Thursday, February 2, 2012

Co-Belligerence: the Lesser Evil?

Although it's 75 here in north Texas this afternoon, it's beginning to look a lot like Romney.

For the Republican presidential nominee, anyway.

Even with his painful blunder yesterday when, talking with CNN, he actually verbalized "I don't care about the very poor," and even though he received the endorsement today of buffoonish Donald Trump - in Las Vegas, no less - Mitt Romney doesn't appear to have much left standing in his way on his march towards the nomination.

Of course, the presidency is another story entirely!  But in terms of the nomination, it seems to be all over except for some final hissy-fits from the serial-adultery has-been, Newt Gingrich.

With a Mormon in serious presidential contention for the first time in America's existence, our country's fading evangelical voting block may need to swallow hard and learn a new word.

At least if those of us evangelicals who are Republican will still vote for the party, if not the candidate.

After all, let's not forget that some evangelicals, after seeing a Mormon headlining the ticket, might feel fewer qualms about voting for Barak Obama.  At least he doesn't proudly align himself with a false religion.

Yet the fact that Mormonism is indeed a false religion, combined with nagging worries over the Obama administration's disdain for Christianity (as seen in its intransigence over conscience objections) will likely force many evangelicals to adopt the practice of co-belligerence.


Generally speaking, co-belligerence is when disparate groups join forces to fight a common enemy, even though they have little else in common with each other.  Originally part of military parlance, Francis Schaeffer is credited with introducing the term to conventional Christianity, reasoning that "a co-belligerent is a person with whom I do not agree on all sorts of vital issues, but who, for whatever reasons of their own, is on the same side in a fight for some specific issue of public justice."

In other words, co-belligerence is a compromise between groups who would otherwise be opposing each other, but consider the negatives that might result from their refusal to cooperate on a particular issue to be worse than the negatives that might result if they choose to work together to resolve or conquer that issue.

Or even as Timothy George, a prominent advocate for cross-ministry efforts between Catholics and evangelicals, puts it, co-belligerence is an "ecumenism of the trenches."

In co-belligerence, each entity of the unified front agree to put aside the bickering amongst themselves they would normally do so that they can concentrate on achieving their shared objective.  In this case, it would mean evangelicals would keep our mouths shut about Mormonism being a cult long enough for Romney to not only secure the Republican nomination without too much more intra-party acrimony, but also the presidency.

Of course, the big gap in this relationship is what Mormons bring to the table.  In actually, it appears as though evangelicals will be doing most of the shutting-of-mouths and turning-of-cheeks, since Mormons already consider themselves Christians.  And some hard-nosed evangelicals may consider that too high a price to pay simply to avoid having a Democrat in the White House.

Frankly, I see both sides of the argument.  I understand the dangers of letting as apparently anti-religion an administration as Obama's stay in office for another four years, and I understand that the Republican Party has utterly failed to field a compelling slate of candidates from which to choose Obama's replacement.  So conservatives are going to have to suffer through the discomfort of a painful decision:  let Obama stay, or put a cultist in the Oval Office?

Personally, I think the threats that can be logically assumed from Obama's record thus far justify the co-belligerence necessary for a Romney vote.  But I can also understand how evangelicals, who either simply can't bring themselves to vote for a Mormon, or who remain optimistic - however irrationally - about Obama's ability to minimize his administration's destruction of religious freedom, might see co-belligerence as too much doctrinal fudging or even theological complacency.

In times like these, I'm particularly grateful that God looks at our heart, even as he's with us in the voting booth!


  1. So, by this logic, should Christians not vote for a Muslim, even if he (or she) is the nominee of the party that they support? Or is your objection that he claims to be part of Christianity but that Mormon doctrinal tenets go against true Christianity?

    1. Yes... to both questions! :-)

      Regarding voting for a Muslim: Islam isn't so much a religion as it is a political system. Weak Muslims are about as useful to their faith as weak Baptists are to Christianity. We cannot be fooled by the watered-down theology of uncommitted Muslims, just as we should not be fooled by the watered-down theology of Baptists (or any other denomination - I just pick on Baptists 'cause I used to be one). Therefore, don't believe Muslims when they cast Islam in a purely religious light. They seek global political dominion, whereas Christ seeks personal salvific dominion.

      Regarding Romney's religious claims: Romney isn't the only misguided soul. Even George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and other "devout" Christians erroneously insist that Mormonism is Christian. I'd rather have a 100% athiest confident in his faith (after all, athiesm is its own faith) than a cultist who's delusional about his.


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