick with the topic, I think the thing I'm most disillusioned by right now is the fact that there are very, very few leaders who are willing toe hold not just everyone else but themselves and their own tribe or political party accountable to certain values. The you know, whether whether it be character

or it be a commitment to the Constitution or it be a commitment to due process or it be a commitment toe honesty. Uh, what I see people doing in politics and people are doing it on both on both ends of the political spectrum. They're using these things as bludgeons to discredit the other party there. They're not consistently holding themselves accountable across the board to those common standards. So if you think is Americans, we really deserve leaders who are willing to do that. You qualified that? I want to know unqualified personally, where you're feeling it where I'm personally feeling. Yeah. Is there anything you would share? Oh, you mean disillusionment. Just like outside of the public side of the political stuff. Yeah. Um, by the way, can I tell you something interesting? Sure. I I put

this on Facebook live for a few minutes. The kid that led me to Christ in the seventh grade is watching Tommy Bachmann led me to Christ. That's why I'm a Christian. He's watching right now. So good for you, Tommy. Hi. Yeah, exactly. We would never be talking. And last time, um, told me to pray the sinner's prayer. So where does the hit with you? Personally? I guess the biggest disillusionment I have these days probably grapples around the fact that the church, uh I don't think his grasp its mission firmly enough. You know, Thio, go back to this point. Um I think that one of the one of the impacts that the conviction that that are all of our work is out in the body politik has had on the church is that it's infantilized the church. Yeah, the the church really ought to be knocking on the gates of hell, not spending its time being preoccupied

with institutional self preservation. You sound like a radical political analyst. Well, you and Doug Wilson, You and Doug Wilson? Yeah. You know, like, I wouldn't make a buddy comedy with You and Doug Wilson work on that if you'd like to. But that's probably all right. Let's go to number. That's probably my personal, uh, disillusionment. I would I could work on that with you and Doug Wilson. Okay. All right. Let's let's keep that on the list of things to Dio. And so your last thing is, in the end, we're dependent upon the goodness of God, and I think this is one of the most powerful and I'm sure that's why you closed it. Like I mean, this is like, you know, my first year, Princeton. I wanted to study Carl Bar in the church. Fathers and I spent the year in 19th century German theology, and I thought it was gonna vomit my own mouth, and I loved it. I actually thought it was brilliant

like, and I learned about the goodness of God like, but this is the transcendent kind of reality, right? Like the goodness of God. There is a good God and most people, whether they're in, you know, whether they're like in bankrupt religion, or they're in some kind of their backs against the wall in any other way or, you know, the stockbroker that thinks Oh, my God. I mean, all this money, But, like, it's not enough, and they release. And this is the beginning of faith, right? The good God. Yeah. And, ah, hope in God is a different thing than optimism, Optimism, optimism is the belief that circumstances will change. And my Israeli friends say that an optimist is somebody who is not in possession of all the fax, but someone who hopes hopes in God, whatever the circumstances are. Yeah, this is where hope beyond, I think pessimism and optimism or just psychological, like some

of us are gonna be born pessimists. Some of some of us are gonna be born optimist, right? Right. But hope is is open to anyone, right? And it will. It will crush that kind of ideals of the optimist, and it will crush the cynicism of the pessimist. Exactly. And I and I guess I also finished with it because, you know, on November the third, they're going to be people who are angry and they're going to be. People were disappointed on. They're going to be. People are disillusioned. Presidential elections have taken on way too much importance in this country, in part because Congress hasn't done its job for decades, in part because partisan divisions have become so intense. Uh, that, uh, that we've we have a gridlock administratively that's made presidents operate by

executive order and the The Office now is more important than it was ever meant to be. And American politics have become more important than they should be to us. You know, I I have to actually make a conscious effort to get off the front page of the newspapers that I read to find news stories about other parts of the world where people are struggling with far less and and are confronting problems and challenges that dwarf the ones that we do. But we've got a case of we've got a case of terminal narcissism in this country, and I think it's really important for us to remember that this election and this country is not the center of the universe or the center of the world or the center of history. I had a when I was working at Washington National Cathedral years ago. I asked a colleague

to come speak who was a New Testament scholar, and we were driving from, uh, Reagan International down alongside the Potomac and passed the Jefferson Monument in the Kennedy Center up to the cathedral. And when we passed the mall, he said, You know, he said, when I was a graduate student, he said my first specialization was archaeology and he said, He said, I've looked at this city more than once, and every time I drive past the mall, I think to myself one day this is going to make a great ruin and, you know, his observation made me kind of just I mean, I took a deep breath when he said it, uh, because I love I love my country. But as a Christian, I'm also convinced that, you know, this isn't This isn't the end point of history, let alone this election. And I'm guessing you really believe

Jesus Rose from the dead, right? Like Ideo. Yeah. If you don't believe in the resurrection. I think you're really better off looking for a different approach to life. Can I ask you this? Did you vote yet? No. No. I'm relying on all the people who voted early so that voting on the third is easy to do. Are you gonna vote? Yes, I will. Can I ask if you're gonna vote for? I prefer not to say, because I work with way too many people, Um, as a as a priest, Um, that I'm happy to talk about policy. I'm happy to talk about principles like the ones we've been talking about today. My first academic interest was actually political science. So So I'm happy to talk about that kind of thing. But I really I'm a political independent. I don't belong to either one of the parties. And I try to avoid saying who I'll vote for

because I don't want anyone to think that I'm kind of branding ah, a particular candidate or a particular party as kind of the best expression of what it means to be a Christian. In fact, I think actually, one of the things we as Christians have to grapple with is that wherever and However we engage politics, we should always feel uncomfortable with the decisions we finally make. Yeah, I mean, I think that's that's well said, I'm give you one more chance to say who you're gonna vote for. Are you voting for? I'm not gonna You voting for Richard Nixon? FDR, the Maryland governor actually voted for someone dead, I think. Um, so that right? Yeah, that's that's an idea. But, you know, if I if I write someone in, it'll be someone who's alive. But I don't know that I'll do that. You could vote for me. I mean, I think I'd be a terrible president, but, you

know, I couldn't You know, I couldn't be worse than Scott Scott Scott. The the job has been filled and will continue to be filled by people who have little experience with the job. Is you dio exactly, Professor Smith. This was a real honor, you know, And I wish I e wish I had that. Got to take her classes back when I was, you know, a young undergraduate. But I was intimidating. I wish you had. I'm and I'm sorry. I hope I didn't contribute to the intimate, you know, you didn't. You were. You were humble. You were just You had that blue blazer and and you at all the smart guys or the classes. And I was like, I was very intimidated. I appreciate I e I am. I really hope everyone reads your pathos blogged and your piece. Six spiritual truths that won't change with the election. We should, like, read this every two years. Four years was these were kind of like Augustinian marching orders for the Christian

weapon Lis Army. We just we dio and march without weapons. We have X prayers and hope. Faith open love. Exactly. Exactly. This has been a pleasure, Scott. Thanks for inviting me. Um, of course. The pleasure's all mine. Thanks for listening to this episode of give and take. If you like what you've heard here, please do a few things for me. Go share about this episode in iTunes. Write a review, give it a rating, share the love and goodness or go on social media. Share a link to the episode on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. Please pass along the love and goodness. If you've experienced in here. Thanks again. Thanks again for listening to this episode of give and take. And until next time, friends fare thee well

Episode 246: 6 Spiritual Truths that Won’t Change with the Election, with Frederick Schmidt
Episode 246: 6 Spiritual Truths that Won’t Change with the Election, with Frederick Schmidt
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