Blog Archive


Thursday, December 30, 2010
"Christian" musician Derek Webb had an interview recently with the Huffington Post where he continued his campaign of complaint against the evangelical Church in America. In response, Frank Turk over at Pyromaniacs called him out in an open letter this week. It's charitable where it can be, yet hard-hitting and Gospel-illuminating.

Webb is quickly coming to a point where he will have to decide if he is a Christian or a poser... the next Amy Grant, if you will. Probably the most pathetic part of Webb's interview was where he said that because he's an "artist," he is better equipped at making moral pronouncements than the average person because he thinks through issues. Pretentious much?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
“The idea that God, if there is a force of Logic and Love in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in [manure] and straw a child I just thought: Wow! Just the poetry. Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came streaming down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this." - Bono
(HT: VZ)
Well, now it seems that the governmental health food kick is getting to the point of absurdity and self-parody. Here in Minnesota, the St. Paul school district has decided to ban all sweets. And not just ban it as the recent Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act did by removing candy vending machines from the schools. Kids who brings snacks to school will not be allowed to eat them. It's one thing to help kids make healthy choices by giving them better options, but to specifically contradict what the parents are choosing for their kids' lunches... this tyranny has no end it seems. One more example of why public schools are ultimately corrosive to society: they undermine the role and authority of the parents and teach that the State is the ultimate authority. I pray for the demise of the public school system, its end cannot come soon enough.

On a side note, anyone want to guess how many years we have left before Halloween candy is banned? I'd probably guess in the 5-10 year range... after all, it takes these people a little while to figure out the logical end to their thinking.
Monday, December 20, 2010
"[Our present sufferings in these bodies] will not be worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us."
Here are a couple ("O Come, O Come Emmanuel" pt 1 & 2) excellent sermons from my church this Christmas season. Even if you've heard them already, they worth a second listen. The above quote comes from the second sermon discussing the glory to come in eternity. It reminded me somewhat of what Dostoevsky wrote in The Brothers Karamazov:
I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage... that in the world’s finale... something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; and it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify what has happened.
Friday, December 17, 2010
This is a really interesting discussion between Robert George and Cornell West.
Here is Roger Ebert's list of the best movies of 2010.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Just when it seems like the federal government's ever-expanding power and reach has finally hit terminal velocity, up pops even more absurd new laws and legislation. First this week was the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and its ridiculous ban of snack food in public schools. And now today, the utterly corrupt Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the fabrication of any cribs with sides that drop... all because 30 babies have died in crib-related accidents in the last decade. In that same time period, 15 MILLION babies were killed by a little procedure called abortion... but no one is banning that. Also in the last ten years, approximately 30 children have died because they swallowed balloons. So I'd imagine that we very well may see balloons made illegal next week (I wish I were joking). The CPSC is the same organization that brought us the horrendous Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008 and the "Year of the Recall" in 2007. If we're going to try to reduce the federal deficit, I'd recommend starting by defunding the CPSC, since it has single-handedly put thousands of people out of work and destroyed hundreds of companies.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Perhaps one of the most perplexing life stories in the Bible is that of Solomon. Initially gifted with wisdom beyond measure, he steadily grew more and more corrupt and perverse, both in his personal life (1 Kings 11:3) and in his political life (1 Kings 12:4). I've always wondered how Solomon who was given GODLY wisdom and could write the book of Proverbs with all the wisdom contained there, how he could go so wrong and lose all wise insight into his own life.

I was listening to Ravi Zacharias this morning on this topic and he pointed out something I never noticed before. Pretty much every single king of God's people, good or bad (particularly the notable ones), had a prophet in his life to correct him when he was wrong. Ahab had Elijah, Saul had Samuel, Josiah had Jeremiah, Hezekiah had Isaiah. Yet we hear no mention of a prophet speaking directly to Solomon (perhaps 1 Kings 11:11 is spoken through a prophet). Ravi surmised that perhaps this is because Solomon was himself considered a prophet, and maybe the hype had gone to his head. After all, if you're the wisest person in the world and you talk to God, then what use would be an adviser to keep you accountable?

Ravi took that as a lesson to us all, particularly leaders. Everyone, no matter how gifted and "in tune" with God, needs a Nathan; someone who will speak loving truth into their lives and hold them accountable... someone to tell them when they've killed their neighbor's lamb, so to speak. Solomon didn't have a Nathan and that was (in part) his downfall. Who's your Nathan?
Monday, December 13, 2010
This is good news! Huge, in fact, as it has much broader implications than just gutting ObamaCare. The Supreme Court will ultimately decide this though.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
This is funny.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
John Stossel has a great piece on the importance of property rights in growing and sustaining wealth and prosperity. It all comes down to the simplicity of having one's own mailing address... something Americans take for granted. I have an address because I own a plot of land in Crystal, Minnesota. As Stossel points out, because of that, I can borrow money for investment and any business I start out of my home can be legally recognized. In developing countries, due to the lack of rule of law, property rights are either non-existent or capricious in nature. You may live in a home, but nothing is legally stopping the government or an individual from claiming that home for himself**. That is why if poor countries are ever going to begin to prosper, they need property rights. And to get those rights, they need a stable rule of law. And to get that rule of law, tyrants and dictators need to be removed and struggling democracies need to be strengthened. Which is why a simple government military intervention can sometimes do more long-term good in one day in a particular country than all of the Western charties can in a year. Or it can do much harm.

** Of course, in this country, we're steadily losing our property rights. Because of serious abuses of eminent domain, American bodies of government (local or federal) have been taking people's homes and property from them without consent and sometimes without proper compensation.
As many people know by now, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of one-time senator and full-time scoundrel John Edwards, passed away this week from cancer. I hope she finds in the next life the faithful Husband that she never found in this life. Unfortunately, this interview doesn't give much hope that she knew Christ as her savior. In it, she says that she decided that God wasn't one who intervenes but one that "promises salvation and enlightenment." Now that last part is true (though what she meant by that is anyone's guess), but the first part shows that she had a confused understanding of God, probably stemming from a Prosperity Gospel-ish view of Him. If God doesn't heal you when you ask, then it must mean that He is either unable to heal you or that you don't have enough faith. The Prosperity Gospel never bothers to ask if perhaps it is not His will to heal you. This is a sad example of wrong theology leading to wasted suffering. Praise God for those who don't lose faith in the God that intervenes when they suffer.
It didn't take long for the totalitarian urge to travel from California to the Midwest. At least in the latter case, enough common sense remained to snuff out the tyranny. But for how long?

It's December, so you know what that means, right? Yep, the latest thoughtless campaign against the so-called "War on Christmas." Yes, because Christmas is about forcing retailers (who are selling junk to people with the implication that gift-giving is the heart and soul of Christmas) to say "Merry Christmas" to all. If anything, I'd prefer that the consumerism of this season was LESS attached to the idea of Christmas.

But then again, a church spending $110 million on a garish new church campus while the country struggles through an economic downturn (the likes of which have not been seen in 80 years) is probably not the best place to look for a prophetic voice against materialism.
A good God judges. A bad one doesn't. - Dennis Prager on his radio show, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 06, 2010
If you're like me, your first reaction to last week's huge WikiLeaks disclosure was either one of ambivalence or even a little feeling of "about time." But in truth, such leaks as these will likely do much harm and little good for the world. Theodore Dalrymple explains:
The actual effect of WikiLeaks is likely to be profound and precisely the opposite of what it supposedly sets out to achieve. Far from making for a more open world, it could make for a much more closed one. Secrecy, or rather the possibility of secrecy, is not the enemy but the precondition of frankness. WikiLeaks will sow distrust and fear, indeed paranoia; people will be increasingly unwilling to express themselves openly in case what they say is taken down by their interlocutor and used in evidence against them, not necessarily by the interlocutor himself. This could happen not in the official sphere alone, but also in the private sphere, which it works to destroy. An Iron Curtain could descend, not just on Eastern Europe, but over the whole world. A reign of assumed virtue would be imposed, in which people would say only what they do not think and think only what they do not say.

The dissolution of the distinction between the private and public spheres was one of the great aims of totalitarianism. Opening and reading other people’s e-mails is not different in principle from opening and reading other people’s letters. In effect, WikiLeaks has assumed the role of censor to the world, a role that requires an astonishing moral grandiosity and arrogance to have assumed. Even if some evils are exposed by it, or some necessary truths aired, the end does not justify the means.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Wow. I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010
It's that time again... a chance to look back at this year's (or, in some cases, recent) films and give a few recommendations and perhaps some denunciations as well. As a whole, 2010 was a pretty average year movie-wise, at least compared to 2009. Here are a few that stood out. As always, several of these may have crude language, violence, and/or sexual situations. If you want to know the content of any of these films, go to or

Best Drama

Crazy Heart

~ While ultimately failing to point the viewer to Christ as the answer, this moving tale of redemption does offer some good messages and great performances, particularly by Jeff Bridges. **** out of 5 stars

Honorable mention: The Road, Invictus, The Town, The Visitor, The Blind Side, Shutter Island

Best Comedy

Date Night

~ The considerable comedic talents of Steve Carell and Tina Fey made this a very funny and enjoyable film about a married couple who try to just get away from their kids for one peaceful date night and instead find themselves caught up in a mistaken identity problem with the mafia. **** out of 5 stars

Honorable mention: Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Other Guys, the first half of The Invention of Lying

Best Action


~ If you haven't yet seen this Chris Nolan masterpiece, do so immediately! Not only is it a brilliant and mind-blowing walk through the human understanding of mind, memory, and dreams (similar to Memento, another superb Nolan flick), it also has probably the best and most ground-breaking action sequences since The Matrix. Very original (unless you believe the plot was stolen from a Donald Duck comic book). For those who have seen it, one question for you. Does the top stop spinning? ***** out of 5 stars

Honorable Mention: Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man 2, Salt, Unstoppable, Body of Lies, Edge of Darkness, Daybreakers

Best Family/Kids

How to Train Your Dragon

~ I've already posted about this movie before, but let me once again strongly recommend this film as one that both adults and children will love. ***** out of 5 stars

Honorable Mention: Toy Story 3, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Christmas Carol, Megamind

Best Chick Flick

Remember Me

~ When it comes to chick flicks, I am pretty picky but also don't consider all of them to be vapid piles of pig snot. Many are, but some actually attain a level of depth and realism that make them worth watching. Which leads me to this pick... while some may hate the entirely unexpected ending (I liked it), Remember Me was on the whole a good (though kinda dark) movie. It was definitely not what I was expecting and barely counts as a chick flick at all. **** out of 5 stars

Honorable Mention: Dear John, Leap Year

Best Foreign

Red Cliff

~ This epic Chinese film is based on the true story of the Battle of Chibi back around 200 AD. I found it on the recommendation of a blogger friend and it ended up at the top of my favorite Chinese movies list, which says a lot considering Hero, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kung Fu Hustle, and House of the Flying Daggers are on that list. While Red Cliff doesn't involve the same type of qinggong martial arts that those other films do, it does have some great action scenes along with a wonderful and engaging story.

NOTE: The international version is actually two DVDs and nearly five hours long, while the version released outside of Asia is only one DVD and two and a half hours long. Take the time to watch the full international version, you'll thank me. ***** out of 5 stars

Honorable Mention: North Face, The Stoning of Soraya M.

Best Indie


~ This great little sci-fi film consists basically of a cast of one, Sam Rockwell. And he does a fantastic job. The plot follows his character (Sam Bell) in his 3-year stint mining helium-3 on the surface of the moon. Things are going smoothly as he approaches a return to Earth and his wife and daughter when suddenly everything goes haywire. To say more would spoil the plot, but suffice it to say that things are not quite as they seem. Kevin Spacey lends his voice as the robotic computer assistant GERTY. **** out of 5 stars

Honorable Mention: Grizzly Man

Best Movie You've Never Heard Of

The Visitor

~ This film is actually from 2007, but I saw it for the first time a few months ago and found it a very touching and well-acted story of two very different cultures coming together. **** out of 5 stars

Honorable Mention: Daybreakers, The Messenger, Defendor, Following, Felon

Worst Movie of the Year


~ This comedy is just not funny. It had so much potential and just fell flat. Avoid it. ** out of 5 stars

Honorable Mention: Avatar, second half of The Invention of Lying
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
For an excellent preaching of Romans, listen to this message. It will knock your socks off.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
This list of the worst (or best, depending on your point of view) analogies ever encountered by high school teachers is awesome! Read them all.
It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Now they have come for the Happy Meals. This is the sickening money quote:
"This will be a sign to the fast-food industry that it's time to phase out its predatory marketing to children at large."
I suppose Ronald McDonald will soon be joining Joe Camel in the dustbin of politically incorrect mascot history. It's interesting to note how the health quacks gets increasingly more intolerant of their targets as those targets try to placate them. McDonald's has done wonders at making their food more health-conscious, and this is what happens. This is generally the case with all leftist movements... one cannot satisfy them unless one destroys itself. The acceptance of homosexuality is a perfect example. First the "gay lobby" claimed it just wanted to be tolerated and accepted, now it wants to keep Christians from being allowed to adopt. It is no coincidence that this Happy Meal crackdown has begun in San Francisco.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
[O]ne of the great contributions of the first Christendom was the development of free markets. And I would want to maintain that one of the great results of the next Christendom will be the restoration and preservation of them. Free markets are the economic expression of the apostolic teaching that we are to serve one another in love.

Wealth is the ability to summon the labor of another, and to enjoy the fruit of that labor. Back in the olden time, the opulent could do this by owning a bunch of slaves, or servants with no options, which meant that one man's wealth meant another man's lack of it. In such settings, wealth and poverty really were a zero sum game -- if one person got a larger piece of pie, then somebody else got a smaller piece.

But in a system of free markets, God has given us the gift of being timeshare servants, and the privilege of being timeshare bosses. A young woman can save up her tips waiting tables, and go out with her friends to another restaurant and be waited on. We can do this because of division of labor. One guy makes roast beef sandwiches for 8 hours a day, and I can rent his service for 45 seconds of that time. Again, back in another time, getting a roast beef sandwich would have taken half the day. "In 1900, the average American spent $76 of every $100 on food, clothing and shelter. Today he spends $37" (The Rational Optimist, p. 34).

Many whiners spend a lot of time complaining about this state of affairs for some reason, and unfortunately many Christians have accepted the idea that we should express our ingratitude with a similar attitude, but in the name of Jesus. - Doug Wilson
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Here's a great little post by Nathanael Blake on the racism within the liberal establishment and intelligentsia. It's rare to see this much clarity of thought, but pretty par for the course when it comes to Mr. Blake.
[A]ffirmative action only entrenches the underlying white power structure. It demeans while it elevates. Some are promoted beyond their abilities and fail, others, who have ability, are tainted by the suspicion that they don’t. A black man who legitimately earns his way into Harvard Law (or Yale, or any other top school or position) cannot constantly produce his LSAT score to prove his merit to each person he meets. Further acquaintance may show that he is brilliant, but he will likely always suffer from some initial stigma. Furthermore, any minority who has succeeded during the era of affirmative action faces pressure not to question it, for if he questions it his own position may be threatened. Thus, liberals feel free to imprecate against Justice Thomas and cast aspersions upon his merit to an extent they would never dare against other successful black men. The message is clear, accept what we give you, or else.

Affirmative action is a settlement. Minorities are bought off with some token hires and government assistance and in return agree not to fuss too much. The white power structure (which includes East Asians and Jews who are, for these purposes, culturally white) is safe. Most “minority leaders” accept these terms and simply try to get a better deal within them. What upsets this are men and women who won’t accept the deal. They don’t want a larger quota, they want to compete directly and encourage others to do the same.

This is a threat not only to the white power structure, but also to the mythos that sustains it. It is the myth of the white (literally) knight, in the form of the social worker or the college admissions officer or the hiring partner, coming to save poor minorities. The witness of a Clarence Thomas defies the assumption of white liberals that the racial sins of society can be easily extirpated by their own actions. Thomas won’t allow that sort of cheap grace and easy righteousness. He asserts that only black Americans can save black America, which is an intolerable message for white liberals. Nothing they do, certainly not any easily-filled quotas, will atone for the sins of their social class.

Liberals want to keep black men like Clarence Thomas in the role of suppliants, which means submission. Thomas won’t accept that, and so they hate him, oh how they hate him. They’d lynch him if they could.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I've been a bit burned out on blogging (both reading and writing) in recent months... probably started about the time my newest daughter was born. So I'm doing a little catch up, and today is Doug Wilson's Blog and Mablog day. I decided to highlight several of his most helpful posts.

Raising Modest Daughters
It is important for these things to be discussed in the home. In this, a father and mother should take care to instruct their daughters on the dangers of self-deception. We are complicated beings, and our hearts are deceptive. A young woman can be trying to turn heads, and be employing various sexual techniques to do so, and all the while be pretending to herself in her conscious thoughts that she is doing nothing of the kind.

Raising Hard-Working Sons
[P]arents who rob their sons of a work ethic have taken from him one of this life's most precious gifts - sabbath rest. The fourth commandment has two parts, and they depend upon one another. One part, of course, is the day of rest, but the other part is the six days of labor. Without the labor, the rest is nonsensical. Without the rest, the work is slavery. Learned together, a boy comes to comprehend the dignity of labor that is offered up to God in the name of Christ. He learns to rest on the first day of the week in a way that consecrates all his subsequent labors.

So much of this runs contrary to the way the carnal mind thinks, we might come to believe it is impossible. And it is impossible, apart from the gospel of Christ. This is why the discipline of work should be imparted to a boy along with careful teaching on the meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ. This is because the foundation of a biblical work ethic is a biblical grace ethic.

Statism vs. Patriotic Idolatry
The statists who support Obama, and the statists who are disillusioned with him because he has not pressed for the complete totalitarian hellhole, are serious idolaters. The household gods of the American right that get a pinch of salt every now and again are a real irritation, a real compromise in the church, and every worthy preacher ought to direct sermonic haymakers at such compromises at every appropriate opportunity. Stop it.

At the same time, that worthy preacher must distinguish serious statism from this lump-in-your-throat nationalism. He must distinguish the superstition of the grandmother who leaves out saucers of milk for the kitchen fairies, and the priest with bloody robes who demands your firstborn for Molech. Just as the true faith has its spice-rack tithing and its weightier matters, so also do those who worship idols.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Here is another scientist and professor standing up against the lies.
Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.
Friday, October 15, 2010
More intolerance in our universities...
This is an excellent post on how Christians should approach Halloween. I think he is right that Christians should consider that doing "alternative" celebrations at their churches may be unwittingly denying them an opportunity to both get to know their neighbors and spread the Gospel.
Halloween is the only night of the year in our culture where lost people actually go door-to-door to saved people’s homes . . . and you’re down at the church hanging out with all your other good Christian friends having clean fellowship with the non-pagans.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
This Emergent post reminds me that just because we may say the name of Jesus and call ourselves Christians doesn't necessarily make it so. Many will say to Him "Lord, Lord"...

After all, even the demons said "You are the Son of God" to Jesus. Something else is required beyond being Captain Obvious.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
It won't stop at "just marriage."

Monday, October 04, 2010
Dalrymple writes an interesting piece on the idea that mankind can improve or start from scratch.
To start again, to wipe the slate clean without the past weighing us down: this infantile desire has resulted in some of the worst catastrophes, the vilest massacres, in human history. We cannot begin again: wherever we're going, we're starting out from here, with precisely the character that we already have.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010
I noticed that Obama is calling for a longer school year. Yes, because we want to hand our kids over to the brainwashing control of the State for even more time than it already has... right. It's no surprise that a nanny state enthusiast like Obama would pose a solution that involves more government intrusion in the lives of Americans. His mind is so twisted in that direction that he cannot consider other much more viable options. Like privatizing the entire educational system... GASP! I think some teacher's union lobbyist just fell over dead. I promise you, free market forces would dramatically overhaul all of the waste and intellectual degradation that has occurred on the State's watch over the last few decades. That would probably be one of the best (and most important) things this country could do for its future.
Friday, September 24, 2010
This is a great post on Zeal for Truth.
But ultimately, if believers simply went back to their bibles, they’d see that there is nothing “middle class” about Christianity. At all. It is radical in both belief and lifestyle. I don’t want to write or read that – because it is really challenging, and flies in the face of my own love for possessions and idols. Yet this is what my bible says. God is not seeking to make me more like like those in the world – he desire me to be more like his Son.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Doug Wilson has some great comments about Glenn Beck in the video below.

Sunday, September 12, 2010
Greg Boyd, he of Open Theism fame, wrote a blog post yesterday which gives a hint to where his doctrine is leading him. And it ain't pretty. When someone slips into serious theological error, it seems like it isn't long before that error is merely the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn't be surprised if I heard Boyd preaching some deep heresy within the next five years, if he is so unable to discern the difference between good teaching and spiritual death now. May God pull him from that path.
Friday, September 10, 2010
This is an interesting piece in the Weekly Standard on the growing "childfree" trend among liberals (particularly those in the upper class). It seems all a bit drastic and peculiar, yet I know many people with larger families (like more than 3 kids!) who routinely face disdain and verbal attacks from other people in their communities. The white liberal intelligentsia may think up these ideas, but they eventually (and more quickly than you might imagine) trickle down into the minds of the masses. And you wonder why they love abortion so much. Just one more thing (along with the ENTIRE environmentalism movement) for Christians to speak truth into.
John 9:39-41

The above passage is the helpful line in determining how to deal with someone speaking false teaching. Does the person claim to "see" (profess Christ) or is he blind to Christ? In the case of the former, if he is unwilling to repent after being reproofed, you throw him out of your community of believers and avoid him. If the latter, you lovingly correct him and try to bring him to the Lord and INTO your community. A correct understanding of these verses could be quite useful to those who would like to burn a bunch of Korans.
I doubt it. But I was thinking recently about how Jesus conducted himself in His time on Earth and how He often tried to keep His identity a secret. For example, in John 2, we are told that at the Cana wedding, Jesus was reticent to let people know of His miracle-working power. And several times He told those He healed not to tell anyone. And elsewhere He appears to work very hard at avoiding Jerusalem until the right time. Yet throughout the Gospels, Jesus also consistently talks about everything going according to God's plan and timing. So if God is completely sovereign, why is Jesus worried that He might get arrested or killed too early?

I wonder if there is a lesson here for those of us who might drift into determinism, the idea that nothing we do is really under our control or that it doesn't matter since God's will always wins out. If Jesus, who knew better than anyone that God's will cannot be thwarted, could worry about events going contrary to plan, perhaps that speaks to the importance of and paradox involved in human free will. Ultimately, God IS in control and IS sovereign, but as agents of His working, it is still important that we act wisely and as if everything hinges on what we do or say. Sure, that idea doesn't fit well in any particular doctrinal camp, but maybe sometimes it's best to just affirm what the Bible says and leave the theological distinctions to others. In this case, the Bible says God is in control and is sovereign down to the storm on the seas, the beat of a bird's wing, and the hair on our head. But it also tells us that our actions matter and that even Jesus lived like they did.
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Dalrymple has a thoughtful piece on the nature of evil and how modernity has been unable to shake its presence.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
It strikes me as a tad bit inconsistent for Obama to spend his first two years claiming that we're not in a war against Islamic terror and generally avoiding any mention of said "war on terror," but then turn around and plead that a pastor not burn the Koran because it might endanger Americans. If he is right that we are not fighting a war on Islamic terror, then what are we supposedly afraid of?
"If he's listening, I hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans," Obama said. "That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance."
Actually, the pastor is doing something completely IN LINE with the "American" value of freedom... in fact, he's putting it into practice. Thus, Obama's appeal to the ambiguous notion of some secular American value system is empty. The real reason the pastor shouldn't burn the Koran is it does nothing to further the Gospel or build bridges to Muslims.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Russell Moore has an excellent post on this weekend's tragic Glenn Beck rally in D.C. The tragedy lies not in what people were rallying around (conservative values), but that Beck, a Mormon, has somehow become the face of Christianity in the political sphere. And what's worse, tons of evangelical leaders don't seem to see the problem, they are so blinded by their political leanings.
Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I started reading Ezekiel this morning... ouch, dumb mistake.
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul."
Recently, Jim Wallis, in response to claims that his Sojourners organization received significant funding from George Soros and other liberal groups (after hypocritically lambasting other Christian groups for taking money from conservative groups), said the following:
It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.”
Turns out, Wallis is wrong. They DO receive money from organizations led by Mr. Soros. The bigger issue, though, is the ease with which Wallis slandered other people. Thankfully, he did get around to apologizing this week. However, it's a pretty weak apology for several reasons.
"I was really tired that day. I did one interview too many. I was in the back of a taxicab... I was wrong, out of anger at the insinuation about the dependence on these foundations, I was wrong to imply that like Beck, Marvin lies for a living," Wallis said. "Glenn Beck does lie for a living. Marvin Olasky doesn't lie for a living; that's not something I should say about a brother in Christ."
First of all, an apology couched in excuses is hardly an apology. My wife wouldn't let me get away with that. Second, and the primary thing that caught my eye, apparently, in Wallis' world it is bad to wrongly accuse a Christian of lying but it's not a problem to slanderously accuse a non-Christian (Beck is Mormon, I believe) of having a deceitful character. For someone who talks a lot about living like Jesus, Wallis seems to not have much of a grasp of how to love his enemies. Methinks there will not be a second apology coming.

This is exhibit #432 for why American liberalism should die like the rot it is in the Church. Few things destroy the Church more quickly than being a poor witness to both the freedom offered in Christ (by instead promoting Marxism) and the love He exhibits to ALL people (by acting like Wallis does on a regular basis). This is true too with people like Fred Phelps who are legalistic and hateful toward people they disagree with. You want to know why the Church is nearly dead in Europe? It's largely due to the above reasons... the welfare state and a degradation of behavior. To slightly modify Wilberforce, we need a suppression of socialism and a reformation of manners. We need Christ (and not the one Jim Wallis peddles).
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
This is a good development that needs to spread to every church, including my own.
Doug Wilson just posted the text from a talk he gave yesterday on the subject of cigarette smoking and sin. It's quite helpful and speaks to all sorts of issues beyond smoking.
Smoking reveals the method of a self-serving ethic. The way others are to view your liberty is not the same way that you should view your liberty. Other Christians should let you do what you want unless the Bible forbids it. That’s how we guard against legalism. But you should use your liberty differently—you should be asking what the reasons are for doing it, and not what the reasons are for prohibiting it. Liberty is intended by God for you to use as an instrument for loving others (Gal. 5:13), and not as an instrument for suiting yourself.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible ...for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt." 'Atlas Shrugged'...Ayn Rand
This story is a sign of the times in which we live, one where the nanny state decides what is bad and what is good. Government always demands worship and obedience. In ancient days, the kings and caesars claimed to be literally gods. Now, our rulers pretend to be de facto gods. Idolatry reigns supreme. A second American revolution would do wonders at stopping that... of course, few people want to bite the hand that feeds them. Meanwhile, God is given a smaller and smaller spot in our lives. Need food? Ask the State. Need healing? The government is here for you. Need to know what is wrong and right? Bingo, the authorities are ready to inform you. Who needs God?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Wilson has a good post on parental responsibility with regards to education choice.
One of the optical illusions created by the decision to home school or to have your children in a private Christian school is a significant one. It is this. The temptation is to think that in the home school, success or failure is fundamentally a parental matter while in the private school, success or failure is fundamentally a school matter. In truth, it is always a parental matter.

School teachers are supposed to be servants, and servants can be utilized wisely or poorly. You can have good servants and poor ones, and when you have good ones, they can still be utilized poorly. But the fundamental responsibility always rests with the one who employs the servants.
This is an interesting article from a British paper. Interesting in part because it gives a glimpse at the European media's view of American politics.
Can it get any worse for President Obama? Undoubtedly yes. Here are 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in serious trouble, and why its prospects are unlikely to improve between now and the November mid-terms.

1. The Obama presidency is out of touch with the American people
The “let them eat cake” approach didn’t play well over two centuries ago, and it won’t succeed today.

2. Most Americans don’t have confidence in the president’s leadership
[A] staggering 58 per cent of Americans say they do not have confidence in the president’s decision-making, with just 42 per cent saying they do.

3. Obama fails to inspire

In contrast to the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 Convention speech in Boston which succeeded in impressing millions of television viewers at the time, America is no longer inspired by Barack Obama’s flat, monotonous and often dull presidential speeches and statements delivered via teleprompter... Even Jimmy Carter was more moving.

4. The United States is drowning in debt
5. Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat
This is not an approach that is proving popular with the American public, and even most European governments have long ditched this tax and spend approach to saving their own economies.

6. Obama’s support for socialised health care is a huge political mistake

In an extraordinary act of political Harakiri, President Obama leant his full support to the hugely controversial, unpopular and divisive health care reform bill, with a monstrous price tag of $940 billion, whose repeal is now supported by 55 per cent of likely US voters.
7. Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill has been weak-kneed and indecisive
8. US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration

It is hard to think of a single foreign policy success for the Obama administration, but there have been plenty of missteps which have weakened American global power as well as the standing of the United States. The surrender to Moscow on Third Site missile defence, the failure to aggressively stand up to Iran’s nuclear programme, the decision to side with ousted Marxists in Honduras, the slap in the face for Great Britain over the Falklands, have all contributed to the image of a US administration completely out of its depth in international affairs.
9. President Obama is muddled and confused on national security

10. Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness
It is difficult to see how a US president who holds these views and does not even accept America’s greatness in history can actually lead the world’s only superpower with force and conviction.
There is a distinctly Titanic-like feel to the Obama presidency and it’s not hard to see why. The most left-wing president in modern American history has tried to force a highly interventionist, government-driven agenda that runs counter to the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, and limited government that have made the United States the greatest power in the world, and the freest nation on earth.
President Obama is increasingly out of step with the American people, by advancing policies that undermine the United States as a global power, while undercutting America’s deep-seated love for freedom.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
This is what a society built on entitlement and a government forged into a welfare state begets. A country where every human need (health, jobs, food) is a human right is a country where killing sprees like this one become more and more commonplace. Obama is merely the skin lesion of the festering cancer underneath. As Doug Wilson would say, we must all repent of making our comfort, our State, and our material wealth into our gods. When we're all (Christian and non-Christian alike) looking for handouts from the government via unemployment* and cash for clunker programs, when we all sue each other over the dumbest things, when we notice the growing speck of lazy entitlement in the eyes of urban communities (inculcated there by our own government) yet ignore the log of materialism and State-worship in our own suburban eyes... nothing will change unless we all repent, and not just those evil liberals. As opposed to their counterparts, conservatives rightly recognize that sin is part of the human condition, yet do we always recognize that sin is part of our condition? I know people who have in one breath railed against people on welfare yet in the very next breath discussed trading in their car under the Cash for Clunkers program. God, be merciful!

* Please note that I am NOT saying that anyone who accepts unemployment is necessarily in sin, but that we too willingly accept the handouts of the State with little reflection on what that may do to our character. I know I am guilty of this. I loved the scene in Cinderella Man where the now-wealthy James Braddock returns the welfare money he received when he was destitute. Oh, that we would return to that mindset.

[UPDATE: And right on cue, I come across this report.]
Prop 8 went down to defeat (for now) in the courts yesterday. This is a huge case as it will make or break every other state law currently on the books defining marriage as between a man and a woman. If this brick falls, the entire wall is demolished.

Here is a good analysis of the foundational issues at hand.
The more interesting question is why gay marriage is so fashionable. The elites of society strongly support it, and many who nominally oppose it (e.g. President Obama) simply say that in order to protect their political careers. And these people support it so strenuously because it gives them the victim group they need to silence Christians. They are already committed to the philosophical basis of homosexual marriage, and live it out in their lives. They fornicate, commit adultery, divorce, procure abortions, despise masculinity and (especially) femininity, treat children like luxury items, etc… However, this menagerie of sins isn’t enough to explain their views, since these sins are hardly restricted to the modern elite. The crucial difference is that the modern elite is passionately committed to justifying all of it. They do not repent. Far more precious to them than their education or career status, or their fashion, or anything else is their moral superiority. They want to be selfish (especially with regard to money and sex) without feeling guilty. So they embrace the politics and morality of the gesture–saving the planet from global warming by buying a Prius, or shutting down timber mills, or blathering about diversity–while being thorough selfish in their personal lives.

Consequently they cannot bear criticism, whether implicit or explicit. Having no concept of repentance, they cannot admit their sin. The parts of their political and social outlook that they are most passionate about are those that assure them that they have done nothing wrong, and that seek to silence those who say otherwise. And they do seek to silence Christians. It’s no accident that they compare us to those who opposed interracial marriage–they want us banished just as thoroughly.

The opposite of this is not the philosophy of the righteous, but that of the sinner. I don’t want to base my philosophy on my own righteousness, because that’s a very small quantity. Rather, I want to face up to my own sinful nature and actions, and, recognizing that sin in thought and deed is the common lot of man, construct political philosophy accordingly {emphasis added}.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
This is astounding. Guess he's never read Acts 10.

Here are several more outrageous stories of the health care (or lack thereof) that Brits receive from their socialized system. Unbelievable. Can't wait til we get that here.
All of the children having surgery the same day as [our son] did not even wear a hospital gown to go to O.R.- they just walked into O.R. wearing their street clothes and had a bib placed around their neck!!!
Monday, August 02, 2010
"Culture trumps politics."
This guy has a brilliant(!!!) piece on how to view the coming election and politics in general.
How do those who love limited government, and believe in the values of our nation’s founding, reconcile themselves to the past, present, and future Republican party?

The issue of the 2000-2008 GOP is an easy one: You don’t reconcile yourself to it. It was an atrocity. On a Presidential level, it should not be too difficult to thank God for John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and call it a day. Congressionally, there is virtually nothing to be thankful for (even the tax reductions of 2001 and 2003 lacked the political will to actually be made permanent, despite the existence of the votes to do so, creating this 2010 debacle that will be the largest tax increase in history). But the present GOP is a different story, and I am not sure what the benefit is in denying it. Not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus bill. The Pelosi-House had to insult heaven and hell to get the ObamaCare perversion passed. And both House and Senate leadership have done a wonderful job (within the political context they presently find themselves in – a problem of their own making) in holding this Obama-Pelosi-Reid disaster in check. For the most part, Republicans always seem to be more Republican when they don’t have any power, and that is most unfortunate.
It is not as complicated for me as many are making it. I believe this is a matter of managing expectations. I have already said what I want to about the recent past as well as the present. But when it comes to what can be expected of a future GOP presence in the House and the Senate, I can not imagine why we would expect them to be anything less than an extremely effective thorn in the side of the aforementioned Obama-Pelosi-Reid unholy trinity, and anything more than that same effective thorn. They will not restore the Constitution to its rightful place. And a GOP House majority will not come close to solving all of America’s problems. In the here and now, though, it is the unambiguous superior choice. When I refer to managing expectations, I have to wonder what people are expecting when they vote, and who the real statists are among us. I do not expect the politicians I support to do anything more than try to keep the disaster from getting worse. It is incurable in Washington D.C. The disaster I refer to is an idolatrous culture that has worshiped at the feet of the state {emphasis added}. This is not a political problem, and it is not the fault of politicians (either on the Republican side, or the Democratic side). The culture is in a state of disaster both morally and ideologically. I can understand why the Republican-haters take the position that they do if the expectation were that the Republicans were going to save the culture. But they are not going to, and they couldn’t do so if they wanted to.

More or less we are in a very long-term paradigm where both political parties go back and forth doing much of the same thing. The Republican party is far less likely to accelerate the slide into Euro-socialism, but both parties are still light years away from the limited government world of personal responsibility our founders envisioned. And based on what I observe of cultural responsibility, perhaps this is to be expected. I hope for a Congress that can pass some good legislation in the decades I have left on planet earth. Much more importantly, I hope for a Congress that can block all kinds of atrocious legislation that is sure to be presented in the years and decades to come. And that is pretty much it. The transcendental improvement I work for and pray for in this great country is going to be a cause of political change, but not an effect of it. We have our chicken and egg all mixed up, and it is time we get it straight. Culture trumps politics, and it always will. The present conflict begs for us to be politically involved, to force our leaders to quit redistributing wealth, to seek less burdensome tax policy, and to beg Washington D.C. to get out of the way. We should all do that, and my personal conviction is that for the most part this is best done with Republican options at this point in time.

But the progress we ought to be looking for in a multi-generational context is not going to come from this GOP party. Some of the better congressional Republicans are going to do really good things, and some of the worst ones may end up disappointing. All of it is fleeting. A society that yearns for freedom is the need of the hour; not merely politicians that sometimes have a sort of okay idea of what it is. We have spent 100 years in a love affair with a school system that has almost choked off any semblance of what freedom means. If I could hand-select every single elected official in the Congress tomorrow, OR I could wave a wand and see a private school system become the predominant means of educating our children, I would not even hesitate for a split second to choose the latter over the former. (As an aside, I have often said that I can sort of cope when Christians put their kids in the public school system; it is when conservative Christians do it that I get a bit mystified; but I digress).

My point is not to say that a better educational system is the last best hope, and a Republican Congress is not. My point is that no one single thing represents the remedy to culture’s woes – especially a change in the partisan affiliation of our Congressional representation... Just don’t set your expectation so high that you set yourself up for disappointment. The battle for the hearts and souls of men is not going to be won this November. This is a temporary deal that requires some temporary wisdom. The long term battle is anything but temporary, though, and it requires solutions far more important than any political party has ever been able to offer.

“The people wanted a King”, I Samuel says. For those of us who want a freedom that reflects the unalienable rights of men, a leadership that acknowledges its authority as coming from the consent of the governed, and even a voting population that has some idea what I just said, be patient. And be vigilant.
Whew, July was a slow blogging month, but I have an excuse. :)

Doug Wilson wrote an excellent post on the problems facing parents who either unwittingly want their kids to be in the world and of it and those who desire that their kids be out of the world and not even thinking of it. As Wilson says, in both ditches lies spiritual death.
One trap that parents fall into is the trap of not wanting sin around their kids. But I suppose this requres some explanation.

The mistake arises because there are a bunch of sins that parents should keep away from their kids -- kidnappers, for starters, and cocaine dealers, and pornographers, and seducers, and Cartesian dualists. One of the accusations leveled against private Christian education is that conservative parents are sheltering their kids. What next?! Parents sheltering children! We feed them too.

But here is where the mistake come in. There is a question of degree here. We are not supposed to keep our children away from the presence of all sin whatever. And that's a good thing, too, because it is impossible. There is a type of sin, common to the human condition, that your children will encounter (on a daily basis) on the playground of the finest Christian school imaginable. If you don't send your kids to that school (because of all the sin there), they will encounter even more of it at church, in their relationships with their siblings, in their bedroom all alone, and in the midst of all the dirty thoughts between their ears. The task of parents in this is not to avoid this kind of sin, but rather to teach their children how to battle it. You cannot learn to battle something if you are constantly endeavoring to stay away from it.

In short, with this kind of sin, there are two errors -- equally bad. One is to accommodate yourself to the presence of this kind of room temperature sin, in such a way as to assume room temperature yourself. That is the way of spiritual death. The other is to pretend to yourself that the choices you have made have somehow successfully distanced you from all that icky stuff. But it is as close to you now as it ever was, but is now invisible because you have daubed your eyes with a special Pharisee salve. This is another way of spiritual death.
Suppose your child is in the classroom of a fine Christian school, one with a great reputation. You know the teachers and administrators, and they really love the Lord. But you know for a fact that two/thirds of the kids in your son's class are all hot about the latest skanky movie. Just last night, after the youth group get together, they all went to see Skanky Movie III, one that has set records for both kinds of box office gross. What will your temptation be? Your temptation will be to think that however well-intentioned the folks running the school might be, the "tone" of the school is not nearly "high enough," and that all these families clearly have poor standards. You regret having to do this, but you are considering pulling your son, wrapping him up in cotton batting for two final semesters of Mom School.

You think the problem is low entertainment standards, when the actual problem is that no Christian parents -- including you -- are teaching their kids what moral leadership looks like. About a third of the kids who went to that movie didn't really want to, and wouldn't have gone if someone in the class -- I am thinking of your son in particular -- had done more than simply studied his shoelaces when the subject came up. You are tempted to think that the others have low entertainment standards, when the real lesson is that your son is not a moral leader. The response ought not to be to do something that will make him even less of one.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I'm working my way through the entire collection of Holmesian literature, and came across this little nugget a couple nights ago.
"Our highest assurance of the goodness of [God] seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.” - Sherlock Holmes
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
This is interesting. I'd like to see Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan added to this graphic. If you think the USA dominates the world now, just wait until we're the only Western country with young(ish) population. Mark Steyn could write a book about this data... oh wait, he already did.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Ted Haggard has started a new church just down the road from his old one, four years after being caught going to homosexual prostitutes for drugs and sex. Based on this Wall Street Journal article about his rapidly growing church, it doesn't sound like he has really understood the gravity of his sin or the freedom offered from the Gospel. In fact, this article combined with some prior comments I've heard from him suggest that he listened to all the wrong counseling in the years since his fall.
Mr. Haggard plays up his new regular-guy image. At the picnic, he asked a friend whether anyone noticed he had said "hell" in the sermon—and not in a Biblical context.

"I cuss now," he said proudly.

Mr. Haggard said he believes people trust him more as a pastor since his spectacularly public fall. Strangers, he said, keep pulling him aside, asking advice about their personal struggles.

"It's amazing. People tell me everything," Mr. Haggard said. "That never happened when we were respectable."
Now, it is certainly true that churches can fall into the trap of viewing the pastor as saint. But this seems more along the lines of the pop cultural idea that authenticity is the most important value in life. As long as you're sincere and genuine, it doesn't matter what you do or say. Of course, such thinking usually ends just short of giving Hitler a pat on the back.

Throughout his "recovery," I've seen and heard little from Haggard that put the focus on anyone but himself... certainly Christ wasn't given much of a nod. May he yet realize where his righteousness truly comes from.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Dr. Dalrymple gave a good speech in Turkey recently. He speaks to the problem of government interference in the everyday choices and freedoms of individuals. For example, the British are in the process of banning smoking in all vehicles (an idea that will unfortunately likely find its way across the pond; though perhaps it will not take root because we have this thing called the Constitution). This is being done under the pretense that some unknown number of children will have their health adversely affected by the secondhand smoke from their parents' cigarettes. Dalrymple rightly points out that according to the tyrannical logic involved, soon smoking in homes will be illegal. He closes with a great plea (albeit with tongue firmly planted in cheek): if public health is really the concern, one should consider the millions of dollars (much of it public money in those countries, like Britain, where taxes pay most health care costs) spent caring for injuries resulting from athletic activities. By the numbers, sports are much more dangerous and injurious than secondhand smoke. So why not criminalize it?
Nathanael Blake has a good post here on how to properly approach all attempts to win someone to the Biblical perspective, be it via Christian evangelism, political arguments, etc. Plus, he includes a quote from the fantastic-yet-short-lived series Firefly.
I can argue, but I’m irritable, and arrogant, and well, as Captain Malcolm Reynolds said of sins, I’m a fan of all seven. Fortunately, it’s not up to me to save civilization. It’s not even up to those meeker souls who are better at moving hearts than my arguments could ever be. It’s up to grace.

It’s always up to grace. We’re always on the losing side, because we can’t know when God will bestow a special grace upon our efforts and enable us to see success. Yet we are graced even in defeat, for we rise again.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lillian Mae was born Thursday, July 8th, at 2:27 pm. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 5 ounces, she is doing great as is my incredible wife!
This news out of San Francisco should surprise no one. When Wisconsin is banning smoking in public places, the outlawing of pop, candy, and whatever else people enjoy is sure to follow in the liberal bastions of this once-great country. Can anyone spot the Orwellian word in the spokesman's statement?
"It's entirely appropriate and not at all intrusive for city government to take steps to discourage the sale of sugary sodas on city property."
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Heading out in a few minutes to go meet the newest little Teich!
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
A fun and thought-provoking piece by Dalrymple on the topic of the World Cup.
Doug Wilson has a good discussion here on the options open to Christians as it pertains to political engagement.
So here are the options: 1. Jesus doesn't care whether or not nations are explicitly Christian. 2. Jesus is opposed to nations being explicitly Christian. 3. Jesus wants nations to be explicitly Christian.

And here should be our responses to these possibilities: 1. Well, if Jesus doesn't care, that means we have the right to care. So let's make this a Christian nation, shall we? 2. Okay. Let's have a Bible study and find out why "disciple the nations" really means "don't disciple the nations, whatever you do." 3. Yes, Lord.
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

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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 »