The New York Times Misses the Point Again (probably deliberately)

I am not surprised at the superficiality of an editorial in today’s New York Times. The editors at the Times are notoriously predictable in their knee-jerk defense of secularist liberal values. Unfortunately, this fact often means that they do not engage the real issues that are at stake in a given debate.

In the editorial “The Democrats and Judge Alito,” the Times once again shows its penchant for missing the point. The gist of the piece argues that “there is reason to believe that Judge Alito could do significant damage to values Democrats have long stood for.” It goes on to complain that “Alito showed as a federal appeals court judge – when he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women to inform their husbands before getting an abortion – that abortion rights can be severely diminished even within the framework of Roe. The same thing could be true in other areas.”

In other words, the Times thinks that the Supreme Court exists to promote “values Democrats have long stood for.” This is precisely the point of contention between Republicans and Democrats over the role of the courts. Democrats think that Supreme Court Justices should promote values. Republicans believe that Justices should interpret the Constitution according to the framers original intent.

The editorial urges that “Democrats should put a heavy burden on Judge Alito to show that he would not do damage to the Constitution.” Yet it’s the Democrats who want Justices to bend the Constitution to whatever it is that promotes their values. Alito’s only aim as a Justice would be to apply the Constitution according to the framers’ intent. The only philosophy that “damages” the Constitution is the one that ignores it or distorts it. Yet this is precisely what a Justice would do if the Times had its way.

The Times does not acknowledge this debate. Common sense says that the only proper way to interpret a document is to try and figure out what the author of the document meant when he wrote it. Any mode of interpretation that ignores the author is fraudulent on its face. The Times knows that if Americans learn that liberals embrace justices who will ignore the authors of the Constitution, liberals will lose the debate over judicial philosophy.

Thus, this is a debate that the Times nor the liberals can afford to have.


Finally, Bush Steps up to the Plate

Photo: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

President Bush has been mute for far too long about the baseless charges being leveled at him by his political opponents. This silence has been very frustrating for those of us who have supported this president’s war policy. The silence on his part has given the appearance that everything that the critics of the war are saying is true and that there never was any legitimate basis for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Today in a speech marking Veterans Day, the President finally decided to step up to the plate and take a whack at the unfounded allegations that his critics have made against the case he made for the Iraq War. The “money line” from the speech was the following: “It is deeply irresponsible [of the Democrat critics] to rewrite the history of how that war began” (source).

I literally cheered when he said it. Finally, the President made of start of refuting the absolutely ridiculous and groundless accusation that he manipulated intelligence in order to mislead the U.S. into war. Not only did he defend his own policy, but he also drew attention to the hypocrisy of some of his loudest critics.

Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: “When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hand is a threat and a grave threat to our security.” That’s why more then a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power (source).

Of course, he is referring to John Kerry in this remark, and he is absolutely right for doing so. Somehow John Kerry got the anti-war vote in the last election, even though he himself supported the war! That so few of Kerry’s anti-war supporters acknowledged the inconsistency of their position reveals that their opposition to the President’s policy was more about politics than their own principles. I suspect that most of the opposition today is just as unprincipled as it was in the 2004 election.

I have been complaining in this blog about the misleading revisionism that has completely dominated recent public debate about the Iraq war. It’s not just the Democrats who have been misleading the public on this point. The mainstream media have gone right along in fabricating a storyline that has no basis in fact. Bush began retelling what actually happened in today’s speech.

Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq‘s weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

The paragraph above is very important. It’s a reminder that the president’s WMD argument was multi-faceted. The war wasn’t based merely on U.S. intelligence estimates about Saddam’s WMD. The legal premise of the war was actually based on Saddam’s defiance of a string of U.N. Security Council resolutions dating back to the first Gulf War. That defiance culminated in his refusal to comply with Security Council resolution 486 in the winter of 2002. This last slap at the U.N. became the legal causus belli (see my previous post on this point). Mainstream media outlets and Democrat critics of the war regularly leave this crucial piece out of the “history” of how the war began.

I am hoping that this is the beginning of a concerted effort by the President to re-educate the American public about how we actually got into this war. For too long the only voices that people have been hearing have been the voices of dissent. The President will go a long way towards winning this war if he can recapture the hearts and minds of Americans. To do that, he will need to give many more speeches like the one he gave today.

Touché, Mr. President!


Shout out to My Homie, Adam King!

I have to give some e-props to my homie Adam King (a.k.a. “sofyst”). He is one of my students and is the one who is responsible for my really fly new blog design. I think the new digs look really dope. It is da bomb, so to speak. What can I say? When Adam’s in the hizzle, da blogs stots ta sizzle.

[For the uninitiated, the paragraph above represents my “cool professor” mode of speech. It’s just an attempt to relate to my young students on a more authentic level. So I often speak to them in the hip language of the day that they understand. As you can see, I’m very good at it.]

Seriously, though. Thanks, Adam.


Another Abortion Outrage

Today’s Washington Post reports that there is a new prenatal testing procedure that will allow doctors to determine in the first trimester whether a baby has down syndrome. The outrage consists in how this knowledge is routinely used.

Screening women before the second trimester allows those who might opt to terminate a pregnancy to make that decision when doctors say an abortion is safer and less traumatic (source).

Aborting babies who have defects has become a routine occurrence in our society. Yet it is a practice that almost no one wants to talk about.

Ironically, the Washington Post ran one of the most compelling essays against this practice just a couple of weeks ago. In “The Abortion Debate No One Wants To Have,” former Washington Post reporter Patricia E. Bauer writes a stirring account of how her daughter Margaret has enriched her family’s life. Margaret has down syndrome. Bauer writes:

Margaret is a person and a member of our family. She has my husband’s eyes, my hair and my mother-in-law’s sense of humor. We love and admire her because of who she is — feisty and zesty and full of life — not in spite of it. She enriches our lives. If we might not have chosen to welcome her into our family, given the choice, then that is a statement more about our ignorance than about her inherent worth.

What I don’t understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I’d like to think that it’s time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I’m not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on.

And here’s one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what’s driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is not just about a woman’s right to choose whether to have a baby; it’s also about a woman’s right to choose which baby she wants to have (source).

I don’t think I have anything to add to Bauer’s remarks. She has said it all.


Texas Passes Ban on Gay “Marriage”

The Associated Press reports that early election returns in Texas indicate that the amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman has passed. The good news is that the amendment also outlaws civil unions and any other arrangement that resembles marriage. Here’s how the new amendment reads:

(a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.

(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage (source).

This amendment not only constitutionally prohibits Texas from “marrying” and conferring civil unions on homosexual couples, it also prohibits recognizing such “unions” even if they are granted in other states. That means that there won’t be any grounds for a challenge in court if a “married” homosexual couple moves in from out of state.

I am really happy about this result. It’s better for this issue to be decided by the people of Texas than by judges.


Interview for ABC News Dallas

The interview aired last night on the 10 o’clock news (see previous post). I had been wondering how my comments would come across once they were edited to fit into the report. Having seen it, I have to say that it could have been worse. They have me reading the scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9) to the effect that the “unrighteous” will not inherit the kingdom of God. But they didn’t include the part about the Gospel being for all kinds of sinners. Nevertheless, it’s always a good thing to be able to read scripture, so I can’t complain.

If you want to watch the video, click here: Watch Video.

If you want to read the story, click here: Read Report.


Interview for the Gospel

The reporter who conducted the interview was Gary Reaves (pictured right).

I got called on today to represent Criswell College in an interview with a local news program (Channel 8, ABC-Dallas) about the upcoming vote on whether to amend the Texas constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. I only had about an hour or so to prepare for the interview. So I began reading stories from several different newspapers and news sources and tried to brush up on the state of the political debate.

I read websites sponsored by interest groups for the amendment and others that are against the amendment. I was well-prepared to discuss reasons why an amendment to the constitution is needed and why existing state laws defining marriage are not likely to stand. I was also prepared to talk about one interest group’s recent attempt to distort what the amendment is really about, a group that has caused quite a stir here in Dallas (read about it here). Thus, my expectation was that the reporter would want me to talk about the amendment and the upcoming vote.

So I was very surprised when the reporter told me that what he really wanted to know was what the New Testament says about homosexual marriage. He had heard from others that while the Old Testament condemns homosexual marriage, the New Testament does not speak to it specifically. He just wanted me to explain what the Bible really says. So much for politics! That was fine with me. Politics is not my area of expertise anyway.

Obviously for a short interview, I needed to be selective. So I opened my bible to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” –NASB

I explained that Paul very explicitly addresses both halves of the homosexual relationship. The word translated “effeminate” refers to the passive actor in a homosexual encounter, while the word “homosexual” refers to the active partner. I don’t think Paul could have been any clearer that both comprise behavior that is antithetical to the Kingdom. Needless to say, this text was clear evidence that the New Testament in no way sanctions homosexuality, much less any kind of a homosexual “marriage.”

I also noted how Paul told the Corinthians, “and such were some of you”—meaning that some of the Corinthian Christians themselves had been homosexuals and that God had saved them and delivered them from their sin. Thus, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. There is no special class of sinners (including homosexuals) that are outside of the saving reach of the Gospel. Jesus came for such as these.

We did talk a little bit about the amendment, and I’m not sure what little snippet they’ll use in the interview. My preference is that if they have to choose, they would choose the gospel part, not the political part. After all, while I do support the amendment and think that it would be good for Texas, I don’t pretend that any amendment, legislation, or political remedy will make anyone fit for the Kingdom of God. The only one who does that is the crucified and risen King Jesus. That indeed is news worth broadcasting.

(Update: The report did not air on November 3. Someone in the Channel 8 news room just told me that it will air at 5pm on Sunday, November 6.)


John Piper Preaching in Dallas . . . Every Weekday!

John Piper

John Piper discipled me in my car when I attended Seminary. I used to listen to his sermon tapes as I would commute to and from work and school. Throughout my career in seminary, the Lord used John Piper to shape my thinking about God and the scriptures more than any single teacher that I ever had. I know of no preacher who combines exegetical, theological, and devotional depth like Dr. Piper.

That is why I am happy to announce that my favorite preacher and mentor in absentia will be preaching right here in “Big D” every weekday! For those readers who did not know, I now teach at the Criswell College in Dallas, TX, and we have a radio station (KCBI 90.9 FM) that reaches about 200,000 people in the Metroplex each week. Beginning on November 1, the station began broadcasting “Desiring God Radio” at 2pm in the afternoon.

So if you live anywhere in the Dallas area, you must tune in!


Mohler and Patterson To Debate Calvinism at 2006 SBC Pastor’s Conference

Al Mohler (left), Paige Patterson (right)

Tom Ascol reports that Al Mohler and Paige Patterson will debate the topic of Calvinism at the 2006 SBC Pastor’s Conference in Greensboro, N.C. this summer. Ascol writes:

I am hopeful about this announced event because Drs. Mohler and Patterson are friends. I fully expect that their exchange–regardless of how formal or informal the format–will provide a model for theological dialogue. Our day has all but lost the art (and Christian responsibility) of disagreeing strongly about important matters without writing your opponent out of the kingdom. This is especially true when the subject is Calvinism and it is equally true of those on both sides of the issue. An example of Christian leaders talking pointedly, pressing biblical arguments determinedly and disagreeing strongly (assuming that this will be the case) can only be a helpful thing for modern Southern Baptists. It will be great to see 2 Southern Baptist seminary presidents leading the way in this kind of effort.

This debate will be good for Southern Baptist messengers to see because it will allow each side to make its best arguments without caricaturing the other side. I say let each one take his stand on the scripture and make his arguments in the most compelling way possible, and let the chips fall where they may.

I am going to make every effort to be at this one. This is going to be really good!

(HT: Justin Taylor)


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