<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/platform.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d3510346\x26blogName\x3dBlogcorner+preacher\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttps://bcpreacher.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttps://bcpreacher.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d2859078888796720289', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>
RSS feed for Blogcorner Preacher
          CONTACT    |      ABOUT     |      SEARCH     |      RECENT POSTS     |      ARCHIVES     |      RELIGION     |      BoG    |      DECABLOG    |     
12.30.2006    |    Feel safer?
The evil dictator whose crimes against humanity caused us to invade the historical fiction that is called "Iraq" has now been put down like the dog he was. There's a lot of blather about "milestones" and "closure" and "justice being done." All true, to a certain extent.

Then, Iraq being a nation of tribal and sectarian hatreds, there will also be the usual screams of "death to..." Fill in the blank. The Sunnis will vow revenge against the Shiites; Some Shiites will perhaps feel emboldened to continue to attempt ethnic cleansing, for which you may read "genocide," against the Sunnis.

All factions will continue to distrust, to the point of hatred, the Americans who had to do the job of removing Saddam. And apologists for the tribal cultures of Iraq will warn us to be sensitive to the Arabs sense of "honor," as if there were any to be found in the killing of those whose confession differs.

The essential question, which is as yet unanswered, is, can Iraq be salvaged as an actual, functioning nation-state? My sense is, based on evidence available, is, "no."

The various sectarian and tribal groups that make up the colonial conceit that became "Iraq" are simply too much at odds. They don't agree on matters of faith; they certainly aren't going to agree to let someone else's tribe lord it over their own.

In the Middle East, this is what it comes down to: the only model for successful governance appears to be the iron fist and the hobnailed boot. Will Saddam's passing change this?

Doubtful. We are all, Americans, Sunni Iraqis, Shiia Iraqis, Kurds, members of the same fallen species: humankind. Muslims and atheists don't get a pass from this fundamentally correct Calvinist point.


12.28.2006    |    Lions, tigers, and Mormons, oh my!
The cover story of the current issue of The New Republic is titled "A Mormon in the White House?" The article is a detailed and, as is usual for TNR, an in-depth review of the history of the Latter Day Saints and key elements of Mormon Theology.

All of this, of course, is in service of showing how presidential aspirations of Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts, might be problematical for serious Christians. TNR's problems with Romney appear to have more to do with his conservative approach to public policy, but they also throw in what I would call the "Dread Pirate Theocrat" warning.

TNR is, usually, a bellwether of what passes for wisdom on the center-left. And this article in the January 1-15, 2007 TNR is nothing less than an attempt to smear a faithful Mormon candidate. Please do not misunderstand. I don't view Mormonism as a Christian faith. But I do view Mormons, and I've met quite a few during my extensive travels in the American Mountain West, as some of the best citizens this nation has ever produced.

Mormons as a group come close to meeting all of the points in the Boy Scout law. You know, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, and...reverent. Which is what gives the TNR writer, and more than a few evangelicals, pause.

Let me be blunt about it: Mormon theology is just plain nuts; it is a cult, and substitutes the wisdom of their latter-day prophets for the truths we find in Scripture and 2,000 years of Christian tradition. On the other hand, Mitt Romney isn't running for Pope, or to be head of a seminary. He (may be) running for a secular office, president of the United States.

But the immediate fear from the left? This, from TNR:
Romney intends to run for president as the candidate of the religious right, which believes in blurring the distinction between politics and religion.
One must wonder as to how many of us on the "religious right" believe in "blurring the distinction between politics and religion." At least in the way implied by TNR. And that way, make no mistake, is their way of shouting, "Beware the Dread Pirate Theocons."

Let me state this differently. I am a Baptist. We are, collectively, the largest single Protestant denomination in the United States. It is safe to assume, that given our history of suffering persecution at the hands of state-sponsored religions, we'd be the last to assent to a theocratic government. Baptists, if nothing else, must agree on the strict separation of church and state.

I'd like to think that my brethren in other denominations also agree that freedom of conscience must trump all other political virtues. Which means, among other things, that no leader's vision of God will be imposed on our citizens. What about having a president whose beliefs are starkly different than ours, as Mitt Romney's appear to be?

This is an extremely difficult question to answer in the abstract. The best answer I can give is, "it depends." It depends on the specific views of the candidate, and how likely that candidate is to attempt to impose all or any of those views on others.

For example, I would probably never vote for a Muslim. For any office. Why? Because their theology requires them to place us non-Muslims in a state of submission to Islam. This would extend to any candidate whose theology required them to forcibly convert or subdue the rest of us.

So far, I don't believe that this includes Mormons.

Labels: ,

12.27.2006    |    "I will be with the merciful God"
Thus wrote Saddam Hussein, in an epistle penned when he was convicted in November. According to this story in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Hussein
called on Iraqis not to hate the U.S.-led forces that invaded Iraq in 2003 in a farewell letter posted on a Web site Wednesday, a day after an appeals court upheld the former dictator's death sentence and ordered him to be hanged within one month.

[He also] said he was writing the letter because his lawyers had told him the Iraqi High Tribunal which tried his case would give him an opportunity to say a final word.
Of course, being who he is, he couldn't resist adding this:
But that court and its chief judge did not give us the chance to say a word, and issued its verdict without explanation and read out the sentence — dictated by the invaders — without presenting the evidence.
It is fascinating how a brutal dictator might, just might, be mindful of who is the final Judge. As for the message of "do not hate," this strikes me as being too little, too late to have any ring of truth to it.

The truth is that Saddam is a man who had given himself over to evil. Lock, stock, and barrel. Now that he is in the dock, and it would seem soon to be killed by the state, perhaps he is finding God and will truly repent of his sins? Perhaps. So far, however, Saddam has not admitted his guilt, nor has he publically requested forgiveness of those people and groups he has tortured and attempted genocide on.

Despite what you might hear from the pulpit of some churches, forgiveness must be preceded by sincere repentance. As for whether one should execute Saddam, I would not do so. His life belongs not to us, but to God.

This being said, my punishment for one such as Saddam would be to place him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life, and give him no chance to communicate to the outside world.

To those who demand his head on a pike because that's the sort of thing that Muslim Arabs do all the time, well, we are different from them, now, aren't we? Saddam may be a monster; our job, now that that he is removed from being able to harm others, is to let him live out the rest of his natural life in the misery of his own tormented soul.

| technorati tag | |

Labels: ,

12.26.2006    |    "I am Cyrus!"
Israel and the Jews have always had lots of enemies and likely always will. But there are also some rather excellent friends of both the modern state of Israel and the Jewish people. And they are to be found among Protestant Christians.

No, not the sniveling peace-at-any price, Israel-is-evil so-called mainline denominations such as the Episcopalians and Church of Christ. Rather, those Christians who truly accept that the Hebrew Scriptures remain true; who truly accept that the Jews still have a covenant with God and that God's people must stick together. Whether confessing Christian, or Jew.

Enter Jimmy Carter, who wore his Baptist faith on his sleeve, and confessed "lust in his heart." Well, Carter is not the last word among Baptists. There's one Baptist president of the United States who had a different, and a correct point of view. From Michael Oren's essay in the Wall Street Journal, one may learn something of the Protestant love of Zion, and, in particular, one president's claim of "I am Cyrus" (2 Chronicles 36:22-23. From that essay:
The question of whether or not to recognize that state fell to Harry S. Truman. Raised in a Baptist household where he learned much of the Bible by heart, Truman had been a member of the pro-Zionist American Christian Palestine Committee and an advocate of the right of Jews--particularly Holocaust survivors--to immigrate to Palestine. He was naturally inclined to acknowledge the nascent state but encountered fervid opposition from the entire foreign policy establishment. If America sided with the Zionists, officials in the State and Defense departments cautioned, the Arabs would cut off oil supplies to the West, undermine America's economy, and expose Europe to Soviet invasion. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops would have to be sent to Palestine to save its Jews from massacre.

Truman listened carefully to these warnings and then, at 6:11 on the evening of May 14, he announced that the U.S. would be the first nation to recognize the newly declared State of Israel. While the decision may have stemmed in part from domestic political considerations, it is difficult to conceive that any politician, much less one of Truman's character, would have risked global catastrophe by recognizing a frail and miniscule country. More likely, the dramatic démarche reflected Truman's religious background and his commitment to the restorationist creed. Introduced a few weeks later to an American Jewish delegation as the president who had helped create Israel, Truman took umbrage and snapped, "What you mean 'helped create'? I am Cyrus"--a reference to the Persian king who returned the Jews from exile--"I am Cyrus!"
Some things never change. The Arabists in our State Department have never accepted that Jews should live in their ancestral homeland. The difference today is that, for the most part, our military establishment is pro-Israel.

As Mr. Oren makes clear, our support for the modern state of Israel has been mixed:
Since 1948, some administrations (Eisenhower, Bush Sr.) have been less ardent in their attachment to Israel, and others (Kennedy, Nixon) more so. Throughout the last 60 years, though, the U.S. has never wavered in its concern for Israel's survival and its support for the Jewish people's right to statehood. While U.S.-Israel ties are no doubt strengthened by common bonds of democracy and Western culture, religion remains an integral component in that relationship. We know that Lyndon Johnson's Baptist grandfather told him to "take care of the Jews, God's chosen people," and that Bill Clinton's pastor, on his deathbed, made the future president promise never to abandon the Jewish state. We know how faith has impacted the policies of George W. Bush, who is perhaps the most pro-Israel president in history.
It is well worth the time to ponder who Israel's friends, and enemies have been. One thing that is crystal clear to me is that Christianity is not, today, the enemy of the Jewish people. Rather, properly expressed through the Hebrew Scriptures, Christians must, to be faithful to our shared Scriptures, "take care of the Jews, God's chosen people."


   |    I'm back
I've been away; had what you might call a dry spell. But this Advent season has recharged my batteries, so to speak, and I'll be posting from time to time.

Thanks for stopping by.

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.