Monday, September 29, 2008

Brief video clip on gender roles in the church, brought on by the discussion of Governor Palin as a possible VP candidate who would not be eligible to be a pastor. They went to Southern Seminary, which makes sense.

ABC News: Gender Roles

The video features an interview with a woman who styles herself "pastor", Linda Barnes. Oddly she describes herself as theologically conservative but doesn't see any reason why she cannot be a pastor. Her argument, according to the interviewer, is that SBC leaders are cherry picking verses to marginalize women. First, it is not cherry picking to point out in context what the Bible says. Second, it doesn't marginalize women unless you buy into the world's definition of success and contribution. Dr. Mohler correctly points out that this lady who styles herself as "Pastor" doesn't have a problem with Dr. Mohler or other Southern Baptists, she has a problem with the New Testament.

The issue boils down to pride. Women look at the Scripture, see what God says but decide that it is unfair. You can't tell me what to do! It is a common failing in the church, but women who insist on being called "pastor" and churches who call them to fill that role are in direct and sinful disobedience to the Scripture.

A victory for common sense

Today the house of Representatives voted by a slim margin to reject the enormous bailout proposed in D.C. The stock market responded kind of poorly, to the tune of a 700+ point drop in the Dow. Bank stocks were especially hammered. My employer had a tough day, but nearly as bad as some others. There is a lot of pain and consolidation to come I am afraid, but long term it beats the alternative. An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today pointed out that any massive bailout of the financial system would have been largely financed by such friends as China and Middle Eastern nations...

The success of the pending rescue of the U.S. financial system probably depends as much on the central banks of China and the Middle East as on Congress and the Federal Reserve.

The U.S. is turning to foreign governments and other overseas investors to buy a good chunk of what could total $700 billion in Treasury debt expected to finance the bailout. Foreign investors also are needed to shore up the depleted capital of the nation's financial institutions, seen in the plan by Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group to buy a large stake in Morgan Stanley, which is weighed down by bad debt and market distrust.

This is a bittersweet moment in U.S. economic history. In one sense, the growing importance of foreign cash represents the triumph of a half-century of U.S. proselytizing for a global financial system in which money flows from those who have it to those who need it. But it is also an unmistakable sign of U.S. economic decline. The global financial system the U.S. designed had anticipated that American banks and financial firms would be the world's financial lifeguards; now those institutions are like exhausted swimmers a stroke or two away from drowning.

The financial crisis makes clear how much the interests of foreign lenders have become a top concern in Washington. A big reason the Fed and Treasury stepped in to rescue mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, say U.S. financial officials, was to reassure foreign leaders including China, which holds roughly $1 trillion in U.S. debt, that U.S. securities were safe. "Superpowers do not normally ask their diplomats to reassure other nations on questions of credit-worthiness," says former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

Just 10 years after the U.S. oversaw the financial rescue of Asian nations, the U.S. now risks becoming the world's largest subprime borrower. This change of fortune has been hard to swallow. In a televised address Thursday, President George W. Bush blamed the current financial crisis on the "massive amount of money [that] flowed into the United States from investors abroad," rather than on greedy decisions by U.S. mortgage lenders and borrowers. In Friday's presidential debate, both candidates railed against U.S. economic dependence on China.

Powerful nations have been humbled before by an overdependence on foreign capital. Council on Foreign Relations economist Brad Setser notes that Britain was forced to end its seizure of the Suez Canal in 1956 because of U.S. opposition. Washington's main weapon: its threat to slash financial support for Britain, whose economy had been battered by World War II.

The U.S. isn't in remotely as bad shape as postwar Britain. It still is the world's sole military superpower, and the U.S. currency is still dominant. The latter is important because even if foreign holdings of U.S. debt grow, as is likely, the U.S. alone prints the dollars needed to pay those debts.

Even so, foreign lenders have a great deal of sway. If they were to dump U.S. government debt -- or be unwilling to buy more -- the interest rates needed to attract buyers of Treasurys would soar. The already fragile U.S. economy would absorb yet another hit.

China, Saudi Arabia and other big foreign holders are unlikely to take antidollar measures precisely because they own so much U.S. debt. To the extent the dollar declines, so does the value of those nations' holdings. Mr. Summers calls this situation "the financial balance of terror."

But it is naive to assume that this so-called balance will protect U.S. interests indefinitely. Senior Chinese economists have voiced growing dismay about the outlook for the dollar, and the introduction of an additional $700 billion in debt might drive the currency's value down further, at least in the short term. "I think foreigners are being taken for a ride by the U.S. government," says Andy Xie, an independent economist in Shanghai.

Sounds less and less appealing doesn't it? Propping up the financial systems to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of additional debt for our grandkids, owed to Saudi Arabia and China, is not much of a legacy is it?

This whole situation has proven once and for all that President Bush is naive in many ways when it comes to trusting people around him and his idea of "compassionate conservatism" is little different from big government liberalism. President Bush is generally right on issues of life and on the war on terror, but on economics he either is unable to control the urge to spend or he has surrounded himself with poor advisers. In an attempt to "reach across the aisle", he has allowed liberals to spend and spend and spend. While he has stood strong for what is right in the War of Terror, his legacy will in large part be presiding over a ballooning federal debt and a financial crisis in his final year. What seemed like a promising, historical Presidency is rapidly degenerating into a record of mediocrity and failure. Perhaps his most stinging failure may just be setting up the atmosphere where we elect a unqualified, far left liberal as President.

Conservatism, real conservatism, would dictate that we slash spending at the Federal level as well as cutting taxes. What President Bush has allowed to happen is an unholy union of lower taxes and dramatically higher spending. There is a real danger of becoming a third world economic power with a super power military. That is a recipe for totalitarianism and war for resources (not the fake kind liberals claim the liberation of Iraq amounts to, but real conquest of other nations) Shoring up and stabilizing our financial system, without massive amounts of debt, is in many ways as much an issue of national security as a strong military, and there are far too few voices of courage and reason in the halls of power.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Never have so many who knew so little said so much

Amidst all of the overheated rhetoric about the financial crisis and the bailout plan from people who likely couldn't balance a checkbook without assistance, there are few voices of sanity. All anyone seems able to agree on is the need to DO SOMETHING! There probably has never been a time when doing something just for the sake of doing something has ever turned out well.

I am not looking at this situation as a theologian but as a conservative who remembers what being a conservative is supposed to mean. Dr. Mohler has posted a blog article about what Christians should think facing the financial crisis. Here is a snippet...

The development of vast global economic systems simply builds upon the simple principle that all participants are willing to trade one good for another they want even more and to invest in the hope of future gain.

Is this greed? In and of itself, this is not greed at all. The desire for a profit, for income, and for material gain is not in itself greed. The Bible clearly teaches that the worker is worthy of his hire and that rewards should follow labor, thrift, and investment.

Greed raises its ugly head when individuals and groups (such as corporations or retirement funds) seek an unrealistic gain at the expense of others and then use illegitimate means to gain what they want. Given the nature of this fallen world and the reality of human sinfulness, we should expect that greed will be a constant temptation. Greed will entice the rich to oppress the poor, partners in transactions to lie to one another, and investors to take irrational risks. All of these are evident in this current crisis.

I encourage everyone to read Dr. Mohler's piece, but right now I am more concerned about what the long term ramifications of a knee-jerk government intervention that will have disastrous long-term ramifications for our economy and the financial security of our children.

There is plenty of complicity to go around. Banks made bad loan that they shouldn't have because compensation is based on a "here and now" production system that is rapidly moving to sacrifice quality of business for quantity of sales. Appraisers would value a property at whatever it needed to come in at to make sure they stayed on the approved lists (when we bought our house in Northern Michigan the appraisal came in at the exact agreed purchase price of the house, to the penny. Coincidence? I think not) The government, through meddling in the free market, has forced banks to make loans on properties that they wouldn’t normally have, to people who are not credit worthy so that they can tick off their lists for the community reinvestment act.

And *GASP* here is another huge group of people to blame: consumers who bought houses they couldn't afford. Get real, most of these people were not saying "no, no I will get the smaller house" they were buying the biggest house they could get (not that they could afford, that they could get approved for). They then took full advantage of artificially inflated housing values to pay off revolving debt and then turned around an racked up even MORE revolving debt to go along with a huge mortgage and a maxed out home equity line. With the encouragement of banks and retailers, people turned their houses upside down and shook them like piggy banks. We are now, all of us, starting to reap what we have sown. Even those who were responsible borrowers, savers, investors are feeling the bite of a financial system gone sour. Those are the facts, the question is what to do about it?

Those who claim that this crisis is a sign that deregulation and the free market don't work are fools, because we haven't truly operated in a free market when it comes to housing for a very long time. It is patently false that the free market doesn't work or that regulation helps the economy. What is true is that when government interferes and tinkers in the free market, it invariably leads to disaster. That is never truer than right now with the impending bailout deal to the tune of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, drawn from the already empty coffers of the Federal government. Since when is it the responsibility of the government to prop up banks and reward consumers who have entered into bad loan agreements? It never stops. The Big Three auto makers in Detroit want government backed loans because they have become uncompetitive through sloppy management and allowing unions to wring unreasonable pay and benefit concessions from them. What are we going to do when all of the revolving debt comes to a critical mas and blows up? Is the government going to bail out Capital One and MBNA? Bail out customers who have spent billions in money they don't have? Take over the stores that have been built to meet the phony demand generated by credit card purchases? That is a huge problem, because all of these strips malls were built in large part to meet demand for products that is driven by phantom money. The real question is this: who will get left holding the bag?

There are two ways to address this "crisis". One is to increase the inefficient and politically charged interference with the lending markets and in doing so put the taxpayers on the line for hundreds of billions of dollars of debt to rescue irresponsible lending, regulation and consumers spending. The other is less politically palatable but I think makes the most sense, that is to let the chips fall where they may and let the market correct itself. Banks will collapse but be snatched up by others (like Washington Mutual and its 2200 branches being gobbled up by Chase) There are really too many banks right now anyway. Houses will be foreclosed on, but that is the unfortunate reality. If you voluntarily enter into an agreement to borrow $200,000 and pay that money back over time, and offer a bank the house you are buying as collateral, the bank can and should be able to recoup their money if you don't pay them back. Otherwise, banks will stop lending because in banking it is all about risk. Change the risk and you need more reward. Banks do not have to loan money, you do not have a Constitutional right to own a home or be approved for a mortgage. If you decrease the reward and increase the risk, people will invest their money in better investments and no one will be able to buy a house. It is a harsh reality, but homes will be lost and people will be forced to move out and it is not the governments job to prop up failed loans. This is the only way.

Otherwise we are looking at a perpetual cycle of more and more government interference. The proposals on the table include things from the government becoming a shareholder in the companies receiving aid and setting executive compensation for private companies all the way to bankruptcy judges being given authority to arbitrarily modify loan terms. This would be an enormous intrusion into the free market and would be catastrophic for our long term economy. Look to Europe and see the results of quasi-socialist businesses: enormous increases to the rolls of the permanently unemployed, months of mandatory vacation time, dying industry. We are already in a precarious position economically because of a total lack of planning in our economy. We haven't built a new refinery in decades and have closed a bunch of nuclear plants, which coupled with the failure to explore and drill for domestic oil has left us at the mercy of nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela who are not very friendly. High oil prices have led to much of the economic slowdown which has exacerbated the lending mess as people lose jobs or have to move and leave their mortgages behind. Our farm system is riddled with subsidies. Our manufacturing base is fleeing as fast as it can.

We are in trouble. But the government should not and cannot bail us out without causing us even greater trouble down the road. Unless we want to end up a country with a third world economy and a super power military, we need to let the market correct itself and have less government interference, not more.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a banker so I am intimately involved in what is going on even though my bank is very stable)

Pure Church: Henry Scougal on Preaching

Pure Church: Henry Scougal on Preaching

Sobering quote on Thabiti Anyabwile's blog Pure Church from Henry Scougal's The Life of God in the Soul of is a snippet...

"If a man could speak fire, and blood, and smoke, if flames should come out of his mouth instead of words, if he had a voice like thunder, and an eye like lightning, he could not sufficiently represent the dreadful account which an unfaithful pastor shall make....

"Again, preaching is an exercise of which many are ambitious, and none more so than those that are the least qualified for it; but it is not so easy a matter to perform this task aright. To stand in the presence of God, and speak to his people in his name, with that seriousness, gravity and simplicity, that zeal and concern which the business requires; to accommodate ourselves to the capacity of the common people, without disgusting the more knowing ones; to awaken drowsy souls, without terrifying tender consciences; to carry home the charge of sin, without the appearance of personal reflection; in a word, to approve ourselves unto God as workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

As someone who stands under no small measure of condemnation for my unfaithfulness in preaching, these words are both sobering and crushing to my soul. It is a terrible and humbling charge to preach the Word of God, both in the pulpit and out.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Under arrest for excessive fertility?

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalms 127:3-5 ESV)

Do we still believe that? By "we" I mean the church. Dr. Mohler brought up this issue on a recent radio program in response to some statements by secular writers, and he was pretty vocal in what he though about the issue. These writers and speakers are quite strident in their belief that having large families (large being defined by them arbitrarily and with an eye towards a shrinking populations) is inherently immoral and perhaps ought to be make illegal or at least taxed some heavily so as to become impossible for any but the elite (which is no doubt part of his plan).

When I heard and read from Dr. Mohler about this, I wanted to read it myself. I am comfortable with Dr. Mohler’s objectivity, but I still needed to read for myself and see if perhaps he wasn’t blowing things out of proportion. He wasn’t. The worldview that Paul Ehrlich and others like him subscribe to and are evangelists for is chilling in its callous disregard for the sanctity of human life. For Paul Ehrlich and his ilk, human beings are two things: 1) a source of pollution and 2) a means of production. The comments from Prince Phillip are pretty irrelevant because no one really cares what he thinks and he is generally considered to be a moron, so when a person with four kids says this:

The duke hints that curbing family sizes may be the best means of keeping the soaring cost of staple food products, such as bread and rice, in check.

“Food prices are going up,” he tells his interviewer, Sir Trevor McDonald. “Everyone thinks it’s to do with not enough food, but it’s really that demand is too great – too many people. Basically, it’s a little embarrassing for everybody. No one quite knows how to handle it. Nobody wants their family life to be interfered with by the government.”

you are free to write him off as a crackpot. But Paul Ehrlich, despite the myriad of horrible false predictions he has made in the past, has an audience and for some reason credibility. He has written dozens of books and articles, all spectacularly wrong but he still gets press coverage. I can only assume his coverage is linked to the media wanting to believe what he says, no matter how wrong he is. Women in the work force in increasing numbers, abortion on demand, sex-ed at all ages, railing against SUVs as the mark of the beast all fit into the agenda of the media. So when Ehrlich says things like this, they deserve attention:

What do you mean by that? What is the U.S.'s role in contributing to world population?

Ehrlich: We have over 300 million people, which makes us the third largest population. But when you factor in our consumption and the technologies we use, like SUVs, our impact on life-support systems is much higher than even China's, and certainly higher than India's, which are countries with 1.3 billion and 1.1 billion people each.

I believe it is immoral and should be illegal for people to have very large numbers of children because they are then co-opting for themselves and their children resources that should be spread elsewhere in the world. You only get a chance to get your fair share.

Immoral and illegal. Having a family bigger than what Ehrlich thinks is acceptable is immoral and if he had his way would be illegal. The implications of this worldview are stunning. Ehrlich is so concerned with illegal abortions but what about illegal pregnancies? Will we come to a day when population stormtroopers kick down doors of secret OB offices, and dragging women off to have forced abortions? Think that sort of thing isn't happening in China? Or less extreme, what about families who are deemed unworthy being taxed into starvation? This is the inevitable end result of this sort of elitist totalitarian worldview.

What is perhaps more disturbing is this next statement:

How many is "very large"?


The issue is: What is the political position to take? In a country like the United States, we should stop at two. But if you had an ideal situation, you might have a lot of people who have no children at all, and some people who have as many as three or four because they happen to be particularly good parents, and are going to raise their children very well.

So someone, ideally, should have more kids if they are determined by some outside entity to be "particularly good parents" they should be "allowed" to have more kids, but others should have no children. Care to wonder who those who don't have the right to have any kids are? IQ too low? Too fat? Too religious? There is a word for this philosophy, although Ehrlich doesn't come out and say it:

Eugenics is a social philosophy which advocates the improvement of human hereditary traits through various forms of intervention. Throughout history, eugenics has been regarded by its various advocates as a social responsibility, an altruistic stance of a society, meant to create healthier, stronger and/or more intelligent people, to save resources, and lessen human suffering.

That may sound harsh, but Ehrlich and his disciples praise the murderous policy of China that has led to countless abortions of girls because they are less desirable. That would be perfectly fine with Ehrlich.

More from Ehrlich...

“That's a problem we have in this country. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are not the result of a woman intending to become a mother. That's a shocking statistic and it betrays the fact that we ourselves have very ambivalent feelings about sexuality and reproduction, and are not very good about allowing women to achieve all that they would like to in life by planning when they want to be a mother and when they don't.”

Well here is a more relevant statistics. Nearly 100% of women who become pregnant get that way through sexual intercourse. Even with widespread availability in this country of contraceptives and education, women and teens still get pregnant in staggering numbers out of wedlock. Some is carelessness, some is frankly intentional, a tiny fraction is coercive but the issue is that when we are teaching sex ed we ought to make very clear that if you decide to become sexually active, the odds are pretty good that you are going to end up pregnant.

What is more relevant is the very idea that a particular family size is immoral and that there are people like Paul Ehrlich and many others who would make it illegal to have more children than Paul Ehrlich or bureaucrats or other self-appointed “population experts” decree. What is immoral is looking at people as some sort of disease on the planet. We were placed on this earth by our Creator to rule over and have dominion over the planet. Ehrlich looks around and sees the poor, the religious, the ugly, the stupid as breeding more people like them and wants them to stop. If they won't stop based on his brilliant arguments, he is fully willing to use coercion and force to make his nightmare a reality.

Unfortunately this attitude has bled into the church. Many Christian couples look at large families as unthinkable. When did having lots of kids, being fruitful, stop being a sign of blessings from God and start becoming a hassle and a line item in your budget? Where are the sermons on the blessings of a full quiver? Where in pre-marital counseling are couples told of the blessings of large families?

We have a big family, and then brings big responsibilities but also big blessings. I will encourage my children to have large families as well. The biggest predictor of a persons worldview is their parents, so it is my hope that as Christians rediscover large families, the doomsayers like Paul Ehrlich will gradually become extinct.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thou shalt not covet...

Unless what you are coveting is a cool new study Bible! The new ESV Study Bible is coming out soon (October 15th)and looks to be a great resource. It is not like I need another study Bible, but if you watch the video here, it looks really exciting. At least really exciting as far as study Bibles go...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Children of Caesar

More from Voddie Baucham

I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan of Dr. Baucham. His voice is exactly the one we need, bold and humble, unapologetic about the Gospel, unafraid of what the world thinks. The video below is on secular education for kids from Christian families.

If we send our children to Caesar, we shouldn't be surprised when they come back Romans. We send out kids of to be educated in a godless secular school and then bemoan how we are losing our youth. Well duh! We send them to a place where they are taught that God doesn't exist, and then wonder why they come home unbelieving. With all the challenges facing the church and especially our youth, why would we intentionally handicap them?

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)

Irony Alert!

R. Scott Clark over at the Heidelblog has a new post on exclusive psalmody (i.e. that the only songs we should sing in church are psalms). The title is Reformed Churches are Scripture-Singing Churches and he has it tagged with "regulative principle". It isn't much of a post, just a brief statement and then some sections of the Canons of Dort.

If your congregation is in a confessional Reformed denomination/federation but it isn’t a Scripture-singing congregation, there’s a problem.

What really caught my attention was the "regulative principle" tag. What is the regulative principle?

The Regulative principle of worship in Christian theology teaches that the public worship of God should include those and only those elements that are instituted, commanded, or appointed by command or example in the Bible. In other words, it is the belief that God institutes in Scripture whatever he requires for worship in the Church, and everything else should be avoided.

The "regulative principle" is often contrasted with the normative principle of worship, which teaches that whatever is not prohibited in Scripture is permitted in worship, so long as it is agreeable to the peace and unity of the Church. In other words, there must be agreement with the general practice of the Church and no prohibition in Scripture for whatever is done in worship.

The regulative principle of worship is generally practiced by the conservative Reformed churches and in other conservative Protestant denominations, and it finds expression in confessional documents such as the Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession of Faith. The normative principle of worship is the generally accepted approach to worship outside of Reformed circles as practiced by Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, and independent Bible Churches.

I don't have a huge issue with exclusive psalmody, except where it is used (like in many of Clark's posts) as a club to beat down those who aren't in the "Truly Reformed Club". Now where the irony comes in is when you look at the regulative principle, and then look at infant baptism which Clark insists is an absolute essential to be in the "TR" club. You can try to make a case for infant baptism from covenantal theology but there is absolutely no example or command to baptize infants anywhere in the Bible. Where is the regulatory principle?

So apparently we can't sing How Great Thou Art in church because it isn't a psalm, but yet we can baptize infants without example or command. Which issue do you think is more important to God, giving the sign of the New Covenant to the proper recipient or singing just out of the Pslater Hymnal? Dr. Clark is a brilliant thinker and writer, but he has self-defined "Reformed" so narrowly that it borders on the ridiculous. He put out a full response to a question I asked, can someone not hold to infant baptism and be considered Reformed, to which his response was "no" and that discussion garnered over 100 comments and still going. That only makes sense if we use "Reformed" in the narrowest possible sense and define Reformed theology by the confessions, instead of Reformed Theology being the source of the confessions. Men were Reformed in theology before the Reformed confessions were written. This post demonstrates the danger of letting our confessions rule over the church instead of being an aid to the church. Confessions are vital to effective church governance, which Reformed Baptists agree with. But when every issue is viewed by the confessions to get the "TR" stamp of approval, it has gone too far.

Still looking for the command or example to baptize infants so paedobaptism can fit it in with the regulative principle...

Nobody says it quite like Voddie!

I love the way that Pastor Baucham can express things so clearly and succinctly. After reading his posts, I realize that I need to really work on my brevity. Pastor Baucham on "career women"...

Recently I have heard the Proverbs 31 reference over and over in support of “women pursuing careers” in politics, or otherwise. Let me say that I have never argued that a woman cannot or should not work (though this is precisely what evangelicals in the blogosphere and on the airwaves have accused me of). In fact, I am on record (see: Family Driven Faith, and my previous post) on the subject and I have been unambiguous. Ironically, my daughter, Jasmine works for me! She is my research assistant, and she runs our online store (the store is down right now as we outsource order fulfillment). How, then, do some accuse me of arguing that a woman cannot work?

While I would never argue that a woman cannot work, I have argued that a woman is required to be a “keeper at home” (Titus 2:5; cf. 1 Timothy 5:14), and that as such, she must prioritize her home and any ‘work’ she does must not be allowed to interfere with her primary calling as wife and mother. Hence, the farmer’s wife who helps with the harvest, the baker’s wife who works by his side, or the accountant’s wife who works as his receptionist in his home business are all in a different category than the so-called ‘career gal’ (not my term) who spends her life as a “helper fit” (Genesis 2:18) for another man (or a corporation) instead of her husband.

That is the crux of his argument, but I loved this paragraph...

Let me say (as Begg did) that I am not so ‘thick’ as to be completely unaware of the fact that there are many women (like my mother) who find themselves abandoned by sinful, self centered, immature, and/or irresponsible men (both the father of their children and their own fathers), and thus literally have no choice but to work and provide for their children. Nor do I fault women whose husbands have been disabled for one reason or another for having to become breadwinners. I am talking about our willful cultural acceptance of a view that sees women as a mere means of production. I’m talking about the idea set forth in the Marxist worldview that sees taking women out of the household as a twofold accomplishment. 1) It doubled the productivity of the collective, and 2) it placed children under the authority of the state (via government schools and daycare), which for the Marxist, is god incarnate.

That gets to the heart of the issue. Behind feminism is a socialist worldview. It is not about "equal rights", it is about a hunger for increased power that drives the Left. Is it any wonder that communist nations, for all their talk of egalitarianism, always end up with an authoritarian system with power isolated to a few elites and backed up by a mailed fist? Really, are families where both spouses work better off? After a punishing tax on two income homes, institutionalizing your children in outrageously expensive daycare, clothes, lunches, gas, etc. is the average family better off? I would argue no, but the societal norm is to look at women who "just stay home" as somehow inferior. Despite that, I talk to a lot of women who a) recognize how hard it is to care for your kids all day and b) would dearly love to be able to do just that. There is no higher calling and there is no Biblical mandate for parents to ship their kids off to the care of others, whether daycare or a public school (which are one and the same in a lot of ways!) just to meet the approval of a Godless society or to be able to afford a few more baubles and expensive vacations to make up for family time lost.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ability versus Obedience

Magazine Featuring Female Pastors Pulled From Shelves, 'Treated Like Pornography'

ATLANTA — The five women on the cover are dressed in black and smiling — not an uncommon strategy for selling magazines.

But these cover girls are women of the cloth, featured in Gospel Today magazine's latest issue, which the Southern Baptist Convention has pulled from the shelves at its bookstores, though the magazine is available for sale upon request.

The group says women pastors go against its beliefs, according to its interpretation of the New Testament. The magazine was taken off stands in more than 100 Lifeway Christian Bookstores across the country, including six in metro Atlanta.

Published for nearly 20 years, Gospel Today is the largest and most widely distributed urban Christian publication in the country, with a circulation of 240,000. The magazine's publisher, Teresa Hairston, said she was just reporting on a trend, not trying to promote women pastors.

"They basically treated it like pornography and put it behind the counter," she said. "Unless a person goes into the store and asks for it, they won't see it displayed."

Nationally, the Southern Baptists have adopted statements discouraging women from being pastors, but their 42,000 U.S. churches are independent and a few have selected women to lead their congregations. The faith was organized in 1845 in Augusta, Ga.

Chris Turner, a spokesman for Lifeway Resources, said the cover was not the reason the magazine was pulled from Lifeway's shelves.

"The buyers said the statements that were in it took positions that were contrary to what we would say," Turner said. "It wasn't so much that there were women on the cover."

Featured on the cover are Pastor Sheryl Brady of The River in Durham, N.C.; Pastor Tamara Bennett of This Is Pentecost Ministries in Sacramento, Calif.; Bishop Millicent Hunter of The Baptist Worship Center in Philadelphia, Pa.; Pastor Claudette Copeland of New Creation Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas; and Pastor Kimberly Ray of Church on the Rock in Matteson, Ill.

Bennett said the issue of women in the ministry is not one that should be shelved.

"It's a story that needs to be told," she said in a telephone interview Friday. "Sometimes we forget that ministry is God's business. It's not a man's business. God gives gifts to whomever he sees fit."

Bennett said she is encouraging people to ask for the magazine.

"All Dr. Hairston did was tell a story, she didn't preach a doctrine," Bennett said of the article. "It's just sharing news."

Ms. Bennett, God does indeed gives gifts where He sees fit, and the Scripture is one of those gifts. His Scripture is clear who is and who is not to be called as pastors...

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

That is pretty clear, isn't it? For further clarification...

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (1 Timothy 2:12)


For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:33-35)

Kind of hard to be a pastor and preach when you are not to have authority over men and you are supposed to remain silent! It is not an issue of ability, it is an issue of obedience. We don't get to ignore Scripture as we see fit because someone has a "gift". I am sure Ms. Bennett and these other ladies have Bibles, they ought to check out these passages instead of being concerned with that their "gifts" are.

Well, I guess it makes some sense. Women are clearly prohibited by Scriptural mandate from serving as pastors but the Bible is also clear that we worship a triune God. The magazine in question, Gospel Today, featured heretic T.D. Jakes on a cover, declaring him "America's most prominent preacher" as well as "Pastor" Paula White, who "preached" the heretical prosperity gospel. Clearly not a very discerning magazine. If Scripture prohibits women from being pastors, and the cover declares the five women on the cover as "pastors" then it shouldn't be sold in a Southern Baptist bookstore.

Does that mean that women have no role in the church? Certainly not! Just not as pastors (or I would argue as teachers of classes including men) So what are they to do? Luckily Scripture has an answer for that too!

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)

Love your husbands and your children, teach the next generation of girls to be godly women, keeping their home. Those are noble tasks and to assume that women have to be pastors instead of mere "housewives" demonstrates that one is more concerned with the world's opinion than God's commandments. Being equal does not mean being the same. Being a mother and a wife is a high calling, a noble calling. What the Apostle Paul has to say should be more important to Christian women than what Gloria Steinem has to say.

(As a side note from the sixth paragraph: The faith was organized in 1845 in Augusta, Ga. . The Southern Baptist faith was not organized in Georgia in 1945, it was organized in Jerusalem in the first century. The denomination was organized in Georgia in 1845)

Maybe Landmarkism has some of it right?

Is there a difference between a church full of Christians and a Christian church?

A VERY interesting conversation between Dr. Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries and Dr. Tom Nettles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Nettles has written a number of books on the history of Baptists and Baptist distinctives /identity and I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that he is one of the, if not the, preeminent Baptist scholars on being Baptist alive. In the second of three podcasts, Dr. Ascol asks some pretty pointed questions of Dr. Nettles that focused at first on Landmarkism in Southern Baptist churches. I generally dislike the hyper-separatism of Landmark Baptist churches but they do have some valid points regarding the validity of a church that is operating in opposition to the Biblical command to baptize only believers.

What constitutes a church? Is it the presence of Christians? What of properly administering the sacraments? Let me ask this question as delicately as I can: if the Biblical teaching on baptism, as Baptists would hold, is that only believers are to be baptized and indeed as Dr. Nettles states ceremonies involving infants should not even properly be called baptism, then does it follow that by definition churches that baptize infants are not rightly administering the sacraments and as such are not valid Christian churches? In other words, is the baptism of believers alone merely a Baptist distinctive or is it indicative of a right administration of the sacraments of the church

A follow-up question revolved around a dilemma many a Reformed Baptist such as myself faces. Which is preferable: a church who has given up on core confessional truths but has the correct ecclesiology or a church which holds to the traditional orthodox confessional standards but has a faulty ecclesiology? In more specific parlance, would you rather go to a Baptist church that has a watered down doctrinal stance but only baptizes believers or would you rather go to an Orthodox Presbyterian church that toes the line on the Three Forms of Unity and has a liturgical service, but willfully baptized infants who are unable to show any sign of repentance?

This is a real dilemma for a lot of Reformed Baptists because there frankly aren’t a ton of Baptist churches that are also Reformed, or even committed to Baptist confessional truths. Many a Baptist church has drifted so close to the emergent/seeker-sensitive model that they have become indistinguishable from those heresies. Some would point to that and use that as a reason why Presbyterian/Reformed churches are preferable. I would argue that by trading one erroneous system for another, you really aren’t gaining anything. Dr. Nettles made the salient point that the Baptist church in our example is better because at least with the Baptist church, they are historically orthodox in their confession so you have the opportunity to restore confessional faith. In the Presbyterian church, they are institutional and confessionally wedded to the error of infant baptism. The opportunity to reform, in other words, is more realistic in the Baptist church.

What this should really indicate for us is that Baptist churches need to really return to their confessional truths. No one should be welcomed into full membership in a Baptist church who is not at least somewhat familiar with Baptist distinctives. If their reason for joining in membership is that they like the music or it is convenient or the pastor is nice, they need to look a little deeper at their motivation. Baptists shouldn't hide from our heritage and our confessions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A great exhortation for men

What can you add to this benediction from Paul?

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

If we had a lot more of that, we wouldn't have even a fraction of the issues in the church we deal with today!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's gotta be the shoes!

Sarah Palin is having an impact on the Presidential campaign unprecedented in modern times by a VP candidate. Obama is acting like he is running against her, which I think makes him look weak because he can't even beat Palin and he is supposed to be running against McCain. Everything she does or says is front page news, and now so is what she wears. The Wall Street Journal ran a piece on how her Naught Monkey red pumps are hot sellers these days. But now every seller of her garb is happy about it.

Not everyone is cashing in on their association with the Alaskan governor. The famously liberal New York fashion establishment seems to have paid little attention to Gov. Palin while publicly embracing the Obamas.

Vogue Editor Anna Wintour and designer Calvin Klein held a fund-raiser for the Democratic nominee in June, and over a dozen designers, including Diane von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Narciso Rodriguez, Tory Burch and Isaac Mizrahi, have designed T-shirts and other merchandise for the Obama Web site.

Steven Kolb, executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, says he "couldn't envision" that the fashion industry would be lending its design talents to the Republican ticket.

Likewise, Patagonia Inc., which Gov. Palin has identified at least partly in jest as one of her favorite designers, has "absolutely no" plans to promote the association, says company spokeswoman Jen Rapp.

"Patagonia's environmental mission greatly differs from Sarah Palin's," Ms. Rapp says. "Just wearing the clothing of an environmental company does not necessarily make someone an environmentalist."

You can almost hear the smarmy sniff when Ms. Rapp said that. Want to bet that Ms. Rapp barely ever goes outside except to catch a cab or go skiing? Ironically I would say the same thing about wearing Pata-gucci or having a greenpeace sticker on your car. Patagonia makes their money, the vast majority of it, by selling overpriced stuff to people in urban and suburban areas who want to look outdoorsy and environmentally conscious. If they were really concerned, they would buy second hand clothes instead of brand new stuff made overseas. The whole company is based on a snobbish attitude of being green friendly and paying a hefty price for it. I would hazard a guess that 99% of Patagonia gear is never worn anywhere more exotic than Des Moines, Iowa.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where are the Timothy's?

I came across the blog of a new ministry, and I am very encouraged and excited about it. The ministry is the Paul & Timothy Bible Conference and their focus is on the raising up of young men to be like Timothy, leaders in the church by giving them responsibility without prematurely placing them as elders. From their homepage, there is this piercing view of the problem in so many churches today, The Pre-Eldership Dilemma.

In most churches today, the young man who heeds God’s call to ministry is faced with a dilemma. How can he gain experience in preaching the Word without disregarding the biblical qualifications of Elders or Deacons? Under the conventional approach, a gifted young preacher and Bible teacher can, if he chooses, enter directly into vocational ministry right out of Bible College or Seminary. But in doing so, he often skips past the season of managing his own household that normally serves to temper a young man’s moral character and develop his competence in leadership. He is thrust by modern ministry demands into routines that undermine his biblical qualifications for church office. The younger the Bible College or Seminary graduate (e.g. ages 22 to 25) the more susceptible he will be to this trap. Pressed by the need to provide for a young family, yet relatively unskilled for other trades due to having invested completely in acquiring a theological education, he feels justified in making use of his training, whether or not he meets the biblical qualifications. The fact that so many churches currently do not hesitate to hire such young men as their pastors does not make it wise, and the casualties of treating the ministry as a simple career choice are unacceptably high.

As young married Bible College and Seminary students ourselves, we experience this dilemma personally. We desire to help move our fellow students around this pitfall and safely into a ministry that will have the best possible foundation to go the distance over a lifetime.

While I am not so young, I know all too well the disastrous pitfalls of being spiritually immature in a elders role, and these four young guys have a great mind for the problem and are seeking a solution. Their blog (which is going to become must read material for me) makes some very salient points. The church does a poor job of a lot of stuff, but nothing more so than discipling young men, challenging them and encouraging them to pursue Christian ministry. A lot of “youth” activities are focused on trying to entice young men into church and keep them entertained. I get the impulse to do so, but it also tends to dumb down youth ministry to the point that those young men who are committed, although small in number, fail to be encouraged to Christian ministry. Keep them entertained and hope they don’t get anyone pregnant seems as far as the church is willing to go. Without conscious, intentional raising up of young men to serve in ministry the church will continue to go along the same trajectory we see today: young men don’t see ministry as a viable option for adulthood. They go off to a secular college, planning for a secular career, often in a different town than the church they grew up in. Maybe, maybe, when they get older they feel the call to ministry and have to find some option for school, graduate and then start looking for a church to serve in. The whole process is little different from a career in accounting or health care. Is that the model we should seek to emulate?

Conversely many young men are full of zeal but need some mature direction and guidance, and sometimes need to be reigned in or even rebuked. Without godly older, spiritually mature older men where are they going to get that direction? They aren't, and so they are going to become spiritual renegades. Which brings us to the elders.

What about elders? How are they chosen in churches today? Well, for the most part they aren’t. The average church doesn’t subscribe to a plural elder model, and part of the reason they don’t is the lack of men Biblically qualified to lead in the church. Well there will never be Biblically qualified men if the church doesn’t disciple the men in the church, show them what is expected of them and seek to train those men to become Biblically qualified for eldership. What often ends up happening when elders are called, they are called for all the wrong reasons: availability, age and willingness. Those are noble but they aren’t Biblical qualifications. So something is broken and needs to be fixed. I am a big believer that the lone elder/pastor model is ultimately not healthy for the church. It is the default in many churches because the pastor is the only man who is really qualified, but the goal should not be for this to be the permanent state in church. Pastors need support and they also need accountability, both of which are hard to get properly when in a single elder model. Pastors need peers to talk to, sometimes complain and vent to, to bounce ideas off and to lift them up in prayer.

I harp on this all the time, but when we have limited resources as we do in the church and we have so many priorities for ministry, we need to be judicious in how we spend our time and resources. I would argue that training men to be elders and encouraging young men already in the church to pursue ministry should be a primary focus for the church. Just spending out resources and time on the same things we have always done is foolhardy and poor stewardship. Most churches need to, being blunt as I am often accused of, blow up the whole thing, reevaluate every line item, expense and class and have a serious, prayerful conversation about that commitment: does it make sense, does it yield results, could the resources be used better somewhere else, does it support the long-term mission of the church, does it impact lives for salvation and edification?

I am going to keep a close watch on this blog and ministry, and I encourage others to do the same.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

They aren't really black

Very interesting comment on race from Voddie Baucham...

One of the issues underlying the current debate is philosophical assumptions that dominate the modern American landscape. I don’t think the average Evangelical has a clue as to the scope of Neo-Marxist thinking in our culture. For example, as I have conversations with black Christians who adamantly support Senator Obama (which is virtually every black Christian I know), I always ask why (especially in light of his support for black genocide, i.e. abortion). The response is almost universal. “This is a monumental step for black people,” they say, as the look at me incredulously wondering what planet I live on. Then I ask, “What about Justice Thomas and Dr. Rice?” The response here is not ‘almost’ universal, it is absolutely universal, “They’re not really black.” Unless you are black, you may not understand that response. However, blackness in many ways is defined less by skin color than by the view that blackness is about oppression, victimization, and the struggle to overcome.

Similarly, the current philosophical landscape views women as a victimized, oppressed class struggling to overcome. Ironically, women are often referred to as “minorities” in America even though they actually outnumber men! Hence, a woman like Governor Palin is viewed as a non-woman in much the same way Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice are viewed as non-black. I have lived with this stigma most of my adult life. My barber calls me and my family “white” because he knows that I am a political and theological conservative. In fact, most of the black people I know (including my own family) would consider me non-black because I am not a socialist, or Gramscian neo-Marxist (though they would never use those terms).

They aren't really black? Pastor Baucham is right, that makes no sense to me as someone who is white.

What political conversation exposes is that for the left it is not about what is best for black people, it is what neo-socialist political agenda can be pushed on America in the name of racial equality. There are quite a few black Americans who are successful but come down on the wrong side of the political spectrum, people like former Congressman J.C. Watts, Justice Clarence Thomas and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. These individuals are educated, eloquent, successful by any measure and yet they are shunned by the vast majority of self-imposed black leadership because they challenge the assumptions and stories of racial inequality that are the lifeblood of the leftist movement.

It is refreshing to read the thoughts of a new generation of black Christian leaders who have rejected the victim mentality and the black liberation theology that has held many predominantly black churches in bondage for so long, leaders like Pastor Baucham, Thabiti Anyabwile and Ken Jones. No amount of earthly oppression can compare to the bondage of sin, and these men recognize that and preach Christ crucified as the only remedy for that enslavement. Pray that God will raise up more men like these to put Christ back in the church.

How old does this make me feel?

We had the mormon missionaries over last night and got on the subject of politics. We were talking about Utah being solidly in the GOP column and I mentioned that Bill Clinton came in third in Utah when he ran against Bush Sr. and Perot in 1992. The problem with my analogy is that the missionaries, being in their early twenties, had no idea who Ross Perot is or that he ran for President.

Dang whippersnappers!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Voddie Baucham rocks

A brief video sent from my friend James Lee featuring Voddie Baucham versus a Fem-Ev. Pastor Baucham shows a spine and boldly and unashamedly tells the truth that women are prohibited from pastoral ministry. We need more men like Voddie Baucham declaring the truth boldly on TV. Enough of the Rick Warren/Joel Osteen types who won't even declare the Gospel on TV. We need more of Voddie Baucham, Al Mohler and John MacArthur on Larry King Live.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How great will this be?!

From John Piper on the Desiring God blog...

God willing, this Fall I will begin a new extended series of sermons on the Gospel of John.

How marvelous would it be to sit under John Piper go through this wonderful Gospel! Hard to believe but Dr. Piper wrote that he has never preached through one of the Gospels. It is a big book and John Piper is an older guy, but I absolutely love this quote from Piper...

I am 62 as we begin. So someone may ask, “Why start a series of messages on the fourth-longest book in the New Testament? Do you want to die in this book?” I cannot think of a better place to die.

Amen to that! I am looking forward to listening to this series as Pastor Piper declares the Word of God through the writings of the disciple Christ loved. If you are so inclined, Dr. Piper asks for prayer as he prepares to embark on this exposition...

Would you pray for me? And for the greatest possible blessing of the Holy Spirit on our church for the sake of the good of the world and the glory of Jesus?


I can't stomach Chad Johnson, aka Chad Javon Ocho Cinco, wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. His shtick used to be funny, sort of, but as the years have gone by he has gone over the top with his narcissism. When we lived in Cinci, he was a stud but those years are gone. As his skills have deteriorated, he spends more time trying to draw attention to himself and this year legally changed his name to Chad Javon Ocho Cinco (Ocho Cinco because he wears number 85 on his jersey) Well, if he thought he was going to be able to wear that on his jersey, he is mistaken because he forgot that first and foremost, the NFL is a business venture...

It'll cost mucho dinero for Chad Ocho Cinco to switch jerseys

Don't expect to see Chad Ocho Cinco wearing his new name on a jersey anytime soon. CNBC's Darren Rovell reports on his blog that the former Mr. Johnson would be forced to buy out the stock of the 100,000 remaining "C. Johnson" jerseys before making the switch to "Ocho Cinco". If Reebok asked Ocho Cinco to pay for the cost of making the unsold jerseys, the total could reach upwards of $4 million (or $50 million pesos).

Because Johnson changed his name so close to the start of the season, Reebok was left in a bind since they'd have to produce new jerseys and eat the old ones. That's why the NFL has told Johnson he'd have to reimburse the company for the price of the jerseys. That's not unprecedented, rookie linebacker Keith Rivers did it last week when he changed his uniform number. Of course, Rivers didn't have thousands of jerseys with his name on it on sales racks nationwide.

This whole charade, of course, is pretty ridiculous. It's tough to defend Johnson, as he's so narcissistic that he makes T.O. look like Mother Teresa. And the NFL is so blatant in their attempts to block Johnson from donning his new name on the back of his Bengals jersey that it almost seems beneath them. Sure, it's inane and self-serving and could set a bad precedent, but shouldn't the league be focusing on more important issues, like stopping players from celebrating touchdowns?

That would fall into the "just deserts" category. Just shut up and try to catch the ball now and then.

Where were you?

Seven years ago, I was getting up to go to work at Fidelity Investments. Just another boring day in the office. Then everything changed.

It is amazing to me, just seven years later how little September 11th means to us anymore. Seven years ago 19 men, believing in a false god in a false religion killed themselves along with 3000 others for a lie. Pray for Muslims today. They may not all fly planes into buildings, but they are all just as lost a Mohammad Atta and the other hijackers.

September 11, 2001

Never Forget

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ligon Duncan on Evangelism

Interesting discussion with Ligon Duncan on evangelism...

Ligon makes the case that our evangelism has become detached from the church. In the Biblical context evangelism is done in the context of the local church, making disciples, baptizing them, teaching them all are done within the local church body. Lone wolf evangelists in the house church movement don’t seem to get this, really what is the point of a conversation with someone you never see again? I am firmly convinced that our evangelism should be direct and focused, but should also seek to drive people into the church to hear the Gospel preached from the Word of God, by a man of God.

It is not a very long conversation and the first half is really taken up with a conversation about where Ligon Duncan has been and what he has been doing, but the second half is really good stuff. He gives a quick, solid, Reformed view of soteriology translated into evangelism. I think the reason a lot of personal and corporate evangelism is so decision based, even by people who subscribe to Reformed theology, is that many of us (myself included) have failed to spend adequate time really working out the ramifications and the theology behind salvation, as well as the Biblical record of how the disciples evangelized. Acts is not just a fun history of the apostles in the time immediately following the ascension, but rather in a historical narrative it puts into practice the theology that we hold. Throughout the New Testament epistles and letters we see recorded historical events that hold practical ramifications for believers. The Lord instituted the supper, how does that look for the church? The Lord commanded baptism, how did the church carry that out? By immersion to those who confessed Christ. What about elders? The record seems to indicate a plurality of elders in the local church. These are not random asides that exist in a vacuum but are specific examples that demonstrate for real people in real churches how real doctrine should exist.

If you subscribe to the Biblical doctrines of election and predestination, you know that not a single one of God’s elect will fail to be saved. That is not a disincentive to evangelism, but rather an encouragement to Biblical evangelism. I agree with Dr. Duncan that proper Biblical evangelism is done in the context of the body of Christ, the gathering of the saints, the local church. Again the myriad failures of God’s people to properly run the church don’t mean that we should abandon the church wholesale, but that we should reform the church so that the saints who gather are fed with the Word and those who visit hear the Gospel preached unashamedly, confronted with their sins.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Off the cliff we go!

Lemmings are famous for their, well, lemming-like behavior. The fellow pictured to the left is a drowned lemming.

From Wikipedia...

While many people believe that lemmings commit mass suicide when they migrate, this is not the case. Driven by strong biological urges, they will migrate in large groups when population density becomes too great. Lemmings can and do swim and may choose to cross a body of water in search of a new habitat. On occasion, and particularly in the case of the Norway lemmings in Scandinavia, large migrating groups will reach a cliff overlooking the ocean. They will stop until the urge to press on causes them to jump off the cliff and start swimming, sometimes to exhaustion and death. Lemmings are also often pushed into the sea as more and more lemmings arrive at the shore.

That sounds a lot like public school to me, except instead of a cliff there is a school bus. Shuffle out of the door, file onto the bus, file off the bus, go from class to class where a teacher hurries through a lesson fired at a class of 30 disparate kids, file back on the bus, file back off the bus, shuffle in the house, do hours of homework because you can't cover enough material at school, go to bed. Repeat for 13 years. That is the best method, the best place to get an education? Seriously?

I know of more than a few people who have been in public school that are flat out ignorant. Heck I know people who have college degrees that are flat out ignorant. Going to a school building is no more a guarantee of an education than being on a basketball court is a guarantee of being an NBA player. Doubly so if you are concerned about your kids moral upbringing and realize that an hour of Sunday school a week isn't going to do the trick.

What is our goal? A piece of paper? Conformity? My kids are kind of odd ducks. The other day Hunter was wearing a pin with a goat on it that he won at the county fair. I almost asked him to take it off because it was kinda dorky, but I decided not to because he liked it and was proud of it. How do you suppose that would have been received by his 13 year old male peers in a public school? Our kids have been getting better and better with the homeschool, and I would put their education up against that of virtually any kid in public school and add to that the fact that the education they are getting comes from a decidedly and intentionally Christian worldview. They are free to embrace what they find interesting, to be themselves, to grow up at a reasonable pace instead of the forced faux maturity that is fed by public school peer pressure. I am so proud of my kids and so proud and thankful for my wife who puts in a ton of work caring for and educating our eight children. Is it hard work, is it a huge sacrifice? Sure, but who ever said that raising kids was supposed to always follow the path of least resistance?

If a parent gives it serious thought and chooses to send their kid to public school, that is their right. But public school should not be the default, especially for Christian parents. The rearing of our children is too important to sub-contract to a secular state institution that has a core hostility to the Christian worldview.

(I know I am being a bit strident, but I was set off about the whole public school thing today)

This sounds ominous...

Out of a purity of intent, no doubt, there is a bill in the Michigan legislature that would keep track of kids being homeschooled. From the Detroit News...

As more homeschool, state could track kids

LAKE ORION -- School is just at the bottom of the stairs every morning for Haley Gernet.

The 15-year-old Lake Orion girl is among an increasing number of students nationwide and in Metro Detroit who are being taught at home, a trend that has some state lawmakers interested in knowing more about exactly how many Michigan families are choosing homeschooling and why.

A bill pending in the state House would require Michigan families, for the first time, to register their homeschooled children with their local school district superintendent by name, age and grade level. Backers say it's the only way to get an accurate picture of the number of students being educated in Michigan.

What would possibly be the point here? To know how many kids are in Michigan being homeschooled? Why in the world is that relevant, and why is it the business of the state? The excuse from the bill's sponsor sounds quite hollow to my ears...

Rep. Brenda Clack, D-Flint, said she introduced the bill earlier this year to allow for a complete picture of the number of students being educated in Michigan. Clack taught in the Flint school district for 32 years.

The bill is not meant to intrude on parents and the way they teach their children, Clack said.

"There's this fear out there from especially those that are homeschooling that there is going to be an infringement, that this will lead to something else," she said.

"As a former educator, all I need is accountability in terms of numbers of students being educated."

Many children who are homeschooled in their elementary years transfer to public schools in middle or high school "because they want to be mainstreamed with everyone else," Clack said. But without any accountability as to the "number of students that are being homeschooled, it could pose a problem in the future. (Registering) gives information for districts to plan in the future, even the building of new schools."

Clack said the bill, which has 23 co-sponsors, is awaiting discussion in the House Education Policy Committee. It is not clear whether the bill will get attention this session, because the committee is focused on schools that aren't meeting federal academic standards, said Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, committee chairman.

"We're fully focused on the schools that are failing," he said. The bill will need to be reintroduced if it's not acted on by the end of the year, but Clack -- who is term-limited -- said she believes her co-sponsors will carry on.

They need a warning for the hordes of homeschool kids that are suddenly going to show up at public schools? Really? To me this sounds more like the proverbial camels nose under the tent, a preparation for more serious intrusion. Even if every kid being homeschooled suddenly showed up at school, those schools that their parents already pay taxes to support even though their kids don't attend, the impact would be negligible. On the other hand, if the goal is to progressively make it more difficult to homeschool and thus drive these children back into the public school, the first step would be to find the families that are homeschooling and register their kids. Am I being alarmist? I don't think so. The education establishment is openly hostile to homeschooling because anything that challenges the public school status quo threatens union jobs for teachers and staff at those schools. Those of us who choose to homeschool our own children (a key point, our kids aren't wards of the state, they are OUR children and the default should always be to our decision making) are concerned with the education and well-being of our children, first and foremost, and the ultimate decision making for our child's education starts and stops with their parents.

Maybe the education establishment should be concerned about the schools that are a trainwreck from the UP to Pellston to Grand Rapids to Detroit. How many thousands of kids are stuck in failing schools, yet the legislature is concerned about registering homeschool kids like they are handguns? I guess that would be the case if the education establishment were concerned with educating children instead of protecting jobs. If you are a homeschooler in Michigan, let your state representatives know that you oppose registration of homeschool kids, and if you are a homeschooler or care about real choice in education for kids, keep this in mind when you go to vote in November...

The deplorable status of preparation for our children, particularly in comparison with the rest of the industrialized world, does not allow us the luxury of eliminating options in our educational repertoire. John McCain will fight for the ability of all students to have access to all schools of demonstrated excellence, including their own homes.

From on education

Monday, September 08, 2008

FIDE-O: The Audacity of Reform

FIDE-O: The Audacity of Reform

Jason Robertson wrote a brief but important post on reforming the church. The need for Reform in the church has never been greater. It is a struggle, it takes sacrifice but it is our mandate in this generation.

Reform isn't easy and it isn't always successful, but it is the necessity of our generation. We must courageously strive to reform the thinking of God's people, transforming their thinking to be biblical and God-centered. It is a task that is daunting and at times overwhelming. The victories seem short-lived and the battles seem unending. Yet the joy that is set before us lifts us up to march forward.

We send all these misssionaries out to foreign nations, and we should, but while these men and women are risking their lives overseas preaching the Gospel, the church at home is slowly rotting away at it's core because in so many cases it has abandoned that very same Gospel that these missionaries should be proclaiming. Have hymnal, pulpits and pews doesn't make a church. It is the faithful preaching of God's Word with boldness and without apology that makes a church.


One of the areas I have been really looking at is the Biblical doctrine of adoption. This is so misunderstood especially in mormon circles, so I put a blog post on The Fo-Mo Chronicles dealing with adoption particularly with regards to mormonism, but the idea is an important one for all Christians to think about.

The Fo-Mo Chronicles: Adoption

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Brave Sir Obama

So what if John McCain served honorably in the military, including time as a POW. Brave Sir Obama gave passing consideration to maybe thinking about the option of joining the military.

“You know, I actually did,” Obama said. “I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school. And I was growing up in Hawaii. And I have friends whose parents were in the military. There are a lot of Army, military bases there.

“And I actually always thought of the military as an ennobling and, you know, honorable option. But keep in mind that I graduated in 1979. The Vietnam War had come to an end. We weren't engaged in an active military conflict at that point. And so, it's not an option that I ever decided to pursue.”

It brings to mind the Tale of Brave Sir Robin from Monty Python and the Holy Grail...

He also went on to mock Palin's alleged lack of experience (dangerous ground for him to tread on) and restate his ridiculous answer regarding when life begins...

Barack Obama says his answer about abortion at the Saddleback Church forum was “probably” too flip.

During separate televised interviews last month, Pastor Rick Warren asked the two presidential candidates when a baby gets human rights. Obama replied that the question is “above my pay grade,” while John McCain won love from the right by saying quickly, “At the moment of conception.”

Now, Obama tells ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview taped for “This Week”: “What I intended to say is that, as a Christian, I have a lot of humility about understanding when does the soul enter into … It's a pretty tough question. And so, all I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions.”

In the ABC interview, Obama goes on to give the answer he wishes he’d given: “What I do know is that abortion is a moral issue, that it's one that families struggle with all the time. And that in wrestling with those issues, I don't think that the government criminalizing the choices that families make is the best answer for reducing abortions.

“I think the better answer — and this was reflected in the Democratic platform — is to figure out, how do we make sure the young mothers, or women who have a pregnancy that's unexpected or difficult, have the kind of support they need to make a whole range of choices, including adoption and keeping the child.

You have to wonder about someone who responds to a fundamental question like when does life begin with a "flip answer". That question is a deadly serious one and one that deserves some thought from someone who wants to be President, not ducking the question by hiding behind the party platform. This just proves again that Obama is certainly slick when he has time to get prepped for answers by his advisers, but when it is off the cuff and he has to say what he really thinks, he comes across poorly. His worldview is immature and dangerous.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Maybe it is because he has actually done something in his life

Obama: McCain focused on biography over economy

Well, it is little wonder that Obama doesn't speak about his biography when he hasn't really done anything. Some time in academia, some time as a rabble rouser...uh, I mean "community organizer", a stint in the Illinois State senate where his big accomplishment was to be in attendance and a woefully undistinguished partial term in the U.S. Senate. McCain on the other hand...well, let's just say that he has a bit more life experience, and that experience has formed who he is and what he stands for. Obama, bereft as he is of an meaningful experience in running anything, formulates his positions based on polls and liberal talking points. That is why his economic "plan" is to kick an economy in the teeth while it is struggling. What better way to improve the economy than to take even more money out of the private sector and the hands of citizens and give it to D.C. bureaucrats. Now that is hope and change we can believe in!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Parents are the worst people to bring up children!

This would be even funnier if it weren't so eerily similar to the American public educational system mentality...

(if you don't like British humor, this may not be that funny to you but the point is accurate)

I love the outrage, how can parents decide what is right for their children? Leave it to the professionals! I came across this video from a blog post from Voddie Baucham, and like most of his posts it doesn't pull any punches. I am not going to take the time to post excerpts, but it is worth the time to read (but only if you have a strong stomach). Tongue in cheek aside, there are lots of people who think you are incompetent to make decisions for your children or worse yet educate them yourself. Lots of those people are in the leadership of teachers unions, in education departments at universities and in the Department of Education.

Persecution: The Lifeblood of the Church

And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. (Acts 8:1-4)

The church of Christ has often faced persecution. It has generally led to true revival (not scheduling an evangelist and renting a tent revival, but a real revival). In the time of the book of Acts, the Jewish leadership rose up against the church and their attack dog Saul led the charge, scattering the early church. Instead of killing the infant Christian church, the church spread by the very means used to destroy it. Instead of 100 Christians centered in Jerusalem, 100 Christians went to 100 different cities and in the places they were scattered, they preached the Word. Saul himself was broken on the road to Damascus and became one of the greatest of the apostles. The Jews meant it for ill, but God used it for His glory.

In 1517, a monk dared question the papist system and unlike many, many predecessors he survived and was used mightily of God. The church was in great darkness of false teachings, but as one of my t-shirts reads: Post Tenebrus Lux, which is translated "out of darkness, light".

I got a kick out of this story of new megachurches being built in predominantly Muslim Indonesia. The radical muslim extremists burn down church after church, so the Christians in that country just build bigger churches...

Indonesia's sprinkling of small churches have periodically been raided, burned down or bombed by angry mobs. It would seem to be a good place for Christians to keep a low profile.

Instead, some wealthy Christian leaders in the predominantly Muslim nation have embarked on a bold and possibly provocative strategy: building megachurches as an assertion of their faith.

At least four multimillion-dollar churches that can seat thousands of people -- patterned on the evangelical colossi of the U.S. -- are nearing completion around Jakarta, the capital, and others are cropping up elsewhere.

The striking edifices are one way Christians -- who make up about 8% of Indonesia's population of 230 million -- are dealing with what some say is a rise in anti-Christian sentiment in Asia. They are an emblem of how the church here, financed by prominent businesspeople, is determined to make its presence known after a decade of persecution.

Despite the heightened persecution, the church continues to grow and flourish in Asia in the midst of what should be the most unlikely conditions...

The population of Christians in Asia and the Middle East grew to 350 million in 2005, or 9%, from about 100 million in 1970, or 5% of the total population, according to a 2006 study on Asian Christianity by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a project of the Pew Research Center.

Praise God!

But the church still needs prayer and support. The story of what is happening in India to our brothers and sisters is heart wrenching. You can get a sampling of it at this post from the Pyromaniacs. But in the midst of the church amusing itself into irrelevance in America and being reviled and killed overseas, we know this: God is sovereign and in the midst of the greatest darkness, God has again and again used that very persecution to grow His church. Let's pray that when we look back at these dark times in so many places that we will have the grace to see the hand of God working to redeem His people in His persecuted church.

More on Palin

The praise is just effusive. The National Review people, the more or less mainstream media says it was Reaganesque and even the leftist media talking heads are for the most part giving her grudging praise (i.e. pretty good speech from a backwards governor of a nowhere state)

One guy on the local detroit news channel kind of smarmily said: "She proved see can read a well-written speech" How condescending was that? The liberal hit men are out and complaining that her speech was written by someone else. Every politician uses speech writers, even the Anointed One and some of them, like Joe Biden, plagiarize parts of their speeches.

Perhaps the Obama's cronies and the left leaning (being generous) media will be a bit more circumspect about attacking Palin in the future. One that particular can of whup behind is opened, it is not about to be closed.