Elon Musk, Conservatism, and Christianity
On Musk, Twitter, and his critics:
Hmm, it seems to happen every time. You get some well-known public figure doing a few good things in the culture wars or making some good conservative stances, or speaking out when it is vital to do so, and you will get some cranky conservative Christians poo-pooing it all.
It is a bit of a broken record sadly. It could be a Jordan Peterson, or even a Donald Trump. At the moment it is Elon Musk. He has of course just completed his purchase of Twitter, and he is on record as saying he is opposed to the woke agenda.
But some critics will always come out of the woodwork to blast these folks, and claim Christians should have nothing to do with them, or that even conservatives should have nothing to do with them. They are purists in other words – or Pharisees – who think that unless someone is basically Jesus Christ himself, we can never support them or cheer them on, or even be grateful for some of the things they say or do.
Well, I am not in that purist camp. The simple truth is there is no perfect conservative Christian. Even those who are fully born-again believers will get things wrong, be it in the culture wars, or the various ideological battles of the day. If I wait until only the perfect guy comes along for the job, I will be waiting a very long time.
As I just said on the social media:
Um, to celebrate some actions of someone like Elon Musk does NOT mean we think he is:
-a solid conservative
-right on every issue
-the great hope of conservatism
It simply means we think it is neat that some folks are standing up to aspects of the woke agenda. And that IS a good thing. Given that so few Christians are speaking out, I am happy to applaud folks like this when they do some good things. Jesus is able to get stones to speak up when his people don’t. God is able to get an ass to speak.
I am happy he can get a Musk or a Peterson or others to speak truth now and then. Moral of the story: if some of these Christian armchair critics would spend as much time praying for these sorts of folks as they do bashing them online, we all might be in a much better place.
I have had to write articles in the past about why I am happy to support folks like Peterson. See this piece for example: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/07/18/jordan-peterson-and-common-grace/
Now I have to write articles to say I am willing to support Musk – NOT 100 per cent, not blindly, not foolishly. But when he does some welcome stuff to challenge the hyper left, I WILL support it and appreciate it. It would be foolish not to.
As I said in my social media post, prayer is crucial here. I daily pray for Jordan Peterson’s salvation, and I have now added Musk to my ever-growing list! That is what Christians should concentrate on, not taking pot-shots at these folks online because they do not fully measure up to their particular standards.
NO ONE measures up. I sure don’t. Not only do plenty of Christians and conservatives often disagree with me, but I sometimes disagree with myself! If we are waiting for the perfect politician or commentator or lobbyist or culture warrior to come along, we will have to wait till Jesus returns.
Part of the issue here is coming to terms with the old co-belligerency thing again, and the old common grace thing again. Sadly too many Christians just don’t get either one. As to the former, it simply means being willing to work with others at least on limited campaigns and the like although we may well not agree fully when it comes to their theology and so on.
Thus I am happy to stand with a Catholic, a Muslim, or even an atheist pro-lifer outside of an abortion mill in the hopes of seeing some babies saved from the slaughter. I am NOT being compromised or carnal to do so. But see much more on this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/09/02/on-co-belligerency/
And here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/05/19/why-it-is-ok-to-work-with-others-sometimes/
As to common grace, that simply means God gives grace to non-Christians. Not saving grace, but general grace, and we can be thankful for that. That is why we can enjoy and support a non-Christian like Musk when he does some good things that we all can benefit from.
The truth is, even the unsaved can sometimes do praise-worthy things, and things that really help in terms of the social good. Sure, those things do not contribute to their salvation – that is all of grace through faith. But I for one am very thankful when non-Christians helped rescue Jews from the Nazis, or when they help rescue unborn babies from the abortion mills.
I have often written on this issue as well. See not just the Peterson article above, but this one as well: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/02/08/on-common-grace/
Understanding these two principles will help us go a long way here. Indeed, why am I reminded of this episode from the gospels as recorded in Luke 9:49-50?
“John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you’.”
A fuller version found in Mark 9:38-41 puts it this way:
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.”
Here we see both principles at work. If Jesus is willing to allow common grace and co-belligerency here, then I will certainly run with that, and not worry about the complaints of the critics and purists who understand neither common grace nor co-belligerency.
In short, when evil is challenged or defeated, I am glad when it occurs, even if not everyone involved was some born-again Christian. Or let me make this even more clear: If my son is having a heart attack and the paramedics arrive, I do NOT first ask them if they are Christians. I let them do their thing, and am grateful to God for who they are, regardless of their religious status.
But let me get back to Musk. As I made clear just a few days ago, there are some things Musk is involved in that worries me greatly, such as his Neuralink project. See more here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2022/10/26/a-review-of-reaching-for-immortality-by-sandra-godde/
However, consider his recent Twitter move. Conservatives from Trump on down have long complained about their bigotry, bias and censorship – something that is true of all the tech giants and social media giants. But what can be done about it? Who would have thought just a few years ago that some rich guy would come along and buy out Twitter!
And he has gotten to work real fast, firing some of those involved, and replacing them with folks who will not go on search and destroy missions against conservatives if not Christians. He also says he will reverse the lifetime bans of some that were booted off by the lefties at Twitter. One article says this about some of these changes:
“Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints,” Musk tweeted. “No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.” Musk responded to another Twitter account about the issue of reinstating accounts that have been previously banned. “Anyone suspended for minor & dubious reasons will be freed from Twitter jail,” Musk said.
Musk reportedly directed engineers from his electric car company Tesla, where he also serves as CEO, to take control of the social media company’s code away from Twitter’s engineers to evaluate potential changes to the system. Musk also immediately fired leftist CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde, head of legal policy, trust, and safety, The Washington Post reported. The report said Musk also fired the company’s general counsel, Sean Edgett, who was escorted out of the building. https://www.dailywire.com/news/elon-musk-outlines-new-content-moderation-strategy
Someone asked me the other day how all this will pan out. I said, “We will have to wait and see.” And as I say, this move will NOT usher in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is NOT the fulfilment of some biblical prophecy. It is NOT a sign of the return of the Messiah.
But in my books it IS something to take heart over and celebrate. If nasty corporate giants like Twitter can be given a really good shaking and become a genuine means for civilised debate with more than just one side being heard, I think that is a good thing. We need more of it – not less.
And while Musk has got his chequebook out, I wonder how much it will cost to buy out Facebook and Amazon as well!
5 Replies to “Elon Musk, Conservatism, and Christianity”
Dear Bill, Thank you for the article. I thoroughly agree with it! To be honest before the pandemic I had never heard of Elon Musk or Jordon Peterson but a long time ago I remember the parish priest giving a homily on the rich. I remember he said it is not the fact that they are rich that is the issue but what they actually do with their riches that is important. Also the Holy Spirit blows where it will and if it chooses to work through a rich man then who are we to question that? What Elon Musk has done with Twitter is welcome because free speech is essential for a democratic society. However, as you say we must wait and see what else he gets up to.
Totally agree with your assessment on MUSK. And, those types of ‘perfection seeking’ folks will always be amongst us…as frustrating as that is, let’s pray for them as you always encourage us to do.
Thank you as always,
Many thanks Ron.
While I’m not convinced we will be waiting a very long time for the perfect guy to come along, you are otherwise absolutely correct, Bill. Will He be returning reasonably soon? Let’s hope so but yes, clearly, we do have to plan for otherwise which means supporting anyone if they do right.
It should be obvious. Is this not a significant part of what the parable of the “Good Samaritan” is about? (Luke 10) The Samaritans were well known for not getting their doctrine right yet clearly, when they did right, they were to be commended. Is this not similar to what Paul was speaking about the nations doing right having the law written in their heart? (Rom 2:13-15). To me the scriptures are very plain about listening to all the arguments before making decisions which is the very foundation of free speech. Only corrupt regimes (like “our ABC”) limit free speech so while you weigh the counsel based on who is giving it even a donkey can potentially give wise counsel. This is the very foundation of why modern democracies tend to work when free speech is allowed and inevitably fail when opposition to the unchecked, echo-chamber propaganda is prevented. That Australia was allowed to have a plebiscite with only one side of the argument given is possibly the most shameful event ever in Australian history. That we are still not, as a nation, opposing this level of corruption does not bode well for us.