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Monday, June 28, 2010
I loved Doug Wilson's response to Jim Wallis' vitriolic vacuity. Seriously, I'm not sure if Wallis could get any more intellectually dishonest or imbecilic. Read Wilson's piece in its entirety here.
Jim Wallis recently offered the opening salvo of an invitation to discuss exactly how "Christian" the Tea Party movement is.
His five points are these:

1. The Libertarian enshrinement of individual choice is not a Christian virtue;
2. An anti-government ideology is not biblical;
3. Supreme confidence in the power of markets is not biblical;
4. Libertarian preference for the strong over the weak is not biblical;
5. The Tea Party is just too white.
Later in his discussion, Wallis cites Jeremiah 22:16 and Amos 5:15 authoritatively, which is fine by me, but the Old Testament has a lot of other verses too (Ex. 22:18). If you are going to reason this way, you are going to have to give an accounting of the political ramifications of all Scripture. You can't just treat troublesome verses like a cluster of distant trees on the bank which you float by on the river of benevolent niceness, in the rowboat of exegetical detachment.

That said, let us consider his points in turn.
"The Libertarian enshrinement of individual choice is not the pre-eminent Christian virtue. Emphasizing individual rights at the expense of others violates the common good, a central Christian teaching and tradition."
But he misstates the question. The question is not "shall we have individual rights or shall we have the common good? Which shall it be?" The debate is over which form of social organization is most conducive to the common good.
"Libertarianism is a political philosophy that holds individual rights as its supreme value and considers government the major obstacle."
For Christian libertarians, individual rights are not the supreme value, and to assert that they are is idolatry, pure and simple. The glory of God, and the gospel of His Christ, are the supreme political values. But once we have faithfully answered the first question in the Shorter Catechism, we still have to figure out our social and political arrangements. In the process of doing that, it is simply a misrepresentation to say that those who want to protect individual rights in the first instance are disinterested in the fate of the common good. Overweening government is not just the major obstacle to an enjoyment of individual rights, it is the major obstacle to the common good.

Because Wallis does not understand economics, or logic, he cites Bible verses into the air.
"Jeremiah, speaking of King Josiah, said, 'He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well' (Jeremiah 22:16). Amos instructs the courts (the government) to 'Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts' (Amos 5:15). The prophets hold kings, rulers, judges, and employers accountable to the demands of justice and mercy.
They most certainly do, and I am an unabashed theocrat on these issues. Kings are responsible to God to protect and defend justice, and He will judge them at the last day for any failure to do so. Kings are responsible to defend and protect the poor from the predatory rich. But it will not do for Wallis to cite a Bible verse with the word justice in it, and then import an alien definition of justice, and reason from there. When employers rip off their employees, the righteous prince will be right there, and will enforce the demands of justice (Jas. 5:4). But when an economic illiterate demands that we destroy an inner city with minimum wage laws and rent control, what charge shall we bring against him? For my part, I would charge him with not hating evil, with not loving good, and with not maintaining justice in the courts.

Christian liberals need to get it into their heads that the prophet Amos never said, "And thou shalt be sure to maintain your charitable niceness pure and undefiled with the pixie dust of good intentions."
"An anti-government ideology just isn’t biblical."
Sure. Great. Amen. Governments are established by God, and we should all acknowledge it. Anarchism is out. But . . . it is interesting to me that folks like Wallis haul out the Romans 13 lecture to hector attendees of Tea Party rallies, where American flags and Uncle Sam hats abound, and they go deathly quiet when actual anarchists riot in Toronto.

Anti-government ideology is unbiblical, but being anti-tyranny isn't. The problem is that advocates of hubristic governments think that any opposition to that hubris is opposition to the original point of constitutional government. Which it isn't. Wallis acknowledges this in the abstract -- "a power-hungry government is clearly an aberration and violation of the proper role of government in protecting its citizens and upholding the demands of fairness and justice." So what do we do when that happens? And will we be able to do it in a peaceful and orderly way without men like Wallis lecturing us, as though we didn't know already, that responsible government is a good thing?
"The Libertarians’ supreme confidence in the market is not consistent with a biblical view of human nature and sin."
Just one quick point here. Markets are formed when men agree to not behave coercively toward one another in their economic transactions. Governments are formed when men agree together on what the structure of their collective coercions shall be. Markets are not coercive, by definition. Governments are coercive, by definition. The person who needs to have his unbiblical views of the nature of sin adjusted is the person who thinks that government presents less of a temptation to sinners than markets do.

My political philosophy can be summed up this way -- keep coercion to a minimum. This exhibits naivete about the reality of sin? Hardly.
"The Libertarian preference for the strong over the weak is decidedly un-Christian . . . To anticipate the Libertarian response, let me just say that private charity is simply not enough to satisfy the demands of either fairness or justice, let alone compassion."
First, this objection is wrong simply as a matter of fact. The underlying premise, driven by envy and ressentiment, is simply wrong. Is it true that the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer? Is it true on a basic factual level?
But secondly, let us translate what Wallis is actually saying on the theological level. He is arguing that compassion cannot survive apart from coercion. Compassion comes out of the barrel of a gun. The demands of compassion require that we threaten a lot of people with hard time in chokey if they don't fork it over now. Wallis is a theocrat, as am I. But his vision of theocracy has a lot more guns, jails, and fines in it than mine does. How many guns and jails do we need? I don't know -- how far did we fall short on the compassion index this year? Anybody who thinks that someone with Wallis' political philosophy is ever going to say at some point, "that's enough, we have finally fed the poor" . . . probably doesn't have a biblical understanding of sin. But I am repeating myself.
"Finally, I am just going to say it. There is something wrong with a political movement like the Tea Party which is almost all white. Does that mean every member of the Tea Party is racist? Likely not."
Ah, the race card. This objection, which is doubling as a violation of the ninth commandment to boot, is amazing. I confess myself poleaxed and flummoxed. Look at what he is actually saying here. It is not "likely," but obviously still possible, that "every member" of the Tea Party is racist. He says this on the basis of who shows up at open-invitation events? Compare this to the line-up of an invitation only operation . . . here. Heh.
Here's a really good piece on grace by Doug Wilson.
One of the hardest lessons for us to learn is that our salvation is all of grace. We know that it is by grace; we struggle with the idea that it is all of grace. We want to shoehorn something in there that distinguishes one from another. But, though there are distinctions, and sharp ones, between the wise and foolish, the elect and the reprobate, the saved and lost, every last one of those distinctions, as far as the recipients of grace are concerned, is an unadulterated gift from the hand of the Lord. All gift, and nothing but gift.

This teaching is one of the glories of our Protestant heritage. But glory is a tricky thing—beware of taking glory in that kind of glory, because to boast in the grace of God, as though you earned it by understanding it, is the most perverse of all errors. Salvation is all of grace, and this is hard for the fallen heart to grasp. So then, have you grasped it? Well done! What have you earned? You cannot boast in the fact that you understand that boasting is excluded. To fall into this mistake is not to glory in salvation by grace; it is to confuse grace with tiny works, in this case, a tiny doctrinal work.

What does this have to do with the Lord’s Supper? One of the blessings we can glean from our practice of admitting little ones to the Table is that we can begin to see how gracious God is to us. We see the nature of grace, and we rejoice to give bread and wine to our children—even though they are just now on the threshold of understanding it. When children are brought to a table, nobody thinks they are earning their keep. Mom and Dad provide what’s on the table—kids just show up and receive. That is what we are doing here—showing up in order to receive.
"Our leisure, even our play, is a matter of serious concern. There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan." - C.S. Lewis
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
When a wayward youth is later reconciled with his or her parents, there's always the possibility the youth will revert to the former rebellious state. He or she would again be alienated from the parents. It would be a self-inflicted alienation, to be sure, but nevertheless a real one. In fact, the parents' displeasure might even be stronger the second time around. This points to a significant difference between a reconciliation between human beings and our reconciliation to God.

Our reconciliation to God is permanent and eternal. Because Christ accomplished it for us, there's no possibility it can ever be undone. Though we continue, even as believers, to do those things that in themselves deserve God's displeasure, we can never revert to a state of divine alienation. For the sake of Christ, God will always accept us. And even when God deems it necessary to discipline us for persistent disobedience, he always does so out of love to restore us to the way of obedience (Hebrews 12:4-11).

This reconciliation does—in fact, it must—affect the way we live. The very nature of our salvation guarantees that we will not continue in an absolute state of sin and rebellion against God. He not only saves us from sin's guilt and consequent alienation; he also delivers us from sin's reign and continues to work to progressively free us from sin's activity in our lives. However, in the midst of God's work and our struggle with indwelling sin, we must always keep in mind that our status of favor and friendship with God is always, and ever will be, based on the objective work of Christ for us as our representative and substitute. We have been forever reconciled to God through the death of his Son. - Jerry Bridges
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
This is amazing. Take a minute to consider the social consequences of this in the long-term...
Monday, June 21, 2010
Brilliant. Spot on, Mr. Prager.

HT: Steve M.
This is an interesting piece by Doug Wilson.
Husbands, what is your wife to you? If you have a decent marriage, you could probably answer in greeting card terms. “She is my best friend.” “She is a wonderful mother to my children.” But if you have a biblical marriage, the answer should be quite different. “She is my glory.”
"The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is love." - C.S. Lewis
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Earlier today, I heard the Kutless song "What Faith Can Do" playing on KTIS, the main local Christian station. I've heard it before, but this was the first time I really listened to the lyrics. To put it plainly, they are terrible. Completely lacking anything resembling the Gospel. It's all "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" self-improvement crap, and if you didn't know it, there really isn't any hint that it's even a Christian song. Furthermore, at the core of it, the focus is entirely on ourselves rather than God. It's not with faith that all things are possible, rather, "with God all things are possible." In this type of prosperity gospel-esque thinking, faith becomes a magic sword that the person wields in his own power.
That's what faith can do
That's what faith can do!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise
Hopefully, someone at KTIS will get a clue and drop this song (and a few others) from their daily lineup. You just have to have faith sometimes...
"The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is... hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed - might grow tired of his vile sport - might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of tortures should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then those tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren't." - C.S. Lewis
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Now a lead author of the IPCC's climate change report is admitting that they were lying when they claimed that there was a consensus of scientists backing the IPCC's claim that global warming was man-made. As it turns out, only a few dozen experts agreed while the majority (thousands) of scientists disagreed with the report.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Dalrymple has an absolutely brilliant piece on the hazards of excessive sympathy for the poor, particularly when applied to politics.
To sympathize with those who are less fortunate is honorable and decent. A man able to commiserate only with himself would surely be neither admirable nor attractive. But every virtue can become deformed by excess, insincerity, or loose thinking into an opposing vice. Sympathy, when excessive, moves toward sentimental condescension and eventually disdain; when insincere, it becomes unctuously hypocritical; and when associated with loose thinking, it is a bad guide to policy and frequently has disastrous results. It is possible, of course, to combine all three errors.

No subject provokes the deformations of sympathy more than poverty. I recalled this recently when asked to speak on a panel about child poverty in Britain in the wake of the economic and financial crisis. I said that the crisis had not affected the problem of child poverty in any fundamental way. Britain remained what it had long been—one of the worst countries in the Western world in which to grow up.
My remarks were poorly received by the audience, which consisted of professional alleviators of the effects of social pathology, such as social workers and child psychologists. One fellow panelist ... dismissed my comments as nonsense. For her, poverty was simply the “maldistribution of resources”; we could thus distribute it away. And in her own terms, she was right, for her charity stipulated that one was poor if one had an income of less than 60 percent of the median national income.

This definition, of course, has odd logical consequences: for example, that in a society of billionaires, multimillionaires would be poor. A society in which every single person grew richer could also be one in which poverty became more widespread than before; and one in which everybody grew poorer might be one in which there was less poverty than before. More important, however, is that the redistributionist way of thinking denies agency to the poor. By destroying people’s self-reliance, it encourages dependency and corruption—not only in Britain, but everywhere in the world where it is held.
The British state is today as much a monopoly provider of education to the population as it is of health care. The monopoly is maintained because the government and the bureaucratic caste believe, first, that parents would otherwise be too feckless or impoverished to educate their children from their own means; and second, that public education equalizes the chances of children in an otherwise unequal society and is thus a means of engineering social justice.
As in Tanzania, the state-dominated system became self-reinforcing. Because of the high taxation necessary to run it, it reduced the capacity and inclination of people to pay for their own choices—and eventually the habit of making such choices. The British state now decides the important things for British citizens when it comes to education and much else.
The only time I ever saw [President] Nyerere in person was in Dodoma, the dusty town designated to become Tanzania’s new capital. He was expected to drive by, and by the side of the road sat a praise singer—a woman employed to sing the praises of important people. She was singing songs in praise of Nyerere, of which there were many, with words such as: “Father Nyerere, build and spread socialism throughout the country and eliminate all parasites.”

The great man drove past in a yellow Mercedes. The praise singer was covered in dust and started to cough.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Sad news today. My Sooners are no longer going to be in the same conference with the Huskers. I'm stunned.
This is great. Apparently, a law professor at the University of Penn law school did a "cross examination" of the evidence for global warming.
A cross examination of global warming science conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Law and Economics has concluded that virtually every claim advanced by global warming proponents fail to stand up to scrutiny.

The cross-examination, carried out by Jason Scott Johnston, Professor and Director of the Program on Law, Environment and Economy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, found that “on virtually every major issue in climate change science, the [reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and other summarizing work by leading climate establishment scientists have adopted various rhetorical strategies that seem to systematically conceal or minimize what appear to be fundamental scientific uncertainties or even disagreements.”

Professor Johnson, who expressed surprise that the case for global warming was so weak, systematically examined the claims made in IPCC publications and other similar work by leading climate establishment scientists and compared them with what is found in the peer-edited climate science literature. He found that the climate establishment does not follow the scientific method. {emphasis added} Instead, it “seems overall to comprise an effort to marshal evidence in favor of a predetermined policy preference.”
This is a sad piece on the change in relational focus of women's magazines over the last few decades. The writer seems to believe that rags like Cosmo are the problem and leading the culture down the road to destructive debauchery. While I'm sure that is the case, I also wonder if Cosmo isn't merely a mirror which reflects what already exists in society. Chicken or the egg, if you will.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
"The plea bargain is the greatest advance in jurisprudence since the invention of the guillotine."

One of my favorite TV shows of all-time finished its last season recently (and no, I'm not talking about Lost). Law & Order, which began its run in 1990 (the same year that saw Home Alone and Dances With Wolves make big splashes in theaters), was unceremoniously canceled a few weeks ago (despite having made NBC billions of dollars after FOX initially passed on it). And because it was canceled after this current season's last episode was already filmed, it wasn't given much of a send-off in that final show. NBC hasn't exactly had a good year, what with one screw-up after another and generally dismal ratings across the board. This writer had a good remedy for the Law & Order shenanigans. On the bright side, the show's creator, Dick Wolf, is attempting to get a different network to pick it up for at least another year.

So stay tuned... but while you're waiting, check out reruns of all twenty seasons on TNT and read this good list of lessons learned over the years of Law & Order watching. And watch the clip below for a tribute to the show.

This is an interesting post on the huge disparity between college degrees by gender.
Monday, June 07, 2010

Only a few more days and the 2010 World Cup begins! If you're one of those people blessed by God with a childhood which endowed you with an appreciation and understanding of soccer, then you understand how big this is. If you aren't a soccer fan, let me give you a little perspective.

* This star represents how many people watched the last Super Bowl.
******************** These 20 stars represent how many people watched the 2006 World Cup final.

For those bandwagon fans out there, this is for you.

32 teams, 1 champ. Are you ready? First match begins 9 AM this Friday...
RIP, Coach.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010
I'm leaving in a few days for a road trip with friends to Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City to watch some baseball. Should be a blast!

John Stossel has a great piece this week on the topic of racism and the Civil Rights Act.
This controversy started when Rand Paul, who had just won a senatorial primary, told TV talker Rachel Maddow that the part of the Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination by private business is improper interference with property owners' rights. He, too, condemned racism.

But the chattering class's reaction to Paul's statements must have made him uncomfortable. The next day, he issued a statement saying that he would have voted for the entire act because federal intervention was needed.

Maybe. At the time, racism was so pervasive that such an intrusive law may have been a good thing. But, as a libertarian, I say: Individuals should be surrounded by a sphere of privacy where government does not intrude. Part of the Civil Rights Act violates freedom of association.
America's fundamental political philosophy has deteriorated quite a bit if we can't distinguish between government and private conduct. I enthusiastically support the parts of the civil rights act that struck down Jim Crow laws, which required segregation in government facilities, mass transit, and sometimes in private restaurants and hotels. Jim Crow was evil. It had no place in America.

Racist policies in private restaurants are also evil, but they do not involve force. Government is force, so it should not be used to combat nonviolent racism on private property, even property open to the public.

I just don't trust government to decide what discrimination is acceptable. Its clumsy fist cannot deter private nonviolent racism without stomping on the rights of individuals. Today, because of government antidiscrimination policy, all-women gyms are sued and forced to admit men, a gay softball team is told it may not reject bisexuals and a Christian wedding photographer is fined thousands of dollars for refusing to take photos of a homosexual wedding.

I'll say it again: Racial discrimination is bad. But we have ways besides government to end it. The free market often punishes racists. Today, a business that doesn't hire blacks loses customers and good employees. It will atrophy, while its more inclusive competitors thrive.

In the pre-1964 South, things were different. But even then, private forces worked against bigotry. White owners of railroads and streetcars objected to mandated segregation. Historian Jennifer Roback writes that in 1902 the Mobile Light and Railroad Company "flat out refused to enforce" Mobile, Alabama's segregation law.

In cities throughout the South, beginning in 1960, student-led sit-ins and boycotts peacefully shamed businesses into desegregating whites-only lunch counters. Those voluntary actions were the first steps in changing a rancid culture. If anything, Washington jumped on a bandwagon that was already rolling.

It wasn't free markets in the South that perpetuated racism. It was government colluding with private individuals (some in the KKK) to intimidate those who would have integrated. {emphasis added}

It was private action that started challenging the racists, and it was succeeding -- four years before the Civil Rights Act passed.

Government is a blunt instrument of violence that one day might do something you like but the next day will do something you abhor. Better to leave things to us -- people -- acting together privately.
"Christians can have great ministries serving the poor and the oppressed and in so doing can have remarkable opportunities to share the gospel. And yet still the history of Christianity shows that when Christians do this, the gospel quickly becomes secondary and the work itself becomes the gospel. I still see the Bible primarily emphasizing charity given to other believers; when I look at Acts and the epistles, this is what I see most--Christians helping other Christians as a sign of love and fraternity. Now of course there will be some who engage in humanitarian work outside the context of the local church, but it seems to me that the closer we come to making this a necessary part of the Christian mission, the more likely we are to see the gospel diminish." - Tim Challies
"[God] can't be used as a road. If you're approaching Him not as the goal but as a road, not as the end but as a means, you're not really approaching Him at all. That's what was really wrong will all those popular pictures of happy reunions "on the further shore"; not the simple-minded and very earthly images, but the fact that they make an End of what we can get only as a by-product of the true End." - C.S. Lewis

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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 »