Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President – Compiled

Before the conclusion of our presidential election, I wrote several thoughts on the Christian response to the political season and named them (after the book I was reading at the time) “Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President.” I have compiled all five of the posts below and hyper-linked them for one to easily access them. Enjoy!

Post I

Post II

Post III(.1)

Post IV

Post V


What’s Cookin’? 108

Sinbad: “You’re in Sinbad’s House. Rob Thomas. Matchbox 20. Sing something. Shut up.”

(-It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: “Dennis Reynolds: An Exotic Life”)

Highlight(s) of the week: (1) the Emergent Mid-Atlantic Conference (#emergentma08) was a great time. More than anything, I enjoyed hanging with all my friends – Todd, Thom, and Tim – over some beers and meeting Peter Rollins [author of How (Not) to Speak of God] for the first time and spending various times over 1 1/2 days talking with him. Also, I spent time on Saturday with Derek Cooper (a good friend of mine) and John Franke from Biblical Seminary. Great guys. (2) During the conference, I met some new people from other Emergent cohorts. It’s always nice to meet new people who are in the same “conversation” as you. I actually accompanied Charlie from Princeton to 30th Street Station since we were both picking up trains there. (3) Throughout all the curve-balls my life has been throwing me, Amanda has been incredibly supportive, and I love her more than ever because of it [plus, I think she said something in our vows about supporting me no matter what]. (4) Giselle says “Da-da” but not in reference to me. So, all I have to do is make that connection. “Da-da” is beating out “ma-ma” right now. (5) Amanda and I had a good laugh with Giselle the other day when she smacked her head really hard on the mirror from her dressing table – I thought she would cry, but, instead, she cracked up laughing. Kids always keep us laughing, don’t they?

What I’m reading: Hey! I finally finished Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw and The Historical Books by Richard D. Nelson. Two books in one week, woo-hoo! Currently, reading Relevant Magazine’s November-December issue. Also, my friend Derek’s book So You Thinking About Going to Seminary: An Insider’s Guide and The Art of Reading Scripture edited by Ellen Davis and Richard Hays.   

Listenin’ and lovin’:

  • Podcasts: As always – Mars Hills podcast every week. Emergent Village which announced that it is making some changes for the better (i.e., Tony Jones is no longer the head of Emergent Village. He didn’t do anything wrong, but they are attempting to break down hierarchy). But besides that, not much.
  • Music: I listened to part of Oh Sleeper’s When I Am God. Underoath’s newest CD – Lost in the Sound of Separation

What I’ve been vegetating in front of: (1) A&E’s Biography on Barack Obama helped me understand more of who our President-elect is as a person. (2) I set up my Xbox and played EA Sports’ UEFA Euro 2008 for some time. I want to buy FIFA 09, but I don’t have a job to make money to buy it. (3) I’m all caught up on Heroes, which has gotten a little weird for me, but I still like it. (4) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Office put some humor into my life.

Something(s) that blew my mind: (1) Not sure if this blew my mind, but it is mind-blowing – Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America. He is our first black president, and I don’t think that can be overstated. Todd had a great post in reflection about the election (whoa, that rhymes). I’m really interested in seeing how things play out. (2) Barack Obama becoming the President-elect brought about a lot of hate, but even more love. I was really surprised by staunch McCain supporters who said that they will be supporting and praying for Obama – very cool. 

Job update: I haven’t really made much progress in this area. I’m not sure where I want to go with all of this. I’ve been looking though, but I’m confident that God will provide.

Seminary update: last assignment (take-home final exam) for Gary Schnittjer’s class on the historical books of the Hebrew Scriptures is due tomorrow. Also, starting tomorrow is my class with David Lamb on the poetic books of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Looking forward to: (1) What God has in store for me. (2) How Barack Obama’s presidency will go. (3) If “Barack” and “Obama” will stop coming up as an incorrect spelling in spell-check (e.g., for “Obama” spell-check offers “Abeam”). (3) Finding a new place for our family to live. We’ve been living at my in-laws, but we’re looking to move on. (4) Exit-interview with Great Valley Presbyterian, which should provide some closure.

Reflection on the Relational Vote

Yesterday, I reflected on the idea of a “relational vote.” Before I went out to vote, I asked a bunch of people who they think I should vote for to be the next President, and why? I received some interesting responses. I also placed the question as my Facebook status but asked them to keep it short and stay away from slandering, and I received many replies very quickly. I also asked my wife what she thinks is best for our family. 

Here are some of my favorites [I cannot (and will not because I don’t have the time) verify everyone’s statements as factually true, and also to protect privacy I did not include the names of the persons, save one]:

  1. Tim told me to vote for whoever I felt was best. Thanks, Tim – no help at all. He still thinks everyone already asks others who they should vote for and why. Poor, Tim.
  2. An extended family member told me I should vote for McCain because s/he feels that he’ll be better for the poor economy
  3. I had 2 people suggest that I vote for them. Sorry, I didn’t. In all fairness, one of those people told me to vote for life over money.
  4. “vote for obama- he cares and he genuinely wants to heal this country. even though he’s young, risky and radical- isn’t that what we need? don’t we need to see things like social security and health care reformed? don’t we need to see college made more affordable? don’t we need to see tax savings for the middle class? the working poor? don’t we ..
  5. [Same person later wrote] “voting for one or two ‘hot topic’ issues such as abortion or questioning patriotism is archaic. i agree with [#7]- ‘who represents the policies and issues that are the best for most people’. vote for what’s really important and what really matters because when everything is said and done it’s not really about you or me, it’s about all of us.”
  6. “Hey Ev hope this helps Im voting today based on Spiritual conviction… the sanctity of LIFE, the sanctity of MARRIAGE (one man, one woman), sanctity of my Christian Freedoms! Also I do know and heard straight from Obama’s mouth that he has been to flag burning ceremony’s, he believes in partial birth abortions and will not wear an american pin because he ‘doesnt want to take sides’. Hey I dont think that either canidate is good for the job but Mccain def fits more of my beliefs than Obama does…”
  7. “Even if you think Obama is going to win and how cool it will be to have our first ‘black’ president, showing we do love and accept all peoples in our country, you need to vote your conscience, who represents the policies and issues that are the best for the most people? That is who you should vote for, Evan. Who is that to you? You are free to pray, ask God’s direction and then do what you have to live with whether is will be what the majority wil decide by tonight!”
  8. “Bob Barr. He doesn’t advocate big government and has more realistic plans for reforms…”
  9. [Same person later wrote] “I think there is more than one person who posted here [Facebook] that needs to recognize that legislating morality is harmful to the spread of Christianity (or simply Judeo-Christian values for some) because it galvanizes those who oppose it. The point really is that people won’t stop having abortions and people won’t stop living in homosexual relationshipsunless they are changed by the Holy Spirit who works through people on the earth, not legislation. Also, legislating morality leads to a more socialist government because it gives the government too more power. (i.e. if we defined marriage as man-woman in the Constitution, then it opens the door for future generations to change the constitutional definition of marriage. Why not give them civil unions and be done with the issue?) Why don’t we keep the power to govern ourselves and act as Christians are supposed to by interacting with people who don’t believe in order to change them?”
  10. “if u havent made up ur mind by now dont vote. i voted for mccain because not only is he the most experienced, but he also is pro life and against gay marraige. he also respects my rights to own guns”
  11. “there r some 200 candidates to choose from. I got my application in late so when i went to vote there wasn’t anyone to vote for. so I abstained from the presidential vote. although i did vote for state level positions. so vote with your heart Ev.”
  12. “i refuse to be a two issue voter. Are those issues important? Yes, but I won’t let abortion and gay marriage dominate who I vote for. So what if we were to vote someone who is pro-life, anti gay marriage, but has no clue how to run the country? Then where would we be?”
  13. “The day I take a real, vested interest in voting is the day when my county or township gets together, decides on issues and goals that matter to us, and then a candidate comes in and tells us how he/she will accomplish those goals. Our system is backwards.”
  14. “So Ev who are you voting for?!?!?! haha”


So, I carried these statements and about 8 or 9 more on my conscious as I went into the voting booth. I took my community (Facebook and others) with me as I struck my vote for President.

Here’s what I learned – it’s easy to talked about people as “them.” You know, “Them, democrats.” “Them, McCain supporters.” But I think for the first time in my voting career I actually saw good dialogue between “all of us,” people of my community, attempting to persuade one to a particular candidate that they feel is best for me, themselves, and the rest of us. Then, my vote matters because only then am I making a decision for my community of friends and family knowing full-well that I could hurt or protect them with my vote. That’s a lot of responsibility. But it’s a good one. 

Really, what I learned is that talking is possible. We can dialog. We can have conversations. We can be in community together and learn from one another. We can disagree, but we can talk.

Yeah, I like that this talking thing.

Changing Tomorrow, Tomorrow: predicting the future after the election

There’s been a lot of talk about changing the future – for our children, our schools, our economy, our country. That’s fine. Thus, I would like to predict the future. Unfortunately, I don’t know who will win the election. I’m still piecing that together, but I see two avenues of the future. Let’s start simple. There’s always a tomorrow on election day, and many of the ones I’ve experienced have been relatively similar. Here’s what tomorrow (normally) will be like based upon which candidate wins the election:


If Obama wins, you’ll hear from opposing voters:

  1. “This sucks!”
  2. “I’m going out to buy a gun! Terrorists will be swarming in here because he won’t attack anyone.” 
  3. “Wow, we voted a terrorist, Muslim into our presidency.” (seriously, not sure how people still believe this)
  4. “Well, there goes the ‘land of the free.'”
  5. “Well, there goes the economy. Prepare yourself for socialism.”
  6. “The liberal media promoted him so much that people thought they had to vote for him. That’s not fair.”


If McCain wins, you’ll hear from opposing voters:

  1. “This sucks!”
  2. “I’m going to buy a gun! Terrorists will be swarming in here because he’ll attack everyone!”
  3. Hollywood political gurus – “I’m moving to [such and such a place outside the US]!” (Someone is bound to say this. Robert Redford?) 
  4. “Well, there goes ‘justice for all’?”
  5. “There goes women’s choice!”
  6. “More of the same…”


I predict that not all of us will be happy. But isn’t that OK? That’s the point of democracy. That’s the point of voting because there will never be an unanimous decision.

So, now that you know the future, put exaggerations aside, put idle statements behind, and let’s learn how to live together without getting angry at each other for thinking differently. Let’s learn to disagree well. Like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol – anger, frustration, and exaggeration is our future, but it doesn’t have to be.


Let’s change tomorrow, tomorrow. If we are going to change the future, how ’bout we start here?

Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President (or at least read this post today) – V


Have you heard it said, “This presidential election is going to be the most important election ever”? I have. 


Now, maybe I’m just being cynical, but it seems to me that every election tends to have the “most important election ever” bumper sticker attached to it. Wasn’t 2004 the same? And won’t 2012 be?


Plus, when did we become so elitist thinking our election is the most important? What about the election after Hoover and the Great Depression? What about the elections prior to the Civil War? What about the first election that got the country rolling? 


It seems subjective to me.


And we wonder why people are saying, “If Obama wins, I’m buying a gun!” “If McCain wins, “I’m leaving the country and going to Canada!” I mean, seriously?


A few things I do know will be true even after “the most important election ever” takes place:

  1. Jesus is still King over the cosmos – no matter what changes, this doesn’t.
  2. The world will not come to an end today or at the new president’s inauguration (because Harold Camping clearly says it will end in 2011 anyway. Sorry, the world’s a ticking time bomb. Even McCain and Obama can’t stop that. Please catch all the sarcasm here.)
  3. God will still be sovereign over the events in his creation, and only he can be fully trusted for saving the world from all its disease (as Everyday Liturgy says today).
  4. God still loves the world so much that he sent Jesus for it (cf. John 3v16)
  5. (you fill in #5 in the comments below)


Go, (if you vote) vote in peace. Remember – 

Psalm 100: 

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; 
       come before him with joyful songs.

 3 Know that the LORD is God. 
       It is he who made us, and we are his

       we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
       and his courts with praise; 
       give thanks to him and praise his name.

 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; 
       his faithfulness continues through all generations


I’d like to end this with a prayer for the voters to pray as you enter the polls:

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges; 

guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and 

representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all 

may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 822).

McLaren: Obama would reduce abortions

“I don’t know anybody who is pro-abortion. I think people recognize what a wrenching, difficult issue it is… Our goal should be to make abortion less common, that we should be discouraging unwanted pregnancies, that we should encourage adoption wherever possible.”

– Barack Obama, Christianity Today interview, January 2008



I’ve said before – I don’t know who I am voting for. I am not promoting Barack Obama. I do however enjoy breaking up the all-too-common assumptions of evangelical Christians. I suppose it’s part of my rebellious nature. 

Brian McLaren decided to vote for Obama. He lays out 5 reasons why others should, too. I think you know how I feel about spiritual leaders promoting candidates. I’m not a big fan. But I do like that McLaren challenges the assumption that a vote for McCain is a vote against abortion. In some ways this is, true, but, according to Brian McLaren, at best case scenario, McCain could only reduce abortion by 10% (which is great, don’t get me/him wrong). Ultimately, McCain would do this by giving the power to the states, and I think Obama believes states should decide, too (?). Anyway, McLaren actually says that voting for Obama would actually reduce abortions, mainly, because Obama is attempting to fix the root of the problem of abortion, that is, poor living conditions. Please check it out; especially, if you follow that assumption (which I have!) that voting for McCain would be a vote against abortion.

Why Every Christian Should Read Jesus for President – IV

This is in no way a new thought, but I don’t know about you, but, when I grew up in evangelical Christian circles, I knew that evangelicals vote Republican (or, at least vote on now Republican ideals). Why? Well, the answer is simple. Certain things – pro-life (however, only on abortion), capital punishment (see what I mean) is ordained by God, war against anyone that would prevent American (presumed Christian) ideals around the world, homosexuality is sinful, and…well, I’m having difficulty coming up with more.

Actually, I saw this most recently with a three-column spreadsheet of the issues and where each candidate stood on the issue “yes” or “no.” You’ve seen them. Column 1 – Issue, 2 – McCain (yay!), 3 – Obama (boo!). It was broken down into about ten issues, which was really the above four issues stated in a multiplicity of ways. The Iraq War was only mentioned once, and so was capital punishment. So, you can guess how the other two issues were posed throughout the last 8 statements (I think gay rights had five and abortion three). You don’t need to be a rocket-scientist to figure out the conclusion – the donkey lost.



I don’t think I would have been so perturbed if it wasn’t so reductionistic in two ways – (1) it didn’t make the answers as simple as “yes” or “no” and (2) it didn’t make the “important” Christian ideals as simple as abortion, capital punishment, war, and homosexuality. 


Christians should be politically confused.


“What?” Yes. Think about it – what about poverty? What about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? The Bible talks more about taking care of the poor than it does homosexuality. Feel free to prove me wrong. I’m not trying to be antagonistic but just making a point. 

What about life? “Well, yeah, we have that covered – we’re pro-life.” Well…kinda. But you believe capital punishment is OK. [You may be fine with that, but I’m not that comfortable playing God]. But you are quick to go to war. As Shane Claiborne says, I’m pro-life from “womb to the tomb.” That’s a good policy. 

What about justice? “Yeah, we have that. We got some conservative judges on the bench, and we can get even more this time around.” Not that kind of justice. I’m talking about dealing with third-world debt. I’m talking about, as Bono says, “Where you live shouldn’t determine if you live.” I’m talking about “loving your neighbor as yourself” (yes, Jesus meant that literally – doesn’t just mean American neighbors…what about global neighbors?). I’m talking about, “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6v8).

What about violence? Is it OK that “The US arsenal is the largest stockpile of nuclear weaponry in the world, equivalent to over 150,000 Hiroshima bombs…The US military budget is over 450 billion per year, and it would take the combined budgets of the next 15 countries to equal that of the US (Russia is the next biggest spender at around 70 billion, China at 50 billion, and the entire ‘Axis of Evil’ is less than 10 billion)” [p. 178; Claiborne, S., and Haw, C. (2008). Jesus for president: politics for ordinary radicals. Zondervan: Grand Rapids]. Does that bother anyone else? “Well, better us than them.” Whatever you say.

What about the environment? (“Whoa! Evan’s a lib.” I’m just a Christian.) I’m talking about, “God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good [or beautiful]!” (God said that, see Genesis 1v31; we usually skip that part because we are too busy trying to disprove those pesky evolutionists). I’m talking about, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24v1). As I’ve said to many Christians before, I don’t care if you believe or don’t believe in global warming, I do care how you treat God’s creation. One author said, How you treat creation reflects how you feel about the Creator.


I’m not saying, now Christians should vote Democrat. I don’t think it’s as easy as putting us in one party. In fact, some of the above Christian ideals that I mentioned aren’t seen as “American.” I’m saying we should be politically confused


The Christian life is not cushy, easy, and comfortable. We constantly deal with the tensions of being in the world and not of it. We constantly deal with the tension of already bringing the Kingdom of God to earth and not yet because we still wait for its consummation. We constantly deal with the tension of following Jesus as King already, and not yet because we wait for Jesus as King on earth over all things.


So, Christians should be politically confused. It doesn’t come down to abortion, war, capital punishment, and homosexuality. It includes thoughts on those things, but it includes, dare I say, the rest of the Bible (for church historians, which we all should be, what the early Church believed). The fact is, it doesn’t matter who you vote for on November 4th as much as it does matter how you vote November 3rd and 5th and every day of your life. So, vote every day with our lives and by standing by what we stand for.


We’re a politically confused bunch, aren’t we?