The Old Preacher

Viewing the World through God's Word

Category: The World (page 2 of 10)

The End of White Christian America (Part Two)

I reread yesterday’s post.   Does it sound racist?   Am I longing for the good old days with Sheriff Andy in Mayberry without African-Americans, Asians and Latinos?

Not Racism.

I wouldn’t mind Mayberry.  Nice to leave doors unlocked and worry only if Aunt Susie will drop off an apple pie today or tomorrow.  But my nostalgia has nothing to do with racism.  Nor does Robert P. Jones’ book, The End of White Christian America.

Racism, defined by John Piper in his book, Bloodlines, is “the heart that believes one race is better than another.”  And “the behavior that distinguishes one race as more valuable than another.”  If any of my comments implied racism, please forgive me.  Jones and I are merely commenting on the changes in the country and how they affect “white Christian America.”  I’m writing because our knowledge of those changes is shallow and our ignorance of what they call us to as a follower of Jesus is deep.

Dust Summary.

The following (from the book’s dust cover) fairly summarizes The End of White Christian America:

“For most of the country’s history, White Christian America—the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals.  But in recent decades new immigration patterns, changing birth rates, and religious disaffiliation have transformed the United States.  The year 1993 was the last in which white Protestants constituted a majority of the population.  Today, even when Catholics are included, white Christians make up less than half of the country.

” . . . Jones shows how today’s most heated controversies—the strident rise of a white politics of nostalgia following the election of the nation’s first black president; the apocalyptic tone of arguments over same-sex marriage and religious liberty; the stark disagreements between white and black Americans over the fairness of the justice system—can be fully understood only in the context of the anxieties that white Christians feel as the racial, religious, and cultural landscape has changed around them.

Today, although they still retain considerable power in the South and within the Republican Party, white Christians lack their former political and social clout . . . ”

Do we understand an “evolution” that fundamental has occurred?  Do we realize there’s no going back to Mayberry?

Christian Response.

How, then,  shall we as Christians respond?  We’re blessed to elect government leaders.  We should vote with our Christian worldview clearly in place.  But, if we think politicians will “make America great again” or build us “stronger together”, we’re dreaming.  Evangelical Christians easily fall prey to politics.  When I saw Jerry Falwell, Jr. fall all over Donald Trump at Liberty University, I thought, “Here we go again.  Christians pinning hopes on politicians.”  They’re not our saviors and never will be.  At best, we vote against the worse.  (Too cynical?)  Launching a “Christian candidate” won’t enlarge our Christian “clout” in the country (though it may stave off evil to a limited extent).

Consider two suggestions, alternatives to trying to infiltrate Washington, D.C.  One comes from Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas.  In a 1989 book, Resident Aliens:  Life in the Christian Colony,  he called for the church to be “a colony of heaven”.  By that he meant Christians who recognize they live in a strange land, who emphasize “Christianity’s function as an institution separate from politics and worldly affairs, not as an insider in the halls of power.”

This I see is a prophetic stance.  We speak and act, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as citizens of heaven.  As Old Testament prophets our allegiance is to the Lord of lords.  We pray, “Your kingdom come” through us today.

A similar idea lies in Chuck Colson’s book, Kingdoms in Conflict.   Colson refers to Jacques Ellul (French philosopher, professor, sociologist, lay theologian, and Christian anarchist)  who criticized “big government illusion.”  The answer, he argued, lay with “small voluntary associations.”  In the 18th century statesman Edmond Burke called such associations “little platoons.”  These, wrote Colson, are citizens who do works of mercy and oppose injustice.  These are “salt and light” in a world corrupted by human sin.  And, wrote Colson, ” . . . they provide the main bulwark against government’s insatiable appetite for power and control, and a safeguard against the sense of impotence fostered by today’s overwhelming social problems.”

Today’s “overwhelming social problems” and the “government’s insatiable appetite for power and control” hurt us all, regardless of race.  And admittedly, “white Christian America” has often been as much part of the problem as solution.

I post this series of blogs to inform us frogs in the pot how hot the water is getting.  And to think through with you what we might do as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

On the back cover of The End of White Christian America, Michael Eric Dyson (author of The Black Presidency:  Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America) writes . . .

“Jones deftly and insightfully shows how this new moment marked by white Christian America’s demise holds both promise and peril for those concerned about racial justice and the future of race relations in the country.”

Promise and peril.  As Christians, how shall we respond?  We’ll answer more in days ahead . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The End of White Christian America (Part 1)

Over 60?  Then you feel changes in America.  You can’t define them, perhaps.  But, as I do, you feel them.  This book, The End of White Christian America, defines them, helps us understand them and provokes us to ponder how as Gospel-believing, Jesus-following Christians we should respond.

It’s an ominous title.

The author is Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religious Research Institute.  The book is available from Amazon—https://www.amazon.com/End-White-Christian-America-ebook/dp/B0176M3QC8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478442626&sr=1-1&keywords=the+end+of+white+christian+america). Over the next few weeks, I’ll intermittently blog about it.

Product Details

Architecture.

Let’s start with a visual.  In the late 18th century, steeples of two church buildings towered over lower Manhattan.  By the mid-19th century a building that housed one of Joseph Pulitzer’s newspapers eclipsed the churches and allowed Pulitzer to look down on the churches.  A hundred years later the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building defined New York City’s skyline.

“Where church spires once stirred citizens to look upward to the heavens, skyscrapers allowed corporate leaders to look down upon churches from their lofty offices.  Instead of market transactions happening under the watchful eye of the church, these exchanges literally take place over its head and beyond its reach.”

Even most of us senior citizens can’t remember when “market transactions [happened] under the watchful eye of the church.”  But, America knew such a day—now long gone.

In 1924 the United Methodist Building, across the street from the U.S. Capitol, was dedicated as a “sentinel for Protestant Christian Witness and reform in the nation’s capitol.”  The hope was a building “where Christian faith and politics could mingle”, a place for Protestant presence on Capitol Hill.”  Societal changes suffocated that hope.  Today “the building’s tenants are a hodgepodge of Protestant and ecumenical organizations, interfaith groups and secular nonprofits.”  One small sign of the “end”.

In 1980 the Crystal Cathedral was one of America’s first megachurches.  Robert Schuller preached a “feel-good-about-yourself gospel”.   The suburbanization of California’s Orange County contributed greatly to his success.  Robert P. Jones says Schuller’s appeal was simple—he validated and encouraged material success, personal growth and fulfillment and political conservatism.  His ministry was “a powerful new force in white Christian America’s life.”

But when demographics changed, so did the “force.”  Membership dropped.  The empire unraveled.  Schuller’s children assumed control, filed for bankruptcy and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County bought the building.  Another sign of the retreat of Protestantism’s power in our country.

Internal Divide.

In the early 1920s, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians divided over North-South lines (eventually known as Fundamentalists and Modernists).  Central to the division was evolution.  One group in general held to “theistic evolution” (God governed the process), the other to “creationism” (God created everything there is, some insisting on a literal seven-day period).  Yet another sign of white Christian America’s weakening, this time from an internal issue.

These are only some of the forces which have diminished  the social and political clout of white Christian America.  The process, as this short summary shows, has been in play for over a century.

Jones observes that the terms “Christian” and “Protestant” were virtually synonymous for most of the 20th century.  Even now, pockets of the “good old days” of June Cleaver, Andy Griffith and Norman Rockwell remain.  But “it’s no longer possible to believe that white Christian America sets the tone for the country’s culture as a whole.”  Protestantism, as a powerful cultural force, has faded.

Demographics.

Demographics is a reason.  In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau has predicted that “by 2050 the United States would no longer be a majority-white nation.”  After Barack Obama was elected president, the Census Bureau adjusted that predicted year to 2042.  Population experts now say that by 2060 “the number of people who identify as multiracial will nearly triple and the number of Hispanics and Asians will more than double.”  This process has given rise to battles over “gay” rights and racial tensions.  “America’s religious and cultural landscape is being fundamentally altered.”  That “alteration” was heightened last year when the U.S. Supreme Court decided to legalize “same-sex marriage” nationwide.

Challenge.

Jones concludes his first chapter with a challenge . . .

“There is much at stake for the country in whether these survivors (the next generations of White Christian Americans) retreat into disengaged enclaves, band together to launch repeated rounds (to fight for their old social values) . . . or find a way to integrate into the new American cultural landscape.

Eventually Jones will offer his solutions.  I don’t think we’ll find them satisfactory.  But I take the time to blog through this book, because we must be informed about changes occurring all around us.   Not simply so we can be “in the know.”

But so we can live as intelligent followers of Jesus
in a changing country.

So we help our children
(who never knew the June Cleaver days)
grasp the import of what they face
following Jesus in today’s America.

And so we can all impact this society,
not only for the nation’s sake,
but for that of the kingdom of God.

 

 

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How Should We Then Live?

I’ve lived through a seismic cultural shift in America—and barely noticed.

For example, in 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court “held that a woman’s right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy protected by the Fourteenth Amendment (“No person could be denied ‘equal protection of the laws'”). The decision gave a woman total autonomy over the pregnancy during the first trimester and defined different levels of state interest for the second and third trimesters”  (https://www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18). 

I was ending my third year in my first pastorate in South Jersey and about to plant a church in North Jersey.  The Court’s decision troubled me, but I don’t remember seeing a connection between it and my life.  What seismic shift?

In 2015 the Supreme Court ruled “same-sex couples can marry nationwide, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a historic victory” (http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/26/politics/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling/).  I’d retired from pastoral ministry by then and hopefully a little wiser.  What upset me most about the Court’s decision wasn’t the decision, but Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion:  “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.  In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.” Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the minority that the decision had “nothing to do with the Constitution” (http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/26/politics/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling/).  Those two written opinions were truly troubling.  But did I see them as part of a seismic cultural shift?  Probably not.

In 1976 Francis Schaeffer, an American Evangelical Christian theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor best known for establishing the L’Abri community in Switzerland, wrote How Should We Then Live?  He began his book with these words:  “There is a flow to history and culture.” Applied to the two Supreme Court decisions above, Schaeffer would say they are not isolated events but part of the “flow” of history and culture.

Dr. Albert Mohler,  historical theologian and the ninth president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, quotes Schaeffer and comments . . .

“’People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of those presuppositions than even they themselves may realize,’ Schaeffer wrote, and he was talking this way when most evangelicals were unaware of the storm of worldviews that was coming. He perceived the presuppositions of the looming humanistic and secular worldview as showing up first in art and high culture. He was right. While most evangelicals were watching Gunsmoke and taking their kids to the newly opened Walt Disney World, Schaeffer was listening and watching as a new worldview was taking hold of the larger culture.

“He was also right that the greatest threats to evangelical faithfulness were the promise of personal peace and affluence. He was prophetic in criticizing the Christian church for a legacy of racism and the abuse of economic abundance. He was right when he looked to developments like Roe v. Wade and knew that something seismic had shifted in the culture, and that bigger shocks were yet to come.

“He was also asking precisely the right question: How should we then live? That question which troubled Schaeffer so much in 1976 troubles all of us now. We are about to find out if Christians in this generation are going to believe and to live authentic biblical Christianity. How will we live now?” (http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/10/27/will-live-now-francis-schaeffers-live-40-years/).

In The End of White Christian America, author Robert P. Jones notes that evangelical Christians’ anti-LGBT stance is one reason white evangelicals are shrinking in number and will continue to do so.  Racism, he argues, is another reason.  His point:  we’d better welcome the LGBT community and worship with other races or our numbers (and thus our influence) will continue to diminish.

I’m not delving into  the morality of LGBT, racial, same-sex marriage or abortion issues.  That’s for another day.  I’m pointing out the “flow” of our culture.  Throughout my lifetime we Americans, like dumb sheep (or maybe like wise wolves), have strayed from the Judeo-Christian ethic and increasingly from a historical, literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Foundations are being destroyed by the “flow” of sweeping cultural changes!  We Americans are being herded by a majority of a Supreme Court that interprets the U.S. Constitution according to political correctness and changing times.  We evangelicals are being squeezed to deny Scripture for the sake of sexual-morality-approval.  (This is not to say we are not guiltless regarding how we’ve responded to gays, for example.)  We are a shrinking minority if (in Mohler’s words) we are to live authentic biblical Christianity.  And that’s a big “if”!

This “flow” of culture requires Christians to love God with their mind.  We must wake up to the “flow” and not be like the frog in the pot with the heat turned up gradually until we’re boiled dead meat.  We must be willing to stand against the “flow”—not self-righteously condemning the biblically ungodly, but humbly speaking and living the truth in love.  We must stop fighting among ourselves over secondary doctrines while the world goes to hell and our young people leave the church.  And we must do it with hope firmly fixed in the LORD of whom the psalmist wrote . . .


In the LORD I take refuge.
How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.

When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.

The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.

On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
(Psalm 11:1-7, ESV)


If we’re following the Christ of the Gospels, whatever our numbers, we’re on the right side of history.  But it will take followers of Christ who are tough in the faith, loving neighbors and enemies, and mentally aware of the seismic shift of the culture in which we live.  We can either get swept away in the flow or stand up in truth and love against it.

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“Whatever God you believe in, we all come from the same one.”

I happened upon that quote in The End of White Christian America (a fascinating and disturbing  book I’ll blog about soon).  The quote came from Queen Latifah (American rapper, songwriter, model), introducing Macklemore and Lewis at the 56th Grammy Awards, January 26, 2014.

“When we say music has the power to bring people together at the Grammys, we mean it . . . This song is a love song not just from some of us,” she explained, “but for all of us.  And tonight we celebrate the commitment to love by some very beautiful couples . . . with an uplifting song that says whatever God you believe in, we all come from the same one.  Strip away the fear, underneath it’s all the same love.”

“The Queen” is no theologian.  I  comment because she reflects (or helps further) a misinformed pop theology with her “whatever God” statement.  First, the setting for it  . . .

As Macklemore and Lewis performed, “lights rose on a swaying multicultural chorus dressed in the satiny black robes and white stoles of a gospel choir accompanied by a full band . . . At the top of the stage . . . Queen Latifah strode through a pair of tall double doors while thirty-three diverse couples—straight and gay, multiracial and interracial—filed into the theater’s aisles and faced each other.  Queen Latifah, who had earlier registered with the state of California as a wedding officiant, asked the couples to exchange rings . . . she pronounced them legally married . . .

“The performance ended on an emotional high note with a musical call and response.  The choir sang the opening words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8  (“Love is patient, love is kind . . . “) . . . while Madonna and Lambert (?) echoed their own line, ‘I’m not crying on Sundays'” (The End of White Christian America).

The book’s author, Robert P. Jones, opines:  “The performance . . . was . . . a direct challenge to religious opposition to gay rights . . . not so much an antireligion invective as it was an indictment of religion using its own principles and symbols.”  Repeatedly it proclaimed, “God loves all his children” and declared that those who “preach hate . . .  cannot be holy or anointed, because they contradict the basic spirit of the gospel.”  This performance was broadcast by CBS in prime time across the country.

* * * * *

Admittedly, some anti-homosexual Christian rhetoric is vitriolic.  For that, we should ask forgiveness.  Paul admonishes us to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).  So, in love and humility we confess sin dominates us all.  For us to self -righteously condemn those who practice homosexuality does nothing to point sinners to the Savior.

However, it’s not hate speech to preach that God’s kingdom is closed to those engaged in homosexual acts (1 Corinthians 6:9).  It’s rather to speak God’s words.

At the same time, Queen Latifah can’t select Scriptures she favors (“God is love”) and ignore those she doesn’t (“those who practice homosexuality will not inherit God’s kingdom”).  Nor can we pick and choose.

This Grammy performance seems to have been an in-your-face attack.  Not the first time.  Performers  entertained the audience with an unintentional fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s words: “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).  By the way, that’s in the same Bible as 1 Corinthians 13.

With that setting shown and my comments about it made, what about that quote?  “Whatever God you believe in, we all come from the same one.”   To be fair to “the Queen”, she’s not the only one spouting such “theology”.  It’s in the air!  Listen.  You’ll hear it.

Critiquing, start with what appears obvious:  her statement contradicts itself.  “Whatever God you believe in” implies as many varieties of God exist as Heinz has soups (57).  ” . . . we all come from the same one” implies there’s only one God.  Self-contradictory.

But, let’s not demand too much theology from Queen Latifah.  Maybe she means just that our “faith-language” differs.  Like, Muslims call the one God “Allah” while Christians call him “God” or “Father”.  But, read the Koran.  Allah who commands “death to the infidel” isn’t the God of Jesus.

I infer that at best “the Queen” proclaims one God, but our conception of him differs.  And that really doesn’t matter, because who knows what God is truly like, except that he is love and father of us all?  Does she (and those in her camp) see that she makes God, then, merely the product of our imagination?

Confession:  after 54 years of marriage, I still fantasize about my wife.  But she’s not the product of my imagination.  She exists apart from my imagination.  So does God.  We may imagine what he’s like.  We may identify him according to favorite Scriptures (“God is love”).  But he isn’t the product of our mental conception.  He exists in his own image outside our mind and apart from us.  Rather than seeking to know him as he is, we create him in our own image.

The biblical writer to the Hebrews says, ” . . . he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV).  God “is” implies that he exists as a living being independent of us.  Nothing we do or think make him who or what he is.

Furthermore, instead of shaping God in our own image, we are to “diligently seek him” (keeping in mind that in Christ Jesus he came to seek us!).  We’re not to use our sin-darkened, culturally-conformed minds to imagine God; we’re to diligently seek to discover what he is really like as revealed in his Son and Word.  (It’s the most challenging, exhilarating study in the world!)

Education, I’ve read, was once a search for truth, for reality.  Sadly, our sinful society decided no overarching truth (reality) exists.  Thus even God (if he exists at all) is nothing more than what we believe him to be.  Thus humans in general don’t seek God, spurred on by a promised reward from him.  Instead, our reward is the satisfaction of our own corrupt lusts and maybe, in the process, a name for ourselves.

* * * * *

A prophecy:  increasingly the reasonableness of same-sex love and marriage, the emphasis of “God is love” to the exclusion of “God his holy”, and the reasonableness of “we’re all God’s children” will be hammered (or whispered or preached) at us.  More and more we will be marginalized and, in some cases castigated, for insisting marriage is for one man and one woman, for declaring God is holy as well as love, and for proclaiming that only those who come through faith in Jesus Christ are God’s children.  We will be mocked and marked as prejudiced because we believe God is not whatever anyone believes him to be.

A question:  will we remain faithful under such pressure and still love those who persecute us?

A final question . . .

losing the approval of the majority,
will we be satisfied with the reward God gives
to those who diligently seek him?

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The Courts’ Death-Culture Vs. Religious Faith

Say you own a Chevy dealership and a federal court rules:  “From now on you have to tell your customers about the good deal they can get from the Ford dealer down the street.”  Crazy, right?   Well, that’s what the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit just decided about pregnancy centers.  Pregnancy center staff must tell any woman who comes for help with her unborn baby that publicly funded abortion is available—even if the staff’s religious belief, or that of the pregnant woman, opposes abortion.

Here’s how “The Federalist” announced it:  “The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that California law AB 775, which compels Christian, pro-life pregnancy centers to advocate for abortion, doesn’t impede their First Amendment right to exercise their religious beliefs.”

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition.  It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices.  Question:  How could this federal appeals court possibly decree such a ruling “doesn’t impede their First Amendment right to exercise their religious beliefs?”  Answer:  the court apparently decided not on the basis of the First Amendment, but on the basis of a liberal worldview which elevates “women’s health” (euphemism for “the right to put your unborn baby to death”) over freedom of  the expression of one’s religion.

Such a decision by the appeals court is only possible because in Roe v. Wade,  the U.S. Supreme Court somehow found a woman’s right to choose abortion in the Fourteenth Amendment.  That Amendment addresses many aspects of citizenship and the rights of citizens.  The most commonly used — and frequently litigated — phrase in the amendment is  “equal protection of the laws“, which figures prominently in a wide variety of landmark cases, including Brown v. Board of Education (racial discrimination), Roe v. Wade (reproductive rights),  Bush v. Gore (election recounts), Reed v. Reed (gender discrimination),  and University of California v. Bakke (racial quotas in education).

“The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its territory the equal protection of the laws.  This means that a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances.  The Federal Government must do the same, but this is required by the Fifth Amendment Due Process.

“The point of the equal protection clause is to force a state to govern impartially—not draw distinctions between individuals solely on differences that are irrelevant to a legitimate governmental objective.  Thus, the equal protection clause is crucial to the protection of civil rights (https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/equal_protection).

By declaring “a woman’s right to choose [abortion] as civil right,” Roe v. Wade, in my view, goes down as one of the worst travesties of “justice” the Court has foisted on the nation.  Since the 1973 decision, 59,465,821 unborn babies have been put to death.  And now, a lower federal appeals court has forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for more unborn babies’ deaths.

The Ninth Circuit Court, headquartered in San Francisco, is by far the largest of the thirteen courts of appeals, with 29 active judgeships.  According to the most current count, the Ninth Circuit has the highest percentage (68%) of sitting judges appointed by Democratic presidents. Republicans argue the court is biased because of its relatively high proportion of Democratic appointees.

“It’s bad enough if the government tells you what you can’t say, but a law that tells you what you must say—under threat of severe punishment—is even more unjust and dangerous. In this case, political allies of abortionists are seeking to punish pro-life pregnancy centers, which offer real hope and help to women,” Nate Bowman. senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said.  “Forcing these centers to promote abortion and recite the government’s preferred views is a clear violation of their constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms.”

Now Hillary who, according to polls, may very well be our next president (“The Wall Street Journal, Opinion, Review and Outlook”) suggests she believes a woman has an “absolute [right] to an abortion, at any time during pregnancy right up until birth. She claimed merely to oppose the repeal of Roe v. Wade, which allows some regulation of late-term abortions. But she somehow overlooked Gonzales v. Carhart , the 2007 decision that upheld a legislative ban on so-called partial-birth abortion.

“Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the Carhart opinion that ruled such restrictions are consistent with Roe and the Constitution.  Mrs. Clinton kept invoking ‘the life and the health of the mother’ to justify her opposition to any limit on abortion, but Carhart found the life of the mother can be sufficient.

“To put all this another way, Mrs. Clinton believes there is no restriction on abortion she would ever support, and there is no restriction on gun rights she would ever oppose. Carhart, Citizens United and Heller were 5-4 decisions, and Mrs. Clinton wants each of them to be litmus tests for her Supreme Court appointments. She mocks Mr. Trump for saying he won’t abide by the election result, but she wants to rewrite the Constitution to fit her own political views.”

Every presidential election has consequences.  This one, by one to  three Supreme Court nominations, will have consequences for decades and for the lives of unborn babies by the millions.  But let’s not forget federal appeals courts appointments.  According to “The Wall Street Journal” . . .

“There are 73 vacancies on the federal appeals and trial courts, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Dozens more spots could open in the next few years, given the number of active judges nearing or at retirement age, judicial data show.

“Two terms of judicial appointments by Mr. Obama have shifted the political balance of the 12 regional U.S. courts of appeals, which review more than 50,000 cases each year, compared with the roughly 80 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

I find myself in an uncomfortable corner, advocating for Donald Trump in order to deny Hillary Clinton’s ideology (worse than Obama’s?) to further this anti-God “legalized culture of death” in America.   How can any serious Bible-believing Christian not share my uncomfortable corner?

 

 

 

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Vote?

I’m obsessing over voting.  I don’t know what to do.  Both the Republican and Democrat candidates are shameful.  What has happened to America that Clinton and Trump are our only choices?  If there is ever a sign that this country is in decline, these two are disgraceful proof.

So:  how to vote, or not?

Long ago I swore, “Never Trump!”  But now that there are no other Republican candidates on the crowded stage, and Hillary is the only alternative, I’ve switched my “never” to her and reconsidering.  My alternatives, as I see them now are:  (1)  vote against Hillary by voting for Trump or (2) don’t vote.

My single vote (or absence of it) will make no difference.  Mine won’t decide who will sit in the Oval Office, I know that.  I could quite easily reject both candidates and just stay home.  Neither one deserves my vote; neither is qualified for the highest office in the land.  Yet I want my voice to be heard, although in the votes of millions, it really won’t be.  Yet if Paul told us to pray for those who rule (1 Timothy 2), certainly he’d want us to vote for those who rule.

I’ll not waste time by citing all the vices of both candidates.   Here are just a few that have grabbed my attention as I’ve followed this bizarre election cycle.

Trump is vulgar and crude.  Probably a misogynist and racist.  Disinterested in studying what he doesn’t know and doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and doesn’t care.  He thinks it’s all about him.  He’s untrustworthy.  He claims to be a Christian, but his life shows the fruit of an ignorant, arrogant unbeliever.  He seems the epitome of everything I as a Christian don’t value.

Hillary is a congenital liar, untrustworthy in every word and deed.  Her thirty years in public life have contributed very little if anything to the country’s good.  She’s a progressive who will move America further to the Left (away from biblical values), increase the size and role of government, raise taxes, fight for taxpayer-funded abortions anytime anywhere and become Obama on steroids.  All her scandals, especially Benghazi, disqualify her for office.

If neither are fit to serve, my dilemma should be easily solved:  don’t vote.  But here’s what drives me to the voting booth—our next president will nominate one, or as many as three, Supreme Court justices who will serve for decades and whose decisions will affect America for generations.  Hillary’s nominee(s) would almost certainly turn the Court a sharp Left and give us more justices who see the Constitution as a  “living document” and find in it laws that simply aren’t there.  (Even this Court found same-sex “marriage” lurking somewhere in the spaces!)  Decisions will be made, then, not on the basis of what the framers intended, but what politics demand.  We will have moved further from a nation based on constitution law and closer to a nation based on political and societal trends.  I can’t think of anything more dangerous for this country.

With Hillary, we know what the Court will become.  With Trump, at least there’s a chance he’ll appoint conservative constitutionalists as he’s said.  No guarantees; I know that.  But maybe . . .

Let me be very clear, as our current president is fond of saying (usually when he’ll end up being anything but):  I’m not supporting Trump.  I’m not one of those Christian leaders who jumped early on “the Trump Train” and schmoozed up to him like he was the Second Coming of Jesus.  My first thought about some of them:  they just want to stand close to the Man in the limelight.  How could a Christ-centered leader stand with a man whose life and values contradict everything we stand for as Jesus’ followers?  I’m not supporting Donald Trump.

Thinking of Christian leaders makes me wonder if there’s a Christian position to take?  The only one I can see is this:  look at the candidates’ values, history and policies and pick the one closest to the faith.  Or, in this case, the one least distant from it.

So right now with a month to go, I’m leaning toward voting against Clinton by voting for Trump.  If I do vote against Clinton by voting for Trump, I’ll do it believing God is sovereign and will cause his will for America to prevail.  I’ll do it eternally grateful that, because of his grace in Christ, I belong to the kingdom not of this fallen world.  My future well-being doesn’t depend on the occupant of the Oval Office.  But while I’m here I want to promote righteousness, or at least at this point stave off the rising tide of unrighteousness in this country.  And I’ll vote praying God will show his great mercy to America.

Also, vote Republican for the down-ballot candidates so Hillary can be controlled.

(Please read Wayne Grudem’s fine blog on the matter—http://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/10/09/trumps-moral-character-and-the-election-n2229846).

 

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The America We Once Knew

I’m old enough to remember at least vestiges of those Rockwell America days.  (TV’s “Leave It to Beaver”, “Ozzie and Harriet”, “I Love Lucy”.  Charles J. Johnson’s Chicago Tribune article below saddens me; it’s a reminder that those more “innocent” days are forever gone.

          I hope you at the not-yet-fifty mark find this article informative.  Indeed, I hope we all will.  We can’t recover “the good old days” (probably they weren’t as good as we recall); but as Jesus’ followers we should be aware of the far-reaching changes that have snuck up on us like an overnight fog.  They now define this country where we live.  I hope to soon read The End of White Christian America, a book whose title captures one aspect of the sea-change America is undergoing.
          These changes, of course, don’t change the Gospel.  But they should change how we contextualize it and understand the people who need it.  And they should better inform us of the kind of society in which we’re called to follow Jesus in the obedience of faith.

What millennials know: We can’t return to Rockwell’s America

Charles J. Johnson Chicago Tribune

One wants America to be a Norman Rockwell painting again. The other also wants a Rockwell painting, but with maybe a woman, or even two women, carving the turkey at the head of the table.

But Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton want to steer us away from where we find ourselves, to another time, a different America. On the stump, they both describe a rosier period when the middle class was stronger, the military more incisive and America’s elected leaders more in tune with the metaphorical farmers’ fields they left when taking up office.

Neither is describing an America that is familiar to me or to other millennials who share the same national signposts.

I’ve been an American citizen from birth, but my life as a political citizen began when I stepped off the school bus in seventh grade into the arms of my crying mother. At first, I was confused because she should have been at work that Tuesday in September. American flags were out on all the neighbor houses.

The day we first bombed Afghanistan, my mom had to drive me to the mall. When we invaded Iraq, I put down my French homework and watched television while the boy I was baby-sitting slept. When Lehman Brothers failed, I was starting to look for jobs, which was also when I noticed a lot of my classmates’ parents losing theirs.

I have lived my entire political life with my country in a state of war, my entire career in an economy that feels hollow and debt-burdened, in which anxiety and not future fortune is the overriding sentiment.

Over my lifetime, government dysfunction has become so commonplace it’s laughable. But Brooklyn and Baton Rouge, instead of laughing at Congress, now seem hard-wired just to laugh at each other without realizing the anchor of Washington’s incompetence is tied to all of our ankles.

Whatever Rockwellian time campaign speechwriters are selling, I’m not familiar enough to buy.

I’ve never known an America that didn’t speak Spanish — parents of friends who asked their children to translate sleepover pickup times; the kitchen crew that taught me Mexican curse words and brought me conchas on Fridays; immigrant classmates, including Ivy League-accepted ones, disappearing to live with other relatives.

These are not abstracts to me. This was high school.

I am told there was some other America before this, when ranchero music didn’t blast from construction sites and factory jobs could send kids to state colleges, but I don’t know it. The idea that yanking people off Glen Ellyn landscaping crews or from behind taqueria counters and plugging native-born Americans into their $11-an-hour jobs will restore some decades-past social contract strikes me as somewhere between naive and racist.

A taco truck on every corner doesn’t sound like a dystopia. It sounds like lunch in my America.

I’ve never known an America that wasn’t at war in the Middle East, often in more than one country.

I am told there was some other America before this, where U.S. military power could stop the slaughter of innocents and return yoked peoples their national sovereignty. The America I’ve known is the one that doesn’t win wars so much as sledge them into smaller pieces. Then it stands astride, picking through the sharp pieces to see what can be glued back together for something like a finished product.

Wars don’t really end in my America. They just become something else.

I’ve never known an America that wasn’t fighting a drug war. I sat through D.A.R.E. classes, part of the first generation of Nancy Reagan’s disciples to trudge off from middle school imbued with the notion that street drugs were a cancer, that trying them put you on track for addiction, and that those who bought them were criminals. All this despite the fact that I could go to any pharmacy in America with a busted leg and walk out with orally administered heroin.

This was considered good medicine, as long as it could be afforded. As long as the employer-provided health insurance lasted.

I am told there was some other America when lawmakers stepped in to prevent dangerous products from making their way to public markets. That Congress was a check on corporate America’s at-times inhuman profit motive, the kind of thing that could upend a world economy or turn a nation of football players and aging steelworkers into junkies.

I am told these same people will now devote themselves to reining in the cash that floats their political careers — muscled, if need be, by a president whose political and personal fortunes also have been quietly nurtured by bankers and pharmaceutical executives.

I’ve heard of other things about this different America: how 26-year-olds could routinely afford to buy houses, and how a mass murder at a movie theater or school wasn’t an every-other-month part of life. I am told there was a time when the fundamental failure of our bedrock institutions was the exception, rather than a rule.

I have little confidence in those who say they can return us to a time they and their generation undid.

Neither major party candidate seems to grasp that the country and the world have changed. America is different for us who don’t know what it was like before this reality.

Our institutions’ abilities aren’t what they were. Neither candidate seems like a good option to lead the America we have now — the one I grew up in — the one whose reality is very different from the nation I hear described at campaign events in high school gymnasiums in Florida, Ohio and Iowa.

The America they hope to lead? I’ve only seen it in paintings.

@Charliemagne

charjohnson@chicagotribune.com

Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune
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WE Pay for Abortions!

Our tax dollars help pay for one abortion every 97 seconds, despite the Hyde Amendment Congress passed in 1976 and the Supreme Court upheld in 1980.   The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life. Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood slaughters pre-born babies with money from our tax payments.

Read this informative, distressing post from “The Daily Signal” . . .

The Numbers That Show Planned Parenthood About Abortion, Not Women’s Health

Lila Rose / September 14, 2016

As Planned Parenthood looks to spend a record $30 million this fall to influence the November elections and keep its taxpayer funding flowing, Live Action has released a new online tool pro-lifers can use to help counter the kind of propaganda $30 million can buy.

Live Action’s new “3 Percent Abortion Myth” video dispels one of Planned Parenthood’s greatest myths—that abortion only makes up 3 percent of its services.

In order to justify its half-billion dollars in annual taxpayer funding, Planned Parenthood downplays its abortion numbers by falsely claiming that abortion only makes up three percent of its business—and instead plays up its cancer screenings and so-called “women’s health care.” 

However, Planned Parenthood’s own numbers prove that it’s an abortion corporation, focused on abortion, not on women’s health care. The fact is, Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform a single mammogram and performs less than 2 percent of all women’s cancer screenings in the United States. Yet, as America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood commits over 30 percent of America’s abortions—887 abortions a day, one abortion every 97 seconds, and over 320,000 abortions last year alone.

>>> Read More: “Disentangling the Data on Planned Parenthood Affiliates’ Abortion Services and Receipt of Taxpayer Funding

In fact, Planned Parenthood is so focused on abortion that it aborts 160 children for every one child it refers out for adoption (it doesn’t do adoptions itself). If a woman with an unwanted pregnancy goes to Planned Parenthood, that child is 160 times more likely to be poisoned or dismembered than to be put up for adoption to a waiting family.

Live Action’s new motion graphics video not only shows that Planned Parenthood’s market share of abortions dwarfs its share of cancer screenings, it also illustrates how Planned Parenthood calculates its ridiculous 3 percent statistic to deliberately mislead the public and downplay its abortion business.  The figure is derived by dividing the number of abortions it does by the total number of services it provides, counting a $10 pregnancy test or a pack of condoms the same as a $500 abortion. 

 

 

Even The Washington Post and Slate have called out the abortion corporation for its deception.

Three percent is a hugely important figure to understand, because Planned Parenthood and its allies in Washington, Hollywood, and the media often use it to dismiss its critics as well as taxpayers who object to being forced to support the abortion chain with hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Three percent is not a real number, but over 320,000 abortions a year and a 30 percent market share of all U.S. abortions are.

Planned Parenthood is spending more than it ever has — and double what it spent in 2012 – to influence this November’s election. Citizens have a right to know the truth about the media often use it to dismiss its critics as well as taxpayers who object to being forced to support the abortion chain with hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Three percent is not a real number, but over 320,000 abortions a year and a 30 percent market share of all U.S. abortions are.

Planned Parenthood by the numbers:

  • Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for Pap tests is 0.97 percent. It performed 271,539 tests in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 28.1 million tests nationwide. (Source)
  • Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for clinical breast exams is 1.8 percent. It performed 363,803 exams in fiscal year 2014-15, out of 20 million exams nationwide. (Source and note:  These are physical exams, not mammograms.  Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms.)
  • Planned Parenthood’s U.S. market share for abortions is 30.6 percent. It committed 323,999 abortions in fiscal year 2014-15, out of approximately 1.06 million abortions nationwide. (Source )
  • Planned Parenthood aborts 160 children for every one child it refers out for adoption. (Source)

Planned Parenthood is spending more than it ever has — and double what it spent in 2012 – to influence this November’s election. Citizens have a right to know the truth about an organization that has a hold on the media, our elected leaders, and our wallets.

You can share this video to help counter one of Planned Parenthood’s biggest lies and help educate other voters. Planned Parenthood’s millions of dollars are no match for the millions of voices speaking up for the most vulnerable among us — our precious pre-born children.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sexual Revolution

Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years.  England’s King George III ruled the American colonies when he dozed off.  When he woke, George Washington was the U.S. President.  Rip had slept through the revolution.

Question:  Are we Rip-Van-Winkle-ing through the sexual revolution?

For months I’ve considered writing about it, but couldn’t organize my thoughts well.  Now today along comes a essay (“Ask Not for Whom the Volcano Erupts; It Erupts for Thee”)from Dr. Albert Mohler   http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/08/30/response-david-gushee/).  You can read its entirety at the foregoing link.  Below in bold-face are some of Mohler’s quotes interspersed with my thoughts . . .

Christians in America now face a moment of judgment at the hands of a secular culture that grows more intensely adversarial with each passing day. Churches, institutions, and individuals committed to the Christian church’s historic sexual ethic, held consistently over two millennia, now find themselves faced with a stark choice — join the sexual revolution or face the consequences.

Those consequences include social marginalization, overt discrimination,the censure from the cultural elites, and worse. Christian colleges and schools are now openly threatened with the loss of tax-exempt status and participation in federal and state student aid. Christian employees in businesses large and small are told to get with the program or get lost. Getting with the program does not mean simply working amiably with all, regardless of sexual orientation. It means openly and enthusiastically celebrating every demand and aim of the LGBT community. Entire professions will soon be closed to many Christians who, for example, cannot, without violating their Christian conscience, perform sex-reassignment surgeries.

For many, Mohler sounds alarmist.  Is America’s secular culture really growing more adversarial every day?  Are we Christians truly faced with a stark choice to “join the sexual revolution or face the consequences?  If we follow the news (we should), we know Mohler’s assessment doesn’t miss the mark by much.  My research agrees:  “Getting with the program (of the sexual revolution) . . . means openly and enthusiastically celebrating every demand and aim of the L (Lesbian) G (Gay) B (Bi-Sexual) T (Transgender) community.”  We are not permitted to tolerate or even agree with, we must celebrate!

This is the reality we now face, and the onslaught is coming fast. Major LGBT organizations are now pressing their demands and gaining traction. A host of politicians are ready to support any legislation that will make them appear, by their calculation, on “the right side of history,” not to mention on the winning side of the ballot box. An entire universe of regulative bodies ranging from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the American Bar Association to accrediting agencies and local school boards is poised to drop the hammer on any individual or institution that stands in the path of the sexual revolution.

Once the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage to be the law of the land (June 2015), flood gates opened.  The 14th amendment was applied to LGBT practices (“no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction ‘the equal protection of the laws'”).  Thus they became civil rights.  And, thus, they became a voting bloc politicians craved.  This, then, made Christians, who want to uphold biblical morality, potential law-breakers—and left to live as a distinct minority.

Now, along comes a voice to warn us that the deluge is coming and to argue that we had better prepare ourselves for disaster or save ourselves at last by joining the revolution.

How will we respond?  Standing for biblical morality will bring down the wrath of the culture.  Joining the sexual revolution will bring down the wrath of God.  Neutrality is impossible.  One can’t dismiss a revolution with a wave of the hand.

That voice is Professor David Gushee of Mercer University. In a recent column at Religion News Service, Gushee announced: “Middle ground is disappearing on the question of whether LGBT persons should be treated as full equals, without any discrimination in society — and on the related question of whether religious institutions should be allowed to continue discriminating due to their doctrinal beliefs. It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed. This is true both for individuals and for institutions.”

“Discrimination” is a hot-button word.  It has two distinct meanings.   One, “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.”  Two, recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.”  In popular parlance, definition one is most common, and is morally wrong.  Number two is morally neutral.  It simply is the recognition that my head is bald and yours has hair.  I don’t know how Gushee uses it here (I suspect “one”.)

We should read his words again with both meanings in mind:  ” . . . the related question of whether religious institutions should be allowed to continue discriminating due to their doctrinal beliefs.”  See where this is headed?  Holding to the Christian doctrinal belief that marriage is set apart for one man/one woman, for example, is discriminatory and violates the equal protection law of the 14th Amendment.

Mohler (as do I) agrees with Gushee that there is no middle ground on these sexual revolution issues. “It turns out that you are either for full and unequivocal social and legal equality for LGBT people, or you are against it, and your answer will at some point be revealed.  This is true both for individuals and for institutions.”

My argument . . . is that the normalization of LGBT behaviors and relationships and revisions of human identity is incompatible with a commitment to biblical authority and the historic faith of the Christian church defined by Holy Scripture.

Christians can be confused over this issue.  Shouldn’t LGBT people be given the same rights as others?  If they want to practice same-sex, marry same-sex, change their sex, why should we care?  Space is too limited to discuss all the reasons.  But the first is:  God opposes it.  We must not thoughtlessly, in the name of 21st century cultural “fairness”, condone what God condemns.  At the same time, Jesus commands us to love everybody—one another, neighbor, enemy.  And it’s not loving to approve a practice that separates the practitioner from him!  This is no time for Christian conservatives (as Gushee calls for) ““to reconsider their position voluntarily.”

David Gushee . . .  really means to warn Christians who believe as I do that we are about to be the victims of a volcanic eruption. Hot lava is headed our way . . .I think he would also prefer that we join the revolution rather than be consumed in the lava flow.

Some professed Christians have joined the revolution.  These, I presume, are Christians who preach salvation without repentance, Christians for whom the Bible requires revision for the 21st century, Christians who’ve abandoned the church’s 2000-year-old stand on sexual morality.

My aim in writing here is not to suggest steps we can take to counter the revolution and stand true to God’s Word.  Indeed, “steps” may be different according to our circumstances. My aim is simply to awaken us to the revolution’s reality—with the prayer that God will give us wisdom and courage to speak and hold to the truth in the humble love of Jesus Christ our Lord.

In other words, I’m writing to shout to us all:

WAKE UP TO THE REVOLUTION, RIP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Nation of Laws?

O PreacherMaybe FBI Director James Comey got it right.  Hard to think so after reading David French’s piece below.  I post it to warn of America’s “slippery slope.”  The more we skirt or outright ignore laws or treat different people differently before the law, the greater the danger of losing our freedoms.  That includes religious freedoms.
Hillary’s Banana Republic

 

By David French — July 5, 2016
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