Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The H Question, remix

Okay, maybe what I have to say isn’t important enough to restate it. But I just re-read the previous blog, and even I didn’t get it anymore. It was wordy. It could be expanded to a book, or reduced to some principles. When I wrote it, I was full of it. So here goes with the simple attempt:

Our denomination is fighting over the question of Homosexuality in respect to the question, can LGBTQ people be in significant roles of leadership?
And to answer that question, we have to answer a whole slew of other questions: Is LGBTQ practice sin? Does God love the LGBTQ person? Is it fair, or Christ-like, to single out the actions of LGBTQ people over the actions of others? Can we learn anything by the lack of any reference to LGBTQ in the gospels?
And underneath those questions are some classic battles defined by these questions: Does Sin exist, and if so, what is it? Is there absolute truth? Is the Bible authoritative? Is God, or the idea of God, dead? Can Science and Reason answer our questions of morality? Does “not standing against” LGBTQ activity mean we are condoning it? How can we stand FOR “good news, redemption and transformation” while we are standing against a GROUP of people?
I believe the argument about the LGBTQ question is one we shouldn’t be having because it no longer makes a real difference. The point is moot. Yep, I said it. And here is why:
When Nietzsche said “God is dead” he declared that humankind didn’t need the superstitious notions of God anymore. He believed that science and reason could solve the problems of the world. Evangelical, and the more conservative bible-believing theologians reacted strongly to those words. I reacted.
For me, I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me from my sins. And He did. In ministry, I have seen demons cast out, I have seen the blind receive their sight, I have actually seen the dead raised back to life. One day, I felt this burning sensation at the back of my throat, and afterwards, I started speaking in an angelic tongue. When I pray in that tongue, I see mountains move. I can attest, God is not dead.
So here was Christianity, with its back up against the wall, the Cold War was raging and those “godless commies” threatened our very existence and faith. We had a fight on our hands.

We had to prove that God existed to those who rejected him in favor of Science and Reason ONLY. And one of the biggest arguments used was the fact of sin, the Biblical declarations of it, and the Atoning sacrifice of Christ to free us from the curse of sin.
In order to prove the fact of God, we proved the fact of sin, and Christianity as the sole refuge for sin.
All of those arguments were statements, propositions, designed to win the battle against the statements, propositions, of “science and reason are all we need.” It was a battle of words and ideas. Both sides became further and further entrenched in their propositions.
And then, the vast majority of the culture realized that science and reason did not provide all the answers. Without discarding the value and importance of science and reason, we admitted that we needed some sort of spiritual guidance to help us. We became students of our own history. We realized that just because we could do something, it didn’t mean we should. We question: “Should be have used the A-bomb?”
So, the culture changed and as it turned out, God wasn’t dead after all. Culture admitted that science and reason alone cannot provide moral guidance.
The Church has a chance to get back to the table as a partner in forming culture. We lost our seat when the Church reacted to its loss of significance by creating its own sub-culture. That sub-culture became so entrenched in the arguments that it didn’t notice the world wasn’t listening. Instead of trying harder to influence culture in a way that would make a real difference, it shouted out louder and louder, to itself -against one another, its propositions. The culture reacted with a reinforced view that it had become less and less relevant. They stopped listening.
But then, in spite of us, culture confesses its need for God and yes, what we call sin. Some even call it sin. Some call it brokenness. Some call it “influenced by evil” and some may reduce it to “a lack of evolutionary altruism.” But the overwhelming majority recognizes that we need spiritual as well as scientific guidance.
So here is the solution for us: We need to realize that the LGBTQ question changed along with the culture. The questions are no longer: “is there really such a thing as sin?” “Is LGBTQ sin?” Those questions addressed the proposition: “we no longer need God.”
Today, however, the questions are: “How does God love the LGBTQ Person?” “How does God want us to love the LGBTQ Person?” These questions place the emphasis on God’s loving relationship to humankind instead of the propositions of the culture. It is almost as if we have to change from defending “the fact of God” to defending “the love of God.”
Brethren, can we forgive each other the passions of the past, look beyond who won or lost the argument and get back to being God’s Kingdom ON EARTH and heaven instead of just in heaven? 

Author's note: I don't substitute the word Homosexual or Homosexuality lightly. For some, the substitution may seem as if I am trying to take away the very human face of Homosexual persons. I assure you, I am not. A big part says to me: "leave the entire word(s) in so that people can realize that we are talking about real people, people whom we know and love." But I find that too many other people use the Homosexual and Homosexuality as a derogative. So, when ever you see "H" in this blog and it refers to Homosexuals, try replacing it with "someone else that Jesus gave His life for -just like me."
Author’s note: In finding community with LGBTQ people who have accepted me, a former enemy to their civil rights, I learned to replace what was originally posted as “H people” with LGBTQ. That might explain my previous author’s note!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The H Question:

Homosexuality, the H Question.

Because of the current levels of debate, there is no short answer to this question, especially for preachers.

But, I am going to put my perspective down in bullet points because I think you will get most of it in that framework. And, these are merely my theological, psychological and physiological understandings.

But before that, there are 4 terms I am going to use:

  1. Secular Modernity: The world view that only science and reason can answer our questions, religion is a form of naiveté that the age of science and reason will eventually conquer. It includes Secular Humanism and allows for Social Darwinism.
  2. Christian Modernity: The World view and apologetics that contrasted and strove for Christ and against Secular Modernity and its attempt to deny the existence of God. On the evangelical side the scripture behind it is Romans 10:14-15 or 2 Timothy 4:3 –both scriptures emphasize the importance of preaching true to the Word.
  3. Secular Post-Modernity: The predominant current world view that distrusts the Church, and most dominant faiths (by dominant, I mean “in power” like Islam and Christianity) because of their domination of others. It includes pluralism, neo-pluralism (My term –in my opinion it is actually part of the neo-pagan movement, which is not an “in power” religion, but a resurgence of Druidism. It is called Wicca. For a good look at its history in developing European culture, read the novel “That Hideous Strength” by CS Lewis.) and syncretism. It values relationship above anything else. It sees humanity as a Community  in various degrees, according to the individuals “taste.”
  4. Christian Post-Modernism: (My view) A world view that is highly Christocentric, even its description of salvation through Jesus Christ,  but is less interested in taking a stand against Secular Modernity and all its propositions and is more interested in bringing people into a relationship with God, who reconciled us to Him through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The defining scripture is the “gentleness and respect” of 1 Peter 3:15.

It is important to note that the imperative behind Modernity is propositions. The propositions of Secular Modernity and Christian Modernity clubbed each other over the head with their truths as they wrestled for domination in the ideological views of the Western Culture. The problem was, the clubbing each other over the head didn’t work at all, nations continued to fight, the Cold War ensued. Then the Church itself fell into this mindset and began attacking each other in its own subculture and became culturally irrelevant because it stopped doing the Work of Jesus. It was easier to argue than it is to sacrificially serve. Peter said: “Arm yourselves with a willingness to be like Christ.

In my opinion, this paved the way for Post-Modernity whose imperative is relational over propositional. This world view is not as fractured as the world view of Modernity, but then, it is just beginning (and some say is already dying in favor of Nihilism).

All of that is important for me to explain where I think the debate on the H word is currently at:

  • Modernity versus Post–Modernity on the question of Homosexuality. There is a fundamental difference in what the question even means:
    • Modernity, Is there a God?:
      • In modernity, the “propositions of truth” and “taking a stand for the truth” was necessary because Secular Modernity denied the existence of God, the moral judge.
      • In Secular modernity right and wrong, morality, was made up by the consensus of society.
      • Only in Modernity is the question asked: Is Homosexuality a sin?
      • Therefore Homosexuality from Christian modernity is described as sin.
      • Evangelism was propositional instead of relational and the Holy Spirit blessed the propositional preaching. It fit the need for the time.
    • Post Modernity, Who or What fills this spiritual space we all feel? (Notice, the fundamental difference in the question):
      • In Post-Modernity, we are no longer arguing (in apologetic fashion) the existence of God, we are discussing the nature of God.
      • It may be a fundamental understanding of the difference between whether or not God is a God of wrath, or a God of love?
      • The concept of right and wrong, or sin, are in context of “since there is a Spiritual reality what does and doesn’t describe sin, or moral verses immoral actions?”
      • And the question is not so much: “Is homosexuality a sin?” but rather “What does God do and think about the homosexual person?”
      • My answer is three-fold:
        • Jesus loves everyone so much he died for all, including me AND people with same-sex attractions (notice the name change).
        • Sin is either and both (at different times) a result of the fall (brokenness) and deliberate choices for disobedience.
        • Given the stigma and pain involved, I don’t believe that a person would choose a same-sex attraction as an act of rebellion toward God. (In that case, I would describe their “sin” as “brokenness.”) I can imagine a sinful choice to be bi-sexual as an act of rebellion, or a purely hedonistic desire for pleasure. In that case, I would call the action sin. Note: Brokenness is not God’s ideal or desire for humanity, it is a result of the fall.
      • To be clear, in my post-modern understanding of where the Holy Spirit is leading evangelicals like me, in most cases, same-sex attraction does not make one an unbeliever –you understand the difference being either a direct act of rebellion (sin/hedonism) or a result of brokenness (same-sex attraction).
      • Those who have same-sex attractions are loved even more by God, because He knows their hearts.
      • Evangelism is now relational instead of propositional, and the Holy Spirit is blessing those who do relational evangelism, it works according to His plan.
      • (I believe the only people arguing the question of whether or not homosexuality is sin are the people who are still addressing and reacting to evangelism from the mindset of the culture of modernity. But we are now in a culture of post-modernity.)
  • Does sin exist?
    • I believe the answer, in both Modernity and Post-Modernity is very similar, with maybe a “lesser state of sin” (brokenness) in Christian Post-Modernism.
    • In the debate over Homosexuality, the real question, and the reason why it is such an inflammatory issue is because it is a culture war between the concept of the inherent evil inside all of us, or the inherent good in all of us.
    • Modernity’s answer to “inherited and corrupt sinful nature” was Secular Humanism. In that concept the more a society progresses, it will have greater ability to address social problems and bring out the good in everyone.
    • However, most of Secular Post-Modernity seems to have accepted this Secular Humanism dogma as a working principle (probably because that question really hasn’t been discussed yet). It is a principle that is contrary to atonement theology.
    • The debate has been going in Western theater.
      • The iconography of science fiction movies seems to support both future scenarios. Contrast Star Trek (Secular Humanism) with Avatar (an inherited corrupt human nature). The narratives are polar opposites. The pre-industrial Native Americans lived in harmony with the world as they do in Avatar and the industrialized society refused to allow their moral compasses to mitigate their use of power. Essentially, if they can do it, then it it must be moral. This is the aspect of Social Darwinism that threw New Testament morality under the bus. Sadly, in Civil Christianity, when Christianity is the “in power” religion, the question of whether we can, or whether we should is asked less often, or asked only in the areas that justify ourselves. (I.E. Slavery, US border policy, the use of Nuclear weapons, the plight of Native Americans…)
      • This is contrasted with Star Trek’s invention of a WARP drive that ushered in an age of human prosperity that seemed to perfect us. Every civilization they visited that was less advanced had worse moral ethics and every civilization that was more advanced had better moral ethics.
      • Of course, Avatar leaves out the Christophanys of ET, Cool Hand Luke, and Braveheart where the protagonist is crucified and comes back to life in one form or another.
      • Star wars has a personal redemption theme without the atonement. Its perspective isn’t Christian, it is actually Wiccan in the way Vader redeems himself.
    • That brings us to atonement theology.
    • We cannot forgo the importance of the cross (the last three days of Jesus’ incarnation) and we cannot forgo the importance of Jesus’ teachings (the first three years of Jesus’ teaching). BOTH are equally important. John 17:4, Jesus prays “I have accomplished the work you sent me to do…” This is before the cross. Jesus, as God’s representative finished the imperative of His teaching. But then, as the representative of Humanity, He became the sacrifice for our sins.
    • Because of the questions: “does God exist?” and “is there such a thing as sin?” Christian Modernity focused mainly on the last 3 days of Christ’s mission on earth.
    • The culture of Post-Modernism sees the inequitable balance in Jesus ministry and begs the question: “Is the Church genuine and authentically following Jesus?” Many rejected Christianity, but not Jesus, or at least the idea of Jesus.
    • So, in Christian Post Modernity, the narrative of atonement hasn’t changed, but the narrative of Jesus’ life on earth as the representative of God, His passion for justice, love, mercy and compassion has been added. Praise God! It is a step away from Civil religion into NT Christianity.
    • Peter Gomes, in his book “The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus” describes, in the eight chapter, what I call the “neo-social justice gospel.” During the height of modernity, Christians were either into social justice (the first 3 years) or saving souls (the last 3 days), but now, Gomes himself holds to the gospel of Jesus that includes social justice and personal salvation.
  • So, from this perspective of Post-Modern Christianity, is Homosexuality a sin?
    • Yes and no. (And I am not waffling on the fence).
    • Same sex attraction is not a choice made as an act of rebellion against God, therefore it doesn’t fall into the category of “not loving God with all our heart, and not loving our neighbor as ourselves.” In the case of the deliberate choice to go against heterosexual attraction, then yes it is a sin.
    • What about same-sex attractions? Are they a sin? No –not in the concept of rebellion against God. But it is brokenness. It is less than God’s ideal. But for those who have it, and didn’t want it, it isn’t sin to them. It is similar to my diabetes. I didn’t choose it, but it is less than God’s design. Does that mean that Homosexuals are diseased? Not quite. I wince at the pejorative implication in my metaphor, but I just don’t have a good metaphor except the brokenness of the fall. (Help me, please!) Except maybe in the concept of cancer (which is not a sin). Cancer is excessive production of the wrong kind of cell. Cancer is amoral. But the point is, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, ulcers, skin problems and even obesity are all a result of the fall AND THEY AFFECT BELIEVERS AND UNBELIEVERS ALIKE.
  • So, how do we answer the question is homosexuality a sin?
    • To the Secular Modernist and Post-Modernist: “I am a sinner. H, if you want to, you may call it sin. But in this context I will call it part of the universal brokenness. It is no less or no more than my brokenness and sin. I need a Savior. Jesus loves H as much, if not more, than He loves me.” (Because He is specially tuned to the outcast and marginalized in society.)
    • To the Modern and Post-Modern homosexual: Jesus loves you and wants you in His family. He is the one who will walk with you either in, or out, of your lifestyle. It starts with Christ.
    • To the Christian Modernist: “I am going to deal with people who have same sex attractions exactly the way Jesus did, I am going to treat them as a neighbor.” When they press me for a definitive answer on whether or not they are sinners, I will walk away. (Because, in my view, it is the propositions of modernity clubbing one another and that has proven to be ineffective.)
    • To the post-modern Christian: “Open your arms and invite them into the family of God; enjoy their presence in this great adventure!”
    • To the Homosexual Christian Post-modernist: “what can I learn from that will help me on my own journey?”
    • To the Homosexual Secular Modernist: “I am sorry for the way you have been marginalized, I hope you can see in me, the Jesus that loves you and accepts you just the way you are.”
  • Taking a Stand –how the propositions of modernity failed (and are still crippling our forward progress). I alluded to this in the introduction:
    • Because Modernity was a propositional argument about the nature, source and even existence of absolute truth (Secular Post Modernity is still wrestling with that), both sides did well in delivering their propositions. And every proposition was a reaction to the other side and the propositions became more and more insular and divisive.
    • Today, the pro-H groups are doing a very good job of making it a relational issue and are moving away from the propositional arguments. They are making people think about whether or not God loves the H.
    • The worse part of this, is that in Christian Modernity, verses all three other categories (Secular Modernity, Christian PO-MO, Secular PO-MO) the propositions became so important they were “an end unto themselves.”
      • The preacher, church, or denomination that had the stronger stand against “equated themselves to be more righteous than others.”
      • So, denominations divided, argued over forms of baptism, tongues, versions of translation, eternal security, and etc. All of this was to prove to God they were faithful.
      • It became a sort of Christian competition, and the secular world laughed, ridiculed and worse, ignored the Church as irrelevant.
      • In fighting Modernity, we fought amongst ourselves in order to prove something to somebody (who?).
      • We fell victim to our own significance and lost our seat at the table in Modern World view.
      • I believe that since the last election, provocateurs have resurged some of that old debate in order to manipulate POLITICS with fear and rhetoric. How sad. The more this goes on, the more we all will be marginalized.
      • I believe this is the biggest reason why youth are leaving the Church.
  • What about the fact that Jesus didn’t mention H?
    • The Modernity debate has used that as one of its clubbing points.
    • One side says: “Since Jesus didn’t mention it, is must be okay.”
    • The other side says, “Of course He did: `A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife…’” as a proposition for hetero relations only. And then, of course, there is Sodom and Gomorrah, Romans 1 (a result of judgment, not the cause as Conservative Christian Modernists claim –same with Sodom and Gomorrah, Ezekiel 16:49-50).
      • The argument from Conservative Christian Modernity –that God will judge us for allowing the gay agenda- has it backward.
      • Materialism and Consumerism are the sins, and terminal sexual deviations (which results in the failure of a society to reproduce and survive) is the judgment.
      • And again, I am not saying that H people are under a special and worse curse. They share with everyone in the broken nature of this world. And I believe this: “At the point of our brokenness, the place where we are the most afraid that Jesus would appear, is exactly the place that He loves us the most.” We are saved by grace.
      • So, the “gay agenda” rhetoric published by the religious right is merely the work of provocateurs who exploit our fear in order to raise funds for their “righteous defenses” of God. It isn’t a slippery slope to perdition, it is grain elevator pumping more and more money onto their piles of gold. 
      • When Jesus didn’t mention it, it wasn’t because He was endorsing brokenness. No. Jesus didn’t mention it because it wasn’t important enough to fight over.
      • He was soon to provide the atoning sacrifice to restore the broken to Him.
      • Jesus was and still is about redemption, restoration, healing, and reconciliation between God, man and each other.
    • Then there is the whole imperialism, kingdom to come instead of the Kingdom here and now issue.
      • Post-Modernity distrusts “in power” faiths because of the way they have achieved and maintain control.
      • That is why Nihilism is emerging.
      • Nihilism is a reaction to the abuse of authority. It is: disestablishmentarianism taken to the up to the level of politics and national leadership.
      • Post-modernity perceives (whether or not it is true is still a debate, the perception is real to those who hold it) an historical connection between religion and the abuse of power. I suppose in the Christian context, it began with Constantine and his refusal to allow his sword arm be baptized when he “converted.”
      • He believed that his religion gave him the power to subdue others, after all they were/are merely pagans whose destiny is perdition.
      • I think the controversy right now about the “Ground Zero Mosque”, and the systemic perceptions behind 9/11 –right or wrong- indicate the fallacy of having a civil religion (like American Evangelical Christianity, or the theocratic nature of some of the more radical Muslim countries).
      • How does this relate to the H question?
      • If we are allowed to marginalize the H people, then we can also marginalize and abuse “the other” -anyone who isn’t like us.
      • Post-Modernity wonders if Christian endorsement (from the beginning of the slave trade to the election of President of Obama and beyond…) of racism and the current increasing-in-popularity evil  Christian Identity movement is any different from the reaction to the gay agenda? Without the framework of scripture, it appears to them to be the same imperialistic viewpoints.
      • And here is the worse part about it: Taking a stand against the SIN OF OTHERS to prove your righteousness while you allow suffering, injustice, marginalization of others is a far cry from the righteousness that Jesus described by “taking up your cross and following Him.”
      • “Taking a stand against” is a sacrifice that costs us little in comparison to taking up our cross. In the mega-church hysteria and manipulation for profit by the national Christian media, that “supposed sacrifice” is actually a benefit because it gains the applause of others in the Church and increases the coiffures by creating an enemy out there. In essence it is no different than Goebbels  demonizing the Jewish race in order to garner support for National Socialism.
      • It is not a real sacrifice- not while believers continue a life of over-consumption and going to church to get a commodity instead of  taking up our crosses to follow Christ. Remember, that was the downfall of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

So, if you ask me “is H a sin?” My response is “why do you ask?”

That is nor a pejorative response. If  you truly want to know how I think the Holy Spirit is leading the church in its reaction to this debate, then praise God! I applaud your willingness to seek God instead of merely listening to the rhetoric. Search yourself and inform me as well. I don’t have all the answers.

However, if one wants to prove to himself or  herself that I am either less or more biblical or spiritual than them in my ability to take a stand… …well, I won’t say it and I will repent for the temptation to think it, instead I will say in complete sincerity, without mockery: “God bless you.”

Phil Reynolds is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. He considers himself Bible Believing and still identifies as an Evangelical, but has distanced himself from the American Evangelical movement because he perceives that it has become a Political entity, manipulated by provocateurs, that has exchanged New Testament Christianity for Western Civil religion.

I have two people who I have to apologize to because I realize that I have left you completely out of my categories. I just don’t know what to do with you yet. One is a good friend and I love her dearly: SQM: “You have taught me more than you can imagine. I deeply respect the sincerity by which you have achieved your world view. I am sorry I haven’t figured out a response to the Christian Post-modern who does not see the atonement as crucial to their faith. So, I ask you to forgive me for leaving you out of my categories. When I figure out how your integrity and sincerity fits into my narrow world-view, I’ll figure out a way to include you in the categories. Again, please forgive me.

And to another man, JWB: “I deeply respect your perspective. I have  learned a lot from you. I see you as moving from Modernity to Post-Modernity in the way that you speak more of the human cost that the H controversy creates than the propositions that kept us all divided. I hope to someday visit with  you and become your friend. I hope you know that I love you. Really. I just want to hug you, and figure out a way to get through this together.”

I mentioned Gomes Book: “The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus?” Gomes, an H person writes of what I call neo-social justice Christian. He decries the lines that separated the liberals from the conservatives in the age of modernity and sees a genuine revival taking place that is both Christocentric and also Just. It is a Kingdom here, and a Kingdom to come, enjoined together.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Theology Of Libertarianism, OR “On The Origin of the Speci… …al Interests.”

Last September NPR ran a tribute to Charles Darwin on the celebration of his 200th birthday. I greatly appreciate his work and the scientific nature of his studies. He was a brilliant man and I believe he was a non-biased scientist. He himself was amazed by the impact of his book “On the Origin of the Species.” It seems to me that he was just as surprised as others by his conclusions. I am not going to vilify him. He is a fact of history.
The tribute interested me as they described the levels of impact his publication had on British/Western culture. I read that Darwin was “reluctant to publish” because of the way he thought it would negatively influence the status quo of the Church/State relationship in England. The biggest surprise being that he was buried in Westminster Abbey, right next to Sir Isaac Newton. Three years before, when I saw that stone in Westminster Abbey, I wondered: “just why he would be buried here? Didn’t he offend the Church?” Apparently not. There was a hint to why in the NPR account as they showed how his theory of the survival of the fittest resonated with the British Culture on a subconscious level.
In my opinion, Westminster Abbey is not focused on worshiping the God of the Bible. Although, there is a recent addition directly above  the Western Entrance (the primary entrance) of the abbey that has statues of 20th Century martyrs. One is not a Christian at all. One is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and one is a woman. Kudos for that! But that is not what the Abbey seems to be about. In my opinion, it is a tribute to, and and attempt at justifying, British Imperialism “in the name of Christ.” The oldest tomb is of King Edward. It dates back to the 11th Century. King Edward, The Confessor’s legacy was as a Saxon, displacing the indigenous population with brute force. To me, Westminster Abbey proclaims “The Doctrine of the Empire” not “the gospel of the Kingdom.” Luke 4:18-19 explains The good news of the Kingdom. They killed Jesus for preaching this message.
So, the tribute confirmed a suspicion that I had been researching since I went to Westminster Abbey. I contacted NPR and asked the question; “Did the concept of (Social) Darwinism resonate with the Imperialistic, Colonial mindset of the British Empire? Did it justify Imperialism?” (No answer).
In the 5th edition, Darwin changed the title of his work to: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured (sic) Races in the Struggle for Life.
You know where that went. The title change tells it all. The Eugenics and Aryan propaganda of the Hitler regime was based on the concept of Social Darwinism, the concept that society also evolved. If you want to be truly alarmed, follow this link and the links at the end of it. You will see how the Aryan race ideology is resurfacing in the American so called white identity movement and its ties to Tea Party people. (But wait until after you finish this.) It will scare you as to where the current political rhetoric is heading.
To be fair, John Hoogland does discuss the evolution of altruism as a benefit from natural selection. But the fact is, it has never been played out in human society. Human society has almost always denigrated to the justification of the survival of the fittest. It is humanity in its worse context.
So, the theology behind Libertarianism is Social Darwinism. if you want to imagine how it plays out, read Robert Heinlein’s science fiction series. Read especially “Friday” and “The Cat who walks through walls.” Or, some more recent books from the Political Science Fiction genre: William Z. Williamson: Freehold. Libertarianism contradicts NT Christianity in the fact that it sides with the Pharisee who says to Jesus: And just who is my neighbor?” (The parable of the Good Samaritan.)
I posit this question to believers: How can we reject NT Christianity in favor of a political system that justifies ignoring the plight of the poor? When Paul sought to reconcile his gospel to the Gentiles with the Gospel to the Jewish people, and the Jewish leaders of the Christian faith, didn’t they say only one important thing: “Remember the poor.” Libertarianism believes that the free market will always correct itself. (Of course, it has no explanation for slavery, the need for unions, child labor laws etc.) The free market cannot be trusted. The free market creates Oligarchies and Monopolies that control the supply and demand of a society. Just look at the $5 per gallon gas prices in 2008 and Sub-prime mortgages scandals (I know they say the Democrats forced them to lend to the poor –there is a clinical term for that).
The fact is, we need a government big enough to protect us from special interests whose conscience is “if it is good for me, then it is good, regardless of how it affects others.” I love the principles of business given in Proverbs. You can sum it up in one statement: “Just business practices must be a “win-win” for both parties.
Competition in the market place does drive us to excel. But when competition is designed to destroy the other, it is harmful. Let business compete ethically by doing good, by doing better, by improving product, not by figuring out ways to control the market for ourselves or harm the competition, the poor, the planet, the third world and the infidels.
To end this rant. Isn’t it ironic that the Conservative right, citing the Christian religion, uses Darwin to justify their politics? Isn’t it sad that these politics are so unlike the teachings of Christ?
People who love me dearly are concerned that I am leaving Christ behind in my advocacy on behalf of the poor. I want to remind everyone that Jesus spent 3 days redeeming humanity so that they can be reconciled back into God’s family and 3 years teaching the religious folk to be kind to the poor and marginalized. Which is more important to Jesus? Neither. The good news must include both. Remember, Jesus gave His life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, but THEY TOOK HIS LIFE to silence Him because He confronted their abuse of the poor.
So ask yourself: Do you believe in the Good News (Gospel) of the Kingdom of God, or do you believe in the Doctrine of the Empire?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Come Holy Spirit

Praise God for Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Several people have commented and questioned me about what a genuine move of the Holy Spirit looks like. Thank you!

One man told me that before the Vietnam war ended, he went with Pastor Liechty to Virginia to join in a circle of prayer around the Pentagon to pray for peace. He told me that when he came back here to Bear Creek, he felt a very strong urge to write Senator John Glenn to help stop the war. He said, “I am no writer; I am very shy, but I felt something stirring inside me when I wrote that letter and the end result was something much more than what I have the ability to do myself.”

Senator Glenn personally responded to his letter, told him he was moved by what he read and secured a three day moratorium on the war. Jesus told us that if we speak to a mountain, it will be cast into the sea. This brother, from right here at Bear Creek was moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke truth to power, and God did a miracle. God touched the heart of the Senator. With God all things are possible.

I know that this man’s story is one of many from here in this church. The interesting thing is, this man really wants to be incognito about what God lead him to do. Why? Because it isn’t about his ability to hear from God, it’s about God bringing glory to Jesus by sending His Holy Spirit into him. I like that approach.

My mom and I were talking about revival yesterday. God is leading her to pray for it. She asked me: “What do you think needs to happen to have revival?” My answer was simple, “God has to do it.” The questions: Is it a result of a lot of prayer? Is it a result of faithfulness of the people? Is it a result of our self-sacrifice? Is it a result of forgiveness? Is it a result of our humility? Is it a result of our repentance? Those are all good questions, and I think I can point to an historical revival somewhere when one or several of those actions by the church community were involved in the revival.

But, all of those actions are the result of revival, not the cause. The cause is God. Revival is about God, not about us. I say this: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send your Spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.”

Come Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Open Letter to Glenn Beck about Jim Wallis.

Beck's perversion of truth has tried to distort the meaning of what Social Justice. He is trying to imply that it means Marxism. Marxism is Godless Socialism. Socialism is not illegal, immoral or even unconstitutional. It is even partly Biblical. Acts 4 gives the description of an early Christian commune. But, I don’t think a purely socialistic society could work. Even the Early Christian commune had its own problems with the human sin of greed. It probably will never work this side of heaven. Jim Wallis, me and Social Justice Christians are not advocating socialism. The Bible is full of passages exalting the need and necessity and rewards for hard industrious work. The claim that we believe in “forced redistribution of the wealth” is a lie. But, forced redistribution of the wealth every 50 years itself is in itself a Biblical concept Leviticus 25:8-55. Beck’s claims are merely inflammatory distortions of the truth. Wallis has been asking him to have a public forum for a long time now. All Beck wants to do is yell.

Many sincere believers who are trying to sort out this issue say that social justice is the responsibility of the Church, not the government. I agree with the ethos behind that statement. I will even take that farther: The third century Church abdicated that responsibility to the government when the the Emperor Constantine, “got saved.” Until that time, 95% to %100% of the tithe went to the poor. Look at this link. That is one of the biggest reasons why Christianity grew so fast in those early centuries. Outsiders saw the sincere and sacrificial love of believers and converted to a faith that proved itself to be truly just.

But when Constantine had his conversion experience, he funded the Church, and then the Government indirectly funded Social Welfare. Unfortunately that has been the SOP handed down to the Church ever since. It got worse: the Church became wealthy and the means to political power, so it attracted less than sincere converts. With the wealth, and the way the government took over the welfare, believers were more and more isolated from the poor and their early roots. As the wealth of society grew, Christians became more and more dependant on their wealth and much less willing to share it. The cycle goes on. People accuse the poor of being lazy, and some are, but if one goes to an impoverished nation, or even the poor in the US and most of the time they will find, in the poor, the most generous people they ever met. They share an empathetic bond. I have witnessed it many times. Their generosity puts me to shame. We need to break that cycle.

So, the sincere believers who are trying to sort out what is right in this debate realize the mistake made by the State Church. They do not want to encourage sloth, but at the same time, their hearts have genuine compassion. So, the kindest statement made by those who oppose Social Justice Christians is that it should have been done by the Church. I agree that Social Welfare is the responsibility of the Church. The earlier link gives us an action plan for making that happen.

But it grieves me that too many believers have expressed nothing less than hatred toward the President that God gave us. Glenn Beck is dead wrong and is trying to confuse the issue. So, in order to take away his dishonest representation, we will have to change our language for a moment to help him see. let me break it down into two categories. Social WELFARE is the blessing of ministry that God lets the Church do. Social JUSTICE is mandated by God for the government to enact. Christians have responsibility in both arenas. (For those following me on Facebook, I started this week saying that Social Justice is the responsibility of the Church. But that was BBIR {Before Beck’s Ignorant Remarks}. I expect you to understand why I had to break down the issue.)

I am not condoning laziness, just ask my children. According to Isaiah 58, Social welfare is to be enacted by believers without the accusations of sloth, embezzlement, etc. But the arguments against health care reform that come to the front today, even from Christians, are primarily arguments about liberty, freedom, patriotism, the Constitution, and good ol' American resolve. These are noble things and I dearly hold those truths to be self evident, but they are second place to the teachings of Jesus. The bulk of the attacks against the Christian Social Justice position comes in the guise of Patriotic slogans.

On Thursday, March 11, I had the privilege of hearing Brother Jim Wallis at Cedarville College in Ohio. It was a debate between Rev. Wallis and Marvin Olasky the founder and Editor of World Magazine. The theme was: “A Critical Evaluation of Christian Responses to Poverty and Affluence.” Jim Wallis said: The Church should feed the poor, but the Church cannot build the levies.” I would add, the Church couldn't pass the laws that ended slavery. Among the student body, a fairly conservative Evangelical school, there were a few times that clapping broke out in support of one or the other. Most often, the clapping that broke out was in favor of Jim Wallis. It was supposed to be a "Biblical" debate. However, Marvin Olasky made a weak case for "trickle down" recovery (Isn't that what Bush41 called "Voodoo Economics?) based on Micah 6:8. His point was that the government was less than humble in its aspirations to help the poor and therefore violated the Spirit of "walking humbly." That, my friends is bad Hermeneutics. The rest of the substance of his arguments were patriotic sound-bites (one of those got the loudest and longest clap). Those sound bites implied that if you disagreed with him you were un-American and therefore, probably unchristian as well. All the while those “America is Great statements” were said, he ironically mixed them with the claim "you can't trust the government."

In my opinion, what little Scripture he used was out of context. His substance came from emotional sound-bites, some positive and some very negative. Of course, he can’t make a Biblical case against Social Justice; one simply cannot take Social Justice out of the Bible. Jim Wallis told us the story of how his study group at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois (one of the more conservative Seminaries in the nation) did an academic study of Biblical passages that referred to Social Justice, helping the poor, caring for the least of these and found at least 2,000 Biblical references.

I know that the extreme right's position states that in order for it to be Christian it must be voluntary, not compulsory. And the believers referred to in the first paragraph who think that it is "only the responsibility of the Church" are correct in the fact that the Church dropped the ball when Constantine "got saved" and Christian Social Welfare became a function of the State Church. (BTW, Christians Social Welfare by the State Church in England works very well. Jim Wallis' Spiritual advisorship to our President has mainly to do with ways that we can maintain constitutional freedoms and still support "faith based initiatives." Isn't it ironic that the Red Party, who decried the limitation of Faith Based initiatives during their won administration is now in effect lining up AGAINST THEM?)

Likewise, the church cannot pass the law to provide health care to the 30+ million Americans who do not have it. The government has responsibility for social justice, and it is Biblical. Look at this scripture about the greedy of King of Judah as Jeremiah compares him to his Father and talks about why God blessed his father: Jeremiah 22:15-16 "Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" declares the LORD.

Christians, do you want to see revival? Then embrace God’s Word:

Amos 5:24 (The Message)

21-24"I can't stand your religious meetings.
I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That's what I want. That's all I want.


Isaiah 58 (The Message)

Isaiah 58
Your Prayers Won't Get Off the Ground
1-3 "Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what's wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
They're busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they're a nation of right-living people—
law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, 'What's the right thing to do?'
and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
'Why do we fast and you don't look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don't even notice?'
3-5"Well, here's why:

"The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit.
You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
won't get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I'm after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, God, would like?

6-9"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
9-12"If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

13-14"If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don't use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God's holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,'
making money, running here and there—
Then you'll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I'll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I'll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob."
Yes! God says so!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Can’t we have a conversation?

A facebook friend of mine, the president of the Republican Party Toastmaster club in Dayton Ohio posted on her facebook page and I responded. Not only is she an avid Republican, but like me, she is an avid Christian. On most days, she posts a “scripture of the day” reference that is always a blessing to me. However, one day she posted this on her wall and I responded with another scripture for her to consider. One fellow, a kind hearted individual named Greg showed that some people can have a conversation, but others cannot.

A man named Mark took me to task privately afterwards. So, I posted the initial wall dialogue and then posted his intercourse with me.

When we get to the place where I post the inbox messages, I did a spell check and cleaned up a couple of wrong words on my end (wrong words indicated with a bold, italic text in parenthesis). I started changing the way he spelled democrats, than then realized that he was intentionally leaving out the c.

Text of orignial wall post.
Deborah Mulholand OBAMA WATCH CENTRALPresident makes Top 10 list of corrupt politiciansBelieves he 'can violate privacy rights of Americans' without legal consequence



President Obama has been named to a Top 10 list he'd likely be grateful to avoid: Judicial Watch's Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians. The Obama White House believes, said the report from the organization that monitors government for corruption,

Wed at 8:17pm · Comment ·LikeUnlike · View Feedback (12)Hide Feedback (12) · Share

3 people like this.

Phil Reynolds

Phil Reynolds

Scripture for the day: 1 Timothy 2:1-4, the good news is, as believers, we have the power to bless.

Wed at 8:49pm ·

Gregg Nicholl

Gregg Nicholl

Romans 1- and "God gave them over . . ." God's wrath of abandonment: a nation turns its back on God and God simply lets them go, reaping the natural consequences of their actions. Better go the 2 Chr. 7:14 route ASAP.

Wed at 10:10pm

Phil Reynolds

Phil Reynolds

So, Romans 1 trumps 1 Tim 2:1-4 as if it isn't scripture? Or, does Romans 1 have to do with a lack of concern for the poor and the idolatry of materialism: Ezekiel 16:48-49? Maybe 2 Chr 7:14 has to do with GOD's people in relationship to Isaiah 58. Maybe that is how revival is won. Maybe the "giving over" from Romans 1 has to do with Leviticus 19:33-34 when God says "I will judge you for calling not calling "illegals" the term Jesus used: "Neighbors."

Wed at 11:12pm ·

Gregg Nicholl

Gregg Nicholl

I was not responding to your Scripture quote but the text of the article posted by Deborah. I apologize if I have somehow offended you.
Romans Chapter 1, in my opinion, is the locus of control for the malaise we are experiencing in the present age. This is the root cause of our societal problems- a hardness of heart begotten from turning the back on God in a macro or national sense. I wasn't trying to "trump" your Scripture quote. I am not interested in playing "silly church games." Lord knows there have been way too many people who twist Scripture for their own aims. There have been way too many church folk who seek to assert their superiority in the church pecking order through the throwing out of Scripture quotes verbatim and using clever "Christian" catch phrases like bumper stickers for life in order to impress the bretheren And God knows how many people continue to use Scripture to cut the hearts out of their brothers and sisters. I am NOT that way and if I would ever drift into such nonsense, I would trust that someone would correct me, confront me, or hit me over the head with a ballbat. It is indeed sad and it is one of the many reasons that the contemporary American Church has had such a minimal impact upon the greater culture.... See More
Chronicles 7:14 was taken out of context. It specifically applies to ancient Israel. However, it does serve as a good example of what to do in these trying times. Humility and prayer are always good things. Additionally, It shows how God spared a nation that turned its back on Him in the past; a nation that had many years of kings that adopted the evil ways of the other nations. Granted, it was ancient Israel, God's chosen people, however,it shows how He responded in the past to a people that were His own. In New Covenant times, Christians would be considered as God's people. America was founded on Christian principles and (until recently) considered itself a "Christian nation". Hence, the illustration. God is immutable- He never changes.
Once again, Phil, I was not trying to respond to your Scripture quote, but only to the article as posted by Deborah. I am sorry if this has caused any offense to you or anyone else. It was certainly not my intention and, as stated before, I don't play games with the Word of God. I was merely attempting to illustrate a possible causation for the madness that has taken hold in this country. I am sorry and I do apologize for my comments.

Yesterday at 5:38am

Deborah Mulholand

Deborah Mulholand

Greg: I'm not sure what your ASAP was all about, but my purpose in posting is that the Obama Administration is pretending to be "Christian" but our dear Prez won't darken the door of a church and hangs out with his Muslim friends and loves reading Harry Potter books to his daughters more than reading from the Bible. Obama says that we're NOT a Christian nation any more. Oh, Really?????????????

Yesterday at 9:18am

Gregg Nicholl

Gregg Nicholl

ASAP? (As Soon As Possible?) I don't understand. I explained my initial posting above, along with an apology to all concerned. There was no offense meant. it was just a reaction to continued examples of what happens when a nation turns its back On God as we have done in the past. Corruption permeates every level of government. There is no ... See Moreshame either. Consider Mary Landrieu's comments (D-Louisiana) referencing the amount of money it took to buy her vote on healthcare, "It wasn't 150 million, it was 300 million." This, to me, exmplifies Romans 1. And, as I have repeated, I am sorry for causing offense. It just made sense to me. Thanks. Take care.

Yesterday at 2:05pm

Deborah Mulholand

Deborah Mulholand

Greg: I'm still confused about those "Bumper Stickers For Life"! I've always felt they were a proclamation of loyalty to those "least among us" who need our protection. Those who are proudly pro-life, are fellow believers I can trust and call my friends.

30 minutes ago

END of wall posts, now Mark Buse asks me a question in my inbox. At the beginning of the conversation, his picture was visible and there was always a “reply” button. But after his last post, he deleted any access by me to him, his picture disappeared and the reply button did not exist anymore.

I weep for our nation:

Mark BuseDecember 31, 2009 at 2:43am Report

' So, Romans 1 trumps 1 Tim 2:1-4 as if it isn't scripture? Or, does Romans 1 have to do with a lack of concern for the poor and the idolatry of materialism: Ezekiel 16:48-49? Maybe 2 Chronicles 7:14 has to do with GOD's people in relationship to Isaiah 58. Maybe that is how revival is won. Maybe the "giving over" from Romans 1 has to do with Leviticus 19:33-34 when God says "I will judge you for calling not calling "illegals" the term Jesus used: "Neighbors." '

So are you furious that the nation doesn't treat invading thieves better? Or is this a statement of judgment against all of the home nations that abused their poor so thoroughly that they came to America to escape conditions that are far worse?

Phil Reynolds December 31, 2009 at 10:00am

God bless you.
I am a conservative theologian and a pastor. I try not to begin a dialogue with accusations of self-righteous and angry L******* or angry C***********. It kind of makes it hard to have a conversation. What this country needs is a conversation instead of rhetoric. If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand. It seems to me that the politicians are more interested in politics than in healing our nation. I would love to elaborate further, as long as we can have a conversation.
Having said that, I don't see any evil in the word liberal. Liberal means "generous" and conservative means "to conserve" or to "hang (hand) on to." Of course, the ability to be generous most often begins with wise financial decisions that conserve wealth by eliminating irresponsible spending. When I see the call of God on the life of Abraham (Genesis 12) I read a spiritual principle, that apparently you also agree with (from your response on Deb Mulholland's page), that principle is that God blessed Abraham for the express purpose that he could be a blessing to others. I believe that principle is what you are saying when you say that we need to build up other nations so that people aren't so desperate to flee here. If we can do that, then we can eliminate a brain drain on the resources of those other nations.
I pause at your question "are you furious....?" I hadn't thought about it that way, that I am the one who is furious. Generally, the way to tell who is furious in a conversation has to do with their rhetoric, accusations or use of derogative or prerogative terms about the person they are taking with. Sometimes, I consider that debate tactic -attacking the character of those we disagree with- as an admission of defeat.
But, you are right, I am angry with the way the conversation has become to mean-spirited. I am angry that the name calling isn't going to move us from point a to point b. I believe there are sincere, honest thinkers on either side of the debate. If we, people like you and I, can model a respectful conversation, then perhaps that attitude will spread like leaven in a loaf of bread. It seems to me that our politicians are not interested in healing the land and it is up to us to start a grass roots conversation that will lead the way.
My comment on Deb's post was a reaction to the link. A knee jerk reaction and I am sorry for that. I do not know if you consider yourself a believer in Jesus Christ or not, but I know that Deb makes it clear that she has a deep and abiding faith. She deliberately represents Christianity on her facebook page. And, I was showing her from scripture that Christians are called to bless, and pray for, their government. God made it clear to Daniel and the Babylonian kings that God is the one who sets governments in power. If we represent Christ, then we need to reflect a biblical response over a political/national response.
I mentioned that I am a conservative theologian, and that means that my first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God. I am patriotic and I love the USA. But I am first and foremost a citizen of God's Kingdom and that Kingdom knows no national borders.
So, I believe, and this is just my opinion and faith, I am not asking you to adopt it for yourself. But I believe that although the nations that exploit their poor are reprehensible for their actions, their actions do not preclude us from obeying the scriptures. I believe the command in Leviticus 19:33-34 is a standard by which God will judge a nation as either righteous or evil. I believe that our national/political/financial interests do not take precedence over clear commands in scripture. I believe that our restrictive border policies are in direct violation of God's commandments for a just society and that by ignoring them, we place ourselves in a position to lose the blessing of God. I am not asking you to believe what I believe.
So, yes I am angry. I am also angry that both political parties are beating each other over the head with scriptures and obfuscating the (that) conversation that will heal our land. I am angry that Christianity is suborned by politics on both sides of the issue. And I am on a mission to ask people to have respectful conversations with each other instead of name calling.
I believe in the sincerity and integrity of those who disagree with me and I hope they can believe in the sincerity of my beliefs as well.
Mark, we can change the world.
Phil Reynolds

Mark BuseDecember 31, 2009 at 3:54pm Report

We can change the world as faithful witnesses to the Gospel. That includes an honest representation of what we support in the political aspects of life. I cannot believe that anyone can be a 'conservative' from a theological standpoint and in any way approve the legion of evil constituencies and policies that are bundled together in the modern Dem party or its leader, Odrama.
While I hope that every Christian prays for evil actors in politics every day, it is not our job to publicly bless their evil policies or behavior.
For example, I believe that it's quite proper and correct to pray openly for the salvation of BHO, Pelosi, etc, that they might turn from their destructive and damning evil.

Mark BuseDecember 31, 2009 at 3:59pm Report

The example of Daniel AND Esther are excellent ones to use in this context. While Daniel was properly respectful toward the despot Nebecudnezzar, he was NOT blindly obedient to his evil policies. In fact, the Lord turned the evil despot to Himself and I believe eventually to salvation because faithful believers did take a defiant stand against overtly EVIL policies and commands. That behavior was repeated by the Apostolic Church and the Lord Himself in their defiance of the evil Jewish leadership of their day. That continued throughout Church history as righteous believers defied wicked leaders and paid with their lives as martyrs.
And did Esther BLESS 'that vile Haman' and did her uncle bow to that vile man as protocol demanded?? Certainly not.

Mark BuseDecember 31, 2009 at 4:00pm Report

So I repeat, are you one who votes by proxy for the mass-murder of abortion through the one political party and its truly evil leadership the keeps that form of murder common, profitable, and legal?

Phil Reynolds December 31, 2009 at 4:56pm

Again, God bless you in the name of Jesus. Can I assume that your statement "being witnesses of the gospel" and knowledge of the OT minor prophets means that you too are a follower of Christ Jesus?
The short answer to your question is: I vote according to the principles revealed to us by God in the book we commonly refer to as "the Bible." I vote the Bible and I take its morals, values and definitions of righteous and just activity as a standard whereby I vote my politics. I believe that the creation of the US constitution is a miracle given to us by the same God of the Christian faith. Although it is not scripture, it seems to have had divine help in its construction. It is a gift from God. I do not vote political party lines. I don't bite "hook, line and sinker" the claims of either political party. And again, I am disgusted at the childish level of rhetoric perpetrated by people who call themselves Christians. It is as if those people are still saying: "Lord, is this the time you are going to restore the kingdom of Israel?" Jesus made it clear, the Kingdom of God is in the hearts of men and women and transcends national borders. It seemed to me that He was frustrated with the fact that the apostles didn't "Get it" when He kept telling them that politics is not the answer to the world, He is.
Now the long answer. I marched in the "right to life march" in January of 1981. It was 18 degrees below zero when we started the march. I came across a Southern Baptist pastor who was a friend of my twin brother. I was studying at Bible College in preparation for pastoral ministry and wanted to make a good impression on every preacher I met since I could gain advice, help, mentoring and insights into my calling by cultivating those relationships. In other words, I was listening instead of speaking. The preacher said something to me near the end of the route. He said: "I wonder where all the black people are? Why aren't they concerned about stopping abortion?"
I found his question odd. I found his question to be racially biased in an unchristian way. I remember thinking "why notice? Why single out this other race as being less since they didn't join our cause?" But, I took his question to heart and investigated the reason why the defeat of abortion was not as important to the African American community AT THE TIME as it was to the Caucasian American community. My investigation lead me to this answer: "While we were wondering where they were during the right to life marches, they were wondering where we were during the civil rights marches." I am sure there are many other reasons, but the consensus of my investigation is that this was the primary reason.
The same passion that the American Evangelical Christian Community of which I am a part of that has fueled our passion against abortion also fuels my passion for human rights in every area. I believe that access to health care is an human rights concern. I believe that compassion toward our neighbors who are at worse called "illegals" and at best called: "undocumented residents" should extend to the words of Jesus and we should call them: "neighbor." Remember, the Pharisee "wishing to justify himself" asked Jesus: "who is my neighbor?" And Jesus launched the story of the good Samaritan. What would Jesus call the undocumented resident? Would He call them anything less than "neighbor?" So, I vote the bible. There is a lot more to being just, caring and loving toward our fellow man than stopping abortion.

Phil Reynolds December 31, 2009 at 5:29pm

We have a favorable court, and unless something drastic happens, Obama's presidency will not change that court. I remember my Republican vote for Reagan in order to get a favorable court and he gave us Suiter. The party line vote did not stop it. Abortion will not stop by legislation, it will stop by revival. We need the 2 Chronicles 7:14 promises to come true and it starts by the believers being HUMBLE. This spite filled rhetoric is certainly not reflective of the humble nature of Jesus.
I appreciate you picking up on the Daniel prophesy and strong stands against evil and for righteousness. Remember when Daniel interpreted Nebachanezzar's dream? God is judging the tyrant because of his arrogance and unwillingness to acknowledge God's sovereignty over all nations. So, Daniel tells him to repent and perhaps God will stay His hand of judgment. What does he say repentance looks like? He says, "stop sinning by making sure the poor get justice." Daniel says nothing about his idolatry, his drunken (drunker) party, his huge harem, etc. He tells him this: repentance is making sure human rights are not violated. Haman wanted to violate the human rights of the alien (Jews) living in the land.
John the Baptist says the same thing. He criticizes the people who are coming to get baptized because they want to look righteous, religious and good. He tells them that they have no intention of repenting and that if they don't: "The axe is laid at the trees..." So, some of them hear and are convicted and decide to genuine repentance and they ask John, "What does repentance look like?" John says: "if you have two coats, give one to someone who has none. If you have extra food, share it with the hungry." John said nothing about taking a stand against socialism, big government. As a matter of fact, in today's current political climate, John's answer would probably be criticized because "it smacks of socialism and that is un-American (unamerican)."
Listen, God gave Sodom and Gomorrah over to their perverted pleasures because they "were proud, arrogant, had a lack of concern for the poor and were lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (Ezekiel 16:48) God judged them twice. The first time, He gave them over to their perversions (proven as a method of judgment by God on a culture in Romans 1) and the second judgment, because they didn't repent when He exposed their materialism was the hellfire and brimstone. God judged Abhimilech when he took Sarah as his wife when Abraham lied. God kept all the women in the land from getting pregnant. Terminal sexual deviations -the lack of a culture to reproduce- is the judgment of God on a culture. Abortion is not the reason we will be judged, it is God's judgment. And the repentance must start in the house of God. The whole 2 Chronicles 7:14 ASAP comment is true. But, the repentance that God calls for is one of justice for everyone. Justice for our "neighbors" who flee to this land in ORDER TO LIVE. Justice for the marginalized cultures who live within our land, justice for those who cannot get healthcare, justice for those who do not have the chance to get a viable education. "With liberty, freedom and Justice FOR ALL"
Final question: Isn't the debate between "big government" vs. "small government" actually a debate between restrained vs unrestrained capitalism? Hasn't this debate gone on since Hamilton and Jefferson dialogued back and forth? Couldn't we have the same civil discourse instead of all this mean-spirited rhetoric?
Mark, you can I can change the world.

Mark BuseJanuary 1 at 4:34am Report

The debate is between voluntary relationships, including the economic ones, among the people working together Under God, or an authoritarian state worshiped by the people in idolatry, as the Lord condemned roundly at the time of Samuel as a sign that the people had rejected HIM.
In that sense, all statist-minded liberals, who worship the power and fantasy benevolence of an all-consuming state have rejected God's way most thoroughly.
In a sense, you use 'capitalism' as an epithet and curse against the free will that is the Lord's gift.
Generally, I like the way you have discussed Scripture, but you also read a wrong conclusion from Daniel. Remember how in the narrative, Daniel himself sternly lectures Nebecudnezzar's son/successor for failing to turn from evil and acknowledge the Lord as his predecessor/father had done. The Lord had provided that wicked leader a representation of His very hand to write out his condemnation on the wall. In a sense, what many Christians are doing is calling out to our present vile, anti-God leadership that the 'hand-writing is on the wall' and we shall bring down their vile governance using our higher law of the constitution.
Your proposition that we are in rebellion against God-ordained government is dead wrong because we are the ones following the highest God-ordained law for our nation, our Constitution. We are condemning the vile usurpers who trample that Constitution no less than when the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel trampled God's Law and murdered God's prophets.
Abortion is not the Lord's Judgment that we have not been socialistic or communistic enough, because those of us who are neither are the ones who are personally generous in helping the poor and needy as the liberals, and especially liberal Dem constituencies are not.
Illegal aliens are not the same as legitimate foreign guests within a nation, who are to be treated as equals. They made a decision, usually an entirely selfish one on which their lives did not depend, to steal access to a nation against God's ordained government for both our nation and their nation of origin. What you are advocating is that it's ok to flaunt the law because you want MORE for your life whether it's legal or not. You turn morality on its head.
So I ask you again, are you voting for the mass-murder of abortion? You claim that Reagan gave us Suiter when he did not. That was Bush41, who was deceived into that mistake. What we get instead from Democrats is a hard-line pro-abortion litmus test for their appointees, and the most vicious attacks on good men like Thomas who made it through their evil torture, and Bork, who did not. Had Democrats not been so vicious, the Federal mandate for abortion would have ended long, long ago.

Mark BuseJanuary 1 at 4:38am Report

Notions of "social justice" the modern leftist code-word for economic equalization, can NEVER trump mass-murder, even if it were true that one party was thwarting economic justice---in which case it would be the Dems who are systematically GUILTY of that crime. Their endless abuse of generous business people, their endless demonizing lies against every successful person and venture are an abomination before the Lord who provided those blessings. They are the party of Coveting everything, stealing from others, lying as they claim to be benefactors, and murders of the unborn. No Christian should have anything to do with such systematic evil.

Mark BuseJanuary 1 at 4:45am Report

The Lord's kingdom is indeed always coming; let it come through His people rather than in spite of them.
Since we have to make real choices, I choose Conservatives for now since they are far more inclined toward the Lord and His kingdom than the other side.

Mark BuseJanuary 1 at 4:52am Report

Luke 22:24-28
24Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
This is such a direct REBUKE to those who attempt to RULE over others as false benefactors.

Mark BuseJanuary 1 at 4:55am Report

And this passage from Mark 10 (also in Luke)
The Rich Young Man/Ruler
17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’d”
20“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
I've never met a poor redistributionist Demorat politician. They are all the worst kind of greedy, hypocritical, self-enriching LIARS while ripping the righteous people of our society as 'extreme'. We have had enough of their evil.

Mark BuseJanuary 1 at 5:05am Report

I don't believe that our views are reconcilable because your sect seems to have heretically chopped out major sections of the OT and Revelation parts of Scripture to come up with a generalized 'anti-war' philosophy that is premature at best.
Only with the new Heaven and Earth, when evil and death have been destroyed shall there be total peace.
Until then, anti-war means lying down for despotism, a vile repudiation of the role that the Lord has provided for government to protect its citizens.

Phil Reynolds January 1 at 9:46am

Mark, again, God bless you.
After 9/11, I found an Inman (Imman) who was willing to respond to people who might be interested in the Islamic faith. After several discourses I asked him: "What would it take for there to be peace between Israel and the Arabs?"
He answered: "They kill our children, they steal our homes, they bomb our cities. There can never be a peace until we destroy them completely."
I posited back to him: "Consider this scenario, Jesus was hanging on a cross looking at the men who murdered Him and said, `Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing?'" Sooner or later, one side is going to have to be the bigger person and seek a means for peace and a respectful dialogue because during the process, too many innocents will be destroyed.
What is it about Jesus nature, His command to turn the other cheek, His passion for the poor, His statement that a kingdom divided itself cannot stand, His command to bless those who curse us -to bless and curse not-, to treat people the way you want to be treated instead of the way you have been spitefully treated, and His nature conveyed to Peter who tells us to try to convince other people "with gentleness and respect" that so called Christians like you don't see? Do you really think this hard line of stopping everything the other political party does, twisting the Word of God by implying things like undocumented residents are not our neighbors, and obfuscating the truth of God's word by implying the US constitution is more important than God's Holy Word is acting in Christian love?
Mark, if you and I could have a conversation, then there is hope. We could change the world.

Phil Reynolds January 1 at 12:38pm

God bless you, Mark.
I am using the question of undocumented residents as a metaphor for our "Christian" nation but there are many other issues we could use as well.
You imply that our constitution implies that undocumented residents are "illegals." I am saying that the Bible calls them neighbor. You say, the US constitution is the highest authority in our country. And I agree. However, the Bible is the highest authority for me and if we are going to call ourselves a Christian nation, then we cannot pick and choose those passages that Augustine used to justify Roman imperialism. We need to accept and live by the whole council of scripture.
I have not tried to change your politics in this debate, I have only asked you and others like you, who name Christ as Savior to conduct yourselves in a manner that honors the Savior. I mentioned that I although I am a patriotic US citizen who believes in the good that we can do, I am first and foremost a member and citizen of the Kingdom of God. The apostles asked the question: "Should we obey God or man's laws?" I believe that I have a purpose and that is to help this nation get back into favor with God so that abortion, pornography and other terminal sexual deviations will be removed and the proof of our excessive materialism will stop.
Mark, we need the dialectical discourse to keep ourselves in balance. There is no reason why we as Christians cannot do it in a Christian manner?
Do you agree? Can a conversation help us to heal the land or is the only solution the elimination of one political party over the other? Where would America be if Jefferson AND Hamilton hadn't carried on a respectful discourse and shaped our values? Why can't we do the same?
Mark, We, you and I, can change this world.

Mark BuseJanuary 1 at 2:36pm Report

As I mentioned before, you are so steeped in your heresy and folly that the best I can do for you and others like you is pray for you before you destroy our nation and tens of millions of other people around the world.

End of posts:

I guess a conversation is not possible with some. How sad.