Yes, political economy can even come up in spiritual mentoring discussions!

Dick Armey, the former majority leader of the House of Representatives during the 90s, used to say something to the effect of “Republicans are always afraid you won’t understand the issue; Democrats are always afraid you will”  Democrats seemingly could care less about reams of data, but live and die by the anecdote–they just need one real face with a stirring heart story to put in front of the camera.  While this is not universally true, it is true that conservatives generally have a tougher time in intellectual debates–progressives compete at the emotive level–the heart level–whereas conservatives compete at the intellectual level, the head level.* Especially in public policy, complex arguments are very hard to sell, and a good emotive argument can usually win the day.

So what’s this got to do with my mentoring discussion?  I was relating the difference between guilt and conviction to a young man, elaborating on how Satan wants us to feel guilty, usually in the abstract, thinking about how far short we fall from God’s standard.  He wants to steal our joy so that we live in defeat, even though in Christ we have the victory despite the remaining struggle against sin that we have.  The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, does not want guilt so much as He wants conviction–usually it is not an abstract issue but a very specific sin He wants us to repent of.  And the very reason for that conviction and repentance is so that we may have renewed fellowship and joy with God.  And this is where the political economy analogy comes into play.  Satan is so effective precisely because he operates at the emotive level–we “feel” so guilty, introspectively we know he’s right.  But to defeat him, we must stand on the truth of what God says about who we are.  We may not feel that we are clean, but when God says we are forgiven and dearly loved, we are!  So our brain must win out over our feelings to succeed against our enemy.  And the only way our brain can do that is to meditate on God’s word day and night–right action will lead to right thinking.  No human analogy ever matches up with spiritual truths, but I thought it was interesting.

*As one of my fellow Bereans reminded me, progressives do have intellectual arguments, but they are not usually ones that will play well politically–hence the attraction of the emotive.

9 thoughts on “Yes, political economy can even come up in spiritual mentoring discussions!”

    1. Thanks for your comment.
      con·de·scend·ing kändəˈsendiNG/Submit adjective–having or showing a feeling of patronizing superiority.

      Well, yes and no. Obviously I think that the way conservatives engage on issues is superior. But it generally is not superior politically, which is why the left uses that mode so effectively. And I don’t say that the left is not smart–in fact many of them are crazy like a fox. Do you disagree with my assertion that the left generally plays towards emotive issues more than the right?

      1. I disagree with your assertion. You should turn on Fox News some time. Fear mongering like you wouldn’t believe!

      2. Dr. Haymond,

        I do agree with your assertion. I have seen it happen first hand. I remember a debate at CU between Marvin Olasky and Jim Wallace. Olasky consistently used numbers, statistics, etc. in his arguments and most of what Wallace did was tell sob stories. Not the only time I have seen it. Many times on the news, but perhaps the one, since i saw it live, that sticks with me the most.

        Of course there are liberals who are quite versed in stats, etc, but as a general rule, they rely far more on tear-jerker tales than conservatives.

    2. I see what you are saying. I find it interesting that as Christians we would create a dichotomy here when in reality I’m wondering if we should not be moved by both the data AND the people represented by the “anecdote”; be equally concerned about the real-life implications of the policy produced by those statistics (seeing as how neither method is devoid of imperfection or consequence). We need both and I just wonder if this could be a contribution to the public debate that Christians would be in a unique position to make as opposed to those whose primary affiliation may be a political party or social philosophy. Could this concern with both data/statistics, as well as people, be some of the “salt and light” that we bring to policy table, the community safety net organization, the church outreach program, etc.

  1. Saying the left relies on emotive arguments while conservatives are intellectual is incredibly condescending and does not accurately depict reality. Republicans just passed Kate’s Law in the house which imposes higher mandatory minimums on illegal immigrants who return after being deported. There is no evidence that longer prison sentences serve as a deterrent and most of the people arrested under this would be those who commit minor labor law violations rather than violent criminals, but they passed this law solely by exploiting the anecdotal example of one woman who was killed by an illegal immigrant who had been deported multiple times. That’s an appeal to emotion if I ever saw one.
    When it comes to issues such as gun control there is a huge amount of data and statistical analysis which show that more guns lead to more gun deaths, but conservatives always come out with the emotive, speculative argument which is not backed up by data that if more people have guns we will all somehow be safer. In addition to this, the conservatives on Fox News constantly engage in fear mongering, appealing to people’s most basic emotions to prevent them from accurately perceiving reality.
    Sure, you can always find examples from people on any side doing one thing or the other, but to make the generalization that conservatives are more intellectual is absurd.

    1. Too true. It’s theologically indefensible to say emotions come from Satan and that the truth is unemotive. While it might be ideological inconvenient for the author to open up the whole can of worms called emotions that God gave us, this author is what C. S. Lewis would call “a man without a chest.”

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