NY Times Profiles “Non-political” Southern Baptists

Sunday’s New York Times had a story on young evangelicals who are trending away from the priorities of the religious right. One of the churches featured in the story is a Southern Baptist congregation in St. Louis, Missouri called The Journey.

The NY Times‘ description of this congregation is a little perplexing. What I am about to say is not a critique of the church, but a query about the report itself. It seems self-contradictory. Let me show you what I mean.

The title of the article is “Taking Their Faith, but Not Their Politics, to the People.” The article goes on to say that “The Journey . . . is representative of a new generation that refuses to put politics at the center of its faith and rejects identification with the religious right.”

The part about rejecting the religious right is clear enough. But it’s the part about refusing to put politics “at the center of its faith” that doesn’t sound quite right. Why? Because the rest of the article is filled with examples of members of The Journey who are in fact very concerned about politics, just not the conservative kind.

The first paragraph of the story says that once a month congregants from The Journey gather to talk about “President Bush” and “the war.” Now I go to a pretty conservative church, but as far as I know there aren’t any official gatherings focused on discussing President Bush and the war.

The reporter surmises that younger evangelicals like those at The Journey want “to broaden the traditional evangelical anti-abortion agenda to include care for the poor, the environment, immigrants and people with H.I.V.” At a home Bible Study sponsored by The Journey, one of the members praises a recent speech given by Senator Barack Obama, “Did you see my boy Barack today? I thought he did well, really well.”

For sure, The Journey is not beholden to the religious right, but they still sound pretty political to me. Why then does the NY Times reporter describe these folks as being not very political when clearly the people she interviews have simply traded-in conservative political priorities for more progressive ones?

Could it be that the reporter herself shows no awareness of the political bias of her subjects in the same way that fish aren’t aware that they’re in water? We tend to view those who have the same beliefs as our own not as “biased” or unnecessarily “political,” but as objective and rational.

I suspect that the self-refuting description of these younger evangelicals tells us just as much about the biases of the reporter as it does about her subjects.

28 Responses to NY Times Profiles “Non-political” Southern Baptists

  1. Bruce Sabin June 2, 2008 at 4:36 am #

    The writer is promoting the naive belief of the young that common issues can be uniting and not political. Consider this quote:

    “There is so much resistance to the environmental initiative because it is a threat to the right-wing agenda that has crept into the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Dean Inserra, 27, a registered Republican and pastor of the Well, a Baptist church in Tallahassee, Fla., who signed Mr. Merritt’s initiative. “How is taking care of God’s creation a political issue? Since I am pro-life, I am pro-environment.”

    This pastor doesn’t see environmentalism as political because he’s ignorant of politics, environmentalism and economics. Politics is the authoritative allocations of resources and values. When someone wants the government to spend tax dollars on some issue (some resource or value), they are being political. But, too many of bought into the post-modern, Obama-esque (Yes we can) concept that we can all agree and join together in some undefined common purpose. Read the Climate Initiative referred to in that quote and see how defined it is. Read Obama speeches and see how defined he is.

    Further evidence in the article:

    But shifts in thinking among younger evangelicals may lead to an easing of the polarization that has defined the country’s recent political landscape, many of them said. “The easy thing is to fight, but the hard thing is to put your gloves down and work together towards a common cause,” said the Rev. Scott Thomas, director of the Acts 29 Network, which helps pastors start churches. “Our generation would like to put our gloves down. We don’t want to be out there picketing. We want to be out there serving.”

    So, pushing issues such as environmentalism and universal healthcare are seen as a “common cause” that doesn’t require fighting. Naive.

    And further:

    “They are very much turned off by the suit-and-tie power brokers of the evangelical right,” said David P. Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Georgia.

    Again, they see traditional ‘politics’ as fighting over personal power, which they are apparently above. Instead, they are working for the “common cause” of divisive issues that anyone with experience knows are not common and will require fighting.

  2. Paul June 2, 2008 at 8:46 am #

    I agree with Bruce, but would change some wording.

    Bruce said: “The writer is promoting the naive belief of the young that common issues can be uniting and not political.”

    I agree that this type of thinking IS naive. However, I think what they’re getting at is not that common issues CAN be uniting and not political as much as they’re thinking (hoping) that common issues SHOULD be uniting and not political.

    Of course, that’s not the case, but you can’t blame ’em for either hoping OR trying.

  3. Bruce Sabin June 2, 2008 at 9:12 am #

    I will blame them for that.

    As much as I would like to just leave it to experience to awaken them eventually, they pose a danger in the meantime. It is well known that tyrants and dictators often get their strongest support from the young; Hitler was elected because of the votes of the young (see Philip Converse’s “Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics”). Today’s young in America are fawning over Obama as their savior and I consider him to be a danger to America. So, I do blame anyone who follows him out of naivity.

    I posted on this blog May 9th that I am concerned evangelicalism is shifting toward a social gospel. This NYT article furthers my fears. The young people in this article seem to have adopted a Christianized version of post-modernism; they are moving away from definitive statements and adopting a view that we can all join on causes without discussing specifics.

    Look at the Southern Baptist Environmental and Climate Initiative. It calls us to act, but doesn’t really address how:

    “We pledge to find ways to curb ecological degradation through promoting biblical stewardship habits and increasing awareness in our homes, businesses where we find influence, relationships with others and in our local churches…. We realize that the primary impetus for prudent action must come from the will of the people, families and those in the private sector. Held to this standard of common good, action by government is often needed to assure the health and well-being of all people. We pledge, therefore, to give serious consideration to responsible policies that acceptably address the conditions set forth in this declaration…. We the undersigned, in accordance with our Christian moral convictions and Southern Baptist doctrines, pledge to act on the basis of the claims made in this document. We will not only teach the truths communicated here but also seek ways to implement the actions that follow from them.”

    So, they pledge to find ways to encourage, and they pledge to focus on personal actions but understand government must direct, and they pledge to choose leaders who, with them, “will give serious consideration” to environmental policies. But they don’t know what policies will “follow from them.”

    Sure, we can all feel good agreeing to such meaninglessness. But, there is nothing beyond that.

    The people signing such statements, along with the Evangelical Manifesto, are frequently people who are tired of debating issues. They’re tired of “politics” and they label every attempt at definition as a power struggle; that is essentially post-modernism. And it leads to social gospel because they want to unite on social issues without the basis of firm definitions or goals.

    If every definition is inherently divisive, and they way to unite is to find the least common demoninator, it will eventually lead to a social gospel. Look at the history of mainline churches in America. Each time they are faced with a struggle to define an issue, they move toward the least common denominator.

  4. CH June 2, 2008 at 4:29 pm #

    If you’ve read Jonah Goldberg’s new book then you know what lies behind the “common cause” of Obama: liberal facism.

    That any Christian (Baptist or otherwise) would find Obama a favorable candidate shows just how broken our discernment has become.

    At the same time I agree that just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I am going to vote for John McCain (I’m not). And I would love to have those pubs talks at my church, how fun! However, why is it that when they talk about the poor, HIV, the environment, and other issues they always resort to LIBERAL solutions? By all means lets address these issues, but what about offering genuinely conservative solutions to these problems (something the Republican party itself has failed to do).

  5. Darius June 2, 2008 at 4:59 pm #

    The reason these young evangelicals “resort to liberal solutions” is because they view the conservative solution as a de facto non-solution. After all, the conservative approach to solving poverty through government is to limit government and have it do as little as possible so that private individuals, institutions, and businesses can better help the poor through employment and social services. This doesn’t allow those young evangelicals to feel like they’re doing something politically, and that is the key to the liberal movement: feeling good over doing good.

  6. Darius June 2, 2008 at 5:03 pm #

    Conservatism looks like it isn’t doing anything to help people because it leaves it to people to do it for themselves and gives them the ultimate freedom to live as they see fit. So if you really want to FEEL like you’re doing SOMETHING politically, become a liberal. But if you want to know that you’re DOING good in a political sense, be a conservative.

  7. Paul June 3, 2008 at 9:42 am #

    Darius in #5:

    My counter to this point will always be the same:

    If private individuals, institutions and businesses were going to do something to combat poverty, they would have already. Yet, there is still poverty (and just because America’s poor are the richest in the world doesn’t mean that they’re not poor, it just proves how much more it costs to live in America than it does in say, China or India), and yet, even when those private individuals, institutions and businesses, it’s not enough.

    So, Darius is right, the “conservative” solution is no solution at all.

    Now, this is not to say that the paltry welfare system we have in place now doesn’t need a vast overhaul. You can’t fight poverty with a check, a bunch of food stamps and someone telling you, “it’s okay.” But, unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens in all 50 states, and it’s a tragedy that will only get worse. And considering the apathy of those private individuals, institutions and businesses that are supposed to be the saviours of the poor, yes, the evangelical left is correct, the conservative solution is no solution at all.

    Darius in #6:

    That’s what I’d generally call a cop-out. Those people that you’re saying need freedom to live as they see fit are living as they see fit because they don’t know any better.

    Ever read the book “The Millionaire Next Door?”

    This is HARDLY a liberal tome. However, if it makes one point, it is this: wealth is a learned behavior. So, what do you do when you have generations of hillbilly trailer trash OR ghetto rats from the projects? They aren’t just poor, they LIVE poverty. No amount of good luck is going to change their mindset. And guaranteed, 9 times out of 10, if they get to a church, what church are they going to feel comfortable at? You guessed it, a prosperity gospel preaching freakshow church that tells people to put their faith in earthly treasures instead of heavenly ones.

    A bad, quasi-liberal set up like ours drops money into those people’s laps and pats ’em on the back. And thusly, they stay poor.

    What these people need is job training, money management training, subsidized child care where necessary, and in plenty of situations, subsidized mixed income housing so that they don’t live like pigs in filth, propagating generation after generation of further poverty because they don’t see what the alternative looks like (by the way, until you’ve seen the very positive numbers from Illinois’ experiments on this last point, you’d only be a heartless and factless jerk if you attempted to refute it).

    In the end, the idea of a “social gospel” is a bad one, but the gospel given to us by Christ and the apostles, taken to its logical end, does include a social component that cannot be denied. Doing so indeed would be a cop out.

  8. Bruce Sabin June 3, 2008 at 10:46 am #

    “If private individuals, institutions and businesses were going to do something to combat poverty, they would have already.”

    Umm, have you ever heard of Habitat for Humanity, United Way, Catholic Charities, rescue missions, St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, etc? Americans give far more to charity than liberal Europeans.

    “Yet, there is still poverty….wealth is a learned behavior”

    Yes, and poverty is a learned behavior. I am a public school teacher and when I started, part of the district training was reading the book “A Framework for Understanding Poverty.” The author explained that poverty is a culture and teachers need to understand the culture of their students. Of course, teachers are also told to always affirm culture; in fact, the Los Angeles school district (which is not mine) recently declared teaching or emphasizing such Western ideas as planning for the future and personal responsibility are forms of discrimination.

    “The ‘conservative’ solution is no solution at all.”

    Perhaps you should read something by Johan Norberg who will clearly explain why capitalism and free markets are undeniably the only way to bring wealth to the world.
    http://www.JohanNorberg.net
    http://www.reason.com/news/show/28968.html

    “What these people need is…[Insert War on Poverty idea].”

    Community college is free for such people. I went to a community college for free. Housing projects turn into “the projects.” I’d be happy to learn more about the one example you think proves your liberal idea right despite 40 years of failures, but you didn’t give enough info for me to find the info. Care to provide a link or two?

  9. Paul June 3, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    Bruce,

    First off, let me just state for the record that I am so tired of the condescension levied by conservatives against those of us think that there’s a different way to do things out there. Seriously, it’s annoying, and I’d like to think that at least in this conversation, I’ve said little to deserve it. So cut it out already.

    That said, of course I’ve heard of Habitat for Humanity and many other charities that do fantastic work. Of course, by cutting out half of my quote, you engage in nothing short of building straw men. You forgot to keep the part of my quote that I only half typed (ha! bad one on my part) — it should have read…”and yet, even when those private individuals, institutions and businesses, do get involved it’s not enough. (the italicized portion is what I forgot to type the first time around)

    And of course, then there’s the obligatory slap at the Europeans. Of course they don’t give as much to charity, since they don’t have to. It’s like complaining that I don’t drive a Chevy because I get around just fine in my Ford.

    I fully agree that poverty is a learned behavior. But, unless one of those and yet, even when those private individuals, institutions and businesses is going to start snatching poor children at birth and training them from the git-go, those kids are going to learn poverty, and it has to be up to someone to reteach them.

    I also agree that it’s not necessarily a good idea to affirm the lowest common denominators of culture. The folks who instituted those policies you speak of in Los Angeles are indeed morons who give you conservatives plenty of ammo. I don’t deny that there are plenty of stupid liberals out there, and I really don’t deny that plenty of them got jobs in school administration.

    I like your condescending blow-off of job training as “war on poverty ideas.” classy.

    So, where do you live that community college is free? It’s nowhere near Chicago, I know that much. Here, it’s about 1/2 the price of 4 year state schools, and now with most all of those community colleges on semester schedules, as opposed to trimesters or quarters, they’re now mostly a scheduling disaster for many people looking to get extra training in their fields of choice.

    And not ALL liberal ideas of the last 40 years have been failures. I will throw Darius a bone and say that most of the time, when these things work, it’s because they were instituted at the local level, which allows for fine tuning for specific scenarios, which is far better than a plan that is supposed to work as well in Anchorage as it works in Atlanta.

    Housing projects when put together like the infamous Cabrini Green or Robert Taylor homes are horrifying, because they lump poverty and derangement with more poverty and derangement. On the other hand, when public and private sector can get together to lend a helping hand, the results can be spectacular.

    I remember reading an article in the Chicago Tribune a couple of years back when the CHA was dismantling the Robert Taylor homes about the move of those residents to south suburban Plainfield, and how the same kids who were constantly in trouble when surrounded by trouble were now doing well in school and acclamating well, now that they were in a far more accomodating setting. Sadly, I couldn’t find that article.

    However, a glimpse of what mixed income housing can look like in New York can be found here…

    http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/80/mixhous.html

    Liberalism is hardly the beast that you’d like to make it out to be.

  10. bprjam June 3, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    Denny:

    I posted something that seems to have gotten lost. Can you check your spam filter, please?

    Thanks

  11. Bruce June 3, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    Quote from Paul’s first post: “By the way, until you’ve seen the very positive numbers from Illinois’ experiments on this last point, you’d only be a heartless and factless jerk if you attempted to refute it.”

    Quote from Paul’s second post: “I am so tired of the condescension levied by conservatives…. I’ve said little to deserve it. So cut it out already.”

    I guess we have some disagreements about one or more of the following: a) what is condescension, b) what could be described as “little” on your part, or c) what what amount makes you deserving of it back at you.

    “Even when those private individuals, institutions and businesses, do get involved it’s not enough.”

    The conservative view is that it’s never enough. It’s sort of like how liberals talk about affordable healthcare and childcare and housing, and etc. What is affordable? We don’t know, but we know it’s less than the current cost. I used to be a university executive and I have heard so many politicians talk about how higher education is inaccessible to the poor. Higher education is an investment; Americans gladly borrow money to buy a car, but complain about borrowing for an education that pays for all their future cars. Yes, I know you’ll tell me that poor people often can’t even borrow for a car, but the principle of good debt and bad debt (Finance 101) applies to education. And speaking of education, I went to community college in Florida–a Southern state widely recognized for one of the best community college systems. And it was free due to the Pell Grant.

    Here are a couple articles about students in California marching to protest rising tuition at state schools. By the way, tuition at CA community colleges is $20/credit and the Cal State system is $2,772/year. Again, what is affordable?
    Also note that some articles are from 2008 and one is from 2004. The issue is CA has been going on for years and every time there is a price increase, students march and say they’ll have to drop out if tuition goes up.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/04/22/MN6R109EJM.DTL
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2004918/posts
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5553/is_200403/ai_n22132689

    And why is it never enough? Well, give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. But, what do you do when the man refuses to learn?

    “And of course, then there’s the obligatory slap at the Europeans. Of course they don’t give as much to charity, since they don’t have to.”

    Americans don’t have to either. We choose to. And we give much to help the developing world. I give to international relief agencies as well as local causes. But there’s another reason we give more. Until the dollar’s fall in the last year or two, Americans were about 50% richer than Western Europeans. You admitted earlier that even America’s poor are rich by world standards.

    “…Unless one of those…is going to start snatching poor children at birth and training them from the git-go, those kids are going to learn poverty, and it has to be up to someone to reteach them.”

    Conservatives agree, but as you said, local control is better. A local nonprofit can tell people they don’t get help if they won’t learn. I have donated to and volunteered at a local homeless mission. The Orlando Union Rescue Mission provides housing to homeless individuals and families, we well as job training and education. And one of the requirements is that anyone who comes there without a high school education will get a GED; that’s a requirement. Are you willing to make such a requirement for welfare programs? Government doesn’t do that. Private enterprise does. And if I expect that from a nonprofit–and I do expect that–I give to those charities. If you expect less, give to those.

    “I like your condescending blow-off of job training as ‘war on poverty ideas.’ classy.”

    Are any of the ideas you suggest new?

  12. Brent June 3, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    I think that some of the confusion arises from the fact that “religious right” has become conflated with “religious politics.” And part of this arises when we (“we” being the “liberal” or “postmod” Christians, including me but possibly/or not you) are so fast to distance ourselves from the “religious right” that we adopt any rhetorical label that does so, whether liberal or apolitical, without respect to what the terms actually convey. Non-Christians, as this reporter demonstrates, are sometimes guilty of the same thing – so used to the conflation of “Christian” and “Republican” that anything that deviates – whether apolitical or liberal – is of such interest that specific, clear labels seem unnecessary.

    Side note: There are legitimately apolitical Christian figures today (see Lee Camp and Gregory Boyd), and then there are those of the “religious left” (see Jim Wallis).

  13. Darius June 3, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    How in the world is Greg Boyd “apolitical?” Almost all the guy talks about in recent years is politics (albeit in a pretty ambiguous fashion). And if by apolitical you mean espousing neither liberal or conservative ideals, again this is not the case. When he says that Christian (political) conservatism is wrong and unbiblical, he is being the definition of political. To truly be apolitical would be to ignore politics completely. Boyd does the opposite, he jumps into politics almost every opportunity he has. I have no problem with that, but let’s not pretend he is apolitical.

  14. Brent June 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    Have you read “Letter to a Christian Nation”? I haven’t heard him in other venues, but this book espouses an apolitical Christian worldview (unless you define “telling Christians not to be political” as political – which it seems you do, and I don’t).

    The book’s main argument is that the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God are inherently incompatible. Kingdoms of the world enforce law through the power of the sword; in contrast, the Kingdom of God effects change through inner transformation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are fundamentally incompatible, and Boyd argues that Christians are too quick to rely on the power of the world’s kingdoms, and cites the religious right specifically (he also has a word to say about the up-and-coming religious left in the preface, if I recall correctly). Boyd draws on this to encourage Christians to walk with the Lord in their personal lives and relationships rather than through a reliance on politics.

    Don’t quote me on this, but I do believe he is a pacifist. (If he’s not, Camp – whom I referenced in my last post – definitely is.) I suppose, among some circles, that that could make him a “liberal.”

  15. Darius June 3, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    If he was telling Christians to not be political AT ALL, then he would be apolitical. But he tells Christians to not be CONSERVATIVE, which means he IS political. I have not read Letter to a Christian Nation, so perhaps he is even-handed in his criticism. Either way, even if he is apolitical, he’s still wrong and terribly confused in his morality. Colson wrote almost exactly the same book, except he did not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    I’m pretty sure you’re right, it would seem likely that someone like Boyd would be a pacifist. At least, if he wants to be intellectually consistent. Being a pacifist doesn’t make one a liberal. After all, most Mennonites are pacifists and, in most cases, they are otherwise pretty conservative. I wouldn’t call Boyd a “liberal.” He’s just espouses foolishness.

  16. Ferg June 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm #

    Darius, how do you know so much about Greg Boyd, when I’m sure you wouldn’t dare read him, or listen to him for more than 2 minutes.
    The book is called myth of a christian nation, and it is all about the beauty of bringing the kingdom of God. I’m not goin to explain the book for you. I encourage you to read it.
    Brent, he is a pacifist.

  17. Ferg June 3, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    He espouses foolishness??

    I guess the love of jesus and living it out is pretty foolish in this world, he’d probably take your words as a compliment.

  18. Brent June 4, 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    Darius, he did not tell Christians specifically not to be conservative in this book. It was not about conservativism specifically. He told them not to be too political in general. He acknowledges that his book was a response to the religious right, owing to the current era, but he says very clearly that it could apply to any politicized Christian ideals.

    Ferg, thanks for the correction and info. You’re right, it’s “Myth of a Christian Nation.”

  19. Darius June 4, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    Brent, I was more referring to other things I’ve heard Boyd say, like in the debate between Colson, Claiborne, and him. In that discussion, he said that Christians can be pro-choice in their voting and support a crisis pregnancy to birth and not be a walking moral contradiction. He also said that Christians have no special wisdom on how society or government should be run. I disagree vehemently with both of those ideas. I will agree that he is less political than Wallis, who doesn’t hide his liberalism. Boyd is more dangerous though (at least to Christian conservatives), since he will gradually pull more followers into liberalism than Wallis will jerk over.

  20. Brent June 5, 2008 at 2:14 pm #

    Darius, thanks for clarifying. I have not heard Boyd speak or watched that interview. However, I do agree with both of the statements that Boyd made! 🙂 Especially the second. Christians should be acutely and particularly aware of their shortcomings and God’s providence, rather than flaunting a “secret knowledge” that makes them better fit to rule everyone else (a distinctly gnostic idea). Following Christ is about kenosis, the emptying of self for God’s plans and purposes, not taking power over others. Christians should strive to serve, not to rule.

  21. Paul June 5, 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    In the non-sequitor column, I went to Boyd’s website to find out a little more about what he’s about, and one of the things on there was a clip of him playing drums on “Taking Care of Business” by BTO, with a drum solo out front.

    Theology aside, that cat can play! He had some serious chops. I was impressed.

    Okay, back to our regularly scheduled conversation…

  22. Darius June 6, 2008 at 12:20 pm #

    Brent, it’s not about ruling, it’s about using your votes to improve government and society. And on that level, Christians have a much better idea how to do that (or at least some do). And they should, they have the knowledge of true justice and morality.

  23. Brent June 9, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    I disagree that it’s not about ruling. I think that’s the spin that politicized Christianity is putting on it, and many believe it honestly, but I think that’s mostly a front that they are putting up because of fear.

    It’s the fear that God won’t work in people’s hearts, or that change won’t be effected, if we don’t rule by the sword. Rather than trusting God – Who revealed Himself as the whisper in the silence, the transformer of hearts – we become so scared that we begin putting our trust in the kingdoms of the world to do the job instead.

    Sure, some Christians have a better grasp of politics, economics, and civics – but so do some unbelievers! Clear thinking, rationality, and a good view of the big picture are not limited to Christians (and certainly all Christians don’t have them!).

    I don’t know what you mean by “true justice and morality” – please clarify with specifics. Thanks!

  24. Brent June 9, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    P.S. I think your rhetoric betrayed you – you said, “it’s not about ruling, it’s about using your votes to improve government and society.” [emphasis mine] However, that glosses over the fact that this “improvement” consists of influencing policy decisions and voting for/electing the right “Christians” to office, who will make the “right,” “Christian” decisions – all things that lead to an ideological (Christian) “rule” over the country. We know what’s best for ’em, after all.

  25. Darius June 9, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    Government to true conservatives is not about ruling people, it’s about representing people.

    Brent, the Bible clearly lays out the role of government as being one that punishes evil and fights wrongdoing. Its role is NOT to change hearts, that is what God is for. You’re confusing the roles and thinking that I am confusing them as well, which I am not.

    Obviously, not all Christians properly understand morality, politics, etc. A quick perusal of the threads on this blog indicates that.

    What I meant by “true justice and morality” is God’s justice and morality as opposed to the world’s version. The world believes it wrong to execute murderers, when God’s justice cries out for the blood of killers. The world thinks itself wise and high-minded to allow the slaughter of innocent babies, God’s heart breaks at the taking of even one “innocent” life. The world feels it is just to forcibly take money from the rich and give it to the poor, God asks us to willingly give of ourselves and never force others to do likewise.

  26. Brent June 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

    First,

    What I meant by “true justice and morality” is God’s justice and morality as opposed to the world’s version. The world believes it wrong to execute murderers, when God’s justice cries out for the blood of killers. The world thinks itself wise and high-minded to allow the slaughter of innocent babies, God’s heart breaks at the taking of even one “innocent” life. The world feels it is just to forcibly take money from the rich and give it to the poor, God asks us to willingly give of ourselves and never force others to do likewise.

    I would ask that you think this through more carefully, please. You are drawing a false dichotomy between what “the world” thinks (not exactly a single-minded, homogeneous entity!) and what “the Bible” says, when in fact both sides of each position (and other positions) are supported by Bible-believers and non-Christians alike.

    Obviously, not all Christians properly understand morality, politics, etc. A quick perusal of the threads on this blog indicates that.

    Yes, clearly.

    Brent, the Bible clearly lays out the role of government as being one that punishes evil and fights wrongdoing. Its role is NOT to change hearts, that is what God is for. You’re confusing the roles and thinking that I am confusing them as well, which I am not.

    1. I am wary of anyone claiming that the Bible does anything “clearly.” Please support this assertion with examples from both the Old and the New Testament scriptures.

    2. Of course the government’s role is not to change hearts! The law can only change the outward appearance of evil. I did not accuse you of mixing the two up. And I certainly am not; it’s the point I’m making. Rather, I am suggesting that the “religious right” (I can’t think of a clearer term; let me know if there is one) has, in general, mixed them up, and believes that solving the “outward appearance” of evil (i.e., changing the law) actually does any good from the Kingdom’s perspective. Whereas, as Jesus made clear in, for example, Matthew 5:28, it does not do any good.

    God’s justice cries out for the blood of killers.
    Yes, and I’ll remind you that God’s justice has already been executed at the crucifixion of Christ. Praise Him!

  27. Darius June 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    “I would ask that you think this through more carefully, please. You are drawing a false dichotomy between what “the world” thinks (not exactly a single-minded, homogeneous entity!) and what “the Bible” says, when in fact both sides of each position (and other positions) are supported by Bible-believers and non-Christians alike.”

    So there is no right or wrong because some Christians believe both sides of an issue?

    “I am wary of anyone claiming that the Bible does anything “clearly.” Please support this assertion with examples from both the Old and the New Testament scriptures.”

    The role of government as I gave above is prima facie from an honest reading of the OT. As for the New Testament, Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 are good places to start.

    “Of course the government’s role is not to change hearts! The law can only change the outward appearance of evil. I did not accuse you of mixing the two up. And I certainly am not; it’s the point I’m making. Rather, I am suggesting that the “religious right” (I can’t think of a clearer term; let me know if there is one) has, in general, mixed them up, and believes that solving the “outward appearance” of evil (i.e., changing the law) actually does any good from the Kingdom’s perspective. Whereas, as Jesus made clear in, for example, Matthew 5:28, it does not do any good.

    I’ll remind you that God’s justice has already been executed at the crucifixion of Christ. Praise Him!”

    So what you’re saying is that pushing for justice is pointless if it doesn’t change hearts and minds? Really, you honestly believe that? So we shouldn’t imprison murderers because that won’t change their hearts? We can’t ban rape because that’s just the letter of the law and doesn’t deal with the heart issues? Do you see the logical end of your thinking? To me, at least, that is absurd.

    Also, your use of Matthew 5:28 is taken so terribly out of context as to render it useless. How you can take Jesus’ comments on the spirit of God’s law (lust is adultery of the heart) as a commentary on the legitimacy of human moral law is beyond me. He is discussing sin and how God will judge even your thoughts, not how all human laws that deal only with actions are pointless.

  28. Letitia (The Damsel) June 10, 2008 at 6:39 pm #

    Denny,

    I was curious about the national reaction of Christians would be to the NY Times article featuring The Journey church. I appreciate your comments because it gives me insight as to how the article actually comes across to people totally unfamiliar with this church (which, incidentally, is my church).

    This paragraph in particular:

    The first paragraph of the story says that once a month congregants from The Journey gather to talk about “President Bush” and “the war.” Now I go to a pretty conservative church, but as far as I know there aren’t any official gatherings focused on discussing President Bush and the war.

    tells me that the Times article did a poor job of describing what our “once-a-month” deal is. Only once, at our first of such gatherings, did we ever discuss President Bush and the war in Iraq. Not only that, these discussions aren’t church functions as much as they are outreaches to the unbelieving community. Not to worry, topics often get much more controversial than that.

    And again:

    Why then does the NY Times reporter describe these folks as being not very political when clearly the people she interviews have simply traded-in conservative political priorities for more progressive ones?

    I believe the reporter took the position of The Journey as a whole. It seems she chose to interview more attenders that contrast the typical conservative Christian mold to show that there is no unilateral agreement on the part of the church to endorse a particular (conservative) point of view, as is the case with many other evangelical churches…which is pretty much the point of the article. I would, in particular, dispute that the reporter only chose to interview people with “more progressive” political priorities, given that the last person quoted in the article I know for a fact is a conservative. 🙂

    Thanks for commenting!
    Try: another blog’s take on the NY Times article

Leave a Reply to CH Cancel reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes