on July 19, 2000
What a GREAT book! I wish every evangelical Christian would read this book. If only Amazon had a 10 star rating!
Though people constantly tried to get him to do otherwise, Jesus never allow himself to be co-opted into the politics of this world. He rather testified to the truth that he was about an entirely different kingdom by letting himself be killed by the politics of this world! Never once did he enter into the politically charged atmosphere of his day by even commenting on the relative merits or vices of the Roman leaders. His mission was about something unrelated to what these leaders did or did not do.
Along similar lines, Paul reminds Christians to be followers of their heavenly Lord and not "to be occupied with civilian affairs" (2 Tim 2:4). And the author of Hebrews reminds Christians they are "aliens" in this world because they are "citizens of heaven." When we follow the example of Jesus and live THIS calling out, we have a power to change lives and affect the world that is not of this world. We win the world back for God, one soul at a time.
Many, if not most, contemporary evangelicals have completely missed this. They sincerely believe that the battle is to be fought and won in the arena of earthly politics. Here is where Thomas and Dobson make their contribution. They "hit it out of the park"! These authorsl point out that evangelicals have come to do what Jesus never did, and what the Bible forbids us to do. We have waged war with "flesh and blood," forgetting that our real battle is "against principalities and powers" (Eph 6). We have spent our time and energy futily trying to tweak the world's hopelessly corrupt system -- and feeling very proud with little (temporary) gains -- instead of living our call to be ambassadors of an entirely different, counter-cultural, kingdom. In the process, we have damaged our reputation to the unbelieving world and diluted our kingdom authority. We have been corrupted by the desire for political might.
With the wisdom of experience and the skill of seasoned writers, Thomas and Dobson expose this for the deception that it is. In so doing, they remind us that "though we are IN the world, we are not OF the world." "We do not wage war as the world does." Our weapons are person-to-person love, prayer, fasting, self-sacrifice and faith.
on December 8, 2000
Blinded By Might gives a poignant insight into the world of Church/State politics and what is presented is not the most uplifting view. Quite unintentionally, the authors provide a Nietzschean framework in which (every) man's desire for power (i.e., the will to power) is all-consuming and forces political actors to behave in ways that can only be viewed as self-serving.
During the 1960's and 1970's `fundamentalist' Christians were feeling continually disenfranchised as our country continued its downward spiral. This malaise was evidenced by waved after wave of Supreme Court rulings that legalized abortion, removed prayer from schools, and began to remove all-things-religious from civic life-the Supreme Court and the federal bureaucracy was becoming the de jure enforcement arm for the concept of the separation of Church and State. Into this moral breech several people began to tread, including Cal Thomas, Jerry Falwell, James Kennedy, etc. In 1980 the Moral Majority began to assert its political authority, helping to usher in the Reagan presidency through its successful grassroots motivation. What Thomas and Dobson seek to portray is an inside glimpse into the political as well as ideological shortcomings inherent in the involvement of Christians in the political realm. Trouble did not arise, when the religious right began to wane in political power...it is when the Moral Majority was at the height of its power that problems become obvious; the primary problem being a lack of results in policy formation.
How did this problem occur? The Moral Majority and Christians became married to the Republican Party. Marriage forces people to overlook flaws in their partner and Jerry Falwell and his group did just that. A major problem for Christians is the false assertion that politics is all about ideals. Unfortunately, once you are thrown into the lion's den, often you are forced to behave pragmatically in order to survive. "The subordination of conviction to the pragmatic was also evident in politics-which is one of the dangers of too close an association by the church in affairs of state." All-too-often the leaders of the religious right end up "casting their pearls before swine." The religious right movement thought it could change hearts and morality from a top down approach, when in fact it is only at the one-to-one level that people change.
As it relates to previous works, Blinded By Might is not theoretically far removed from the Wallis or Colson pieces. Ideologically all three books vary greatly in their approaches and prescriptions, but all seek to analyze the nature of Christians in the political realm. Faith Works, admonishes Christians for not doing enough, and Kingdoms In Conflict shows the power of Christians operating within and outside of the political sphere, whereas Blinded By Might serves as a warning about the perils of blurring the church/state line. Furthermore, anyone who desires to serve in positions of church leadership should be especially reticent to enter politics because the joys are fleeting and the will-to- power is intense.
This is a book which needed to be written. I don't agree with everything Ed Dobson and Cal Thomas say, either politically or religiously, but their message is vitally important.
As a minister of the Gospel, as a clergyman, and as an outspoken conservative, I have long been dismayed when my collegues (on both sides of the aisle) attempt to equate the Gospel message with a political agenda. I firmly believe that a clergyman has the responsibility and duty to speak out on issues which affect his beliefs and the beliefs of his church. However, many, many members of the Religious Right (and Left, for that matter) have gone far beyond such issues, insisting that political philosophy is just as important, and just as divinely inspired as the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. There are issues on which Christians should be completely united. There are other issues, as C. S. Lewis suggested, in which honest men may reasonably disagree.
Dobson and Thomas have eloquently suggested that many of the troubles of the Religious Right have been based in not knowing the difference.
Again, I don't blindly accept many of the things that Dobson and Thomas say -- but I agree with much of the spirit in which they were written.
Every politically active member of the clergy should read this book carefully, and with much prayer.
on December 5, 1999
Like the disciples of old, the former members (Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson) of the Moral Majority for a long while were not only "blinded by might," but were also blind to the deep spiritual import of Christ's message and mission- that His kingdom is NOT of this world. The authors have now applied spiritual eyesalve-- for spiritual things are spirtually discerned. They have revealed the not-so-honest ploys of the Moral Majority (MM) and Christian Coalition (CC). They have shown clearly and upon bliblical principles that spiritual methods are simply incompatible with much of the political process. No matter how right religious organizations may be, you don't force feed the message or the conduct. No matter how lofty or ideal the goal, the end does not always justify the means. Moreover, while displaying a form of godliness, we deny God's power in our lives when we use the methodology of politics and seek the hand of government. Christ said clearly, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me." Obviously, Christians have not lifted up Christ in their personal lives to the point where they would lack the urge to seek political laws, mandates or amendments to "win" over others- to have others do good. Good religion is not politicking or lawmaking. Good religion is feeding the hungry, giving to the poor, and taking care of the orphans and widows. As taken from scripture and quoted by Cal Thomas in the book, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord of hosts."
on May 1, 1999
Many of us in and out of the evangelical community are frustrated by the direction our morality is going.
Many of us are equally frustrated because the religious right in the political arena undermines what we do in the personal arena to be salt and light.
In this book, two very credible authors with years of experience with the religious right tell us what many of us know is true--that passing restrictive laws won't bring Judeo-Christian morality to our public square. They remind us that James Dobson et al need to focus on the family. They remind us what Dennis Prager, a Jewish philosopher, has told us, that what we do in our house is more important than what we do to influence the White House.
This book makes sense.
on August 5, 1999
Please also read Charles Colson's Kingdoms In Conflict. He reached the same conclusions. Page 94: "While human politics is based on the premise that society must be changed in order to change people, in the politics of the Kingdom it is people who must be changed in order to change society." Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson are true Christians who are "seeking first the Kingdom....."
Blinded by Might is a critique of the Religious Right by two, very-much, insiders. They successfully show that, for all of its seeming power, the Religious Right has not succeeded in even one of its agendas.
Many believers are aware of their dual-citizenship, being both citizens of a multicultural democracy and citizens of a heavenly kingdom. Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson believe that conservative Christians concentrated too heavily on the earthly kingdom in the `80s, and now they wish them to do a 180-degree turn.
Stating that, "politics is necessary--but it is also evil." The authors believe that Christians should withdraw from the political arena, not run for office, and restrain themselves to voting alone. They go further, "We have tried to build a strong case for the church to lay down its impotent weapons of political activism..." The authors declare that Christians never have a right to break any law while protesting, and should refrain from discussing any political subject within the confines of church.
Unfortunately, the authors do not mention the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's historic foray into the cultural/political arena. On the face of it, Messrs. Thomas and Dobson would seem to reject Dr. King's activism, and decry his law breaking. Sadly, the authors avoid making any statement on this subject.
Therefore, let me suggest that while the authors are correct, the Religious Right made a mistake in throwing themselves too forcefully into the earthly kingdom, the authors now make the mistake of advocating a policy just as flawed, but in the opposite direction. If you want a book that seeks to find a balanced course for citizens of two worlds, you won't find it here.
on April 22, 1999
The authors present a sincere critique of Christian political involvement in organizations such as the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition. Much of what they have to say is worthwhile and not controversial, even among those they criticize. However, over and over they repeat their central message that moral revival in America cannot come through politics and government. The problem is that in attempting to apply this critique to real individuals and organizations they are essentially knocking down a straw man of their own invention. Almost no one in those organizations holds the view that politics or government rather than the church is the principle instrument of revival. In this they adopt some of the same stereotypes that the left has constructed for the so-called religious right. The authors must know that any organization of Christians which has the temerity to appear in the "public square," even when they disavow politics, such as Promise Keepers, comes in for the same sort of criticism.
Particularly unfair is their criticism of James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Ironically, after criticizing Billy Graham in the chapter "Seduced by Power" for absolving Clinton they criticize Dobson in a subsequent chapter for failing to see the necessity of political compromise when he called Republican politicians to task for betraying the principles they ran on. (This was in his widely-reported speech before the Council for National Policy, an outstanding speech.)
The book concludes with interviews with politicians and other leaders. These interviews are notable for the degree to which, despite prodding from the interviewer, they refute the central tenets of the book. Most applaud the involvement of organizations such as Christian Coalition while recognizing the limits to what can be achieved by such means alone.
In summary, this is a well-meant, sincere effort which falls short of providing guidance to those who still see the need for Christians united, not just as individuals, to exert influence in the "public square." It is deeply flawed by ascribing views and motivations to people such as James Dobson which they do not hold.
on December 17, 1999
Cal Thomas and Dr. Ed Dobson demonstrate genuine courage to write in Blinded by Might the truth that can be difficult to face as those within the fellowship of faith see our own reflection in its mirror.
In the midst of a campaign for public office in the late 1980s, God welcomed me, sinful and undeserving, to be forever His own adopted son as I came to trust His promise of redemption based on what Christ has done for us and not what I could do for Him. While desiring to make a difference for God and for society, a significant error was focusing on the symptoms of the underlying problem - really, not knowing God at all.
It's worth mentioning, too, Dr. Ed Dobson taught a New Testament Survey course taken as part of my continuing studies with Liberty University a short time later. Reflecting on the past decade, in many respects, it seems some of us have walked this path together and arrived at the same conclusions.
The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, tells us of a promised Messiah and God's plan of redemption. While it has application for this life, ultimately this shows us His designs, which extend infinitely beyond our temporal existence.
Our family remains responsible and involved in matters of government - and with an understanding that there necessarily is a distinction in what we treat as ministry. I can say also that every page in Blinded by Might honors God and has been found respectful to men.
Part of our legacy should be to spare people we love some confusion and help the next generation see to not repeat some of our errors. Blinded by Might will be one of a handful of select books to ensure is read by each of my children as they grow into the role of responsible adults. Our objective is to equip them to walk through life understanding clearly their relationship with God, its priority, and all its implications.
To Cal Thomas and Dr. Ed Dobson - thank you!
on June 3, 1999
When my dad ( Ed Dobson ) was wrighting this book, I kept hearing that most of Congress was standing behind us. Now, after much delay, I found the book on the web, and finaly can share my thoughts. I am so proud of my dad, who, at the time, is walking in Isreal. I love this book. I think that it is time that some one took a stand and said what was wrong about the Moral Majority.