My Easter Confession: When MAGA Met Easter

Apr 15, 2022 by David Fowler

My Easter Confession: When MAGA Met Easter
I was a “MAGA man” before MAGA was a thing. What might distinguish me from some MAGA enthusiasts today, but perhaps not many Christians, is that when I ran for the State Senate in 1994, I aspired to bring Biblical principles to the legislature to save our country from liberal ruin. I now confess that aspiration was un-Easter like.
I convinced myself that I was doing what a Christian legislator, a Christian statesman, would do if I brought biblical values and principles to my analysis of legislation. To my way of thinking, I was “seek[ing] first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” as Jesus exhorted those belonging to His kingdom to do in His sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:33). 
I realize that back then, and even into more recent years, I had no clear and substantial understanding of what His kingdom was—its present reality and nature—or what seeking its advancement would look like. In sum, I saw pursuing, advancing, and building up the Kingdom of God as coterminous with saving America.
“Saving America”—whatever I may have thought that was or would look like—was an agenda wrapped up in Christian lingo that had little to do with making known the glory of God resident in all things and in the relationship of all things to each other for the sake of having His “fame” spread throughout the nation and the earth (Joshua 6:17, 9:9, Psalm 135:13, Isaiah 66:19, Matthew 4:24, Mark 1:28, NKJV) or having honor and praise ascribed to Him by as many people as possible (Psalm 66:2, Daniel 4:37; 1 Timothy 1:17, 6:16, Revelation 4:11, 21:16).
Hidden from my view at the very bottom of my heart was this: I wanted to save America for my sake and especially that of my children and grandchildren in order that they might enjoy at least the same measure of prosperity and comfort I had known. God was the means, but not the end (telos) of my endeavor.

Is this prayer un-American? Does it make me un-patriotic?

In other words, I would have never prayed, 
“Lord God, possessor of Heaven and Earth, if America must perish from the face of the earth for the hearts of Americans and all the people of the earth, especially those of my wife and descendants, to be turned to you so that you would receive the glory and honor due you and they would find in you an eternal spring of abundant life and infinite and unmeasurable joy, then let my political efforts fail and let America be gone tomorrow.”
Sound un-American and un-patriotic? I would once have said yes, but now it seems to me such a prayer is perfectly in keeping with what Jesus told the rich young ruler he should do if He really had no other gods before the God of Genesis 1:1, who also brought the Hebrews out of Egypt—sell all he had, give it to the poor, and just follow Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man.   
The prayer seems perfectly in line with having been transferred by Easter Faith into a new Kingdom with a new King and new ways of seeing and doing things (Colossians 1:13).
It was quite easy to substitute what I thought was a blessing—what American could offer—for what God said was the greatest blessing, His kingdom, which Jesus compared to a pearl of such great value that a person would give away America, if he or she had it, to obtain that pearl (Matthew 13:46).

What Does This Confession Mean for Me?

Does this mean that I regret going into politics? Does this mean I would now rather be a “preacher” or “missionary,” than be in politics?
Absolutely not! In fact, to ask the question means the Easter message has not penetrated you to a level any deeper than it had penetrated me growing up in church. 
The cosmic consequence of Easter is the kingdom of God, given its new Head (1 Corinthians 15:45-49) in the God-Man Jesus, subsumes America and every other earthly ruler and nation (see Revelation 1:5, 11:15). 
But this Easter Faith does mean what I work on, why, and how I go about it is completely different. 
It also means I now work from a place of rest (though disturbed from time to time) because I believe by the same faith as Abraham that what I am presently doing, despite present “defeats” in the legislature, will last into eternity. 
In fact, my present work and that which is built on it by those who come after me will be carried into that new Heaven and New Earth in that moment when, like a twinkling of an eye, the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13) and death (1 Corinthians 15:26) are finally abolished in toto (2 Timothy 1:10), the effects of the Fall being removed and earth released from its “futility” and “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21-22).
An earth without the presence of sin is a de facto new earth (and new heaven).[i]  That is what the eye of Easter Faith sees, longs for, and works toward (2 Corinthians 4:18; Hebrews 11:9-10, 16). It is having our mind “set on things above” (Colossians 3:1-2[ii]) so that we will know how the King of Heaven and Earth would want His kingdom to “come on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
If you want to learn more about Easter Faith and living so your life and work is not futile, then join me for this week’s podcast of God, Law & Liberty and those that will follow.
[i] Treating sin as a substance that like ink in water ruins the water is not part of the historic Christian faith but is a form of Gnosticism and Platonic dualism—matter is bad, and spirit is good.

[ii] Growing up I was taught this meant thinking about heaven and “going there” someday, but what follows these theological exhortations, linked by a “therefore,” is instruction on practical, how to live-in-the-world-things. Heaven is a spiritual realm and the abode of the human soul until, at the final judgment, it is joined to a new glorious body now made fit to live on the earth made glorious by the absence of sin.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

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