Tag Archives: new evangelical

A Pro-Life, “Christian” organization gone rogue

October 1, 2011

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I hear the echoing booms. The Family Research Council is hammering nails into the coffin of its own credibility – and, once again, it drags the rest of us into its grave. I’ll crawl out and obsequiously plead before my agnostic friends: “I’m sure the FRC is well-motivated … they care … they’re sincere … law-abiding … love dogs and cats … but (that inexorable “but”) … not all of us are like them.”

My friends are not stupid. They see the organization’s mockery of its proclaimed anti-abortion stance; they see how the FRC is not genuinely pro-life; they see through the chimeras and phantoms and figments and find no resemblance with the New Testament lifestyle. It’s evident: The FRC is a ventriloquist’s doll for the Far Right fringe, complete with a Bible tucked beneath its wooden arm (witness the clone like resemblance between its budget cutting proposals and the Republican Party’s, here and here). The ventriloquist preaches from Ayn Rand’s notes while neglecting the baby in the womb as well as the infant in the crib. They want nothing to do with our ilk if it means resembling the Family Research Council.

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The Nightmare of the Dark Side

September 6, 2011

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Attempts at psychoanalyzing politicians are almost inevitably unfair and fruitless. Their protective smiles halt us at their personality’s foyer. They’re evaluating us: Potential ally? Political friend? Foe? Keep them all close – especially the enemies.

Yet part of me longs to reach out and walk with Dick Cheney, once an articulate conservative spokesmen and capable minority whip. Most accounts portray him as a stellar defense secretary. I enjoyed listening to him though I usually disagreed with him. What happened, Mr. Vice President? Was it the mood-swinging heart medication? Was it the haunting images of falling buildings and thousands of deaths? Is there lingering guilt? Do you feel, in your heart of hearts, that the government failed its most basic task: protecting its citizens? Did you make a silent pledge: Never again! Surely you must know that others – such as Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell – felt the same burdens and made similar pledges. Surely you understand that their differing advice stemmed from the same sense of obligation. So why the cheap shots against your former colleagues in your latest book? Why the vindictiveness?

But, of course, I will never see your heart – and I don’t need to. You’d smile the protective smile even if we were to meet, and that’s your right.

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Denying the deniers

August 20, 2011

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Deniers of climate change, including many Republican Presidential candidates, often cite statistics promoted in The Great Global Warming Swindle, which premiered in Britain in 2007. I’ve encountered them myself in several e-mails. Peter Sinclair’s video illuminates the pseudo-documentary’s distortions. It turns out that sun activity is not spiking current temperatures; the Earth is now hotter than the balmy Middle Ages; and volcanoes do not belch more CO2 than factories and cars.

It’s intriguing: Sean Hannity branded people like me “communist.” Not that facts matter, but I’m an evangelical Christian and a Baptist pastor. I would be among the first bound for the nascent American gulag after the Revolution. But even more relevant, I’m advocating the same concern for climate change as did George H.W. Bush. Was the World War 2 hero a closet communist? And what is “communist” about environmental concern? I don’t want collectivization. I just want green environmental stewardship, which Republicans of previous eras had always championed.

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No fair being unfair — to anyone

August 10, 2011

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Ringing clarion calls for fairness can be a cinch: Find sympathetic people, unearth someone who delivered them a sucker punch, then scream “foul!” Voila. We’re righteously indignant. But what if the punch slammed someone with whom we adamantly disagree? What if a news organization cuffs a tea party leader? Is not unfairness still unfair?

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Video of the month, August 2011: Rich Nathan: A Both/And Church

August 9, 2011

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Rich Nathan, pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Columbus, Ohio, discusses false contradictions and why it is necessary to be both-and Christians.

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Surprise-surprise: Fox was very bad

August 8, 2011

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So our president funds his own 50th birthday bash, invites a slew of guests from all races and ethnicities, and has everything but hip-hop music played. How does the blog owned by Fox News cover it? Look at the picture below. Look at it again. Feast your eyes on the cheap shot par excellence. Fox Nation finds scandal where there is no scandal and litters it with racist hints as subtle as earthquakes. No doubt they’ll respond to objections with that we’re-just-kidding look.

The real scandal, of course, lies in an alleged “news organization” that fronts for a propaganda machine. I wonder if the Fox owner Rupert Murdoch is finished answering questions on that phone hacking scandal in Britain …

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An Open Letter To My Progressive Evangelical Kin: Remember Who We Are

July 25, 2011

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We’ve been played.

My inner skeptic roared when HarperOne launched its pre-release publicity campaign this winter for Rob Bell’s Love Wins: “With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly hopeful – eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And, ultimately, Love Wins.” That’s raw bait, nurtured and bred for remonstrating bloggers, tweeters, and columnists and their free publicity. And they chomped. John Piper issued his now-famous tweet, “Farewell Rob Bell” with a link to a critical Justin Taylor review, and John MacArthur delivered one of his typical broadsides. All unwittingly read their lines from the marketers’ script. Some progressive evangelicals raced to Bell’s defense and, on cue, cried that many hadn’t read the book. Nor had many of them, but they still snarled at the critics while reciting their buzz words: “dialogue,” “understanding,” and “conversation.” Who can disagree? Except that the snub-like calls for civility reeked of incivility: there was constant second-guessing of motives. Few addressed the merits.

Surely the publicity stunt was a cynical ploy. Of course I liked Bell – especially his innovative NOOMA videos – and anyone needling finicky heresy watchers can’t be all bad. But I refused to buy the book. Don’t we see that script? Doesn’t everyone know how this play ends? We’ll discover harmless shibboleths cloaked in hip, “with-it” lingo. Eggs will drip from the faces of the heresy watchers while HarperOne laughs its way to the bank … Right?

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A shocking, real-life drama: calmness and tranquility may be round the next bend

July 18, 2011

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Run – do not walk, but run with blistering, heart-attack speed – to the mall’s Rock-em Sock-’em Religious Magazine Store and pick up the latest copy of Christianity Today. There’s hope. Gobs of it. Sanity is making a come-back even amid the shrill cry of the shrinking religious right (“I’m melting!”).

First is the cover story profiling the new Focus on the Family boss. Read the tag line: “Why Jim Daly doesn’t care whether you know who he is or whom he supports for president.” Say whuh? The organization is returning to its original purpose and calling: Nurturing godly families and helping children. No one says Focus employees will be wearing Che Guevara T-shirts (although the old formal dress code has dropped to “business casual”), but at least they won’t implicitly christen the GOP as “God’s Own Party.” Daly’s own compelling personal saga of alcoholic parents and foster-care abuse gives him empathy for the downtrodden.

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Hollering “Everything’s Fine!” in a crowded movie theater …

July 16, 2011

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Michael F. Bird has stolen the knife, waved a magic wand, transformed it into a feather, and twisted it. Bombshells have become cotton candy and grenades explode flower petals. I feel the love.

Some background: D.A. Carson and N.T. Wright have lobbed donnish salvos across the Great Pond. Carson, a New Testament professor at Illinois’ Trinity Evangelical Seminary and a lion of the ever-vigilant Neo-Reformed Movement, sniped at Wright when reviewing The Future of Justification by John Piper (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), which questioned Wright’s interpretation of the Apostle Paul: “John Piper will not allow believers to put their trust in anyone or anything other than the crucified and resurrected Savior.” Wright, a British Anglican cleric and scholar, took umbrage in his weighty reply, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2009): “The implicit charge that the Pauline theology I have articulated might lead people to put their trust in ‘anyone or anything other than the crucified and resurrected Savior’ … is seriously misleading.”

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Video of the month: July, 2011

July 13, 2011

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Old Testament Scholar and author Pete Enns engages NT Wright in a series of Youtube videos. Here, Wright briefly discusses how European evangelicals often lean to the political left and how we need to learn from everyone on the theological spectrum.

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