You Might Be an Evangelical If . . .

Common Grounds Online is running a hilarious blog-entry titled, “You might be an evangelical if . . .” All of the following is an excerpt. I’m laughing out loud!

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If you say the word “just” more frequently than the word “Jesus” when you pray…you might be an evangelical. . .

(See John Stackhouse’s Books & Culture review of Paul Bramadat, The Church on the World’s Turf….

There is . . . a hilariously sober account of evangelical prayer practices that involve both the frequent use of the modifier “just” (as in “Lord, we just want to ask you”) and what Bramadat calls the typical evangelical mouth-click. He tries to interpret the latter remarkable mannerism:

Its location in the rhetoric is similar to and often follows the word “just”: “God, we just [pause.. click] want to thank you for your son and to ask you…” By implying that the speaker is unable to finish a prayer because he or she is overwhelmed by the opportunity to communicate with God, this sound softens the believer’s petition [which otherwise might sound arrogant].

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Disenchanted with Nixon and with “Deep Throat”


W. Mark Felt, a.k.a. ”Deep Throat”

The big story. “Deep Throat,” the anonymous source that toppled the presidency of Richard Nixon, has finally been identified in Vanity Fair as former FBI second-in-command, W. Mark Felt. The Washington Post confirms that Felt is indeed the man who provided critical information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their quest to expose the sinister machinations of Richard Nixon and his subordinates in the Watergate scandal.


Watergate reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and editor Ben Bradlee, center, confirmed “Deep Throat’s” identity on Tuesday. (Katherine Frey/Washington Post)

The coverage of this revelation has been pretty predictable so far. The old lines are still drawn. There are those who continue their loyalty to President Nixon who feel that Felt is a “snake” (e.g. Pat Buchanan), and others showing an obvious antipathy for the former president laud Felt as a national hero (e.g. John O’Connor). Republican talking heads seem to favor Nixon over and against Felt, while Democrat talking heads tend to favor Felt over Nixon.

Yet I don’t think an honest evaluation of the Watergate scandal allows us to be so blindly partisan. I am, quite frankly, disenchanted with the behavior of both President Nixon and Mark Felt. Both were duplicitous and told outright lies. For the President’s part, even if he did not direct the Watergate break-in (which is still up for debate, I suppose), he certainly tried to cover it up. The tapes reveal that much, as well as his not-too-infrequent ethnic slurs against Jewish people.

Felt also betrayed a trust when he leaked information to the reporters. Certainly he was under pressure, but he should have just resigned his position as second-in-command at the FBI, called a press conference, and told the world about the cover-up. Now that would have been heroic.

While I am thankful that the scandal finally came to light, I don’t want to be forced into the position of endorsing the actions of either man. They both had feet of clay.

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“Devoid of Content”


Stanley Fish, dean emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Stanley Fish has contributed an opinion editorial in today’s New York Times titled “Devoid of Content.” As a professor who teaches Greek and hermeneutics to undergraduate students and who has graded many papers, I have observed the same thing that that Fish has. Too many students are “utterly unable to write a clear and coherent English sentence . . . Students can’t write clean English sentences because they are not being taught what sentences are.” Though I am in substantial disagreement with Fish over hermeneutical theory (he is a reader-response critic), his analysis of the literacy crisis and the remedy in his pedagogy are brilliant. For the few language buffs and teachers who read this blog, I recommend that you read “Devoid of Content.”

Source: Stanley Fish, “Devoid of Content,” The New York Times, May 31, 2005.

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From the Halls of the M.A.S.H. Unit to Shores of the Abortion Clinic

The opinion editors of The New York Times have struck again. In one of today’s editorials, an attempt to be patriotic on Memorial Day weekend appears to be just one more cynical tip-of-the-hat to the culture of death. With a manipulative appeal to the compassion that Americans have for victims of rape and incest, the editors urge that our patriotic duty includes financing abortions for military women serving overseas who might not have access to affordable “healthcare” (In case you didn’t know, “healthcare” has become one of the left’s euphemisms for abortion).

Here is one more example of why the abortion debate in America remains stifled. The piece contains no serious engagement of pro-life arguments, just the same old hackneyed accusation that pro-lifers don’t care about victims of abuse. I guess the editors think that supporting the right of military women to have tax-payer financed abortions is the same thing as supporting the military. If they think they can use this ploy to trick pro-military conservatives into being pro-abortion, they have another thing coming.

Sources:
“Disrespecting Women Soldiers,” The New York Times, May 29, 2005.
“
California Democrats try to allow abortions for troops overseas,” Associated Press, May 25, 2005

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D. A. Carson Slams the Emergent Church

Carson, D. A. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. 250pp. $14.99.

If you were wondering whether D. A. Carson had an opinion on the so-called “emergent church” movement, wonder no more. In his new book, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications, Carson delivers a biblical and theological wallop against a movement that he argues has been animated by the values of postmodernity. Carson saves what is perhaps his severest denunciation for the very last page of the book, and it packs quite a rhetorical punch against emergent thought: “Damn all the false antitheses to hell, for they generate false gods, they perpetuate idols, they twist and distort our souls, they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ” (p. 234). Continue Reading →

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Pro-Choice Groups: “No Comment” on Killing Infants Born Alive


President George W. Bush signs the Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 in Pittsburgh, Pa., Monday, Aug. 5, 2002.

In April, President George W. Bush issued a directive instructing doctors to make every effort to save the lives of premature babies born after failed abortions. The new measure is a step towards enforcing the 2002 law known as the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. Under this law, an infant that survives an abortion procedure is no longer a fetus, but a person entitled to emergency medical care and protection against child abuse and neglect.

This law was aimed at preventing situations created by botched abortions, where the baby survives the abortion procedure but is nonetheless left to die. Hearings in Congress on this topic produced disturbing testimony about failed abortions. One medical worker testified concerning one baby who survived an abortion: “the child was breathing, the heart was beating and the child continued to live for several hours” before finally dying.

According to the New York Times, Naral Pro-Choice America and the Center for Reproductive Rights were asked to comment on the new enforcement measure. Their response was a “no comment.”

I think it is remarkable that Naral and the CRR cannot recognize the absolute atrocity of letting a little baby die on the operating table. I know that Naral and the CRR are clear about their support for legalizing the killing of unborn babies. But why can’t they be just as clear in condemning the killing of babies born alive?

Maybe it’s because these pro-choice advocates would have to admit that there is no morally significant difference between the baby inside the birth canal and the baby outside the birth canal. If the baby is treated as a human person immediately after birth, why is not treated as such immediately before birth? Does the baby go through some magical transformation from non-person to person in the inches that separate the pre-born form the born?

I think the pro-choicers know that if life is treated as precious just outside the womb, then there is no reason not to treat it as precious just inside the womb. And they don’t want to go there. This is why the pro-choice group had “no comment.” Truly there is no sane comment that could justify their morally indefensible position.

Source: “New Attention for 2002 Law on Survivors of Abortions” – New York Times

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Exploding the Myths of Pro-Choice Arguments

The results of a new study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology say that women who have an abortion are 1.7 times more likely to give birth prematurely in a later pregnancy. This finding has the potential to explode some of the myths of pro-choice advocates who do not want to admit that any adverse consequences result from abortion. The only way to keep this bomb shell from going off is to keep it buried and out of public view. Let’s see if we hear anything about this story in the news in the coming weeks. Don’t hold your breath.

Sources:
“
Revealed: how an abortion puts the next baby at risk,” by Michael Day, The London Daily Telegraph, May 15, 2005.
“
Previous induced abortions and the risk of very preterm delivery: results of the EPIPAGE study,” by Caroline Moreaua, et al., BJOG (April 2005).

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Counseling Shake-up at SBTS

Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), is taking some hits in the local and national media for his shake-up of SBTS’s counseling program. Moore comments about the hubbub on his blog.

The Louisville Courier-Journal (here) and the Associated Press (here) portrayed the changes in a negative light. The editorial in the Courier-Journal (here) was particularly critical. The editors said that the changes represented a “retreat from the mainstream of American life.” I suppose that’s supposed to be a derogatory remark, but it sounds awfully good to me. The last thing that we need is a Christian counseling program taking its cues from the dysfunctional “mainstream of American life.”

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Pope Bendedict XVI: A Co-belligerent Pope

Several years ago, I attended a conservative Presbyterian church as an associate member. This was a bit of a strange fit, since I was still a Baptist in my ecclesiological convictions. In my interview with the elders to become an associate of the church, they asked me if I took any exceptions with the Westminster Confession of Faith, the doctrinal standard of the Presbyterian Church in America. I had read through the confession in preparation for the interview and had come up with two things.

First, I told them that I did not believe in infant baptism but held to believer’s baptism. Surprisingly, that was okay with them! Second, I told them that I could not agree with the Confession’s statement that the Pope is the antichrist (WCF 25.6). To my mind then and now, that aspect of the Confession seemed a bit over-the-top and not born out by history or the Bible in any clear way. It certainly was not a hill that I was willing to die on, so I cited it as an objection. Surprisingly, again, this exception was okay with them too. It turned out that the Presbyterian Church in America had excised this portion of the Confession from the one that they were using at that time.

We Protestant evangelicals would all do well to excise this kind of blanket dismissal from our statements about the Pope. I think that Francis Schaeffer’s principle of “co-belligerency” still provides a useful model for how we as evangelicals relate to Roman Catholics in general and to the Pope in particular. Co-belligerence means that we evangelicals can stand together with Roman Catholics in our fight against the pervasive secularism that is overtaking western culture. We are united in our belligerence.

But unity in belligerence does not mean unity in confession. The historic theological differences that divide Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants still exist. Even though we Protestants still do not agree with Roman Catholics about issues such as the Apostolic succession of the Pope, the meaning of the sacraments, and the doctrine of Justification, this fact should not keep us from standing together against evils such as abortion and gay “marriage.”

A good example of this kind of co-belligerence occurred this week in a televised discussion about the senate filibustering of President Bush’s judicial appointments. Al Mohler appeared on the news program Scarborough Country on MSNBC and went to bat for a Catholic judge whose nomination is being filibustered because he is pro-life. Al Mohler is a reformed and Baptist in his theology and hardly sympathetic to Roman Catholicism on a number of issues (click here). Yet during the debate, he announced: “I‘m an evangelical Christian, but I‘m going to speak up on behalf of that man, who is a Roman Catholic, who holds to his church‘s teachings on abortion” (click here for transcript).

The posture that Francis Schaeffer, Al Mohler, and others advocate is not an ecumenism that ignores, minimizes, or compromises on the fundamental doctrines of Evangelical faith. Rather, it is what Timothy George called “an ecumenism of the trenches.”[1] That is, a united fight against the cultural onslaught. Al Mohler writes:

“Given the cultural disaster we face, and what is at stake, it simply makes sense for men and women who share basic worldview concerns to gather strength from each other, join hands and hearts, and enter the cultural fray. On this point, all but the most extreme separatists among us would agree.”[2]

Evangelicals should welcome the new Pope with a spirit of co-belligerence. While not compromising the “solas” of the Reformation, we can be thankful that there will be another voice in the public square opposing the downgrade of western culture. Pope Benedict XVI has taken public and outspoken stances against stem-cell research, abortion, homosexuality, relativism and more.[3] While we are not united with the Pope in our confession, we can stand with him in our belligerence.

For more on this controversial topic, I recommend the following article: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Standing Together, Standing Apart: Cultural Co-belligerence Without Theological Compromise.”

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[1]Quoted in R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Standing Together, Standing Apart: Cultural Co-belligerence Without Theological Compromise,” Touchstone July/August (2003).
[2]Ibid.
[3]For these reasons, his election has frustrated liberal Roman Catholics around the world (Ian Fisher, “German Cardinal Is Chosen as Pope,” New York Times, April 20, 2005).

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