Debating Bock on the “Manifesto”

Dr. Darrell Bock was one of my professors at DTS during my years as a Master’s student. He’s an exemplary Christian scholar, and I am grateful for his contribution to the kingdom.

That being said, our assessment of “An Evangelical Manifesto” is very different. In the last two days we have debated the Manifesto two different times on two different radio stations. The gist of our disagreement is over what the Manifesto calls “single-issues politics.” I argue that in America, abortion and marriage are transcendent moral issues.

The first two items are the debates with Dr. Bock. The third item contains my initial analysis of the document from Wednesday.

Friday – “Evangelical Identity Crisis” – Calling for Truth

[audio:http://www.callingfortruth.org/loggeraudio/CFT-05-09-2008.mp3]

Thursday – “Debate with Dr. Bock about the Evangelical Manifesto” – JJL

[audio:http://www.dennyburk.com/JJL/2008_05_08.mp3]

Wednesday – “Discussion about ‘An Evangelical Manifesto'” – JJL

[audio:http://www.dennyburk.com/JJL/2008_05_07.mp3]

My colleague Barry Creamer anchored both episodes of JJL. You’ll enjoy hearing him in the audio linked above. He’s an Associate Professor of Philosophy here at the Criswell College, and his reflections on the Manifesto are posted on his blog here.

43 Responses to Debating Bock on the “Manifesto”

  1. Ted May 9, 2008 at 9:05 pm #

    If Bock’s position indeed is that protecting the environment is just as critical as ending abortion, then your initial analysis about the Manifesto is correct and pundits who’ve commented here are wrong.

    No way can you tell me that climate change looniness is on the same moral ground as protecting life or traditional marriage.

  2. Yvette May 9, 2008 at 9:12 pm #

    But wasn’t Bock’s point in protecting the environment the hopes of future generations being able to live? If their goal in environmental causes is to secure the lives of future generations, is not their objective the same? Pro-life? (To be fair, I only listened to the second half of the second recording. If I missed something entirely…so sorry.)

    If by neglecting the environment we are securing doom for future humans, aren’t we morally responsible for their demise?

    I’m not some green-freak. I’m trying to make sure we are understanding Bock’s perspective.

    Denny, did I misunderstand him?

  3. Yvette May 9, 2008 at 9:14 pm #

    Oooops…I forgot the real point I wanted to make. I think Bock stated how I feel the best. It is not an either/or issue, it should be both/and.

  4. Ranger May 9, 2008 at 9:47 pm #

    Worldwide it is estimated that 8-9,000 children die each day from abortions. About 3500 of those deaths are due to abortion. According to an AP report, in 2003 nearly 104,000 babies died from abortions in the United States.

    Worldwide it is estimated that 27-30,000 children (under the age of 12) die from poverty related illnesses or starvation (Unicef). During the eight days more children will die worldwide from poverty related issues than will die this entire year from abortions.

    Both are tragedies, but being pro-life means much more than being anti-abortion…much, much more and sometimes the other issues that make us pro-life need to take priority.

  5. Ranger May 9, 2008 at 9:48 pm #

    “3500 of those are from American abortions”

  6. Darius May 9, 2008 at 11:04 pm #

    And if the Kyoto protocols are enacted, millions more of the world’s poor will die. Already, we are having huge price inflations on food like rice because of the new regulations enacted. Using food for biofuels instead of as food for people to eat leads to more starvation.

    Also, Yvette, I know you’re not taking a position on what Bock is saying or necessarily agreeing with him, but wouldn’t you say that as Christians, it seems a bit absurd that we could actually destroy the planet and all human life EXCEPT according to the will of God? I’m not a complete fatalist, but on issues as big as the destruction of mankind, I kinda believe that God has things under control. That’s not to say that environmental stewardship doesn’t have its place. But on par with fighting the unending murder of innocent children? I don’t know this Bock, but he’s morally insane if he’s suggesting that.

  7. Brett May 10, 2008 at 2:10 am #

    Wow, I was surprised by how much I agreed with Bock. I know he’s very conservative so I didn’t expect that I would agree with him so much. He was right on in how I feel about these issues and I thought he did very well at articulating this. I found myself saying “amen” to him after almost every statement and thought his views were very healthy and balanced.

    Denny, I believe you do not represent Bock well. He never said that taking care of the environment was an equally important pro-life issue. He said that it is a “pro-life” issue, but he never said that he believed it was equally important. He noted that all life is sacred and transcendent. Then he stated that if his understanding was a certain way about the environment (which he never said he personally believed), then he would equate the two. He was giving a hypothetical situation that could view it differently than right-wingers, not stating personal beliefs. He was trying to make the point that people think differently than you do about these issues, and this doesn’t make them wrong (like you think it does). I would encourage you to restate your summary of his beliefs because at first glance you seem to make him out to be this green hippie kind of guy who thinks recycling is as important as not killing babies. Thus, it sets the stage for your readers to listen to these debates through those lenses that you have already established which strengthens your position and weakens his.

    Also, your main argument for the “sanctity of marriage” and abortion is that they are transcendent moral issues. I would like to ask you: are poverty, taking care of the environment, greed, and war not morally transcendent? What is the basis for us discerning what is or is not morally transcendent?

    Thanks

  8. Matt Svoboda May 10, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    Denny,

    I agree with you that abortion is a bigger issue than the environment. That does not mean the environment isn’t important , but murdering children is indeed a higher priority than climate control, etc… at least biblically. But I do love what Jonathan Merritt is doing in trying to get Southern Baptists more aware and involved with our environment, but I would still say it is irresponsible to think that keeping our environment healthy is on the same level of murdering innocent babies.

    All that being said, I don’t think we Southern Baptists have done a good enough job on the environment issue. I like what Bock is standing for I just think he takes it too far!

    Thanks for the debates!

    Matt

  9. Yvette May 10, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    Darius…I would agree that if all life ended God would have been involved. (Chuckling: that would be hard to deny.)

  10. Darrell Bock May 10, 2008 at 2:43 pm #

    Denny:

    Not the most precise summary of the view I gave in our debates. My point is that the environment is also a life relevant value if the destruction of the environment leads to thousands of deaths. The key point I made you ignored, namely, that some people prioritize or broaden the scope of life value issues they see as important because they see all of life as sacred and thus a whole series of issues (not just the environment) as important. It helps in a debate/dialogue to be sure you state the opposing line clearly. So this note is to clarify the point and make the record more accurate for a better discussion. dlb

  11. Denny Burk May 10, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    Dear Dr. Bock,

    I deleted the lines above in which I characterized your view. I thought I had accurately summarized your viewpoint, but please accept my apology for any misrepresentation. It was not intentional.

    I think that we will probably have to agree to disagree on our assessment of the Manifesto. While I agree that evangelicals should “broaden the scope of life value issues,” I think that in some venues of engagement that can lead to demoting the moral priority of defending the unborn. I would argue that it is precisely on this point that the document is unclear and open to more than one interpretation. It’s the Jim Wallis interpretation that troubles me.

    That is why I suspect that the Manifesto will be used by some as cover to vote for the pro-choice presidential candidate this November. They might feel justified in doing so because they think that regulating fossil fuel emissions is just as important as overturning Roe v. Wade. I couldn’t disagree more with such an opinion. That’s not treating abortion as a transcendent moral value, but as one among many values.

    Thanks for the engagement.

    Grateful for you,
    Denny

  12. Darrell Bock May 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    Let me try to make my point more precisely so that the comparison you make is seen in its context. The issue as I see it is NOT to be summarized as environment versus right to life. If it were, then that would be an easy choice (unless the environment were really breaking down currently in our midst which it is not). But what if a candidate were pro-life but biblically off in a whole series of other major areas the Bible speaks to that realte to life (like the use of military force not as a last resort, uncaring to the poor, a materialist, splitting families by a choice of policy, etc). How do we do that vote when several issues are weighed (even when some are more important than others)? People may prioritize these multiple issue scenarios in a variety of ways because of how they see the sacredness of life and the number of issues in consideration at once. The Manifesto simply says that there may be more than one way to think about these combinations. THAT was my point. And faithful, believing people can sincerely make different judgments here as you and I are. Our community needs to understand and think through such options.

  13. Brett May 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    That’s great that you feel that way Denny, I just ask that you realize that people think differently than you do about these issues: and this does not make them any less “Evangelical” or “Christian” than yourself. Basically, you can’t sign on to the Manifesto because of the possibility that it could lead to demoting the moral priority of defending the unborn. The truth is, even if somebody looks at something such as the environment or war as a morally transcendent issue (simply because it involves defending life as well), this doesn’t mean that they demote defending the unborn. That’s the thing you don’t seem to get: it’s not either/or, it’s both/and.

    “Open to more than one interpretation”? What isn’t Denny? This just seems like such a bad argument to me. The Bible is open to thousands of interpretations, so does that mean that it is unclear and troubling to you? Does that mean that you can’t sign a statement that says you agree with it? The Westminster Confession is open to various interpretations, so is the Baptist Faith and Message. You have no problem signing on to the latter.

    The Jim Wallis interpretation? So you’re saying essentially that because one man that you disagree with politically signed on to the document in good conscience, you can’t do it because he may interpret it differently than you? You’re a member of ETS, and many others are that differ theologically than you, so maybe you should drop out? Maybe you should stop teaching at Criswell due to the possibility that another professor may interpret the doctrinal statement different than you?

    You can speculate all you want about the Manifesto being used by some as a cover to vote for a pro-choice candidate…but it’s just that, speculation. I can speculate that someone can use the Bible as a cover to believe in Arianism or Gnosticism, but that doesn’t mean I have to reject the Bible. Also, just because a candidate is pro-choice doesn’t necessarily mean that they are off-limits to vote for. Christians and others can view these things differently than you and that doesn’t make them wrong. Evangelicals are not defined politically, but theologically. We can be at opposite ends of the spectrum politically and yet we still have a common bond in Jesus Christ…and that’s just fine.

    I’m going to vote for Obama because I view these issues differently than you do. That doesn’t make me any less “Evangelical” or “Christian” or “right” as you, and we are still brothers in Christ even though we disagree on candidates and we have different convictions and come at things from different angles.

    You may think that the fossil fuel thing against Roe v Wade is absolutely ridiculous (and I would agree that it’s not as important in my mind), but an Evangelical, in good conscience, can come to different conclusions than both of us and may be more informed about environmental issues. This doesn’t mean they’re wrong, because as Evangelicals we should all concentrate on different issues and have different convictions, and they could feel that the environmental issue is every bit as threatening on life as abortion. This doesn’t mean they do not value life, nor that they deem the abortion issue as unimportant, nor that they’re baby-killers. It means that on this political decision they think differently than you do. And that is fine.

  14. Denny Burk May 10, 2008 at 6:14 pm #

    Brett,

    You are making my point for me. The arguments that you are making have the effect of relativizing the defense of the unborn as evangelicals go to the polls this November (I am well aware that defending the unborn involves more than electoral politics).

    The death toll is already 50 million and counting because of Roe v. Wade. The next president will appoint at least two justices to the Supreme Court. It is paramount that the right kind of judges be appointed so that the legal killing of innocents can be stemmed.

    I think the Manifesto confirms people like you in thinking it okay to vote for the pro-choice candidate.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  15. Jim Hamilton May 10, 2008 at 6:21 pm #

    Dear Dr. Bock,

    Thanks for your interaction here. I want to see if I’m understanding you correctly:

    Am I right in concluding that if your hypotheticals in #12 above are not the way things are [you wrote: “like the use of military force not as a last resort, uncaring to the poor, a materialist, splitting families by a choice of policy”], then these hypotheticals don’t trump concern for marriage and the unborn as the primary issues in politics right now.

    But, if someone concludes that your hypotheticals are the way things are–if a candidate has supported the use military force other than as a last resort, if a candidate is deemed uncaring to the poor, if a candidate is a materialist, and if some policy of the candidate’s (immigration?) is deemed as “splitting families by choice of policy”–then aren’t you suggesting that abortion and marriage are not the transcendent moral issues in the coming election?

    Please set me straight if I’ve misunderstood you!

    Jim

  16. Bryan L May 10, 2008 at 6:25 pm #

    Denny,
    I don’t think anyone needs the Manifesto to justify them voting for a pro-choice candidate anymore than they need it to help them justify them voting for a pro-war candidate or pro-anything candidate. Besides how many pages is it anyway? Most people aren’t even going to read it (and probably not the summary either) and those that do have probably already made their mind up anyway. I think you overestimate the influence and power of this Manifesto to influence the decisions of people and their justification for those decisions.

    Bryan

  17. Brett May 10, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    No, Denny, I was going to vote for Obama long before the Manifesto came out. I’ve heard the same arguments every election about supreme court justices and after every election we’re left in the same situation. You are optimistic that it will happen if we vote for Republicans, I am not. The Manifesto didn’t confirm any of this for me. The Manifesto is an attempt to regain the definition of Evangelical, not dissuade people from voting pro-life (it affirms being pro-life and the importance of this, which I am all for).

    You just don’t seem to understand that people can think differently than you do about political issues and still be Jesus-loving “Evangelical” Christians. Abortion breaks my heart every bit as much as it does yours, but this by no means says that I MUST vote for a candidate who verbally proclaims that he is pro-life. Life entails more than the unborn in any case, so Obama could be every bit as much for life as McCain even if he is “pro-choice” (just look at the scenario Dr. Bock gives). I’m not saying this is the case, but he could be. Also, you demonize the pro-choice candidates and make them out to be monsters who want babies to be slaughtered…nothing could be further from the truth, and I believe the Manifesto is calling us to refrain from this (demonizing candidates).

    The difference between us is you solely focus on one issue and deem it the issue which will decide your vote, no matter how the candidate stacks up on other issues. I think differently than you do about this. The Manifesto had nothing to do with it. I like the Manifesto because it is destroying the notion that Evangelicals must align with a particular party or only concentrate on one issue, and because it affirms who we are theologically as opposed to politically or socially. I hoped that this could bind us all together, but I was evidently wrong.

  18. Darrell Bock May 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm #

    Jim:
    Hey, Jim. Trust all is well. Pretty simple really.

    Transcendent for you apparently is limited to one category (read single issue view-the transcedent). You are making transcendent equal to THE issue. What if several areas are transcendent, then what? Or (another scenario) can several major but non-transcendents trump a single transcendent because as a combination they also show a disrespect for life become transcendent in combination? In other words, it might just be more than one issue is transcendent and abortion is not THE transcendent (your language). In other words, everything about the claim you are making is showing that there are single issue folks out there. But is that the only calibration using life values? I’d argue not necessarily.

  19. Quixote May 10, 2008 at 6:50 pm #

    Brett,

    Again, (if I may be so bold to speak for Denny on this one issue), the abortion issue is not a single-issue for Dr. Burk or for the rest of us. We’re not “single-issue voters” in that all we care about is pro-life/pro-choice. We look at other issues too before choosing for whom to vote.

    But abortion is a NON-NEGOTIABLE, which means Obama doesn’t get factored into consideration, no way no how. Not because of the things he says in his savvy speeches. Not because of what McCain or any other “war-mongering” (your words) Republican may say against him. Obama’s voting record makes his stance on abortion and life very clear.

    How you can vote for him, given your stated feeling about abortion and life, isn’t so much a commendation on how open-minded you are in your theology, but how confounded you are in your convictions.

  20. Derek May 10, 2008 at 6:54 pm #

    Brett,
    I live near Obama in Chicago and I think that you, as well as other Christians need to be aware of an important event that occurred before he came on the scene.

    In 2001, a Christian nurse (Jill Stanek) at Christ Hospital (just west of Chicago) discovered that unwanted babies were left to die in a linen closet on her unit. In the article link below, she describes her interactions with Obama regarding the legislation that came up as a result of this practice, which the Chicago and national media are not reporting.

    Please read this article if you are considering voting for Obama, or any pro-choice politician. After reading it, you will understand why this is such an important issue and litmus test of one’s character.

    Dr. Bock, even with your clarifications, I come to the conclusion that you are trivializing the severity of the abortion issue. And yes, your comments give aid and comfort to those who desire to capitulate and surrender on the transcendent moral issues of our day.

    http://www.citizenlink.org/content/A000007034.cfm

  21. Darrell Bock May 10, 2008 at 7:09 pm #

    Derek:

    Precisely the kind of tonal response (aid and comfort to those who desire to capitulate or surrender…) that proves the point that there is a single issue perspective here with a tone that is regrettable. It IS the only issue that really matters. I believe the Bible addresses far more issues related to life than just this one. There is no trivializing of abortion here, just a different manner of calibrating the choices and a recognition that life and sin challenge in many different ways. What you regard as more optional I might see as more significant without accusing you of anything. That is what the Manifesto is also about. So thank you for making the point so clear.

  22. Darrell Bock May 10, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    Derek:

    Alas, yet more confirmation. Thanks. No arrows in any backs. Just a description of what we are seeing in the responses. It is OK to split families, but if we fight for the right to life then we get an exemption card? Splitting families is a “straw man” (Read dismiss the reslity of the proposal) when some scenarios proposed that is exactly the result? Why can’t we think about both issues and contend for families and the right to life? What is so horrible about that option?

  23. Derek May 10, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    Dr Bock and Adam:

    I think the political left is celebrating the release of this document as a signal victory in their battle against abortion opponents (in particular).

    I don’t think that Al Mohler or James Dobson or Darrell Bock can take a public position against abortion and not be labeled a fundie “who no longer speaks for evangelicals”.

    It’s hard to believe that it was an oversight that Jim Wallis was asked to sign this document, but no significant figure on the right was either asked to sign or be a part of the document’s creation.

    My experience has been that Christians who are solidly opposed to abortion and gay marriage are highly informed on social, cultural and moral issues – they care about a lot of issues in our world; they talk to their friends about them; they pray about these issues; they talk to their local, state and federal leaders about them. To simply dismiss them upon the basis that they see abortion or same sex marriage as transcendent moral problems and try to discredit them as “one or two issue dogmatists” is unfair, it is for the most part untrue and it deeply saddens me to see this spectacle.

  24. Darrell Bock May 10, 2008 at 9:32 pm #

    Derek:

    I have been called a fundie already for stands I have taken on life issues like the exclusiveness of the gospel. The manifesto itself takes a position for the right to life. All have been asked to sign with its release, so no one is or was excluded. No effort has been made to discredit anyone for seeing the issue of abortion as transcendent. I have said, go for it. What I have asked (and the manifesto does as well) is not to castigate people who make a different judgment about an array of other life concerns. That, my dear brother, is what is truly sad. There is more to sacred life than the murder that cuts it short at the start (a view I share with you). I leave for Israel. So we shall have to leave it here. Labor on in the cause God has called you to, but please be a little slower to doubt the intentions of others who put the package together with other key concerns.

  25. Matt Svoboda May 10, 2008 at 10:06 pm #

    Brett and Brian L,

    Brett I like you a lot, but you might not like my newest most recent post on what an envangelical is to do in the upcoming election. Go check it out!

    Darrell Bock,

    Thank you for all the clarification in this section of comments. I did not get exactly what you are saying until now. I do think it is a GREAT idea to broaden our thinking on the issue of life. Environment does play a role in this! Good point. I am a little hesitant because I do think Denny has point when he says this opens the door for people to put the issue of abortion aside. Do you not see this being a problem?

    Matt

  26. Benjamin A May 10, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    Brett,

    Why can’t you credit Bush for his two Supreme Court picks and finally admit that they have clearly brought a change to the court on the issue of life.

    You can continue saying nothing has changed in the past 8 years on the issue of life(ignoring Roberts and Alito), but you are clearly wrong.

    This is why it’s key to have more conservative strict constructionist put on the bench in years to come.

    For you to willingly ignore those simple facts is hard for me to understand.

    I too can agree that other issues need engagement. But you more than anyone else on this site have continued to say, loud and proud, that believers shouldn’t put their trust/hope in the government to bring about any effective change on any issue.

    That being the case, please explain how you could possibly be voting for Mr. Obama. Do you realize what kind of Supreme Court Justices he will put on the court given the chance??? Please explain your thinking.

  27. Derek May 10, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

    Dr. Bock:

    I’m glad that you and the signers are standing firm on the exclusiveness of the Gospel. This is particularly reassuring since you teach at Dallas Theological Seminary.

    I don’t think anyone is asserting that the document doesn’t at least pay lip service to the abortion issue. But it does barely that. And whether intended or not, it has the practical effect of marginalizing people who have devoted their lives to eliminating abortion.

    Most Christians don’t understand why the courts are so critical to this issue (see Brett’s comment) and are unaware that one political party has almost no tolerance for any pro-life politician or judge. Literally, armies of lawyers are sent out to destroy the career and reputation of any judge or leader who opposes them on the abortion or gay marriage issue. Why shouldn’t we as Christians take these threats seriously? Does it not make sense that this manifesto is another voice in the chorus of angry voices, telling us to stand down and move on from these issues?

    I also find it interesting that you use such unflattering terminology when you imply that people who want border law to be enforced are “splitting families by a matter of policy”. You could make that assertion about any father or mother who is found guilty of any crime that merits prison – what are we to do, let them stay out of jail so we don’t “split the family as a matter of policy”? I think this is a straw man argument and less than fair.

    Finally, I think it is important to set the record straight on what you said about this document’s release and who was asked to sign. Your statement is true (all are asked to sign), but you left out a very important part of the equation. Those who drafted the document were almost entirely on the left side of the equation. And it does not appear that very reasonable and influential leaders on the right, like Al Mohler, Chuck Colson or others were asked to help make the document more inclusive. And perhaps the strangest and most perplexing question of all is, why is this document so Caucasian? Why the lack of important leaders in the African American community?

  28. Brett May 11, 2008 at 12:28 am #

    Quixote,

    “Abortion is NON-NEGOTIABLE” (re: I’m a one issue voter). I just don’t see how you can dichotomize the two (one-issue vs. non-negotiable). The point I’m trying to make is that others may see war, environment, healthcare, or caring for the poor as non-negotiable. Some may see a conglomeration of these issues as non-negotiable. The fact is, Evangelicals can believe this way and still be Evangelicals. Being an Evangelical does not mean that one has to vote for Republicans or focus on one or two issues (or have only one non-negotiable). As Dr. Bock makes clear, all of life is sacred. Therefore, one may conclude that a war-hungry candidate should be as non-negotiable as a pro-choice candidate. Even if the war-hungry president is “pro-life,” in reality he’s not. That’s the point I’m trying to make. Do you understand this?

    I don’t remember when I said “war-mongering.” Could you point me to this? I’m not saying I didn’t, because I possibly did.

    Confounded in my convictions because I plan on voting for Obama? See, this is what I’m trying to dissuade others from doing. Since I don’t vote like you do, you think I’m confounded in my convictions. Since I’m not the same as you politically, I’m confused and don’t have it right? This is just very arrogant and I hope you can see that. It is my judgment that Obama will make the best president out of the two. I guess anybody who votes democratic is confounded. I guess anybody who doesn’t vote for Republicans is just confused. Neither party is “biblical” or “Christian,” and I just want you to keep that in mind. I look at these issues differently than you do, that doesn’t make me “confounded” or less “Evangelical” than you. We are not known by our identity with candidates or parties, but by our relationship with Christ. I don’t want to be hateful Quixote, but calling someone “confounded” because he votes and thinks differently than you is just very arrogant and extreme. I don’t think you’re confounded, I think you’re a man of your convictions, and you’re doing what you believe and feel is right. Though this is not the way I choose to do it, I don’t look at you as “confounded” or any less “enlightened” or “Evangelical” than myself. Where “open-mindedness in theology” came into the equation is beyond me. I just think and view things differently than you on politics.

    Derek,

    I don’t believe hardly anything I see about any candidate around this time. You probably also think Obama is a Muslim and was sworn into office on the Koran.

    Just because a politician is “pro-choice” doesn’t mean that I should automatically dismiss them. In your thinking it may, but in mine it doesn’t. I, personally, am certainly pro-life, but I line up much more with Obama on all other issues, and this is why I’m going to vote for him. If I had confidence that the Republican candidate would actually DO something about it, then I would consider changing my mind, but history tells me to think otherwise.

    Matt,

    I checked out your post and will try to comment tomorrow. Though you and I disagree, I certainly like what you bring to the table b/c you do not toe the party line on everything. Honestly, people on your side need to take lessons from you and I am proud that such a student is at Boyce. By the way, congratulations bro! You’re gonna be a father! That’s great man and I wish you all the best. I rejoice with you in this time of joy in your life and pray for a safe and healthy pregnancy for your wife.

    Benjamin A,

    I certainly do acknowledge the partial-birth ban. However, I just don’t look at it the same way that you do. I think it’s great and I rejoice that it got passed, but is abortion still legal? Can my daughter still go down to the clinic and get an abortion? Are there still over a million abortions in the USA every year? This certainly did happen, and I am grateful for it, but what else happened for life? Thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians and soldiers are dead. Thousands of US soldiers are dead. This is a life issue too Benjamin. Do you agree? So something has changed in regards to life: more Americans and Iraqis are dead. This is why it’s crucial to have better-informed and “war-as-a-last-result” presidents in the years to come. I’m not ignoring the facts, I’m looking at the big picture: abortion is still legal, and still prevalent.

    I have continued to say, loud and proud, that believers shouldn’t put their trust/hope in the government to bring about any effective change on any issue. What’s your point? I still certainly believe this way, and I’m not putting my trust/hope in the government to change these issues. I personally don’t believe that is grounds for not voting or not being informed about candidates, though I wouldn’t have a problem with someone saying that it is.

    There’s the thing guys, democracy is not “biblical” (I really hate using that word). It is a foreign concept to the world of the Bible. So one person can come to a conclusion that they believe it is their “obligation” and “Christian duty” to vote and be involved in a democratic society, and another may not…and both are right in my mind. It’s not like you can quote a little proof-text that says “If you’re allowed to vote for politicians, do it!” I just choose to, not mainly because of my “Christian” convictions, but because of how I was raised.

    So how can I vote for Obama? Because I believe he is the best candidate for president overall. I may not agree with him on every issue, but who does agree with a candidate on every issue? Do I realize what kind of Supreme Court Justices he will put on the court? First, there is a wee bit more to being president than appointing supreme court justices, and second, do you know which ones McCain will appoint? The truth is, none of us do. We are putting our hope in a man on the premise of what he MAY/MIGHT do (by his party affiliation mind you), but it is not absolute. McCain may start a nuclear war that kills 3 billion people. You think that kinda outweighs the abortion thing? McCain may shock you and appoint flaming liberal supreme court justices. So all is just speculation in my mind and I will let the kingdom of the world do it’s thing.

    I have considered not voting at all just because of how antithetical the kingdom of the world is to the kingdom of God. Also, this consumes my time when I could be doing much more useful things. I think American Christians should constantly remind themselves where their allegiances lie, and that is not with our democratic government, but to God the Father and Christ himself. I stand by my statement that many American Christians place far too much hope/trust in the government, and like Bryan L says, if we really lived out our convictions, we would be doing far more than typing on blogs and voting for “pro-life” candidates to protect the unborn…radically far more. But we are complacent and keep putting all of our stock in the “Republican” basket. I’m not saying this is wrong, but other well-meaning God-loving Evangelicals may think and do things differently than you. Think about it.

  29. Derek May 11, 2008 at 7:15 am #

    Brett,
    As I said, I live close to Obama, am very familiar with his background and policies. I’ve known these things before he was known outside of the Chicago area. I’ve never thought that he was a Muslim and in fact, I’ve warned people not to make this baseless charge (about him being a Muslim).

    I really hope you read the article I sent, Brett. It is very compelling. I assure you, it is not a smear job on Obama.

    – Derek

  30. Bryan L May 11, 2008 at 7:51 am #

    Derek,

    Just in case you weren’t aware that particular issue raised by the article you linked to has been discussed and debated here before. Check back through the archives if you’re interested. I think it was only a couple of months ago.

    Bryan

  31. Darius May 11, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    Good job pointing out the article about Obama and infanticide. You beat me to it. Brett, if you truly are as open-minded as you claim, you will read it. Obama is NOT pro-choice, he is pro-abortion and even pro-infanticide. The bill that came before the U.S. Congress was intended to give the right to life to babies that survive abortions. It passed unanimously, and even NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, a very extreme group) supported the bill. Meanwhile, in Illinois, a bill with the same language came up. Obama railed against it, saying that they didn’t deserve the right to life.

    A Christian CANNOT vote for the man. He is an extreme liberal (he makes Hillary look positively moderate) and will promote a death culture in this country that will shock a lot of people’s sensibilities. In other words, voting for him is sin. It doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian, just as telling a lie doesn’t mean you lose your Kingdom citizenship. But it is a sin, one for which we will answer on Judgment Day.

    You are right that one doesn’t have to be involved in politics (Jim Eliot comes to mind as someone who thought Christians should NOT be involved in politics at all). But if and when one does become involved in politics, he is held responsible for his votes. A good analogy would be belief in the Trinity (though don’t take this analogy so far as to believe that I’m saying voting for a Democrat means losing one’s salvation): you don’t have to believe in or even understand the concept of the Trinity to be saved, but once you do learn about it, you can’t reject it without also rejecting your saving faith. Likewise, you can be completely ignorant and uninvolved in all things political and not be sinning at all. But once you get involved in politics and informed, God will hold you to account for how you use your votes.

  32. Adam Omelianchuk May 11, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Derek (and others),

    I am not sure how you keep coming to the conclusion that the people who drafted and signed the document are somehow left of center, or don’t care about the unborn. That simply isn’t true. The reason people like Mohler, Dobson, and Colson weren’t asked to sign it (were they?) is because they strongly believe that one-issue voting is the only responsible approach to politics. The document specifically targets that mentality and renounces it saying declaring that many-issue voiting is also acceptable. Why would they ask those that decidely disagree with that to sign?

    I have yet to hear a good argument as to why one cannot approach politics in a manny-issue way. If you want to approach politics with only the hope of the SCOTUS changing so be it. But there is nothing anti-biblical or anti-Christian about weighing other factors. Poverty, health care, the environment, immigration, pre-emptive war, torture, due process of law, and a whole host of other issues are formed by our moral choices that flow from trancendent ethics.

    Now on abortion and the courts, I want to say this: I am very thankful for the Roberts/Alito nominations. The main reason I voted for Bush in the last election was with that in mind. But I’ve also had to look at some of the problems I’ve had with Bush because of other issues I don’t agree with him on. In light of those, and the history of Republican promises to change the court (Alito/Roberts notwithstanding)have lead me to see problems with one-issue voting:

    1) it assumes that the one-issue we care about the most is what the candidate cares about the most.

    2) it assumes that the Justice will be partial to the agenda of the one-issue politics the candidate enjoys.

    3) it assumes that justice found in the one-issue will outweigh injustices comitted in other “lesser” issues.

    I’m sorry, but to buy into those is a leap of faith plain and simple. One-issue voting may very well be a valid way to make political choices, but it is by no means the best way.

    What I see the manifesto doing is declaring that Evangelicals do not ONLY care about two issues (something that everyone should be able to agree with) and that it is within the rights of conscience to make up one’s mind about political engagement. Where our concsciences are bound is in the mission Christ has commissioned us.

    Hope this helps. Sorry if my temper got the best of me last time. Hats off to Denny for hosting this discussion.

  33. Derek May 11, 2008 at 7:58 pm #

    Adam:

    Thanks for the thoughtfulness in this post. I think you’ve said some pretty good and reasonable things in here.

    I do think, however, that you have a couple of misconceptions that I’d like to do my best to correct the record on:

    You said:

    The reason people like Mohler, Dobson, and Colson weren’t asked to sign it (were they?) is because they strongly believe that one-issue voting is the only responsible approach to politics

    First, Dobson and Colson were asked to sign, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication that their input was requested (Al Mohler doesn’t seem to have been contacted prior to the document’s release). I think this is an important distinction. If you read between the lines on various press reports, it appears that objections to the manifesto were voiced from both Dobson and Colson, but these concerns apparently fell upon deaf ears.

    The larger point and currently unanswered question is this:
    Were any leaders on the right consulted in the framing of this document? Perhaps we’ll find out there was, but as of right now, it doesn’t appear to be the case.

    I also don’t think it is fair to assert that Colson, Dobson or Mohler believe in one-issue voting. Nor is it true that they advocate slavish devotion to any political party. As unfortunate and tragic as it is for our democracy, we have one political party that has strong and unswerving allegiance to leaders, judges and politicians whose worldview is consistently at odds with a Biblically based world view on many levels (dig up some information about George Soros, a multi-billionaire from Europe who doesn’t even disguise his hatred for Christians and is joined to the hip with the Democratic party). The entire fund-raising and organizational apparatus is bent upon the elimination of Christian influence in the public sphere (unless they can temporarily join forces with left leaning Christians who repudiate and undermine conservative Christians). If you don’t believe what I’m saying, spend a half hour on Daily Kos.

    Just trying to respectfully establish some context here so that some commonly held misconceptions don’t cloud the issues we’re discussing.

  34. Benjamin A. May 11, 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    “But there is nothing anti-biblical or anti-Christian about weighing other factors. Poverty, health care, the environment, immigration, pre-emptive war, torture, due process of law, and a whole host of other issues are formed by our moral choices that flow from transcendent ethics.”

    Poverty will never be eradicated. Never. Hit the problem with as much money as you want; never.

    Health care will never get fixed. Clinton’s has 8 years of broken promises. Bush too. It will never be fixed and will always be a stump for candidates.

    Environment. Nothing more than a political stump for votes. What a joke.

    Immigration. It’s a great idea; just do it legally. If I rob a store to feed my family and get caught they will put me in jail; split my family; imagine that; actions actually having consequences. Illegal immigration is illegal. Either change the laws or enforce them, either way.

    Pre-emptive war. As Teddy said, speak softly and carry a big stick. Same idea. On Iraq, say all day long Bush lied. Bottom line, had it’s leader allowed inspections to continue as required by UN resolution the bombs wouldn’t have landed. Sadam played his bluff to the end. Again, politicians play this up only for votes.

    By the way, this world has never known peace and never will until the Prince of Peace returns. Another stump for votes.

    Torture. McCain was tortured for serving his country. And yet Brett still wants to vote for a guy whose only service for his country has made him filthy rich.

    Due process of law. Which laws? Immigration laws? What ever. Another joke.

    Our politicians are a sad lot. Fleecing those whom they pretend to serve. Mark my words. Nothing will change. I don’t care who’s in office. Nothing will change. Be concerned for as many issues as you want if that makes you feel intelligent and informed. But nothing substantial will change. It won’t…sorry. The system is broken and appears un-reparable.

    However, if anything is going to change in American law. Only the Supreme Court can make it happen. Period. As the court goes, so goes America.

    I want conservative strict constructionist on the bench if at all possible.

  35. Brett May 11, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

    Benjamin A,

    I respect your opinions and carefully listen to them. This whole manifesto thing, and what some of us on here have been trying to say, is that others see it differently than you, and we ask you to respect that without the venom and vitriol that has been common amongst moral majority Evangelicals in the past.

    A well-informed, Jesus-loving, Evangelical Christian can come to the exact opposite conclusions that you come to in regards to these issues, and think he/she is as right as you think you are. What binds us together and unifies us is our commitment to Christ, not on whether we think concern for the environment is a legitimate pro-life issue or a “political stump for votes” that is such a “joke.” In fact, many on your side would probably disagree with some of your conclusions. You look at the Supreme Court being the only avenue through which something can happen and are pretty convinced of it…other Evangelical Christians are not. Lets make room for the diversity in Evangelicalism and cling to what binds us together…Christ himself.

    The whole point of this is that we ask you to acknowledge and respect this, and in return, we will be more unified and can lighten our tone in regards to political talk in Christian and non-Christian contexts and stop demonizing well-meaning people and parties.

    Are you on board or not?

  36. Darius May 12, 2008 at 7:42 am #

    Brett,

    Being “well-meaning” doesn’t make one right. What you seem to not understand is that there is such a thing as right and wrong political views and we’re not just living in a postmodern “everything is relative and right for you” world.

  37. Quixote May 12, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    Brett,

    I will respond to you because you graciously responded to directly to me…I wasn’t “name-calling.” I was basing my comment solely on your comment.

    You wrote: “…(it affirms being pro-life and the importance of this, which I am all for)…Abortion breaks my heart every bit as much as it does yours, but this by no means says that I MUST vote for a candidate who verbally proclaims that he is pro-life.”

    If you are pro-life and if abortion breaks your heart (and if this is because you realize that abortion is murder)…and you do claim all of these things…then by according to your convictions, YES, you MUST vote for a candidate who claims to be pro-life. Sure, you can decide from among the pro-life candidates which one you will endorse based on the myriad of other issues that are important to you. But if you truly mean what you wrote about abortion and life, you wouldn’t endorse someone who endorsed murder.

    And, to be clear, we’re not talking about a man who “verbally claims to be pro-life.” Claim away for all I care. Obama’s voting record solidly proves his stance on abortion and life. And regardless of where he stands on all the other important issues, he allows and condones and supports and pushes for murder.

    Thus, my statement about your being confounded in your convictions.

  38. Derek May 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm #

    Dr Bock:

    Re: post 24, I want to apologize for impugning motives. That was not my intent (God is the only one who can judge motives, of course), but I can see how the tenor of my argument did cast judgment on motives. So, I’m sorry for that.

    Reflecting on Manifesto this past week, my greatest concern is that the document seems to imply that there is nothing inherently good or bad about the moral frameworks that the left (liberals) and the right (conservatives) use to apply their beliefs. This, in my view, is very wishy washy and sends a message that we ought not concern ourselves with the worldview and philosophies that are offered to us in our cultural, educational and political arenas.

    Fact of the matter is, November of 2008 is likely to be a historic election. The Democratic party is about to win in dramatic fashion, and they are already celebrating unprecedented support from the evangelical community. They will probably win the White House as well as U.S. Senate and House. Waiting in the wings are thousands of judicial vacancies, unfilled because liberal activist groups in league with a particular political party have been using all kinds of tactics to make sure that judges who hold a conservative and/or Christian worldview are kept out of the courts.

    Why? So they can continue to foist major societal, political and cultural changes via judicial fiat in our nation’s courts. Sadly, we are about to receive an avalanche of judges have no tolerance for the so-called “intolerance” of seminaries like DTS, who they view to be hate speech mongering institutions that need to be “reformed”, because they teach a literal interpretation of Scripture and even dare to exegete Romans 1 and other disagreeable passages.

    I think that we need to start educating Christians and explaining why the moral framework of the left is firmly established in opposition to Christianity, the family and the Gospel. Yet, the Manifesto just muddies the water and provides comfort to those who wish to believe that either are compatible with Christian faith.

    In fact, I think that making clear distinctions between the worldview/moral framework of the left and the right is even more important than explaining why abortion is wrong and ought to be opposed.

  39. teleologist August 1, 2008 at 2:27 am #

    I know I am a bit late to this debate but I have not read the Evangelical Manifesto (EM) until this week. I’ve also read some of the pros and cons of this document. I want to focus my response to the document first and then to Dr. Bock’s blog posting on this issue.

    As with many others who have blogged on this have said, there are many good points with the EM, unfortunately there are some poison pills in the EM that would prevent the evangelicals from forming a consensus. One poison pill is found under the second mandate – We Must Reform Our Own Behavior – and I quote,

    We call for an expansion of our concern beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage, and a fuller recognition of the comprehensive causes and concerns of the Gospel, and of all the human issues that must be engaged in public life.

    I am so glad they chose to use the words “biblically rooted commitment” for the issues of abortion and traditional marriage. These are not Republicans or Democrats issues. These are Biblical truth and principles that all Christians must hold to. The EM essentially reprioritizes unilaterally for evangelicals what issues should have greater attention. Do you not think that is presumptuous for this document to make that determination when, I think, they know full well that many evangelicals would not agree to their priorities. It seems ironic that in the preceding paragraph to the quote, the writers call for unity and they demonstrate this unity by thrusting a sword into some core beliefs of other evangelicals.

    As I’ve said maybe there are issues that could rival the significance of these single issues that we should unite in recognizing their priorities. So what are some of those issues? In the next paragraph from the EM.

    (To read the rest of my comments please go to my post The Evangelical Manifesto or the Evangelical Inconsonance)

  40. teleologist August 1, 2008 at 2:53 am #

    I know I am a bit late to this debate but I have not read the Evangelical Manifesto (EM) until this week. I’ve also read some of the pros and cons of this document. I want to focus my response to the document first and then to Dr. Bock’s blog posting on this issue.

    As with many others who have blogged on this have said, there are many good points with the EM, unfortunately there are some poison pills in the EM that would prevent the evangelicals from forming a consensus. One poison pill is found under the second mandate – We Must Reform Our Own Behavior – and I quote,

    We call for an expansion of our concern beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage, and a fuller recognition of the comprehensive causes and concerns of the Gospel, and of all the human issues that must be engaged in public life.

    I am so glad they chose to use the words “biblically rooted commitment” for the issues of abortion and traditional marriage. These are not Republicans or Democrats issues. These are Biblical truth and principles that all Christians must hold to.

    (To read the rest of my comments go to my post at http://www.teleological.org/theology/?p=64)

  41. teleologist August 1, 2008 at 2:55 am #

    I know I am a bit late to this debate but I have not read the Evangelical Manifesto(EM) until this week. I’ve also read some of the pros and cons of this document. I want to focus my response to the document first and then to Dr. Bock’s blog posting on this issue.

    As with many others who have blogged on this have said, there are many good points with the EM, unfortunately there are some poison pills in the EM that would prevent the evangelicals from forming a consensus. One poison pill is found under the second mandate – We Must Reform Our Own Behavior – and I quote,

    We call for an expansion of our concern beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage, and a fuller recognition of the comprehensive causes and concerns of the Gospel, and of all the human issues that must be engaged in public life.

    I am so glad they chose to use the words “biblically rooted commitment” for the issues of abortion and traditional marriage. These are not Republicans or Democrats issues. These are Biblical truth and principles that all Christians must hold to.

    http://www.teleological.org/theology/?p=64

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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