Archive for the 'Politics' Category

This post is more personal than that of the standard fare here at .info but I think there are some applicable learnings for current affairs buzzing in the blogosphere.

I’ve been estranged from my family (mom, step-dad, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc…) for the better part of 9 years. Without giving all of the details; suffice it to say I did many things wrong as a teenager and my parents did many things wrong as parents. Neither party was able to forgive. Because of the strain I chose to close off communication. One time about 5 years ago I did contact my Mom in an attempt to live out the verse “As much depends on you be at peace with all people”. In a God given moment of humility I was able to say “Please forgive me” to which my Mom responded with “You’ve made your bed now lie in it” and slammed down the phone. In that moment, having honored God with his command to seek forgiveness, I had peace. The bridge to my family wasn’t reopened that day but I continued to trust that “All things work to the good for those of love Christ”.

Fast Forward 4 years. This past Christmas I received a Christmas card in the mail from my Aunt. Stunned that I got a Christmas card from her I didn’t open it. My wife however did. Inside was a personal note that read “We miss you guys being a part of the family give us a call. P.S. (my cousin) is getting married in May and she would love for you guys and the girls to come” My immediate response was I’m not going to the wedding. I questioned everything… “Who’s gonna be there”; “What’s their motivation for inviting me”; “What if so and so is there”; etc…

But then God began to nudge me. He reminded me of the call of a Christian. We are to be ministers of reconciliation; by our Love they will know us; as much depends on you be at peace with all people; Bless those who curse you. On and on scripture came in rapid fire pattern until I was literally on my knees humbled by the words of my Savior. Now I knew I had to go to that wedding to honor God and the commitment I made to follow him wherever leads.

Recently Saddleback Church issued personal notes to those in the blogosphere that have been most critical of what Rick Warren is doing; inviting them to a future conference. To say that this has caused a little questioning of motives would be an understatement. Quite frankly their (the bloggers) thoughts haven’t varied much from the thoughts that I had when I was invited to the wedding of my cousin. What is very different however is the public manner in which they are airing those thoughts.

A few weeks ago Ingrid wrote a scathing response essentially stomping on the graciousness of Rick Warren to pay for the trip. Recently Chris Rosebrough of Extreme Theology wrote a more balanced response to his invite and in fact accepted the invite. But again questioned the motives of the invitation. In fairness to Chris he has since removed that post stating “There is a commitment that I need to honor and I want to respect the wishes of my host.” Which shows character and perhaps a willingness to take a “wait and see” approach.

Others however (who haven’t received invites) have been blogging and commenting voraciously; ascribing all kinds of conspiracy theories to Rick and Co.

Purpose Drivel had this to say.

Wow. I have to wonder what the spin will be on this one. I would be torn. Do I go and let him twist the event to his own advantage? Or do I decline and let him publicly say “they wouldn’t play nice, look we even invited them for ‘dialogue’!”

I guess if I could have a recording team there to record the meeting, I would be OK with it. Then nothing could be edited for slant/spin purposes without it being exposed by the opposing team.

Jim Bublitz of Old Truth in the Extreme Theology comments (the old post)

I‘ve been hearing about all of the invites to this event for the past week and have wondered what’s really behind it all. Is Warren finally starting to see that the blog world is a great detriment to his methods, and this is his way of doing damage control? Surely he’s not naive enough to imagine that he’s going to change the minds of people like you and Pastor Bob DeWaay who is also there and has written a book against Warren’s teachings. Or maybe Warren thinks he’s going to shower you with gifts and kill you with kindness (so to speak) to the point where you are going to think of him as “Uncle Rick” from now on; somebody you just can’t speak poorly about. I just don’t know, but will be interested in your opinions. It just doesn’t make sense.

You’re right Jim; it doesn’t make sense. Why would Rick Warren a heretic invite a fringe group of malcontents to a conference on his dime. I suspect because Rick is wise enough to understand that the caricatures we have in our heads (heretics and malcontents) vary widely from the reality of who people are in real life. Communication is the only thing that will close that gap. Which is exactly what I experienced at my cousins wedding.

Most of my relatives (sans my mom and step-dad) were gracious and affirming of me. Many were able to see the change (Christ) in my life and I was able to say to them that I am where I am today because of Christ. It was a powerful night and my wife, kids, and me were able to witness to my family the grace of Christ. On a very personal note I got to see my Grandfather, whom I assumed was dead. I was able to introduce him to his great grand-daughters and was also able to say good bye (he has cancer and Alzheimer’s and was given only about 2 months to live). Which was a wonderful gift from God in my eyes. Plus all of the caricatures that I had of my family were shattered during the night. In my humanness I would never have expected God to be able to reconcile my family. Sure I still have room to grow and certainly the healing in my family has a long way to go but God is good and able to “work all things to good for those who love Christ”.

Maybe God is calling all of us to that higher ground. Lets not let pride, humanness, or team politics get in the way of that calling.

Grace and Peace to all.

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Israel has begun celebrating her 60th anniversary, which of course, is great cause for celebration for Israelis and Jews around the world. This also extends to many American Evangelicals – particularly those of the dispensational camp.

Although not all in Israel are celebrating. Pictured here is Palestinian Ahmed Elaian, 86 at the time, showing the keys of his home in Israel, on the 57th anniversary of Al Naqba, or day of catastrophe, in the Kalandia refugee camp near the West Bank town of Ramallah, Saturday May 14, 2005. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

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Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all).

 

And

 

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.

 

I am convinced that the ODM’s can be likened to the Political Correctness movement that has become so popular (and abused) in liberal circles and on college campuses.  Political correctness on its good side brings awareness to the things we say and how they may affect others.  On the greater down side, or the manner in which it has been abused is the manner in which it is a form of censorship.  We’ve all heard the stories.

 

Above are two statements from Lighthouse Trails Research – an ODM site.  Both of which serve as an example of ODM’s abusive tactics of PC.  In the former quote, a definition of Contemplative Spirituality is offered with the stated goal of inducing an altered state of consciousness.  The case seems closed – except for that fact that none on the list that I saw encourage an altered state of consciousness in the same manner as Eastern Mysticism.  “Silence” is not tantamount to an altered state.  It is a classical example of inserting all manner of meanings into words that were never intended thus.  Are there those who employ contemplation as a way to induce an altered state? – Yes.  Is it therefore axiomatic that any who encourage contemplation or contemplative methods do the same – of course not.  Contrary to their definitive statement:  Contemplative Spirituality MAY be pantheistic/panentheistic… to say it IS, is incorrect, sloppy, and probably misleads many who think the site inquestion site employs accurate definitions.

 

This leads to the second quote, which builds on the false definitions of the first – the result is to outlaw spiritual formation in the church.  ODM Correctness in action.

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“While some “Christian” pastors have slipped their Biblical moorings and are now apologizing for opposing abortion, men like Barak Obama are leading the charge to against pro-life legislation.”

This was the opening line in the post entitled It’s a Mad World, at CRN this morning.

It was followed with the statement

Is it really wrong and “Un-Christian” of Christians to call abortion a sin

So, I followed the link to a little leaven where they asked

Is the church wrong and judgmental for claiming that abortion and homosexuality are sins and contending against them?

Wow! A church that claims it is judgmental to call abortion and homosexualty a sin? A church that says it is wrong to call homosexuality a sin!? Where would this be? Well, it doesn’t exist. Here is the original news story and a few quotes that CRN or A Little Leaven will probably not want you to read

Georgia Baptist pastor who pledged to apologize to gays, women seeking abortions, and couples who live together outside marriage…

His apology was not limited to the aforementioned groups but was directed to those in the secular world that drive by churches each day and never consider visiting because of the judgmental posture…

Lee did not yield ground on his conservative beliefs but said the Church’s established methods of judging others for their shortcomings obviously has not worked. Driving people away from Christ is not an effective way of bringing them to Him, he said through a variety of illustrations….

“I am 37 years old and I believe the Bible is 100 percent truth without error. But the Bible tells us we are to judge our own lives and not the lives of those outside the faith”

And while I firmly believe that Romans 1 is true in its discussion of homosexuality I know that it is much easier to condemn when you do not know those in that lifestyle.

So, this would have been a big, huge, juicy story… if it were actually true. Apologizing for how we have treated these people is not the same as apologizing for what scripture has to say about their lifestyle and choices. I find it very ironic that Christians run to the media for an apology when someone treats them bad, but we are unapologetic for gay bashing, abortion clinic vandalism and arsons, and let’s not mention gadhatesfags.com. Don’t see too much outrage over how we have treated those that need Christ the most.

BTW… I LOVE how they had to drag Barack into the equation. Wouldn’t be a good ODM article without blaming some politicians for where the church has fallen short in affecting society.

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I think that CRN is having a mild case of schizophrenia. They recently posted an article on the danger of moralism. Upon reading it, I was first frustrated with this quote from MacArthur

So on the one hand, we are called to the exposition of scripture, explaining the Bible verse by verse, book by book.

Um, where exactly are we called to expository preaching of scripture, going line by line through the book? But I digress. The rest of the quote is great, discussing the dangers of legislating morality through the government. People are saved and changed by the Holy Spirit, not George W Bush. The article ends with this paragraph

And in a related issue here is the link to a message by Phil Johnson that “addresses the controversy that exists between the ministry of Dr. John MacArthur and that of Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family), on the issue of preaching the gospel to change the wickedness of man versus using political legislation to accomplish that end.”

Yes, you are reading this right… from the website that calls for petitions against gay marriage, calling your senator to have the ten commandments put back into court houses, berating politicians for not legislating the scriptures, comes this. So which is it CRN? Are we supposed to flee from the dangers of legislating morality? Or are we supposed to get a petition going to make sure that Genesis is the only creation theory taught in schools? Or maybe we just change our views every time Johnny Mac opens his mouth.

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Here’s another perspective from the National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego.  This is an article that Greg Boyd wrote describing a debate/discussion he had at the convention with Shane Claiborne and Chuck Colson.

Now, this gathering of people the ODMs deem heretical is probably enough to make their collective head explode, but I think it raises some good and necessary questions.  What is the role of faith in politics?  How much can Christians disagree on political issues?  Can we serve both God and country?

Just some food for thought and discussion.  By the way, I find Claiborne’s description of the assassination attempt on Hitler by Bonhoeffer and others quite interesting.  Even when we are sure we are operating out of the right motives, we don’t know all the implications of what we do.  Compelling stuff…

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If one is to believe this article, we’d have to accept some certain facts, like:

1. God loves the United States more than any other country
2. Jesus was a capitalist
3. Rob Bell is a marxist
4. We might consume a very good chunk of the world’s resources (although that’s not necessarily true)
5. The ends justify the means
6. Global poverty comes from people being too lazy to work
7. The United States was a blessing to the Africans we bought, sold and used as slaves

The list goes on and on. What more can I say, other then the article is a total piece of trash. It just seems fitting that it would have CRN’s blessing.

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(Note: I’m not a fan of either of these presidential candidates — nor any of them, for that matter. So I’m not interested in a political discussion. The political realm just happens to be where this example lies.)

In Monday night’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama got testy with each other. There was one exchange though, that gave me a serious case of déjà vu:

Obama: I was helping unemployed workers on the streets of Chicago when you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.

Clinton: I was fighting against misguided Republican policies when you were practicing law and representing your contributor … in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.

See the difference? Obama claimed to be working with actual people. Conversely, for Clinton, the important thing was to be anti-Republican, (apparently, the highest calling that any human being can aspire to).

Then I got a flashback.

A bit over a year ago, I wrote an email to one of the group-written incarnations of Slice asking why my comments kept getting un-approved, despite the fact that they were civil and not particularly strident. I contrasted my comments to stuff like:

RICK WARREN IS NOT A CHRISTIAN!

– and –

Houston will be a desert before I accept a liar, a slanderer, a self-promoting name-dropper, and a blasphemer of the Holy Spirit as a brother in Christ. (regarding Warren)

I marveled that such anti-Biblical skubala was permitted on a site on which comments were carefully screened.

Put down your coffee before you read the next sentence. I don’t want to be responsible for the spit-take all over your computer screen.

The response that I received was that comments at Slice were not carefully screened. Rather, the only comments that were disallowed were apologists for the emerging church and Rick Warren, and comments that were truly malicious.

Since my actual point was totally ignored (the anti-Biblical nature of some comments), I re-iterated it again. The response that I got this time stated that even guessing who is saved is unbiblical.

I responded that I was glad that this was her stance, pointed out that this was not the stance of all the writers at Slice, and then asked the following:

Does this mean that you place a higher priority on being anti-emergent and anti-Warren than on being pro-Biblical?

“Surprisingly”, I didn’t receive a response to that note.

Sure, being pro-Biblical will inherently mean that we’ll be “anti” some stuff. But the latter follows the former. Talk about getting the cart before the dead horse that you’ve been beating.

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They’re still trying to get Warren in a trap. I must admit, that when I read this short clip from Slice, I thought “oh man, Rick. What have you done now?” Joseph Farah was saying that Rick was making comments that gave comfort to the enemy of Christians and criticizing the U.S. However, Farah opens his hit piece up with this explanation of Warren’s inappropriate comments

Rick Warren loves to apologize for things he didn’t do, for things other people did that weren’t wrong, even for things that occurred hundreds of years before he was born.

For instance, he recently apologized to Muslims worldwide for atrocities committed against their ancestors during the Crusades.

He also recently apologized for American “excesses in the war on terrorism.”

And he has apologized for the church because it hasn’t done enough about the spread of AIDS and problems like global warming.

After I read that, my first response was, “Are you serious?” You are actually saying that killing innocent Muslims, being incredibly racist and using racial profiling when it comes to the war on terror and not caring about the AIDS crisis is not wrong? We must be reading two different gospels. I missed the part where the scriptures say to kill your enemies and ignore those who are suffering. We wouldn’t want to do anything that messed up the whole “perfect Christianity” vibe we have going for us. I loved how Farah feels it necessary to hold Syria accountable for killing Christians, but doesn’t find it necessary to hold ourselves accountable for killing Muslims.

There is a lot of bantering back and forth in this article about a video that was filmed, and if it did or did not hold strong political statements made by Warren. That situation does seem a bit suspicious. However, once again it is important to note how much these guys meddle into the life and ministry of Warren. Is it really their responsibility to relegate Warren’s political statements, confirm if he knew about a tape, find out if Arab statements in newspapers are valid, make sure Warren wasn’t lying when he says he wasn’t, and check if his political statements are kosher? Farah has no idea about the agreements Warren made, the conditions he was under for filming, or even the contents of the tapes. It is absolutely rediculous how far these guys will go to get some inkling of a story. In my opinion, Warren is innocent until proven guilty, rather than having guilt assumed.

In conclusion, it seems like many of the ODMs would disagree with “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Their version would read “Therefore go and make disciples of those nations who America currently agrees with, and make sure not to make any political statements that would damage our country or the history of Christianity.” It’s sad that we begin to pick and chose which people group we are willing to connect and share the gospel with based on the latest news out of Washington.

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I’m feeling quite under the weather today, but I found myself a bit amazed that I completely agreed with Dan Phillips at TeamPyro – in two articles, nonetheless! – on the subject of religion in politics.

Religion is stacking up to be quite the topic during this election cycle. When questioners bring up the matter of religion, or try to pursue it very far, one of the common preferred responses is, “My religion is very private. I keep it separate from my politics. My religion will not influence me one way or the other in office.”

What’s surprising about this paint-thin response is how often it works. I suppose we can thank the mainstream media’s abysmal ignorance of and incuriosity towards religion or philosophy for that.

This response — if it means anything at all — can only mean one of three things:

  1. The speaker is a liar
  2. The speaker is a hypocrite
  3. The speaker can’t rub two live neurons together

Here is my premise: all men are religious, and all worldviews are religious worldviews.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Dan stole Rob Bell’s notes from last year’s Everything is Spiritual tour.  Regardless, he has some good observations on the topic of candidates who try to distance themselves from their religion…

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