Blog Archive


Friday, January 30, 2009
Hugh Hewitt interviewed the Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland on his radio show this week. It is a very informative and thought-provoking interview, especially for Christians.
[T]he first thing that I see can be understood by the difference between negative and positive rights. A negative right is a right for me to be protected from harm if I try to get something for myself. A positive right would be my right to have something provided for me. If health care is a negative right, then the state has an obligation to keep people from preventing me from getting health care and discriminating against me. If health care’s a positive right, then the state has an obligation to provide it for me. As I read the New Testament, the government’s responsibility, and by the way, I think the Old Testament prophets say this, too, is I read the prophets in the New Testament, the government’s job is to protect negative rights, not to provide positive rights. So as a Christian, I believe in a minimal government. It’s not the government’s job to be providing the health care benefits for people. So I will be looking to see if Obama does things to minimize the role of government in culture, and to provide for as much human freedom as possible.
I think that Christians believe the Bible has something to say about everything. The Bible has something to say about science, it has something to say about sex in marriage, it has something to say about money. Well why wouldn’t the Bible has something to say about the state? It doesn’t make any sense to me that the Bible would be silent about this one topic when it has something to say about virtually everything else including art, history and so on. So I think what pastors have to do is to simply teach their congregations and lead by example about what the Bible says about the role of the state in public life. I think it’s more important to teach a general political theology than it is to get involved in specific issues from the beginning, because it’s going to be your political philosophy that informs those issues.
This last part is SO true. The American church has done an AWFUL job of promoting a Biblically-based political philosophy, instead choosing to focus on the details of abortion, marriage, etc. So what we've reaped is thousands of young Christians who have no understanding of Christian conservatism but believe that it only has something to say about the so-called "social" agenda, like abortion and gay marriage. Moreland continues:
[T]his is something that pastors need to understand, that to be left-leaning in these days means to be secular. And so one concern that the Christian Church will have towards the movement of politics to the far left is that this represents the secularization of American culture, and the minimalization of religious ideas. You know, Richard John Neuhaus made the point that once religion is taken out of the public square, the state will become totalitarian, because according to Neuhaus, it was the state’s job to protect and preserve human rights, and to mediate the authority of the state to the people and conversely. And I think pastors have a responsibility to teach about a whole range of issues from a Christian perspective. Let me give you another example, Hugh. As I understand that love and compassion have to be voluntary, you can’t force someone to show compassion to someone, but the state does its job by coercion in taxes, and it forces money in one direction as opposed to another. It follows from this that the state can’t show compassion. The state can mete out justice, but it cannot show compassion if compassion is in fact voluntary. It would seem to me, then, as a Christian view of the state, that it is not the state’s job by and large to be showing compassion, but rather to be enforcing criminal justice and so on. If I were a pastor then, I would be emphasizing the fact that it is primarily charities’ job to show compassion, not the state’s.
So the first thing a pastor should do [with regards to political involvement] and the Church should do is to enlist people like the dickens to be involved in the political process and vote. It is unconscionable that we have these rights, and that we have an obligation as disciples of Jesus to try to bring goodness and truth to society, that we don’t use all means available to promote just laws and a just and stable social order through the political process. And so voting is absolutely critical. That’s step one.
Step two, there should be teaching about four topics – first, the culture of life. It is important to vote for a political party that seeks to promote a culture of life. That’s a Christian value. Second, we ought to be promoting a minimal view of the government that follows from my distinction about negative and positive rights. The government has a very limited role in culture as far as the New Testament is concerned. Third, we ought to promote a government that seeks to maintain control over crime and has a strong anti-crime policy. And then finally, it is primarily the job of charity and the local church to care for the poor, and to be involved in that kind of outreach. It is not primarily the state’s job. And so what a pastor should be doing is teaching and leading by example in his church about reaching out to the poor, providing education, food, clothing and job training, and doing it through charities rather than the coercive machinery of the state.
[I]f the Republican Party is closer to a Christian view, then so be it. If the Democratic Party’s closer, then so be it. I’m a Republican at this point, because I find that its policies, when Republicans are acting like Republicans, tend to be closer to my read of the Old and New Testaments than the Democratic Party. So I don’t vote Republican because I care about Republicans, or because I’m politically conservative for its own sake. I’m political conservative because I think that’s the view that the Old and New Testaments teach, and I’ve done a fair amount of study about this.
I will say there’s one important link to this whole thing that I haven’t mentioned yet, and that is that the key to an Evangelical political involvement is what is called natural moral law. Natural moral law is the belief that there is objective morality that can be known by all people from Creation, without the Bible. Natural moral law teaches that there is a right and wrong in the Created world, that can be known by people, without having to turn to the Bible. This is important because the Evangelical does not want to place the state under Scripture. That would be to create a theocracy, and that has never been a good idea. What we want is we want to place the state under the natural moral law. Therefore, if an Evangelical is going to be for traditional marriage, and it’s going to be against gay marriage, it cannot use Scripture to argue that case in the public square. It can be preached from the pulpit that this is a Biblical view, but when it comes to political engagement, it is not our attempt to place the state under the Bible, but to place it under the natural moral law. So it would follow, then, that Christians need to learn how to provide independent arguments for traditional marriage that do not require premises from the Scriptures.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Piper reminded his readers this week of the 15 pro-life truths which Christians can speak to others.
"It's beyond the dream. We're just here feeling it with the throngs of people. It's amazing grace personified." - Oprah

"I pledge to be a servant to our President and to all mankind because together we can, together we are, and together we will be the change that we seek." - Ashton Kutcher and other celebrities

"Born Again American"
Thursday, January 22, 2009
by the Rev. William J. H. Boetcker

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
So Obama became the first president to snub the Medal of Honor Ball.
Today is the 36th anniversary of the moral scourge called Roe v Wade. So it would seem appropriate that the MOST RADICALLY PRO-ABORTION president in history would choose this day to repeal laws which have helped lower abortion rates in the last eight years. God help us!
In one of his first acts as president, Barack Obama is planning to lift a rule that prevents federal money from going to international family planning groups that counsel women on abortion or perform the procedure.
He is also considering lifting Bush administration restrictions on federally funded stem cell research.
On the eve of Obama's inauguration, aides were still determining the schedule under which the 44th president would make specific announcements. But one date that has special significance in the debate over funding for international family planning groups is Jan. 22 -- the 36th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

The rule prohibiting federal aid for international family planning groups, called the "Mexico City policy," was announced by President Reagan during a 1984 population conference in that city. Critics call it the "global gag rule" because it discourages family planning groups from discussing abortion.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This week we remembered Sanctitiy of Human Life Sunday... Russell Moore gives a great perspective on the need for such a day.
I don’t hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I think it, somehow, unbiblical. No, indeed. The entire canon throbs with God’s commitment to the fatherless and to the widows, his wrath at the shedding of innocent blood. I don’t hate it because I think it’s inappropriate. Just as every Lord’s Day should be Easter, with the proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus, and Christmas, with the announcement of the Incarnation, so every Lord’s Day should highlight the worth and dignity of human life.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn’t have to say. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies. No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, economic status. The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness.
I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that as I’m preaching there are babies warmly nestled in wombs who won’t be there tomorrow. I’m reminded that there are children, maybe even blocks from my pulpit, who’ll be slapped, punched, and burned with cigarettes before nightfall. I’m reminded that there are elderly men and women languishing away in loneliness, their lives pronounced to be a waste.

But I also love Sanctity of Human Life Sunday when I think about the fact that I serve a congregation with ex-orphans all around, adopted into loving families. I love to reflect on the men and women who serve every week in pregnancy centers for women in crisis. And I love to see men and women who have aborted babies find their sins forgiven, even this sin, and their consciences cleansed by Christ.

We’ll always need Christmas. We’ll always need Easter. But I hope, please Lord, someday soon, that Sanctity of Human Life Day is unnecessary.
Monday, January 19, 2009
A pastor has written an open letter to Obama asking him to reconsider his position on abortion. Pray that he will!
Thursday, January 08, 2009

First Things sadly announced that Richard John Neuhaus passed away this morning. In his honor and memory, I am posting the speech he gave at the 2008 National Right to Life convention.
All that has been and all that will be is premised upon the promise of Our Lord’s return in glory when, as we read in the Book of Revelation, “he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be sorrow nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And all things will be new.

That is the horizon of hope that, from generation to generation, sustains the great human rights cause of our time and all times—the cause of life. We contend, and we contend relentlessly, for the dignity of the human person, of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, destined from eternity for eternity—every human person, no matter how weak or how strong, no matter how young or how old, no matter how productive or how burdensome, no matter how welcome or how inconvenient. Nobody is a nobody; nobody is unwanted. All are wanted by God, and therefore to be respected, protected, and cherished by us.

We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until all the elderly who have run life’s course are protected against despair and abandonment, protected by the rule of law and the bonds of love. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every young woman is given the help she needs to recognize the problem of pregnancy as the gift of life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, as we stand guard at the entrance gates and the exit gates of life, and at every step along way of life, bearing witness in word and deed to the dignity of the human person—of every human person.

Against the encroaching shadows of the culture of death, against forces commanding immense power and wealth, against the perverse doctrine that a woman’s dignity depends upon her right to destroy her child, against what St. Paul calls the principalities and powers of the present time, this convention renews our resolve that we shall not weary, we shall not rest, until the culture of life is reflected in the rule of law and lived in the law of love.
We do not know, we do not need to know, how the battle for the dignity of the human person will be resolved. God knows, and that is enough. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta and saints beyond numbering have taught us, our task is not to be successful but to be faithful. Yet in that faithfulness is the lively hope of success. We are the stronger because we are unburdened by delusions. We know that in a sinful world, far short of the promised Kingdom of God, there will always be great evils. The principalities and powers will continue to rage, but they will not prevail.

In the midst of the encroaching darkness of the culture of death, we have heard the voice of him who said, “In the world you will have trouble. But fear not, I have overcome the world.” Because he has overcome, we shall overcome. We do not know when; we do not know how. God knows, and that is enough. We know the justice of our cause, we trust in the faithfulness of his promise, and therefore we shall not weary, we shall not rest.
The journey has been long, and there are miles and miles to go. But from this convention the word is carried to every neighborhood, every house of worship, every congressional office, every state house, every precinct of this our beloved country—from this convention the word is carried that, until every human being created in the image and likeness of God—no matter how small or how weak, no matter how old or how burdensome—until every human being created in the image and likeness of God is protected in law and cared for in life, we shall not weary, we shall not rest. And, in this the great human rights struggle of our time and all times, we shall overcome.
Neuhaus is now at rest for eternity with his Lord.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Here's a news article I read this morning. At face value, it's nothing particularly interesting, just a despicable rape by three men of a woman (who happens to be a lesbian). However, this was illuminating of the culture in which we live:
Hate-crime enhancements were added to charges against Salvador, which could mean a more severe sentence if he is convicted. Authorities say the woman was taunted for being a lesbian during the 45-minute assault.
"The crimes that were committed at face value were shocking," Lt. Mark Gagan said. "But when it was revealed there was also a hate crime enhancement, it really prompted outcry."
So gang rape is now considered less wrong than taunting someone about their lifestyle choices? Apparently, in our Western society, it is more evil (or at least more noteworthy) to say or think a "prejudice" than to commit a vicious crime. To use a term of Stalin's, they are "engineering our souls." This reminds me of a short story in Dalrymple's essay "It's This Bad."
[A]n Oxford student who, slightly drunk after celebrating the end of his exams, approached a mounted policeman. “Excuse me,” said the young man to the policeman, “do you realize your horse is gay?”

This was not a very witty remark, but it was hardly filled with deep malice either. It was, perhaps, a manifestation of the youthful silliness of which most of us have been guilty in our time.
The policeman did not think the student’s remark was innocent, however. He called two squad cars to his aid, and, in a city in which it is notoriously difficult to interest the police in so trivial a matter as robbery or burglary, they arrived almost at once. Apparently, the mounted policeman thought—if thought is quite the word I seek—that the young man’s remark was likely to “cause harassment, alarm or distress.” He was arrested and charged under the Public Order Act for having made a “homophobic remark.”

The young man spent a night in jail. Brought before the magistrates the following day, he was fined $140, which he refused to pay. The police then sent the case to the equivalent of the district attorney, who brought the student before the courts again but had to admit that there was not enough evidence to prove that his conduct had been disorderly.

The degree to which political correctness has addled British consciousness, like a computer virus, and destroyed all our traditional attachment to liberty, is illustrated by the words of one of the student’s friends who witnessed the incident. “[His] comments were . . . in jest,” he said. “It was very clear that they were not homophobic.” In other words, the friend accepted the premise that certain remarks, well short of incitement to commit violence or any actual crime—words that merely expressed an unpopular or intolerant point of view—would have constituted reasonable grounds for arrest. One consequence of the liberal intelligentsia’s long march through the institutions is the acceptance of the category of Thoughtcrime. On the other hand, political correctness permits genuine incitement to murder—such as the behead those who insult islam placards carried by Muslim demonstrators in London four months after the publication of cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper—to go completely unpunished. Other people, other customs.
It would seem that America is not far behind the Brits.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »