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.