Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live faithfully...in the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, October 06, 2008

More than one issue?

Someone recently contacted our church, articulating a concern because, though they don't attend our church, a co-worker of theirs does and this co-worker told the concerned party that they were intending to vote for Barack Obama. Their tone was close to moral outrage because Obama is arguably one of the most liberal senators on matters of abortion.

I understand the concern about the abortion issue in a very personal way. Having been adopted as an infant, I wonder if I'd be here at all to bother you with another blog post if abortion had been easily accessible 'back in the day'. Like the person who contacted us, I view our collective failure to honor life in the womb as a great crime.

What's disconcerting to me though (and the shoe could have just as easily been on the other foot, with someone writing in concerned that one of our flock was voting for McCain because of, say, 'just war theory') is the reductionist mindset that boils down one's choice in this important election to any single issue. We're fighting two wars, not to mention trying to understand and deal with the threats of Russia and Iran, and are in the midst of the gravest economic and energy crises in generations, both of which are global in scope and terrifying in potential consequences. I won't even mention the environment, global poverty, and an impending clean water crisis that nobody is yet speaking of. Each of these issues demand capable leadership and the offering of principled and vision based strategies and steps. What will be needed for these times will be a leader able to impart that vision to our nation and our world.

No single issue: health care/ environment/ gun-control/ abortion/ or even the freedom to hunt wolves from helicopters, should be the basis on which we cast our vote. Rather, we should prayerfully consider both the overall vision and leadership potential of our candidates, realizing that there is not any candidate or party who perfectly embodies the ethic of the kingdom of God. As the rhetoric heats up in the blogosphere about which candidate has the deeper faith, it might be fun to remember that the debate rages to this day as to how deep or real President Lincoln's faith was. Be it real or not, he surely contradicted the prevailing faith ethic of the south when he dismantled slavery. Perhaps we would rather have had a genuine believer, a church going man, from the southern states as president? Nope.

I wonder the criteria you're using to caste your vote. Poverty issues? Pro-life/abortion issues? Economic policies? A general sense of who would make a better leader? Character? How Christian the candidate is? Trustworthiness? Previous failures and associations with disreputable people? What will make you vote the way you do? Feel free to post anonymously, but please post... would love a good discussion.

66 Comments:

At 6/10/08 22:08, Anonymous Tyler said...

Great post Richard. I'm voting for change...

o wait both candidates say they are change. Crap...back to the drawing board.

War theory, abortion, health insurance, tax policy, leadership ability.

 
At 6/10/08 23:06, Blogger Cody said...

I completely agree. It seems almost ridiculous to say you're voting for a candidate on the basis of one issue, especially something, in the end, the supreme court decides (like abortion)
We need to be considering all the facets in our choosing. Thanks for the post.

 
At 7/10/08 00:38, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the scariest thing for me in watching any commentary regarding the election is blind faith, or 'one issue' faith as you're mentioning. Christian or not, these are men, not gods, and the sweeping rhetoric being thrown about is not based in careful consideration, or learnedness even. for such an important postion, shouldn't the dialogue be? pro/con lists even, the simplest weighing strategy there is, but in the absence of a clear winner (for some) it is best to map out just where each man stands, and find out who is more worthy to lead the most powerful nation for the overall good.

 
At 7/10/08 06:49, Blogger Living-dom said...

I think leadership and leadership experience is critical.

 
At 7/10/08 07:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly we must grant that we don't have a particularly attractive set of choices this election. What is most disheartening to me is that our nation seems to be reaching a place where even with 300 million people we are no longer able to find even two worthy leaders to choose from. Partisan/bipartisan blathering only creates a lot of noise. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a true leader who could really articulate what they stand for rise up and stand for it? I am still very uncertain where McCain stands at any given time or who Obama really may be as he has so little demonstrable history. Add to that both having shown no out front leadership in the latest economic nigthmares and I can't put much hope in the future presidency with either result. In both instances we are faced with a rather blind leap of faith that it will all turn out in the end.

Praise be to God that we have a higher hope.

 
At 7/10/08 09:09, Blogger jonie broecker said...

There is no perfect person. I have believed things in my past that I no longer carry with me. God changes people hearts, God works in peoples lives. This is a journey for each human being, yes?

When choosing a leader, I am looking for someone to bring people together, not just in our country but in our world. I am looking for some one to be an inspiration and to show us a different perspective than what we have so often seen. My decision will not be made based on the history of one man but based on the momentum and direction that someone can create.

Yes, Lincoln helped to create change. He changed the momentum and direction of our country but it was not finished there. This journey is still in progress and there are issues that need our attention now that were not as eminent then.

Our country will not be "fixed" in 1 or even 2 terms but it is the sum of all parts...I truly believe we need some new parts. I do not believe there is a perfect candidate as there is no perfect person but come November, I am voting Obama/Biden.

 
At 7/10/08 09:21, Blogger Sherry said...

I agree that the two party system and the choices offered by that system are less than satisfactory. But this is what we have. And this time I am not going to make a protest vote although I admit as in elections past, I am tempted.

The campaigning is dirty and getting dirtier. The rallies are ugly, are the smears are rampant. The candidates lie and manipulate and their handlers are even worse. The candidates purport to be people of faith, yet they seem to ignore the Ninth Commandment. Is there an exemption on “not bearing false witness” during an election?

So, this time I am voting for the candidate who seems to me to be running the cleaner campaign of the two. And although it is very hard to hear amid all the commotion, if you listen very closely you can hear an ever so slightly quieter rhetoric coming from one side of the campaign trail and that candidate gets my support.

May God bless us all.

 
At 7/10/08 09:51, OpenID jadeejf said...

I guess I'm just appalled that anyone would be so small-minded as to take an individual to task with their church because of who they said they would vote for. I happen to be moderate, and undecided, and yet I've had Christians on both sides tell me or my husband that they can't believe we would defend Obama or McCain because of abortion/war/economics, etc. I guess you know you're a moderate, when... but I appreciate your ability to note that voting is such a complex, personal process, and not a simple single-issue decision (at least not for many of us). I think the best thing we can do is simply pray for both candidates- one of them will be our leader very shortly, and they can certainly use prayer, regardless.

 
At 7/10/08 10:05, Anonymous Nathan said...

I can't vote for either McCain of Obama. It's just as you said, on single issues here and there- we sometimes agree- but I always feel like I'm making a compromise in order to vote for either one of them.

I suppose there will never be a leader who agrees 100% with any of us, but I don't think that I should have to settle for 40-60%. That's why I'll be voting third party- I have to vote my conscience.

One of my co-workers loves to say- "Nathan, you don't have the ethical and moral flexibility to run for public office." I guess it's also true that I don't have the ethical flexibility to vote for a majority candidate, either.

 
At 7/10/08 11:09, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our son-in-law's cousin wrote the following letter to her family and friends. Please read....

Dear family and friends,
I woke up the other morning with this on my mind. I'm passing on my thoughts to you.

I have been doing a study on the life of Moses and am struck by how God had a plan for him from birth. When the ruler of the land commanded all baby boys to be cast into the Nile , the midwives and Moses’ parents feared God, saw that he was an exceptional child, and spared his life. Years later he would go on to deliver a nation.

We have before us a most important election. One in which there are many issues and causes that push people onto one side or the other. Emotions run high. Many “firsts” are at stake. Yet, on the other hand, to hear them talk, it is at times hard to distinguish where they differ—both wanting to appeal to the other side.

There is one issue in my mind that rises above all others. And that is the issue of the sanctity of life. The two tickets could not be further apart on this particular issue. Senator Obama, while a state senator here in Illinois, was an outspoken opponent to legislation that would protect newborn babies from being killed or left to die if they were born after a failed abortion. NARAL even opposed such legislation as infanticide. He has voted against the ban on partial birth abortions in the US Senate as recently as Oct. 2007. To hear his campaign speak to this issue today they will skirt, hem and haw. But his record is clear. So what? you may ask.

Abortion and pro-life issues may not be your “cause”. Perhaps you are excited to be able to cast your vote to put the first African-American in the White House. I agree it would be very cool and a huge step to further racial reconciliation. Or perhaps you are most concerned about the stewardship of the earth. Or maybe it’s the violence and bloodshed involved in the War on Terror. Or maybe the economy makes you nervous (believe me, I’m nervous). These are issues near and dear to my heart as well. But I can’t help but put them behind the cry of nearly 4000 (say that out loud) babies being killed in our country every day. 4000! That is nearly the same number of American deaths in the war since we began in March of 2003.* The total number of Iraqi civilian deaths since March 2003 is estimated to be between 89,000-96,000—that’s the number of babies killed in less than a month here, year after year.** We have allowed more than 40,000,000 babies to be killed by abortion.

Today’s hot issues pale in comparison to the thought of the damage that will be done by putting activist justices on the Supreme Court (as Biden made it quite clear his ticket will do). It will be decades before there is another opportunity to get a fair hearing with the Supreme Court. With McCain, there are not guarantees, but there is a chance he could appoint one or two new justices that would re-visit the poor conclusion of Roe v. Wade. It would not immediately stop abortion in America as the far left would have us think. Rather it would send the decisions back to the states. More importantly, it would raise the question in the minds of Americans, “Is it right or wrong to end the life of a baby in the womb?” When our law says it is ok, people stop questioning it for themselves, because, yes, all laws legislate morality, by definition, good or bad.

So what is at stake in this election? If your issue is racial reconciliation—what about the thousands of minority babies killed daily who will never vote, much less be fine presidents? If it is non-violence—what about the horrid bloody violence done to the most innocent and defenseless? If it is the economy—think of all the contributions all of those who have been aborted or will be aborted would bring to this nation: industry, jobs, new services needed, housing, etc.? What ever your issue is this election, does it compare to the atrocity of the massive number of killing happening under our noses?

Well, back to Moses. There is a common thought in our land that some lives would be better off unlived. I’ve had two babies in recent years, and thankfully, they are healthy. But I know what they test for, the questions they ask, and I know their recommendations should tests come back abnormal. Trig Palin, by our country’s set of morals, should not be here. Yet his parents feared God and welcomed him. Could it be that he was born “for such a time as this”? That he might grow up in the spotlight of our country, and therefore the world, to deliver us from such selfish and wrong thinking. Might we see, the once unthinkable, overturning of Roe v. Wade in our lifetime? Oh, for the day, that the womb would no longer be the most dangerous place in America.

 
At 7/10/08 13:30, Anonymous Joan said...

With tears in my eyes, I rejoice with the anonymous comment from "our son-in-law's cousin".

I agree with many that neither candidate is perfect (has there ever really been a 'perfect' candidate?). Yet, I have biblical standards that I cannot "set aside"; standards that I hold to be God's Truth. When you break it down to comparing Obama - liberal regarding abortion (biblical moral issue) and McCain labeled as 'just say war'. I could not support a candidate that openly supports a biblically immoral position. And please, educate me if John McCain is supporting biblically immoral positions, as I'm not aware of any.

Thank you for bringing up Abraham Lincoln. I have no answers regarding his faith, but he reminds us that we must value LIFE. Abraham Lincoln VALUED life ~ valued it so highly, he was willing to have a nation FIGHT FOR IT! The value of life has dropped dramatically since abortion was legalized. Now, there is assisted suicide - if you're really sick, we'll help you die earlier (it will keep you from suffering). And there may come a day when you are facing a life-threatening illness and your insurance company tells you that they're not willing to pay for your treatment (too expensive), but they will pay for your assisted suicide at the appropriate time... Violence is on the rise ~ as the value of human life continues to be lowered, do we care that lives are being taken daily? And yes, war is an ugly thing ~ but even the Bible reveals that war has been necessary at times (I'm not saying that Iraq, Afghanistan, etc is biblically mandated.), but war has been a reality throughout all of history.

Where is our focus? Are we focused on 'earthly, temporary issues' or God's Truth as reality for all people while we are on the earth for a short time? Are we praying for our President, the Congress, our local leaders, our military, our teachers, our neighbors, police, church leaders ~ for God's blessing, protection and wisdom? I want authority over my life to be submitted to God and His Truth for I am called to submit to all authority (Romans 13:1) - yet none of us are to engage in or support bibilical immorality.

As yes, I care about the environment and related issues as well. I've been "labeled" a conservative environmentalist... Well, I call myself a child of God ~ a sinner saved by costly grace who is trying to live a life guided by the Word of God and be a good steward of the earth He has given me to live in (it's all about perspective, isn't it)?! How my heart groans for the 'confusion' I see all around me. The only One who can save us is Jesus Christ ~ He is the answer and the Word of God has given us the "map" we need to live in this fallen world... It's time for the 'church' to rise up and fall to her knees; desperately seeking God! He alone knows the way.

I continue to pray that God would give us wisdom during this election season and yes, I do believe with my whole heart that biblical moral issues and how a candidate lives that out in their lives is of utmost importance. God gives all of us free choice and we will all be held accountable - no matter how we choose. I am compelled to vote for a candidate that holds biblical values ~ it is my standard of measure! (I'm not better or "holier" than anyone else. It's just the simple truth.) And, how I pray there will come a day in my lifetime when a strong, biblically-focused candidate will be a majority contender. God's Word is God's Word and I don't know how it can be read any differently that what it says. He is very clear. May God's mercy be poured out upon us and our country...

 
At 7/10/08 14:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

I encourage you to read the entire passage; verses 25-34

Will He not bless and provide for those who choose righteousness first? He is the same yesterday, today and forever...

 
At 7/10/08 15:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes it would be nice to have a Christian in office. But honestly, that doesn't guarantee anything for the country. The U.S. does not automatically become a Christian nation (and I'm a critic of whether this label has ever applied to the U.S.) just because the President is a person of faith. Correct me if my logic is wrong here, but this line of thought would mean that certainly Israel should have been the nation par excellence. After all, we raise up their leaders like Moses as Godly men. But a cursory knowledge of the Old Testament reveals a history of a nation that definitely still struggled with being in good standing with God at any given point.

And if you are looking for a candidate who is completely Biblical in their campaign and positions, any campaign commercial should remind us that politics sees honesty and truth (both Biblical- see James, at least) as flexible. A loose tongue does not kill an innocent life, but it is also spoken against in scriptures. Of course if we're using Biblical standards to measure the health of things, let's not forget to assess the mindset behind our idea of consumerism, to name one. Maybe it would be easier to move somewhere else...

At this time, I cannot help but see around "compromising 60%-40%" as someone else said. But is it really compromising? If we follow the Biblical standard of selfless concern for others' needs, then we'll need to set aside some of what we want for the sake of others. A candidate may not share your views about abortion, but maybe the candidate's other policies will meet more of the nation's needs at large. I wonder, considering everything else happening in the nation, the president would place much energy into abortion related legislation. If he does, then those convicted to do so can work to reverse it again. It's never set in stone, more like applied with 3M-strips.

Moving in another direction, I wonder if maybe the idea of God's judgment is relevant in the conversation. It's not stylish to talk about God's judgment these days, especially in relation to ourselves and our nation. After all, we hate being disciplined and we're accustomed to the U.S. being at the center of the world as the "greatest nation". But in trying to decide what's God's will for the country maybe God wants a leader who will lead us through a period where we are disciplined, just as God did with Israel and other nations for that matter. Maybe electing the "other guy" may just be what God's planned. Some would say that the last eight years have already been as much.

 
At 7/10/08 16:47, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On top of Lincoln's faith, the only "big name" among the Founding Fathers of our nation that had anything like an authentic Christian faith was Samuel Adams, now known well for delicious Boston and Winter lagers :). Most of the others were deists and agnostics including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (who incidentally, like Marcion, tried editing his own Bible.)

But they were all great leaders who we honor deeply for their contributions. Many Christians seem to think that things will be good if we have a decent *Christian* president. Now, a politician could be the most faithful among the Christian flock and absolutely fail as president.

Part of our responsibility as voters, even as Christians, is to elect someone who will serve the country with excellence at the tasks of the office. Maybe they are rough around the spiritual edges- and aren't we all to some degree- but has a solid vision and a plan to lead the country given the context of their service.

Scriptures teach us this. Wisdom from Proverbs praises the person who can do their work well. It doesn't matter what the task is. In the New Testament we are instructed to do whatever we are doing to the glory of God.

I wonder, despite the good intentions behind it, maybe we as Christians set unattainable standard for a candidate. We want someone who will be an exemplary model of the Faith; we want them to have policies that will match exactly our worldview and they cannot make any mistakes that show they are just like us.

What I am not implying is that we lower our standards, per se. Perhaps we prioritize our wish list a little better. How will you decide what makes a good leader?

To use a non presidential example- Martin Luther King Jr. was preacher, a social activist and is still an icon for hope and reconciliation. Does that change with rumors of extramarital affairs? Abstractly, if we could have known that he was imperfect in that one area but still do all that he did, would we have kept him from his role in the Civil Rights movement?

Another example, Martin Luther, the reformer, was antisemitic in many of his writings. Should we remove him from his place in Church history?

The Apostle Peter actually cursed and denied his involvement with Christ, should we take back his "Keys to the church" and remove him from his role in the spread of Christianity in the years after his time with Christ? Ask that to a Catholic if you are daring.

My point is, all leaders will not meet all of our high standards. while we should not lower our standards, we need to allow that even if someone does not meet our standards, that does not mean they can't ever exceed them in the positive. Likewise, even if we have a leader that meets our standards now, they may fail them in the future.

 
At 7/10/08 16:48, Blogger Outish said...

I, like so many of you, find myself torn, lost somewhere in the middle of both candidates as they attempt to please the centerists and maintain their base supporters. Falling through the cracks on either side of the issues.

But I have greater worries. One thing that I believe remains constant outside of time and political system. People get the government they deserve. From the Old Testament kings, to our modern era one has a hard time seperating the quality of the governor from the governed. Particuarly in a democracy, government for the people, by the people, from the people. And who are the people? Can we really expect either of these men to be some kind of savior for our nation when we observe the source?

I love this country, and am currently taking my turn protecting it in the Air Force. So it pains me greatly to watch it slide ever deeper into chasms of financial, moral, and environmental irresponsibility. Mistaking freedom for a carte blanche vacation from values.

Elections change the nation, it's true, but not so much as the nation changes the elections.

So who do I choose? I choose the candidate who looks me square in the eye and tells me: "Things aren't going to be all right. You need to start taking responsibility for your actions. We all do. Or this great experiment in democracy will soon become a dream." Someone to wake us from our complacency to realize how dire our situation really is.

And who do I choose when the last statement is too harsh (or too true?) to be spoken?

I'll keep watching and hope things are clearer in November...

 
At 7/10/08 16:49, Blogger Outish said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8/10/08 11:17, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Christian, I consider myself more spiritually mature than other people. As such, I do not understand how you people can place issues like the war on terrorism, the economy, and welfare above the life of an innocent child. Abortion is the single greatest issue facing our civilization, and the health of our entire country depends upon our respect for the sanctity of life.

How can people even worry about American soldiers when babies are dying! Some would say, "But we need to focus on the source of the problem . . . women are not receiving the basic services they need to have and support a healthy baby." Well, you know what? Sometimes you just need to power through it, and take some responsibility for your actions. Why should we punish an innocent life for the mother's irresponsible use of sexual pleasure?

Our infant brothers and sisters (and brothers and sisters, they truly are! They haven't even reached the age of accountability yet!) are far more important than non-American, non-Christian souls. We must quickly pressure our politicians to lead this great nation into an age of holiness and piety.

Palin 2008!

And McCain.

 
At 8/10/08 14:41, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and yet you can be a Christian and still spiritually immature, still feeding on milk not meat, as Paul discusses in Romans. I'm not saying you are spiritually immature, just pointing the fact out that Christianity doesn't morph you into some spiritual superhero over night, which your post seems to imply.

 
At 8/10/08 14:46, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly, I'd say that the matter can't be black and white. As with most things. Abortion in particular can't be black and white because there are instances where it is necessary, those being cases of rape and incest. To tell a woman who was raped that she has to bear the child of the rapist is obviously unjust. I know there are some people who disagree with that, which is perplexing to me.

I'm not saying this happens often, but between sex crimes, and say, abortions to save the life of the mother, there is no choice but for abortion to be legal. For someone to suggest that a woman MUST carry a child to term in spite of those factors would be an egregious crime, a robbery of one of our most basic liberties as human beings, the right to do as we will with our own bodies.

The only option as far as I'm concerned is regulation. I don't know in what way it should or could be regulated, I'm not a doctor or someone well studied on the subject. Any applicants should be well informed as to their options and the ramifications of their choice, probably with some sort of psychiatric evaluation, much like they have with sex change operations.

If they banned abortion totally, it would still go on, of course, in the crude underground laboratories of people with inadequate education. The death penalty would then also have to be abolished, as well as euthanasia. America's military attitude would seem even more hypocritical then. I like imagining a pro-life soldier in Iraq firing his M-16. What is that, an eye for an eye? Best take your eye because you could potentially take ours? But that's another matter entirely. 100,000 cows are killed in America every day. That murder is alright, of course, because cows don't have souls. A Hindu would say otherwise, but they're wrong, and we're right. My point is that banning abortion would reveal a whole plethora of hypocrisies.

And what if Roe vs. Wade is never overturned? Then God will judge the mothers and take good care of the unborn. In political science, matters like these, abortion and gay marriage, etc., are called "reactionary politics", and politicians are fortunate to be able to lean on them

 
At 8/10/08 14:51, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One could argue that abortion is not alone as an "innocent death". I'm sure many starving people, civilian casualties of war across the world view themselves as innocent, that is, undeserving of the lot life gave them,and having no ability to change their circumstances. Who deserves to die for preventable causes with no choice in the matter when others do?

 
At 8/10/08 15:20, Blogger Outish said...

Tread lightly Anonymous, while I agree that abortion is a significant issue for our era, and I understand that abortion is the taking of innocent life, your commentary above can be a dangerous line to walk.
First, to consider one’s self more spiritually mature than others, non-Christians and Christians alike is quite a bold statement. I don’t know you, Anonymous and I can’t judge, you could very well be what you say, I can only speak for myself. How I long for the qualities I have seen in others, a Buddhist’s meditation, an Islamists faith, a Mormon’s piety. As I said before, tread lightly.
As to abortion being the single greatest issue facing our civilization? How about global poverty by which my own excesses and those in our country contribute to the death of 26,500 to 30,000 each day, that’s roughly 9 million children a year. About a million of them are due to inadequate vaccinations (Thanks globalissues.org) . If you want to talk numbers I say this is fair competition.
Beyond that, as I mentioned in my earlier commentary, I think the real issue is bigger than abortion, bigger than the financial crisis, bigger than the war in Iraq. And that is a downward slide of moral responsibility. Do you really think teens are running out to have sex because it fulfills their sexual pleasure? If so I respectfully disagree. I think their doing it in order to fill some emotional void, something broken in their spirit, something that crushes their ability to have a healthy relationship with their friends, their families, their communities. And will we blame these kids for the broken culture, developed on our watch, in which they have grown up? Where is the true evil here, is it the doctors who take the lives of these children? That evil is merely a symptom of the disease. Let’s start treating the disease in our own homes, in our own lives, in our own communities. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I think a Christian said that… Oh wait, it was Gandhi. Maybe then abortion would begin to fade from society on its own. Idealistic, yes, but no more so than believing making abortions illegal would stop them from happening.
As far as the non-Christian, non-American souls I want you think long and hard about what you have said here. And does God cry harder when a child is aborted or when a murderer dies in a car accident? If anything I’d say it would be harder for the murderer. Yes, these children are innocent, yes, they our part of our family, but does that elevate their level as a human being above any one of us in God’s eyes? Please don’t be hasty to elevate the soul of a Christian, or especially an American, above those who suffer outside of our borders. When it comes to love God doesn’t care anymore about these things than he does the color of our skin. Which is to say, He doesn’t care about them at all, He loves unconditionally and He loves equally. And if God loves beyond these things, isn’t it our call as his followers to love beyond them to.
So tread lightly.

 
At 8/10/08 17:46, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For clarfication in the conversation:

The "anonynmous" post at 10/8 11:17 is a different person than the "anonymous" posts at 10/8 14:41, 10/8 14:46, and 10/8 14:51; as well as 10/7 15:10 and 10/7 16:47- all of which I claim.

 
At 9/10/08 16:02, Anonymous Lisa said...

Outish, I concur completely. I am surprised and troubled by some of the posts I find here. I had expected more thoughtful responses.

I will be voting based on a shared worldview and issues such as war/foreign policy, poverty, the environment, energy policy, fiscal policy, and healthcare. I tend to look more at roots causes than symptoms (and I see abortion as a symptom, largely). I have also considered the demeanor and conduct of the candidates.

 
At 10/10/08 15:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your time spent on this topic Richard. It is amazing how ignorantly people behave when it involves a singles issue voter.

Freedom is my biggest concern, and which candidate MIGHT allow this freedom to reign.

Whether that is Freedom to choose an abortion(possibly in the case of rape or incest, or even unwanted pregnancy.) Freedom to own a gun, freedom to use bad language, freedom to worship freely...you name it, in the United States Freedom is the key.

Now I PERSONALLY would not choose abortion, or bad language, but I will stand up for the rights of all, and let God sort it out in the end.

This even includes freedom to protest against abortion, but still allow everyone to make their own personal choice.

I previously brought up the idea of it being okay to kill someone in war, in prison, and saw a few quotes from the bible stating an eye for an eye type ideas...but that is where a voice of reason showed up and asked what would Jesus do, and should we all not be as forgiving as him.

 
At 11/10/08 08:36, Blogger Jeremy said...

Well, my brothers and sisters in Christ, although voting entirely on one issue would be an egregious misstep, a candidate's stance on abortion is incredibly telling.

After all, what we should be looking for in a candidate is a Christian worldview, as CHRIST is our hope, light, and strength. When the Bible, which aside from the Holy Spirit is our only light into Christ's life, clearly states that God "knew us when we were in the womb," and that God gave us all a valuable soul, the stance on what human life is and its importance takes precedence over many other matters, because if you don't have a fundamental understanding of who we are, based on Biblical principles, how can you have a strong Christ-like perspective in other matters?

Did you ever notice that when Barack says that he's personally opposed to abortion, he never says why? The only reason for opposition is because he feels that abortion is the taking of life created by God, with a soul lovingly regarded by its creator. To suggest any other reason for opposition would be bordering on insanity. The opposing worldview to this is that we have no souls, came from goo, and have no real purpose except to survive.

Anyway, the problem people have with Obama and his stance on abortion is that it implies that he "understands" the human condition and our relevance to God and his word, but is willing to compromise this because of other people's opinions. Is this okay with you?

I don't know about you believers out there, but if God's word is God's word, and it clearly states our position and meaning in the universe, it CANNOT be comprised by the Christless opinions of nonbelievers. This would be a terrible mistake in moral relativity, which is something that Obama is notorious for in MANY issues.

As such, I think there are many other reasons to choose McCain over Obama, but the abortion issue shouldn't be downplayed, and the people who strongly oppose Obama's morally incapable attitude regarding the value of life shouldn't be portrayed as ignorant or stupid. God's children are God's children, and we have a responsibility to protect them regardless of who says otherwise, and regardless of what names we're called.

And such, brothers and sisters, you can read about policies all day long (which, unfortunately for my neglected career I do), but the bottom line is that as a Christian, you have a responsibility to uphold Christ above all things, and regard his word and uncompromisable truth. May he bless you all this day.

Oh, and McCain/Palin 2008!

 
At 11/10/08 14:39, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes A Christian candidate is preferred, I think it is wrong to assume that God would not use a nonbeliever for his purposes. If God's word is God's word, then it will be revealed and proven true no matter the mode. You may need to flesh apart the false from the true, recognizing as a fallen creation we are all "brackish waters" to various extents. Upholding Christ may include critically assessing *all* things to see where Christ's truth exists, even if its tedious and among many thorn. For cannot Christ redeem even the most lost among us?

I'd encourage you all to read a book called "Faith of the Outsider" by Dr. Frank Spina. God often uses the most unexpected things in his work to redeem the world. Rahab, the prostitute; a witless, scheming second born; an adulterous, murderous King; a pious, Christian murdering Jewish zealot; "A wretch like me".

 
At 12/10/08 02:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say, as a regular attender of BCC and a frequent reader of your blog, that when I read the comments to some of your posts I am surprised at the variety of opinions expressed. Sometimes I wonder if we all even attend the same church, the differences are so varied. I suppose this is a good thing. Still thinking on that.

 
At 12/10/08 10:05, Blogger Jeremy said...

Brother "Anonymous" (or, the latter variant of them, anyway),

There's bound to be some sort of diversity within any church, as we're all individuals at different stages of learning and progression in our faith in Christ. However, although diversity can strengthen one's walk though honest and loving discussion, diversity in itself should never a virtue to be achieved or a status to praise. As Christ's church, we have to remember that unity in Christ is to be attained above all else, and that our focus must remain on him and loving his church, as he COMMANDED in the gospels. And remember, Christ also happened to mention that unless we follow his commandments, we are not his children.

But anyway, as brothers and sisters in the church, I think it's a good thing that these different stances come to light. At the end of the day, there is a right decision to make, as God's universally valid and applicable principles bend for no party or person, and we have an obligation to talk to those we think are making the wrong decisions. This isn't to be done out of a spirit of pride or self-aggrandizing intellectualism, but to help others come closer to their Lord. The apostle Paul is the best example of the right way to handle differences in opinion and lifestyle.

For instance, earlier in the comments section (or even in the blog itself!) it was mentioned that while Republicans were repulsed by the Left's stance on abortion, the Democrats were appalled by the Right's stance on Just War. While it could be construed that each stances are equally valid in the kingdom of heaven, the analyst must at some point understand that the fight against "Just War" is philosophically predicated by a worldview based on Christ and our value in this world. As such, it's only right to say that there IS a right choice between the two issues, and that correct choice to support the right to life overwhelmingly supercedes the other in value, even if the second issue is still important.

After all, how could one ever call the "killing of innocents" a sin if we haven't already established our divine nature and thus divine value?

Anyway, I know you weren't saying that people having the wrong opinions is horrible, or that diversity apart from God's word is a valuable thing, but what I'm trying to get at here is that if you do honestly believe others have the wrong mindset, you have an obligation in Christ to bring them closer to his word. After all, we've all been wrong at some point in our Christian walk, and wouldn't it have been nice to have someone lead us out of the wrong path?

God bless you, anonymous, and I hope you have a great day!

 
At 13/10/08 16:31, Anonymous Joan said...

Thank you, Jeremy, for your words so well chosen and shared with everyone. I so appreciate your comments!

And, anonymous who shared their insight that the variety of blog comments was surprising from one who attends BCC regularly (and I attend BCC too); please know that I have been dealing with the same challenges. It does cause me to pause and wonder that a body of believers - sitting under one pastor/teacher - would have such a vast range of beliefs. I am wrestling with that myself...

 
At 13/10/08 19:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To believe that McCain is more of a Christian that Obama is unbelievably ignorant.

As a Christian living in this country on a work visa, I cannot vote. However my country does their best to truly separate politics and religion in order to provide for our entire country and not a select group of people.

This way you don't get a bunch of people voting for one nut job who just happens to say he is "Christian."

If you investigated the life of McCain you would realize how secular he has lived his life, continue to live his life, and realize he is simply pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Christians are no better than anyone else in the world, as everyone deserves love and respect. We need people who will give love and serve no matter the denomination or religion.

Now is not the time to pick religious sides.

In the case of the 2 candidates here, they both are announced Christians, which is lucky for many of us, but I ask you to examine their walk, and not just listen to the talk.

I have, and there is no way McCain would receive a vote from me.

 
At 13/10/08 20:48, Blogger Odyssey said...

If we really want to have our collective brains explode in considering "Christian" presidents think on this... declared "Christians" Jimmy Carter AND George W. Bush! Can we get more of a contrast than that? Both considered by their respective supporters as serious believers when they ran for office, both big dissapointments in very different directions to many of those of faith, many in their own political parties, most in the general population. Now we are again confronted with two candidates with very different faith backgrounds and attachments. Whichever comes out on top will quite likely be a surprise to all of us in what they actually deliver in each of our visions for what a faithful leader should be.

I am very glad that our nation has a couple of centuries experience in overcoming its leadership's shortcomings. Now as we face some trying times it will be very interesting to see who finally "wins" and how their time in office plays out in history.

 
At 15/10/08 09:19, Anonymous Lisa said...

I think it's absolutely absurd that there are people who consider themselves to be Christians who are, even on this blog, deciding they know which presidential candidate is more or less Christian. To claim that Obama is not a Christian is to know nothing of the man or his policies. To claim that McCain is Christian is to ignore his own personal and legislative contradictions to the gospel. I'm not saying one is more or less Christian than the other, I'm only pointing out that we see what we want and for too long Republicans have been assumed to be "good Christians" while, despite all evidence to the contrary, Democrats have been labled "secular", even "anti-Christian". It's time to do away with this old assumption, it no longer applies; it's time to weigh the facts with the truth. Furthermore, I'm beginning to realize that all this discussion about who in society is a "good Christian" has less to do with Jesus and His message than it does with the religion of American Dominant Society.

 
At 15/10/08 09:45, Blogger Jeremy said...

Dear most recent "Anonymous,"

Ah, the old term "ignorant." I usually have that one lobbed my way when I'm winning an argument with a liberal. Either that or the term "racist," which is always convenient for the Left since racism is neither quantifiable nor disprovable.

Now, you should be aware that almost everyone knows John McCain is no Billy Graham, and that the Christian right votes for him knowing full well that he's been accustomed to throwing religious conservatives under the bus, but you must realize that if the choice is given between a secularist who embraces the values of the Christian Right and a secularist who embraces the multicultural relativism of the Left, it only makes sense that you would go for the person whose policies endorse the Christian Right's basic worldview on the BASIS of human rights: the value of life itself. And remember, if by "walking the walk" you mean "attending a church in which the mission statement pledges commitment to Africa and in which Whites are consistently and publicly demonized to the applause of a rabid congregation," I'll choose the non-walker, thank you. As a White Christian, I have a fundamental right to resist defamation and its supporters, regardless of who's calling the defamation "Christian."

But anyway, since you're convinced that we should adopt our public policy on a Christ-free basis, creating laws that seek the benefit and glorification of all religions, I have to ask you a couple of questions:

1) If being a Christian means confessing with your mouth that Jesus is lord and following his commandments, isn't this in effect denying the truth claims of other religions? Isn't choosing ANY religion a form of disrespect in that case?

2) Since Christianity in essence demands a Christian worldview through scripture and action based upon it, should a Christian vote for someone who believes that inherently Christian values should have no relevance in public policy? Don't ALL of a candidate's decisions come from their worldview? If a candidate votes against enforcing a certain worldview, isn't this a result of their worldview? And isn't it wrong to deny Christ's worldview, simply because it comes from Christ?

3) By which moral code do you extract your values of respect and tolerance? Isn't this an imposition of your values upon other people's sets of values?

4) Aren't you being intolerant of Christians by demanding they choose a candidate whose policy on the value of life doesn't conform to the Christian worldview? Isn't calling someone "ignorant" based on their decision a form of religious disrespect, especially if their decision is based on their religion?

5) Since Sharia Law is the most perfect legal system to any true follower of Islam, should they be granted the right to practice Sharia Law within American soil, even if it means stoning adultresses to death? Wouldn't denial of the right to practice Sharia Law be a form of religious intolerance?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/aug/20/qanda.islam

I would like a response to these "ignorant" questions.

 
At 15/10/08 12:12, Anonymous Lisa said...

Jeremy,
I have to ask you if abortion is the only issue that illustrates whether or not a leader values life?
Seriously, I'd like an answer.

 
At 15/10/08 12:18, Anonymous Lisa said...

Jeremy, I also wonder if you think that to be a Christian one must subscribe to the values of the "Christian Right"? Further, are our only options the Christian Right or the multicultural relativist left?

 
At 15/10/08 16:24, Blogger Jeremy said...

Lisa!

Before I get started, please pardon me if my last comment came off a little snarky. I try to remember that we're gathered on this page because we're all Christ's children, but my buttons are easily pushed when I see myself and others labeled as "ignorant" for not agreeing with liberal viewpoints. As I'm human and never truly perfect, I got carried away and angrily retorted without considering that maybe I was sounding a little bent out of shape. I actually felt bad about it all day at work, so I ask your forgiveness, as my intent wasn't to insult :)

Anyway, no, abortion is NOT the only issue that shows whether a leader values life, but it's the cornerstone on which you base your policies. It's philosophically intangible to say you believe we're all created in the image of God and that you're okay with abortion, and then give an arbitrary reason for wanting to stop the massacre in Darfur. Consistency is important in ideological stances, my sister, and even if you DO "care" about other people's well-being, you can't say it applies to the people in Darfur if you haven't taken a strong stance against abortion, because a life is a life is a life, and if you're okay with disposing of life at someone's convenience in your own country, then you have to be okay with someone murdering someone in another country over, let's say, land. After all, if the ability to kill for convenience is allowed, surely you would allow murder for land, as the need for land takes greater importance than a convenient operation?

So anyway, it doesn't matter about whether he "cares" or not. It matters that he has a solid foundation on which to base his actions. Are we God's children? Did he know us in the womb? Does he value us all equally? Does this mean we have to value each other, love each other, and protect each other? If the answer is yes, THEN you can declare human rights. THEN you can intervene in another country for the sake of persecuted peoples. If we're not all created in the image of God, pardon me, but what reason do you have to care about people in Iraq, or Darfur, or anywhere else? Because it makes you feel good? What if it makes the people who're causing the massacre to feel bad? What if you kill THEIR family members? See, once you remove us from our divine nature, these matters become subjective. There is no right or wrong, and we are the products of an accident.

And as far as your second question is concerned, the answer is that no, a Christian is always in different stages of development, and will never have it fully correct. We're all works in progress.

However, I ascribe to the beliefs of the Christian Right because I do believe it is the correct way to live. Otherwise, I wouldn't be living this way! Am I completely correct? God will let me know one day. But for right now I'm convinced that I am, and I don't plan on conceding unless the Holy Spirit itself convicts me.

Unfortunately for you, you're caught in a dual-party system which doesn't really have a Christian Democrat party like had in many other nations (look it up if you'd like more info). There's the side that says being a Christian is acceptable, and then there's the side that says being a Christian is acceptable, but so is living a life of homosexuality or practicing Islam, you can't pray in school, evolution is how the human race began and you shouldn't be allowed to have your school teach any other way, and Christian worldviews shouldn't be allowed in politics. That on top of being the number one choice for atheists, agnostics, and liberal Jews. Don't take my word for it, look at what the PEW Research Center has to say! Even if there are good Christians in the party, it doesn't change the fact that the radicalized anti-Christian Left also has its base there!

http://people-press.org/commentary/?analysisid=103

Seems pretty clear-cut to me.

 
At 15/10/08 20:24, Blogger Odyssey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 15/10/08 20:27, Blogger Odyssey said...

Well said, Jeremy.

I never could have said it so well about why I stand where I do about being part of the Christian Right.

 
At 16/10/08 10:45, Anonymous Lisa said...

Jeremy,
I have to say that you make a great deal of assumptions about my views, theology, and worldview. Assumptions that are flatly wrong. I am not "okay" with abortion- I hate abortion and would never choose one for myself. That said, I acknowledge that abortion will happen, legal or not, safe or not. And I wonder what, in concrete terms, we would do to women to have an abortion if it becomes illegal. Throw them in jail? And how would we know? Are our neighbors and friends going to become abortion informants?

It's evident from your posts that you and I have very different worldviews, very different understandings of what it means to follow Christ and how that's supposed to look in our lives. This is clear in your last paragraph where you list a number of things that are outside your vision of the goodness of God including homosexuality and teaching evolution and in doing so you elevate these supposed sins above others (and this isn't unusual, look at how these two very issues are used by the Christian Right for fundraising). But you pass right over the truth that Democrats also generally stand for caring for the poor, seeking justice for everyone (even the unpopular), providing healthcare for everyone, especially children, treating wealth as a responsiblity and not a right, spreading peace through diplomacy instead of violence, and addressing the underlying causes of abortion, namely poverty.

So, if you have to lump me into any group I'm happy to be lumped with the athiests, the agnostics, the liberal Jews, the Muslims, the "evolutionists" and even the dreaded homosexuals as long as at the end of day me and my motley crowd are extending our hands in love, seeking peace and justice, living generously, and (whether we know/acknowledge it or not) spreading the gospel with our lives.

Though this seems clear cut to me too, it obviously isn't and any claim that it is discounts the complexity (and radical nature) of the gospel and the challenge of living a Christ-centered life.

 
At 16/10/08 11:54, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will take responsibility for the anonymous post on 8/10/08 at 11:17 am.

It was an attempt at sarcasm, and I assumed that the language I was using was ridiculous enough that anyone would have realized that it was not actually my viewpoint.

I am encouraged to hear views arguing against my first post, but scared at how closely many of the posts echo the clearly ridiculous line of reasoning I used at first.

I sincerely apologize.

 
At 16/10/08 12:31, Anonymous Joan said...

Thank you again, Jeremy, for sharing words well said. And, Lisa - I do hear your passion...

I have been called a conservative environmentalist ~ a seemingly contradictive term. I believe the Creation account to be true and the Bible is absolute Truth for me from page 1. And, I believe that God has called His children to be a 'good steward' over the earth. The Ten Commandments are a standard measure for me (and I believe they are God's Top Ten laws to live by ~ and that they didn't change with the New Testament). I believe that God calls us to love one another - but not be supportive of each other's sins. We are to encourage each other to repent of our sins and allow Jesus to truly "set us free".

God has shown me that I need to return to my first passion ~ Him, His Truth and a life devoted to His kingdom ~ for I've allowed this world to fill me with busyness and have become distracted in ways He does not desire for my life. My life has sought to be involved in some of the issues that Lisa brought up:

"caring for the poor, seeking justice for everyone (even the unpopular), providing healthcare for everyone, especially children, treating wealth as a responsiblity and not a right, spreading peace through diplomacy instead of violence, and addressing the underlying causes of abortion, namely poverty"

... and I'm continuing to learn that the way we humans think things should be accomplished is not always the ways that God has planned. He is quite clear, as I posted previously:

"But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

Where is our focus? What is our Truth? Worldview is the foundational source guiding each one of our lives.

I used to be filled with 'righteous anger' over many wrongs that I saw in the world ~ poverty, people unable to receive proper healthcare, openly sin-filled lifestyles (for many live with their sins kept secretly hidden away), needing to be good stewards of the earth, interpreting God's Word for one's own belief system, a body of believer's (seemingly) not actively involved in God's kingdom work (Sunday attenders), etc.

Over the years, I've come to realize that there is much that happens in the world that I'm not 'privy' to information needed to really understand choices that leaders are making, BUT I do have a responsibility to submit to authority (and am told to submit - good or bad - except when they require me to be involved in an action that is bibilically immoral).

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established." Romans 13:1

Am I living a life that shows others I believe God is in control and is actively involved in what's happening in this life and trusting Him when I must submit to a leader whom I don't agree with?

While this discussion has focused on the presidential candidates, we must remember that our nation is governed by more than one person ~ and the entire Congress should be held responsible for the 'condition' of our nation - at a governmental level. I'm weary of hearing that "it's the President's fault" for the moral decline of our nation or the financial challenges we face or the war in Iraq - remember: an entire Congress makes decisions that affects us as a nation, not the President alone. When I interview a candidate for an elected position (local or national), I ask biblically moral questions - abortion, definition of marriage, pornography, integrity, belief in Jesus Christ, measure against the Ten Commandments - no one is perfect; not even myself, but there must be a standard of measure - from the local school board to the President of the United States! And our actions to help others should be a biblical response to our faith in Jesus Christ and not a 'humanitarian' position.

May each of us seek God's wisdom, measure those who desire to be elected into a position of leadership against God's standards (and no one will be perfect) ~ as well as the testimony of their lives ~ and continually pray that we are open to the Holy Spirit as He teaches us and encourages us to move to higher levels in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.

May we humbly seek Him, repenting of our own sins and pray for His will to be done in our nation and our lives!

 
At 16/10/08 21:29, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeremy:

I consider people ignorant when they take sides based on false assumptions, and live inside a bubble. Protecting themselves and families from people, places in things they know nothing about.

When I read what you have written I simply see fear and ignorance. You mentioned that you get called ignorant and/or a racist when you are "winning" and argument with a liberal.

I cannot say whether you were "winning" the argument, but in my book if I have been called ignorant or racist more than a few times, I might be winning alot of arguments, but losing in the game of life.

I don't believe Jesus cared so much about winning arguments, but giving loving and serving the people, no matter the race/creed/color or sexuality.

You have alot to say about this subject, as you must have felt it necessary to defend yourself on many occasions. Maybe it's time to take a different approach, and take a look at what you might be missing.

I am positive this will fall on deaf ears, but to each his own. I used to think like you by the way, and if you ran into me at church might even judge that we probably think the same way based on outward appearance. I chose to love people, and live a Christian life for everyone, not just other Christians.

 
At 17/10/08 08:08, Blogger Odyssey said...

I think we often forget how important it can be to know and remember who we are and where (and why) we stand where we do in our lives. It is interesting to look at these various posts and see the judgments flying back and forth. However the external judgments of others are not as important as the examinations we make of ourselves. Look at your own life, its values and outward expressions of God's love to those around you. Worry less about the other "side" and allow your life to reflect God as the Spirit has drawn you to service. I know I have my positions on all these various subjects shared, but they matter little compared to the service I am called to. Let each of us look to keep their own house in order.

 
At 17/10/08 09:23, Blogger Jeremy said...

Dear Lisa,

Since there's a lot to say about your response, I'll cut to the chase and spare you the formalities. Not out of rudeness or hastiness, but because I've got so little time to write this and you deserve excellence as my sister in Christ (regardless of our differing stances).

First off, nobody said you “liked” abortion, but you're engaging in the practice of the “myth of neutrality,” a worldview that encompasses the notion that even if you dislike something, an effectively neutral stance can still be taken. However, if one considers that you can have only two effective stances, one of approval and one of disapproval, the truth is that your stance of “neutrality” is functionally an act of approval. In essence, it doesn't matter how you feel: you're functionally okay with someone else having an abortion, regardless of what God said about the value of human life.

Now, you raised some pretty serious concerns for the women involved in abortions: that they would either be harmed in the act of obtaining illegal abortions, or they would be treated harshly in an already tough situation. As such, I think it's important to ask yourself a question: if you ARE opposed to abortion, why are you horrified by it? Is it because abortion is taking the life of an innocent child of God? If this is so, then an abortion is an act of murder for convenience's sake, and suggesting that you cannot punish a woman for committing an act of murder is pretty questionable, sister, unless you believe that a baby's life is less valuable than a grown person's. Now, if you agree that abortion is the taking of an innocent life and a reprehensible act, then wouldn't you want someone to report a murder? Would you report a murder of you saw someone kill somebody else? These aren't easy questions to answer, but sin always places us in a bad position. There simply isn't a way out of sin, other than taking the high road out. You either respond the right way to sin (repenting or confrontation), or you choose to sin more to cover it up. This is the choice that ALL sin presents us with, in almost all situations.

Second, on the issue of homosexuality, I think most Christians understand that a sin is a sin, and committing acts of homosexuality still counts as a sin against our God, a sin that is covered by the blood of Christ after we choose to truly follow him. However, this doesn't excuse it. We all have urges to do things that are wrong, from stealing to cheating to lusting to lying, but we have an obligation to resist these temptations and repent when we stumble. It's just the name of the game. When a person unrepentantly assumes a homosexual LIFESTYLE, they choose to act despite the Bible's strong words against it. And if you would like to argue that the Bible says otherwise, I challenge you to find a verse in which a homosexual relationship is spoken of positively within the Bible, and then I'd like for you to explain the verses that call it an abomination. This may require what my pops would call “theological gymnastics.”

So anyway, the point isn't to pick on homosexuals, as I have to deal with my own problem of lust for women. As such, we must understand that if you're a man who's attracted to men, your attractions are going to be there no matter what, and Christ will always love his followers regardless of their imperfections, as he loves me despite all of mine. But you have a responsibility to Christ to be more like him IN SPITE OF the flesh, and that includes not engaging in homosexual activity, or promiscuity in general. This is what baptism is all about: making a covenant with God before the church, a covenant in which you promise to follow in his footsteps and follow his commandments in exchange for eternal salvation. It is NOT about excusing all your behaviors.

Third, to clarify misunderstandings about the Christian Right:

1) We are not against fighting poverty, but we don't agree with state-mandated welfare because it promotes illegitimate childbearing, increases crime, and creates second-class dependent citizens. Even the Maryland NAACP said "the ready access to a lifetime of welfare and free social service programs is a major contributory factor to the crime problems we [black people] face today.” If it can be quantitatively proven that welfare destroys communities instead of helping, then wouldn't it be nicer to provide welfare through churches, which have the ability to discern between a layabout and a person who truly needs help? Despite the discomfort many Protestants experience due to me saying this, I must admit that the Mormons are the best at providing effective welfare distribution “despite” their notoriously right-wing affiliations.

http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-wc67.html

2) We are not against health care, but we're against the fiscal unsustainability of socialized medicine, and the lack of actual care people get from governmental programs. Have you studied the English or Italian health-care systems, and how they teeter on the edge of financial collapse? Have you studied their debt to gross domestic product ratios, and then looked at the amount these countries spend on health care? If you provide free health care but lose your economy because of enormously bad debts, does this hurt more people than having a capitalist health-care system? How can you pay for your health-care system when your economy goes bad because of over-taxation of businesses that the health-care system relies upon for income? If you provide socialized health care and send the bill to your grandchildren so that they have to pay interest to the Chinese instead of getting good schools (schools so they can get good jobs to keep the economy moving, which would pay for health care in the first place!), is this still considered more moral? These are questions you have to ask yourself before calling right-wingers “cold-hearted” or “un-Christian.” Just because we don't support the easier, endorser-glorifying answer doesn't mean we want poor people to die of cancer.

3) As far as diplomacy is concerned. I'll let you do the research. Since you're suggesting that right-wingers always attack without diplomatic attempts, I'm just going to ask you to wikipedia our major military intervetions in the last century. Also worth researching: rationale for the Iraq War, and UN Security Council Resolutions 678, 687, and 1441.

Dear second anonymous (the one who called me ignorant and fearful),

Did Jesus ever win arguments against anyone? Satan? Maybe Pharisees? Did he use rationality? Maybe scripture?

Is there a such thing as sinning? If there is, do we then have a responsibility to point others toward the truth? Isn't this in effect what Paul did when he chastised churches for their sexual immorality, or other sinful acts? Or is Christ's death on the cross merely “fire insurance?”

Was Paul fearful? If he was, what was he fearful of? Is this fear not only rational, but righteous? Did God himself command us to have this fear? Is it true that faith without works is dead? When Christ said “Go forth and sin no more,” did he just mean this figuratively?

Is it possible to have your doctrines wrong? When Jesus said “I will say depart from me, I never knew you,” do you think he might have been serious? If this is so, then is it fearful and ignorant to assume that there's a right way to live, and thus have your rationale in place so you can live that way and help others to do the same? Is it fearful to develop a school of Christan apologetics? Would you call seminaries fearful and ignorant places, since their purpose is to build a case for the Christian worldview?

What do you mean by “love?” Since I never said anything about treating someone with different ideas poorly, I can only assume that by “love,” you mean “considering all lifestyles and moral standpoints valid.”

Is “loving” someone the same thing as not telling them they're wrong? Is allowing someone to live under the captivity of lies and sin “love?” Should a loving parent not instruct their child? Is “loving” someone the same thing as not telling them that Jesus is the ONLY way? Is “loving” someone granting legitimacy to their false doctrine, considering how many times Christ himself mentioned hell? And furthermore, do you love the church if you don't defend its very right to existence in a world plagued by anti-Christian relativism?

I must mention that I love how you told me we used to think alike, because I would have to agree. There was a time when I thought like you. As such a switcheroo has taken place, there's no harm, brother! I know Christ loved me no matter what I did or said, so it's my duty to love you as well, even if I think you're absolutely wrong on this one issue. Keep loving people no matter what, as you surely are doing Christ's work, but remember to back that love with righteousness and rationality so that others can see Christ's effects in our lives and recognize the truth it brings, as well as the blessings that come from living in a righteous manner. And keep that name-calling to a minimum!

God bless both of you! I should probably mention that I'm enjoying this very deep and thoughtful debate, and that I appreciate your participation. It is through conversations like these that we can help define our commitment to Christ and better perfect it, and I hope you feel the same way too. Poor pastor Dahlstrom, though! He must be freaking out about us discussing these things so heatedly! Or maybe he's happy? No clue. Don't lose hair, Pastor Dahlstrom: you're great!

And shout-outs to Joan and the anonymous who was kidding! Joan, I'd reply to you immediately, but I've got to run off to work, and I felt that addressing the statements made by our other brothers and sisters warranted an immediate response. You have a beautiful heart, though, and I appreciate your comments, as they're thoughtful and loving!

Anonymous who was kidding: no harm, no foul. Take care, brother!

 
At 17/10/08 09:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeremy:

I would say that when I realized the error in my thinking, a weight was off my heart and chip taken off my shoulder.

I think it is important to point out that stating the obvious is not judgment. However, if you have not lived a life of poverty, or been around those engulfed in poverty it is doubtful you know the answers to truly help them.

If you do not know women who have experienced rape, incest, sacrifice, and torture, it is truly impossible to make claim to knowing what is right for their minds, bodies and souls.

If you do not know a homosexual, or know one as a friend, it is truly doubtful to fully understand that God made them that way.

The Christian Right imposes their view, and judges people in the name of God. I used to be one of them, I still have them as the majority of my immediate family, and have experienced both sides.

Their views are always based in judgement, ignornace, and fear.

Life is short, and Jesus died for all of our sins. I am pro-freedom, not pro-judgement. Let that be up to God, and let's just love everyone who needs our help, and even those who are different.

 
At 17/10/08 10:26, Anonymous Lisa said...

Jeremy,
Again, you're making a great deal of faulty assumptions about my position, my worldview- especially regarding my supposed neutrality on the lives of the unborn.

I have to reiterate that by focusing as you do on abortion and homosexuality you are truly elevating their importance over the plethora of other sins, including self-righteousness. And I would submit that it's awfully easy for you to do so since you're neither a woman (and would therefore never be confronted with your own pregnancy) nor homosexual (I assume this based on your comment about being attracted to women). I think it's especially fascinating that folks spend so much time decrying the gay "lifestyle" when perhaps a whopping 3% of the population is gay. What about the evangelical divorce rate? I wonder if that might be more devastating to the family than the two ladies next door that happen to love one another in an exclusive way.

I am surprised by the flippant way you describe abortion, as "a matter of convenience". I would suggest that for most women who grapple with this decision it's not simply a matter of convenience. And regarding homosexuality, I think that reasonable people can disagree on what the bible has to say about this. Jesus never mentions it and the other passages that do don't directly address the question of a committed partnership between two consenting Christian adults. To directly answer your question, Jonathan and David? And regarding Leviticus, do you eat shell fish? Not that these prove the case one way or another, but it's not as cut and dry as it many of us assume.

I could go line by line and argue with your excuses about why the "Christian Right" opposes social safety nets and healthcare for everyone and isn't responsible in real ways for the devastating war in Iraq but that gets old and you won't hear my anyway.

But I have to say that that's all beside the point because if we can't get beyond it to loving our neighbor as our selves than we're missing the point. Really, it's time to say, so what now? How do we as a community engage young people to prevent unwanted pregnancies and support women who find themselves in frightening and difficult circumstances? How do we engage and reconcile with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to end the villification and division and promote the gospel of Jesus?

Joan,
You asked in a previous post for anyone to point out an unbiblical position that John McCain holds. I would submit to you that an economic policy that benefits the very weathly while cutting services to the most vulnerable is not Christlike. That voting against alternative energy each and every time it comes before him isn't caring for God's creation. That restoring to military solutions without due process (he supported the Iraq war and has suggested going to war in Iran) is in direct contradiction to the imperative to turn the other cheek and pray for our enemies. And that keeping mum while we waterboard our prisoners is immoral(especially in light of his personal experience). I could go on, but here's a start.

I would implore you to look beyond the issues of abortion and gay marriage and consider the mulitude of other issues that Jesus directly charges us to address (poverty, oppression, injustice, caring for widows, caring for children- beyond the womb). Does he not say that whoever does for the least of these does it to Christ himself? Our homeless, the 30,000 children that will die today from preventable diseases, gays and lesbians mistreated by the church, families in the US working full time and living in poverty, the hungry across the world, the AIDS orphans of Africa, the alcoholic next door, these are the least of these- to name but a few. It's true, we must keep our mind on Christ, and listen intently to the direction that he would guide us in. But our belief cannot revolve around getting our own rear ends into heaven and we can't be resigned to simply throw up our hands because we don't have the whole picture. We must not miss our chance to be his hands and feet.

 
At 17/10/08 11:48, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa:

Thanks for spending the time. I couldn't have said it better myself.

It would be nice for putting the "blinders" on to be considered un-Christian, so that all Christians can take a larger view of the bible and what God might have meant for us as Christians.

Your point on putting certain sins above others(as the bible does not do this) seems true to form for many Christians.

The most frustrating thing about this type on conversation/argument/debate, is it typically leads to nowhere.

 
At 17/10/08 17:24, Anonymous Joan said...

Well, what can I say? I must agree with anonymous that this debate can go on and on with no resolution.

Jeremy ~ I appreciate your words. Thank you for sharing. I have come to understand, over-the-years, that when people don't want to hear your perspective they won't listen. Again, I thank you for sharing.

Lisa, you have now made 'assumptions' about what I believe. I recognize your passion ~ as it has been my own for many years ~ we just come from different perspectives. In addition, I asked for someone to share anything 'biblically immoral' that John McCain supported while you have chosen to share what you feel is 'unbiblical' ~ quite a difference in what I was asking. It's okay though, no worries, as I do understand your perspective. My heart's desire is to draw all people unto Jesus and to share His love with others... (I could elaborate, but I won't.)

And so I pray, knowing I continually fall short of what God desires for my life (but am learning to be quicker to repent of my sins; getting back up, listening and learning so I can move forward). I hope to bring glory to God through my life which is saved by the grace and love of Jesus Christ ~ without whom I am nothing.

I could go on and address the issues you raised, but I shall let it go. I feel it's time to move on ~ at least for myself.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. ...Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience." Romans 13:1-4a, 5

God instructs me to submit to authority in a specific manner and I know we will all be held accountable to God for our actions and choices ~ He is in control. (That said, I would not change my positions on what I believe is biblical truth.)

One final question: Whether Barack Obama or John McCain is elected president, will you honor, respect and pray for your president? While I will never support a biblically immoral position, I will honor whom the Lord places in a position of authority for God is the Ultimate Authority and I make an effort to live my life based on His Word. My confidence is in the Lord ~ no matter what the future holds...

God bless each one of you!

 
At 18/10/08 06:37, Blogger Jeremy said...

In light of the truth Joan brought regarding the changing of minds (or rather the lack thereof), I think I'll have to retire from this conversation as well. All of us readers should thank Joan for reminding us that yes-- we ALL fall short of the glory of God, and it is only through him that we're saved. There is no legalistic measure of our righteousness, as all our righteousness is as filthy rags before the glory of Christ. But while none of us here is perfect, Christ's standards of perfection should never be compromised simply because we can't achieve them on our own, ESPECIALLY without the Holy Spirit.

As such, here is my final reply to Lisa and the Liberal Anonymous, as I feel there were some logical inconsistencies that should be addressed.

1) Anonymous, just because someone has an excellent defense doesn't mean they're guilty. Using your logic would mean that everyone who hires a lawyer is guilty, and Christ was wrong (since he was almost universally opposed at the time of his presence).

2) God made all of us, and we all have sin in our hearts, which God clearly defines in the Bible. Just because we're capable of anything and desire all kinds of abominations doesn't make everything kosher since "God made us that way."

3) Sin is the problem we deal with, and it's almost the sole focus of the entire bible. Without sin, there would be no Bible, no Israel, no Christ. The second you stop admitting that sin is sin (which is what was mentioned about homosexuality), the second you become an anti-Christian, as Christ's death for your sins doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want. It SHOULD result in essential transformation, as the Holy Spirit guides us to be more like Christ. This is what Paul's books were about, in one of which he mentioned to a crowd "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." This is not a joke. Read 1 Corinthians 6.

4) Christianity is not postmodern, and it doesn't depend on your perspective. Christ has rules, the universe is governed by rules, and the rules exist independently of your personal standpoint. It doesn't matter whether it's easier for you to commit a certain sin than someone else: it's still sinning, and we all come from different walks, and we need to walk the line and deal with our own specific problems. Just because we all have a tough time with different things doesn't mean we're excused from our responsibilities. Also, Satan is mentioned too many times in the Bible as "the Prince of Lies" for us to be going around telling people that sin isn't something that needs to be dealt with. Mine included.

5) You can't tackle the problem of teenage pregnancy and abortion from a Christian perspective without clearly defining sin and its relation to God and its eternal consequences. Telling people to stop sinning is not the same as not loving them, nor is it hateful, nor is it self-righteous. If you don't stand up for your brother or sister, you either downplay the significant eternal ramifications of sin, or you're encouraging them to continue on a path of sin. This, as mentioned previously, is not love.

6) You don't have to know a pregnant lady or be a pregnant lady in order to take a Christ-like stance on abortion, just like you don't have to be surrounded by naked women to know that having sex before marriage is wrong. You also don't have to be gay to know that sleeping with men is wrong.

7) David and Jonathan were not engaging in a homosexual affair. My roommate's jaw dropped when he found that you said this, and I should warn you to be VERY cautious around teachers who radically reinterpret the Bible and the characters within it.

8) Interesting point: young people are having a marginal impact on the number of abortions made in recent years. Teenagers aren't the ones going out and getting impregnated. Interesting, eh?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/22/AR2008092202831.html?hpid=moreheadlines

9) On a happy note, I agree with Lisa that the divorce rate in the church is a huge transgression against God, and isn't getting the focus it deserves. We can't focus on the fringes of behavior while ignoring the plank in our own eye, and we need to be taking marriage more seriously. Once again, I'm going to have to praise the Mormons for keeping themselves in line the most on these issues. It's almost like they're the ones who really believe all this stuff. And kudos to Bethany for having counseling programs and classes!

Anyway, this probably won't register with you two, but God bless anyway. I'm not exactly sure how to go about what I just said the "right" way, so I just hope it planted a seed in your hearts. I know you probably think I'm some Pharisee jerk, but I really honestly do believe that faith without works is dead, and if the Holy Spirit isn't leading us to be more Christlike (including working towards perfection, as Christ demanded in Matthew 5:48), then maybe we should examine where we are in our walk with him. I'm not saying this because I'm better than you, as Christ loves you and I the same and I'll NEVER be better than you, but I'm saying it because I think you'd be missing out on eternal salvation if you don't.

And Joan, you're a sweet lady :) Take care, and I hope your day goes well!

 
At 18/10/08 07:36, Blogger Jeremy said...

Yikes! That last big paragraph came off a little less persuasively than I'd hoped. What I was trying to say was that if you're actively encouraging sin regardless of what the Bible actually says, THEN you need to consider where you're standing. I'm not saying you're going to hell or anything... just saying that God has standards, and we have to accept them regardless of how we feel about it. Sorry if that came off the wrong way! I'm not Jesus, and I'm not judging you, and I hope you don't hate me!

Much love,
-J

 
At 20/10/08 08:35, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeremy: Acknowledging that sins take place is far different than promoting them.

Joan:

John McCain is a war mongering adulterer, with one of the worst tempers known in government.

Here is an article that quickly changed my opinion(which was a respectful one) to something less that that.

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/23316912/makebelieve_maverick/print

Jeremy:

If you have no exposure to the sins and sinners you speak about, you have no frame of reference other than from hearsay and fear. Knowing and helping these people can help form a more loving and accepting life, in a way Jesus might have lived.

Keep living those sheltered lives folks. Live in a bubble repressing freedom of choice, and judging everyone from afar. Jesus would have wanted it that way.

 
At 20/10/08 12:54, Anonymous Lisa said...

Jeremy and Joan, I imagine you're thinking "Lisa will never understand". And I'm thinking "Jeremy and Joan will never understand". I try to actively acknowledge (internally, if not outwardly) that I have many things to learn from people with differing ideas, and I feel like my viewpoint is different and worthwhile as well; this is why I try to engage on Richard's blog. But I've concluded that online discussions about charged issues are not only fruitless, but divisive.
And Joan, I didn't mean to make any assumptions about you as an individual, I apologize. I had wrongly interpreted your response to the letter about the candidates stance on the legislation of abortion.

 
At 20/10/08 15:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What amazes me is I find it difficult to believe that we are all in the same room listening to Richard.

He preaches love, acceptance, understanding for all makes and models of people.

He speaks about tolerance and the need to cross over and get to know people different than us, and NOT just to convert them.

Yet here we are with one side standing up for the Conservative Right, and the others talking about peace, love and acceptance.

Do we actually all go to the same church?

 
At 20/10/08 17:17, Blogger Odyssey said...

"Yet here we are with one side standing up for the Conservative Right, and the others talking about peace, love and acceptance."

Ouch!

If that isn't the very pinnacle of arrogance...

Of course there can be no way anyone from the "Conservative Right" could possibly engage in such holy acts as "peace, love and acceptance."

I believe Lisa may indeed be correct, "But I've concluded that online discussions about charged issues are not only fruitless, but divisive."

I guess our last anonymous hammered that home.

 
At 20/10/08 18:38, Anonymous Anonymous said...

odyssey:

Not with holier than thou attitudes and judgement.

My attitude is far more of bewilderment, possibly amazement, rather than arrogance.

Currently I am bewildered why I am even attending a church with such oppresive and judgemental views from fellow members, and amazed that I even began attending church after a long and fruitful absence.

I can tell you why...Richard is amazing, and the people I have met at Bethany are the epitome of what I would like to be.

 
At 20/10/08 20:42, Anonymous Lisa said...

Anon,
I hope you stick around Bethany. I share your wonderment but there's no point in letting this blog exchange ruin something really powerful and precious.

I hope I haven't contributed to any cynicism.

 
At 21/10/08 08:08, Blogger Odyssey said...

I had no intention to insult or offend anyone with my previous post. It was simply meant to highlight how onesided our vision often is. What I find most bewildering in this discussion is how someone like Jeremy can take such care to outline his perspective in such detail and yet very little of it seems to actually translate into understandable terms for "the other side" shall we say. The left leaning side of the political spectrum is very good at "feelings", but never seems as good at explaining the basis for them. What I fear for those folks is that when the discussion does get heated, they have no foundation on which to rely for supporting their "feelings".

I believe our Christian walk is often much the same. As the parable of the sower points out, some spring up in glee at the offering of the Word only to fall away due to lack of roots, Satan's devouring or the thorns of this world. We need to be rooted in the Truth of the Word, primarily found in scripture and through great teachers such as Richard.

Personally I would be much more compelled to take the leanings of the left more to heart if I could get just one to articulate a serious foundation for their position. I know many who favor Obama in this coming election, but so far none that can tell me what he has ever yet accomplished or show any evidence of the ability to actually bring people together for any reason beyond the excitement of a campaign. If he wins I geniunely fear what we will have signed up for as a nation. I do not "hate" him. I just see nothing of substance and have yet to hear of anyone who can point out what he will offer to move our nation forward beyond letting the government be all things. If Old Testament history teaches us anything it should be that the governments of men are nearly always corrupt. Nice speeches are no foundation for leadership.

Will McCain offer a better choice? I honestly have never been a fan of his either. On the other hand at least he has a track record and we can have a pretty good notion of the direction he may lead. He has never been solidly in the Bush camp so the fear of a continuation of the same course is not likely.

What to do, what to do... I believe we have an awesome reponsibility in a couple of weeks. Use your head as well as your heart to make the choice your conscience can best live with next January.

Blessings to all and keep listening to the Word, both written and from good teachers. There you will struggle in the best of ways to discern God's call in your life.

 
At 21/10/08 08:36, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

I'd recommend chilling here... but please read 'until', a more recent post in response to the good and not so good pieces of dialog that's ensued from this post. Thanks all - for your investment of time and for articulating your thoughts. Hearing some diverse opinions, and trying to understand the heart of the other is a good thing. Sometimes it happens in the blogging world, sometimes it doesn't. But whenever, and wherever it happens, it's a sign of light shining into darkness. In age of pluralism, rhetoric, and fear, such light is what we need most of all.

blessings...

 
At 24/10/08 17:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, I agree with the ever so eloquent words of "Joan" and "Anonymous" son-in-law!

Pastor Richard, I have friends attending your church and in talking to them I have found out how confused they are, confused as new believers. You seem to take the stance that there is NO black and white when God's word, the Bible, is concerned, I AM AMAZED and bitterly disappointed! God's word is perfectly clear about life, marriage and leadership, like YOURS Pastor!
The church has gotten so far from it's Biblical standard, the Bible...no wonder we as a nation have gotten to this place and when we have those in leadership positions in the church, like YOU, who can't take a stand when it comes to the sanctity of human life what in God's name are you telling all those in your congegation!
I feel sick, brother I'll be praying for a lightbulb moment for you...

 
At 24/10/08 17:57, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

a short word in response to the most recent post - the question isn't whether there are black and whites - the question is whether people who are drawn together because of the common belief that Christ is the source of both forgiveness and life can have disagreements over which issues are the basis for voting for a president. That Jesus is the source of forgiveness, the means of reconciliation with Christ, and the forerunner of a new kingdom are issues on which there can be no compromise (did you read the 'until' post?). So please don't say I have no 'black and white' convictions; it isn't true.

Let's go a step further. I consistently point to the importance of protecting and honoring life in the womb, so I'm definitely pro-life. In a recent post, in fact, someone criticized me for this. This too is an absolute I teach and declare freely.

I also teach that it absolutely true that God's heart is for the poor, and that we are called to love our enemies.

But none of this means that everyone in a congregation will vote the same, because their are other issues. God isn't a free-market economist or a socialist. If you read the Bible, you discover that His economic system in during His theonomic reign in early Israel was completely different than the ideologies of the left of right.

For example, the church historically has ranged in its view of war from pacifism to 'just war theory', and there are some who believe that the war doctrines of the past six years have not been just, by virtue of being pre-emptive. You needn't agree with that, but some believe that, and for that reason don't think that it's a slam dunk to endorse the pro-life party if they are also pro pre-emptive war.

for this reason, I'm OK with people accusing me of 'not taking a stand' if by that you mean that I don't tell people that there is only one interpretation of how the church should relate to its voting responsibilities. Republicans and Democrats have blood on their hands my friend, and it has fallen to us to critique both parties wherever they fall short of God's standard. If you think that either party represents God's heart so fully that you are able to endorse without reservation, I'd suggest that you might need to do a little more homework.

further, if both parties have fallen short, the issue of which party or candidate to support becomes a little more complex, wouldn't you agree? And if the matter is complex, it will require thoughtful dialog, and prayerful consideration - things I try to encourage through this platform. To accuse those who are trying to dialog about God's will of having no conviction, or not believing in moral absolutes is rather presumptuous in my opinion. I'm sorry you feel that way.

 
At 25/10/08 08:25, Blogger Jeremy said...

Pastor Dahlstrom,

I'm sorry, but I have to humbly approach you regarding your last statement, even though you recommended that we "cool it." I'm not doing this in response to what others have said, but to ask for clarification on some things. As such, I ask that no other commenters reply to what I'm writing here, out of respect for Pastor Dahlstrom. This is only for him, and I will not read any responses from anyone other than him.

Before I get started, though, one thing the latest version of anonymous should remember is that Pastor Dahlstrom is a pastor of an American church, subject to American taxation laws. If he were to openly endorse a party (especially such as the Republican Party) in such a liberal area, he could be in danger of losing his church's tax-free status. I shouldn't need to remind anyone of the churches on the East Coast that lost their tax exemption because they refused to perform same-sex marriages. I would be willing to bet that members of Pastor Dahlstrom's own church would report him to the authorities if such an "offense" were to take place. Before you attack him, please remember this.

Now, Pastor Dahlstrom, I believe that opening dialogue about critical issues is incredibly important, especially when the conversation maintains a Biblical focus, but I wanted to make sure that you weren't confusing moral complexity with moral incapability.

The fact that both parties have blood on their hands is true, and it may also be true that both parties cannot claim to perfectly espouse the beliefs of Christ, but despite their ubiquitous shortcomings it's important to remember that even if both parties aren't perfect, this doesn't necessarily mean that both parties transgress with perfect equality. As such, dialogue is incredibly important, but at the end of the day it would be philosophically imprudent to suggest that this complexity equates itself with universal correctness.

I don't want to beat a dead horse here (even though using the term is always fun), but if a party throws away the BASIS of human dignity, completely defying the Biblical foundation for our existence, while at the same time

1) supporting programs that take money away from SOMEONE ELSE (not necessarily you) to give programs to the poor that cause increases in illegitimacy and crime

2) is supported by the overwhelming majority of atheists and agnostics

3) Will not allow the teaching of Intelligent Design to our children

and

4) positively endorses and promotes lifestyles (in our public elementary schools!)that oppose and mock God's standards, then I believe there's only one way to go.

Once again, I know you can't endorse a specific party, and I know you're just opening dialogue, but I think it's important to let people know that just because things are morally complex doesn't mean we can create the impression that everyone is correct.

Respectfully and humbly,
Jeremy

 
At 25/10/08 08:57, Blogger Jeremy said...

Sorry! I just realized that I said I wouldn't respond to other people's comments, but then addressed one of the other commentators. I apologize for that, as it wasn't intended to be a cheap shot (even though it looks like it!).

 
At 25/10/08 11:24, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

Hi jeremy... I'd like to respect your desire to have a personal conversation about this so, though I'll post a public answer, I want to give it to you first... please use my facebook account to send me a message so that I can e-mail you

thanks much

 
At 25/10/08 11:24, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 25/10/08 21:01, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a follow-on from the last anonymous post to Pastor Richard's response.

Yes, I did read your posting entitled "Until". What I find ironic is that, as pastors and teachers, our main job is to help believers mature *so that* "we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." (Eph.4:14)

Please re-read my post. Nowhere do I recommend voting for one party or another. My concern is simply that you are confusing people about the importance of essential issues like abortion by equating the killing of babies to the killing of wolves or eating meat sacrificed to idols.

It is certainly not the same at all. Remember that our unity as Christians must come from good theology and doctine, not the other way around! My point was that churches and denominations who are teaching heretical beliefs (such as the Episcopalian Church) did not arrive at these beliefs overnight. It took many years of moral blurring (surely in the name of "unity at all costs") before they arrived at the place where they truly are no more than Unitarians.

Essentials are essentials, and they must be taught as such. Performing philosophical gymnastics to somehow align essential Christian doctrine with liberal thinking is confusing to those you are charged with helping to mature. In fact, I would say that, with Francis Schaeffer, liberal thinking eventually leads to liberal theology.

And this is what we must protect against with those we are charged with leading, per Paul in Ephesians 4:14.

 
At 25/10/08 21:30, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

this is my last entry on this topic... and then I'm considering deleting the post because it seems that most listening has stopped. I'll simply point out that:

1) I can't be much more clear than I am in this post in declaring that I'm pro-life. To perceive me as being unclear means that I'm either not communicating clearly or some aren't listening. But here's the quote from the original post: "Like the person who contacted us, I view our collective failure to honor life in the womb as a great crime"

2) I apologize for the sarcasm of the original post. In no way was I trying literally to equate abortion with killing of wolves from a helicopter. It was supposed to be a joke.

3) I respectfully, humbly, and prayerfully disagree with those on both sides of the aisle who think that any single issue should be the defining issue that determines my vote. Believe me, I'd like to vote on one issue, and encourage others to do so as well... it would be easier. But both abortion, tax policies, foreign affairs, economic philosophies, and one's approach to war have, collectively, far reaching implications for millions and millions, perhaps billions of people. I'd suggest that the capacity to prayerfully consider all these vital issues before making a decision.

3)looking at all the issues instead of only one doesn't seem like immaturity to me; nor does it seem to be some sort of "mental gymnastics to conform to liberal thinking" to use your words. Sometimes God is liberal, sometimes conservative. Life in the Womb: conservative. But God's economic policy in Leviticus 19:10 favors taxing rich landowners so that the poor might have enough to eat...sounds liberal to me.

that's why these labels bother me...and why this entire post is about to disappear.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home