Thursday, January 31, 2008

I have three political principals, which I think are arguably “Christian” but can also be translated into secular speak:

I believe in Natural Law, that is, that people have intuitive access to the true nature of right and wrong, and our laws and policies should be shaped by this intuition about this Law.

I believe the positive law (the laws actually written down by our legislatures and judges) is a teacher and shapes the souls of people, leading them toward what is good and bad, right and wrong, and so the law should be made with it's teaching role in mind.

I believe coercive force should be used in the restraining evil and protecting the innocent.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Lord’s role and ours

This set of verses confused me a bit, although it appears to revolve around the typical scriptural paradox of our role vs. God's:

Proverb 10:4: “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”

Psalm 127:1-2: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”

One seems to emphasize the role of human effort; the other seems to minimize it.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on reconciling these verses.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Gospel about Sin and Death

We have escaped like a bird
out of the fowler's snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.

(Psalm 124:7)

This verse captures what I believe the Gospel says about sin, death, and us. Not only have we escaped, but the “snare” is broken, so we can’t get back into it again.

Also, I love that the Gospel can be found in the Hebrew scriptures.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Emerging" versus "Emergent"

Although some emergent thinkers such as Brian McLaren and many Evangelical scholars such as D. A. Carson use "emerging" and "emergent" as synonyms, a large number of participants in the emerging church movement maintain a distinction between them. "Emergent" is sometimes more closely associated with Emergent Village. Those participants in the movement who assert this distinction believe "emergents" and "emergent village" to be a part of the emerging church movement but prefer to use the term "emerging church" to refer to the movement as a whole while using the term "emergent" in a more limited way, referring to Brian McLaren and emergent village. Many of those within the emerging church movement who do not closely identify with emergent village tend to avoid that organization's interest in radical theological reformulation and focus more on new ways of "doing church" and expressing their spirituality. Mark Driscoll, an early leader associated with the emerging church conversation, now distances himself from the "emergent thread." In a short video clip, he summarizes some of his concerns. Some observers consider the "emergent stream" to be one major part within the larger emerging church movement. This may be attributed to the stronger voice of the 'emergent' stream found in the US which contrasts the more subtle and diverse development of the movement in the UK, Australia and New Zealand over a longer period of time. As a result of the above factors, the use of correct vocabulary to describe a given participant in this movement can occasionally be awkward, confusing, or controversial.

-- In the mid-1990s I was part of what is now known as the Emerging Church and spent some time traveling the country to speak on the emerging church in the emerging culture on a team put together by Leadership Network called the Young Leader Network. But, I eventually had to distance myself from the Emergent stream of the network because friends like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt began pushing a theological agenda that greatly troubled me. Examples include referring to God as a chick, questioning God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a low view of Scripture, and denial of hell which is one hell of a mistake. -- Mark Driscoll[8]

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sen. Obama, for U.S. Poet Laureate

I’m concerned Obama has ceded too much ground in his recent description of his idea of being president as “one who has vision, not one who manages the bureaucracy.” Last night, Sen. Clinton saw this opening and said, ‘no, you need someone to run the gov’t, and that’s me.’ Obama then talked about how he’s not that organized, and can’t find all his papers, but he has good people who do that for him. But this just made him sound like the absent minded professor – brilliant, sure, but competent to run the country – he’s not competent to find his check book! It concerns me for his campaign, and it even concerns me a little bit as to whether he’s actually “ready,” in Clinton’s terms.

He needs to reassert his competence to run the show, not just “inspire people.” If I’d been him, I’d have said, “Hillary would make a great manager, and when I’m President, I’ll certainly appoint her to my cabinet.”

If I were Hillary, I would have promised that when I’m president, I’ll make Barack the U.S. Poet Laureate.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

News Flash: Libertarians sane, interesting, ZC says

It occurs to me, assisted by the e-mail of a friend, that calling Libertarians insane or boring was unnecessary and unedifying. I could have more graciously and accurately said, ‘I disagree with some of the premises held by Libertarians,’ which would have conveyed everything I wanted without needlessly insulting people.

So, for that failing, forgive me.

It also occurs to me that social and political debate has a tendency to turn a bit nasty in a way that makes me wonder if it’s right and meet for one trying to practice the Golden Rule to engage in the sport.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is God cursing you for something bad you did?

In Genesis 42, Jacob’s sons have traveled to Egypt to purchase grain. They encounter Joseph who is now Pharaoh’s chief administrator, though they don’t know it’s him. Joseph sends them back with grain, but also returns their money to their sacks that they had given him as a purchase price. When the brothers discover this they’re aghast:

“What is this God has done to us?” (v. 28)

This is funny because Joseph did it, not God. But the brothers assume God is punishing them for having sold Joseph into slavery. Joseph later clarifies that God’s purpose in the whole affair was to save Egypt from starvation during the famine.

Isn’t this how we often react? Something negative happens, and we think ‘God is cursing us … probably for that bad thing we did,’ when in reality God is actually working for salvation.

It doesn’t appear that Joseph’s brothers are every punished by God for what they did to Joseph.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Libertarianism is either boring or insane

A decent synopsis of the Libertarian position is that you should be free to do whatever you want, so long as your freedom doesn’t impinge on the freedom of others.

This notion is used to explain why as many laws as possible should be abolished, drug laws are a typical example. Libs contrast themselves against people who want government to do more regulating of our lives.

Libertarians are okay with minimal government basically to maintain some basic infrastructure, military, and boundaries between your freedom impinging upon mine – but this is exactly why their position is non-sense.

They claim that the difference between themselves and other parties is that they want to free people from the strictures of unnecessary laws. But no one believes in implementing superfluous laws. The question among reasonable people is how much regulation is necessary, and most Libs agree some regulation is necessary. So most of them are not saying anything very interesting, theoretically. They're just Republicans; they're not a Revolution.

The only actual position a Libertarian could hold that would be theoretically interesting or meaningfully different than a Republican or Democrat would be if he proposed we abolish all laws, that is, we implement anarchy. And, that would be crazy.

Libertarianism has the speciousness of conspiracy theory. And like conspiracy theory, it’s ultimately either crazy for what it actually thinks or tedious for thinking it’s saying something interesting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Emergent Church:

I have yet to see anything compelling from it.

At best, I've just seen youthful evangelicalism.

At worst, I've seen it revel in post-modernism to the point of heresy.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

To me these are the two candidates I’d most like to see become president, but I’m torn over who I’d prefer if it came down to the two of them in the general.

I’ve liked Obama for a long time, and I’ve even given him money, which is something I’ve never done for any pol before. Basically, I just like his personality, and I honestly could imagine him making a huge difference to the U.S. political scene and to the world. But, I don’t really love any of his policy positions—and I hate one of them, namely ‘pro-choice.’ This may sound lofty, but I could actually imagine him creating a political scene where it was more possible for our nation to become pro-life just by putting an end to the hard-core partisanship that we’ve currently got.

Meanwhile, you can’t help but respect John McCain for his history of service and independence. If there’s one thing you could do to fix U.S. politics, it would be campaign finance reform, and he’s been a leader on this front for a long time. Further, he’s anti-Roe v. Wade. Conservatives made a major and costly investment in the Bush Administration, and the only really good thing to come out of it was getting a few judges on the Supreme Court who might overrule Roe. But if we stop short now, it won’t happen—and we’re actually pretty close. A McCain presidency just might do it. And another issue is Iraq: I’m in the Colin Powell camp here, “you break it, you buy it.” And we definitely broke it, but now we’re actually making progress fixing it because of the Surge. McCain is a candidate, despite tremendous popular opposition (which speaks to his courage and character), who has committed to seeing through what we started in Iraq. I didn’t agree with going into Iraq, but since we did I think it’s our responsibility to stick it out.

So, I have a lot more concrete reasons to vote for McCain – but I really, really want to see an Obama presidency.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Questions that science cannot answer:

What is the meaning of life?

What is my purpose as a human being?

What is the difference between right and wrong?

Are genocide, slavery, and adultery wrong?
Interview with Sen. Obama

This morning I caught a bit of an interview with Sen. Obama. He briefly discussed what he prays each night and said that he asks ‘for the safety of his family, the forgiveness for his screw-ups, and that he be an instrument of God’s will.’

Good prayers, I think.

He elaborated a bit about praying to be used by God saying 'you've got to have a bit of megalomania to think you should be the president of the United States. But, still, it's got to be about more than you ... a bigger purpose.'

I really like this level of self-awareness and vision that he has.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I’m continuing to focus on God’s role in bringing about my spiritual development, as opposed to my own effort. I used to say “God has done his part, so I need to do mine.” I don’t think this was exactly wrong, but I think it may have caused me to miss how much it’s really about God’s actions primarily.

Here’s a portion of Psalm 119 that really emphasizes God as the effecient cause of our spiritual advancement:

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.
35Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
36Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.
37Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
38Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.
39Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.
40Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.