Waiting for “the One”

Waiting for “the One”

We are in England where the headlines this weekend have been all about Senator Obama’s recent meetings with British leaders. If he were running for Prime Minister here it looks like he would have a good chance of winning!

John McCain’s campaign staff members have been complaining about what they see as a media bias in favor of Barack Obama. According to several published reports, they refer to the presumptive Democratic nominee as “the One.” There is some obvious sarcasm at work here, but I cannot help but think of the very non-sarcastic question posed to Jesus by John the Baptist’s disciples, in Luke 7:20: “Are you the One who is to come, or are we to await for another?”

Let’s be clear about it. Senator Obama is not “the One.” Nor is Senator McCain. We must wait for another—the return of the One who came to Palestine many centuries ago. He, and he alone, is the One who can deliver on a promise of a righteous leadership that will never disapooint us.

I can’t remember a time when I was completely happy with the choice of candidates presented to us in presidential campaigns. Nor is the present choice an exception. The fact is that I have difficulty finding a place for myself on the American political spectrum. Someone asked me recently how I would characterize myself in terms of the two-party system, and I replied: “I’m either a conservative Democrat or a moderate Republican.” That doesn’t mean I represent the mushy middle. I do have strong views on matters political. My problem is that my strong views don’t ever quite match up with those expressed in any of the party platforms. Like many evangelicals and Catholics, I am conservative in my pro-life view, as well as on many of the other “values issues.” I also worry about too much government control and  I have never been enamored with anything that might be labeled “socialist.” At the same time, I have been openly critical of many of our military campaigns, and I care deeply about racial justice and the environment. I don’t have easy answers on how to reduce poverty, but I do want political leaders who show that they agonize over the gap between rich and poor.

So I do not fit neatly into either the “liberal” or “conservative” categories as they get defined on the American scene. This means that I seldom feel good about the choices I have to make when I vote in natonal elections. Over the years I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats, often splitting my ticket.

I do have to say, though, that this present campaign is one of the better ones for someone like me. There is much that I admire in both candidates. I think I know which one I will vote for, but things could happen that could push me the other way.

The fact is, though, that I do not get my hopes up when I vote, even when I am fairly positive about the candidates. There are two very different ways of not having high hopes during election campaigns. One is not to expect much because you do not care all that much about politics. The other is not to expect much because you care a lot about politics. I fit the latter pattern. I take the Kingship of Jesus very seriously. He is the only true Sovereign, who wants to renew the whole creation, including all that stuff that we include in the “poltiical” category. For political life too, then, he alone is “the One.” I will continue to take the issues in this presidential campaign very seriously. And I will cast my vote for whomever I decide will be the best leader. At the same time, though, I will “wait for another.”


  1. I really appreciate these words. I resonate with what you are saying, yet find it difficult not to fall into the trap of placing hope in these political figures. Thank you for sharing!

    Comment by Ben Wideman — August 1, 2008 @ 10:44 am

  2. Great to find your blog, and to read a likeminded article about politics. Sure, only one dimension or axis (left or right) does not describe the political choices one can make.

    There is an economical dimension, and I believe less government and more economic freedom is healthy. The international dimension – yes, making war without a very clear national necessity goes against the basic logic of making war, Clausewitz (a founder of martial science) already warned for that. I don’t know why the Dutch soldiers are in Afghanistan – yes I know the propaganda, but long-term results are unexpected. And the ethical dimension – although abortion is legal in The Netherlands, the abortion rate is quite low compared to the US. Propably that is because of less puritan attitudes, and better sex education. Racial policies in the US correspond to multicultural issues in Holland. Differences can create tensions, and will result in more policy making, more cops, and less individual liberty. Multiculturalism is not something desirable to get, and coping with it is not easy.

    I remember the books you gave me. I have not read all of them, and being a neoplatonist (and being a very busy student) does not help to get deep into Christian philosophy. But your short although inspiring book “Calvinism in the Las Vegas airport” is one that I will advise others to read. Even if you are not Christan, it offers a unique insight into the Protestant roots of our culture, and it’s fun to read, too.

    Comment by Evert Mouw — August 2, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

  3. As I am a recent American citizen I have followed the current presidential election process with great interest. It’s the first time I get to place my ballot so it’s not surprising that I am thrilled by the quality of leadership both candidates bring. Having experienced the corruption of third world politics, I sometimes am aghast at the political disillusionment occasionally expressed in the USA. I can’t help but think, “you guys don’t know how good you have it!” But it doesn’t surprise me then that Americans experience such low percentages of voters in elections–and sadly, more so in Evangelical circles. Unlike Paul, I can’t say I was born a citizen, but I treasure being an American and will conscientiously choose to participate in the political process.

    Comment by James Kim — August 18, 2008 @ 12:49 pm

  4. You have captured my thoughts and feelings as well. I am struggling once again with the choice we have this election, one that is not clear cut. With a strong sense of being a citizen of the Kingdom, I am slow to permit my expectations to rise too high knowing that whichever candidate wins, there will be the inevitable shortfalls and disappointments. I am leaning toward the candidate that has strong judgment, a track record of integrity, and is clear about his faith hoping that he will be able to rise to the occasion of an exemplary presidency. Thanks for reminding us that whichever one wins this election, he is not “the One” and we remain a people of faith and hope in that “One” who is ever faithful.

    Comment by Jonathan Raymond — August 24, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

  5. Dear Dr. Mouw, it is good that you addressed this issue of the McCain camp calling Obama “The One”. But the point of the TV Ad was to express concerns if he could lead the American people as the President of the United States of America. Apparently, that is about all the McCain camp can come up with as they really fall short on many levels to make America a better place.

    Before coming to Fuller, I was a die hard Right-Wing do or die Christian, thinking it was a heresy to even vote Democrat. But, after finishing my Seminary Degree, I saw things in a very different light that has left me a changed man. One thing that Fuller did teach me was that of Social Justice, and what that really means. When the illegal immigration issues surfaced recently, that pushed me over the edge to abandon the Republican party due to their inhumane treatment of poor people trying to obtain a better life than that of poverty that they were escaping in their homelands. No longer was my focus on saving unborn babies, but how to save the 20 Million or so illegal immigrants from the hands of very racist Republicans that want the army to round them all up as if they were dirty, filthy criminal dogs. What was even more sad was that many of these claimed to be followers of Christ, but had none of the love of Christ in their hearts towards illegals. Many would rather see them die and starve, than to be the good Samaritin that Jesus preached about, and out of our own pockets, help those in need, whether legal or illegal.

    Sadly, I left Fuller with a loss of hope for the Evangelical Right-Wing crowd, and want nothing to do with people with hearts so cold. Many other issues surfaced also that I couldn’t understand either how a Christian could endorse such as Capital Punishment, and Warmongering, neglect of the poor, and those 40 Million Americans without health insurance.

    If ever there was a time when a candidate has more of the things that Christ would address is that of Barak Obama. Though, he is Pro-Choice, which I disagree with, the other issues he does address are enough to make him one of the greatest candidate to come in a long time, or if ever.

    Comment by Vic V. — August 27, 2008 @ 11:03 pm