You have probably heard about the ad that NARAL ran on TV smearing Judge John Roberts. The ad alleged that Judge Roberts supports violence against abortion providers. The ad was manifestly scurrilous, and thankfully, has been called out as such by an editorial in todayâ€™s Washington Post. You can read it here. NARAL has now withdrawn the ad.(HT: Justin Taylor)
For you rabid U2 fans, I thought you might be interested in an interview with Bono appearing on the Christianity Today website. The interview appears under the title â€œBono: Grace over Karma.â€ Among other things, Bono is able to articulate a fairly clear profession of faith in Christ.
â€œI’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity . . . I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbledâ€¦ . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.â€
I donâ€™t know much about Bonoâ€™s religious commitments or how his definition of terms may vary from that of the typical North American Evangelical. But at first blush, this isnâ€™t too shabby.
The interviewer (who is a skeptic, to say the least) goes on to ask: â€œChrist has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?â€ Bono responds:
â€œNo, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: â€˜I’m the Messiah.â€™ I’m saying: â€˜I am God incarnate.â€™ . . . So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He wasâ€”the Messiahâ€”or a complete nutcase . . . The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched . . .â€
Here, Bono sounds as if heâ€™s been reading C. S. Lewisâ€™ â€œLord, Liar, or Lunaticâ€ trilemma. Whatever the case, I have to give Bono credit for giving such a thoughtful answer.
Notwithstanding his apparent misunderstanding of the relationship of the Old Testament to the New, the entire interview was a pleasant surprise.
In the most recent issue of Time magazine, Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, contributes to an article debating the following question: â€œCan You Believe in God and Evolution?â€ Mohler argues that, contrary to what many think, creationism and Darwinism are logically incompatible. Hereâ€™s an excerpt:
â€œI think it’s interesting that many of evolution’s most ardent academic defenders have moved away from the old claim that evolution is God’s means to bring life into being in its various forms. More of them are saying that a truly informed belief in evolution entails a stance that the material world is all there is and that the natural must be explained in purely natural terms. They’re saying that anyone who truly feels this way must exclude God from the story. I think their self-analysis is correct. I just couldn’t disagree more with their premise.â€
In short, I am a complementarian. That is, I believe that â€œGod has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary in function with male headship in the home and believing community, God has created men and women with distinct but complementary roles.â€
So I affirm that the scriptures teach that all men and women are created in the image of God with equal dignity before God. Christian women and men are indeed â€œfellow-heirs of the grace of lifeâ€ (1 Peter 3:7) and have an equal share in the blessings of salvation (e.g., Galatians 3:28).
Yet God has created man and woman to have distinct roles in the church and in the home. These distinctions of masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order and are not a result of the fall (e.g., Genesis 2:16-18, 21-24).
The Old and the New Testaments reveal a principle of male headship in the family and in the church (e.g., Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Timothy 2:11-15). This means that there is a Biblically prescribed patriarchy that must be observed in the church and in the home.
The brevity of this explanation leaves much to be desired and in fact may raise more questions than it answers. So I direct the interested reader to The Danvers Statement for a fuller description of what I believe the Bible teaches about gender.
In the current evangelical gender debates, I am very concerned that egalitarians are marshalling exegesis and hermeneutical approaches that distort the Bibleâ€™s teaching on gender. These distortions affect not merely the gender question, for the gender debate is inextricably related to the way one understands the Trinity (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:1-3) and the Gospel itself (Ephesians 5:32).
I believe Russell Mooreâ€™s essay is important because it describes a leftward tilt among the so-called â€œevangelicalâ€ femininists. If not in this generation of â€œevangelicalâ€ femininist approaches, I suspect that succeeding generations of â€œevangelicalâ€ femininists will lay aside commitment to the evangelical doctrine of inerrancy.
This appears to be the current trajectory of egalitarian thought, and it is troubling indeed.
My friend Dr. Russell Moore has written a piece for gender-news.com about the leftward drift of the evangelical feminist movement. His essay focuses on the group Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), and their feature of Molly Marshall in Mutuality magazine.
Molly Marshall is the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and an outspoken egalitarian advocate. She has often been criticized for holding views that are decidedly non-evangelical (see here for an example). Ironically, she formerly held a professorship at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where Moore is now the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Moore draws attention to the fact that â€œgender issuesâ€ in the church are not side-arguments about the meaning of a few proof-texts of the Bible. At the heart of the gender debate is an argument about God and the Gospel. For this reason alone, Mooreâ€™s article deserves your careful consideration.
The title of Mooreâ€™s article is â€œEvangelical Feminism Lurches Leftward: Is Molly Marshall an â€˜Evangelicalâ€™ Feminist?â€
â€œ[The study found that] â€˜doctrinal evangelicalsâ€™ are â€˜less educated, poorer, more influential among housewives, more often residents of the South, significantly more religious, and 100 percent of them consider the Bible to be inerrant.â€™ Ignore the shockingly patronizing comment about credulous housewives, and ignore the fact that, actually, we don’t know anything of the kind about the educational levels or economic status of evangelicals. That 100 percent figure is what stands out in high comic relief. I’m no sociologist, but it seems to me that if you select a group defined by their commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, and then survey them about their commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, you are likely (let us say, 100 percent likely) to find that a high proportion of your sample is committed to the inerrancy of Scripture.â€
TouchÃ©, Dr. Leithart!
But I would add that not only are we required to represent our opponents’ views accurately (as Ascol argues), but we must also engage them with a winsome and humble spirit. To that end, I hope that we can have more of an irenic tone in this debate.
â€œThe Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome e, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition . . .â€ -2 Timothy 2:24-25
Calvinists would do well to heed John Piperâ€™s advice on how to engage the debate that I wrote about in my last post. His wise words appear in a little piece called â€œHow to Teach and Preach â€˜Calvinism.â€™â€
The conversation concerning Calvinism continues among Southern Baptists. At least that is a part of Steve Lemkeâ€™s aim in an April 2005 paper titled â€œThe Future of Southern Baptists as Evangelicalsâ€ (pp. 12-17). Among other things, Lemke makes the controversial suggestion that the Calvinism outlined in the popular acrostic TULIP amounts to hyper-Calvinism (p. 14). He writes, â€œWhile we all know five point Calvinists who are effective evangelists and missionaries, it is a common intuition that those with a theology of hard Calvinism are not apt to be as evangelistic as othersâ€ (p. 16). Lemke is the Provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Joe Thorn responds to Lemkeâ€™s essay on his blog in a post titled â€œHyper Calvinism Criticism.â€ He basically argues that the Calvinism of the TULIP acrostic â€œis not what has been historically understood as hyper-Calvinism.â€ His is a good summary of the concerns contained in Iain Murrayâ€™s Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching. Also, Tom Ascol has posted part one of his response to Lemkeâ€™s paper. Ascol has a substantive piece, but it has a decidedly acerbic tone.
Jim Hamilton has posted some pointers to help Baptists debate this issue more peacefully. His thesis builds upon R. Albert Mohlerâ€™s notion of theological triage, a theme I have addressed in this blog on more than one occasion (here and here). Hamilton contends that the difference between Calvinists and Arminians is not one that should divide Baptist from Baptist. The title of his essay reads as follows: â€œCalvinism and Arminianism: A Debate over First or Third Order Issues?â€ Hamilton is an assistant professor of biblical studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In his daily blog on OpinionJournal.com, James Taranto brings our attention to a useful little essay by Steven Den Beste. In the essay, Den Beste says that all blogs fall into one of two basic categories. He writes:
â€œBlogs are as different as the people who write them, but you’ll find two fundamental themes, with each blog being somewhere on the axis of how much of each appears. For lack of better terms, I suppose you could refer to them as â€˜editorsâ€™ and â€˜writersâ€™.
â€œOne form of blog is the â€˜informal portalâ€™. The general idea is to find cool stuff, link to it, and perhaps add a few words describing it. The link is the point; the words are there to encapsulate and sell the link. These people are organizers, searchers, they’re the web’s editors. They become popular to the extent that their readers like their judgment.
â€œThe other theme is writing. The idea is to actually create something new and add it to the collective data stream. There may be a link involved or may not be, but it’s the writing which is the point. The subject matter may be critical or trivial; it may be driven by current events or by private experience or by the whim of the blogger. Sometimes a link is relevant; sometimes it inspires the writing. Sometimes no link is needed at allâ€ (source).
One of my favorite â€˜editorâ€™ blogs of late is Justin Taylorâ€™s Between Two Worlds. I guess I like his so much because we seem to have all the same interests: the Bible, Theology, and Politics. He is very well read, and Iâ€™m finding myself giving him hat tips more and more (I even learned the technical term â€œhat tipâ€ from him!). Other notable editors that I like include the Drudge Report (of course) and Best of the Web.
Probably my favorite â€˜writerâ€™ blogger is Russell Moore, Academic Dean of Southern Seminary. He contributes almost daily at Touchstone Magazineâ€™s â€œMere Commentsâ€ blog and at The Henry Institute website. Another writer that I enjoy is R. Albert Mohler.
We might also mention Op-Ed â€œwritersâ€ whose printed work appears on the web. My favorite is Peggy Noonan on OpinionJournal.com. A good daily round-up of online Op-Eds appears on the Real Clear Politics website.
There are two staples that I have found very helpful in my daily news reading: â€œTodayâ€™s Headlinesâ€ in the New York Times and the â€œprint editionâ€ page of the Washington Post. You can pretty well predict the top stories on the morning news programs by reading these daily editions (especially the New York Times).
Well, this is a little bit of my daily diet. I hope itâ€™s helpful to you.