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Episode 526: Was the Constitution Divinely Inspired? with Kaitlyn Schiess


The water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, was foreseeable and preventable. Did white evangelicalism's anti-government attitude contribute to the catastrophe? Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson has yet another take on the evangelical infatuation with Trump. Do we need any more? And a recent article by theologian Kirsten Sanders says we’ve entered a new era of evangelicalism where online influencers are shaping the movement more than pastors or institutions.


Then, Skye and Kaitlyn discuss the belief held by some American Christians that the Constitution was inspired by God. Where did this view come from? Why is it dangerous? And why is it finding new popularity today? Plus, Phil plops a headline.


News Segment 0:00 - Intro 4:54 - News of the Butt headline 6:10 - Jackson water crisis 17:52 - Another article on evangelicalism and Trump?


Sponsor 54:22 - Sponsor: Abide Get 25% off a premium Abide subscription by texting “holypost” to 22433


Getting Schooled by Kaitlyn Schiess 55:40 - Getting Schooled intro 57:57 - Divine inspiration of the Constitution - overview 1:15:24 - Dangers of holding this view 1:22:54 - Resources

Resources from Getting Schooled: “We the Fallen People” by Robert Tracy McKenzie - https://amzn.to/3qzgkuf

“The Bible in Politics” by Richard Bauckham - https://amzn.to/3U1zQgF

“Every Leaf, Line, and Letter” edited by Timothy Larsen - https://amzn.to/3U9M7ja


Articles mentioned: “Jackson water crisis deepens as state deploys National Guard” - https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/09/01/jackson-mississippi-water-crisis/


“Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t?” by Michael Gerson (The Washington Post) - https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/michael-gerson-evangelical-christian-maga-democracy/


“The Evangelical Question in the History of American Religion” by Kirsten Sanders (The Hedgehog Review) - https://hedgehogreview.com/issues/the-use-and-abuse-of-history/articles/the-evangelical-question-in-the-history-of-american-religion


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20 Comments


Stefan Schiavone
Stefan Schiavone
Oct 11, 2022

This belief that the United States Constitution is in fact “divinely inspired” is problematic for a few reasons, not least of all is the central belief of Christian orthodoxy that only one document in the history of the world can claim the status of being divinely inspired, namely the Holy Scriptures. Some make the argument: “Since the values and beliefs which have shaped our culture and government are derived from Scripture, its founding document is therefore also divinely inspired.” This too seems unlikely. Consider that for much of its history (roughly 1788 years) the Christian faith had worshipped and operated within the context of empire and monarchy. This is not to say that those forms of government are superior or…

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Concerning the discussion of the Gerson article, I agree completely with Kaitlyn's discussion, but I feel that this entire podcast suffers from the same problem of only describing the problems that evangelicals have and not offering any direction or positive content. I used to love this podcast and would listen every week but I've become discouraged because every week its just another episode of complaining about the evangelicals.

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JK
JK
Sep 21, 2022
Replying to

That's how I feel about it now. Instead of teaching me how to more deeply engage with my faith it is complaining about evangelicals and republicans.

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larry mabry
larry mabry
Sep 20, 2022

I'm a long time listener, first time commentor( Phil my be the only one who get's that reference). Concerning the discussion on the Gerson article, I agree there is nothing new, but as another commentor wrote, becasue of the platform maybe someone who needs to see it will stuble across it, leading to other material they need to see. As a resident of a very red district of a very red state( Kentucky) articles like these and this podcast have been a lifeline, letting me know that not all my brothers and sisters have in Christ have not drank the kool-aid. To Kaitlyn's point- some more articles, podcast, books, etc on how to handle things on the ground when …

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Replying to

I know -- but I don't know -- what you mean. I live in a pretty multi-cultural part of British Columbia. 60km away, in the centre of my "stomping grounds" from between 1975 and 2010, if I still lived there, I'd be a little, just a little like that.


My professional life would still be out here in the multicultural piece but I would be mostly surrounded by committed voters to the MAGA-leaning 2nd party in federal politics, firm climate deniers, COVID deniers, vaccine deniers, ardently wishing that Canada were more like red-state US.


There's only one way to survive this. To hunt out other voices--and not just domestic ones. I used to major on things like "World Radio Network"…


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I'm not an American. I am Canadian. So in one way, I considered just giving this one a pass. And yet... Kaitlyn is always worth listening to.


The idea that your constitution is divinely inspired struck me the way #45's candidacy struck Lindsey Graham before whatever it was that someone slipped into his drink (I think #45 has or has access to kompramat on a lot of people.) -- it had to do with insanity and bat guano. But at about 1h12 , I had a feeling of awe come over me that I've since been trying to parse.


One piece of it has to do with a reaction that's been growing within me, against how we tend to "absolutize"…


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Mark Norman
Mark Norman
Sep 21, 2022
Replying to

Love your writing style ansak - familiar, playful, and usually compelling!

You have the advantage of observing with a little distance. In the thick of this fog, it can be hard to see much God-breathed inspiration in the US political system. It’s been nice to come up for a breath recently - look around at what could be - but the whalers are in pursuit, with their harpoons at the ready.

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This comment is specific to the discussion of the Michael Gerson piece. Being someone who typically agrees with 100% of what you guys say, I have to admit I struggled with this discussion. I think it was for 2 reasons.


First was Kaitlyn's critique that she wanted a piece from a different voice (i.e., someone in the trenches like a pastor dealing with a MAGA congregation) and not just from another white male. Of course, there's the obvious problem that the Venn diagram of pastors dealing with MAGA issues and those who are not white males has almost no overlap. If you want a pastor dealing with these issues in the trenches, he's almost certainly male, and almost certainly white…


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