Caucus Results from Iowa Are Delayed: Perception, Presuppositions and the Word of God

Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Caucus Results from Iowa Are Delayed: Perception, Presuppositions and the Word of God

Caucus Results from Iowa Are Delayed: Perception, Presuppositions and the Word of God


Iowa held its first-in-the-nation caucuses last night. President Trump won on the Republican side, as expected. However, we still don’t know the winner on the Democratic Party side.

The Iowa Democratic Party said the results were delayed due to “inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results.” They stressed that there was not a “hack or intrusion,” but announced around 2 a.m. that the results would be provided “later today.” Officials are now hand counting the results.

There are two very different ways to see this unusual delay. 

One is that Democrats in Iowa are working to provide results in as trustworthy a manner as possible. After the razor-close 2016 race in Iowa between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Mr. Sanders’ allies pushed the Democratic National Committee to require caucus states to track and report the raw numbers of support for each candidate. In Iowa, the new reporting standards slowed the gathering of data to a crawl. Technical issues contributed to the delays. 

The other is to view the Democratic Party’s delayed reporting as indicative of its suitability to lead. GOP Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina tweeted: “Folks—this is the party that wants to run your healthcare, control your employment, decide what kind of car you can drive, and more.”

Bernie Sanders and millennials 

These conflicting perspectives reflect the larger conflicts in our culture. 

For example, Bernie Sanders was favored by oddsmakers to win the Iowa caucuses. His campaign is fueled principally by his appeal to millennials. His focus on wealth inequality, universal health care, student loan debt, and climate change resonate with many of them. The fact that he is “quite substantially not religious,” in the words of his brother, is not a detriment to a generation noted for its lack of religious commitment

Consider that college graduates are less likely than non-graduates to agree that “religion is very important.” They are also less likely to say they “believe in God with absolute certainty” or that they “pray daily.” In fact, 11 percent identify as atheist or agnostic, compared with 4 percent of those with high school education or less. 

(Lest these facts suggest that religion is irrational, note that Christians who graduated from college are more likely to attend weekly worship services than those with less education.) 

To many of Mr. Sanders’ millennial supporters, his lack of religious commitment mirrors their own. They view his irreligiosity as a positive rather than a negative. 

Democrats and Republicans on college campuses

Consider another fact: Democratic professors outnumber Republicans nine to one at America’s highest-ranking colleges and universities. 

The ratio varies by discipline: while economics professors who are Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one, professors of anthropology who are Democrats outnumber Republicans forty-two to one. 

This pattern is less surprising when we look behind it to note that the college administrators who hire the professors identify as liberal rather than conservative by a ratio of twelve to one. 

Euclid’s “First Axiom”

Here’s my point: Your view of the delayed Iowa Democratic Party reporting mirrors your larger view of the two parties. Likewise, those who support Bernie Sanders’ irreligiosity or liberal politics on campus do so because they are convinced they are right. 

Seen through the prism of their worldview, we can better understand their commitments. 

Evangelicals see the world through a presuppositional prism as well. If I were a college administrator, I would be likely to prefer faculty who embrace my biblical worldview. I view political candidates and issues through the same lens. 

My point is not that we should have no presuppositions. This is impossible, actually. Mathematicians work with unproven propositions such as Euclid’s First Axiom that “things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another.” So do scientists and logicians.

Speaking the truth in love

Two conclusions follow. 

One: We should relate to those who oppose biblical truth with grace motivated by gratitude for God’s grace. 

The person who does not know Christ “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Lest we take pride in our spiritual knowledge, remember that we were once where they are and that our salvation “is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

Two: We should view the entire world through the presupposition of biblical truth and authority. 

In Mark 2, Jesus “saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me'” (v. 14). He did not say, “listen to me” or even “believe in me,” but “follow me.” To “follow” someone requires the holistic commitment of our lives, a call God’s word regularly extends to us (cf. Luke 9:23; Romans 12:1). 

C. S. Lewis: “We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. We make our returns truthfully. But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope—we very ardently hope—that after we have paid it, there will still be enough left to live on.” 

Is serving Jesus today a tax you owe or a privilege you embrace?

Publication date: February 4, 2020

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Scott Olson/Staff

For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

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