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8.30.2005    |    Pluralism with a capital "P"
There is a fascinating, and lengthy, article in today's Washington Post on the state of the chaplaincy in today's military. As strange as it sounds, the Post's article is actually rather un-(Dan) Rather-like; it tends towards the "fair and balanced." Tends towards, with the singular exception of its palpable hostility to evangelicals.

Back in the day, military chaplains were all called "Padre", even the Jewish rabbis. Chaplains came in only three basic flavors: Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant, even though some "Protestants" were closet Catholics (you know who we mean...). Their role was to bring comfort and preside over religious services. They served, to a certain extent, in loco parentis for young men who might not have traveled more than ten miles from where they were born up until the time they joined the military. It was all very vanilla and unthreatening, except perhaps for atheists. But they're going to hell, anyway... Sorry, just my feeble attempt at humor.

Today, we are informed by the Post that chaplains come in a dizzying variety of denominations. There are the usual suspects, of course. Mostly Catholic and Southern Baptist, but also all sorts of mainline Protestant and evangelical denominations, along with Muslim chaplains. Just like America, in other words.

The problem, according to the Post story, lies, surprise, surprise, with evangelicals. We just have this nasty habit of trying to save everyone. The problem is especially bad, according to the Posties, with the Air Force, which has allegedly fostered an air of intolerance, especially at the Air Force Academy (hey, it's in the very bleeding epicenter of major evangelical operations, there in Colorado Springs).

I do not know the extent to which evangelicals in the Air Force, or other military services, have been intolerant of those who profess other faiths. What I do know is that many in the Church of the Fluffy Bunny™ appear to consider Matthew 28:19 as optional for Christians. From the Post article:
Whether there should be any tacit limits on chaplains' free speech has also been an issue at the Air Force Academy. A team of observers from Yale Divinity School criticized one of the academy's ministers for urging Protestant cadets to tell their classmates that anyone who is "not born-again will burn in the fires of hell."
Well, if that's what we believe, how would we be loving our neighbor if we don't tell them? You may not believe that those who do not accept Christ as Lord and Savior will burn. Fine. But if you do, and you profess to be a Christian, it is your duty to share the good news. You do your non-Christian friends and colleagues no favors by shutting your trap about something, frankly, much more important than the United States Air Force.

As a sample of what one evangelical has gone through, read, in the Post, about Rev. Gordon James Klingenschmitt and his travails with the Navy. Rev. Klingenschmitt summarizes the situation nicely:
Klingenschmitt has accused the Navy of religious discrimination, contending in a written complaint to his superiors that he was punished because he refused to practice a "government-sanitized" faith that he calls "Pluralism," with a capital P.
Well, Reverand, I'll bet you did. I'll bet you upped and believed that we only go to the Father through His Son. I'll bet you may even believe that it is your Christian duty to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

I'll just bet, Rev. Klingenschmitt, that you believe that Jesus outranks even a four-star Navy admiral. Any takers on those bets?

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8.29.2005    |    Legal but not moral
The liberal media will be unceasing in its attempts to paint abortion, the killing of a human being, as something that should be an unfettered right under U.S. law. The sense one gets from reading much of the mainstream media is that women have an absolute right to "privacy", hence, to abortion. And that anything that even remotely hinders the ability of a woman to kill her fetus, on demand, on the spot, is met with shrieks from the anti-life crowd, who treat unborn human beings on the same moral level as unwanted facial hair.

Today's front page story in the Washington Post is a case in point. Its headline: "Access to Abortion Pared at State Level." In plain English, what appears to be happening is that the people in many states are waking up to realize that unborn humans are not the same as unwanted facial hair. The process is slow, halting, and is being fought, tooth and nail, by the life-haters. Even such an obvious measure as parental notification should a minor child wish to get an abortion is fought as being, somehow, a violation of that child's privacy. What about the right of the child's child to be born?

Some of the measures that the life-haters fight give away the moral vacuity of their position. One example is the fight against parental notification. There's a list of scary state laws (to the life-haters, at least) that have been passed recently in the various states. Included among them is a law passed in Indiana that would give women an opportunity to view an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion. This seems like something that the life-haters would really fight against -- an ultrasound appears to show just how "baby-like" unborn babies actually are. See, for example, this article from Focus on the Family on the subject, complete with a telling picture. Who would've suspected? Well, God did, since that's how He made us.

The life-haters who write for the Washington Post are clearly perturbed by this spreading contagion of restrictions on the killing of the unborn. From the story, this extract summarizes the über-fear, that their false idol of Roe v. Wade may not stand:
In most cases, the antiabortion forces have prevailed, adding restrictions on when and where women can get contraceptive services and abortions, and how physicians provide them.

Antiabortion activists say they have pursued a two-pronged approach that aimed to reduce the number of abortions immediately through new restrictions and build a foundation of lower court cases designed to get the high court to eventually reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision making the procedure legal.
Well, "antiabortion activists" certainly would like to overturn the fatally flawed Roe v. Wade; certainly fatal to millions of unborn humans. Which highlights the essential difference between them and us. "Them" being those to whom some conjured "right to privacy" trumps our right to life. Roe v. Wade may be "the law of the land", as the saying goes. Law it may be; moral it is not.

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8.27.2005    |    String theory
No, not that string theory, which only purports to give us a glimpse at God's underlying laws of physics. Rather, the puppet on a string theory of mankind.

What, the free will folks cry, we are all given free will by God, are we not? Yes, and no. God's revelation to us of His Son should have been the convincing event; the one thing that should convince us that our vaunted free will in no ways will be sufficient to stand when God wills otherwise.

Consider the dialogue in John 19, verses 10-11, between Jesus and Pilate, just before Pilate hands the Lord over for crucifixion:
10 So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."
There's that pesky reminder of Who is always in charge. Not the Jews. Not their Roman overlords. God. The betrayal of Jesus, his mock trial before Pilate, the Jews screaming for his death, all had to happen. Judas had no free will. Pilate had no free will. The crowd, the Roman centurions, had no free will in this matter.

Does this mean that we are all mere puppets on a string, and therefore we need not worry about sin? Not at all. Just the opposite, in fact; we are to use our free will to avoid sin as much as possible. But we're all sinners, no matter how much we worry about sin. We all have sinned, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is none without this stain, except Jesus. The rest of us, as it pleased God then, and as it pleases Him now, will do what He needs us to do to reveal to us His eternal truths.

Was Judas a greater sinner than you or I? Likely so, insofar as God had determined, from before time, that the man Judas would not be saved, and hence was a worthy candidate for great sin. Likewise Pilate; likewise the mob; likewise (most of) the Romans who crucified our Lord. But they were merely God's agents, as we are now. God made it happen, to fulfill His promises of a savior from the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-5).

The fact is that God's sacrifice of His only Son was preordained and arranged by God to reveal more of His glory to us. The fact is that all of mankind are sinners. The fact is therefore that there must never be any hatred applied to any of the actors in our Lord's Passion. The Jews, the Romans, Judas, Pilate -- they did what God had them do. In this matter they were not free agents, but puppets on a string.

To hate them is to make the grave error that our free will is, somehow, stronger than God's sovereign will.

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8.25.2005    |    Apologists for terror
A brief segment this morning on Fox Network News had someone from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations; which is a terrorist-related organization so I will not link to them) whining how fired radio talk show host Michael Graham had committed a heinous crime. Mr. Graham's crime was telling an unpleasant truth about Islam: it is a terrorist organization. According to the CAIR flak, Graham was simply spouting "hate speech."

This is fairly typical. When someone spouts an unpleasant truth, or, perhaps, an exaggeration for emphasis, there is not an engagement on the merits. No. There is simply the reflexive charge of "hate speech."

This kind of response is as old as humanity -- if the facts are not on your side, attack your opponent. The facts are very much not on the side of Islam's soothing image as a "religion of peace." Islam has been on a bloody march since the day of its founding, pressing itself through conquest, not by faith, but by the sword.

Bill O'Reilly had Michael Graham on his show last night, with the somewhat misleading title, "Radio Talk Show Host Fired For Speaking Poorly Of Muslims." Not exactly. He was fired for talking poorly about their religion. From the show, we have Graham giving a little perspective:
I cannot apologize for the truth. The truth about the condition of Islam today is tragic. I wasn't celebrating it or gloating about it. It's a - I feel so sorry for Muslims to challenge them in front of them. But I will not retract the truth.
The truth is that a substantial minority of Muslims believe that killing infidels is just fine. The truth is that an overwhelming majority are not taking necessary actions to reform their faith and declare their own jihad against those who have, it is alleged, "hijacked" their faith.

Getting back to the CAIR flak, he noted that if a talk-show host had said something similar about Jews or Christians, he'd have been fired on the spot. Indeed, that is probably the case. But there's a substantial difference: neither Judaism nor Christianity harbors and excuses terrorists. Neither the Hebrew Scriptures, nor the New Testament, condone, let alone require, the killing by Jews or Christians of those who do not submit to God as they understand Him. Islam's holy book does exactly this. We Christians, though we've sinned on this greatly in the past, leave judgment exactly where it is meant to reside -- at the hand of the Almighty.

No one ever said that the truth is pretty. Often it is ugly, and demands to be acted on. Michael Graham is but the latest casualty of our society's inability to cope with the truth.

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8.23.2005    |    "Our department doesn't do that kind of thing"
The quotation is from Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense. "That kind of thing" is assassinate a socialist dictator, Hugo ("I wanna be just like Fidel") Chavez, "elected" president of Venezuela. Who would advocate such a thing? None other than Pat Robertson. From the story in the Washington Post:
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on his Christian Broadcasting Network.
Yes, Pat, we do have that ability. And Chavez is surely top of a long list of men (and women) that the world would be far better off without. For Pat, all I can say is, Exodus 20:13. Let the Lord judge Hugo Chavez. You are not in a position to.

Once again, Christian evangelicals will pay the price for a foolish remark by one of their own. Let us be clear: what Mr. Robertson advocates is not what a God-fearing man would do. Pat, you are not the angel of death. You are a sinner, just like me, just like Hugo Chavez. I will pray for you, Pat, as I will for Hugo, that he have a change of heart and become a wise and just leader -- not just another oil-rich thug.

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8.21.2005    |    "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls"
This wisdom is from Proverbs chapter 24:
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.
Verse 18 is, or should be, a reminder of why we should not rejoice over a fallen enemy -- because it was not through our own merits that we were able to bring about his defeat.

Scripture is strewn throughout with the consequences to Israel when she turns her back on God, who then sends some group of pagans to serve as a holy two-by-four upside the head of backsliding Israel. There are also examples of Israel's forces moving in triumph and winning great victories with armies that should have been destroyed by enemies. Destroyed by forces, that, on paper (papyrus?) looked to be much tougher and larger. Looked to be. But, without God, were doomed to fall.

In the Bible, Israel's enemies were simply doing God's work by losing; demonstrating to the Israelites and, hopefully, to us, that in both victory and defeat, with God, you win. Without Him, you lose. Big time. Just ask all of the Hebrews who wrote home from Babylon.

The relevance for today? A moving column by Elie Wiesel on the unseemly celebration by Palestinians on the forced removal of Jews from Gaza. The Palestinians celebrate something that they, on their own merits, could not bring about. Like any schoolyard bully who is too cowardly to stand and fight, but won't shy from taking credit.

Mr. Wiesel, more in sadness than anger, writes
In the tradition I claim, the Jew is ordered by King Solomon "not to rejoice when the enemy falls." I don't know whether the Koran suggests the same.
He, of course, is referring to a different translation of Proberbs 24:17, and the fact that the Book of Proverbs is (generally) attributed to King Solomon. What I would add is that any Christian must also include Proverbs in their tradition; we are all sons and daughters of Abraham, and inheritors of God's revealed truths. Truths revealed first to the Jews, then to all the nations.

An open question remains: on which, if any side, is God to be found in the Gaza pullout? I do not have a pat answer, although I could simply recite the verses in Genesis 17:8 in which Gaza was included in the land promised to Abraham. And we know that this promise is carried through the heirs of the as-yet unborn Isaac, rather than Ishmael, due to God's followup with Isaac's descendant Moses in Exodus Exodus 3:8. In the fullness of God's time, it may be that some latter-day Israel will take "all the land of Canaan" as its true inheritance. For now, we, Jews and Christians, must wait for God to fully reveal His plans.

Also for now, the Palestinians show themselves to be a graceless people -- even should their cause be a righteous one. Which their churlish behavior casts grave doubts upon.

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8.20.2005    |    The Incredible Lightness of the Unchurch
One of my pet peeves has been those success-oriented pastors and pundits who use God's church as a pulpit for boosterism. They include the late Norman Vincent Peale, and Robert Schuller. I've nothing against success, of course; it is far better than being a failure. Or is it? My sense is that earthly riches may as well a curse as a blessing be when it comes to our salvation.

When it comes to the Gospel message, it is crystal clear that the "Crystal Cathedral" would be as foreign to our Lord during His lifetime as a Hindu temple. His Gospel is about the wretched, the poor in spirit. Not to the exclusion of the successful, mind you, but not at all focusing on them -- just the opposite (e.g. Matthew 19:21). Jesus tells us, in His preaching, that the wealthy in material things already have their reward. As our liberal brethren are quick to remind us, Jesus was first for the poor and the wretched.

A better word for what the success-oriented "positive thinkers" do is to pander to the dreams we all have of material success. They preach that spiritual success will lead to monetary success. They may not say it in those precise words, and perhaps I'm being a little harsh on Dr. Schuller (but not on Peale). But, with their exalted trappings, suitable for princes of this world, it is hard to separate the message of the Lamb of God from Mammon.

The January 31, 2005 Washington Post offers a front page story of another of this type -- one Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church Central in Houston, Texas. His appears to be an updated, modern, professionally produced production, whose purpose appears to be, from Lakewood's "About Us" page,
...serving and helping every person, regardless of background and economic status, to achieve their fullest potential.
From the Post's story, we get a little more of the flavor of this mega church:
"Joel is doing it better than most," said William Martin, a sociology professor and religion expert at Rice University. "He is purposely seeking to lower the barriers that keep people from going to church. They don't know the hymns; they don't have to learn the creed. It's all there for them."

Detractors criticize the style as "Christian-lite" -- all show and platitudes and no theological depth. Osteen's older brother Paul, a surgeon who left his practice to help the church, differs. "There is a disconnect between religion and what people need," he said, calling some sermons in traditional churches impenetrable, "almost goofy."

"What people want is an unchurch," Paul Osteen said. "They don't want pressure. Joel makes faith practical and relevant."
Of course. People don't want pressure. Modern folks want to feel good about themselves. The Gospel, and attempting to be His disciple...what downers! I can't stand the pressure...and therein lies my principal objection.

It is certainly not that these preachers don't mention Christ or preach that salvation must come through Him. It is that their path is the broad way, is strewn with flower petals, and is merely another tool to "achieve your potential" through a "practical and relevant" faith. This is, more or less, a feel good about yourself approach to salvation through that narrow gate.

Will it bring strangers to Christ? Perhaps, but will they have the staying power if reared on this kind of Christianity? Will they stand in the gap when it is cold and raining, when they are abandoned and destitute? I don't know, and I make no claims that my faith is any stronger than these new-age seekers who like the jazzy presentation of a megachurch like Lakewood. It's just that I know that it is when I have failed in the worldly things that my Savior is closest to me.

I'm of the old school -- No Cross; No Crown.

Note: this is one of my favorite posts; recycled from January 31, 2005.
Hey, even bloggers get time off during August...

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8.19.2005    |    "it argues for zealotry"
A different title might be, "The Mighty Priests in the Temple of Skience Have Spoken." No, that "skience" isn't a typo. It looks to be almost the same word, yet its sound is quite different. And it has no meaning. Which somewhat describes how some latter-day priests in the temple are behaving when one of their brethren commits the sin of exploring a thesis that veers from the current orthodoxy.

The unorthodox thesis is intelligent design, and the pariah is evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg, who, as a scientific editor, allowed the publication of a paper that attempted to promote intelligent design as a viable alternate to Darwinian theory.

Sternberg is paid by the National Institutes of Health, and was working within the Smithsonian Institution, when, pardon the phrase, all hell broke loose. The hell in question was brought down on Richard Sternberg because of his editorial decision to allow the exposure of an idea, intelligent design, that differed from the orthodox position of the academy. From the Washington Post's story, some details:
As editor of the hitherto obscure Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Sternberg decided to publish a paper making the case for "intelligent design," a controversial theory that holds that the machinery of life is so complex as to require the hand -- subtle or not -- of an intelligent creator.

Within hours of publication, senior scientists at the Smithsonian Institution -- which has helped fund and run the journal -- lashed out at Sternberg as a shoddy scientist and a closet Bible thumper.

Sternberg harbored his own doubts about Darwinian theory. He also acknowledged that this journal had not published such papers in the past and that he wanted to stir the scientific pot.

"I am not convinced by intelligent design but they have brought a lot of difficult questions to the fore," Sternberg said. "Science only moves forward on controversy."
Well, he's right about that. The problem is not with the merits of intelligent design. It is with the total unwillingness of members of the so-called scientific community to even admit that there might be a different theory of how we came to be human. This is nothing more than intellectual hubris, to which some of these "scientists" add social elitism. From the Post:
A senior Smithsonian scientist wrote in an e-mail: "We are evolutionary biologists and I am sorry to see us made into the laughing stock of the world, even if this kind of rubbish sells well in backwoods USA."
Here in "backwoods USA", a/k/a Jesusland, some of us believe things that may not be shared by our intellectual betters at the Smithsonian. One of those things is that any theory must rise, or fall, strictly on its objective merits.

It is for this reason that I am not a young earth creationist, if by this we mean someone who believes that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago -- complete with fossil records and geologic strata which our proven science can date to many millions of years ago. Yes, yes, God may be testing our faith. But this projects onto He Who Is our own petty ways; a kind of cosmic "gotcha". I am here to tell you that it is not important whether the earth was created 6,000 or 12 billion years ago. It changes not one iota of what faith should be about -- belief in God as our creator, and knowledge that He sent Himself, in the person of His Son, to live, suffer, and die among us and for our sins. And to be raised again after death.

Getting back to those who prefer to not expose themselves to different ideas, consider this (also from the Post):
Scott, of the NCSE, insisted that Smithsonian scientists had no choice but to explore Sternberg's religious beliefs. "They don't care if you are religious, but they do care a lot if you are a creationist," Scott said. "Sternberg denies it, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it argues for zealotry."
I think we all now know who the real zealots are at the Smithsonian. They are those who deny that God exists and might, just might, have had a small part in creating us.

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8.18.2005    |    A little Gospel
Confession: I'm a conservative Republican in my political philosophy. In fact, our Republican Party is, if anything, not conservative enough for my liking. "Conservative", for me, meaning that which best nurtures that which is pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Christ in the public square.

Therefore, I have viewed politics as doing God's work in the here and now. It is for certain that this world would be a beter place if more of us were saved, or at least acted as though that was the case. However, every once and again, we all need to take a deep breath, and try to remember what is truly important; what will still be around in 1,000 years when the name of the current politicians will, for the most part, be dust, as will they.

Case in point is the recent Justice Sunday II, which a guy like me should just love. The problem is that it all comes across as too much politickin' and not nearly enough Gospel. Yes, I realize that Justice Sunday wasn't really about the Gospel; it wasn't about Christ. Yet, judging from how it was pitched, and who participated, it's a fair assumption that the target audience was pretty much supposed to be evangelical Christians.

Justice Sunday is about getting men like John Roberts a fair confirmation hearing. I agree that this is a good thing, and important in its own right. But. It is not the Gospel. It is not about the cross that saves. It is not about forever being chosen to be in God's kingdom. Therefore, it's importance dims; fades to nothing in the brilliant light of the Gospel.

So, here is some unsolicited advice to so-called Godbloggers or Christian bloggers out there who also, like me, dabble in politics and think it important: take a deep breath; remember Who brought you to this dance called life.

And, most of all, remember Who is going to take you Home.

And, now, because I just can't help reminding myself of Who is also in charge, a little Gospel, from my namesake John, chapter 6:
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
May we all be with Christ, and be among His sheep, on that last day.

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8.17.2005    |    "seemingly out of nowhere"
Interesting story, titled "A Moment of Grace" in today's New York Times, about the forgiveness shown by a victim of a senseless crime. The details are in the story, and its essence is that a woman who had been severely injured forgave her attacker, who begged for her forgiveness.

The woman forgave him, and her compassion had the effect of softening the prosecutor's heart, thereby resulting in a much-reduced sentence. Now we come to the secular media's lack of grace. From the Times story:
That is true. But Ms. Ruvolo's resolute compassion, coming seemingly out of nowhere, disarmed Mr. Spota [the prosecutor] and led to a far more satisfying result.

Many have assumed that Ms. Ruvolo's motivation is religious. But while we can estimate the size of her heart, we can't peer into it. Her impulse may have been entirely secular.
It is certainly possible that her impulse may have been secular. I personally doubt it; it is far more likely that the Holy Spirit was hard at work here, in both perpetrator and victim. It says more about the Times' writer, and the Times itself, when they attempt to leave us with the impression that this was "secular."

Possible. Not likely.

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8.16.2005    |    The missing ingredient
One of the habits of highly ineffective Christians* is to check in with a daily Scripture reading or devotional. It's "ineffective" because the "practical" man might say that this is time taken away from more "productive" pursuits, like making money or mowing the grass. Further, the skeptic reminds us, these readings usually remind us of truths we already know but have chosen to forget or, simply ignore. So why bother? Well, some of us, like me, need to be reminded. Constantly.

One of my highly ineffective habits is to read C.H. Spurgeon's Daily Dose. Today's entry in "Faith's Check Book" is especially pertinent to the today's churches: Uncover and Confess Sin, with attending verse Proverbs 28:13: He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

The essence of the message from C.H. Spurgeon is this:
Here is the way of mercy for a guilty and repenting sinner. He must cease from the habit of covering sin. This is attempted by falsehood, which denies sin; by hypocrisy, which conceals it; by boasting, which justifies it; and by loud profession, which tries to make amends for it.

The sinner's business is to confess and forsake. The two must go together.
Confess and forsake. This is where today's churches often fail. Their first, and sometimes last, virtue is "openness", or "acceptance", or, at best, "forgiveness". For the most part, none of them accompanied by the sinner's true confession, and, of equal import, forsaking his sin.

We all sin; it is our nature. Yet there are greater and lesser sins, and we need to be careful not to fall into the legalistic stand of counting all sins the same. If I cut someone off in traffic, that is a sin of pride -- my needs were more important than the needs of the one I cut off. But it is easily corrected, and, if I'm more thoughtful, doesn't happen again. For a while, at least.

But then there's the sin of murder, for example. I can request the offended party's forgiveness in a traffic situation, and, for the most part, receive it -- or pay a fine if caught by the police. No permanent damage, except, perhaps, to our egos. However, if I should murder someone, only God can provide restoration -- the person I've "offended" is not living. This sin is far more weighty than a traffic violation.

Even murder can be forgiven, if the sinner uncovers his sin, and truly repents -- i.e. forsakes it, forever. Our task today is to at least be able to recognize sin, and pay sinners the compliment of taking their sins seriously. And not just welcome the sinner with open arms, regardless of whether he confesses and forsakes his sin. Welcome, yes. But absent repentance, we need to remind the sinner of Jesus' message: unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:5)

* Intentional slam at the Clintonista cult figure, Stephen Covey, whose "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" was shoved down our throats by Clinton's political appointees. 7 Habits is a full-court scam, repackaging common sense into a multi, multi-million dollar consulting business.

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8.15.2005    |    Who would Jesus bomb?
Isn't this a cute little picture? Notice the happy, child-like Jesus, with a peace sign. The sign is part of a self-righteous vignette, spun by so-called Christian pacifists who encountered our Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a trip from Canada back to the United States.

The spinner is associated with the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Thomas Merton was a serious if flawed Christian pacifist. These folks, if this is typical of their thought, are simply self-righteous prigs who simply can't comprehend how a Christian (or anyone else, for that matter) could possibly think that Jesus was also about doing justice in this world.

Jesus was not a pacifist. He was a non-resister when it came to fulfilling His Father's will that Jesus die on the cross for our sins. He also told us to love our enemies, which is not the same thing as giving evil men free reign to kill the innocent. When He needed to, Jesus was all about anger and, yes, violence - for instance when it came to cleansing His Father's house.

Now, just because some at the Merton Center are self-righteous and self-centered children does not mean that we should assume that the Lord backs our wars. The question that must be answered is, "are we doing justice when we go to war?" Never a simple question.

As in most things in this life, answers to that question that fit on bumper stickers are not really answers. And, make no mistake, "who would Jesus bomb?" isn't really a question -- it's a rhetorical device whose answer is "Jesus would bomb no one, and you're not much of a Christian if you don't believe this."

The Merton Center's so-called pacifists appear to be of the opinion that Jesus would never endorse any war, regardless of the justice of the cause. This is tantamount to saying that our Lord, who has also promised a heinous death and hellfire to those who do not accept His cross, is some sort of namby-pamby metrosexual, sensitive-guy savior.

This may be a pacifist's understanding, but it smacks of some rather selective reading of Scripture -- as in tossing out almost the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures, most of Paul's writings, and, most certainly of all, Revelation. Christians don't have that luxury. We might prefer a pacifistic, vegetarian, metrosexual Jesus. But that's not the man who died on the cross for us.

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8.14.2005    |    Saved by the (church) bell?
A brief discussion with one of our deacons before Bible study this morning was a bit of an eye-opener. The subject was whether we have been saved. The deacon opined that those of us who were in church had, essentially by definition, been saved. And, this man being (sort of) a Five-Point Calvinist, once saved, always saved. In other words, by the fact that we attended our Baptist church, and, presumably, our Bible study group after services, we were good to go in the eyes of the Lord.

Not. Necessarily. True. Especially in light of today's lesson, which was a study of Romans 6. Sure, Romans 6 on its surface tells us that, now that we've become Christians,
22...you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Yet the overarching message is that sin is pervasive in our world and that we will be living in sin until we are brought before the throne of judgment.

In other words, as any with eyes to see will know, we who think we are saved sin mightily. Along with all the rest of humanity. It is a natural condition for all of Adam's children.

The difference for those of us in church? We can at least hope to have been chosen by God to be among those sent to Jesus for salvation. And, now that we are slaves to Christ Jesus, we at least will feel good and guilty about our sins. Which is a hefty improvement over our lives before Christ entered them.

I don't know if I'm saved; I hope I am; I will run my life as though I were. But I will never, ever, claim to have been saved because of a sacrament, a feeling, or church attendance, or any other man-made thing over which I have control.

It is up to God. Always has been. Always will be.

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8.13.2005    |    503-490
The "Evangelical" Lutheran Church in America narrowly missed the opportunity to spit in the eye of Scripture. Hence the scare quotes around "evangelical." According to this story in the ever-so-sympathetic Washington Post,
A national meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a proposal Friday that would have allowed gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy under certain conditions.

The measure would have affirmed the church ban on ordaining sexually active gays and lesbians, but would have allowed bishops and church districts called synods to seek an exception for a particular candidate - if that person was in a long-term relationship and met other restrictions.
The vote? 503-490 against; a near tie. Although a two-thirds majority would be required to overturn the current ban on openly gay clergy, it is striking that almost half of the delegates at an allegedly evangelical church would think to overturn Scripture and 2,000 years of church tradition.

But so-called mainline, liberal Protestant denominations have wandered so far afield from Scripture that the following statement from the Post story could be written without even a trace of irony:
All the proposals - the product of three years' work by a special church task force - were meant as a compromise that would satisfy both those who support gay clergy and those who regard gay sex as sinful. (emphasis added)
The road to hell is surely paved with compromises with sin. Oh, and those who "regard gay sex as sinful" must include any and all who adhere to sola scriptura. It is almost definitional for who is an evangelical Christian - we can argue for weeks and months about free will, and dispensationalism, and all of the other issues. But there can be no argument that an evangelical Protestant Christian must adhere to at least two principles: sola scriptura and sola fide. May I also suggest that those who accept these two, must, of necessity, also accept solus Christus and know that it is all soli Deo gloria.

In coming so close to rejecting Scripture by accepting sin, these ELCA Lutherans demonstrate that they have careened far, far from the righteous path set by their namesake.

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8.12.2005    |    "Latter-day Puritan"
Kenneth Woodward has a definitive rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal to the political correctness crowd that is trying to eliminate Indian-based sports team names and nicknames. These, the PC crowd thinks, are, somehow, demeaning.

I agree entirely with Mr. Woodward's thesis as regards the silliness of objecting to Indian-based names for teams. However, I must take issue with his designation of today's PC crowd as "latter-day Puritans." From his article:
European intellectuals have long complained of excessive moralism in American foreign policy, politics and attitudes toward sex--the lingering effect, as they see it, of our Puritan heritage. But if they want to spot the real Puritans among us, they should read our sports pages.

Moralistic sportswriters need to distinguish between Native American activists and paternalistic surrogates. In Cleveland, for example Mr. Saraceno's unnamed activists are primarily officials of the United Church of Christ, an ultra-liberal Protestant denomination that moved its national headquarters there from New York in 1990 and immediately began a campaign against the Indians and Chief Wahoo. As it happens, the church is the denominational descendent of the old New England Puritans, now committed to diversity and inclusion.
Woodward's error is in conflating "excessive moralism" with its polar oppostive today -- a near total absence of the true moralism of the Puritans -- faith in God Almighty and salvation through His Son's death on the cross. The Puritans are often, if not usually, depicted in the popular culture as bigoted fascists, who tried to establish a theocracy (e.g. "The Crucible"). Yes, the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony did attempt to have a New Jerusalem, John Winthrop's "city upon a hill" City on a hilland, more so than even their Anglican brethren in Virginia, who also had an established religion. But God was their beacon, and morality in service of God was far better than what it replaced -- morality in service of king and country. For the place and time, it was as good as it got.

The Puritans were far from perfect, as even the meanest of them would have known from Scripture (Romans 3:23). Yes, they did not take kindly to "heretics" such as Roger Williams, who founded the first Baptist church in America. Yet the Puritans attempted to run their version of Jerusalem in accord with their pure Christian faith.

The point is that unlike today's United Church of Christ they were not a dictatorship of political correctness, bowing to the winds of change. They stood for something, and, as one of their descendants in faith today, I claim there is far more about the Puritans' approach to governance to be kept than discarded. The single, notable exception, of course, being freedom of conscience.

Kenneth Woodward, of all people, should know better than to compare the moral midgets of the UCC with the pillars of faith who were the original Puritans.

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8.11.2005    |    "Vote Christian in 2008"
Rev. Jerry Falwell can't seem to win for losing. He's had to retract a mini-campaign of his in which the tagline is "Vote Christian in 2008." The retraction came as a result of the predictable eruption of indignation from, among others, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The Rev apparently means well, but, well, has a tin ear to the realities of politics in America in the 21st century.

Perhaps this is all of a piece for Falwell, to whom is attributed the infamous statement, "God doesn't hear the prayers of the Jews." Or, it could have been former president of the SBC Bailey Smith, but it is this sort of thing for which some of us Baptists are known for, and for which we forever seem to be apologizing to others for. And rightly so. This isn't just having a tin ear; this is ignoring God's revelation of Himself to Israel, a revelation that has yet to be fully unfolded. God does not break His promises to the Jewish nation, or to anyone else.

But "Vote Christian in 2008"? Anti-Semitic, which is the underlying reason why the ADL got into the fray to begin with? Not really. Rev. Falwell, or anyone else, who embraces this slogan is simply saying, in non-PC words, "vote your faith." Falwell's faith is Christianity; urging others to vote in ways informed by their faith is hardly anti- anything. It is pro-God, which might annoy atheists, but they're going to hell anyway...

All of this does not mean that Falwell, and far too many others who are called evangelical, are absolved for being pro-Israel but just a tad anti-Semitic. We love Israel, don't you see, because of the role the restored Jerusalem must play in the end times. If only you Jews weren't so, well, you know, Jewish.

For a semi-humorous take on this subject, you'd do a lot worse than reading this Slate article by Jeffrey Goldberg. There's humor, some bathos, but, mostly, a typical misunderstanding by a Jew as to our unequivocal understanding of salvation through Christ alone. If not now, then at the end.

Does God hear the prayers of a Jew? Of course. In fact, assuming that God has an in-box, I'd have to assume that such prayers go right to the top. The Jews remain God's people, even as we Christians have joined them as chosen to bear witness to God in this world. God, of course, hasn't an in-box; He's always open, 24/7, 365 days a year. Prayers, from anyone, are heard.

Which changes nothing about God's revelation to us. Hearing, and answering, are two quite different things.

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8.10.2005    |    Clik4Cathy
For Chris Muir:

   |    Brief thought on Mary
Yes, that Mary, Mother of You-Know-Who. While I believe that Jesus was both fully divine and fully human, I've a great difficulty in believing that a young woman, probably not more than 15 years old, became "the Mother of God." God just is; He always was, and always will be. He hasn't a mother.

Please don't mistake this for Mary-bashing. No; just the cult-of-Mary bashing. The lore that has sprung up around Mary has some profound truths, but let us never forget who was, and is, in charge.

Mary obeyed God's will to nurture Jesus. Free-will feminists might say that she is blessed among women (to coin a phrase..) because she agreed to accept the burden of being the human birth mother of our Lord. As a Calvinist-leaning Baptist, and given that it was God's will to incarnate Himself in the person of Jesus, I'm not sure how any other path was possible for her.

God will never give us a task that He knows, in advance, that we will fail at. Not that we don't fail at many things. We are, after all, human. But when God sets us out to do something that is His will to accomplish, it will be done. It's easy to be fatalistic on this, and assume that when we do fail at something, it was just God's will, also. Perhaps. Our problem is "simply" being able to discern that which is, and that which is not, in God's plan for us. Simply in scare quotes intentional; it's hardly a simple matter. It is simple only in the sense that it is the greatest single factor.

Getting back to Jesus' mom: There's a path started down when we preach or pray on anything but the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When we focus on anyone or anything else, is this really a good thing? I'd say, most emphatically, no. Even with the best of intentions, Marian devotion can quickly deflect our attention away from its only proper object -- God.

My advice is to acknowledge, and, yes, celebrate, all who walked with our Lord during His first incarnation. And to be especially thankful for the motherly virtues that Mary showed during Jesus' Passion, death, and resurrection. Virtues that today's women would be well served to emulate.

Just let's not ever forget Who is sovereign.

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8.09.2005    |    Deacons, cont'd.
Marcus wrote,
The closer you look at the practice of the early church, the more evidence you find that women functioned in the office of deaconness more frequently than might be expected.

I'd be curious what you do with Paul's commendation of Phoebe in Romans 16
Marcus refers to Romans 16:1-2:
1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
In the ESV (and KJV and NIV), Phoebe is called "a servant of the church", from the Greek diakonia, which my Strong's defines as a hired servant (as against a bonded servant or slave), or, as a...minister. The root meaning of the word in Greek (and English) is to attend to (the church's) needs. Which is precisely what those who are "ministers" or "deacons" do.

It is clear to me that women had a huge role to play in the early church. It is also clear that the first meaning of Paul's writings is that women should not serve as bishops, elders, preachers, or teachers in the church. He did not write this as a preference. He wrote it as a clear prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12-15:
12I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
This passage, which is substantially the same, even in some of the newer, trendy translations, can not be wished away. All one can do is treat it as something that isn't binding on today's church.

It comes down to, and here's that nasty word, interpretation. Of the Scriptures as a whole. My belief is that women should not preach or teach in church. That belief is based on one section of one of Paul's epistles to Timothy. A slender reeed, indeed. But it's a more defensible position than deciding the opposite is true -- at least if Scripture is our authority.

If a denomination goes beyond Scripture, the results are variable. What is interesting is that two leading Western churches who depend on tradition, the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans, have used their interpretation of these passages in exactly opposite fashions.

Go figure.

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8.08.2005    |    Deacons
One of the problems for those of us who hold Scripture as the final, if not the only, true authority, is that we so often fall short of the letter of the law. Which can put us back, squarely, in the camp of the scribes and Pharisees, prisoners of the law, sinners for even thinking that we can break free by just doing everything mentioned in the law.

Most if not all Christians have no problem, for example, eating pork or shellfish (contra Leviticus 11:7 and 11:12 respectively), though they are forbidden as unclean in the Old Testament. There goes my bacon and your lobster. But I'm not doing away with my BLTs just yet. Although Jesus tells us "until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Matthew 5:18), we also know that the Law has been fulfilled in Him, and that it is not necessary to evoke our righteousness by what we eat or other wordly manifestations.

It gets somewhat harder, however, to disregard what appears to be a plain teaching from Paul in his first epistle to Timothy, specifically when he provides the attributes desired of deacons (1 Timothy 3):
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
The plain text meaning clearly indicates that it's men only as deacons. Yet, lurking just beneath the surface is the thought that, perhaps, just perhaps, Paul wrote from a male perspective because of where and when he wrote. Throughout Scripture, we read of "men" when what could have been written was "people", or "men and women."

Working against this, however, is the very specific language that clearly states deacons to be men, and only men. Paul could have used "spouse" instead of "husband" and "wife." But he didn't, and this settles it for me. Deacons, then, should be men in order to be truly faithful to Scripture.

But wait, the sceptic writes. Since we don't follow every single one of the admonitions in Paul's writings, let alone in the Gospels, how can anyone get hung up on whether women should be allowed to be deacons? There is not a good reply, except to state that we should not fall into that legalistic trap that ensared the Pharisees, where every minute point of the Law was considered to be of equal weight.

Women deacons are a fact of life in today's churches; we have them at my Baptist church, with the clear approval of a majority of the congregation. I'd rather we did not have them, but I can not in my heart of hearts stand up and chastize the congregation for not being 100% faithful to Scripture. After all, even a strong Five-Pointer like R.C. Sproul, in the Reformation Study Bible, notes that "The 'women' [i.e., 'wives', in Timothy 3:11] are probably either the wives of the deacons or themselves deacons" (p.1755). Is having a woman as a deacon a sin? Only if you define sin as interpreting Paul's epistles.

In which case, to quote something that Paul wrote to the church at Rome (3:23), we "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." May you be so pure as that your worst sin be limited to tolerating a woman who is a deacon.

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8.06.2005    |    United "Church" of Christ
From Christianity Today, this report on the "progress" of a "church" that has voted to both ignore Scripture when it is politically inconvenient, and divest itself of any support for the Jewish nation. Oh, and just in case those watching the UCC might mistake them for devil worshippers, they grudgingly affirmed that Jesus is Lord. Whoo-hoo.

From the CT story, all you really need to know about this formerly Christian group called the UCC:
For most evangelicals in the United Church of Christ (UCC), it was two steps backward and one step forward at July's national synod meeting in Atlanta. While the 1.3 million member liberal denomination passed controversial resolutions endorsing homosexual marriage and supporting divestment of funds involving Israel, it also passed a resolution affirming the person and work of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. However, the body refused to add the affirmation to ordination vows.
These are truly lost sheep. May they see the light before they are brought before the Throne.

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   |    Note to a Baptist Minister-turned-Episcopal Priest
Ahh, denominational tussles. Gotta love them. I came across this essay, "Episcopal and Baptist Christianity -- The Essential Difference", by the Rev. Dr. Richard Laribee. Rev. Laribee is a former Baptist pastor who left the Baptist fold because he could not, with integrity, continue to preach in the Baptist tradition of soul liberty. But he takes us Baptists to task as being too individualistic. Naturally, I couldn't let it just lie there, unanswered. Here's my brief response to Rev. Laribee.

Rev. Laribee: Your essay is both interesting but ultimately mischaracterizes Baptists. At least those Baptists I worship with. Two things I pose for your consideration. First, you wrote,

The Baptist focus on the individual, symbolized by the carrying by each individual of their own, personal copy of the Bible, looks at evangelism as getting people to become individual disciples.
Yes, and no. We are all called to carry out the Great Commission, both as individuals and as a member of the body of Christ, i.e. the church, regardless of denomination. This is as true for Episcopalians as it is for Catholics as it is for Methodists as it is for us pesky Baptists.

And this leads rather directly to your second mischaracterization, when you wrote:
We [Episcopalians] read the Bible in community, pray in community, serve Christ in community, and worship in community, not primarily because these help the individual (which of course, they do!!), but because these are our responsibilities as members of a community of faith. We are not our own: we belong to one another, and collectively, we belong to Jesus Christ.
This is exactly how I would characterize my Baptist church. Any Baptist who would say that he is only a disciple of Christ by and for himself is rather confused, and needs to be better informed.

Baptists were formed out of respect for the individual’s conscience; out of respect for our need to make up our own minds about how we worship God through Jesus Christ. We are every bit as much a community of disciples as the Episcopalians. Do not confuse a less formal liturgy with a lessened sense of community.

On a personal note, I’m a refugee from the ECUSA, having left in sadness at its lack of biblical faithfulness. I’m not angry; just realized that while there may be three legs on that stool (Scripture, tradition, reason), many in ECUSA had completely divorced their sense of church from Scripture. And no amount of reason, nor of tradition, can replace the Word of God.

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8.04.2005    |    False Doctrines
We are told that evangelicals and Catholics share much common ground. For example, the worthy Evangelicals and Catholics Together initiative. True enough, but there is (at least) one thing that will forever separate us. And that is the implicit Catholic rejection of sola scriptura. At least that aspect of sola scriptura that requires us to measure all church doctrine against the inerrent word of God as provided in the Bible.

To wit, Catholic dependence on "tradition", sometimes rendered "Tradition", capital "T", so as to set aside the really, really important man-made inventions. Whether or not they contradict Scripture, or simply can not be derived therefrom. "Tradition" is often code for, "hey, we know this isn't in Scripture, but we, the Magesterium, think it's just as important." Case in point, and perhaps one of the worst aspects of Catholic practice that is in grave error, is the declaration, in December 1854 by Pius IX, that Mary, the mother of Jesus,
"in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."
Otherwise known as the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, often confused with the Virgin Birth. Mary is conceived and born, but without the stain of original sin. So much for Genesis 6:5, 8:21, or, for that matter, Romans 3:23.

The Catholic Church comes right out, in this article on the doctrine, and admits the truth, that "No direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma [of Immaculate Conception] can be brought forward from Scripture." Translation: "take our word for it; we're the Pope; we're infalliable in matters of faith." Or, more grossly, "nevermind Scriptural integrity."

This is not to be hateful to my Catholic brothers and sisters. In a hostile world, what we share, Christ, is much more important than where we differ. But we are also called to bring our errant brothers and sisters to a better understanding of our faith. All I would ask is that a Christian test any and all beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, creeds, any statement of faith, against the one true measure: Scripture.

And reject that which can not be supported by God's Word.

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8.03.2005    |    Shades of Galileo
Except that this time, so-called scientists are on the side of the suppression of any ideas that don't adhere to their orthodoxy. The subject at hand is intelligent design, which should be taught alongside and as complementary to (not instead of) the theory of evolution.

This appears to also be President Bush's point of view. Which is unsurprising, given that he is both Christian and a "conservative", and hence, in today's upside-down political world, a liberal insofar as he supports having a marketplace of ideas. As opposed to eliminating some ideas because they conflict with the orthodox views of the Sadducees of the Temple of Science.

Dubya loosed a small firestorm of criticism when he told some Texas reporters on Monday (Washington Post story here)
"Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."
The Sudducees, of course, are having none of it. It's back to the Scopes trial, and who knows, Salem witch trials, even the Inquisition. All caused by a faithful man suggesting that there is another point of view besides Darwinism.

Being faithful to its role as a defender of the Holy Writ of Secularism, the Post's "reporters" (scare quotes since they're not reporting anything; they're giving their secular spin on the news) write thusly:
Much of the scientific establishment says that intelligent design is not a tested scientific theory but a cleverly marketed effort to introduce religious -- especially Christian -- thinking to students. Opponents say that church groups and other interest groups are pursuing political channels instead of first building support through traditional scientific review.
These boyos should be ordained forthwith; they are worthy acolytes of the Holy Writ of Secularism. For a more reasoned, liberal point of view, consider this from a recent letter to the editor from the president of the Discovery Institute, Bruce Chapman:
Intelligent design is another matter, and it is almost always misrepresented in the media. Simply put, intelligent-design theorists contend that scientists have uncovered demonstrable indicators of design in nature. The theory holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. It goes no further. It is not creationism. It is not religion.

The only religious believers in all this are the Darwinists who refuse to air the strengths and weaknesses of Darwin's theory and who seek to punish the scholars and teachers who do.
With all due respect, I must dispute part of this: intelligent design is, most certainly, if not religion as such, certainly an indicator of religion. Intelligent design posits a Designer, which I give a capital "D" out of my belief that the Designer is God Almighty.

That intelligent design might be an indicator of faith in God is hardly a reason to not teach it, alongside other theories of how we came to be human. What must really scare the secularists is that intelligent design might just be true.

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8.01.2005    |    Matthew 7:7
This is one of those bits of the Gospel that one may hear in the public square; a familiar quotation, often divorced from He who said it. Jesus tells us,
7"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Well, that seems straightforward, doesn't it? Just ask. How could it be any simpler? And here's where the Christian gets that sceptical look from nonbelievers, sometimes followed by, "Hey, you hypocrite, you're living in a two-room flat on the wrong side of the tracks; surely you've asked God for a better home?"

For those of us regenerated in Christ (and, you may or may not know you've been regenerated...would that we could get a receipt from the Holy Spirit...), we know to ask only for that which we need. And, if we are very lucky, that is, having been chosen to receive His grace, we will actually receive from God that which is sufficient for our needs.

It's not about riches, or fame, or glory for us. It's about doing His will, and being rewarded accordingly. Not what we may think we want; certainly not what the world might think we want. Rather, what God knows that we actually need.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.