Thursday, December 20, 2007

This guy just cracks me up:

"Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he watched his father, the late Michigan governor George Romney, in a 1960s civil rights march in Michigan with Martin Luther King Jr.

On Wednesday, Romney's campaign said his recollections of watching his father, an ardent civil rights supporter, march with King were meant to be figurative."

Hey, well no one claimed Gov. Romney's words were inerrant.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Bible teaches a number of forms of submission to human authority: children to parents, wives to husbands, citizens to governments, church-goers to church leader, and even (yikes) slaves to masters. However, the primary virtue of submission isn’t submission itself. The primary virtue of submission is faith.

By submitting to an authority above you, you’re not saying “this is great because we all know the authorities above us are never wrong.” No, what you’re saying—if you’re submitting in the biblical sense—is that “I believe that although someone is above me, ultimately God is above them.”

Often, people’s complaints about the Bible’s teachings on submission focus on the fact that the person in authority is often wrong about something in relation to the person under that person’s authority. However, this isn’t the point. The point isn’t primarily about the particular authority and the person under authority, rather it’s about God’s ultimate sovereignty over all things. So, in fact, the Bible suggests that there is particular blessing for submitting to an authority that is in the wrong because then it is most clear that you are putting your faith in God’s authority that will ultimately redress that wrong (there are exceptions such as Nazis and abusive spouses); whereas if one takes matters into their own hands and rebels against authority, he or she is trusting in themselves rather than God.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The mark of human corruption: not sex but violence

When I think of human beings’ wickedness, I doubt I’m the only one who often thinks of sexual sin. But at the Flood, the problem was not sex, but violence. “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.” (Genesis 6:13). This seems to be a punishment that fits the crime.
The Psychological Approach to the Presidential Election

Here's my current primary criterion for the President: I have to like his personality.

By this, I mean that his personality must be suited to how I believe he'll perform in the job, not necessarily that I think he'd tell the best anecdotes at a dinner party.

I contrast this against strictly voting for someone based on an abstract alignment of his or her policy positions with mine.

The reason for this is philosophical. I believe in two contested philosophical positions: 1) I believe in Natural Law, and 2) I believe it the meaningful (if not perfect) ascertainability of Natural Law. As this applies to a President, what I believe is that most policy questions have right answers in an absolute (if approximate) sense. And so I believe the right kind of personality should be able to get to the right answers most of the time, or at least more often than the wrong type of personality.

However, what I have seen is that most politicians have personalities poorly suited for this process I've outlined of getting to the right answers. For example, President Bush has shown a strong tendency to be stubborn, unwilling to make thoughtful inquiry into matters, and unwilling listen to positions that contradict his own. I think a reasonable relationship can be seen between this and our entrance into the Iraq war (details of this are abundant, and I won't outline them here) (also, compare this to what I don't mean by personality, as it appears that President Bush would make a fairly amiable dinner guest).

This I why I currently prefer in order Sen. Obama, and then probably either Sen. Biden or Sen. McCain. (btw: can we perhaps refer to these men and women who are running for leader of the free world by their titles, giving them they honor they are due, as opposed to by their first names?). I've seen all of these men display remarkable candor and thoughtfulness, which for me are marks of good personalities for the pursuit of getting right answers to hard questions.

(update: I just reviewed Gov. Huckabees proposals for healthcare and taxes, and basically they strike me as ludicrous to the point he's fallen off my list of good policy is relevant to disproving a certain candidate's ability to get to the right answers)

This isn't to say policy positions play no role in my thinking, but, for example, my currently policy positions are actually fairly well aligned with Gov. Romney's. However, Gov. Romney has shown me so far a lack of candor and thoughtfulness, not to mention notable changes of policy positions over the years that are consistent with his reputation for self-serving expediency, and so I don't trust him to implement policies I agree with. I voted for President Bush in 2000 based on our shared pro-life position (which he has stuck to); however I've learned during his tenure that issues will arise during a presidency that are outside the scope of the policy positions the candidate took during the election season--when the unknown arises, I want a certain type of person there to meet that challenge. And further, the fact that a person articulates a desire to bring about a certain policy has only a tenuous relationship with whether that policy will be implemented due to numerous circumstances outside that person's control.

Another factor which has some bearing on the issue is a candidate's experience. The best prior job I can imagine to prepare a person for being president is possibly the vice presidency. But the Vice President isn't running, and it's not clear to me that any senator, governor or former First Lady has a clear leg up on the other candidate in terms of relevant prior experience.

So, that's why my primary reason for favoring certain candidates is their personality which I perceive as thoughtful and truthful.

Go ahead and tell me if you think this is crazy. I'm sure at least one of you does.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

How Paul interpreted Scripture

In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas are teaching in Pisidian Antioch, which is in present day Turkey (I think). Paul has an interesting moment in his sermon where he interprets Psalm 16:10, which says 'You will not let your Holy One see decay.'

Originally, this Psalm appears to be written by David while he flees Saul's persecution, and it seems like the natural, original interpretation would have been that David believed God wouldn't let Saul kill him.

However, in Acts, Paul puts a different spin on it. He notes that despite this verse, David did in fact die, and presumably decay. But having come to believe in the Gospel, Paul argues that Psalm 16:10 in fact refers to the resurrected Christ, who in fact, unlike David, did not decay because of his resurrection.

I can imagine an interesting thought process behind this. I can imagine a younger Paul (Saul) sitting in his Bible classes reading Psalm 16:10 and asking Gamaliel (a famous rabbi Paul is said to have learned from) "yeah, but didn't David actually decay? So what does this psalm mean?" and I can imagine Gamaliel responding, "well, here decay actually means death at the hands of Saul." Maybe Paul accepts this at the time as the only logical interpretation; maybe he thinks 'well, that's an odd way to write the verse, but okay...'

But then years later after Paul comes to believe in the Gospel, he says, "Oh, now I get what Psalm 16:10 really meant: it refers to the resurrected Jesus Christ."

A recent post suggested that often Scripture doesn't err, but we err in our understanding it. That's probably right. I'm also encouraged by Paul's reinterpretation of the Psalm because sometimes I read the Psalms and Scripture generally and wonder if I completely believe what's being said. For example, Psalm 103 describes God as one "who heals all your diseases." But if I read this to simply mean God restores bodily health, I don't fully believe it because while sometimes that's arguably true, other times it's demonstrably false. So in what way is this true? Well, I'm not sure--but I wouldn't be surprised if the answer came from the same place as Paul's interpretation of Psalm 16:10: God heals all our diseases in the resurrected Christ.

So, I'm encouraged both by the possibility that there are greater and stunningly literal interpretations of Scripture that I may one day learn, and also by the notion that all the Scripture is fulfilled in Christ.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Incoherent Gov. Romney:

From Romney, my second least favorite candidate (behind Edwards):

"There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.",2933,315486,00.html

This is just incoherent. The "very religious test" the founders prohibited in the constitution is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Asking a candidate to discuss how his religious beliefs might affect his execution of his constitutional duties as president does not violate the first amendment, Gov. Romney.

Also, this quote just affirms for me what I think of Romney: 1) he's not being forthcoming, that is he doesn't want to answer questions about his faith because he knows it will hurts his candidacy if he told the truth or 2) he's not very thoughtful and doesn't understand these issues very well. Both of these personality traits disqualify him for me. We've had enough of that weak sauce for the past eight years.

In the words of my favorite political figure, Bradley Whitford: "He's a hairdo!"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What is the primary thing you look for in a church?

For me, it's the centrality of the Gospel. I particularly appreciate it if the worship and the teaching is strong on taking every aspect of life and interpreting through the meaning of Christ's finished work on the cross.