Monday, October 31, 2016

A Reformation Day Hymn For Your Listening Pleasure

I love the sight and sound of Anabaptists singing a hymn penned by Martin Luther.

Post tenebras lux

The words Post Tenebras Lux form the Latin phrase which is roughly translated "After darkness, light". The phrase is often considered to be the "motto of the Reformation", a recognition that after centuries of the light of the Gospel being shrouded in religious darkness it at long last burst forth once more as the Reformation took hold of Europe. The Reformation may have "officially" started this day in 1517 but it didn't end there and I would say is just as relevant today as it has ever been since the 16th century. Watch this brief video from John Piper in Geneva, home of John Calvin and one of the centers of the Reformation.

Happy 499th Reformation Day!

Good All Hallows Eve to you and happy Reformation Day! We stand today 499 years after the seemingly innocuous event that started a chain reaction across the world and began the arduous and I would say incomplete work of restoring the Gospel to the light of day. With October 31st, 2017 looming as the 500 year anniversary of the events of that final day of October, 1517 I expect to hear a lot over the next twelve months about Luther and about the Reformation in general. I think this is good and necessary and even desperately needed. While in the past few years I have focused on the faults of the Reformation on Reformation Day, the general failure to reform the church and the often brutal response of the magisterial Reformers toward the radical Reformers, better known as the Anabaptists, and others who didn't walk in lock-step with the magisterial Reformer's teachings. This year I am more interested in just being thankful for the brave men, men who often paid with their lives, who stood boldly in the face of man-made tyranny dressed up in pseudo-Christian religious garb. I believe God raised these flawed men up for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel of His Son and in doing so bringing honor and glory to His name.

Lest we forget, what is taught from pulpits and books and in Sunday school classrooms across the Christian world would have been dangerous in the extreme to utter when Luther was alive and many, many Christians were martyred in those days by Roman Catholic authorities who burned alive and otherwise tortured and murdered Christians with the approval of the charlatans who blasphemously declared themselves the Vicar of Christ and the Holy Father. To do what Luther and others did, Calvin and Zwingli, Grebel and Sattler, was to invite torture and death and they are braver men than what you find today.

We live in an era that is increasingly similar to the early days of the 16th century. While Rome still teaches false doctrine, fewer and fewer people care what the "Bishop of Rome" has to say on issues of theology unless he is spouting off bad economics. That is especially true for many or even most Roman Catholics. Today the new false religion is headed by a priestly caste made up of cultural opinion makers and illiberal academics. People are more likely to form an opinion based on a tweet from Kim Kardashian than a well reasoned argument from a theologian. Most quarters of what was considered the church in America are folding up like a cheap umbrella. Many who have grown influential and wealthy from pumping out vacuous religious books and talks full of empty platitudes are seeing the religious gravy train coming off the rails and are jettisoning any hint of that embarrassing Biblical orthodoxy like sailors on a sinking ship (I know I am mixing my metaphors there).

We need men like Luther today, bold men with conviction who trust in God and in His Holy Scriptures. The clowns, showmen and huckster who populate so many pulpits in this land need to be called out as the wolves they are, even if they are wolves with million dollar smiles and impeccably tailored suits (or skinny jeans and v-neck t-shirts). Most importantly we need more men who are not Luthers, larger than life figures but instead are simple men of faith to lead our churches and our families. The Kingdom needs bold men of faith locally as well as globally. Men who humbly open God's Word in out of the way places are just as important as men with a national platform to speak.

So to all my Christians brothers and sisters, happy Reformation Day!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Only Real Certainty Is That There Can Be No Certainty

In the contemporary stampede of religious types in America to put as much distance between themselves and anything that might impact book sales or page views or twitter followers, the focus is so often and so inexplicably on homosexual behavior. It will be very difficult to explain to young people in just a few short years that it was once recognized by Christians and unbelievers alike that homosexual behavior was unnatural and inherently disordered, an aberrant and perverse behavior that while not something to be criminalized was certainly nothing to embrace or be proud of.

Homosexuality may be the cause of the day but you can also be sure that this downward slide of constantly redefining deviancy will not end there because normalization of homosexual behavior is not the ultimate goal, not even close to it. The real issue that is the driver of this collapsing public morality and the accompanying embrace of perversion by people who erroneously are considered to speak for the church is not homosexuality at all but rather the abandonment of the recognition of Biblical authority and the revulsion so many feel at the very idea of certainty. The latter is somewhat ironic because the people who break out in a sweat over anyone being certain about anything are super certain that there is no such thing as certainty or perhaps more accurately that there are only certain topics you can be certain about. You can be certain that two men who prefer sodomizing one another are in love and love knows no boundaries. After all, didn't Jesus talk a lot about love? On the other hand, you can absolutely never be certain that the Scriptures condemn any sort of sexual behavior and the only proper way to deal with what Scripture has to say about human sexuality is to hide behind "nuance" and "creating space for understanding".

James White had this to say in a recent post, The Hill to Die On, For There are No Other Hills (emphasis mine):

If, as the argument asserts, there is no certain Scriptural knowledge as to God’s intentions and purposes in human sexuality and marriage, then we are all wasting our time. This is why believers are in the minority even amongst “religious” people today: so few truly believe that God has spoken with clarity on anything, let alone this subject. Once a person believes that it is just a matter of opinion, or, as expressed above, “interpretation, bias, and theological leanings,” then it is nothing but a vain argument without relevance, and we might as well forget about it, allow anyone to do anything (and I do mean anything), and fall into the abyss of moral relativism that is the necessary corollary of a world without a Creator who speaks.

The issue is not homosexuality, the issue is rejecting that God has been clear and unambiguous about anything. Hell, sin, holiness, justification, human sexuality, loving our enemies, creation. On these and so many other topics the world tells believers that in order to be loving and not be knuckle-dragging fundamentalists you must reject any sort of authoritative, transcendent teaching. Only what you feel, or more to the point what important cultural elites feel, at any given moment matters. How many people have decided to embrace homosexual normalization because they know some homosexuals and they seem like nice people so therefore I feel that God can't possibly disapprove of their behavior? Somehow the idea that homosexuals are just regular people like you and I means that homosexual behavior is OK when the truth is that primarily because they are people like you and I, it means that they need the life changing Gospel that saves from sin and frees from sin. I am not a Christian because I have a wife and we have been married for almost 25 years. I am a Christian because around 15 years ago I became aware of my own sin and was convicted of my need for a Savior. A major part of that realization came as a result of my recognition that God spoke, clearly and authoritatively, and in that revelation my own guilty standing before a just and holy God is exposed.

A lot of us get caught up on the issue of homosexual normalization and that is understandable. It is a perversion of the Biblical mandate regarding human sexuality, a behavior that shames and degrades those who engage in it and those who approve of it. It is not, however, the core issue but rather a particularly obvious symptom. The real disease in the church is the rejection of certainty and rejecting the very idea that God spoke with clarity on any issue. I see so many people who wear doubt like a badge of honor, who claim that no one can really know what God intended on any given question which relegates the Bible to a quaint historical relic but little else. People seem to be terrified of being pinned down, of being forced to take a stand. As long as I am ambivalent and uncertain I can always retreat when a position becomes embarrassing.

You can be certain in an arrogant fashion but it does not follow that it is always arrogant to be certain. In truth I see a lot more arrogance and condescension from those who think doubt and uncertainty are fruits of the Spirit than I do from humble believers who truly believe that God spoke and intended for us to understand and trust what He said.

When I survey the places where the visible expression of "the church" has gone astray, it is almost always due to a lack of faith in what the Bible teaches. Overwhelming partisan political activism? Christians not believing Romans 13. Women who claim to be pastors? Christians not believing Paul's teaching on gender roles and functions. Belief that humans are a cosmic accident and descended from apes? Christians not believing Genesis. On and on.

If there is a God who is active in the lives of His Creation and cares for His creatures, doesn't it make sense that He would make known His will to those He purposefully created? If an omnipotent God made know His will, doesn't it follow that He could do so in a way that was understandable to His people and that they could trust? The idea that God would create people and give them as their primary means of knowing Him a book that they couldn't understand and couldn't trust is to suggest God is a cruel trickster or just incompetent. At one year and one day away from the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation it is worth remembering the sort of cruelty and ignorance that was the result of a religious organization that claimed "regular" people couldn't understand the Bible and shouldn't be allowed to read it for themselves.

As I have said before, you don't have to be a Christian or even pretend to be for cultural acceptability these days. But if you claim you are then that brings with it an obligation and even more so a delight to recognize that God has spoken, for you and to you, via the Bible. Having confidence that you can be certain is not arrogant nor is it a burden but it is instead liberating. There is no need to guess what God thinks for He has already told us. It is absolutely the case that gleaning what God intends is a life-long work but it is a joyful labor. But something simply requiring effort should not dissuade us. I have lots of patience for those who are earnestly seeking God's mind and will through the Word even when they have a long way to go. The Lord knows I certainly do as well! What I have little sympathy or patience for are those who can't be bothered to turn to the Bible or who are too ashamed of being associated with something so pedestrian, so primitive as a book written before the advent of the internet.

We shouldn't flee from certainty nor should we shrink away from legitimate claims of authority. Apart from the saving sacrifice of His Son on the cross, the preservation of God's self-revelation for generations is one of His greatest gifts to His people. They can only be described as fools, those who spurn the immortal God and His eternal Word for the fickle and false opinions of man. I will take a humbly certain, "uneducated" man over a learned, pompous fool who asserts that God has not spoken any day of the week.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Need For Discernment Has Never Been Greater, Jen Hatmaker Edition

Being discerning has always been a critical aspect of the Christian life of a disciple. We have warnings to that effect all throughout the New Testament but it today's world the need is as urgent as it has ever been. Case in point, a recent interview with Jen Hatmaker who is a fairly famous religious author. I haven't read any of her stuff, probably not too shocking a revelation, but I did see an interview with her linked by Tim Challies. Published by Religion News Service the interview is a trainwreck. I am sure others have already responded but given how famous she is and how many unsuspecting Christians read her books uncritically, I think it is important to point out the many fallacies and outright errors she manages to pack into a brief interview. Here are some of the more egregious examples:

Who do you plan to vote for? 

My initial thought is vote for whoever is not Donald Trump and can win. It’s interesting, though, to watch Evan McMullin rise up right now as a conservative candidate, and I’m paying attention to that. I like him. I think he’s got a lot of integrity, and I like his policies. 

What about Hillary? Would you be open to voting for her? 


Ok. How can someone say in the same breath that they like Evan McMullin as a conservative candidate with integrity and you like his policies and then turn around and say you would be open to voting for Hillary Clinton, someone who embodies the very antithesis of integrity in every aspect of her public life and who espouses policies that are the polar opposite of McMullin? Either she has no idea what she is talking about or....well scratch that, having no idea what she is talking about is the only answer. Until we get to the next question:

But Hillary has her share of problems too, right? 

That to me is where the Christian family is struggling right now, because in terms of character assassination, both of our candidates have some dirt. It has become a matter of which is worse, and it’s a terrible predicament.

That is an evasion worthy of a Clinton. It isn't "character assassination" to point out the myriad well documented examples of unethical and criminal behavior by Mrs. Clinton. I am assuming that Ms. Hatmaker knows the specifics of Mrs. Clinton's "share of problems" but on the other hand someone who is intrigued by Evan McMullin but open to voting for Hillary is clearly not well versed on the issues (which she ironically accuses Donald Trump of also being). Now we get to the biggies.

Politically speaking, do you support gay marriage? 

From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friends. 

From a spiritual perspective, since gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, our communities have plenty of gay couples who, just like the rest of us, need marriage support and parenting help and Christian community. They are either going to find those resources in the church or they are not. 

Not only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family. We have to do better.

So the first paragraph, which answers the actual question she was posed, is kind of silly but not heretical.

The second paragraph is puzzling. Ms. Hatmaker may be unaware of this but something being legal in all 50 states (by virtue of a judicial fiat by the way) doesn't make it OK. The church should be prepared by all means to minister to homosexuals but to minister to them with the Gospel that saves from sin, not affirmation that encourages it.

The third paragraph is the worst of the trio. Someone who embraces and celebrates their sin is by definition not born-again and therefore not a Christian and further not a brother or sister in Christ or part of the family of God. There are people who are struggling with same sex behavior and we should help them as sinners saved by grace but never, ever by denying the reality of sin and the need to repent and turn from that sin. Lest you think this is an aberration, she doubles down on her error:

You mention faithfulness and God. Do you think an LGBT relationship can be holy? 

I do. And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting. I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here.

My views here are tender? What does that even mean other than being wishy washy and patting yourself on the back? It really isn't that nuanced of a conversation. Scripture is as clear on the unacceptability and inherent sinfulness of homosexual behavior as it is on any topic. There is no ambiguity or nuance. Homosexual behavior is condemned without qualification or exception. What Ms. Hatmaker is doing is not tender or nuanced or loving. It is being either willfully ignorant of Scripture or more likely she knows what Scripture says and is determined to deny it in favor of capitulating to the culture. There is nothing new or courageous here, it is just the same false teaching that has infected religious America for the last several years.

I agree that every believer should be prepared to do some hard work when it comes to homosexual behavior but blowing along with the winds of the culture isn't hard work. Standing firm in love for the truth even when it costs you public affirmation and perhaps book sales is the hard work. Telling someone who is sinning that God doesn't care is easy, telling them that a holy God cannot abide sin and is by His very nature bound to punish sin is hard work.

What about that other hot-button issue? Where do you stand on abortion? 

I’ve always had a pro-life ethic and still do. But my pro-life ethic has infinitely expanded from just simply being anti-abortion. For me, pro-life includes the life of the struggling single mom who decides to have that kid and they’re poor. It means being pro-refugee. It means being pro-Muslim. My pro-life ethic, while still not in favor of abortion and certainly not in favor of late-term abortions, has expanded. 

There’s something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids. Some Christians want the baby born, but then don’t want to help the mama raise that baby. We don’t want to provide the scaffolding for them to thrive and be successful. That, to me, makes no sense at all.

Ms. Hatmaker has a knack for avoiding answers and being intentionally vague. No wonder her books sell so well. After her laundry list of being "pro-refugee" and "pro-Muslim", whatever that means, notice the language she uses. She is "not in favor of abortion" and "certainly not in favor of late-term abortions". Not in favor of? I am not in favor of lots of stuff. When it comes to murdering children in the womb I am not "not in favor" of that, I am disgusted and heart-broken and infuriated by the practice. I am not in favor of subsidizing ethanol, I am 100% opposed to my dying breath to abortion. See the difference there? Ms. Hatmaker's language is designed to assuage the consciences of her allegedly Christian audience while not offending any of her "progressive" pals. Playing word games with the life of children in the balance is disgusting. There is no other way to put it.

The second paragraph is the pretty typical and slanderous charge levied by unbelievers against Christians suggesting that we only care about children when they are in the womb. I would expect better from someone who claims to be a Christian but I am not surprised to see her parrot it back. First, untold millions of dollars are donated by Christians to crisis pregnancy centers that do an incredible work in providing parenting help and material assistance to poor families and especially single moms. Liberals think that volunteering to have the government take money away from other people and throwing it at poor people is compassion but Christians know that actually helping people takes (to use her words) hard work. Even her statement that Christians "scream" about abortion as if it is irrational and crazy to oppose abortion is grotesque. To compound it she dutifully repeats the demonstrably false notion that programs designed to "help" the poor are the only form of compassion for the poor when trillions of dollars and decades of time in the "War on Poverty" has accomplished nothing to reduce poverty and instead have trapped generations in perpetual dependency.

You’re a mother of a multiethnic family. What are your thoughts on Black Lives Matter? 

I’m a supporter of Black Lives Matter, and I am deeply embedded in that conversation. I am learning so much from people of color right now, specifically my black mentors and leaders that I’ve sort of put myself under. This was not a topic I even considered 10 years ago. 

But now I’ve read devastating books like “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. It’s shattering, that piece of work. Brandon and I went down to Montgomery and sat for two days under the leadership of Bryan Stevenson, who wrote “Just Mercy,” and we learned so much from a legal standpoint. This conversation is wrought with tension. But I feel like this is a big part of my task and work, probably forever.

Oh, she is "deeply embedded in that conversation". Right. I would be willing to bet that the actual public leaders of the disingenuously named "Black Lives Matter" movement don't have any idea who she is. At least she can check off the "supports black lives matter" box on her progressive bucket list.

It looks like Rachel Held Evans has some serious competition for the "Most Predictable Guilty White Liberal Religious Woman" title.

You don't have to be a Christian. No one is making you. You are welcome to be whatever you want and accept whatever consequences come from that. But if you are going to claim to be a Christian then you must accept that your feelings or the prevailing cultural winds don't have authority. In being a Christian I submit myself to the authoritative teaching of the Bible and I don't get to amend, subtract or ignore those parts I find inconvenient or that cost me book sales or speaking engagements. The Bible tells me that homosexuality is inherently sinful, without exception. I don't get to hide behind "nuance" and pretend it is otherwise. I don't get to see human life as made in the image of God and then say I am "not in favor" of abortion as if I am expressing my favor or disfavor on a new tax levy for the library. Human beings murdered by other human beings is a crime against humanity and an affront to God. Trying to deflect making that unequivocal statement by dragging unrelated and actually complex issues like immigration policy into the conversation is not nuanced or brave, it is cowardly and intellectually dishonest.

Jen Hatmaker clearly knows a lot about selling books. Kudos to her, I am all in favor of people earning as much as they can. She just as clearly knows nothing about or ignores pretty much everything in Scripture that is mentioned in this interview. I am sure she will get a great deal of affirmation from fellow "progressives" for her "enlightened" and "nuanced" responses and no doubt will piously play the martyr when people call out her error strewn and heretical responses to the interview. For me this interview is nothing more than a bunch of clap-trap that serves an unintentional purpose of reinforcing how important clear, Scripture based thinking is for the church. The next five years are going to see an explosion in this sort of anti-Scriptural nonsense and the church must be willing and able to respond and refute these errors. False progressive pious utterances and empty slogans are fine for political campaigns but they have no place in the battlefield for souls the church fights upon every day.

(see also the satirical send up of Ms. Hatmaker from the Babylon Bee, Jen Hatmaker Takes A Stand For Unclear Stances )

(also see also Matt Walsh responding to Ms. Hatmaker)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Another Week, Another Wedding

Things have been quiet around here for a couple of weeks. By "here" I mean this blog because real life has been anything but quiet. The last few weeks have been crazy with helping an Amish family prepare for their third wedding in 13 months and that has kept me off line. With the election only weeks away I have lots to talk about but I simply haven't had time to write.

The worst kept secret of this election is that a lot of "Republicans" are secretly or not-so-secretly pulling for Hillary Clinton because what they care about is not smaller government or the sanctity of life or the national debt but rather maintaining the status quo where the rich elites in D.C. stay rich and powerful, living off the the labor of the saps in the rest of the country who work for a living.

Anyway here are a couple of pictures from the (very rainy) wedding.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Hypocrisy Goes Both Ways

Here's a question. If Donald Trump, who based on most of his positions that he didn't change for this election cycle could plausibly do so, had run for President as a Democrat and was the current nominee against someone like Indiana's own "Vanilla Ice" Mike Pence, would the media be quite so incensed over this antics past and present? Not hardly.

It is in vogue to point the finger of blame at those who support Trump and blame them for this shameful state of affairs. That is quite appropriate. The problem is that I think those same self-righteous people on the Left who are clucking the loudest about Trump have a substantial percent of the blame for creating the sort of environment where a man can be in a feasible position even today to be President of the United States and yet harbor this sort of juvenile attitude about women, sexuality and personal standards of behavior.

Gee, maybe if you constantly inundate people with sexually charged images where homosexuality and cross-dressing, long rightly understood as mental illnesses, and casual and often meaningless and crude or even borderline violent sexual behavior is celebrated as liberating they might eventually start to live those behaviors out in real life. Movies depict sexual violence from overt rape to quasi-sexual assault to sexual degradation of woman being celebrated as "romantic". As others have pointed out, someone bought those 125 million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and someone paid over half a billion in ticket revenue to watch the movie version where a rich, powerful guy sexually abuses a young, vulnerable woman (based on the synopsis from Wikipedia, I have never read the book or watched the film). In a culture where men are inundated with sexual images and women are force fed the lie that being promiscuous, even when they dislike it and are ashamed of it, is somehow liberating, it is inevitable that people like Donald Trump take advantage of that behavior. After all, using his power and position to seduce at least one White House intern for sex who knows how many times in the White House and countless others in his political career didn't lower the Left's fawning esteem of Bill Clinton, it seems to have raised his standing among "feminists" and others. Heck, even lying under oath about it, being suspended from practicing law and impeached by the House of Representatives was brushed off as "just sex" even though what got him impeached was not having sex with a 22 year old intern but lying about it under oath. Being a sexual predator gets Clinton invites to speak to august bodies all over the world but tapes of Donald Trump talking about the same sort of behavior has the Left fanning themselves and grasping for the smelling salts in faux outrage. Being a sexual predator is OK for me but not for thee? Please.

While I am at it, how about the fact that tens of millions of Americans will still vote for Trump because the notion of voting for Hillary Clinton is just that revolting. There is more to it than just Hillary being nothing less than evil. An awful lot of people in this country, men especially and the heterosexual, white men even more so, have been constantly pummeled by the cultural opinion deciders, those who by virtue of their position in deciding what is acceptable entertainment and eventually what is an acceptable opinion think themselves better than the rest of us. They are told that being masculine is "toxic" and contributes to the false narrative of a "rape culture". They are told they are to blame for racism no matter what they do. If you are not 100% on board with whatever perversion and deviance the cultural leaders tell you to be, you are not just agreeing to disagree or wrong, you are a cultural enemy who must be silenced and punished. You can only crap on millions of people who just want to live their lives and raise their families without being constantly scolded for being terrible people for so long. Hillary Clinton personifies the forces that are degrading this country. Donald Trump is nothing more than a well coiffed middle finger aimed right at the heart of those who think they are better than the rest of us.

When you intentionally create a toxic culture, you should expect toxic people to thrive in that environment.

The False Dichotomy: American Evangelical Style

He took the candidate that they had elected and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it. And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?" And Aaron said, "Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, 'Find us a Presidential candidate who can beat Hillary. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' So I said to them, 'Give us lots of "conservative" political candidates to choose from and we will choose a Presidential candidate from among them and he will save us' So they gave them to me, and I threw them all into the fire, and out came Donald Trump."

Exodus 32:20-24, you know, if the Israelite's were American evangelicals

The evangelical ship in this country has been sinking for a long time, which is fine because it has mostly been sailing in circles for decades and inviting anyone who wants on board to join our little club. This weekend the sinking ship got torpedoed, set on fire and crushed about the mid-ship by the kraken. Many people are finally manning the lifeboats and fleeing the S.S. Donald Trump Is Bad But Not As Bad As Hillary but it is way too late. Nevertheless many others are shouting that all is well.

So there is a rather desperate narrative going around this weekend from some people. Here it goes.

There are only two choices Christians have:

One, vote for Donald Trump to preserve religious liberty, save the Supreme Court and preserve America itself.

Two, do nothing.

Ah, I see.

We are nearly two thousand years from the Resurrection.

We are almost 500 years from the start of the Reformation.

In most of that time the church has had very little civic control and even less religious liberty. In fact for much of the first 1500 years of Christian history the state and a false religion actively stomped out anyone who actually expressed the Gospel.

Did that mean that the church "did nothing"? That it stood silently by and watched the world turn mutely? Does the church have no voice, does the church have no witness if we don't have political influence? Does "Be ye not unequally yoked..." only apply to Baptist parents who have a daughter dating a Methodist boy?

If you are so blinded that you cannot imagine how the church can survive and be a prophetic witness to the world without putting our support behind a politician, that is your problem, not mine. It is frankly ignorant of the doctrine of sin, it is tragically ignorant of the reality of human nature and woefully ignorant of Christian history.

The church didn't start in 1776. The public Gospel witness did not first occur when the Bill of Rights was ratified. For those who think that we cannot survive unless the Constitution stays intact and that can only happen if Trump is elected I would first point to something James White wrote on Facebook:

6. Stop fantasizing about the SCOTUS. One word: Obergefell, and that WITH Scalia. That ship has sailed, it is over the horizon. See point 3. Further, the doe-eyed optimism of my fellow Christians that a man like DJT, who has no earthly concept of what “trustworthiness” means, and has lived his life violating covenants and promises (ask his wives and the married women he seduced, proudly), would actually go to the mat to push through even semi-meaningful judicial nominees is further evidence that bearing the name “Christian” does not necessarily endow you with common sense.

Yes to that. Second, I would point out that the Constitution of the United States has been a dead, empty series of words since early in the 20th century and isn't coming back. This nation has gone deep into the desert with no water. It isn't going to survive, at least not in a recognizable sense. We live in a functional totalitarian state, a Bureautocracy controlled by un-elected bureaucrats, self-appointed political elites, the revolving door of big business/big government and an out of control judiciary.

So. What is the church going to do? Continue to support increasingly disgusting people in the certain vain hope that eventually we will stop getting used like whores? Will we bemoan our lack of political power and close up shop?

I don't know about the rest of the church but I do know about me. I am not going to going into mourning if Donald Trump doesn't "win". I am going to keep speaking out, I am going to keep doing what I can to carry out the mission God gave to His Church, not the United States, not the Republican Party, namely the carrying forth of the message of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will do so if it costs me dearly, if it means being shunned by the world, if it means losing jobs, if it means imprisonment, if it means death.

There are two certainties for November. Donald Trump is probably not going to win. Even if he does things are not going to change. Faced with that harsh reality, what are we going to do? What are you going to do?

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Our Romans 13 Election?

As the Gipper once said "There you go again". New "shocking" revelations that a man who is notable mostly for being a loud-mouthed buffoon turns out to be a loud-mouthed buffoon who says stuff that would be immature coming from a junior high boy and are vulgar even by the very low standards our society has descended to with a wink and smile. I won't dignify Trump's comments by repeating them, even with the dirty stuff missing letters. Even still. EVEN STILL. There are plenty of pew sitting church-goers who will excuse this. Really, who can blame them when the alternative we have as a nation is a woman who lies like fish swim, a high priestess of the cult of infanticide. Many in the church have placed their practical faith in the world instead of the Savior they claim to follow. As a nation we have backed ourselves into a no-win corner and  have only ourselves to blame. I would like to think that if we could call a do-over and start back with Iowa and New Hampshire again, we would end up with two different candidates.

I like to think that but I know better. 

"Our" candidates are nothing but a reflection of us. For the first time we can't pretend we were fooled. We knew what we were getting. A vulgar blowhard who seems to be running for President as a joke and a power mad harpy who will do anything to achieve her own mad personal quest for power.

Maybe for once we can start to understand what Paul was talking about. Paul who wrote of Caesar as someone the church should not fear but pray for. Caesar was outside of the Kingdom. The church is the Kingdom. Because God is God, we have nothing to fear from Caesar. If Paul cold be imprisoned by Caesar and still pray for the likes of Nero and Caligula what we are worried about? Our loss of "religious liberty"? The church is told to expect persecution and indeed has always thrived in the face of persecution. Do we fear that we will get the wrong Supreme Court justices? "For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." That is true of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. It is also true for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy.

Maybe, just maybe we can rely on the power of God, the strength of weakness that is the true might of the believer. Instead of trying to take over and become Caesar we can stand as a clear, contrast to Caesar.

We should strive to do good to everyone and especially the household of faith but we should do it without compromising our calling and becoming unequally yoked with Caesar. In this election we have no real choice that honors God. We can vote for the man who speaks of women like they are all whores. We can vote for a woman who promises to put our infanticide machine on overdrive and is as dishonest as any human being has ever been. We can vote for "principled" candidates who won't win or a long shot who seems more and more stoned as the campaign stumbles tortuously to it's culmination. Or we can turn our focus, our time, talent and treasure to the tasks that God has actually called us to, that have eternal significance.

Our choice has never been more stark. Not a choice between Republican or Democrat, not between liberal or conservative. No, our choice is the power of the world or the power of God and it has never been more clear. Let's not screw this up. The world we are called to serve and love, even people who are hell bound like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, is watching. More importantly so is our Savior.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Helping Haiti

Social media is awash in stories from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew. In America the impact will be severe in terms of property damage and some loss of life. In Haiti where there is virtually no functioning infrastructure, the results are devastating. As of right now the death toll stands at 800 and I am sadly certain that this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Some might think that Americans should worry about our American neighbors in need and not worry about people in a foreign country. To that I respond that while I understand the sentiment, it is without question that the recovery in America for the average person is far swifter than Haiti. Should I lose all of my food and clothing to a hurricane I could simply drive to the nearest Wal-Mart and replenish, although that would require me to wear super tacky polyester "fashion" clothing which is only marginally better than being naked covered in honey sitting on a fire-ant nest. Haiti simply has no infrastructure, no emergency services, no way for their government to magically create "money" to pay for recuperation. Haiti, although I have only been there once, has a special place in my heart (see my post Why Haiti?) and many, many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are serving our Lord in that so often tragic land.

If you are looking for a way to financially help the people of Haiti, my recommendation is go small and go local. Give to smaller, hopefully more accountable organizations with minimal overhead and who understand the country rather than some giant group that eats up contributions just to raise more money. Two groups are on my rather short list.

The Hope Community Project formerly was the Haiti Orphan Project but after some difficult soul searching now focuses on orphan prevention. That is a less sexy sounding mission statement than running an orphanage in a desperately poor country but it is the right way to go. Helping Haitians to maintain and strengthen communities and families is their mission:

We exist to facilitate the development of healthy communities through partnerships with Haitian churches and organizations to encourage sustainable physical, spiritual and economic health; we desire to communicate Christ-centered compassion as well as respect for the dignity and resources of the Haitian people.

They are good people and I know some of them personally and can vouch for the work they do and the Christ-centered approach they take.

Another group I am familiar with including some staff personally is Christian Aid Ministries. In spite of the rather generic name they are a group mostly made up of conservative Anabaptists and have a strong presence in Haiti. CAM also has the distinction of using more than 97.5% of their funds for direct aid and less than 3% on fund raising and overhead.

There are other groups of course but I encourage you to really get to know the groups you donate to. Too many contributions given in haste are ill spent and the needs are too great around the world to blow your money paying for someone to sit in a cubicle in Dallas raising funds to pay their own salary.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Where Did My Links List Go?

For some reason my links list on the sidebar disappeared. Any ideas why that happened? I can recreate it but it is a hassle.