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Charles Darwin: Darling of Liberalism, Father of Racist Totalitarianism

January 19th, 2013 8 comments
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Click through on this graphic to read the Darwin quote.

 

Charles Darwin is a great British hero. That’s hardly surprising, since he was one of the greatest and most influential thinkers of the past two hundred years. I happened to live in the house opposite Charles Darwin’s former lodgings when I was a student at Cambridge University, so I looked out each morning on a blue plaque hailing him as one of the greatest Britons who ever lived. Now I’m not saying that he didn’t deserve that commemorative blue plaque on the wall, but I feel I have to point out that he wasn’t a British hero but a British villain. You don’t have to be a bible-thumping evangelical to question whether Charles Darwin’s thinking deserves to be given a bit more thought. Whatever your views on origins and evolution, we can hopefully all agree that, at present, we give far too much honour to the British thinker who justified genocide.

Darwin didn’t hide his view that his evolutionary thinking applied to human races as well as to animal species. The full title of his seminal book in 1859 was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. He followed this up more explicitly in his later book The Descent of Man by spelling out his racial theory:

The western nations of Europe … now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors [that they] stand at the summit of civilisation … The civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage races through the world. (Vol II, pp. 796-797)

Today, most British people are, thankfully, pretty embarrassed by the racist rhetoric which undergirded the late-Victorian British Empire. What is astonishing is how little they understand that Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution provided the doctrine behind its white supremacism. Whereas the British Empire of the early nineteenth century had been dominated by Christian reformers such as William Wilberforce who sold badges of black slaves which proclaimed, “Am I not a man and a brother?”, Charles Darwin’s writings converted an empire with a conscience into an empire with a scientific philosophy instead. Four years after Darwin published his Origin of Species, James Hunt turned it into a justification for slavery. He argued in his paper ‘On the Negro’s Place in Nature’, published in 1863, that “Our Bristol and Liverpool merchants, perhaps, helped to benefit the race when they transported some of them to America.” Christian reformers had spent decades in the first half of the nineteenth century teaching Britain to view non-European races as their equals before God. In a matter of years, Darwin not only swept God off the table but also swept the value of people of every race in God’s eyes off the table with him.

Victorian Britain was only too willing to accept Darwinian Evolution as the gospel of its overseas expansion. Darwin is still celebrated on the back of the British £10 note for his discovery of many new species on his visit to Australia, but what has been forgotten is his contemptible attitude towards the Aborigines he also found there due to his beliefs about natural selection. When The Melbourne Review used his teachings to justify the genocide of the indigenous people of Australia in 1876, he didn’t try and stop them. When the Australian newspaper argued that “the inexorable law of natural selection [justifies] exterminating the inferior Australian and Maori races … The world is better for it” because failure to do so would actually be “promoting the non-survival of the fittest, protecting the propagation of the imprudent, the diseased, the defective and the criminal,” it was Christian missionaries who raised an outcry on behalf of this forgotten genocide. Charles Darwin simply commented that “I do not know of a more striking instance of the comparative rate of increase of a civilised over a savage race” (quoted in Nicholas and Nicholas Charles Darwin in Australia p. 97).

Meanwhile, several thousand miles away, Cecil Rhodes was gleefully embracing Charles Darwin’s thinking as the justification for white expansion across Southern Africa. He was so inspired by the thinking of the Darwinian evolutionist Winwood Reade in his book ‘The Martyrdom of Man’ that he later confessed that “That book has made me what I am.” What it made him was the architect of one of the most brutal and immoral acts of European expansion and genocide in history. He wrote in 1877 that

I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race … It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race, more of the best, the most human, most honourable race the world possesses. (John Flint, Cecil Rhodes p. 24).

I have used British examples in this blog because I am British, and it seems to me to be more polite to point out the errors in my own national worldview than it is in that of other nations. I could have pointed out the way that Charles Darwin’s thinking was used by late-nineteenth-century Americans to justify acts of genocide against Native Americans. I could have pointed out the ways that Hitler and his Nazi philosophers used it to justify wars of expansion and horrific holocaust. I could have pointed out the ways that Communist Russia used Darwinian evolution to justify its liquidation of non-Russian people groups within the Soviet empire. I could have pointed out the way it was used by Serbs to justify their genocide against Croatians and Kosovans.

But I don’t have to. The British example is enough to make us question whether Charles Darwin was truly a British hero at all. At the very least, we should strip him of his place on our £10 banknote and stop protecting his thinking from the scrutiny it deserves to receive in school classrooms, on TV documentaries and in the corridors of power.

Because, whether or not you agree with his thoughts on evolution, you should at the very least want to discover that he was wrong.

Who would you rather discover was right all along?

The Christian reformers of the early nineteenth century, like William Wilberforce and the Earl of Shaftesbury, who argued from belief in divine creation that slaves should be set free and that children should not be forced to work themselves to death in the factories for having been born to the wrong parents?

Or Charles Darwin, who argued from his belief in a godless beginning to the universe that natural selection was a virtue and that, consequently, acts of genocide were part and parcel of the way the world was always supposed to be?

In the words of Jesus Christ himself: “By their fruits you will be able to judge their teaching.”

Categories: Culture

Why, and How, the Message of Martin Luther King, Jr. Persuaded Conservative, Racist, Christians

January 17th, 2013 4 comments

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From a blog post by Russell D. Moore. To my Lutheran readers, swap out SBC and replace it with LCMS and the point is precisely the same.

The reason SBC progressives, and the larger civil rights movement, were persuasive was because of the mode of their argument. The progressives, as scholar David Chappell shows in his book Stone of HopeProphetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow, appealed to biblical orthodoxy and missionary zeal in their arguments, not simply to the arc of historical progress.

This is true at the macro level—think of the King James Version of the Bible woven so intricately into the themes of Martin Luther King’s speeches and sermons. It is also true at the micro level. SBC civil rights advocates—from Foy Valentine to T.B. Maston to Henlee Barnette—argued from decidedly conservative biblical concepts.

The civil rights movement struggled on multiple fronts. In the political sphere, leaders such as King pointed out how the American system was inconsistent with Jeffersonian principles of the “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Politically, Americans had to choose: be American (as defined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence) or be white supremacist; you can’t be both. King and his compatriots were right.

But the civil rights movement was, at core, also an ecclesial movement. King was, after all, “Rev. King” and many of those marching with him, singing before him, listening to him, were Christian clergy and laity. To the churches, especially the churches of the South, the civil rights pioneers sent a similar message to the one they sent to the governmental powers. You have to choose: be a Christian (as defined by the Scripture and the small “c” catholic apostolic tradition) or be a white supremacist; you can’t be both. They were right here too.

How can white supremacy be true, they would argue, if humanity is made from “one blood” in the creation of Adam? How can one segregate evangelistic crusades if the cross of Christ atones for all people, both white and black? If God personally regenerates repentant sinners, both white and black, how can we see people in terms of “race” rather than in terms of the person? If we send missionaries across the seas to evangelize Africa, how is it not hypocrisy not to admit African-Americans into church membership?

The biblical power of the argument is true, regardless of whether all the civil rights pioneers, in the SBC and out of it, believed in biblical orthodoxy.

Many did. See the faithful heroine Fannie Lou Hamer of Sunflower County, Misssissippi, for example. If Baptists had a means of canonization, I’d support it for her. I still claim the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party as my partisan home, and I say expand the “freedom” to the unborn as well as the born, even though the party doesn’t exist anymore.

But regardless of personal faith, the civil rights heroes indicted conservative hypocrites, prophetically, with the conservatives’ own convictional claims. And, as Jesus promised, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.”

The arguments for racial reconciliation were persuasive, ultimately, to orthodox Christians because they appealed to a higher authority than the cultural captivity of white supremacy. These arguments appealed to the authority of Scripture and the historic Christian tradition.

This authority couldn’t easily be muted by a claim to a “different interpretation” because racial equality was built on premises conservatives already heartily endorsed: the universal love of God, the unity of the race in Adam, the Great Commission and the church as the household of God.

With this the case, the legitimacy of segregation crumbled just as the legitimacy of slavery had in the century before, and for precisely the same reasons. Segregation, like slavery, was shown to be what all human consciences already knew it to be: not just a political injustice or a social inequity (although certainly that) but also a sin against God and neighbor and a repudiation of the gospel. Regenerate hearts ultimately melted before such arguments because in them they heard the voice of their Christ, a voice they’d heard in the Scriptures themselves.

Conservative Christians, and especially Southern Baptists, must be careful to remember the ways in which our cultural anthropology perverted our soteriology and ecclesiology. It is to our shame that we ignored our own doctrines to advance something as clearly demonic as racial pride. And it is a shame that sometimes it took theological liberals to remind us of what we claimed to believe in an inerrant Bible, what we claimed to be doing in a Great Commission.

A version of this article originally ran on January 18, 2010.

Categories: Culture

How to Stop the Killing

January 14th, 2013 5 comments

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This was posted today on the Missouri Synod’s “Witness, Mercy, Life Together Blog” by the Synod’s Chief Mission Officer, Rev. Gregory K. Williamson, a long time US Army chaplain. I thought it was excellent.

The Fifth Commandment

You shall not murder.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.

The recent murders in Connecticut have spawned debates about the growing violence within American society. Debates include gun control, mental health, school security, and parental responsibility. Most experts recommend action by local, state, or federal governments to better secure our society—legislate new laws to protect our children, more aggressive intervention for the emotionally disturbed, more oversight by social welfare agencies, but few, if any, have addressed the acts of murder as a moral and spiritual problem.

Simply put, the experts do not include sin and the old nature. The Bible records the first murder in Genesis chapter 4, “And Cain talked about Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” Not long into mankind’s history do we encounter murder, and not much has changed.

The old nature’s inclinations are close at hand every moment of every day. Scriptures exhort the wise to flee temptation; yet, to flirt with sin is titillating and stimulates the worst within us. Even those who do not process evil from a Christian perspective recognize the danger of a society that inoculates itself to violence and stimulates the passions within by vicarious means.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society,” writes in 1996,

 In video arcades children stand slack jawed but intent behind machine guns and shoot at electronic targets that pop up on the video screen. When they pull the trigger the weapon rattles in their hand, shots ring out, and if they hit the “enemy” they are firing at, it drops to the ground, often with chunks of flesh flying in the air.[1]

Grossman goes on to say,

This new “pseudo reality” will make it possible to replicate all the gore and violence of popular violent movies, except now you are the one who is the star, the killer, the slayer of thousands.[2]

He concludes by saying,

That force [innate rebellion against killing] has existed in man throughout recorded history, and military history can be interpreted as a record of society’s attempt to force its members to overcome their resistance in order to kill more effectively in battle.[3]

Following the massacre in Connecticut, Lt. Col. Grossman shared his concerns about the desensitizing of our society to violence via movies, television, and video games. I, for one, appreciate his call for less violence within the media; however, what Grossman fails to see is what faith reveals. That is, the innate force within mankind is not rebellion against killing; but, on the contrary, the old nature seeking to satisfy bloodlust.

Without God’s intervention there would be no moments of safety, peace, and tranquility; rather, the constant world state would be violence, murder, and massacre. No human laws, ordinances, or constraints can check this “old Adam.” This is the tragic plight of humanity without the gracious intervention of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Another soldier, General Douglas MacArthur, references this innate propensity to violence and war in his speech at the surrender of the Japanese on September 2, 1945 and again in his farewell speech to congress April 19, 1951 where he said,

Men since the beginning of time have sought peace.  . . . The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years, It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.[4]

MacArthur points to a solution to war and violence that is spiritual, a spiritual “recrudescence.” More precisely, and from a Lutheran understanding, it is only through the atoning work of Christ and the renewing of the Spirit that any has hope. This hope was given to us through the waters of Baptism where we were clothed with the righteousness of Christ—a true spiritual renewal.

In a society desensitized by violence, it behooves Christians to walk circumspectly, not in accordance with the wisdom of this world, but by faith.  As St. Paul writes to the Colossians,

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.[5]

–Gregory K. Williamson
Chief Mission Officer – LCMS


[1] Lt. Col. David Grossman, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, 1st ed., (New York: Back Bay Books; Little, Brown and Company, 1996) 314.

[2] Ibid., 316.

[3] Ibid., 332.

[4] General Douglas MacArthur, “Surrender Ceremony Speech,“ U.S.S. Missouri, Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945, Radio broadcast to the world following the formal surrender of the Japanese.

[5] Colossians 3:15-18.

The Facts Concerning the Homosexual Population

October 25th, 2012 Comments off

Television shows and other media outlets will convince anyone, in short order, that the homosexual population in our nation must be around 25% or higher! But, the fact remains that the actual number of homosexuals in the general population is quite low. A recent Gallup poll confirms this fact and shows how misled Americans are on this issue. Here is the link to the summary of the polling results.

Snippet:

Demographer Gary Gates last month released a review of population-based surveys on the topic, estimating that 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, with bisexuals making up a slight majority of that figure. Gates also disputes the well-circulated statistic that “10% of the males are more or less exclusively homosexual.”

Categories: Culture

Depraved Indifference: Thoughts on the Aurora Murders

July 23rd, 2012 30 comments

Lessons from Aurora

In the American legal system, there is a phrase used to identify a certain mindset that leads to horrendous crimes.  That phrase is “depraved indifference to human life.”

Here is the way the criminal justice system understands “depraved indifference”:

To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant’s conduct must be so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime.  Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting.  The other term used for depraved indifference is “depraved heart.”

Think about this for a moment with me.  Even if a person does not actually commit a physical crime, he can be guilty of it owing to “depraved indifference” as a person who has a “depraved heart.”

As I reflect on the Aurora, Colo., massacre, that phrase keeps repeating itself in my mind.  What led an otherwise apparently smart and successful young man to stockpile thousands of rounds of ammunition for a variety of weapons, rig his apartment to explode in a fireball, and then enter a theater and kill and wound so many?  Depraved indifference to human life, that’s what.  We will hear raging debates about gun control and “if only” there had been the right rule, or regulation, or control in place, this would not have happened.  And to that I simply say, “Maybe, maybe not, but I highly doubt it.”*  Why?  Because the issue here is the young man’s depraved indifference to human life.  The acting out on that impulse was where the crime originated.

As people reel in horror and shock from this incident, everyone wants to try to put his finger precisely on what caused this young man to “go crazy.”  Surely, he must be crazy.  He has to be out of his mind.  He is suffering from mental illness.  He is not normal.  He is not like you and me.  No, he is something other than we are.  That explains it, doesn’t it?  Or does it?  Viewed from God’s point of view, which is, in the end, the only view that truly matters, it is not quite that easy.  After all, the Bible tells us that we are all born dead, not alive. We are dead in our trespasses and sin (Col. 2:13).  We come into this world as enemies of God and hostile toward God and everything He stands for (Romans 8:7).  We come into this world not merely with depraved indifference toward God, and with a depraved heart, but with active hostility to God’s perfect will for us and for His creation.  There is not a “spark” of goodness in us as we are born.  We are evil, continually, from our youth, as we learn from Genesis 6:5.  People are not “naturally good” … no, we are all natural born killers.  Shocking?  Yes, it is.  We all suffer, in various degrees, from “depraved indifference to human life.”

That indifference took on a spectacularly horrifying form in the movie theater shooting, but there is in each one of us a little “killer” just waiting to get out.  And he gets out in thoughts, words and deeds.  He gets out and does harm to our loved ones, friends and neighbors when we think the cruel thought; speak the hurtful word; fail to speak well of and defend our neighbor; and fall short of supporting and defending our neighbor, helping him to protect and improve his property, business, good reputation, or life.  Keep in mind we live in a nation where tens of thousands of people are murdered, legally and with impunity, before they even have a chance to see the light of day as newborns.  Yes, that Old Adam, as we call our fallen nature, is a natural born killer.  Depraved indifference?  You bet.  It takes different forms and shapes and is expressed in a variety of ways in our life, but depraved indifference it is, in one way or the other.

Which then makes it all the more remarkable that God actually sent His Son into the very same human flesh which suffers from this horrible condition (John 1:14).  The One who never had, and never will, commit any sin, was sent among sinful men and women to live the lives they cannot live, to provide the sacrifice for sin they could never provide, and He did it all for the sake of Love.  God is love.  God is light.  God is the holy One.  God is merciful.  God is the life-creator and the life-giver and the life-restorer.  Christ Jesus came among us and was born under the Law, to redeem us from the condemnation of the Law (Gal 4:4).

God is passionately concerned for the salvation of each one of us.  He is the complete opposite of “depraved indifference” when it comes to His Creation.  While we cannot ultimately, to our own satisfaction, explain precisely why the world is a place where horrible things happen, we can at least recognize that within each of us we see signs of depraved indifference to our neighbor’s needs and suffering.

We are led to repent of our sin, of our depraved indifference, and turn in great sorrow to the God of all comfort and seek the mercy He so freely gives.  As our society struggles to come to terms with yet another gross outburst of sin, let’s not be caught up in the thinking that would have us isolate this young man and simply regard him as a freak, an oddity, somebody less than human.  In fact, he is fully human and simply gave expression to the sinful nature each of us struggles with every day of our lives.  Do you remember the answer Jesus gave when people were trying to get an explanation for a manmade tragedy, a tower falling on people and killing them, and why innocent people were killed by soldiers? (Luke 13:3).  Jesus said simply, “Unless you repent, you likewise will perish.”  Not exactly the kind of explanation we would want, but…the only one we receive, the only one we need to hear, and the only one we must act on, today. Repent.

This event should drive each of us to our knees in repentant prayer and pleading to God for His mercy.  We pray for all those suffering from this seemingly “senseless” act of depraved indifference.  We pray for God’s peace and comfort for all concerned, and that He would use this occasion as an opportunity to turn hearts to Him.  We pray that God would use this incident to humble us all once more and help us to see how we are indeed poor, miserable sinners, and then once more turn to the Cross where the Lord of Glory died, apparently a senseless, tragic, violent death, in a manner that was an expression of depraved indifference to His holy, innocent life.

For it is there, on the Cross, that the blood that cleanses you from all your sin was shed, and three days later, the Lord rose in victory, shattering the shackles of sin, death and hell which grip you tightly.  Christ is your Savior.  Christ is your Redeemer.  Cling alone to Him, for He has taken firm hold of you.  You were buried with Christ, by baptism, into death in order that, just as Jesus was raised from the death, through the glory of His Father, so you have a new life, now, and for eternity to come (Romans 6:1-2).  You now live in the confident hope that Christ alone gives, and you reach out in love and service to all whom the Lord puts in your lives. May God grant it, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

 

Rev. Paul T. McCain

Publisher

Concordia Publishing House

 

*Please see remarks on gun control in the comment following the article. I did not want to allow that issue to overshadow the point of my editorial.

Survey Says 1 in 5 Americans Admit to No Religious Affiliation

July 20th, 2012 1 comment

A recent survey indicates that those who are willing to admit they have no religious affiliation is at the highest level ever recorded: 19%. You’ll notice how carefully I worded that. If we were to add to that number people who are unwilling to admit it, and then add to the number people who say they have some sort of religious affiliation but never attend church, or only rarely attend, that percentage would go much, much higher. I suspect it would be around 65-70%.

Here is a link to the whole story, and to the survey.

Categories: Culture, Current Affairs

Responding to President Obama’s Announcement — Challenge and Opportunity for the Church

May 10th, 2012 4 comments

Rev. Ed Stetzer had an excellent blog post today on this, and I’m passing it along.

After both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pushed for acceptance of same-sex marriage over the weekend, North Carolina became the 30th state to amend its constitution to define marriage as an act between one man and one woman.

Now President Barack Obama has affirmed his support of same-sex marriage. In an interview with ABC News, President Obama stated:

I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married…I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.

President Obama’s statements should come as no surprise. His refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Actand his comments about “evolving” on the issue both pointed to this moment. I tweeted last weekend that I expected such a move from the President. To me, the surprise is the timing of his announcement. I, like many others, expected this announcement after he had won a second term in November– though it appears he hasplanned to do so before the Democratic National Convention. This announcement accelerated the timeline of an inevitable conversation.

So how do we as evangelical Christians respond?

Last year I wrote a brief post on the future of the evangelical response regarding homosexuality after Howard Schultz withdrew from speaking at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. In that post, I listed five principles to consider about the issue of homosexuality and evangelical churches. I’ve fleshed those principles out a bit here.

The issue is not going away and you cannot ignore it or seek to downplay your views.Since Stonewall, the gay rights movement has continued to gain influence and homosexuality is increasingly a public issue to which you must have an answer. Evangelicals have responded poorly at times and earned a reputation for intolerance. Now, in seeking a more biblical and grace-filled response, we cannot erase our past mistakes, however, we can control our attitudes and responses in the future by being clear and gracious at the same time.The culture sees this as a “justice” issue– Christians discriminating on the basis of immutable characteristics.
Christians have always believed and taught that God’s standard and intent is a man, a woman, a marriage, and a lifetime. To us, that just makes sense and it seems clear in the scriptures, but to an increasing number in our culture, this is simply discrimination. President Obama clearly justifies his reason for supporting gay marriage because of the Golden Rule– the idea that we should treat others justly, as we would want to be treated. So, we should not be shocked at their response. Many people believe that we are discriminating against other people by restricting marriage from gay couples– much like keeping black people out of a certain section of a restaurant. They see that as unjust and us as bigots.

Though it is easy to make the case in the church that homosexual practice (and marriage) is incompatible with scripture, it will be an exceedingly difficult case to make in today’s culture.
I mention in my new book Subversive Kingdom an example of running for school board. A half a century ago you would not have been considered for public office in most communities without a strong record of service in and loyalty to a local church. Today that same qualification, if the church teaches biblical truths about homosexuality, is a detriment to one’s candidacy in many areas of our country. This will become more of an issue in days to come. Believing what the Bible says about homosexuality will hurt your reputation and will be hard to defend as a “good and right” view in society.

Building bridges and showing grace and love is needed, lacking, and essential when dealing with people with different views and values.
Some Christians seem driven by the need to take every opportunity to condemn homosexuality. Instead, I do not think you or I need to begin every conversation with a statement of our opposition of homosexuality. We can, indeed, show grace and friendship to those who struggle, while believing and teaching what the scriptures clearly say. Without hiding our beliefs, we need to look for opportunities to have conversations, build relationships, and show grace.

At the end of the day, all evangelicals will still have to deal with an issue on which the evangelical view is perceived as narrow and bigoted.
Evangelicals will continue to be pressured to accept a worldview rooted in cultural acceptance rather than biblical revelation. While President Obama’s thoughts on certain issues may evolve, the biblical teaching has not. We can listen to Dan Savage and decide to “ignore” the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality, or we can live with the fact of what the Bible teaches and recognize that, because of such, our reputations will suffer.

Homosexuality is not an easy issue. Christians have said a lot of unhelpful things about the subject over the years– but that does not mean we cannot say helpful things now. The most helpful truth is the biblical truth. In the midst of a complicated issue, we need to admit to poor engagement in the past, speak of the complexities of the issues involved, but always point to biblical truth and change that can be found in Christ.

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

January 21st, 2012 15 comments

It is time once again for me to make my annual comments about Martin Luther King day. Sadly, every year when I do this I get the same sort of responses, no matter how hard I try to be clear on why this day is so important to so many of our African-American brothers and sisters, and, why it is so important for all of us in this nation.

Sure enough there are those quite happy to entirely ignore the point of my post and gas on about how Martin Luther King was this, that, or another thing, about how his theology was bad, or how he was a liberal or immoral, and on and on. And indeed, he was, in several respects. I’m not denying that, but the lengths to which some people choose to go simply to stick their head in the sand and not appreciate what Dr. King did for this nation, boggles my mind. I am ashamed to say at least a few Lutheran pastors use this day to go into their whole silly “The Civil War” was not about slavery routine. Unbelievable insensitivity knows of no bounds, not to mention appalling self-imposed ignorance of facts.

I will again however say that such comments display an astounding lack of sensitivity toward, and concern about, the feelings of our fellow Americans who look to Martin Luther King as a significant figure in advancing civil rights in this nation. And there is no question that he did. And please do not, please, do not say, “Some of my best friends are Black.” Oh, really? Do you realize how this makes you sound? Let me put it this way: Some of my best friends are left-handed. I even married a left-handed person. See how hollow that sounds?

I do wonder how many of us who have less melanin in our skin have ever shared a meal with a Black person, in our home, actually have spoken at length with them as people, not as “Blacks.” Similarly, how many Blacks have had Whites into their homes and hosted them for a meal and spoke to them as people, not White? I know the problem cuts both directions, but on MLK day, this is not the appropriate time for White folk to go on and one about their gripes with Black folks.

And then, I hear from people telling me how terrible the civil rights movement has been for African-Americans, and how it has only led to what is now a permanent underclass in this country, etc. etc. There is plenty to talk about here. But that the Civil Rights movement was a good thing in many ways is undeniable.

Would you have preferred the continuation of Jim Crow laws, lynchings and telling people they can’t drink from certain water fountains, use certain bathrooms or ride only in the back of the bus or not be served a meal just because their skin is dark? Would you feel the same if the laws were in reverse and it was the white-skinned who could not do these things? “Good Christians” are not immune are they? I still have a vivid memory of angst being expressed by some members of my home congregation when Black folks showed up once for Holy Communion, from the common cup! And that was only in the late 1960s, not that too far long ago.

After the Civil War and well into the 1960s many, many African-Americans were still treated nearly like slaves in so many places. Despite the Civil War, many states made it impossible for blacks to vote and via indentured servanthood [aka sharecropping] created a serfdom across the South. Can we be a bit sensitive to the bitter, hard and long struggle of a people brought to this country as slaves?” [Yes, yes, I know blacks sold other blacks into slavery in Africa...and yes, African-Americans can be as prejudiced against others because of race as anyone else].

So, I apologize for what appears to be a gloomy post, but it is always sad that whenever anyone tries to say anything about Civil Rights, particularly on MLK day, we have to have a litany from white folks criticizing, whining and complaining, thus quite entirely missing the point of MLK and his meaning for our nation and for so many of our fellow citizens.

I’m actually seeing signs that the times they are a changing. When I was a child it was inevitable that we would refer to African-American children as “that black kid” and no doubt they would refer to us “as that white kid.” My own children have delighted me in that they have spoken of friends by name and never once have referred to them as “that black kid” or “you know, my Chinese friend.” They’ve had friends over to the house that we have heard about from school for weeks and I’ve been delighted to find they are African or Chinese, and not once did our kids refer to them by race, but by their qualities as persons. A good sign indeed and this is where we need to be. No, it is unrealistic to believe we will ever be “color blind.” That’s not what I’m suggesting, but it would be great if we would not always jump to race as the first way to describe a person.

Recently in an interview on 60 minutes one of my favorite actors, Morgan Freeman, laid it out in a blunt way. He just wants to be referred to as a person, not a black man, but as a man. And he thought the notion of a “black history” month to be absurd, and even insulting, trying to suggest his “history” could be reduced to a month on the calendar.

I believe it is a necessary and good thing in the kingdom of the left, to work for that day when across this great nation people will be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. And I suspect that if people’s skin tone was a bit more dark than it may be now they might have some better sense of why this is a dream worthy of our full support, and sympathy. So, I say, “Happy MLK day.”

Categories: Culture

When People Say There is Nothing Good on the Internet…

January 19th, 2012 4 comments

Just show them this and sit back and with a satisfied smile tell them, “See? You are wrong.”

Categories: Culture

The Glock – America’s Gun

January 16th, 2012 1 comment

I’ve been reading a really interesting book on the history and development of the Glock pistol and popular it has become across the United States, particular as the weapon of choice of police departments around the country. The Glock pistol is used by over 65% of all police and law enforcement agencies in the country. Even if you have absolutely no interest in firearms or shooting, this book is interesting because it examines America’s gun culture and the various issues that continue to swirl around the use of firearms and the Second Amendment. I highly recommend the book. Here is a link to where you can buy it.

Here’s a little video I put together about the Glock for those who have no knowledge of them.

For the Love of the Chicken – Brilliant Satire

January 14th, 2012 10 comments

This is a briliant piece of satire that is so funny, because it is so true. HT: GE Veith, via Joanna Veith.

Categories: Culture

Marriage and Religious Freedom — An Open Letter from Religious Leaders

January 12th, 2012 13 comments

 

MARRIAGE AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans

Released January 12, 2012

Open letter and signatories found here. Here is a PDF copy of the statement: Marriage-and-Religious-Freedom-Letter-Jan-12-2012-4

Executive Summary

We, as representatives of a broad array of faiths, join together to affirm that marriage, the union of one man and one woman, must be promoted and protected for its own sake and for the common good. We also agree that redefining marriage will incur grave consequences, including a deleterious impact on religious liberty. Altering the definition of marriage will change not just one law but hundreds, even thousands, of laws. There will be government mandates, requiring the recognition and accommodation of so-called same-sex “marriages,” that pose a critical threat to institutions and individuals who for reasons of faith and conscience will resist the law’s compulsion. Cases involving criminal and civil penalties and the denial of grants and other government benefits are already occurring and will only increase in number and severity if more jurisdictions redefine marriage. The law not only will coerce and impose disincentives, but will also teach that religious objectors must be marked as if they were bigots. We encourage all people of good will to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and to consider carefully the far-reaching consequences for the religious freedom of all Americans if marriage is redefined. May all of us work together to strengthen and preserve the unique meaning of marriage and the precious gift of religious liberty.

Signatories come from the following communities:

Agudath Israel of America

Anglican Church in North America

Assemblies of God

The Brethren Church

Bruderhof Communities

The Christian & Missionary Alliance

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Church of the Nazarene Conservative Congregational Christian Conference

Evangelical Free Church of America

Evangelical Friends Church, North America Fellowship of Evangelical Churches

The Foursquare Church

Free Methodist Church

USA General Association of General Baptists

General Council of Christian Union Churches

Grace Communion International

Great Commission Churches

International Pentecostal Church of Christ

International Pentecostal Holiness Church

Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

Missionary Church, Inc.

National Association of Evangelicals

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

North American Lutheran Church

Open Bible Churches

The Salvation Army

Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

United Brethren in Christ Church, USA

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Vineyard USA

The Wesleyan Church

Categories: Culture

The Church of File-Sharing – Brought to You by Those Wacky Swedes

January 7th, 2012 3 comments

Isak Gerson, Church Leader

This is true. I’m not making it up. Story posted here.

The Church of Kopimism, a religion whose central tenet is the free sharing of information, has been formally recognized by the Swedish government.

Kopimists believe all information sharing is “holy” and that the value of information multiplies when it’s shared. They hold CTRL+C and CTRL+V, keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting, to be sacred symbols of their religion. (We’re not making this stuff up.)

According to a press release on the Church’s website, Kopimism has been striving to achieve legal recognition in Sweden for more than a year. The church’s board chairman, Gustav Nipe, says the Kopimists has tried three times to register with Kammarkollegiet, the Swedish Administrative Services Agency. They were ultimately successful and recognized as a religion just before Christmas of last year.

Formal acknowledgment provides the Church of Kopimism, named for the Swedish word for “copy,” with legal protections under that country’s law and potential access to government-assisted funding.

The recognition of the Church of Kopimism is the latest success for Europeans fighting for a free and open Internet. The Pirate Party, formed in Sweden in 2006, aims to reform copyright and patent laws and to protect online access to information. The Pirate Party won over 7% of Swedish votes in 2009′s European parliamentary elections, and it has spawned an international movement under the banner “Pirate Parties International.

Not everything has gone smoothly for the Church of Kopimism. Its website buckled under the pressure of sudden international interest. A temporary page is urging people interested in becoming a Kopimist to check back “when the storm is settled.”

Read more here.

Categories: Cults, Culture, Current Affairs

The Death of the Infamous Atheist Christopher Hitchens – A Warning

December 16th, 2011 15 comments
Psalm 14

 1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.

 2The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

 3They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

 4Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the LORD?

 5There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6You would shame the plans of the poor,
but  the LORD is his refuge.

 7Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

 


Categories: Culture

What The Church and Its Leaders Should Learn from Joe Paterno

November 10th, 2011 13 comments

I have watched and listened and read, with increasing disgust, the story about Joe Paterno and his negligent handling of the sexual assault on young boys by one of his football team’s coaches. The story is sick enough in itself, the details of which will make you literally feel like vomiting, but nearly as revolting is the reaction of many people to Paterno’s firing. It points how utterly stupid the entire college sport scene has become and particularly, college football. But how can the Church learn from this situation? Kudos to Al Mohler for some excellent thoughts and reflection on the entire sick and sordid incident. Here are Mohler’s comments from his web site.

No one thought it would end this way. Joe Paterno, the legendary head football coach at Penn State University heard of his firing by the school’s board of trustees by phone last night. Just two weeks after achieving the most wins of any NCAA Division One football coach in history, Paterno was fired. His firing — a necessary action by the Penn State board of trustees — holds lessons for us all.

Almost a decade ago, a graduate assistant told Coach Paterno that an assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, had been observed forcing a young boy into a sexual act in the school’s football locker room showers. Sandusky was himself a big name in Penn State football, and he was considered a likely successor to Paterno if the head coach had retired. Sandusky also ran a non-profit organization for boys, and he brought the boys onto the Penn State campus. He continued to do so even after his own retirement from Penn State’s coaching staff.

After hearing the report, Paterno informed university officials of the accusation. At that point, little or nothing seems to have happened. The scandal broke into public view last Saturday, when Sandusky was arrested and charged with 40 felony counts of sexual abuse involving young boys. Penn State had been harboring a serial child sex abuser. Also arrested were the university’s athletic director and its senior vice president of business and finance. Both were charged with failure to report the abuse and with perjury.

What about Paterno and the university’s president, Graham B. Spanier? The Pennsylvania grand jury said that both men had knowledge of the 2002 first-hand report of abuse, and neither contacted the police. Furthermore, Sandusky was allowed some use of university facilities even long after this report. Paterno went back to coaching football. Spanier went back to raising money and building the school’s reputation. Jerry Sandusky had every opportunity to keep on sexually abusing young boys.

When the facts became known, the firings of both Paterno and Spanier were inevitable and necessary. Both men had credible knowledge that young boys were being sexually abused, and neither did anything effective to stop it. Most crucially, neither man did what they should have done within minutes of hearing the first report — contact law enforcement immediately.

Every single coach, athletic director, and college or university president awoke this morning to a changed world. Nothing will ever be the same again. The firing of Joe Paterno will send shock waves through the entire world of higher education. A man who a day before had announced under pressure that he would retire at the end of the season was told by phone that he would never coach another game. Penn State University will forever be associated with a scandal the likes of which college athletics has, thankfully, never seen before.

But the world has not only changed for college athletics. The detonation of the Penn State scandal must shake the entire nation into a new moral awareness. Any failure to report and to stop the sexual abuse of children must be made inconceivable. The moral irresponsibility that Penn State officials demonstrated in this tragedy may well be criminal. There can be no doubt that all of these officials bear responsibility for allowing a sexual predator to continue his attacks.

What about churches, Christian institutions, and Christian schools? The Penn State disaster must serve as a warning to us as well, for we bear an even higher moral responsibility.

The moral and legal responsibility of every Christian — and especially every Christian leader and minister — must be to report any suspicion of the abuse of a child to law enforcement authorities. Christians are sometimes reluctant to do this, but this reluctance is both deadly and wrong.

Sometimes Christians are reluctant to report suspected sexual abuse because they do not feel that they know enough about the situation. They are afraid of making a false accusation. This is the wrong instinct. We do not have the ability to conduct the kind of investigation that is needed, nor is this assigned to the church. This is the function of government as instituted by God (Romans 13). Waiting for further information allows a predator to continue and puts children at risk. This is itself an immoral act that needs to be seen for what it is.

A Christian hearing a report of sexual abuse within a church, Christian organization, or Christian school, needs to act in exactly the same manner called for if the abuse is reported in any other context. The church and Christian organizations must not become safe places for abusers. These must be safe places for children, and for all. Any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action. That action cannot fall short of contacting law enforcement authorities. A clear lesson of the Penn State scandal is this: Internal reporting is simply not enough.

After law enforcement authorities have been notified, the church must conduct its own work of pastoral ministry, care, and church discipline. This is the church’s responsibility and charge. But these essential Christian ministries and responsibilities are not substitutes for the proper function of law enforcement authorities and the legal system. As Christians, we respect those authorities because we are commanded to do so.

There may well be further arrests in connection with the Penn State scandal. One can only imagine the lawsuits that will consume the university’s time and treasury in years ahead. Christian institutions and churches looking at this scandal had better act immediately to ensure that all operate under adequate policies and guidelines. What would prevent this scandal at your school or church?

Church leaders and pastors must decide now — not later — that we will respond to any report of sexual abuse with immediate action and an immediate call to law enforcement officials. We must decide in advance what we will do, and not allow ourselves to think that we can handle such a challenge on our own. Every church and Christian institution needs a full set of policies, procedures, and accountability structures. As leaders, we must develop the right instincts for right action.

The leaders of Penn State University must have acted, or failed to have acted, out of many motivations. One may well have been to protect the image and reputation of the university. Well, we now see where that leads. A scandal reported and ended in 2002 would be horrible enough. A scandal that began there, was known by officials, and explodes almost a decade later is too horrible to contemplate.

We all need an immediate reality check. I discovered yesterday that the policy handbook of the institution I am proud to lead calls for any employee receiving a report of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, to contact his or her supervisor with that report. That changes today. The new policy statement will direct employees receiving such a report to contact law enforcement authorities without delay. Then, after acting in the interests of the child, they should contact their supervisor.

In a real sense, the whole world changed today. We all know more than we knew before, and we are all responsible for that knowledge. The costs of acting wrongly in such a situation, or acting inadequately, are written across today’s headlines and the moral conscience of the nation. The tragedy at Penn State is teaching the entire nation a lesson it dare not fail to learn.

Categories: Culture, Current Affairs