Author Archive | Denny Burk

Hell and the Religious Right

Lisa Miller at Newsweek magazine has this to say about the beliefs of Sarah Palin’s pastor:

“The senior pastor of that church, in sermons that circulated online before they were taken down last week, preaches hell for anyone who isn’t saved by Jesus. America does not know enough yet about what Palin personally believes, but her church background—she now worships at a nondenominational Bible church—puts her squarely in the tradition of the old-school religious right.”

What is fascinating here is that Miller treats this as a newsworthy item—that Christians believe that there is such thing as hell. It says a lot about where we are as a nation that such a thing would even be considered “news.” In any case, Albert Mohler has some commentary on Miller’s piece that is worth reading. He concludes:

“What this article in Newsweek represents is the absolute confidence that discovering people who believe that those who do not believe in Christ will go to hell is supposed to be shocking.

“So we find in Sarah Palin’s pastor an evangelical who believes in hell and preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means of escaping hell.  In other words, he is an evangelical preaching like an evangelical.  Alert the media.”

Here’s the rest:

“Alert the Media — A Pastor Believes in Hell” – by Albert Mohler (

Balancing Motherhood and Governing?

Governor Sarah Palin’s candidacy has provoked much discussion about women who try to balance a career with motherhood (the topic of my previous post). In today’s New York Times, there’s a story describing a little bit about how Palin tries to do it:

‘Many high-powered parents separate work and children; Ms. Palin takes a wholly different approach. “She’s the mom and the governor, and they’re not separate,” Ms. Cole said. Around the governor’s offices, it was not uncommon to get on the elevator and discover Piper, smothering her puppy with kisses.

‘”She’ll be with Piper or Trig, then she’s got a press conference or negotiations about the natural gas pipeline or a bill to sign, and it’s all business,” Ms. Burney, who works across the hall, said. “She just says, ‘Mommy’s got to do this press conference.’ ”

‘Ms. Palin installed a travel crib in her Anchorage office and a baby swing in her Juneau one. For much of the summer, she carried Trig in a sling as she signed bills and sat through hearings, even nursing him unseen during conference calls.

‘Todd Palin took a leave from his job as an oil field production operator, and campaign aides said he was doing the same now.’

Here’s the rest:

“Fusing Politics and Motherhood in a New Way” – by Jodi Kantor, Kate Zernike, and Catrin Einhorn (New York Times)

Complementarian Hypocrisy?

In my previous post, we were addressing the question raised by the “On Faith” forum in light of Sarah Palin’s candidacy (a joint venture of The Washington Post and Newsweek):

“Women are not allowed to become clergy in many conservative religious groups. Is it hypocritical to think that a woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?”

In answer to that question, I noted that the Bible specifically enjoins believers to order their homes and their churches in light of a principle of male headship. There is no complementarian consensus, however, on how these matters apply outside of the home and the church.

One other item is related to this issue—whether wives and/or mothers should work outside the home at all, much less in a leadership position. I want to discuss this latter point in light of two biblical texts: Titus 2:3-5 and Proverbs 31. Continue Reading →

Southern Baptist Hypocrisy?

The “On Faith” forum (a joint venture of The Washington Post and Newsweek) is hosting a discussion that raises a question about the theological consistency of evangelicals who support Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential nomination:

“Women are not allowed to become clergy in many conservative religious groups. Is it hypocritical to think that a woman can lead a nation and not a congregation?”

One of the contributors is David Waters, and he singles out Southern Baptists in particular as having a double-standard. Continue Reading →

A Pitbull with Lipstick

I think Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor Sarah Palin delivered the two best speeches of the Republican National Convention. Up until this point, the Republican line-up has been pretty weak compared to the strong showing the Democrats made last week.

Palin gave a barn-burner. My favorite line from her speech was an off-the-cuff remark in response to delegates holding signs that said “Hockey Moms 4 McCain.” Palin, a former hockey mom herself, said this:

“I love those hockey moms. You know [what] they say the difference [is] between a hockey mom and a pit bull? . . . Lipstick.”

Classic. Continue Reading →

A Visit to Palin’s Church

You will not want to miss Newsweek‘s profile of Sarah Palin’s faith and her church. Among other things, the article says,

‘Palin has said she was baptized in the Roman Catholic church. As a teenager, she began attending the Pentecostal Assemblies of God church in Wasilla and was baptized there by the founding pastor, Paul Riley. Todd Stafford, an associate pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God, says Palin often publicly thanks Riley–now nearly 80 and still working as a prison chaplain–for bringing her to Jesus when she visits the church. She attended that Pentecostal church until she was 38 years old, when she switched to Wasilla Bible Church, saying she preferred the children’s ministries there.

‘Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing branches of Christianity in the world, and the Assemblies of God is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the country, claiming 1.6 million members. Pentecostals are generally characterized by a strict adherence to moral codes–no tobacco, no alcohol, no social dancing, no sex outside of marriage–and by their belief that the Holy Spirit bestows upon some the gift of “speaking in tongues,” a reference to Acts 2: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues.” A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign has said that Palin attends many churches and does not consider herself to be Pentecostal.’

Many of you are watching the Presidential election very closely and will appreciate the heads-up that I am about to give to you. There is a website that compiles all the latest polling data on the race for president (and other races as well). It’s a one-stop shop for all the hard stats that you will need. It’s called, and it is fast becoming the gold standard for political junkies. I’ve been using it since 2004, and I think it’s very helpful. This is just an FYI for those of you who may not be aware of this site already.

Here’s the link for polling on the presidential race. One item of note: Even after the Democrat National Convention last week and Obama’s very effective acceptance speech, the race remains a statistical dead-heat as of September 1. See below.

Monday, September 01








Obama 49, McCain 48

Obama +1



Rasmussen Tracking

Obama 49, McCain 46

Obama +3




Obama 46, McCain 44, Nader 4, Barr 2

Obama +2



Doug Wilson on “bed-wetting evangelicals”

Doug Wilson comments on the effects of McCain’s VP choice. In the process he has some hard-hitting words for “evangelicals” willing to vote for Obama:

‘All the early returns indicate that this has moved discontented evangelicals from “stay at home mad” voters or “hold your nose” voters to enthusiasts. I am not counting here the bedwetting evangelicals who were willing to support Obama, the most radical pro-death candidate to ever reach the national stage. I am not counting them because they don’t count. Among real evangelicals, the kind who read their Bibles, the response to Palin has been striking. As I read the responses from various directions, I can only describe it, in terms of its impact, as an electrifying choice. Think about it. McCain has picked a stridently pro-life, devout Christian evangelical as his running mate. There is nothing else he could have done to mobilize conservative Christians for this election, and he decided to do it.’

Wilson says that “evangelicals” who are willing to vote for Obama are immature (“bed-wetters”), they don’t read their Bibles, and they aren’t really evangelical. I know that many will dispute Wilson’s analysis, but I think he’s right in at least one respect. There is a great worldview difference between “evangelicals” who think overturning Roe is a transcendent moral issue and those that don’t. I wish more were in the first category rather than the latter.

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