Ah, the American Election. Watching from Canada, it’s been a bit of entertainment that may bode trouble for Canada, though it’s far too early to tell. I’m not too apathetic toward American politics, though I definitely don’t make a habit of following them. My wife is from the US, and I have many close friends south of the 49th, so it’s not of no consequence to me.
Still, the election is over now and the aftermath is already being forgotten. Apparently now that Trump has become the president-elect, mobs of previously-restrained racists and homophobes are free to run around and beat people in the streets…except all of the claimed “Trump instigated violence” stories that I’ve seen in the media are fabricated. Sadly, lying is how the political (and theological) left has always rolled. Reason and truth are secondary to the desired agenda.
That’s all nothing new…but also not terribly encouraging.
So what’s with the title of the blog post?
Well, there is a ray of hope in this all, at least for Christians.
Since everyone was paying so much attention to antics and wikileaks/media exposure of Hillary and Trump, I don’t think too many were really concentrating much focus on the running mates. Hillary was running alongside Tim Kaine, but he’s irrelevant now. Trump, on the other hand, was running alongside Mike Pence. This is where things get interesting.
I didn’t have a clue who Mike Pence was before, so I looked into him. I was expecting to find someone that was like Donald Trump (i.e. a moral cesspool) but was beyond surprised at what I found.
For a few small limited examples:
- Mike Pence has been waging a war against Planned Parenthood since at least 2011; not just to curb their abortions, but to cut all federal funding to them.
- Mike Pence has been opposed to needle exchange programs for many years, but has also shown a willingness to allow for them when they appeared to be an immediate necessity.
- Mike Pence has defended marriage from culturally-driven re-definition and has also defended religious rights.
He seems to be the antithesis of Trump; a man of upstanding moral character who operates on consistent principle. That’s somewhat understandable when one hears that he’s a committed Christian, though that could mean absolutely anything these days. That’s doubly true when one recognizes that the media is reporting stories of his religious leanings and one remembers how utterly confused 99.9% of the media is when it comes to even the most basic facts of Christianity…but that’s not really that surprising in a day where 1 in 8 Americans think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.
So I looked into Mike Pence’s church. Where he goes tells me what he’s hearing and what sort of theology and practice he’s exposed to (as it did in the last election. Anyone remember Obama’s pastor?). I found this article at the Daily Beast where Yashar Ali went to “mass” at Pence’s Evangelical church (College Park Church in Indianapolis), spoke with several “parishioners,” and heard veiled political commentary in the pastor mentioning “the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ” (read my previous comment about media confusion regarding basic facts about Christianity. Us Protestants haven’t celebrated a “mass” in a few centuries…). Still, that article got me to the church website.
When looking through the mission and history, it appears to be a typical evangelical seeker-friendly, Acts 29-styled “Let’s just focus on Jesus” sort of church. Nothing bad, but I’ve long since learned that mission, vision and history don’t really tell you what a church is really about. Their resource library, however, is incredibly telling. They have excellent introductory resources on Creation, Sin, Salvation, and Eschatology. They use the Desiring God Children’s curriculum. Their bookstore has stuff from Stuart Scott, Martha Peace, John Piper, IX Marks, Robert Somerville, Ed Welch, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Ken Sande, Ted Tripp, Lou Priolo, John MacArthur, Wayne Mack, Jerry Bridges, James MacDonald, Don Whitney, Tim Keller, Heath Lambert, etc. They have a decent doctrinal statement. They do Biblical Counseling.
What? How can this be?
Then, I looked at their pastors. The lead/preaching pastor is Mark Vroegop. He’s a grad of Cedarville and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary who has written for the Gospel Coalition and speaks alongside people like Al Mohler and Bruce Ware at Desiring God conferences. Don Bartemus is the pastor of compassion ministries and is a Cedarville and Grace Seminary grad (DMin) and also speaks at Desiring God conferences. Joe Bartemus does adult education and has an MDiv from Grace Seminary, and brings in people like D.A. Carson to help with teaching. Andrew Rogers is the pastor of soul care. He has an MA in Biblical Counseling from Masters College, an MDiv from Master’s Seminary and is getting a PhD in Biblical Counseling from Southern Seminary. Rogers speaks at ACBC conferences, on ACBC podcasts, and even teaches Biblical Counseling at the college level.
I now understand why the media hasn’t gone after Mike Pence with a flamethrower: they don’t even have a clue what category to put these sort of guys in. They’re not ignorant and bigoted fundamentalists that the media can easily (and comfortably) pigeonhole. They’re not spineless liberals. They’re not the Charisma Magazine type of fruitcakes that Trump tends to have anointing him with oil.
The guys that pastor at College Park are smart, articulate and biblically savvy guys; the kind who most HuffPo or Politico writers have never really met, let alone understand in any way whatsoever. Mike Pence goes to a church run by a bunch of theological unicorns. If the media understood even a tiny bit about Mike Pence, they would have ignored Trump and waged an all out war on Mike Pence…but their ignorance was orchestrated by a sovereign and divine hand.
Governor Mike Pence, soon to be Vice President Pence, has been involved with those theological unicorns for several years. He’s being taught by good and godly men, and he’s actually being taught a Biblical view of the world. Properly understood biblical principles are the underlying principles that drive him and make him a consistent politician who stands up against popular opinion to do what’s morally admirable. He’s the kind of man authentic evangelicals (not the Religious Right or the Charismaniacs) have wanted in the White House for decades. He’s not looking to take over one of the seven mountains. He’s a Bible-believing Christian, with some nuance and balance and wisdom, that could influence some authentic and incredibly positive change…but a guy like that would have never got within a thousand miles of the White House if not for the biblical-proportioned distraction of Donald Trump…and speaking of the Bible, God has a good record of having great and godly men do amazing things when they’re second in command of wicked nations.
“The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord‘s,
and on them he has set the world.” – 1 Samuel 2:6-8
That is most certainly a ray of hope.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “1 Timothy 2:1-4” Unger