Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

Error message

Addition not subtraction. Triangulation. The Third Way. These are terms of political tradecraft. They signify the politician's transcendence above the liberal-conservative divide. Working in government, I see this principle in constant operation. 

A politician can triangulate in the mix of policies he adopts. For example, an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy means the politician supports traditional oil and gas exploration as well as ethanol subsidies, all while paying lip service to renewable solar and wind power. This strategy lowers the decibel level from environmentalist opponents if not neutralizing them entirely. 

A politician also triangulates with rhetoric. He need only strike the right pose and emit the proper buzzword. From illegal drugs to education to welfare, a politician can navigate beyond any seemingly binary framework by talking of and emoting compassion. If he's really sophisticated, a politician utters certain phrases that are seemingly insignificant and benign to almost everyone while being fraught with meaning when decoded by a special interest group. This is what the political class calls...

a "dog whistle."

While we expect such behavior from our politicians, we like to think our pastors—the successors to the Prophets and the Apostles and Luther and Calvin and the Puritans—would never stoop to such a thing as to engage in people-pleasing power triangulation. Unfortunately, yes they would and they do. Reformed pastors are constantly tempted to protect their reputation with the conservative base while making nice with theological liberals.

I don't know how else to understand Pastor Liam Goligher's misrepresentation of Calvin and women "princes" that is mixed up with his defense of Trinitarian orthodoxy. (By the way, did anyone else grow up thinking girls became princesses, not princes?) 

First, proclaiming oneself an "unashamed biblical complementarian" sounds suspiciously like the protest of one who is ashamed. Second, the word complementarian itself, denuded as it is of male headship and rule, is a perfectly innocuous expression. Who could be agin' such helpful mutuality? Third, the direction of Pastor Goligher's mistake is too conveniently towards placating feminists. You can imagine someone erroneously believing that Calvin endorsed Knox's seditious First Blast. But, no, when it comes to the reputable man, for some reason all the mistakes in theological scholarship, all the selective omissions, all the faulty interpretations, all the unsupported conclusions run in the direction of lowering the decibel levels of feminists and building a reputation for broad-mindedness. Look at me, I defend the Trinity and I think women should lead everywhere but in the home and pulpit. You can't accuse me of extremism. I'm above the nasty fray. Finally, and maybe most convincingly, Pastor Goligher simply refuses to correct the record after being shown repeated evidence of Calvin's true convictions. When all this is added up, something aside from a disinterested search for truth is afoot.              

Maybe someone should write a book called Brothers, We Are Not Politicians.

Ezra Hale is the pseudonym of a man serving in an upper-level, executive branch position of state government. Ezra is a licensed attorney and for several years practiced law in state and federal courts. He is a graduate of ___________ School of Law, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Law Review.