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Evangelical Alabamans: Don’t vote for Moore, even if his Christian presuppositio …

Bumper stickers saying "#NoMoore" sit on a table during a protest of Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

(RNS) — My great-uncle was Cornelius van Til.

Uncle “Kees” (pronounced “Case”) was the Dutch-born Reformed Christian who originated presuppositional apologetics — the idea that what matters is whether your starting point is Christian belief. He taught it to evangelical thinker Francis Schaeffer when Schaeffer was his student at Westminster Seminary.

As RNS reporter Yonat Shimron wrote in her good but troubling article recently, it helps explain why so many evangelicals support Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore despite the allegations that he sexually assaulted underage girls.

Let me quickly give you the dime tour of presuppositional apologetics. In the ’40s and ’50s, when Uncle Kees was teaching at Westminster, Christian scholars were not considered legitimate members of the academy. Christians were those who believed in a spiritual world, and accepted far-fetched explanations that included beliefs in miracles and divine providence. Real scholars were rational and scientific, and believed only what they could see or logically prove.

Uncle Kees refused to be held to standards of empirical or rational proof. He took one step, and then a long journey behind the arguments against Christianity by asking what the presuppositions of the atheist were. He argued that those starting assumptions or presuppositions would preclude them from arriving at theism. If you start an argument about the existence of God with the belief that the only way of discovering that god is through the senses, or logic, you will end with that belief too. Uncle Kees then went on to show that the nonbeliever could not ultimately ground his arguments in his own presuppositions.

So far, so good. But, as the historian Molly Worthen points out in Shimron’s story, this presuppositional framework meant for philosophical debate has been extended into social and political thought.

So under this extended framework, when secular liberals say that the public square can be this neutral space, fair to all metaphysical beliefs, conservative evangelicals should see it as a lie. Because folded into it is a secular humanist worldview, a set of anti-Christian presuppositions that are now being foisted onto our public square. You, as conservative evangelicals, need to fight that, and you need to be savvy when they try to pull one over on you.

Evangelicals hold that anyone who holds Christian presuppositions is correct about their worldview, whereas secularists are wrong about theirs. To this point, Van Til would agree. But when these presuppositions are extrapolated to require specific social positions or voting mandates, I suspect Uncle Kees would be quite uneasy.

Here are two reasons why:

First, Moore supporters seem to believe that morality doesn’t matter, as long as you get the basic beliefs right. The Alabama judge is accused of child molestation, an ugly and grave moral failing. Yet, some support him because he has a correct foundational faith commitment regardless of character and even criminality.

To this I would argue that since character and criminality matter in every other part of life, why should it not count in politics? No doubt some will shrug and say, “no one’s perfect,” but “imperfections” are not the same as deep character flaws or crimes. I doubt that many Alabama Republicans would tolerate Roy Moore’s behavior in their churches; there, he might well be disciplined or perhaps even excommunicated.

Second, Moore supporters believe that since he ascribes to the right Christian presuppositions, he will support the right causes, especially the limitation of abortion rights. Here, I must grant that some will consider this enough to maintain their support for him. And if abortion is the only issue a voter is concerned about, their position is unassailable.

I am convinced however, that anyone who holds the presuppositions of the Christian faith cannot be concerned with only one issue, no matter how serious that issue is. Jesus himself was concerned about many things in his society: the poor, the orphans, the widows, unjust rulers, Sabbath laws, money, etc. This being the case, a Christian voter should support a candidate whose positions were aligned with his faith across the board, not just on one issue.

The basic error of those who support Moore because of his Christian presuppositions is the idea that the proper starting point will lead to the proper end. It is as if to say that anyone who starts their journey from Chicago will end up in Milwaukee. Clearly, not. One could well end up in Gary, Ind., or Joliet Ill., or even Butte, Mont. In fact, Christians who hold to the same tenets of faith do differ widely on a broad array of policies, some of which oppose others.

So, please, evangelical Alabamans, do not think that Roy Moore’s Christian presuppositions make him a good candidate.

(Kent Van Til is a lecturer in religion at Hope College in Holland, Mich. The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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Kent Van Til

55 Comments

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  • But Alabamians are not electing a Pope, calling a pastor, choosing a spouse or a friend, or even hiring an employee. They are choosing a Senator. And their choices are between someone who probably engaged in morally reprehensible conduct 35+ years age, and someone who thinks killing babies, including pulling them 70% of the way out of the birth canal, snipping their backbone, and sucking out their brains, should be a constitutionally protected right. I think your uncle would hold his nose and vote for Moore.

    And as to the “abortion is only one issue” argument, would you vote for a candidate who agreed with you on absolutely everything, except that he thought lynching blacks should be a constitutionally protected right?

  • If all a senator would do during his term in office is vote on things anti-abortion, then a single issue vote makes sense. But senators vote on many many things that effect us all for good or ill. Some you will agree with and some you won’t. Alabama needs to elect a man for all seasons. That’s when character, or lack there of, matters. I think the author wants to remind us that it’s not wise or safe to assume Moore is the right man just because he’s a Christian (or thinks the way you do on abortion).

  • I think your uncle would hold his nose and vote for Moore.

    Great comment by ‘the enemy hates”. I don’t get involved in elections at the Federal Level. Both parties are a circus. And those around me didn’t vote for Trump because of Trump. They voted for Trump because the Left has OVERREACHED and conservative Americans are just flat out sick of it.

    Advice for Cultural Marxists……………you may have over-stepped. But it might be too late anyway, so you just might get your “paradise”. In 100 years you will all be screaming for sound thinking conservatives again. Thank the Lord I won’t be around to see it.

  • Even if abortion IS your single issue, I don’t see how it matters in the Moore-Jones election. No piece of abortion legislation has ever passed on a single vote, and this election is to complete a remaining 3 years on Sessions term. Republicans could surely save face by allowing Jones to be elected, and booting him out in 3 years with a Republican without this much baggage — not only Moore’s relationships with teenagers, but also his financial profiting from the charity he himself founded. Not to mention the hypcrisy of swearing on a stack of Bibles that you’ll uphold the law, only to defy it. There is simply no ethical reason to support Moore that I can see. Not a one.

  • Show me where an abortion law ever came down to a single vote. Whoever is elected for this 3 year term in Alabama won’t make a difference on that issue one way or another.

  • You must’ve NOT known your “Uncle Kees” as well as I do, brother Kent Van Til, when you put these words into his mouth: “Anyone who holds Christian presuppositions is correct about their worldview” – but NOT NECESSARILY about their “specific social positions or voting mandates”, or their “child molestation … criminality.”

    WRONG. The professor Cornelius Van Til that I knew taught me that “Christian Presuppositionalism Is The Theory of Everything Under the Sun – And – Eww – Where The Sun Don’t Shine”! That Roy Moore’s Christian Presuppositions are CHRISTIANLY EVIL. (Think Inquisition. 100 Year Religious War. Early Church Fathers’ Anathemas. Cromwell’s Killings. Puritans’ Witch Hunts and BBQs.)

    Be well dead asleep until the resurrection, brother Cornelius Van Til!

    No need to roll over in your grave because of Roy Moore & his Neo-VanTillians and this article!

    As you were.

  • “In 100 years you will all be screaming for sound thinking conservatives again”? But not for the ransoming Fatherly love through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of His own beloved Son, Israel’s Messiah Jesus?

    Conservatives = Christs !!!

  • A Supreme Court Justice replacing Kennedy, Ginsberg and/or Breyer could well come down to a single vote. But really, the point of my post was that although Moore has considerable moral baggage, one who supports the intentional killing of innocent human beings is a much worse choice.

  • So persuade Al-Obamas to vote, then, NEITHER for “Moore [who] has considerable moral baggage”, NOR for the “one who supports the intentional killing of innocent human beings is a much worse choice.” Wi-doncha.

  • Your statement showcases beautifully the full immorality of many Christians.

    Being pro-choice is NOT the same as supporting “the intentional killing of innocent human beings” to make that claim shows a total lack of morality on your part!

    It is argued that being against pro-choice is “supporting the intentional harm to and sometimes intentional killing of women”!

    What is worse killing an adult woman or klling a zygote that isn’t yet fully human?

  • I’m not from Alabama, but the ideal solution would be to elect Moore, have him removed by the Senate Ethics Committee, and have a new election. However, to decide to not vote, or to write in a name, is to decide to vote for Jones.

  • “Leap of” what?

    “Leap of joy”? WHAT?!

    “Leap of heart”? Nope, I can’t stand the alternative fact that Roy Moore is as born-again of a Christian as I (as me? as me-ow?).

    “Leap of imagination”? Nope, just know your church history, dude.

    “Leap of abstraction meaning”? “Leap of perception?” “Leap of reason”? “Leap of logic”? Nope, I was being very context-specific. Concretely realistic. And evidence-based. If 2 plus 2 still equals 4, then Roy Moore does spell C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N—E-V-I-L.

    “Leap of taste”? “Leap of changing sensations”? Yup, praise Jesus for Jesus at one moment, then expose Roy Moore at the next.

    “Leap of fate”? Yup, no good fate of predestination awaits Roy Moore & his looking-the-other-way voting bloc – and everything they touch in America & beyond.

  • Sophie’s Choice. All over again. You know what happens to her in the ending, don’t you?

    No? Enjoy your weekend watching that video starring Meryl Streep at her peak (not now with all her stupid anti-Trump nonsense), as the metaphor for Roy Moore.

    Never mind, you don’t get it.

  • We are going to have to make a decision about that aren’t we? Previous generations and other cultures have thought different things — at birth, or at 100 days OUTSIDE the womb, or at “quickening,” — at roughly 20 weeks gestation. You are deciding at conception. And insisting that at 2 cells, 4 cells, 8 cells and a long way up it is the moral equivalent of murder to terminate. Never mind that nature culls an awful lot of fertilized eggs before they even implant, and once implanted, an awful lot never make it to term — you simply can’t “prove” there is the moral equivalent of a human being at conception. It is just what you think.

    You can say what you like. And modern cultures might make joint decisions they think best. But there is no immutable rule written.

    Women have, and always will, end pregnancies prior to full term. Herbs, potions, sticks and coathangers have done the job before. With disastrous results for women.

  • Alabamans may not be electing a Pope, but evangelical Christians are leaning to elect a reprehensible figure for the Holy Grail of political power. That’s what the rest of us see. And forming conclusions about who those Christians are. There appears to be nearly nothing you’d overlook — if it meant an outside chance (and it really is outside) that in 3 years you could overturn Roe v. Wade. You wanna “save the babies,” and nowhere in that calculation are the ones who will lose their therapy programs, and whose medical conditions will bankrupt their families. How much money will you send to youth shelters to offset the damage people like Roy Moore do to young women, as the perpetrators will clearly see that it is no big deal in the minds of those who might hold them accountable. If, you know, other things. And since Moore has taken $1 million, under the table and tax-free from the charity he founded, will you be replacing that sort of theft in the future, in order to get a vote for an abortion policy you like? Moreover, I certainly hope you won’t be apoplectic when the next politician, left or right, swears on a Bible, meaning, gives his word — that he’ll uphold the law — and then defies it. Twice. Because a solid block of you who are evangelical Christians will vote to call that inconsequential, if you want power to do something else.

  • How many times have I told you? I don’t work for the central intelligent agent.

    My spinoff on your “intelligent” there from Trump’s “two” at Liberty U:

    “We’re going to protect Christianity. I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct. Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame. Is that the one you like? Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

    Then later on:

    “It’s a very small deal, but a lot of people in different sections of the world say two, and I’ve had many, many people say that to me. My mother, as you know, was from Scotland, and they say two”.

    I love Trump, donchadough?

  • Upon first breath. That is when according to many Christians the soul enters the body. Read Genesis.

  • “…killing babies, including pulling them 70% of the way out of the birth canal, snipping their backbone, and sucking out their brains….”

    This procedure is very rare and only done when the fetus is dead or dying.

    The vast majority of abortions are done when the fetus is smaller than a kidney bean.

  • Under Democratic administrations, the abortion rate goes down. Under Republican administrations, the abortion rate goes up. If you really want to reduce abortions, vote Democratic.

    Also remember, if abortions are outlawed, only outlaws will perform abortions.

  • Where’s your compassion, dude?! – for medical cannabis-treated patients suffering from Cancer, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Seizures, Wasting Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, PTSD?!

  • I don’t have anything against Medical Marijuana. Or even recreational for that matter. I’m just wondering why you are “all over the place” and incoherent. When once you seemed like an intelligent person.

  • God tells us, at Genesis 2:7, what the soul actually is: “And the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the BREATH of LIFE, and man BECAME a living SOUL” (King James Version).

    Therefore, we are all unique souls, with our own specific DNA, physical characteristics, and personality, which makes the entire person as a whole.

  • God’s kingdom or heavenly government, which Jesus, his son, referred to (Matthew 4:17) will soon put an end to and replace all human governments (Daniel 2:44)!!

    Jesus will then start his direct millennial rule over all meek persons on earth, which will be loving, righteous and just, for a change, after destroying all wicked ones (Isaiah 11:1-5) as its King (Isaiah 9:6,7)!!

    Only then, and ever after, will man NO MORE rule over man, to his injury (Ecclesiastes 8:9!)!! ??????☝️

  • That factoid you use is an urban myth. It was started by a California Seminary Professor named Glen Stassen. In the heat of political battle, data was miscomputed, compiled with selective listening and literary license and suddenly we have a completely new counterintuitive pro choice narrative.
    The slight flaw at it’s very foundation is that it is utterly and completely false.

  • Re: “Under Democratic administrations, the abortion rate goes down. Under Republican administrations, the abortion rate goes up.” 

    At the risk of appearing to defend Republicans (I’m not): While this is often said, and is commonly believed, unfortunately it’s not true:  (https://www.snopes.com/abortion-rates-presidencies/): 

    “It is plain to see that abortion rates have risen (prior to their peaking in the mid-1980s) and fallen under both Democratic and Republican administration, suggesting little to no correlation with whichever political party controls the White House. The overall trend since the 1980s has been a fairly consistent decline across through administrations of both parties. 

    It would be easy to demonstrate that abortion rates have not risen under Democratic administrations in the last several decades, but it would be false to argue that declines in abortion rates are an exclusive feature of Democratic presidencies. The claim that abortion rates fall under Democrats, while true, ignores the fact that rates have also continued to decline through Republican administrations as well.” 

  • I met Cornelius Van Til while at Westminster. We talked a couple of times after chapel. He talked about what it was like to lose his wife and I shared about my family and how my father was struggling with alcoholism. He offered to help.

    I very much suspect that Van Til would struggle to support a politician like Roy Moore. Van Til, as did many of his Westminster faculty colleagues, were able to look at the large picture. Those supporting Moore seem to only see just a couple of trees in the forest.

    When we call ourselves Christians, we associate everything we do, say, support, and neglect to support with the Gospel. But that doesn’t bother many Moore supporters for the following reason: they, like the pharisee from the parable of the two men praying, believe that they have everything to teach political liberals while having nothing to learn from them. It is not until those Christian supporters of Moore see how similar they are to that pharisee from the parable of the two men praying that they will start to question their support for Moore.

  • My presupposition is that stories told thirty or forty years in the making up are not to be trusted. The human mind does some amazing things to what we remember.And as most law enforcement does not trust testimony thirty or forty years old neither should I -or anyone else. Presupposition #2 Most of the people I hear ranting about these alleged sexual assaults–have No problem being led by the militant homosexuals who are very active in their attacks on Roy Moore. I cannot reconcile Biblical Morality with the submission to the Reprobates. Supposition #3 What ever happened to the doctrine of forgiveness. If God can forgive our Sins then certainly I ought be able to forgive the sins alledgely committed by Roy Moore thirty or forty years ago. i.e Hate the sin/love the sinner .Y’all seem intent upon punishing a sinner and reject forgiveness. How can that be Christian?

  • Why should anyone consider moral arguments from a person willing to vote for a pederast, embezzler, disgraced judge, bigot, and liar?

    You don’t like abortion, don’t have one. You don’t like women besides you having one, tough luck. Nobody needs your permission for such choices, ever. Nobody asks for your input on the matter either.

  • Interesting you use “innocent”.

    Because clearly you don’t give a damn about life that you think is “guilty” or “dirty”. Such as all women and children.

    I am 100% certain you support the killing of human beings who are women making family planning choices, gays, atheists, not of your faith/sect or poor. Roy Moore certainly has no trouble working towards their demise.

    You are immoral slime who simply wants to command women as your personal property.

  • I have yet to see an anti abortion advocate who recited facts in a true and accurate manner. In fact lying and withholding information is a regular practice for them.

    (See pregnancy crisis centers and Project Veritas hitpieces on planned parenthood)

    I believe you are full of crap. Please provide an online citation to your assertions.

  • Interesting how for years Christian bigots have slandered gays with accusations of being sexual predators, now they overwhelmingly support and enable one to suit their needs. Hypocrisy is not just a given for evangelicals, it’s become their default position.

    For them, forgiveness is always invoked for one’s self, but never others. Morals are for others to follow. Roy has to stop lying and show remorse for his misdeeds before he can be forgiven. You have to stop making excuses for bad behavior before you can even bother to ask it from others.

  • The Bible (Gen 1:27 and 2:7) puts human personhood as beginning at birth, the first breath. Science notes that personhood is not possible without s fudntioning brain, some time after 28-32 weeks of hestation.

  • It’s not a matter of whether abortion legislation could be passed or not with one vote for or against. For many believers, abortion is murder. There have been approximately sixty million abortions in the US since Roe v. Wade. We’re not sending someone who supports murder of innocent children to the US Senate. Period. Also, if you were a lawyer, which I have been for over 40 years, you would know that accusations are not evidence. There has been no proof that Roy Moore has done anything wrong to date. How about the fact that the accuser of Roy Moore tampered with evidence of her claim. Just check out what happens to a witness and their case when they mess around with potential evidence. Also you might want to look at the biblical foundation for proving facts and witness conduct. BTW, who cares about saving face if you resist false claims. And, about upholding the law, do you agree with or would you resist the Dredd Scott decision, the Buck v. Bell decision (“Three generations of imbeciles is enough.”) and Japanese internment decision of the US Supreme court?

  • The people of Alabama are choosing a senator, not serving on a jury. There is a difference.
    P.S. There are other issues where we know he is guilty

  • Don’t worry, it will all be over tomorrow night, one way or the other.

    But if Roy Moore DOES win, I herely demand that the U.S. Congress:

    (1) Award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Roy Moore, effective immediately.

    (2) Award a $100,000 sign-on bonus to Roy Moore, as recompense for having to put up with official zombie-level Democratic Party Nonsense every day.

  • So if I decide not to vote, then Jones wins, so if I want Jones to win I don’t have to vote. If I write in the name of another candidate it actually somehow turns into “Jones” Is “Jones” the legal default of non-specified candidates? Why not John Doe, or is that reserved for unknown corpses?

    The only way your logic works is if Jones is already ahead. But the logic is flawed. It’s like saying if I don’t own a gun I support the Second Amendment. Not to vote or vote for someone else can never be for another person other than No One or the person I write in. Others will tell me the same about Jones. If I don’t vote, then Dems say it’s a vote for Moore.

  • Good response! One can also demonstrate that about the economy, depending on whose economists are speaking, of course. It just underscores fecklessness of both parties.

  • PsiCop did provide a citation even though it wasn’t a hotlink. I cut and pasted the link provided and it supported what he stated and quoted.

  • Most law enforcement would trust and initiate an investigation historic sexual abuse allegations – the biggest caveat would be a statue of limitations in determining if charges could even be laid.. The UK in fact has now issued a standards of practice to address the challenges of such investigations.. I believe in the doctrine of forgiveness but Moore had been in deny, deny mode ever since he reversed his first statement that he might have known the first two women but couoldn’t recollect dating them. certainly have heard half-baked admissions of might have happened but don’t remember from others. There is a difference between ignore and forgive.

  • Then Moore should immediately hand over both to Obama for actively perpetuating RNC nonsense as to citizenship, place of birth and religion. Some of which is still publicly available. I’ll call karma on this state of affairs or more aptly, retributive justice.

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