Stephen Hayes Is My Homie

Stephen F. Hayes, Senior Writer for The Weekly Standard

In a previous post, I argued that the attempt to discredit the Iraq war on the basis of the indictment of Scooter Libby is a “non-sequitor.” Stephen Hayes says essentially the same thing in the most recent issue of The Weekly Standard:

In the literal sense, attempts to link the case for war in Iraq to the Fitzgerald investigation are illogical. If a White House official lied to a grand jury in 2004, as Fitzgerald contends, that fact has little bearing on the case made for war in Iraq in 2002 (source).

I might have alleged that Hayes has been reading my blog, but that would be an unnecessary charge. Anyone who has read the indictment can plainly come to this conclusion for themselves.


What’s Wrong with Evangelicalism?

Is there a problem within evangelicalism in American? I had an acute sense of something being very wrong when I watched Tom Brokaw’s special last night on evangelical Christianity in America. “In God They Trust“ was an hour long report on who evangelicals are and their involvement in American culture and politics.

Brokaw made a particular church in Colorado the focus of his reporting. New Life Church is a charismatic fellowship in Colorado Springs, and their pastor Ted Haggard is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. One of Brokaw’s exchanges with Haggard in particular typifies what is wrong with American Evangelicalim today:

Brokaw: Most of the churches that I know of, and certainly the ones I attended, at some point, you out loud acknowledge that you were a sinner or that you came face-to-face to guilt that you may feel.

Haggard: Right.

Brokaw: I didn’t see any of that here.

Haggard: Well, we do talk about sin. But, see, the issue is Jesus took care of our sin. And Jesus removes guilt from our life. So the emphasis in our church isn’t how to get your sins removed because that’s pretty easy to do. Jesus did that on the cross. The emphasis in our church is how to fulfill the destiny that God’s called you to.

Brokaw: You’re making it easier for them.

Haggard: Making it easier for them just like Jesus did, just like Moses did.

How can it be that a Christian pastor and the President of the National Association of Evangelicals could glide so carelessly over the cross of Jesus Christ? The cross is the central event of human history, the focal point of the entire Bible, and the only basis upon which sinful humans can be reconciled to an offended God. How could a shepherd of God’s people ever consider the removal of guilt through the cross of Christ to be anything other than the central concern of Christianity? This seems to be a far cry from the kind of ministry the apostle Paul had when he said to the Corinthians, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Could it be that evangelicals have largely abandoned the evangel in favor of something else? Could it be that evangelicals have left their anchor of life in Christ to set sail to find their “Best Life Now“?

John Piper has correctly observed that “God rests lightly on the church in America. He is not felt as a weighty concern” (source). Likewise, David Wells has written in his important book No Place for Truth, “It is this God, majestic and holy in his being, this God whose love knows no bounds because his holiness knows no limits, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world” (p. 300).

It is a tragic irony that the purported God of evangelical faith is scarcely heard of in many evangelical churches. The Holy and Almighty Maker of heaven and earth who has revealed Himself definitively in Jesus Christ crucified and raised no longer remains as the focus of evangelical worship and piety.

So-called “evangelicalism” will die within a generation if evangelical churches do not recapture the evangel. It will not do simply to affirm the doctrine of inerrancy if the implications of inerrancy aren’t carried out in the life and worship of the church. That means (among other things) that evangelicals must restore the preaching of the word of God back to its central place in church life. This is the only way to keep the God of the Bible in, and to keep the God of our own imaginations out.


No Indictments for Leaking Identity of Undercover Operative

I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.
Photo Credit: AP

Yes, I. Lewis Libby was charged today with perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements (see indictment). No, he was not charged with illegally leaking the identity of an undercover CIA operative.

However, the indictment does not charge Libby with the original alleged offense that the grand jury set out to investigate: illegally revealing the identity of a covert agent in violation of a 1982 federal law (Washington Post).

As I predicted in my previous post, this has not prevented congressional Democrats from smearing the entire Bush administration and the case that it made for the Iraq war (see Harry Reid’s statement). Watch out for the smoke and mirrors. The indictments today provide no basis for indicting the administration or the case that it made for war.

Nevertheless, prepare yourself for a labyrinth of non-sequitors flowing from the Democrats in a cynical attempt to discredit the policies of this administration. Their words will sound like arguments, but they will be nothing more than anti-Bush rhetoric veiled in the misleading language of guilt by association.


Scooter Libby To Be Indicted; Karl Rove off the Hook (for now)

The New York Times is reporting that the Vice-President’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, is to be indicted tomorrow for making false statements under oath. Karl Rove will not be indicted but will remain under investigation.

Yes, you heard it right. According to the Times’ reporting, there won’t be any indictments for leaking the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame (the original reason for the investigation). But don’t you worry. The opponents of this administration will spin this as if Libby and Rove are being charged with leaking her identity. Mark my words. Tomorrow morning, the hacks will be indicting the whole administration for something that the grand jury did not indict Libby and Rove for.

By this time tomorrow, the failure of the Miers nomination will be very old news. The order of the day will be a healthy portion of cynical slash and burn politics. Just a prediction. I hope I’m wrong.

The New York Times – “Aide to Cheney Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny”


A Postmortem on the Miers Nomination

A Triumph of Principle over Politics

In church life, it is an accepted axiom that “a mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew.” In other words, a lack of spiritual substance in the pew is often a symptom of something that’s wrong in the pulpit. In the same way, conservative critics of Harriet Miers saw a nominee whose conservative bona fides could not be verified by her record. In the last several weeks, her misty record has looked more and more like a fog in the nominee.

Just this week Miers’s speeches from the 1990’s have revealed a nominee who sounds more like a libertarian than a conservative. Addressing the Executive Women of Dallas in 1993 she said, “The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women’s [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion” (source). “Criminalizing abortions” is not the rhetoric of conservatism, and conservative opponents of Miers’s nomination have found this speech in particular to be “misty” to say the least.

This is not to say that conservatives have been clamoring all this time for a nominee who would be a rank political hack. As a matter of fact, the protest from the president’s base has not been that Harriet Miers lacks qualifications as a political or religious conservative. Indeed, the record has shown that she is both a loyal adviser to a very conservative President and an openly Evangelical Christian. But this was not the kind of conservatism that the base was looking for in a nominee.

What the president’s base has most desired in a nominee is not merely political or religious conservatism, but an open and identifiable commitment to judicial conservatism. That is, a thoroughgoing dedication to interpreting the United States Constitution according to the framers original intent. For this reason, Marvin Olasky’s reflections on this nomination are relevant: “I really want an originalist. If I could be assured that an atheist would be an originalist, that would be fine with me. If an evangelical nominee wanted to put in the Constitution what’s not there, I’d oppose him or her.”

In the absence of clear evidence of Miers’s commitment to originalism, to have allowed this nomination to go forward merely on the word of the President may have kept a political coalition together, but it would not have served the cause of conservative judicial reform. That is why the withdrawal of this nomination represents more than anything else the triumph of principle over politics.

The administration put the hard sell on the base (including evangelical Christians) to support this nomination. Their arguments, however, were not based on any clear record of Miers’s conservative judicial philosophy, but on the trust that conservatives should have in the President’s ability to make sound judicial appointments. In other words, the President asked his base to believe him and to stay loyal to him even though there really was nothing else for them to go on.

Christians who want to maintain a prophetic voice in the public square cannot make this kind of a faith commitment to any politician. This is not to say that President Bush is not trustworthy. As a matter of fact, I happen to think that he is. I am in the main a staunch supporter of President Bush in large part because of his proven commitment to appointing judicial conservatives to the federal bench. Nevertheless loyalty to principle must always trump loyalty to politicians. When the two come into conflict, the only way for Christians to remain salt and light is to let principle win out—no matter who the politician is.


Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON – Confronted with criticism from both the left and right, Harriet Miers on Thursday withdrew her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a statement, President Bush said he “reluctantly accepted” her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down.

For the whole story click here: “Miers withdraws Supreme Court nomination.”

Mier’s Withdrawal Letter
President Bush’s Statement

Washington Post: “Harriet Miers Withdraws Nomination”
New York Times: “Bush’s Embattled Nominee to Supreme Court Withdraws”


Book Notice

Thank the Lord! The contract is signed, and my dissertation is scheduled to be published this summer in Sheffield Phoenix Press’s New Testament Monographs series. The book will be number 14 in the series, and the title is “Articular Infinitives in the Greek of the New Testament: On the Exegetical Benefit of Grammatical Precision.”

As you can tell from the title, this book promises to be a real page-turner. I fully anticipate for Susan and me to be able to retire on the proceeds that I will receive from this blockbuster treatise. This book will likely be the surprise hit of the summer, and I expect it will be flying off book store shelves so fast it will make The Prayer of Jabez look like a backwater snail race.

You can pre-order this book at the publisher’s website for only $55. Or, if you act now, you can get two for $110! Look out Purpose Driven Life! Here we come! Yippee!


“C.S. Lewis and the Quirky Idea of Male Headship”

Russell Moore has another great post. This one addresses C. S. Lewis’s views on male headship. The essay is titled, “C.S. Lewis and the Quirky Idea of Male Headship.”

Moore is on a roll in this one. He comments on Wheaton professor Alan Jacobs’ speculation on C. S. Lewis’ view of the gender roles. Here’s one of Moore’s quotable zingers:

“Jacobs argues that Lewis’s views of male headship would be articulated quite differently were he alive today . . . Professor Jacobs assumes then that Lewis’s views on male headship were culturally conditioned, that he would not consider the matter as important if only he could see the orthodox Christian feminism of, what, Christians for Biblical Equality? The Wheaton College faculty?”

Touché, monsieur Moore!


Judge Bork Borks the Miers Nomination

I share some of the concerns expressed by Judge Robert Bork in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. The following selection in particular rings true:

By passing over the many clearly qualified persons, male and female, to pick a stealth candidate, George W. Bush has sent a message to aspiring young originalists that it is better not to say anything remotely controversial, a sort of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” admonition to would-be judges. It is a blow in particular to the Federalist Society, most of whose members endorse originalism. The society, unlike the ACLU, takes no public positions, engages in no litigation, and includes people of differing views in its programs. It performs the invaluable function of making law students, in the heavily left-leaning schools, aware that there are respectable perspectives on law other than liberal activism. Yet the society has been defamed in McCarthyite fashion by liberals; and it appears to have been important to the White House that neither the new chief justice nor Ms. Miers had much to do with the Federalists.

“Slouching towards Miers” – by Robert Bork


“The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have”

Patricia E. Bauer with her husband, Edward Muller, and their children, Margaret and Johnny Muller, in June at Margaret’s high school graduation in Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Christina Overland

Patricia E. Bauer, former Washington Post reporter and bureau chief, writes a stunningly pro-life Op-Ed today titled “The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have.” The article discusses whether it is right to abort a baby simply because pre-natal testing confirms that the baby has a disability. In Bauer’s case, the issue is intensely personal because she is raising a daughter named Margaret who has Down syndrome. She writes this about her daughter:

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.

This is a great Op-Ed. I hope you make time to read the whole thing.


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