Sunday, December 30, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
My main issue with Romney is not his mormonism. Some castigate him for being gullible, but having been a member of the mormon church and worn the sacred underwear I am not in a place to be too critical on that front. It is not his religion that is at issue, although it is a false belief system and a cult. It is his inability to develop and hold to core convictions. Will the Mitt Romney we see today on the campaign trail be the same man who nominates a Supreme Court justice if elected? His past is too full of vacillation to have any certainty of that.
Romney strikes me as an empty suit and a weathervane. He looks pretty on TV, looks presidential but has no heartfelt convictions. He changes his stance on vital issues, not in measured steps but 180 degrees to suit the race he is running. He doesn't seem to run on what he believes but on what makes people smile and applaud. He is hardly the only politician to do so, but it seems epidemic with him and at least the other candidates have some basic core beliefs.
Romney has found himself under scrutiny because his mile wide and inch deep candidacy was in the lead and as such drew the most attention. He has wilted under the scrutiny and now is turning the attack dogs loose, a sign of desperation this close to Christmas and New Hampshire/Iowa.
The Concord (N.H.) Monitor has given an anti-endorsement of Romney or anyone but Romney endorsement. Here is an excerpt:
If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats. If you followed only his campaign for president, you'd swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you're left to wonder if there's anything at all at his core.
It should be clear that Romney will say and do anything for the sake of political expediency. Romney accused McCain of "failing Reagan 101", but President Reagan held to some basic core beliefs: smaller government, lower taxes and a strong national defense to deter the Soviets. Unlike Reagan, Romney has no core beliefs. It is he, not McCain, that fails Reagan 101.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
"Behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord GOD, "when I will send a famine on the land-- not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD." Amos 8:11 ESV
And he said to me, "Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, "Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it." Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. And he said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. Ezekiel 3: 1-4 ESV
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Leave them alone, they are doing great!
Mike Huckabee also specifically and strongly expresses his support not only of public schools but also homeschoolers. His education issues page states the following:
I have been a strong, consistent supporter of the rights of parents to home school their children, of creating more charter schools, and of public school choice.
I am not as big a fan of his arts and culture curriculum, but I think he has the right frame of mind where eduction is concerned. Huckabee also received a fairly unprecedented early endorsement from the Home School Legal Defense Association:
HSLDA’s PAC Committee has taken the historic step of making an early endorsement in the 2008 race for president.
We believe that Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas, should be elected the next President of the United States. Mike is a principled conservative, a friend of homeschooling, a man of character, and a man with a mature faith in Jesus Christ.
Mike Huckabee, as governor, was the first to appoint a homeschooler to the Arkansas State Board of Education, and to our knowledge the first to do so in any state. He is adamantly opposed to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and is committed to stopping the erosion of parental rights. He is pro-life. He supports traditional marriage. He believes that the Internal Revenue Service should be abolished and replaced with the Fair Tax—a move that we strongly support because it would greatly benefit homeschooling families. He believes and is willing to say that Islamic extremism needs to be understood as a theologically driven threat. He believes that America must be strong, but should never be perceived as a bully. He believes that our borders must be secured not only from illegal immigration but from the growing trend among American judges of “illegally importing” international law into our American judicial systems.
Huckabee is a pretty solid ally of homeschoolers, which just adds to his appeal!
- As Governor of Arkansas, I led the successful effort to pass a similar state constitutional amendment in 2002.
- As Governor of Arkansas, I led the successful effort to make our state only the third to adopt "covenant" marriage.
- Our true strength comes from our families.
(Playing a little fast and loose with the facts!)
According to a news report from the AP, it turns out that maybe Romney's dad didn't actually march with Martin Luther King Jr....
BOSTON - Mitt Romney, who earlier this year had to backpedal on his hunting exploits, is explaining himself again after claiming an endorsement he did not receive and saying he witnessed his father in civil rights marches he could not have seen.
"It's a figure of speech," Romney said Thursday after media inquiries into the Republican presidential contender's statement during his recent religion speech that he watched his father, the late Gov. George Romney of Michigan, march with Martin Luther King Jr.
Romney, who was in high school at the time, later said he only heard of his father marching, and some historians have questioned whether his father, in fact, did march with King. The Romney campaign provided books and news articles it said supported his statement.
A figure of speech? This is what he said in his 'Faith in America' speech: " I saw my father march with Martin Luther King."
How is that a "figure of speech"? That smacks of Clintonian spin. Well, I didn't see him, but I saw him, if you know what I mean. The Detroit Free Press, which takes a special interest in Romney because his father is the former Governor of Michigan, has additional details:
Asked about the reports, Romney said: "My own eyes? You know, I speak in the sense of I saw my dad become president of American Motors. I wasn't actually there when he became president of American Motors, but I saw him in the figurative sense of he marched with Martin Luther King.
"My brother also remembers him marching with Martin Luther King, and so in that sense I saw him march with Martin Luther King."
So now his brother allegedly remembering something means that Mitt saw it happen? Huh?!
The AP report also mentions some of Romney's other faulty recollections:
Romney similarly backtracked after telling a national television audience Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "I received the endorsement of the NRA" in 2002 while running for governor of Massachusetts.
The gun rights group did not endorse either candidate, and gave a higher issues rating to his Democratic opponent.
Romney said Monday, "It was, if you will, a support phone bank, which is not an official endorsement."
Throughout his campaign, he has been dogged by allegations of flip-flopping on key issues, from abortion rights to gun control and gay rights.
"It's the fine-tuning that's created the problem. It's always that one extra step that causes him the trouble," said Tobe Berkovitz, a longtime Romney observer and the interim dean of Boston University's College of Communication. "You can't just say that African-Americans were accepted into the church and I was happy, you have to say you pulled over and you cried."
Nonetheless, Romney faced snickers in April after his staff said he had been hunting on only two occasions despite his telling a New Hampshire voter, "I've been a hunter pretty much all my life." Romney later said he had hunted more than twice but only for "small varmints" and that he did not own a gun or have a hunting license.
This is National Reviews true blue conservative? This is their guy? A guy who makes bold claims about stuff that never happened, claims endorsements he never received and makes up a persona to appeal to hunters? Maybe Rich Lowry and company need to look a little harder...
(Just don't expect an honest response!)
Mitt Romney was on Meet the Press with Tim Russert on December 16th, and I will admit he comes across as pretty polished. In the course of his interview, he mentioned racism in America and Russert pounced on him about the mormon church and it's past openly institutionalized racist theology.
MR. RUSSERT: You, you raise the issue of color of skin. In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown vs. Board of Education, desegregated all our public schools. In 1964 civil rights laws giving full equality to black Americans. And yet it wasn't till 1978 that the Mormon church decided to allow blacks to participate fully. Here was the headlines in the papers in June of '78. "Mormon Church Dissolves Black Bias. Citing new revelation from God, the president of the Mormon Church decreed for the first time black males could fully participate in church rites." You were 31 years old, and your church was excluding blacks from full participation. Didn't you think, "What am I doing part of an organization that is viewed by many as a racist organization?"
Romney's response was OK at first and then ended up being over the top. The "my dad marched with Martin Luther King" and "walking out on Goldwater" shtick. The claim that Romney pulled over his car when he heard about the "new revelation" and openly wept. All good and noble sentiments perhaps, but it really evades the question. The question was a simple one, was it wrong for the mormon church to exclude blacks from the priesthood until the 1970's?
The mormon church does not apologize for nor does it reject the teaching of the past prophets that blacks were denied the priesthood because they were unworthy, cursed with the mark of Cain. It is a no-win question for Romney. Reject the church's teachings as racist and you declare that the prophets were wrong, that the revelation was wrong and throw the whole system in disarray. Support the prophets and you agree that blacks are accursed and only recently allowed to enjoy the full blessings of the restored gospel. I don't envy Romney having to answer the question, but at least he could be honest about it.
Romney went on: "My faith has also always told me that, in the eyes of God, every individual was, was merited the, the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter, and I, and I had no question in my mind that African-Americans and, and blacks generally, would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had and that God is no respecter of persons."
That may be what Romney personally believed, but it is NOT the historical position of the mormon church and if he believed that way then he did so in spite of his mormonism, not because of it, in direct opposition to his church's positions. Here are a couple of direct quotes from mormon authorities, not some crackpot Bishop in a far away ward, but the heads of the mormon church itself (there is an excellent article about the changed "revelation" available from arch-"anti" Sandra Tanner's website here)
Joseph Smith himself taught that "Negroes" are the "sons of Cain." (History of the Church, Vol. 4, page 501) Mormon leaders also taught that "As a result of his rebellion, Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born through his lineage." (Mormon Doctrine, 1958, page 102)
Brigham Young, the second prophet of the church, asserted: "Cain slew his brother.... and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is a flat nose and black skin." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, page 290)
Joseph Fielding Smith, who became the tenth prophet of the church in 1970, made it clear that Mormons should consider blacks as inferior: "Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race." (The Way to Perfection, page 101) On the following page Smith asserted that the "negro brethren" have a "black covering emblematical of eternal darkness."
This sort of material is dismissed out of hand as "anti-mormon", but it is hard to make the case that dogmatic assertions on matters of theology, declared by those in authority and with the gift of special priesthood revelation, can be considered "anti-mormon". They are not out of context, because there is no context that would allow these statements to be any clearer. I have said before that Christians have a lot to apologize for when it comes to race relations, but the difference is that by and large we have because we recognize that our racist past is not Biblically mandated. We have for the most part recognized our culpability and apologized for it. Mormons cannot, because to question the curse of Cain upon blacks is to question the prophets, the priesthood and Joseph Smith himself and that makes the whole house of cards fall.
(The transcript is available here, the video is available here)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
More National Review attacks on Mike Huckabee. With an editorial disdainfully titled: "The Problem With Pastor Mike", Peter Wehner castigates Huckabee for his opinions in Foreign Affairs as being "fundamentally unserious":
The role of commander-in-chief is the most important one we look to in a president, particularly when America is at war. Governor Huckabee’s article in Foreign Affairs, while fine (if largely conventional) in some respects, is fundamentally unserious; on national security matters, he is likewise. And when the final votes are tallied in the GOP race, Mike Huckabee’s words, on these issues and others, will cost him.
Was President Bush "serious" about foreign policy? He could barely pronounce many of the names of their leaders.
Wehner's post is full of arrogant snippets that paint Huckabee as a foreign policy idiot: "Governor Huckabee also seems ignorant about the extent of cooperation that, on a daily basis, is garnered for the war against militant Islam. ", "Does he know (or care) that the United States won the unanimous approval of the U.N. Security Council for Resolution 1441" and "Is Huckabee unaware of all the other options on the table, which Iran has so far rejected?". The whole article is liberally (no pun intended) sprinkled with "Pastor Mike" as a pejorative. Odd that referring to someone as "Pastor" would be seen as an insult from an ostensibly conservative writer. His big concern seems to be that Huckabee recognizes that, rightly or wrongly, much of the world looks at the USA as arrogant, that the war in Iraq has been handled poorly (the cause is absolutely right, the execution has been not so much) and that we have made a myriad of mistakes in foreign policy. My hope would be that Huckabee or whichever Republican was elected would surround himself with a solid foreign policy team that will absolutely stand for American sovereignty but also recognize that there are other countries in the world. I personally am in favor of booting the UN out of New York, but I am also not running for Commander-in-Chief.
To jump on Wehner's hyperbole bandwagon, perhaps Hillary or even Bill Richardson would better suit him as a candidate, both being more "fundamentally serious" about foreign issues? Of course that is silly and unfair, but such assertions seem fair game for Mr. Whener, including this doozie: "Would Huckabee base his foreign-policy decisions on how our actions poll in Waziristan or Gaza under Hamas, or in madrasas throughout the Middle East? Based on his Foreign Affairs essay, it’s reasonable to believe he might." What ever happened the the 11th Commandment of the GOP? Those types of comments are just silly and unworthy of an august publication like National Review, and indicate that it may just be Wehner, not Huckabee, who is "fundamentally unserious".
I believe that President Bush is the source of much of the angst among the National Review crowd. They allowed us our candidate once and he was a disappointment in many areas they find important. Of course he is a disappointment to many of us as well. Spending is out of control and the war has been handled poorly. Most social conservative are also fiscal conservatives and we recognize that there need to be changes, and soon. But I quite frankly don't trust Rudy or Romney to nominate an acceptable nominee for the almost inevitable Supreme Court vacancies. We are very close to be able to overturn Roe V. Wade, and we are also on the tipping point of losing that chance if a conservative Justice retires or dies.
It seems to me that because Bush came across as a man of deep and open faith, perhaps not as savvy as some but a genuine person, Huckabee reminds old school conservative of him and that leads to distrust. Certainly being Governor of Arkansas is not the ideal training for a foreign policy leader, but if he will surround himself with the right advisers he should be fine. Better a man of honest and sincere social conservative values than a man who has either rejected those same values (Rudy) or has flip flopped on them when it was politically expedient (Romney)
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Yahoo! reports that the Golden Compass, with huge star power, hype and a $180 million budget, plummeted in ticket sales this weekend...
The previous No. 1 movie, New Line Cinema's fantasy "The Golden Compass," nose-dived in its second weekend, coming in third with $9 million, down a dismal 65 percent from its less-than-expected $25.8 million debut a week earlier.
"The Golden Compass," which cost $180 million to produce, has done $90 million so far overseas but has proven a dud domestically with just $41 million.
I guess if you make a movie with an anti-Christian view but expect families to come out, you ought to consider that those with the biggest families tend to be the most religious. Duh!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Outside of the chaotic melee that is the GOP primary season, there is another battle that I believe is brewing that will impact the Republican party, and American politics in general, for many decades to come.
There are two main factions: the old school GOPers, readers of National Review who are primarily concerned with tax policy and national defense. This camp seems to like Romney for his alleged business savvy, and Rudy because he was tough on crime in NYC and a strong leader after September 11th. This was the camp I used to identify most closely with.
The second camp are the Johnnie-come-lately's, the Evangelical Christian Right, a group far more comfortable with James Dobson than William F. Buckley. For those on this side, opposition to abortion and gay marriage are the driving forces. This camp has recently embraced Mike Huckabee, due mainly to general discomfort with Rudy's multiple divorces and Romney's flip-flopping on abortion as well as his mormonism. This is where I find myself these days. The Christian Right brings the voters and the enthusiasm, the old school brings the money. It has long been an uneasy marriage, and that partnership seems at a breaking point as we approach the first primaries.The question comes down to this: will Evangelical, Christian conservatives be content to march in lockstep with the GOP when it seems that many in the Republican part are hell-bent to stick their thumbs in the collective eyes of Christian conservatives, smugly assuming that we have nowhere else to go? Will fear of seeing Hillary in the White House, dangling the vague promise of potentially conservative, constructionist judges be enough to keep the slack-jawed yokels in line? The writers on National Review online have made no secret of their general disdain for Mike Huckabee. Rich Lowry has a current editorial titled "Huckacide" , comparing Mike Huckabee to Howard Dean and warning of certain doom if Huckabee is nominated. Lowry brings up Huckabee's Biblical rejection of evolution and snarkily declares that:
Even if there are many people in America who agree with him, his position would play into the image of Republicans as the anti-science party. This would tend to push away independents and upper-income Republicans. In short, Huckabee would take a strength of the GOP and, through overplaying it, make it a weakness.
Even if there are many people who agree with him? Like the millions of Evangelicals who believe what the Bible says? Lowry should stop by the Creation Museum on a Saturday and tell those waiting in line to disperse before someone sees them and thinks ill of the GOP because of their ignorance. Wouldn't want to offend the "upper-income Republicans"! (As if everyone who is upper income only vaguely believes in the Bible, and everyone who rejects evolution lives in a trailer park drinking RC Cola) In other words, Evangelicals are useful if they march dutifully to the polls to pull the lever for the anointed Republican chosen by their betters and keep their mouths shut otherwise. Other NRO writers are equally effusive in their praise for Romney (see Mona Charen) and their warnings about Huckabee (see Ramesh Ponnuru). Jim Geraghty makes the perfectly valid point regarding Huckabee and his supporters: Evangelical conservative Christians are a powerful and influential group within the Republican party. But they’re not enough to get the nomination, much less the presidency.
True enough, but the converse is true. A conservative simply cannot get the nomination or win the general election without Evangelicals. Looks like we might need one another after all...
Ronald Reagan has loomed so large over the Republican party for so many years that it is way overdue for a makeover. We can't keep searching for the next Reagan clone in a world that has changed so dramatically. The Gipper is gone, and so is the Soviet Union. The Republicans have held power in Congress and the White House, and thus far have proven to be little more trustworthy than Democrats when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Peggy Noonan asks if Reagan would survive in the new GOP, and it is a valid question. But it is an equally valid question to ask if Christian conservatives are obligated to continue to follow the GOP if it proceeds with nominating a candidate that we find unacceptable.
I understand the need in a democracy to form coalitions, especially in a two-party system with winner-takes-all elections. But a coalition does not mean that one faction makes all the decisions and the other faction carries the load. If the old school doesn't figure that out, they will learn to their chagrin that a party made up of only "upper-class Republicans" cannot win elections.
Democrats in debate urge taxes on rich
That is indeed newsworthy. Democratic presidential candidates trying to appeal to a far Left base urge socking it to the "rich"? Well, there's a new strategy. When all else fails, appeal to the banal desires of people, to envy and jealously all fueled by the belief that "that guy" has more than me, and that is unfair, so take what he has and give it to me. There was of course no mention by any of the Democrats of the well established fact that the "rich" in this country already pay an obscenely disproportionate share of the tax burden. I shan't hold my breath waiting for that revelation to be spoken by the likes of Hillary, Obama and Edwards.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Mike Huckabee made some noise recently by raising the question: "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" It was probably intended as a clever way to feign ignorance, knowing all the while that the brotherly relationship of Christ and Satan is firmly entrenched mormon dogma. It raises the question in people's minds, and serves to draw a stark contrast for those who are evangelical Christian voters but like Mitt Romney's recent conversion to conservative social values. While that is a clever political move, perhaps dirty pool a bit, it is not nearly as interesting as the reaction from the mormon church:
A spokeswoman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Huckabee's question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith rather than clarify doctrine.
"We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all," said the spokeswoman, Kim Farah. "That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for."
Note that they never deny the doctrine, much in the same way that they never condemn polygamy or the treatment of blacks by the mormon church. It is the modus operandi to cry persecution in lieu of a serious and legitimate answer. What does mormon material, official mormon material say? I still have our Gospel Principles book, our study guide of mormon beliefs for when we first joined the church, printed by and an official publication of the mormon church. In describing the pre-existence, it speaks of how our heavenly father needed a plan to pay for our sins. Apparently God was uncertain what He should do, so... "Two of our brothers offered to help" One of these brothers was Jesus, "Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ" The other brother was the Devil, "Satan, who was called Lucifer" (Gospel Principles, 1992, pp. 17-18). Two brothers, making us a) different from Christ only in that He was oldest and was chosen to be begotten in the flesh (in the same way all of our parents did, through a physical, procreative sexual act) and b) Making Jesus, Satan and us all brothers and sisters. That is what is (or at least was) taught. How incredibly dishonest for Kim Farah to dissemble in the way she did when asked a simple and direct question. I expect a level of ignorance by the average lay mormon, but she is a spokesperson, so you would think she would be more familiar when called upon to respond to these sorts of questions.
Hmm, so it seems that the doctrine of Jesus and Satan being brothers, rather than something stated by those seeking to "smear" mormonism, really is indeed a teaching of the mormon church.
"The Golden Compass" proved a mild fantasy at the box office, pulling in $26.1 million, a modest opening weekend compared to such recent December heavyweights as "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Chronicles of Narnia" flicks...
Sunday, December 09, 2007
David Frum, almost always a keen observer of all things political, made an interesting point about Romney's speech on National Review Online. His point is that by answering, even vaguely, any questions about his religion he in essence legitimized all questions about his faith...
To be blunt, Romney is saying:
It is legitimate to ask a candidate, "Is Jesus the son of God?"
But it is illegitimate to ask a candidate, "Is Jesus the brother of Lucifer?"
It is hard for me to see a principled difference between these two questions, and I think on reflection that the audiences to whom Romney is trying to appeal will also fail to see such a difference. Once Romney answered any question about the content of his religious faith, he opened the door to every question about the content of his religious faith. This speech for all its eloquence will not stanch the flow of such questions.
Bad move - and one with very unfair results to a candidate who all must acknowledge is a man who has proven that his mind actually operates in a highly empirical, data-driven, and uncredulous way.
Had he focused instead on simply arguing that presidents need only prove themselves loyal to American values, he would have been on safe ground. Instead, he over-reached, super-adding to his civic appeal an additional appeal to voters who demand faith in Jesus as a requirement in a president. That is an argument that will not work - and a game Mitt Romney cannot win.
Interesting spin, I hadn't thought of it that way but it is true. He probably would have been better off refusing to answer any questions at all. He has already peaked and is on the way down methinks...
(HT: Between Two Worlds)
Saturday, December 08, 2007
How Long O' Lord: Three Views on the end of days
March 14-15, 2008
The schedule of speakers is out for the Toledo Reformed Theological Conference and it looks pretty interesting with a focus on examining the three major schools of eschatological thought.
The TRTC rarely has the star power of other conferences. Especially in the last couple of years you are not going to see Sproul or MacArthur here. Steve Camp as always will be there, as will stalwart Don Kistler. The other speakers are not household names.
Dr. Thomas Ice, from Liberty, will be (no surprise since he is from Liberty University!) representing the pre-millennial camp. Dr. Kenneth Gentry will be the advocate for post-millennialism. Dr. Richard Gaffin of Westminster Theological Seminary will speak on behalf of amillennialism. All three are rock solid scholars with great credentials. They may not be as recognizable as the speakers at Together for the Gospel, and the talks likely will not be as rousing, but the teaching should be great. Eschatology is a weak area for me, so I am very much looking forward to the TRTC in March (cleverly scheduled to not coincide with T4G!) Too bad they didn't move the Philadelphia Conference in Grand Rapids so it didn't overlap T4G, a decision which might cost them a lot of attenders.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
One comment that gave me pause was this one:
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Here comes "The Speech"
The AP reports that Mitt Romney is going to the long awaited speech addressing mormonism...
The decision, made after months of debate at his Boston headquarters over whether to make a public address about his religion, comes as the former Massachusetts governor's bid is threatened in Iowa by underdog Mike Huckabee, a one-time Southern Baptist minister who has rallied influential Christian conservatives to erase Romney's months-long lead and turn the race into a dead-heat.
Romney will deliver a speech called "Faith in America" at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, on Thursday.
I wonder if he had to run it by Salt Lake and have them approve the message? I doubt anything substantive or specific will be addressed, more likely I expect Romney to give a bunch of vague platitudes about religious tolerance and shared values. Don't expect to hear anything about the temple ceremony or the mormon doctrine of exaltation. Should be interesting tho'...
"This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor's own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected," Kevin Madden, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement. "Governor Romney understands that faith is an important issue to many Americans, and he personally feels this moment is the right moment for him to share his views with the nation."
Thursday, November 29, 2007
In what is in every way a tragic death, Washington Redskins player Sean Taylor was recently murdered in his home. Taylor was something of a miscreant, while being supremely talented, but seemed to be turning his life around and maturing as a player and a person. On November 26th, Taylor's home was broken into, and armed only with a machete Taylor was shot in the leg by the intruder, severing his femoral artery and leading to his death. Taylor was 24 years old, a world class athlete, a new father, fabulously wealthy and now he is dead for no apparent reason.
That brings us to my team, the Cleveland Browns (a suprising playoff contender...). I check the Cleveland Plain Dealer on a regular basis for news on the Browns as well as the Indians. While reading a column of news blurbs on the Browns, I came across a jaw-droppingly ignorant statement attributed to Browns coach Romeo Crennel. Now Crennel is no stranger to ignorant statements and actions (i.e. taking a timeout to decide to challenge a play, challenging and losing that challenge and thus burning two timeouts on one play). But this crosses a line into ignorance that is amazing even for Crennel:
Think about that. Taylor's house had been broken into eight days earlier. When an intruder breaks in again, Taylor, his girlfriend and their 18 month old daughter were at the mercy of this intruder. Taylor was attempting to defend his life, his family and his home with a machete. If Taylor had a firearm and knew how to properly use it, perhaps he still would have died, but there is a good chance that he could have defended himself and his family. The idea that American citizens should be encouraged to "turn in their guns" as a reaction to the death of a co-worker who was unable to defend himself precisely because he was not armed with a gun is the height on insanity. The surroundings that Crennel advises his players to be aware of, in the case of Taylor, was his own home. Taylor was not out at a club waving a gun around. He was in his own home, and was trying to confront a burglar armed with a gun with only a machete? That is the fate that Crennel would like his players relegated to?
Rather than heed Crennel, I would hope that his players all seek professional training in the safe and responsible ownership and use of firearms and seek to arm themselves with the hope that they never need use them, but that is called upon to do so they find themselves able to.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Building Bridges Conference
The audio files for the Building Bridges Conference are slowly being added to the Lifeway page here. They have been, so far that I have listened, gracious on both sides
One of the most interesting things I heard was the intro report by Ed Stetzer in which he pointed out that there is a strong trend towards Calvinism among recent SBC seminary graduates. The graph above is mind boggling. Only 10% of all SBC pastors identify themselves as five point Calvinists, but almost 30% of recent graduates (since 1999) identify themselves as five pointers, and the more recent the grad, the higher the percentage. More data and the research methodology can be found here, but some other interesting factoids:
- Calvinists tend to pastor churches with a lower weekly attendance (Is it because Calvinists run into more opposition in being called to larger churches, or is it because Calvinists have higher standards for who is a member and who is baptized? The why is not answered)
- Calvinist pastors report sharing the Gospel with others outside of church services at a slightly higher rate than their non-Calvinist counterparts.
- While the churches are smaller, Calvinist pastored churches has a baptism rate similar to non-Calvinist pastored churches.
I listened to part of David Dockery's talk, and he was pretty funny. One of his jokes was a Jeff Foxworthy-esque one about those unsure of whether or not they are a Calvinist (paraphrasing here...)
If you have a son named John, whether named after Calvin, Knox, Edwards or Piper, you might be a Calvinist.
If you think the axis of error runs through Pelagius, Arminius and Finney, you might be a Calvinist.
If you think that a psalter is not the thing sitting next to the pepper shaker, you might be a Calvinist
If you didn’t laugh at any of these jokes, you might be a Calvinist!
One of the most encouraging things about the whole conference was not that minds were changed or that any new material was presented, but that the issue of Calvinism was spoken about by both proponents and opponents in a Biblically sound, Christ honoring way and that the recognition was there that theological discussion in the SBC is a positive thing, and the goal is not to convert the world to Calvinism but to win the world for Christ. If we can have more frank, honest, peaceful discussion it will only further the cause of the Great Commission and strengthen the SBC for the future. Those who seek to run Calvinists out of the SBC threaten the future of the Convention. Those who embrace theirs brothers in spite of difference of doctrine are the ones who truly see the future of the SBC.
Monday, November 26, 2007
As part of the effort to address is the growing rift in the Southern Baptist Convention between Calvinists and, for lack of a better term, Arminians several SBC leaders are engaged in a conference designed to open, frankly and lovingly discuss these issues that divide us. Prayer would be in order. The audio files should be out soon online...
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The AP reports that our illustrious governor Jennifer Granholm made a point of adding "transgendered individuals" to the lengthy list of protected minorities/special interest groups...
LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Jennifer Granholm has issued an order that bars discrimination against state workers based on their "gender identity or expression," which protects the rights of those who behave, dress or identify as members of the opposite sex.
The order, which Granholm signed Wednesday, adds gender identity to a list of other prohibited grounds for discrimination that includes religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, height, weight, marital status, politics, disability or genetic information.
Of course our economy is in the tank, a huge set of new taxes are taking effect and we are bleeding jobs like a sieve, but at least we are watching out for deviants while the rest of the people in the state struggle to get by. Thanks Guv!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Most people, myself included, didn't read the last words of Pekka-Eric Auvinen, the school shooter in Finland who killed eight people in his rampage. But Answers in Genesis posted them, and they are a chilling reminder of the secularist worldview:
I am prepared to fight and die for my cause, . . . I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection. No, the truth is that I am just an animal, a human, an individual, a dissident . . . . It’s time to put NATURAL SELECTION & SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST back on tracks!
If that sort of statement sounds vaguely familiar, it should becuase it is the same sort of philosophy advocated by Nazi Germany. The weak, the racially impure were not part of the master plan and because human life has no intrinsic value, it simply made sense in a mad sort of way to exterminate them. In Stalinist Russia, those who opposed the revolution were murdered by an atheistic regime. The same holds true in the Killing Fields of Cambodia under Pol Pot. The most murderous regimes in the 20th century all had a common thread, the rejection of God.
I guess that raises a question that may seem harsh, but again needs to be asked: if there is no God and there are no moral absolutes, why NOT shoot up your school? As a Christian, I can answer that question pretty easily: all people, Christians and unbelievers, are created in God's image. God has expressly commanded man to not murder one another (that raises the specter of just war theory, but that is not the topic du jour). So therefore we have been taught, and teach our children, that human life is sacred. But taking that God out of the picture makes moral decisions simply a matter of personal preference. I think killing is wrong, you think it is OK, so who am I to tell you not to kill others. Virtually every decision we make has some sort of consequence to others, so that is not a valid qualifier. Without moral absolutes that stem from an absolutely moral and holy God, each person is left to develop their own moral code and that leads inevitably to people shooting up schools in Colorado, Georgia, Finland and Ohio.
Unlike many Southern Baptists, I am not an advocate for prayer in public schools because I am not an advocate of public schools at all, but as we see in general God being pushed out of the conscience of our country we see a rise in murderous behavior. Moreover, not just violence but a general callous indifference. Man has always killed man, but where God is denied it takes on a coldness that is jarring at first and numbing later on.
The more man learns, in his own limited way, about the wondrous creation that God has made, the more that man seeks to supplant God. Rather than worship Him more for the wonders He has made, man takes his pitiful knowledge and ascribes godhood to himself. The story in the Garden is little changed today, man seeks knowledge to become like God and always fails and always will.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1: 19-25 ESV)