Friday, October 9, 2009

Faith Healing

Another sad example of people misapplying the principles of Scripture.
On the last day of Kent Schaible's life, his parents and pastor intensely prayed over his 32-pound body, which, unbeknown to them, was ravaged by bacterial pneumonia. When the 2-year-old boy finally died at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 24 inside the family's Northeast Philadelphia home, the pastor called a funeral director to take the boy's remains to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office.

At no time that day, nor in the week-and-a-half prior, did Herbert and Catherine Schaible seek medical treatment for their son despite his sore throat, congestion, liquid bowel movements, sleeplessness and trouble swallowing, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said in court yesterday.

"All it would have taken is a simple visit to a doctor for antibiotics or Tylenol, maybe, to keep this child alive," she said during the couple's preliminary hearing.

After the two attorneys representing the Schaibles argued for their innocence, Municipal Judge Patrick Dugan held them for trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy to commit involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child.
Taking your child to the doctor is in no way a demonstration of a lack of faith. Unfortunately, this could've been avoided had this couple's pastor known anything at all about the way God works. God is active in this world. He is not a passive spectator watching everything that happens to us. He's also totally sovereign. Each event in our lives is part of his plan, but we also must realize that he has ordained that these events come to pass through secondary causes.

God chooses to use natural events and real people to accomplish his will here on earth. That doesn't mean supernatural things don't happen, but we have plenty of evidence that secondary causes are God's chosen means for getting things done. God installs the leader of this nation, but he uses the votes of real people to do so. In the same way, God is the great physician, but he heals people through the work of doctors, nurses, and advancements in medicine.

Unfortunately, this is just another example of the dangers in not having a strong grasp on doctrine and Biblical teaching.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More on Coral Ridge

One of the issues surrounding the current schism within Coral Ridge PCA is the assertion by new pastor Tullian Tchividjian that politics should not be preached from the pulpit. This question of how involved church leaders, and pastors in particular, should be in local and national politics has interested me for some time. I'm a very opinionated and politically informed person. My initial tendency is always that the church should be actively involved in influencing the political realm at every level and in every way, but is that the Biblical view?

We had a discussion about this a few weeks ago in our officer training session, in which our pastor talked about what he called the traditional southern presbyterian view on the church and politics. It's traditionally been taught in churches like ours that the purpose of the Sunday morning worship service is, well, the worship of God; and that the pastor's priority is the exposition of the Word of God to the people. The southern presbyterian view is that it's the pastor's job to inform the people from the pulpit concerning the Biblical principles that govern every area of life - including public policy and political thought. It is then incumbent on the individual members of the church to go out and apply those principles to every aspect of their lives, and to the political and public policy debates. When church members get involved in the local school board, run for other public offices, and vote for candidates that align with Biblical principles as outlined from the pulpit on Sundays, the church is then indirectly, but effectively, influencing the political landscape.

I've always found it disturbing to hear pastors telling members which candidates to vote for in elections, and using their pulpits to endorse certain campaigns. It happens quite a lot in many of the black churches here in Macon, where a church service can resemble a political rally at times. (On a related note, the "reverend" Jeremiah Wright is coming to Macon this month to "preach" at St. Paul AME.) However, I also tend to think that we as Christians have a duty to be involved in our government and in the making of public policy.

So, is Tchividjian correct in steering Coral Ridge away from it's high profile association with the religious conservative movement under Dr. Kennedy? There is no question that Dr. Kennedy sought to directly shape the political landscape both through his preaching and related ministries. His sermons, which were aired on television and radio for years, would often take on legalized abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and the idea that America had strayed from its founding Christian principles. He was a member of the Moral Majority, and was constantly quoted as wanting to "reclaim America for Christ." Some have accused him of being a Dominionist - of wanting America to be ruled by Christians, according to Biblical Law - however, I don't see his teachings going to quite the extremes of Christian Reconstructionism.

Tchividjian, on the other hand, seems to fall more in line with the southern presbyterian model, and is certainly of the opinion that preaching should be expository in nature. While I have a tendency to enjoy hearing Dr. Kennedy calling America out, I also tend to think that preaching should be more focused on explaining the Scriptures. Don't get me wrong, the Bible has a lot to say about many of the hot button political issues of our day, and when a pastor is preaching from the whole of Scripture he should not be afraid to explain the truth on each of these issues. It's difficult to know where to draw the line.

I suppose my view is that the pulpit is the place for revealing God's will through his Word, and that pastors should stick to doing just that. If that means pointing out what the Bible says about a particular political issue, then so be it. But politics shouldn't be the dominant topic of discussion on Sunday mornings. On the other hand, we are called to change our culture, not withdraw from it, so it's up to us as members of the body of Christ to go out and apply the principles explained to us from the pulpit in our communities.

I'm seeing more and more of the younger generation of believers displaying an almost knee-jerk reaction against the evangelical church's association with the "Christian right." Unfortunately, I think it almost always seems to be an overreaction. So many of the leaders within the so-called "emergent" movement are so heavily focused on running away from the issues typically emphasized by traditional evangelicals like Dr. Kennedy, that they end up glossing over or totally leaving out the true Gospel, replacing it with just another warmed over version of the heresy of the social gospel. It's probably true that the younger crowd of believers these days would not respond well to Dr. Kennedy's brand of preaching. However, I hope that we don't go too far in our attempts to appeal to the surrounding culture.

I'm excited about Tchividjian and the possibilities he represents for moving our denomination into the future. I hope, and have every confidence, that he will remain true to the Word of God.

Coral Ridge Presbyterian

It's difficult to watch what's happening at Dr. Kennedy's Coral Ridge Presbyterian, however it is very indicative of some of the issues bubbling under the surface within our denomination right now. So many of our churches, like our own FPC Macon, are finding it very difficult to come to grips with what it means to be relevant while also remaining faithful.

I'm only just now learning about the situation at Coral Ridge, but the news today that 2 elders have resigned from the session of this very influential church is disturbing and sad. After reading some of the back-story, it sounds like it's the typical situation that more and more conservative, traditional evangelical churches are starting to have to face these days: the culture has changed, and the younger generation of pastors wants to change the ways we are reaching it.

A while back, after the death of D. James Kennedy - a man I admired greatly - the church voted by a wide margin to offer the post of senior pastor of Coral Ridge to Billy Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchividjian. Tchividjian had been the pastor of New City Church - a smaller congregation of mostly younger people, which he merged with the existing congregation of Coral Ridge. It sounds like he also brought in his own leadership team, replacing many long-time staff. Evidently, Tchividjian also decided that wearing a robe while preaching was not necessary (I know it seems silly, but this has been quite the controversy in our denomination. We had the same little outburst within our congregation when our head pastor started wearing a suit several years ago), and also has stopped what he calls "preaching politics from the pulpit." Dr. Kennedy was a founding member of the Moral Majority, and one of the leading voices in the religious conservative movement. More on that later. Other changes included moving toward a more contemporary worship service (the good ole worship wars - also a big issue within the PCA right now), and modifications to evangelism and other popular programs.

Evidently, a group of 6 influential church members, including Dr. Kennedy's daughter, took advantage of the unrest these changes were causing and began organizing resistance to Tchividjian. After writing letters to the congregation and circulating a petition suggesting he be fired, Tchividjian had the members banned from the premises. It seems a bit harsh, and it certainly offended my innate Baptist congregational sensibilities - at least initially. But if this was done in accordance with the requirements for church discipline, as laid out in our Book of Church Order, then the case could certainly be made that they were causing disunity within the congregation and refusing to submit to the authority of the session. About a month later, after nearly 400 members had petitioned for a vote on Tchividjian's removal, the church held a congregational vote which overwhelmingly confirmed support for the new pastor.

Now, we obviously don't know all the details, but my guess is that Coral Ridge had a significant portion of long-term, probably older members, who bristled at the changes that their new pastor started making. I can't speak to the specifics of what happened, but it's possible that TT (I can't keep typing that name over and over again) may have tried to institute these changes a little too quickly. I know that a similar fallout would probably occur if some of these same changes were made all at once in our church. I can sympathize with some of the long term members who have supported the church for years, both financially and with their time, only to see these "young whippersnappers" come in and take over, a-changing everything they worked so hard to establish. However, if these changes were made with the approval of the session, as long as they were acting within the guidelines of our constitution and the Scriptures, then I see little room for argument.

Perhaps the new leadership didn't handle everything as well as they could have, but it's also true, at least according to TT, that many of the dissidents didn't follow the Biblical model of confronting fellow believers. In this Christianity Today interview, TT suggests that his critics should've come first to him personally with their grievances, as is outlined in Matthew 18. Instead, and this is still according to TT, they immediately began undermining him and the church leadership among the congregation. If this is in fact true, then I have to say that he was probably justified in breaking off communion with these members.

This just illustrates that even those churches who have a strict set of guidelines for the government of the church will still have to deal with the fact that pastors, elders and members are always going to be sinful, fallen people. These kinds of problems will always exist within the church, as long as different people hold different views about what the Bible teaches. Unfortunately, this particular conflict is being played out in front of the entire nation, and is not exactly helping win people to Christ. Many former members of Coral Ridge have already splintered to form a new church, and it looks like there is little hope for reconciliation.

I have to say that my initial reaction to what I've learned is that Coral Ridge's new pastor and session have acted correctly in what is a very unfortunate conflict. I'm sure there are things they wish they'd done differently, but my guess is that Tchividjian has the best interests of this congregation at heart, and is implementing what he thinks is the best plan for reaching people for the Gospel. Changes of this nature will always create schism within such a traditional, conservative denomination; but perhaps they are necessary for reaching the current culture.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Great Debate: Women in the Church

Following in the vein of yesterday's post about our church and it's structure, I'd like to comment briefly on a very hot topic within Christendom right now: what should be the role of women in the church? There's a nice little non-theological overview of this debate here. By way of summary, this is how the author, Allen Yeh, describes the two sides of this issue:
Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism is often a hot-button issue amongst evangelical Christians. To define these briefly, Complementarianism is the theological position that men and women are created differently and correspondingly should have different roles—i.e. men and women are not inherently unequal, but their differences should lead to different roles which complement each other. Egalitarianism is the position that men and women are equal and thus can have interchangeable roles.
Our denomination recently addressed this issue at General Assembly, where a debate was held between two of our most respected pastors, Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, and Ligon Duncan of First Presbyterian in Jackson, MS.

Now, it says a lot about our denomination that this debate was very limited in it's scope. The PCA is pretty uniform in its complimentarian view. The debate, and the subsequent vote of the General Assembly, was over whether PCA churches should be permitted to "appoint" deaconesses, or female deacons. Note that the word "ordain" is very carefully avoided. The issue of whether women should be in authoritative or teaching roles is not even in question. While I don't see this as an issue of terrible importance, I do tend to fall on the side of complimentarianism. I just don't think you can get past the unequivocal statement by Paul in I Timothy 2:12, even if, as Yeh suggests, you look at the whole canon of Scripture.

"I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man" is about as clear as it gets. And despite the protestations of many an egalitarian, no other verse in Scripture contradicts this view. The most common verses cited have to do with inferences that women are expected to prophesy (I Cor. 11:4-6), and examples of women serving (perhaps as deaconesses - see Acts 6) in the early church. However, prophesying (which I believe has ceased anyway with the death of the apostles, at least in terms of new special revelation) and serving as deaconesses is still a far cry from teaching or holding positions of authority. The office of deacon is one of service, not of rule.

I'm not even going to get into the defenses of the egalitarian view which are not based on Scripture. I had a Christianity professor in college whose defense of this view consisted of "Well, women in leadership roles would not have been accepted by the culture of that day, so that is why Paul prohibited it. Women are now accepted by our culture as equal to men, so this no longer applies." Such an argument is completely without merit. You could use the same logic for any number of Biblical commands. What happens when society accepts adultery as the norm, or any other practice prohibited in Scripture? Do we throw them out as well? Where do we draw the line?

Our pastor does an excellent job of explaining our view on this every time it comes up. This position does not come out of any view that holds women to be inferior in any way to men. In fact, it is often recognized that many women have better skills than men in any number of areas. It is simply a matter of being faithful to Scripture, and not basing any interpretation of God's Word on man's limited understanding and logic; and certainly not on the prevailing winds of current cultural norms.

In terms of the deaconess debate, I'm a little ambivalent. The complementarian view certainly does not prohibit women from being a vital part of the church ministry. In fact, Calvin himself encouraged churches to appoint women to help the diaconate in their ministry of service. Whether we call them a "Deaconess" or not really doesn't matter to me. I have tremendous respect for both Keller and Duncan, and appreciate their willingness to have an open discussion. I also appreciate our denomination's continued (and increasingly unpopular) stance on a difficult issue.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Praise for the PCA

Over the past 6 weeks I've been through an officer training course in our church, which is part of the path toward ordination as a deacon. The class has met each week, on Sunday afternoons, and has been a surprisingly thorough examination of everything from our specific denomination's system of government to our strongly held doctrine and theology. For a lot of evangelicals in this part of the world, the fact that we require officers to complete a fairly rigorous course of study, including both written and oral examinations, just to become a deacon or elder seems pretty extreme.

Growing up in the Southern Baptist tradition, all this stuff would've seemed downright "catholic" to me about 15 years ago. We actually have a constitution consisting of a book of church order and an exhaustive declaration of our system of beliefs in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. The church itself has a very specific form of government, which was just totally foreign to someone coming from a congregationally governed church background. Of course, I've come to believe that this is the Biblically correct model for a church - otherwise I wouldn't be here - but what caused such a severe change?

Well, I pretty much just read the Bible with an eye for what it teaches about the church, and came to the conclusion that the presbyterian form of church government most closely matches those teachings. I suppose it doesn't hurt that I'm an engineer and am naturally drawn to such a well structured and strictly governed organization as the Presbyterian Church in America. The Book of Church Order reminds me of a design specification for the construction projects I work on daily, and from what I can see, makes things so much easier on the leadership of the church. Disagreements over certain teachings, and difficult decisions that are made by pastors are not backed up merely by the individual pastor's opinions, but are shown to be either in or out of line with the accepted church position.

Some would argue that this adds to the requirements of Scripture, but that is only the case if the church's position is not thoroughly backed up by the Scriptures themselves. And all creeds, confessions, and similar documents must always be viewed as subject and subordinate to the ultimate authority of the Word of God. I've learned an incredible amount in the last 6 weeks, and am encouraged by our church's commitment to Biblical leadership and government. I wish more churches would take it as seriously as the PCA obviously does.


It's been entirely too long since I posted anything on this blog, and that's due in large part to some pretty serious change happening in our family. After 11 years of being a family of 3, on September 2, we became a family of 4 with the birth of our new daughter Ellie. After spending many months getting the nursery and house ready for a new baby, our preparations were cut a bit short by little Ellie's arrival 4 weeks early.

She was born 5 lbs 3 oz, 18.5 inches long. After several extra days in the hospital trying to get little Ellie to eat and gain weight, we finally came home to a very different family dynamic. We'd become very used to having a big kid who can take care of herself, and had really forgotten what it was like to have a helpless little baby. Very little sleep is being had in our home at the moment, but it really is a lot of fun!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Augustine on Creation

I came across a very interesting article today, written in honor of the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species, at Christianity Today's website. The article is written by Alister McGrath, and deals with Augustine's views on the creation account in Genesis.

After reading through Augustine's Confessions recently, I noticed that one of the major hang-ups he had in fully embracing Christianity was a difficulty in believing the "stories" in Genesis. It was a common belief among the intellectual elite of that age (as is certainly, and more severely, the case in our own time) that the Biblical account of creation was simply ridiculous and illogical. There is a lot of evidence that Augustine struggled with the creation account for much of his life, and this article helps to illuminate the results of that struggle - a view on creation that I found very interesting, especially in light of the fact that Darwin's theory of evolution was still more than a millenium away.

I've done quite a bit of study relating to the various current views on the creation narrative, and have become much more open to alternatives to the Young Earth Creationism that I have always embraced. For one thing, many other men who have my utmost respect, and who are very orthodox in their theology, have also shown a willingness to accept the idea that the literal, six 24 hour day creation account may not be the only Biblically accurate interpretation. My own reading of the Genesis account has also led me to be willing to entertain the idea that the six "days" may or may not have been literal 24 hour periods (also known as the "Day-Age Theory").

One thing that I think is very important in this line of thinking is that it was not science that led me to this belief. In other words, I am not trying to fit the Bible into a man-made box by trying to explain the creation account based on what man's current "knowledge" about science tells us. The earth very well may be billions of years old - I don't know. I also do not believe that our current system of carbon dating is as reliable as some "experts" would have us believe. It's important to make the distinction that it is my reading of Scripture, and my study of other respected individuals' writings on the subject of the original language, that has led me to my current postion.

This is not how I usually work. My default position on Scripture is to interpret what I read in the most simple and literal terms, but also in the context of the rest of the Bible. I usually fall back on the idea that we are much safer erring on the side of caution, and not leaving the Bible open to erroneous views that are based only on manmade (hence, flawed and limited) ideas. I firmly believe that the accounts in the Old Testament - all the stories told to me in my childhood about Jonah, Joshua, Moses, and others - are descriptive of real life events that actually happened in time and space. So it's a pretty big leap for me to be willing to say, in a way, that the account in Genesis is, just maybe, not to be taken literally.

So does this mean that I'm stepping outside of long-held orthodox belief. Well, not necessarily. Upon reading this article about Augustine's views on the subject, I find myself encouraged by the fact that he drew some of the same conclusions from Scripture.
Augustine draws out the following core themes: God brought everything into existence in a single moment of creation. Yet the created order is not static. God endowed it with the capacity to develop. Augustine uses the image of a dormant seed to help his readers grasp this point. God creates seeds, which will grow and develop at the right time. Using more technical language, Augustine asks his readers to think of the created order as containing divinely embedded causalities that emerge or evolve at a later stage. Yet Augustine has no time for any notion of random or arbitrary changes within creation. The development of God's creation is always subject to God's sovereign providence. The God who planted the seeds at the moment of creation also governs and directs the time and place of their growth.
Now Augustine is certianly not the only source of knowledge on this subject, and he could very easily be totally wrong. But, I find it very encouraging that he struggled with these very same issues, and that he was willing to admit this uncertainty. Just to be clear, I still believe in the historicity of God's creation of the earth and everything in it - including, as is discussed elsewhere in the article, God's creation of time itself - as well as the real events of The Fall, the flood, and the other events described in Genesis. You certainly won't find me writing here about my belief that the story of Adam and Eve is really just a parable, meant to warn us of our tendencies to stray from God. I just find myself more open to a slightly different translation of the description of a series of events that are well beyond our ability to comprehend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Macon's Tea Party

I spent about an hour this afternoon standing in a small park directly across from Macon City Hall, listening to some local leaders talk about the sorry state of affairs in Washington. In between Chris Kroc jumping around shrieking into a bullhorn, State Reps. Allen Peake, Tony Sellier, insurance commisioner John Oxendine, and bloggers Erick Erickson and Jeff Emmanuel gave some great speeches to a fairly raucous (well, as raucous as a bunch of Republicans can be) crowd.

This was just one of dozens of Tea Party protests taking place all over the state today. I was surprised by the number of people that turned out to show opposition to the way our government is spending our money. There were easily 300 to 400 people filling up the square, many waving signs that expressed their disgust with a tax system that punishes success and rewards failure.

It was interesting to see these people fired up over something. The vast majority of them were people who don't usually make time for protesting. I've always said that conservatives don't make themselves heard as much as liberals because we generally have jobs, families, and other responsibilities that take up most of our time. Most of us just want to get our heads down and get on with our jobs, making a living for our families, so we have little time for protesting even many of those things we feel strongly about. But when the leaders in Washington are preaching from on high about our duty to make sacrifices in this difficult economy, while refusing to make any cuts to the wasteful, inept, and out-of-control spending spree that is government...well, it just pisses us off.

It's good to see people waking up and expressing their opinions, but it won't be enough to wave a sign and yell Nobama! And we certainly can't use the old liberal method of subverting the political process by getting sympathetic activist judges to hand down favorable decrees on our behalf. We have to use the system as it was designed by our founders. If we believe Obama's policies to be dangerous, we have to persuade our friends and family using sound arguments and facts. We have to convince the American people that government can't do for us what we can do for ourselves. In fact, government can't really do anything well. When people start to realize that true freedom means a government that lets people keep their money as well as their rights, and allows everyone an equal opportunity at success, then we'll be able enact real "change we can believe in."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

-Isaac Watts, 1707

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If You Don't Read Anything Else Today...

Read this. Just a little perspective for those Americans who think that our wonderful new president's socialism is just what this country needs. Seriously, go and read the whole thing, but here's a little taste:
"So to The Vilified Rich, I beg you now: do for the rest of the country what my friend did for me… do for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves. Break us of this addiction to the generosity of others. Just go away for a while, voluntarily, and leave the rest of us to look around and wonder where all the money and the jobs went. It will be painful, and it will be bitter, and our rage will be a terrible thing to see. But then, either we will get better, or we won’t. All will depend on whether or not we still feel the shame, and find the courage, to recover for ourselves the mastery over our own lives that once existed for all Americans, before you few despicable rich people came and started paying for more than half of everything. Which, as is obvious now, was not nearly enough.

If we can break this fever, then you can come back with your jobs and your capital and your vision and your wealth, which was generated by producing something large numbers of people found worth paying for. But go now, while you still love America enough to want to come back some day. Because if you don’t shut this thing down, and soon, the Bergs and Obamas will take and take and take from you until you never want to see this Godforsaken land again."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Harold and Kumar Go to Washington

Sans Harold. This is just priceless. Kumar is getting an actual job in our government. An going to work for President actor. Well, I suppose he's every bit as qualified for his new position as our president was when he was elected.

Ladies and gentlemen, taxpayers, meet your new "Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Liason." You gotta love this president's judgement.

Monday, April 6, 2009


We have all been recently exposed to what happens to otherwise solid companies when they refuse to fight back against the destructive forces of unionized labor. General Motors' current march towards death, albeit slowed by a president and congress literally owned by Big Labor, can be directly linked to the problems associated with the corrupt, inefficient world of unions.

After several years in the construction industry, much of it in the industrial field, I've seen first hand what goes on in facilities saddled with the burden of unionization. I've always held that labor unions serve no purpose in today's society, save to drive up the cost of production in whatever industry they infest. And yet, in the wake of the disaster that is the Big Three, even after the blatant slap in the face that we've all received as a nation, we're still not getting the point.

We show outrage over a few executives getting big bonuses in spite of their own failures, and yet we could care less about the UAW refusing to give any concessions in order to prevent the failure of the companies they have leached dry over the years. Where is our president's haughty condescension with respect to this equally outrageous display of idiocy? Isn't GM getting taxpayer dollars to stay afloat? And yet the UAW wants their members to keep getting paid the same ludicrous wages that contributed to this problem in the first place. With OUR money!!!

There's a great article today in what's quickly becoming one of my favorite new websites, The New Ledger. The always knowledgeable Francis Cianfrocca - aka, Blackhedd at Redstate - is a regular contributor, and I never miss his insight into the financial world. Today's article explains why the UAW will end up finishing what they started in the destruction of General Motors.

Spring Break

After a nice relaxing time on the island, it's back to work this week. It'd been a year since I last visited the beaches of Amelia Island, and I'd forgotten how much I liked it. My beach trips usually consist of as much reading as possible, as I don't seem to get much chance to read any other time. This trip I decided to tackle something I've wanted to read for a long time: Augustine's Confessions.

I wanted to take it slow, and absorb as much as possible from this ancient text, and I can honestly say that it has been an excellent use of vacation time. I got through the first 5 books during the week we were there, and am working my way through the rest now. This is a work that every Christian should read at some time in their lives. I hope to post some of my thoughts on each book in the coming weeks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama's Teleprompter Dependence

Much has been written about our new articulate president's heavy reliance on a teleprompter. Anyone who has paid any attention to our president over the last year has noticed that he struggles mightily when speaking extemporaneously. All of his "soaring rhetorical masterpieces", which have sent thrills up the legs of the most objective of journalists were the product of his speaking from a teleprompter.

Rush has latched onto this, quite hysterically, giving the teleprompter status as a "key player" in Washington these days - correctly stating that president Obama says whatever his little friend tells him to say...literally.

Someone has now come up with another brilliant play on Obama's relationship with his security blanket, starting a blog supposedly written by the teleprompter itself. The result is just classic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back to Basics

I heard last week that something called "The New Calvinism" made Time Magazine's list of 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now, and while blogging has taken a back seat in the last few weeks, I simply have to comment on this. Apparently, Reformed Theology is making enough of a comeback to rank in the top 3 of world-changing ideology. The article is very interesting, and confirms some trends that others have noticed in the last few years. The more mainline protestant churches (United Methodist, Presbyterian USA, etc.) are shrinking, while more and more young people are flocking to the more orthodox traditions.

The New York Times recently published an article about the uptick in attendance at churches because of the recession. They also note a study which found that between 1968 and 2004, attendance at "evangelical churches" increased as much as 50%, while mainline churches continued their decline, albeit more slowly, during times of economic recession.

It's no surprise to me at all, especially given the events of the last 12 months. As we Americans (and consequently the rest of the world) are forced out of the comfortably insulated prosperity that we've enjoyed for so long, more and more of us are searching for something real. It's easy to go to a church that simply tells you what you want to hear, or listen to a pastor that offers self-help psychology week after week, as long as life outside of church is just peachy. But let someone experience the threat of losing their job/home/retirement, and life here on earth just doesn't cut it anymore. All of a sudden, we want to be reassured that this life isn't what it's all about.

It also becomes more important (at least in our little minds) to be sure in our faith once the here and now can't satisfy us completely. Of course, this phenomenon will only reinforce the already prevalent mentality among so many who think Christians to be weak-minded simpletons who use religion and faith as a crutch to deal with life's problems. The simple truth is that all of us continue to struggle with worry and despair over these things, we just have a better, though still very limited perspective of what it all means. We have the assurance that all things work together for good, for those who are part of God's family.

I'm encouraged that more young folks are turning to the reformed tradition - I count myself among that group - as it shows a hunger for truth, and a desire to get back to the foundational tenets of Christianity. So much of evangelicalism these days is all about trying to relate to society on their terms. We have to sugar-coat our theology to get the hip, postmodern (whatever that means) generation to pay attention. Well, frankly I'm not much for putting God, or the Gospel, in a box. The Bible is pretty clear on the power of the Gospel - all by itself, without any help from us. That's one of the benefits of good theology: an accurate understanding of how the Bible says God works.

I hope that more and more churches will notice this trend of believers demanding more from their religious leadership, and focus more on ensuring their members get sound teaching and understanding about what they believe and why.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reaping What You Sow

This is what happens when I don't post often enough to adequately vent...long, incoherent rants. I've got to start posting more frequently.

(By the way, the picture at right is the controversial cartoon that was published in the NY Post. All the typically ignorant, politically correct usual suspects jumped all over this as racist, even though it's patently obvious that the monkey represents congress, not our new untouchable savior.)

Anyway, it seems our new leadership in Washington is off to a wonderful start - if you're one of the many in this country who believe the government is there to take care of your every need. Of course, the simple fact is that most people in this country can't even be bothered to vote, much less pay attention to what happens in between elections. Then again, if everyone paid as much attention as I do, we'd all have high blood pressure and life-threatening levels of stress.

So what's the big deal about this so-called stimulus package our messiah has just rammed through congress, and why are so many folks up in arms? Unfortunately, our new president and his misguided cohorts in congress have, in less than a month, managed to saddle our grandchildren with several trillion dollars in debt, all for a program that most agree will do very little to solve the actual problems our economy is facing. The stimulus bill is a perfect picture of what's wrong with Washington and the majority of the pathetic excuses for representatives we send to do our bidding there.

The overall goal of this type of policy is to increase spending in order to prop up our shrinking economy. I'm no expert on finance, but I've read enough to understand that our GDP has recently begun to shrink. Keynesian economic policy, to which many of our new leaders adhere, is basically the opposite of supply-side economics. Most of us understand the idea that our economy is based on the rules of supply and demand. When supply increases, demand decreases, and vice versa.

In Keynesian policy, the idea is to use government to artificially increase demand. The average consumer in the free market, during times of economic trouble, stops spending money. It's just a natural reaction. When folks start losing their jobs and companies begin to lay off, we all tighten our belts. This of course only compounds the problem, as our economy is based on consumers buying and spending. In other words, demand shrinks because we all want to play it safe and build our savings back up during a recession. Our new leaders want to use the government to push demand back up.

The idea, basically, is to borrow money from China and other large nations to build roads and bridges, government buildings, and on and on. This will create jobs for people who are out of work, who will then go spend their new salary on cars, houses, etc. The only problem with this idea is that it doesn't solve the financial problems that got us to this point in the first place. All this plan will do is give a bunch of folks some temporary work and artificially shrink our unemployment rate for a while. For more discussion on what's really wrong with our economy, and why this won't work, go here.

At this point, I'm not really interested in whether this plan will work or not. I honestly don't think it will, but the biggest issue I see right now is the way in which this bill was passed, and the utterly ridiculous amount of completely unrelated nonsense that was included in the final product. President Obama revealed himself to be a liar when it comes to many of his campaign promises, and no one is calling him on it. We were all led to believe that this man would transcend partisanship. He would be willing to include ideas from both sides of the aisle, and would lead us into a new era of open and transparent government. So much for that nonsense.

President Obama missed an opportunity to show us all that he would in fact keep his promises to be a new kind of leader. This bill was rammed through congress without any debate over it's merits, without any input from republican lawmakers, and without anyone even having READ IT! He simply turned it over to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, who promptly shut out everyone with an "R" behind their names, and proceeded to draft a bill that includes every liberal pet project that has ever been dreamed up. Our president made a good show of listening to alternative ideas, but made it pretty obvious that he never intended to actually take any of them seriously. "I won." How very bipartisan.

I won't even get into the amount of idiotic, wasteful spending included in this bill because I happen to have a real job and it would take weeks, but the main point that needs to be made is that this entire process just stinks. Our so-called messiah has shown himself to be a liar and a coward. If he had wanted to show us that he's a new kind of leader, he would've insisted that all of the waste and unrelated nonsense be taken out of the bill. Instead, he goes into full campaign mode, traveling the country to convice us all that the sky is falling. Our new leaders, after accusing the Bush administration of using fear to advance their agenda, are fomenting and encouraging panic surrounding the recession in order to advance their own agenda.

President Obama, our great deliverer, is taking advantage of the crisis in order to enact legislation that Americans, in ordinary times, would never tolerate. No debate, no review, and no alternative opinions allowed. I'm not surprised at all. Democrats have been abusing the ignorance and apathy of the average American for decades. Why should this guy be any different?

Well done America. Excellent choice.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Here We Go...

Anyone else concerned about our nation's slow but steady drift toward European socialism needs to read this lovely little article from The Times in England. As a fan of English Premier League football (soccer for you unenlightened savages) I pay more attention to British culture than most Americans, and I notice that a lot of our fads come from across the pond. It's all the rage in American liberal circles to aspire to the kind of progressive multicultural, politically correct, morally vapid, eco-nutcase mentality that has taken over the ruling class in England.

So what's next? Culling kids, apparently.
"Couples who have more than two children are being “irresponsible” by creating an unbearable burden on the environment, the government’s green adviser has warned.
"Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population growth through contraception and abortion must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming. He says political leaders and green campaigners should stop dodging the issue of environmental harm caused by an expanding population."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Oh, the Hypocrisy!

While trying not to laugh at Obama’s righteous indignation over the exorbitant bonuses paid out to Wall Street executives this month, I noticed a very curious, though not surprising irony. Now, don’t misunderstand. I don’t particularly like the fact that these companies, which have received billions of dollars in federal bailout money, are paying out ridiculous bonuses to their employees. In light of the fact that bonuses are usually given to reflect a high level of performance in one’s industry, it’s more than a little idiotic to hand out six-figure awards to folks who just lost their clients billions of dollars in investments.

After the year all of us have had, watching our investments plummet, I can understand how the average 401k owner might feel when he or she hears about their broker getting a new Porsche. I would say that this is supposed to be a free-market economy, where the government has no business telling private companies what to do with their own money, but then this isn’t their own money, is it? And it’s debatable at best whether or not this is a free market economy any more. Behold, the dangers of accepting government intervention.

But regardless of your opinions on whether our new president’s outrage is indeed righteous or not, you can’t help but admire the arrogant hypocrisy that is evident in our great messiah’s lack of an equal amount of outrage over the behavior of the UAW. Last time I checked, these geniuses plan to demand that their union members keep getting paid the ridiculous wages, an average of over $70 an hour including benefits, that got General Motors into this mess to begin with. And what will General Motors be using to maintain this level of remuneration? Well it’s patently obvious that they can’t sustain it on their own, so it’ll be the bailout money provided by you and I that allows UAW members to keep drawing a salary completely out of proportion to their labor.

Where’s the outrage over that? Why should Wall Streeters have to change their excessive ways, when the UAW is still forcing exorbitant wages out of GM, Ford, and Chrysler? Apparently, it’s okay for Big Labor to take a government-funded bailout and use it for disproportionate compensation, but not Wall Street. Does that make as much sense to you as it does to me? Well, it makes perfect sense when you realize the Big Labor unions spent millions upon millions to help put Barack Obama in the White House.

They own him. He’s their bitch.

(You know, I'll be in the market for a car sometime in the next few months. Better believe it won't be a product of GM. In fact, I'm liking Toyota more and more these days. Buy non-union.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

8th District Conservatives: Wake Up!

We received yet more proof yesterday that our so-called conservative democrat congressman, Jim Marshall, is in fact nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothing. Congressman Marshall's vote for the disgrace that has been labelled a stimulus package is not at all surprising to those of us who have followed his career closely. After campaigning as a conservative - a man who was supposedly praised by Rush Limbaugh and G. Gordon Liddy - and winning the votes of many within the 8th congressional district who normally vote Republican, Marshall has shown his true colors at the very first opportunity.

Fiscal responsibility is a hallmark of the conservative mentality. Smaller, less intrusive government, and the reigning in of irresponsible spending on entitlement programs are the bedrock of any truly conservative philosophy. And yet our "conservative" congressman has cast his vote for a bill that is the very antithesis of fiscal responsibility and limited government. The so-called stimulus bill is indicative of our new president's governing philosophy, and Representative Marshall's support for this legislation reveals his true instincts toward government as the solution to all of our problems.

Our new leadership in Washington has signalled that their agenda will be one of growing government, and using tax dollars to spend our way out of this economic mess. Whether you believe that to be an effective way to bring about economic recovery is another matter entirely, but it is beyond doubt that this mentality is as far from conservatism as one can get. As Ronald Reagan said, government is not the solution, but in most cases it is the very root of our problems. Jim Marshall has shown himself to be yet another politician who says what he needs to say to get elected, and then does the opposite when he gets to Washington. Wake up conservatives, and stop sending this liberal to congress.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Senator Oprah

This really made my day. As if we don't have enough proof already that you don't have to be qualified in, well, anything to be a Democrat politician (and apparently president), we find out that Oprah was actually considered as a replacement for Barack Obama in the Senate.

The United States Senate.



It's All On You, Donkey

We're about to see exactly what happens when liberal ideology is put into practice. President Obama, the Democratic Congress, and their cheerleaders in the press are about to have to put up or shut up. For eight years they've all railed against everything the GOP has done. Offering plenty of criticism, but not one actual alternative solution to any of the problems we face.

During his campaign, we were led to believe that Obama would be a transformative leader - one who brought new ideas, and a new kind of leadership, to the running of our nation. Well, just as some of us knew all along, we are going to get nothing of the sort. Every solution offered to date is nothing more than old-school liberalism, and just like in years past, it's going to fail.

Oh, the president is making a good show of listening to alternative ideas, but don't expect him to do anything other than try and spend his way out of this recession. It's the typical democrat response to any problem: throw more money at it, put more inept bureaucrats in charge of it, let Nanny government kiss-it-make-it-better. Just like FDR's New Deal nonsense, it won't do anything other than saddle our grandchildren with ridiculous debt, and permanently enhance the government's intrusion into our lives.

Our president's so-called stimulus package is nothing short of a joke. It will do nothing more than mask the problems within the financial sector, but more importantly, it will purchase many more loyal Democrat voters. If he gets his way, a significant majority of Americans will no longer pay taxes, but will reap unprecedented benefits from the government. Those who achieve success will be paying for those who don't bother. Joe the Plumber was dead on - if this isn't redistribution of wealth, then I don't know what is.

And now, our illustrious joke of a Speaker, Pelosi, has decided that government-provided contraception is the way to stimulate our economy. I'm really at a loss for words here. All I can say is, this is what you asked for, America. We're reaping the results of all the government-educated, ignorant, lazy fools in the voter pool, and it isn't going to be pretty.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Post Racial President?

I realize that the "Reverend" Joseph Lowery is an old man, who's probably getting a little senile. He may even have been the subject of some cruel treatment at the hands of white folks some forty years ago. But his "prayer" yesterday was pretty insulting, not to mention incredibly ignorant. Let's point out the already remarkably obvious irony in this situation:

This man is supposed to be saying a prayer at the inauguration of the nation's first black president. A president put in office by a majority white electorate, and he's "praying" that the Lord "help us to work for that day when...white will embrace what is right." Wow. Either he had no idea where he was, or he's so full of hate that he can't think straight.

Of course, there is another explanation. People like this so-called reverend, including Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wrong, have no intention of giving up their positions of power - positions secured by spreading and manufacturing hatred and division - just because the rest of us have moved beyond racial differences. And some of you silly people probably thought this election would mean the end of race baiting.

No Rest for the Depressed

Ok, so I'm not really depressed, but it has been difficult lately to find the motivation to put my thoughts into words. The vomit-inducing cries of hope and change, coupled with the sudden swell of patriotism from the same folks who professed outright hatred for their country until yesterday, has dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. Thankfully, I'm beginning to come out of the fog.

I suppose I can find some satisfaction in the idea that millions of naive Obamanuts are waking up this morning only to find that Santa didn't come last night, and they still have to pay their mortgages and work for a living. It's also kinda nice to be able to sit and watch the other side screw things up for a while. I can't help but realize, however, that all these screw-ups are going to have big ramifications for me and my family. So, as a tribute to all those normally center-right leaners who thought we just needed change for the sake of change, let's look at what we can expect from Democrat leadership over the next few years:
  1. If you are currently succesful enough to have to pay taxes every year, and that's only about half of the nation, you can pretty much count on the fact that you have now enjoyed the lowest tax payments you will ever pay.
  2. Any business owners out there? Like the idea of your employees being able to unionize at the drop of a hat, forcing you to pay them 3 or 4 times what the market justifies? How about the idea that union thugs can target the one or two employees who don't want to unionize, because they've lost their right to a secret vote? Obama's got to repay Big Labor for putting him in office.
  3. This is for all of you so-called pro-life voters who decided Obama was moderate enough to win your vote: On his first day in office, President Obama has decided to repeal a law which prevents your tax dollars from being used to fund international abortion groups. That's right, taxpayer funded abortions, and that's just his first day...
  4. Go ask a Brit about government-run healthcare. Need I say more? Well, I will anyway. Have we lost our minds? Please to name one thing the government has ever run that has been run with anything resembling competence. Public schools? Social Security? Welfare?

I could go on, but it would be too depressing. Basically, if you think the government is the answer to all your problems, you'll love this guy. At least until the government taxes the people who provide your job to the point that they can't be competitive, and they move their operation overseas.

It's not a popular thing to say right now, but I refuse to generically "hope our new president succeeds." Succeeds at what? Making us into a more government-reliant, socialist nation? No thanks. I'll support him if I believe that his policies are what's best for America, but judging by his campaign, he doesn't have a clue. His ideas are not new. They certainly don't represent change. They're the same old liberal ideas that have failed in the past, and if he goes through with them, they will fail this time as well.

I hope I'm wrong about this guy. And I refuse to stop loving my country, like so many on the left, just because "the other side" is in charge. We have to take this nation back from the ground up, and republicans don't need to go along with any of the policies that we don't believe will work. I echo Erick's cry concerning the de-Stimulus Plan. None of our GOP representatives should support it, or any other policy that undermines conservatism, just so we can say we got something done.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Patriotism is Cool Again

I was thinking about this yesterday, after catching little bits and pieces of the Immaculate Obaminauguration, and I'm glad to see that others have noticed the sudden surge of patriotism among liberals. You know, I don't recall a single liberal waving an American flag, or singing patriotic songs during the last 8 years. Yet another example of the utter childishness of so many on the left. They're only patriotic when "their side" is in charge. For the last 8 years, while Chimpy McBush Hitler was taking orders from Darth Cheney, America was derided as an evil empire.

When a big bad conservative is in office, America is the reason for every bad thing that happens around the world. We don't just see rational opposition to the policies being implemented during times of conservative rule, we see flags burned, unruly crowds spitting on people they disagree with, and behavior that suggests a complete hatred for all things American.

But how quickly we are reminded not to question anyone's patriotism. So, now that Barack is President, and the Democrats control congress, America is back to being the best nation on earth, and liberals nationwide love their country again. I'm sorry, but I question that brand of "patriotism." Please note the behavior of conservatives over the next 4 years, and let me know if you see any flag burning, spitting, riots, or general America-bashing when our new president tries to implement socialized medicine, run our economy into the ground with hysterical responses to the myth of global warming, or expand the so-called right to abortions.

I wouldn't hold you breath. You see, aside from the fact that most of us conservatives have actual careers and families, we just don't operate that way. We've had to grow up. And when you grow up and become a big person, you don't pitch a fit every time you don't get your way. I for one love this country no matter who is in charge. I won't agree with everything President Obama does, and I will vocally oppose him when necessary, but I will continue to love this nation no matter what he or anyone else does.

America is still the best nation on earth - even under a president I don't like, trust, or agree with. It's called living in a democracy. We've come to terms with that. When are these other idiots going to grow up?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to Work

I feel like I've been out of touch with the world for the last month, as we spent time in Tucson, AZ and Park City, UT. It was really the first time I've done any major travelling since a trip to Hawaii a few years ago, and I'd forgotten how tiring it can be. It's taken a while to get back on schedule, and making time to post on here has been even harder, but I'm finally getting back in the groove.

We've had an interesting couple of weeks leading up to the inauguration, and I have to admit that I'm getting a little bit nauseous at the giant collective joygasm over this guy. So many people are going to be so very disappointed...

It's been very enlightening, watching the media and others fawning over our new president, and I'll be very interested to see how everyone views him this time next year. My instinct is that our new president is "too big to fail." We've been hearing that a lot in the last few months, mostly concerning banks and other financial institutions, but I think it certainly applies to President Obama (see that...I referred to him as "President Obama", even though I disagree with him...I refuse to descend into the kind of dispicable, immature behavior we've witnessed from the left over the last 8 years).

The media has far too much invested in the phenomenon that is President Obama to ever allow him to fail. No matter what he does, and I honestly believe he will make some very big mistakes over the next four years, his tenure in office will never be portrayed as anything other than a complete success. The left has too much to lose. A lot of folks will laugh at this, but look at our outgoing president. The man was able to keep America free of terrorist attacks after 9/11, got our economy going after inheriting a recession (you won't convince me the current recession can be laid at his feet), and stood resolute in the face of some of the most childish and inane criticism any president has ever faced.

And yet, what is the general opinion among the ignorant masses? Everything from global warming to Katrina to the credit crunch is "Bush's fault." He's seen as the "Worst President Ever", thanks in large part to the media. Don't get me wrong. President Bush made many mistakes, and his refusal to stand up and defend himself was one of the most frustrating. He tried to govern as a "Big Government Conservative", an oxymoron to any true conservative, and he certainly deserves criticism for many bad decisions. But I for one believe that he will be remembered as a courageous man who was willing to be the villian, if it meant keeping us safe.

Maybe not in my lifetime, but in generations to come, he'll be remembered as he should be. Besides, he can't hold a candle to Jimmy Carter when it comes to "Worst President Ever", and judging by our new president's affinity for Carteresque policy, we may have a new benchmark in a few years time.

Thank you, President Bush.