Friday, February 24, 2012

Does God Change Lives Today?

This is the issue at stake between Evangelical and Liberal Protestantism. In my last post I suggested that Liberal Protestantism is in schism by virtue of its endorsement of homosexual sin as acceptable. But not only does Liberal Protestantism accept and endorse homosexual sin as morally acceptable, it does so for a very specific reason and that reason is that it accepts the argument that homosexuals cannot change.

Now, this whole idea of a "homosexual orientation" that people supposedly have from birth and have no conscious control over is contradicted by the facts all around us. Just look at what the pro-homosexual movement is called "LGBT:" lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered. All these are "orientations," but what does "orientation" mean here?

Very few people, if any, are exclusively homosexual throughout their lifetimes in the sense that they cannot be sexually aroused by member of the opposite sex. Yet many people can be sexually aroused by members of both sexes. Others go from one to the other and some go back and forth.

Gene Robinson left his wife and children to shack up with another man and the Episcopal Church made him a bishop! Why? Because we have to recognize free choice with regard to sexual lifestyles. But I thought "homosexual orientations" left no room for "choice" and that is precisely why they had to be recognized. Apparently, Gene Robinson could have a homosexual "orientation" that he supposedly had no choice about from birth and, yet, could also get married to a woman and father children by her. Then he exercised his choice to leave his lawfully married wife to take up with a man. So was he inexorably driven by his "orientation" when he was married to a woman? Or when he left her and took up with a man? Or did he have both an "orientation" and choice at the same time?

All this is very contradictory and leads one to suspect that the term "orientation" is basically meaningless. The term "orientation" basically functions in our society as a fig leaf for individual choice based on strong habits. The sexual revolution teaches that sexual behaviour is amoral and every individual should create his or her own values by his or her own personal choices. Since that seems immoral, hedonistic and selfish to most people, there has to be a way of fudging the real issues when operating in the public realms of politics, education and religion. The idea of "orientation" has a superficial veneer of (1) a scientific basis, (2) compassion and (3) tolerance, all of which make it useful as a propaganda tool to use on those who aren't paying close attention to the arguments.

The pagan world says to the Church: "The homosexual inclinations of some people are so deeply embedded, so fundamental to their identity and so hard to fight that we must accept them as they are. They cannot change and it is cruel to say that they must do so."

Conservative Christianity (Catholic and Evangelical) says in reply: "We understand that it is difficult because we all struggle against sinful desires and frequently give in to temptation. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it means two things: (1) forgiveness for sin and (2) power to change. The indwelling Holy Spirit can change your life by giving you freedom from guilt instantly and then gradually increasing victory over the power of sin. The hope of the Gospel is that one day we will experience total liberation from sin in our glorified, resurrected bodies. Therefore, believe the Gospel and be saved!"

Liberal Protestantism says: "We understand that you can't overcome these strong desires and our message is essentially a therapeutic one that stresses becoming better adjusted to the realities of the natural world and the limitations of our moral powers. So we welcome you into the Church as you are and want you to know that you are accepted by us and by whatever God may be up there."

The problem is that Liberal Protestantism has no message of forgiveness and power to change. Evangelical Protestantism preaches a Gospel of forgiveness and power to change. Evangelicals are not better people than anyone else, but we have the greatest message the world could ever hear. And Liberal Protestants, as people, are no better than us, so is it any wonder that without a Gospel to proclaim their churches are dying out?

The tragedy is that an immature teen, struggling with homosexual temptation, who goes to a Liberal Protestant Church will hear no hope for change or overcoming temptation. The spouse teetering on the verge of breaking up his or her family to follow the inclinations of the flesh will hear only a justification for acting on the most base and selfish of impulses. The homosexual who is tempted to commit suicide because of his struggles with low self-esteem and guilt over his lifestyle will hear no message of forgiveness, cleansing and hope. This is the tragedy of Liberal Protestantism. People, at a very deep level, do not want "tolerance" or "acceptance." They want to be clean and free. This is the cruelty of having no real Gospel to proclaim.

The Reformers taught that the true Church exists where the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed and the sacraments rightly administered. The true Church does not exist where there is no proclamation of forgiveness through the cross of Christ and power to change through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." (II Tim. 3:1-5)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Same-sex "Marriage" and Schism

There are many theological issues over which sincere Christians can agree to disagree until further light comes to us. Evangelical Christians have learned to be a united renewal movement within the broader Church despite disagreements over the form and mode of baptism, models of church government, Calvinism versus Arminian soteriology, speaking in tongues and so on. The two-decade long process of Evangelical and Catholics Together has dulled the anti-Catholic fervor of most Evangelicals, although many Reformed conservatives still hold out. Personally, I think a tipping point was reached with the Lutheran-Catholic joint statement on justification and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I still believe the Roman Catholic Church is in need of further reforms, but I acknowledge that on many issues the last two centuries has witnessed a remarkable number of reforms for which the 16th century Reformers called. Significant ecumenical progress is underway.

The sheer number of such non-fellowship destroying theological issues and the good ecumenical news on several fronts, however, can have the unintended side-effect of inuring us to more serious theological disagreements which do, in fact, destroy the unity of Christ's Church and cause the loss of salvation for those who deny central truths of the Scripture. As Evangelicals and Catholics come closer together, liberal Protestantism becomes increasingly isolated from the mainstream of Christianity.

To deny the substitutionary atonement of Christ as necessary for the forgiveness of sins or the Triune nature of God or the full deity and humanity of the God-Man, Jesus Christ - these are not things which we can agree to disagree about. To deny these doctrines is to deny the Faith and to separate oneself from Christ and from his body in schism.

A serious question that must be faced today, given the slide into acceptance of so-called same-sex "marriage" by liberal Protestants, is whether or not this issue falls into the category of secondary doctrines about which disagreement can be tolerated without destroying the Church's unity or whether or not the endorsement of same-sex "marriage" is a soul-destroying heresy that rends the fabric of Christ's Church. Technically, a heresy is a doctrinal deviation that causes the heretic to be regarded as a non-Christian doomed to eternal punishment and which causes a schism in the Church by placing those who embrace the heretic outside the Church. Not all doctrinal disagreements rise to the level of heresies, but some do. It takes spiritual discernment, careful thought, historical awareness and, above all, deep biblical understanding to tell which are which.

So, is the embrace of the charade known today as same-sex "marriage" a heresy?

John Piper has a good post on Dietrich Bonhoffer and Wolfhart Pannenberg, two major twentieth-century theologians who have made solemn judgments on heresy and schism. Bonhoffer denounced the "Aryan Paragraph," which the Nazis tried to impose on the German Protestant Church in order to exclude Jews from the Church as heresy in the precise and fullest sense. In the Barmen Declaration (authored by Karl Barth) the Confessing Church separated itself from the German Christians who accepted the Aryan Paragraph. They did not just claim to be disagreeing with fellow-Christians; they were clear that to accept the Nazi demand that Jews be excluded from the Church was to abandon the Church and cease to have a credible Christian testimony.

Piper also quotes Wolfhart Pannenberg on the same-sex "marriage" issue as follows:

Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture. Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

You can access Pannenberg's entire article, of which this is the final paragraph, here. Pannenberg views the embrace of same-sex "marriage" as a schismatic act. It is a heresy.

Piper notes that the Aryan Paragraph and the endorsement of homosexuality both deny the cross of Christ. Christ died, he notes, to bring Jews and Gentiles together in one body. (Eph. 2:14-16) And Christ died to bring repentant sinners into the Kingdom of God. (I Cor. 6:9-10) Therefore, he concludes, to exclude Jews is to deny Christ and his cross and to affirm a way of life that excludes people from the kingdom of God is to take a stand against the cross of Christ, which aims to save people for the Kingdom of God.

There is no plausible way to view those who endorse homosexual sin as attempting to acknowledge the authority of Scripture. Scripture is crystal clear that homosexual activity is sin and homosexual temptations are a result of a fallen, disordered, human sexuality - a curse we all bear. There is not a single positive or neutral reference to homosexuality in all of Scripture. Romans 1 distinguishes between those who are tempted and fall into temptation and those who "not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." (Rom. 1:32) Those who commit homosexual sins merely need to repent and they can be forgiven. But those who "give approval" to such sins need to change their minds about the morality of such actions before they can repent. It is far worse to teach that evil is good and that sinful acts are not under God's condemnation than merely to engage in a wrong act. The latter imperils one's own soul, but he former imperils the souls of others as well. Only a mind that is sunk deep into sin and rebellion against Christ could endorse same-sex "marriage" as good.

The United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada have gone into schism from the rest of Protestantism. It is highly problematic even to articulate a way in which they could legitimately be called Christian Churches anymore. Their status would be closer to the Mormans or Jehovah's Witnesses than to Protestant Churches. This is a very serious matter for those who find themselves members of schismatic bodies. They need our prayers as they wrestle with what to do.

The tragedy of being conformed to this world is the loss of Jesus Christ. Same-sex "marriage" is probably the primary way contemporary Christians are being conformed to this world and thus drawn away from a living unity with our Lord and His Church. Clarity on this issue is a major requirement for effective pastoral ministry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jesus, Satan and the Presidential Election

No, Jesus is not a candidate and neither is Satan. But both have come up recently in the presidential election and if you watch you might well hear about at least Satan at tonight's Arizona Republican Debate.

At the National Prayer Breakfast, Barack Obama co-opted Jesus as a supporter for his program of higher taxes and more entitlement programs for the middle class. (Calls to Heaven for confirmation of Jesus' position were not returned as of press time.) The left-wing media yawned and only noted it as a justification for calling conservative Christians hypocrites for opposing Obama: "See he quotes Jesus and everything! What more do you want?"

On the other hand the Drudge Report dug up (or were fed by the Romney camp) an old 2008 speech by Rick Santorum at Ave Maria University in which he warned that Satan was attacking America. All of a sudden the secularists in the media have their underwear in a knot. Our guy says Jesus is on his side - perfectly fine. Their guy says something to indicate that he believes in Satan - it's a national emergency!

As Paul Kengor at American Spectator put it:
Like vampires fleeing a cross, the secular world shudders and trembles at the sight of Rick Santorum delivering a speech about good and evil at Ave Maria University in Florida in 2008. Santorum's statement came 25 years after another much-maligned social conservative, Ronald Reagan, delivered a similarly fiery but much-needed statement in Florida in 1983. In both cases, our liberal friends recoiled in horror, mortified that any American other than Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter might dare remark on matters of faith and state, of the temporal and eternal.

I caught excerpts of the Santorum speech for the first time yesterday, when America's omnipresent force -- Matt Drudge -- posted the link under the grim, black-and-white headline, "SANTORUM'S SATAN WARNING." Immediately, the remainder of the natural universe leapt in knee-jerk hysteria, and soon Santorum's warnings of the Evil One were the talk of a stunned nation.

Also at American Spectator, Quin Hillyer has this comment:

All of this "Satan" talk is completely out of context. There is absolutely nothing wrong with somebody in a religious context talking about Satan being loose in the world. There is almost nothing that Rick Santorum said that wasn't in line with the fictional but theologically sound take on the forces of evil that C.S. Lewis described in The Screwtape Letters. And there is absolutely nothing that isn't standard Catholic doctrine. Consider that for years every Catholic Church recited, ever week, the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, pasted below, and that many Catholic churches still do. This includes the Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA that is the home parish for a host of leading conservative Catholics in the DC area. Here is the prayer as regularly recited (the link above is to the long version and the history thereof):

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

To complain about what Santorum said is to show an appalling lack of perspective and understanding of Catholicism, of Christianity, and of religious faith in general. Those complaining should be ashamed of themselves -- it, that is, they had any shame.

Hillyer is right. The media has no shame when it comes to attempts to smear conservative candidates. But I would submit that there are only two possibilities here: (1) the media is so uninformed that it actually does not know that all serious Christians believe in Satan or (2) they know but they are betting that most Americans, having been through 12 years of secular schooling, don't know that. Either way, we need a new media. We need new reporters who are actually educated and new editors who are unbiased. But the media we have is hopeless.

Leftist Jihad Unleashed on Rick Santorum

Now, you need to understand first of all that Rick Santorum is just an ordinary, Church-attending Catholic. He is no different in his beliefs, speech or actions than tens of millions of other Catholics in the demographic of weekly attenders. He is no more conservative than - oh, say roughly 100 million other American Christians. He is completely mainstream. He doesn't believe in abortion because it is the taking of a human life, he rejects artificial contraception because it separates sex from family and he believes that there is actually good and evil in the world.

But, you see, he has risen in the polls and now stands a very good chance of becoming President of the United States. So, the liberal jihad must be unleashed on him. Maureen Dowd, that lapsed-Catholic turned Catholic-hating bigot from the New York Times has a headline today "Rick Santorum's Religious Fanaticism." This is an example of liberal jihad. It is intolerance and visceral hatred of the Church, of Christ and of any deviation from the liberal fascist agenda.

If you are a serious Christian in politics you are a threat to the liberal fascist order. Chris Matthews yesterday called openly for a Franklin Graham to be blacklisted as a TV guest. This is new. Usually the blacklist is not made public. So this is a new development and portends evil days ahead. The media is all in a flap because Rick Santorum referred to Satan in a speech in 2008 at a Catholic university where everybody believes in Satan. Erick Erickson thinks it was likely a Romney camp leak to the media in an attempt to damage Santorum. By the way, if it was then if Romney wins using those tactics then he deserves merciless mocking about Morman underwear and so forth for the next nine months. And, if he gets the nomination, that is what he will get from the liberal media. It will serve him right. Live by bigotry, die by bigotry.

But the real story here is how ignorant the media is about religion. Honestly, as Sarah Palin said yesterday, didn't any of them ever go to Sunday School? Well, the problem is that none of the leftist media every did get any religious training. They have been brought up in a little secular bubble and they have very little experience of the lives of the majority of their fellow-citizens, except in crude, comic-book style caricatures.

By the way, Chris Matthews tried to make himself look balanced, rather than fascist, (nice try!) by contrasting Franklin Graham (bad) with his father Billy Graham (good). The take-away is that leftists believe that the only good conservative is a dead conservative. It is safe to pretend that you respect Billy Graham because he is not around to denounce your fascism. It is the same with Barack Obama's obscene pretense of having respect for Ronald Reagan. Obama hates with a passion every single thing Reagan stood for and cared about but he tries to pretend to be a "Reaganesque" figure. Sadly, he just comes off as a phoney and a hypocrite.

Coming back to Santorum; you knew that all this was coming. It was as predictable as the sun rising. Rick Santorum is no more scary this week than he was before he won Colorado, but now he threatens the left-wing's anointed Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. Speaking of Romney, why does the left want him to be the Republican nominee so badly? There are three reasons I can think of off the top of my head. First, they know he can't attack Obama on the main issue in Obama's record: Obamacare. So that is a relief to the Obama campaign. Second, they are just salivating about the opportunity to run against a rich guy. The dogs of Occupy are straining at the leash waiting to be released on on him. Third, Romney will depress the conservative base and that is the way Obama won the first time.

Rick Santorum is a normal, decent, family man and a believing Christian. I think he will make a wonderful president. One thing you have to give him; he has all the right enemies.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Contraception: The Solution to All the World's Problems

Contraception Services

Howard Dean Clarifies The Choice Between Barack Obama and Rick Santorum

On Morning Joe, Howard Dean said today that "Rick Santorum has said a lot of incredibly intolerant things." I would point out that this clarifies things immensely. In fact, this helps distinguish him from Barack Obama, who has done a lot of incredibly intolerant things.

Thanks for clearing that up, Howard.

He also says later in the clip that most Americans don't think sexual morality is the business of the Church. I guess that is the next constriction on freedom of worship: "You can have freedom of worship as long as you leave morality to Caesar."

Yeah, shouldn't be a problem there, Howie. Clearly only fundamentalists think morality has anything to do with religion.

He also says that most Americans don't think sex is any business of the Government. Which, apparently, is why the Democrats are insisting that Government forbid any organization from refusing to pay for contraception and abortions for all women, including unmarried ones. The government wants nothing to do with your sex life but it stands ready to provide you with all the free stuff you need to indulge all you want and punish any employer who does not pay for your orgies.

Great logic, wouldn't you like to see what the Government would be doing if it did think your sex life was any of its business?

You want to know what comes next? My prediction is that if Obama wins in November, Catholic hospitals will be required to perform surgical abortions. (They have already been told they must perform chemical ones by this new Obamacare mandate.) Why? Not because any more abortion providers are needed, but just for the principle involved. It is kind of like getting people to offer a pinch of incense to Caesar as a way of keeping them in line and separating out the highly-principled ones for special harassment.

If Obama wins, civil disobedience will undoubtedly become necessary.

The Best Books I Read in 2011

My daughter got me a T-shirt from a bookstore in Washington, DC with a great slogan on the back: "So many books, so little time." Says it all, really.


1. Heavenly Participation: the Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry - Hans Boersma (Eerdmans, 2011) Boersma advocates going back to the Platonist-Christian synthesis of the Great Tradition as the way forward. Terrific reading for those who are convinced that Modernity is a dead end.

2. Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, Authorship - Kevin Vanhoozer (Cambridge, 2010). This is a substantial theological proposal from a fabulous writer. Best line in the book is: "We need a fully Christianized ontology." That is what Boersma proposed we can find in the 5th and 13th centuries.

3. Christianity and Liberalism - J. Gresham Machen (Eerdmans, 1929). I re-read this old classic this year and found it well-worthwhile. It is amazing how similar the issues are now to the ones he dealt with nearly a century ago.

4. Praise Seeking Understanding: Reading the Psalms with Augustine - Jason Byassee (Eerdmans, 2007). This is a wonderful book that gets down to a serious engagement with Augustine. If we Evangelicals don't shake off the chains of modernist, historical criticism and go back to the way the apostles and fathers read Scripture, we are all going to end up liberal.


1. Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control 1873-1973 - Allan Carlson (Transaction, 2012) Don't read this book if you hate having your nice, 20th century, Evangelical presumptions trampled.

2. True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis - Daniel R. Heimbach (Crossway, 2004). The title is in your face and Heimbach doesn't get out of your face for the next 400 pages. He never pretends that there isn't a war going on. My favorite part was him describing how they had to clean the porn out of the campus after the conservative take-over of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.


1. The Father's Tale - Michael O'Brien (Ignatius, 2011). This is a wonderful novel by my favorite Canadian writer of all time. It is a modern re-telling of the parables of the prodigal son and the lost sheep. Too short at 1076 pages.

2. Father Brown - G. K. Chesterton. I find as I get older that I love to re-read books from the past that meant something to me at the time. It is fascinating to discover if they are as good as I remember them being at the time. This collection of Father Brown stories is better than I remember. What could be better on a cold Winter's evening than an overstuffed, recliner chair, a cold drink, an afghan, Bach playing in the background . . . and another case to solve with Father Brown?

So, what am I reading right now?

In connection with the book I'm writing . . .

Paul Gravilyk's wonderful The Suffering of the Impassible God: the Dialectics of Patrisitic Thought

Stanley Fowler's More Than a Symbol: The British Baptist Recovery of Baptismal Sacramentalism

Khaled Anatolios's Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine

And for fun and pure enjoyment . . .

Ian Ker's G. K. Chesterton: A Biography

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Divide and Conquor: Tyrants Always Try This But Unless We are Very Stupid It Won't Work

Obama is a liberal Protestant who was formed in a church that preached black liberation theology and it is an open question as to how much of orthodox Christianity he actually believes. One would not have to believe much to fit comfortably into Jeremiah Wright's congregation and it is very difficult to believe that a person with orthodox Christian doctrine could have endured 20 years of Wright's rants.

But one thing Obama knows is that the Christian Church in America is an obstacle to his vision of a giant, all-powerful State directing the lives of individuals with as few as possible intermediate institution in between. The family is one such mediating institution and the Democratic Party has been following policies that weaken the family ever since they used the opening provided by the civil rights movement to implement the Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson. The Church is another such institution and as George Will remarked the other day on ABC's This Week, every institution of civil society must be broken to the saddle of the progressive state.

The Christian Church is hardly a monolithic entity and so the opportunity exists for Obama to try to divide and conquer. A frontal assault on the whole thing never works, so chipping off groups here and there is the obvious way to go if one's goal is to neutralize Christian opposition to the out of control Leviathan.

Two obvious fissures exist in the Christian Church in America that can be exploited by shameless politicians eager to neutralize the Christian moral witness. First, the Roman Catholic Church, which is dangerous because of its size and hierarchical organization, has a liberal wing that regularly dissents from the hierarchy and is perfectly positioned to be used as dupes for Big Government. Second, the Evangelical-Catholic alliance, which has become so dangerous to Leviathan in recent years, is always inherently fragile. Witness the way that the pro-life movement is winning the moral argument and the political fight over abortion ever since the Catholics and Evangelicals got together and liberal Protestantism declined to insignificance.

Enter the contraception issue. Why is Obama so anxious to turn a referendum on Obamacare into a referendum on contraception? It is his administration's strategy to defend Obamacare and the march toward ever Bigger Government. How so? Evangelicals and Catholics, on the one hand, and liberal and mainstream Catholics, on the other, disagree on this issue. The Evangelical-Catholic alliance on abortion is so strong now that abortion is losing its value as a wedge issue for liberals (which is why they now accuse conservatives of using it as a wedge issue). So they need a new wedge issue to divide Christians from one another.

The liberal Catholics who support Obama are dupes. He is just using them and will toss them aside like so much excess baggage once they have served their purpose. If it were not for the fact that the Pope and the Bishops are a genuine threat to Obama's re-election, they would be under the bus already.

Evangelicals should be wary of this strategy and should remember who their true allies are. And, let it be said, it is past time for Evangelicals to re-think their support for the whole contraceptive mentality. What I am surprised is not being emphasized right now is that Evangelicals and Catholics are equally opposed to the "morning after pill" and other poisons that cause abortions. And the government is determined to make every Evangelical college and seminary in America pay for such abortion poisons. We Evangelicals have every bit as much at stake as Catholics do in this sort of fight if we are serious about being anti-abortion.

If Obama can peel off some Evangelical support from the Evangelical-Catholic alliance and then get liberal Catholics fighting his battles for him against the hierarchy, then he dilutes the voting impact of traditional Christian opposition to his pro-sexual revolution policies. But if we are on to his game, we can ensure that there is no daylight between our position and the Catholic one. After all, this is not really about contraception; it is about religious liberty and limited government.

Monday, February 13, 2012

You Will Be Sexually "Liberated" or Else!

George Weigel cuts through the distractions and gets to the nub of the issue at stake between the Obama administration and the Christian Church in a piece entitled "The Libertine Police State."

Weigel recounts a story told to him by a Vatican official who attended one of the UN meetings leading up to the 1994 Cairo World Conference on Population and Development and then makes some trenchant comments:
But it was in the INGO meeting that things really got down and dirty — and clarifying. There, as the Senior Vatican Official told the story, a somewhat scruffy Dutch activist got up and announced to all and sundry, “Let’s stop fooling around here. What we’re talking about is our right to f*** whoever we want, however we want, whenever we want.”

The Dutchman’s formulation may have lacked elegance, but it certainly didn’t lack precision. For that was precisely what was at issue 18 years ago, and it is precisely what is at issue today: Will the sexual revolution, which reduced sex to a recreational activity of no moral consequence, be protected, advanced, and indeed mandated by the coercive powers of the modern state?

There is irony in the fire here, of course. What began as a movement to liberate sexuality from the constraints of moral reason, custom, and law has become a movement determined to use the instruments of law to impose its deconstruction of human sexuality and its moral relativism on all of society. That is what drives those who urged the Obama administration to issue its “contraceptive” mandate, which is of course an abortifacient and sterilization mandate. That is what drives those who loosed the furies (including such viragos as Senator Barbara Boxer) on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, which had had the temerity to suggest that Planned Parenthood actually provide the mammograms Komen’s grants were paying for. It’s all about Leviathan as enforcer of the sexual revolution.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that — from Catholic bishops to upper-class foundation executives with previously immaculate reputations — is going to get rolled over by Leviathan. For Leviathan cannot be met at some mythical 50-yard line of “accommodation.” Leviathan can only be beaten.

If we do not understand what is going on we will be steamrolled by those who would rather be controlled by their appetites and lose their freedom rather than practice self-control and live as dignified, free, human beings.

Three Observations:

1. All the talk about over-population is just a smokescreen designed to deflect attention away from the real agenda. The world faces a population crisis all right; we are going to witness a devastating decline in population in the second half of the 21st century.

2. Tolerance is a sham. The Libertines never wanted tolerance; they wanted to impose their lifestyle on everyone else. The State is just as intolerant and heavy-handed in enforcing the New Morality as it was in enforcing the old one. Cecile Richards should wear jackboots.

3. The Left is the unrelenting aggressor in the culture war. With all the problems facing America, Obama is preoccupied with sex. To listen to Rachel Maddow, you would swear that contraception must be illegal and unavailable in America. It is hilarious that people listen to her talk about the Republican "war on contraception" in a country where universities hand out condoms like Halloween candy! Will they ever be satisfied? Will they ever give up pushing the sexual revolutionary ideology into every nook and cranny of life? Weigel is right. They are totalitarians and they can only be stopped by force. Compromise is just delaying the next round of the war. Fortunately, American can still vote and we can only pray that the next election offers them a real choice.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Good for Rick Warren!

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren tweets:

I’m not a Catholic but I stand in 100% solidarity with my brothers & sisters to practice their belief against govt pressure


I’d go to jail rather than cave in to a govement mandate that violates what God commands us to do. Would you? Acts 5:29

Warren delivered the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration.

via Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review Online

Freedom of Religion versus Freedom of Worship

Which do you believe in? Did you know there was a difference?

The Obama administration has been seeking for some time now to redefine religious freedom down to mere freedom of worship. This distinction is between having the freedom to worship as you please with worship meaning specifically religious ceremonies held in designated buildings consecrated for that purpose led by professional clergy. But anything outside that context is fair game for the government to regulate to death as the ruling class sees fit.

So the following kinds of organizations and institutions may no longer defined as religious: hospitals, Christian schools, summer camps, pregnancy help centers, campus groups such as IVP, inner city ministries, Bible colleges, liberal arts colleges, seminaries, universities, think tanks, counseling centers, community centers, publishing companies, prison ministries, community-based youth groups etc. Christians do a lot of ministry outside the local church itself and have always had the freedom to hire Christians only, have distinctively Christian policies and allow Christian morality to shape practices. All this is threatened as the net of secularism tightens.

Freedom of worship narrowly defined is what the Soviet Union had in its constitution. But it was defined so narrowly that even parents taking their own children to Sunday School was forbidden.

How wide or narrow the definition of religious freedom is allowed to be is a measure of how free a country is. Religious freedom should be defined in the widest way possible. The narrowing of religious freedom to mere freedom to worship is heavy-handed and totalitarian. It must be resisted by the Church at the earliest stages because, like cancer, the further it progresses the harder it is to stop and the more traumatic it is for the body politic to reverse.

The Obama administration is at war with the Christian Church because it wants to replace Christianity with the Church of Secularism as the civil religion of the American people.

This is an attempt to roll back the clock and pretend that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ never happened. It is an attempt to return to pre-Christian paganism. But it is doomed to fail because the cosmos has been shaken and altered by the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ who rule at the right hand of the Father. The kingdoms of this world are destined to become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ.

Let the Secularists rage, the Jihadists roar and the United Nations plot the advance of the culture of death. They have already been defeated - all of them.
"The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Annointed saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds then in derision. (Psalm 2:2-4)

Evangelicals Speak Up for Religious Liberty

Well, it took a while for the Evangelicals to show up to support the Catholics on the religious liberty fight over contraception and abortion pill issue, but at least they brought their big guns.

Here is an open letter from Charles Colson and Timothy George calling Evangelicals to stand up to the Obama administration's attempts to restrict religious freedom.

Even liberal Catholics like E. J. Dionne and the Jesuit magazine America are up in arms. (When Obama has lost E.J. and the Jesuits, you know the end is near.) But the Evangelical Left is silent. Where is Sojourners? Where is Tony Campolo? Where is Brian McLaren? Silent. Complicit. Accommodated. Sold out. Irrelevant.

Meanwhile on the front lines:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As you probably know by now, Obama Administration has refused to grant religious organizations an exemption from purchasing health insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs, surgical sterilization, and contraception.

The Catholic bishops in America have responded quickly, decrying the Administration's decision for what it is—an egregious, dangerous violation of religious liberty—and mobilizing a vast grassroots movement to persuade the Administration to reverse its decision.

We evangelicals must stand unequivocally with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. Because when the government violates the religious liberty of one group, it threatens the religious liberty of all.

Many bishops have already declared that they will not obey this unjust law. The penalty for such a move would be severe. Catholic hospitals, universities, and other organizations would be forced to pay punitive fines ($2,000 per employee) for refusing to purchase insurance that violates the teaching of their church.

For some institutions, it would spell the end of their existence—and their far-reaching service to the public and the needy.

But Catholic institutions aren't the only ones affected by this mandate. Prison Fellowship, for example, which employs 180 people, could not purchase insurance for its employees that covers abortifacients. Nor could the world's largest Christian outreach to prisoners and their families afford the fines we would incur.

Three years ago, when we co-authored the Manhattan Declaration, we predicted that the time would come when Christians would have to face the very real prospect of civil disobedience—that we would have to choose sides: God or Caesar.

Certainly for the Catholics and for many of us evangelicals, that time is already upon us.

We would urge you, therefore, to raise your voice against this unjust mandate that violates our first freedom as Americans. First, please sign the petition to President Obama prepared by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which we have posted at the Manhattan Declaration site, demanding that the President extend exemptions from this onerous mandate to all religious employers.

Second, write to your representative and your senators in Congress.

Third, sign the Manhattan Declaration. Join with 500,000 people who have committed to "fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."

Fourth, pray. Pray that God would soften the hearts and minds of the president and the leaders within his administration so that they would reverse course.

We do not exaggerate when we say that this is the greatest threat to religious freedom in our lifetime. We cannot help but think of the words attributed to German pastor Martin Niemoeller, reflecting on the Nazi terror:

First they came for the Socialists, and I
did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was
no one left to speak for me.

In Christ,
Chuck Colson
Timothy George

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This Election is about Morality and God: Everything Else is Details

Well, blogging is still light around here because I'm deep in the fourth century but before I dive back into Athanasius' smackdown of Arian exegesis again, I just checked what is going on in the 21st century and, oh what a night for Rick!

All over America millions of people are saying something like this to each other: "The only thing I ever had against Santorum is that I never thought everybody else would vote for him."

Exactly. That is what you were programed to think by your media manipulators. Romney is inevitable. Romney is the choice of all the smart people in the Republican establishment. Santorum is a nobody. He belongs to some creepy cult called Roman Catholicism whereas Romney is a fine, upstanding, mainstream Mormon.

Enough. This is not a beauty pagent. More than any other election I can remember in my lifetime it is an election of big ideas. Here are a couple of comments I noted well from the Big Government website this morning. Big Government leans libertarian not social conservative, so they are all the more significant for that.

First, from Joel B. Pollack:
Santorum’s (belated) victory in the Iowa caucuses owed much to his campaign’s explicit appeals to evangelical voters on social issues. Yet even voters who disagree with him on those issues may be attracted by the fact that he has a set of values that he is not willing to sacrifice under any circumstances. After a year of frustrating compromises in Congress–for both sides–Santorum’s strong stances on social issues may be a plus. . . .

The church is an imperfect guardian of individual liberty, but Obama’s expansive state is liberty’s clear enemy. That is why 2012 could see a social conservative revival after all.
Secondly, from Charles C. Johnson:

But Santorum understands something that few of the other candidates can put into words: that the power to mandate is the power to compel and compulsion must be grounded on something higher than the mere will of the sovereign. This is a very effective argument against Barack Obama, but it it also a very effective one against Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who also supported the Wall Street bailouts, cap and trade (taxing breathing) and of course, the individual mandate in health insurance. Both Gingrich and Romney are essentially progressives in their view that there is nothing government mustn’t do.

Santorum is totally correct when he says that government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take everything away or to force you to accept their “gifts” on their terms. We got a vision of what an Obamacare regime will look like this week when the Obama administration forced Catholic universities, hospitals and other church-affiliated employers to implement a new policy that requires health insurers to offer birth control coverage. For Catholics and many Americans who rightly argue that life begins at conception, forcing their institutions to provide the morning after-pill is tantamount to forcing them to countenance abortion.

The truth has always been that the left were the aggressors in the culture wars and this week they dug their trenches and prepared their assault on three key issues: homosexuals, the murder of the unborn, and compulsory subsidizing of birth control. Each of these issues is tied to the freedom of conscience and each of these issues is a battleground that the left has chosen. Suddenly the pushy Catholic, as the left would describe Santorum, doesn’t seem so pushy when the Catholics get pushed around. So much for if you like your health plan you can keep it. The fine print was apparently: you can only keep your health plan if we like it. Oh, and if you are a charity that doesn’t want to fund our left-wing causes, we will hack your websites, destroy your reputation, and threaten your employees.

(My bolding) The two sentences I have bolded represent the crux of this election. Do Americans still believe, as the Founders did, that ultimately morality and law must be based on something higher than the will of the sovereign (or the people)? Not all the Founders were orthodox Christians, but this was something they nevertheless believed to a man. There is an objective order of right and wrong in this universe and our job is to try to measure up to it, not redefine it.

Sometimes we fail and sometimes we don't even try. But the objective standard remains the same. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Etc.

A country that has a standard it fails to live up to, like an individual, can always repent. So there is always hope. But when you deny the standard, re-define it, assume the role of God, what comes next? Solzhenitsyn talked about this in his Harvard commencement address, "A World Split Apart." He criticized the failure of the tyrannical Soviet Union as rooted in the tragedy that: "Men forgot God." But he scandalized the leftist intelligentsia of America by telling them to their faces that unless they remember God they face the same fate.

Social conservatism cannot, as Mitch Daniels suggested, be cordoned off and ignored while the real business of economics is taken care of by the government. Why? Because the basic economic problem in America is whether government should be limited or unlimited. And the answer to that question depends on whether or not we believe that God exists.

To put it bluntly, God limits government and that has always been the secret of the West's greatness. And when the West forgets God - it will fall too.


If you want to watch Rick Santorum's victory speech last night, click here. It is about 14 minutes and the best part, if you are short on time, is the second half, especially the closing. He talks about "honour" for heaven's sake! Honour! In the modern world. No irony. And it is credible. Honestly, conservatives have waiting for another Reagan since 1988. Could this finally be what they have been waiting for?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Germany's Top Environmentalist Denounces the Global Warming Scam

Hmm. . . I wonder why this has not been front-page news in the left-wing media in North America. Die Zeit reports that:

Fritz Vahrenholt, one of the fathers of Germany's environmental movement, no longer trusts the forecasts of the IPCC. Doubt came two years ago when he was an expert reviewer of an IPCC report on renewable energy. "I discovered numerous errors and asked myself if the other IPCC reports on climate change were similarly sloppy. I couldn’t take it any more. I had to write this book.”

He has written a book to expose the sloppy science of the IPCC.

Undeniably there’s a feeling that the stars are now aligned, the mood has swung, and key players are changing their minds. As FOCUS reports, even the most die-hard of warmists are converting, or at least softening their tones. Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt, a renewable energy expert, was once one of the fathers of the modern green movement in Germany and believed everything the IPCC preached – until 2 years ago. FOCUS writes:

"Fritz Vahrenholt, one of the fathers of the green movement, no longer trusts the forecasts of the IPCC.”

and FOCUS tells us why, quoting Vahrenholt:

Doubt came two years ago when he was an expert reviewer of an IPCC report on renewable energy. ‘I discovered numerous errors and asked myself if the other IPCC reports on climate were similarly sloppy.”

In his book he explains how he dug into the IPCC climate report and was horrified by what he had found. Then add the 10 years of stagnant temperatures, failed predictions, Climategate e-mails, and discussions he had with dozens of other skeptical elite scientists. That was more than enough. FOCUS quotes:

"I couldn’t take it any more. I had to write this book.”

Malthusian disaster-prediction has been going on for 50 years now. First it was the population explosion. Then it was global cooling. Then it was global warming. Now they talk about "climate change" which is so vague it could be anything. The science is not the point. The point is the UN gaining power to tax every country in the world, a massive transfer of wealth from the industrialized West to the Third world and global socialism. Now that makes the blood run cold.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Obama Twists Scripture to Support His Liberal Works Righteousness Theology

Obama's shameless campaigning was not his most serious lapse in judgment at the National Prayer Breakfast. He twisted Scripture in order to pretend that his socialist policies have something to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Laura McInnis, "Jesus's Teaching Inform My Economic Policy, Obama Says" (National Post)
- she reports on Obama's words at the National Prayer Breakfast where he says his liberal Protestant theology guides his actions as president (Is the ACLU listening?)

Money Quote:
U.S. President Barack Obama sought to emphasize his Christian faith on Thursday, telling a key election-year voting bloc that he prays every morning and has crafted elements of his economic policies in line with Jesus’ teachings.

Obama, who rarely goes to church and speaks far less about his religion than his White House predecessors, told about 3,000 people at a National Prayer Breakfast that the challenges facing the United States required him to listen to God, avoid “phony religiosity,” and pursue “bold action” in the face of resistance or indifference.

“I wake up each morning and I say a brief prayer, and I spend a little time in scripture and devotion,” Obama told the annual gathering at a Washington hotel, also saying that pastors periodically stop by the Oval Office, phone him and send emails so they can pray together.

“I don’t stop there. I’d be remiss if I stopped there, if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends,” he said. “I must try to make sure that those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.”

Tina Korbe, "Biblical Principles Prompted Me to Push for Dodd-Frank and Obamacare" (Hot Air) - she gives Obama a little lesson in exegesis

Money Quote:

"Obama maintained that his call for the wealthiest to give up their tax breaks, he’s doing so out of economic necessity, but also in line with biblical teachings.

“And I think to myself, if I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense. But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,’” Obama said, noting Jewish and Islamic teachings say much the same thing.

It surprises me to encounter the president using this tactic. In the first place, the specific example he cites above is misapplied. When the president establishes a policy direction — and Congress follows it — his decisions don’t just affect him. When he promotes increased taxation of “the rich,” he’s not merely giving up his own tax breaks as he implies — he’s also suggesting the government should be able to force others to pay more in taxes, as well. That’s just obvious — and to say otherwise actually makes the president look more confused than anything. Here, we seem to have an out-of-water Obama who wants very desperately to pander but doesn’t quite know how."

Breanne Howe, "Give Me Your Money in the Name of Jesus" (Red State)
- she continues with the exegesis lesson and makes the important point that Obama's liberal works righteousness theology is more like Islam than Biblical Christianity

Money Quote:
"While Obama may have been correct in saying that government mandated, shared responsibility is equal to the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, he is incorrect to group in Jesus’ teaching, “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” Aside from the fact that Jesus was discussing requirements from God, not the government, he was actually teaching his disciples that they were stewards of God’s gift of Revelation. Their requirement was to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s the crux of Christianity that Obama seems to miss. Jesus came because we are imperfect. We could never fulfill all the requirements that the pharisees loved to lord over the people. Jesus’ coming ended the rule of law and the began the acceptance that our only way to God was through Him. Yes, Jesus very much emphasized the importance of giving to the poor, but as a reaction in joy to what we’ve been given; not because of a law. Giving out of obligation is not truly giving, it’s merely following the rules."

What is most troubling is the statement that the Christian Gospel is the same as the teachings of Islam and Judaism on good works. This shows that he is a liberal Protestant in the sense of being apostate, not in the relative sense of being "to the left" of someone else. His idea of the Gospel seems to be that we should all do good works and love each other and that if we do then we are Christians.