D’Souza and the “Death of a Nation” Documentary

Dinesh D’Souza has produced another provocative political documentary that targets the Democratic Party as the source of all evil; however the real battle in America is not political but spiritual.

As a theologian, what concerns me about the documentary is that most everything in the documentary appears to be viewed through the spectacles of pure politics. As one of my friends said to me after viewing the documentary, the real battle in America is not a political battle, but rather a spiritual battle. After seeing the documentary and hearing the remarks of my friend, several issues came to my mind.

 

Dinesh D’Souza (who was raised a Roman Catholic in India and now claims to be Protestant) has produced another provocative political documentary that targets the Democratic Party as the source of all evil.  He tries to demonstrate that modern Democrats are nothing more than a continuation of the old Democrats of the Civil War era.  Republican Abraham Lincoln gets high marks as a president, and Republican Donald Trump may be the last hope for America.

D’Souza claims that Hitler’s atrocities against the Jews were inspired by Democrat Andrew Jackson’s treatment of the American Indians. He also claims that in the years before World War II, Democrat FDR was enamored with the socialism of both Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

I am not an historian and therefore hesitate to speak on the veracity of these claims.  I enjoyed the documentary as history, but my interest is one as a theologian and not as an historian.

As a theologian, what concerns me about the documentary is that most everything in the documentary appears to be viewed through the spectacles of pure politics. As one of my friends said to me after viewing the documentary, the real battle in America is not a political battle, but rather a spiritual battle. After seeing the documentary and hearing the remarks of my friend, several issues came to my mind.

First, politics and religion cannot be separated. Politics is ultimately a quest for power in a society based on ethical and moral values. Christianity is rooted in the law of God which is an expression of ethical and moral values. Politics is a subset of religion.

For example, abortion is a political issue because it is first a religious issue. The question in politics is who gets the right to legalize the laws of our nation.  What religion shall have preeminence in the United States?

Homosexual marriage is a political issue because it is first a religious issue.  I could go on and speak about the necessity of prison reform, and the ungodly consequences of monetary inflation.  Since the early 1950s, I have watched America cast off Christianity, and therefore I have watched my country slowly decay. D’Souza sees the same trend.

Secondly, the modern church has abdicated its role to call politicians to repentance. Civil magistrates have the responsibility to rule under God’s law. Only a society ruled by God’s law can enjoy freedom.  Rapture theology and a pietistic interpretation of “heavenly citizenship” have made the church irrelevant.  Worship has replaced work as the business of life, and generic preaching has replaced a truth that speaks to all areas of life.

Lastly, even though I appreciate the work of D’Souza as a film-maker, the battle for America must be carried on in light of the sovereignty of the Christian God who speaks to all of life. D’Souza alludes to this as he concludes his presentation by focusing on the Christian martyr Sophie Scholl who led the White Rose resistance against Nazi Germany.

A documentary that views our struggle mainly through the prism of politics will not solve anything. Until the church is first reformed and thus enabled to speak to the issues of our day, there is little hope for America. Religious pluralism is a myth.  Some religion will rule in America and it will define our values and ethics.  We Christians must pursue the crown rights of Jesus Christ over all of life.

Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.