Culture,  Politics

A Fundamentalist vs. Robbie George & Cornell West

Last week, Robbie George and Cornell West visited Swarthmore College to host a public discussion about “what it means for intellectuals to learn from each other despite deep differences on important questions.” As many of you know, George is a renowned conservative while West is a well-known liberal. Both have had distinguished academic careers and have held professorships at Princeton University.

I watched the video of their meeting last week. The most interesting part of the discussion occurred when the Q&A period began. The first question out of the box came from a student who wanted to inquire about George’s public opposition to gay marriage. This is what the student said in his own words.

My question to you is… you talk a lot about recognizing that you’re wrong. And so on issues such as gay marriage, the way that we treat queer people in our society, what would it take for you to realize that you’re wrong and admit it?

And my question to you, Professor West, is you talk a lot about the study of humanities as a project that’s dedicated to the self. And so I have to ask, isn’t it selfish of you—isn’t it deeply, deeply selfish of you—to go on tour with Robert George, to go on tour with a man who has spent so much of his life, so much of his professional career, dedicated to denying the rights of others?… Don’t you through this discourse legitimize him? Give him a platform from which to spew what I think is really quite hateful? The National Organization for Marriage—an organization of which he was the founding chairman—is currently in the middle of a campaign to deny transgender children the right to use the proper bathrooms. His organization, his work is doing enormous harm. And so isn’t it selfish of you to prioritize your own learning over the harms that he does?

After the student finished his “question,” the audience broke out in applause—as if to say “he’s just saying what all of us were thinking.” The student’s remarks were ugly and disrespectful to say the least, but the audience happily endorsed him. Both George and West pushed back on what the student said, and you can listen to their responses at the link. For me, the most interesting thing was that the student seemed to know that his uncharitable remarks would be greeted with approval. What does this mean? Just a few observations:

1. No one ever engaged the case that George has made in favor of traditional marriage. It was simply assumed a priori that his arguments have no merit. George didn’t invoke his arguments either. In response, he simply asserted his right to have a place at the table. Why? Because he knows that in these contexts that’s the issue. At forums like this one, many progressives simply believe that traditional marriage supporters should not be allowed any consideration or attention whatsoever. This was the context for George’s tweet after the event:


2. This student’s sentiment is exactly what gay rights activists have been trying to achieve on the issue of marriage. They don’t really want to discuss the historic view of marriage as a conjugal union. They’d rather not get bogged down in discussions about the public consequences of redefining marriage. They certainly aren’t interested in engaging the arguments of traditional marriage supporters. They know that they can bypass that kind of intellectual honesty if they can simply convince people that traditional marriage supporters are bigots.

You don’t have to take a bigot seriously. You don’t have to listen to his arguments. You can just summarily dismiss him and banish him from having a place at the table. It’s not intellectual honesty. It’s intellectual thuggery. And the worst part about it is that its purveyors (like this student) are not self-aware enough to know what they are doing. Nevertheless, where the “bigot” narrative takes hold, you can be assured that demand for total ostracism of traditional marriage supporters is soon to follow.

3. Gay marriage supporters have become the new fundamentalists. They require not merely tolerance of gay marriage, but total approval and endorsement. Any deviation from the new orthodoxy must be met with exclusion and marginalization. Notice that the test for doctrinal purity requires secondary separation. It’s not enough for this student that Cornell West agrees with the gay rights cause. West should not allow his own character and reputation to be sullied by association with George. The student argues that West’s association with George legitimizes a man who deserves no hearing or standing before such a group. Nevermind that George has one of the most distinguished academic careers in America. His qualifications are irrelevant because he supports traditional marriage. Again, where the “bigot” narrative takes hold, this kind of secondary separation will be soon to follow.

If you want to watch the exchange, click the link and fast forward to the 55:20 mark.


  • Brian Holland

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dr. George, and it is disgraceful that a student would in the name of “tolerance” treat him that way. I have the exact opposite reaction to the student. I don’t think “Dr.” West deserves legitimacy. His antics are childish and his “scholarship” is simply agenda driven, divisive, cult of victimhood non-sense. He should be debated, and challenged for the very real harm that he and others like him have done to race-relations.

    • Patrick Mitchell

      Brian, I’m not a West band wagon guy by any means, but the charge you level against West promoting a “cult of victimhood” is quite sweeping and cultivates the divisiveness of which you accuse Dr. West. His work in race relations challenges every side, including that of African Americans. He’s been an outspoken critic of public figures on all sides.

      As a white middle class guy, Dr. West’s work gave me a critical insight into the life of a black man trying to make it in a white man’s world–and if you want to disagree with that statement, let’s not kid ourselves. He speaks of the need for networks of love in the hardened communities. He challenges his own brothers and sisters not to abandon their communities entirely if they’re able to get out, but rather, like he has done, re-infuse those places with love and concern.

      By all means, debate him. That you would put his “scholarship” in quotes is telling of how you see him.

      • Brian Holland

        Sir, I stand by my contention that West (Cornell not Alan) is a huge part of the problem, and certainly not a part of the solution. See the other West for the solution. What do you mean by “white man’s world?” and “let’s not kid ourselves.” My wife is black, and we have two young kids together. The answer to get back to Dr. Kings dream of seeing people as human beings, first and foremost, and “created in the Image of God.” As Christians, we should be united on that, and on teaching all people personal responsibility- especially blacks, who have bought into a sense of entitlement from being dependent on big government and the welfare state. We should also stand untied in our opposition to the poverty pimps and race hustlers who have exploited the black community and created more racial division, and racism towards whites and non-blacks in general. Tell the truth, and don’t be afraid to be called racist! Can I get an amen? 😉

        • James Stanton

          It’s interesting that you think you are saying something revolutionary and righteous. You criticize blacks in generalistic terms and much of this criticism is transparently grudge-driven. No, this type of discourse is par for the course on many right-wing blogs and echoes the drivel of Rush Limbaugh-esque talk radio. Would you speak to blacks in these terms face to face?

          • Brian Holland

            James, my wife was shocked (shocked I tell you) to find out that she had been married to a racist all this time! Now seriously, what have I said that was “grudge-driven” or hateful? And why wouldn’t I say these things to black people that I know? I am commanded to speak the truth in love to all people. And I have these conversations with black people as often as I can. I have quite a few black friends who agree with me. Again I challenge you, what have I said that was hateful? That we should get back to teachings of MLK, and that all human beings are created “in the image of God?” Your attack on me was completely unfounded and disgraceful! I want nothing less than for the black community to thrive and prosper, and for true racial reconciliation to take place, but that will never happen until and unless the black community returns to conservative, biblical principles, and people of all races have to be able to honestly talk about the moral collapse that has taken place among so many within that community.

            Let me also tell you that I called someone out on Twitter last week for posting a picture of Obama in a tribal outfit with a bone through his nose. I have no patience for that sort of thing, even though I disagree with the president on just about every issue.

            It’s a sad commentary that if you are white and you tell the truth about issues related to race you get called a racist, and if you are black you get called “Uncle Tom,” “Sellout” or much, much worse. Some people actually want to solve these problems, and I would submit that if you are truly a Christ-follower (even you don’t agree with me) that you will at least be open to having a dialogue without resorting to name calling.

            • James Stanton

              You were not called a racist, Brian. I take issue with the spirit of the language you use which I find to be less than charitable when casting judgements on another race of people.

              I don’t think you speak the way you have on this blog to most black people unless you find agreement with them politically. The challenge you laid down in your post was for others to “tell the truth about issues related to race” which would conveniently echo your own opinion. I don’t see how this is a constructive solution to problems of race.

              I, too, am guilty of being uncharitable. I took issue with your generalization of black people as being victims of race hustlers and poverty pimps and associated you with the likes of Rush Limbaugh. I do apologize for that.

              • Brian Holland

                James, I accept your apology, but I do take issue with you saying you didn’t call me a racist. You didn’t use the term, but it was clearly implied, because apparently you think Rush Limbaugh is a racist. I don’t listen to Rush, but I know that he was very good friends with the late, great Ken “Hutch” Hutchenson. He also defended CB Richard Sherman after his over the top on air rant when the Seahawks beat the 49ers to advance to the Superbowl.

                But the real point that I want to make is that if you still don’t believe that I express the same opinions that I’ve expressed here to black people that I know, then I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Why would I be afraid? It’s never my intent to offend, and trust me I can take care of myself. Here’s a blog entry that I wrote on the “knockout game” a few months ago, and I have lots of black readers, and not all of them agree with me. Many people in my wife’s family (which I consider my family) don’t agree with me, which you’ll see if you read the comments but I’m not shy about expressing my opinion. Anyway, here it is…

                And here’s one I wrote on the George Zimmerman trial, which unleashed quite a firestorm of controversy…

                Now if we can’t agree that Sharpton, Jackson etc are evil, and profit from keeping the races divided and profit from keeping blacks feeling like they are constantly being victimized, then I don’t see a point in continuing the conversation.

                I also think there is a real lack of courage from pastors in talking about the very problem of unprovoked black on white violence that is characterized by the “knockout game” and similar attacks. This is true for both black and white pastors for very different reasons. But you mentioned me only talking to blacks who agree with me “politically” and I’m saying these are moral issues. I think too often we confuse race and culture. The left is notorious for this. And for the record I was on the far left (radical left) when I was younger primarily because of issues related to race, and I first became a conservative because I came to realize that left-wing policies and ideas had done incalculable harm to blacks.

                Ultimately these issues are about culture and values, and not race. Hopefully we can agree that multiculturalism (in addition to being a disaster) is completely contrary to biblical Christianity. In other words, I don’t think that any race is inherently better than another, but I am convinced that some cultures are better than others, and again I hope we can come to a point of agreement on that.

                • James Stanton

                  “James, I accept your apology, but I do take issue with you saying you didn’t call me a racist. You didn’t use the term, but it was clearly implied, because apparently you think Rush Limbaugh is a racist.”

                  Brian, Rush Limbaugh is a well-known race baiter and a promoter of divisive racial rhetoric every bit as objectionable as anything Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton may have said or done. I don’t know what he feels in his heart so I won’t call him a racist but I question anyone who uses the same kind of vituperative language. Examples of times he defended black people are irrelevant. That he has a black friend is irrelevant.

                  To play this game of needing to call out a specific race or community is pointless and doomed to failure. There is not one race that needs to be saved more than any other. There is only one culture worth having and its a Christian culture and we agree on that. White or black culture, Western culture, and multiculturalism are all false choices. Regardless, we’re in the midst of them all and they all fall short.

                  • Brian Holland

                    With all due respect, that’s a different conversation. We can agree that all of human nature is sinful, but if we can’t “judge” any particular culture, then we can’t judge: the Nazis, the Klan, Al-Queda, Crips/Bloods. If such is the case we certainly can’t “judge” Islamic countries that stone women to death for all sorts ridiculous “crimes.” Can we at least agree on this?

  • Chris Ryan

    Yeah, they do act like all Christians who oppose homosexual marriage are bigots. Any guesses why?

    It might be because states like Kansas–at the urging of groups like NOM and FRC–are trying to rush through laws to actually discriminate against gays. And, so, not unsurprisingly gay marriage supporters feel like anyone who doesn’t support them are bigots. ITs unfair in some instances, but perception is reality. There was a time when Christians could’ve avoided this by trying to accommodate the LGBT community. We could’ve simply banned gay marriage, but supported Civil Unions. But most state Constitutional amendments pushed by NOM sought to ban CUs as well, for no good reason. Conservatives might also have supported a federal non-discrimination act against gays (it passed the Senate last year with 60 votes) but, no, the House has seen fit to sit on it. As grandpap used to tell me, run with dogs and you pick up fleas. That Kansas legislation is the last thing traditional Christians need, it just foments hatred by the other side.

    • Andrew Orlovsky

      I feel that even if Christians supported civil unions, it would only be a matter of time before we get called bigots for only going half way on “marriage equality”.

      • Chris Ryan

        +1 on your comment below about “liberal arts” education…You know certainly now the CU ship has sailed. Christians today who advocate CUs get the “separate is never equal” reply back. But it wasn’t always thus; b/tn 2000-06 a significant segment of the LGBT population just wanted to live with their partner. But after the animus stirred up in ’04 by Rove, its personal with them. They don’t want to just live/love in peace. After all the animus now they want affirmation. For every action there’s an equal & opposite reaction.

    • Matt Martin

      Bingo. If we really are going to be intellectually honest, then Kansas is proof that this goes far beyond gay marriage and indeed into the realm of bigotry.

      • Brian Holland

        1) Does defining marriage as between one man and one woman constitute discrimination in your view? If so how? 2) How does any gay marriage advocate (I’m not sure if you would define yourself as one) reconcile the fact that no great moral leader throughout history (either secular or religious), no great philosopher ever advocated for gay marriage?

      • David Powell

        Calling someone a “bigot” is the most bigoted thing going down these days, bar none. It has just become en vogue to do so. Most people throwing it around probably didn’t even know what the word meant until a few years ago (and I would argue that most aren’t able to comprehend the irony in their usage of the word).

  • Andrew Orlovsky

    I do find the comment that “conservative views have no place at a liberal arts college” very amusing. I’m wondering if that individual also believes that “poached eggs” were harvested illegally.

  • ian Shaw

    Sigh, why should we be surprised when pagans act like pagans? Were we not just as ignorant to the Truth before the Holy Spirit began work in our hearts? Were our sins yelling crucify louder than the mob that day, prior to his saving all-sufficient Grace?

    I try not to get caught up in the culture wars because it’s not fruitful to debate directly back most of the time. I can’t win the culture war, but Christ can. Bring the conversation back to Chirst and use that as your focal point. Show what we are for, and He can change all things in all people.

    • Brian Holland

      Ian, didn’t Jesus command us to “make disciples” and to “teach them all I have commanded you”? Shouldn’t we meet people where they are? I would argue that’s exactly what Christ did, but many rejected Him and His teachings. He promised that the unbelieving world would hate us, because it hates truth. In order for us to be for something, we also have to be against something else.

      Also what about Rom 2:15 that says that the law is written on their hearts (Paul was talking about Pagans). All are without excuse, but we who know the Truth have to stand for it without compromise. I think your strategy of avoiding the being involved in culture making (with all due respect) has led us to this point of us being considered either irrelevant or backwards and hateful.

    • Chris Ryan

      Yeah, I think you’re right, Ian. The church is never as effective as when its out there winning souls. Even though the Romans were pagans and displayed real decadence and depravity, Christ didn’t get caught up in debates about Caesar (even though such debates were raging, esp among the Jews) instead He singularly focused on salvation.

      • Andy Moffat

        And yet he cogently discussed a range of issues with the woman at the well. Yes, a focus on her heart, but good interaction with the cultural milieu she was operating within.

      • Brett Cody

        With all due respect, how is ‘winning souls’ the same as ‘making disciples’? To change the work of the Great Commission into winning souls may cheapen the gospel. It seems ‘inhumane’ to treat others like some sort of objective to accomplish. This is not a simple case of semantics.

  • buddyglass

    “The student’s remarks were ugly and disrespectful to say the least”

    Yeah. I don’t see it. Certainly the student was highly critical of George, but nothing he said struck me as “disrespectful”.

    Here’s a thought exercise. Suppose George had gone on tour with a different Princeton professor: Peter Singer. He of “euthanizing babies” fame. Now let’s say that instead of speaking at Princeton they came to Southern Seminary, and a student stood up and said:

    “My question to you [Singer] is… you talk a lot about recognizing that you’re wrong. And so on issues such as abortion and euthanasia, the way that we treat the ‘least of these’ in our society, what would it take for you to realize that you’re wrong and admit it?

    And my question to you, Professor George, is you talk a lot about the sanctity of life and the moral dimensions of our everyday choices. And so I have to ask, isn’t it poor judgment of you—isn’t it deeply, deeply unwise—to go on tour with Peter Singer, to go on tour with a man who has spent so much of his life, so much of his professional career, dedicated to expanding the legal right to destroy human life?… Don’t you through this discourse legitimize him? Give him a platform from which to spew what I think is really quite evil? The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League—an organization he enthusiastically supports—is currently in the middle of a campaign to safeguard the practice of murdering babies who are ‘accidentally’ delivered during an abortion procedure. His organization, his work is doing enormous harm. And so isn’t it misguided of you to prioritize your own love of intellectual discourse over the harms that he does?”

    Would you call that “ugly and disrespectful” or would it be “courageous”?

    • Brian Holland

      I’d say it was courage in the second case, and ridiculous in the case that was outlined in the blog post. Does that make me a hypocrite? I don’t think so, because there is an absolute moral standard of right and wrong. The same moral law that proves that marriage is between one man and one woman also proves that killing babies (either inside or outside the womb) is evil.

      • buddyglass

        Sure. But how does an absolute moral standard of right and wrong bear on whether the student in question was disrespectful? One can be both respectful and absolutely misguided. One can have moral clarity yet be disrespectful. I tried to make the word choice and tone of my fictional question match the actual student’s question as closely as possible. Why is the former disrespectful if the latter isn’t?

        • Brian Holland

          Censorship is what the student in the story was getting at, and I’m not in favor of that at all. The university should be a place where a free exchange of ideas takes place, and if that’s what Professors George and West were getting at then I salute them, but the university has become a place where only certain ideas are tolerated. Peter Singer can’t properly teach Ethics, because he’s an atheist, but I would never try to silence him. The difference is that the left demands totalitarian conformity (I’m not talking about classical liberals here) while the right (in general) welcomes debate.

          • buddyglass

            Isn’t the hypothetical Southern Seminary student doing the exact same thing when he criticizes George for giving Singer a platform to spew his ideas? If what the Princeton student asked advocates censorship, how does the Southern student’s question not also advocate censorship?

            Also, you didn’t answer my question about why one question is disrespectful and the other isn’t. Are they both disrespectful? Neither?

            • Brian Holland

              I apologize. I thought I answered the question. I don’t think the hypothetical Southern Seminary student would protest Robbie George being on stage with Peter Singer. The right is in general not opposed to free speech and debate. If he were opposed to that, then I would say he’s wrong. Conservative (and even non left-wing) speakers are routinely shouted down at universities, not the other way around. That’s the reality of it. That’s disrespectful, and un-American.

  • Ian Shaw


    I’m not saying that what we share with people will often be considered animosity or hurtful towards others, even it is the Truth in Love. That’s not what I am saying. What I’m saying is that time and time again, the loudest conservatives/christians tend to make the claims that they are so shocked to hear that the other shoes are droping (no offense Denny). We act surprised when we come to the conclusion that we can’t count on our government to uphold our principles/morals (no offense Mr. Mohler-we never should have bought into that premise in the first place). Why are we so surprised that an unbelieving world acts like unbelievers? People don’t start to change until after they’ve accepted Christ, not the other way around.

    What many unbelieving people often hear first and most is what Christians are against. If we lead with what we are for, first and foremost, that being Christ, we won’t be tossed into the bigot/intolerant realm time and time again before a dialogue can even be started. That’s the problem. We get all uptight when we see things like this happening. It takes the focus off winning souls for Christ and instead people spend more time trying to defend their point of view than sharing Jesus with others.

    You are right. Christ promised that we’d be hated, spat on, persecuted for His sake. Shoot, Scalia even added to that and said “enemies of the human race”. That doesn’t mean we stop sharing the Gospel with others. But Christ needs to be up front, instead, we (collectively) often have put Christ as a footnote after we’ve told someone that x, y and z that they are doing is wrong. We should be giving a better order of operations (to horribly ripoff a math term). So yes, meet people where they are at. I agree, but lead with Christ and why we need him.

    Tim Keller had a great response to his DVD conversation for his ‘Reason for God’ book. One of his panelists asked him what does the Bible say about homosexuality. He gave curious pause and said the following: “Well, I’ll answer this in 3 points.”
    Point 1…….brought up the Gospel
    Point 2…….brought up the Gospel
    Point 3…….still brought up the Gospel and answered the question the most loving way I’ve ever heard before and yet did not pull punches about sin and everything he said, came right back to how much we all need Christ. It’s cheap on amazon, well worth it and I won’t spoil it for you.

    I avoid the culture junk as much as I can because I feel it can be a big distraction to what we are really called to do by Christ. Yes, within the Christian realm, we know that all are without excuse. Use that as your lead next time you’re trying to reach a non-believer and let us know how it goes (respectfully). We can’t always use the same type of conversation we use with our church brothers/sisters as we do with the lost.

  • Ian Shaw

    Brett, would you agree that before a Christian can truly be a disciple to others, he/she must first be taught/discipled first? One cannot become or be made a disciple until they have been discipled and you can’t be discipled unless you have first accepted Jesus as your savior, right?

    Not sure if that’s what Chris meant, but that’s how I see it. The process of making a disciple can’t start unless regenration has started/is occuring. Accepting/believing in Chirst is the first step in a larger, longer goal of sanctification and being discipled, to become one to help others as well.

    • Brett Cody

      I don’t disagree with you, Ian, regarding your premise that one must first accept Christ as their Savior. I was simply trying to help us clean up our language in order to give clarity to the mission. We are not told to ‘win souls’–as if it were in our power to do so. We are told to Baptize and Teach. Note that baptism (at least as I understand it and practice it) is the immersion of a believer. If disciple-making really involved our imparting of salvation to others, then Christ would have commissioned us to go ‘win souls’.
      Also, let me further clarify that I am in complete agreement with you that Christ-followers must tell the gospel to others. However, God forbid that we neglect disciple-making because we think that telling them and witnessing conversion is all we are expected to do.

    • Chris Ryan

      Yeah, Ian, that’s exactly what I meant. I’ll say it the way Rick Warren said it on Meet the Press when he was asked why he doesn’t follow Falwell’s example of getting heavily involved in politics. He said, “Politics is downstream from culture. I want to operate upstream. If you want to change politics, you’ve got to change people’s hearts first.” Its just basic human nature that people won’t trust you until they trust that you’re with them. If I walk up to a gay person and say, “You’re going to hell”, I’ll get a different reaction than if I walk up to a gay person and say, “Man, do I have some Good News for you!”

      • Brian Holland

        Chris, I’m a huge believer in “politics being downstream from culture” as well. I’m sure Rick Warren got that from the late Chuck Colson, who had a huge impact on my life as well. I think that what is truly meant by that is that we have to be able to explain the Biblical worldview to people and how it makes sense, and explains all of reality. “All truth is God’s truth” as the church fathers used to say. I think that can accurately be described as pre-evangelism, or another way of putting it would be that any controversial issue, or big question in life can be a starting point to build a bridge to share the Gospel. I’m convinced that the Gospel contains the truth about all reality. That’s why Christ was described as the Logos.

        With regards to your approach to gay people, I think it’s more accurate to say that we are all enemies of God and destined for, and deserving of eternal judgement in Hell, but for God’s grace and Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. I would encourage you not to worry about results or people’s reactions to what you say. Of course we should always try not to be offensive in how we present the message, because the message itself is offensive enough to the unbelieving world.

        Brett, I agree with just about everything that you’ve written, except I contend that the model that Jesus used was to teach the disciples and the multitudes first, and years later he asked that they make a confession of faith, as in “who do you say that I am?” We’ve gotten that process backwards since (I believe) the 2nd Great Awakening. I think the discipleship first model is much more biblical.

  • jameskucera

    For the heterosexuals here who may have been divorced and are seeking to remarry or who have married someone of a different faith against the admonitions of Scripture, what would you say if I said your marriage goes against my religion and that the government must therefore not provide any recognition whatsoever to your relationship? Keep in mind that, in all likelihood, I’ve never met you.

    Would you sit back and say, “Oh, well, I understand … that is his religious belief and we must respect that”? I’m just wondering what the reaction would be if the shoe were on the other foot, so to speak. It takes a little imagination and empathy.

    Brian asks: “How does any gay marriage advocate … reconcile the fact that no great moral leader throughout history (either secular or religious), no great philosopher ever advocated for gay marriage?”

    Our collective sense of morality changes over generations, sometimes for good sometimes not. Contraception (even the non-abortive kind) was rejected as a licit option for even married couples until around the time of the Lambeth Conference last century. Most couples wouldn’t think twice about it. I’m not too disturbed by the fact that gays were not given much consideration over the centuries. Quite the contrary, many have been tortured, killed and imprisoned. In this regard, I think things have changed for the better.

    • Brian Holland

      James, just because society’s perception of morality changes as in the case of contraception (or any other issue for that matter) doesn’t mean that laws should reflect what the majority of the population thinks. There is a moral law that governs the entire universe and it does not change, though our understanding of it may change.

      The point regarding divorce is a total non issue. We have freedom of religion for a reason, but marriage being between one man and one woman is foundation of western civilization. You can’t have stability without the basic building block of traditional families.

      • Brett Cody

        Hear! Hear!
        Might I also add that James’ example of contraception is not a straightforward comparison as the contraception methods he is referring to have not existed as long as marriage.

  • Brian Holland

    Ian, let me first say that I’m enjoying the conversation, I appreciate your passion and I’m sure you are completely sincere in your beliefs. Our theological differences may not be bridgeable, but I would like you to consider a few things, since I was once on your side of the fence, if I can mix metaphors here. What I think you fail to realize is that there are two Kingdoms that have been in conflict since before human history even began, and we simply see that play out in the culture wars.

    I am in total agreement with Brett that “winning souls” is not the purpose of the Christian mission/Great Commission. When we reduce it to that we (whether knowingly or unknowingly) engage in dualism that separates the soul from it’s body. Christ came to redeem minds as well, in addition the physical healing that He provided to those in need. I would even argue that a “fire insurance” approach to the Gospel is a new form of Gnosticism. In other words, we should care about: the unborn, euthanasia, poverty, defending traditional marriage, religious freedom, sex trafficking, N. Korea, Israel etc, because God does, and it’s part of our witness in how we live. Bonhoeffer is a perfect example of being a witness by resisting evil, and at the ultimate price.

    I also would encourage you to reread Genesis 1:26-28, because that is the first commandment that God gave to mankind, and it is rightfully known as the “Cultural Commission” or “Cultural Mandate.” Christ himself said that if fail to be Salt and Light then we are essentially useless. What you have laid out in terms of Salvation first, and then discipleship is COMPLETELY the opposite of what Jesus did! Think about it. Jesus was discipling the twelve for years before he asked the question “who do you say that I am?” I think the fact that the church has gotten this so wrong over the years is evidenced by the fact that discipleship has “become optional” at most churches.

    Also please consider that when the rich young ruler approached Jesus and asked “what must I do to be saved?” Jesus did not tell him to say a nice little prayer, and “mean it in his heart.” He dealt (or tried to) to deal with his idolotry first. So any “gospel” that fails to speak to the sins of the culture is no gospel at all IMO. Look at the message of the OT prophets. It was about repentance first.

    And with regards to Dr. Mohler and America, it was founded on Judeo-Christian Principles, in fact I would go so far as to say that Western Civilization is the house that Christianity built! It has given us science, democracy, capitalism among numerous other blessings.


  • Curt Day

    My personal experience with gays, with even some who are in same-sex marriages, does not match what is written here. I believe homosexuality is against the Bible and I have been free to express those views to most of my gay friends. And though they disagree, they have no problem listening to me because they also know that I support equality for gays and the right for them to be married in society. So my personal experiences contradict what is said in #3.

    As for #2, if you want to talk about thuggery, then talk about the times when homosexuality was criminalized. Or talk about how gays can still be fired from jobs because of their sexual orientation. Or talk about how gays can be beaten, and even killed, simply because of their sexual orientation. We see some some push back to heterosexual privilege, if not domination, and we claim intolerance and persecution. It is as if we have no awareness of how we have come across in the past.

    And if we want to talk about history, we should talk about all of the historical figures who were gay and talk about the contributions they made to society. Or perhaps we can talk about how gays whom we know personally have made significant contributions to our own lives. So tradition says one thing but it doesn’t speak monolithically. And we must remember that there are times to revise or even undo tradition. Tradition was an argument used to support slavery and Jim Crow. Not all tradition is worth keeping.

    Why is it that many of us religiously conservative Christians feel compelled to control and hold down gays in society? Why are we so obsessed with placing legal prohibitions on gays? And why do we assume that supporting traditional marriage implies that one must support legislation that prohibits same-sex marriage? I wonder if those Christians who invest so much energy into prohibiting same-sex marriage through legislation do so to avoid being personally involved with gays via evangelism?

    • Brian Holland

      Curt, when have gays been treated like blacks were in the Jim Crow south? Such a comparison is offensive not only to blacks, but to anyone who knows history. No one wants to deny them the right to anything. They are free to live as they choose in peace, but gay marriage ultimately will destroy freedom of religion and freedom of speech. That’s not hyperbole. It’s already happening with the Christian bakers in Oregon who have been sued, and had their business shut down as a result. There’s the injustice you should be outraged over!

      You have not provided examples. Matthew Sheppard, as it turns out was not murdered because he was gay, but because of a drug deal gone bad, and this was one of the cases that has become a rallying cry for gay rights movement.

      I honestly don’t see how you can say you believe the Bible, and are OK with your gay friends getting married. That’s the thing about evangelism, we can’t effectively witness if we endorse sin by supporting gay marriage. We witness by standing for biblical truth that God has ordained marriage as between one man and one woman. I’m also curious to know whether you think people are born gay? I have seen no evidence of that.

      Esther, I didn’t watch the video clip, but maybe Professor George was saying that Peter Singer still has a right to say the offensive, evil things he says. I think Cornell West is racist, and a race-hustler/poverty pimp, but he still has a right to say what he says. I just wouldn’t appear on stage with him, unless it were in a one on one debate.

      • Esther O'Reilly

        It’s still problematic to imply that it requires long, deep contemplation and wide reading to decide whether or not it’s okay to kill babies—or even whether or not marriage is between a man and a woman. George also outright said “I can’t say Peter Singer is a bad man because he disagrees with me.” But this is simply wrong. There’s also a difference between “So-and-so has a right to SAY what he feels like” and “So-and-so has a right to BE HEARD,” i.e., have his opinion treated as just another respectable opinion among respectable opinions. Singer doesn’t deserve a place at the table of civil dialogue, period. But it seems that George can’t quite bring himself to admit that.

        • Brian Holland

          Point well taken Esther. Thanks for clarifying. Debating a person like Singer is one thing, but you have to be clear about what’s at stake. Perhaps it’s because it’s all academic at this point, since Singer lives in the world of the theorhetical, but ideas have consequences. The young minds who he helps mold are indeed impressionable. And make no mistake, if the Peter Singer’s of the world had their way then infanticide and euthanasia would be the norm. We are closer to that reality than many of us care to admit. I just don’t think that Cornel West is that much different than Singer. Both are in favor of baby killing policies and utilitarian “ethics,” and West is an unashamed communist, which has resulted in untold millions of innocent people being murdered throughout history.

  • Esther O'Reilly

    What a twit. The student has since posted a vitriolic open letter to George. Surprise! He’s gay:

    After watching the video, I will say that I disagree with George when he talks about Peter Singer. George is saying that he has “profound disagreements” with Singer, yet Singer isn’t bad or evil for having his opinions. I confess this baffles me. At a certain point, we shouldn’t be afraid to say “You are evil if you believe x. You just are.” I think infanticide should be a pretty uncontroversial line to draw in that respect! And why did George say “Singer has read as widely and thought as deeply as I have about the things we disagree on”?? I’m sorry, but it doesn’t take “reading widely” to think for two seconds and say, “Yep, killing babies is wrong!” Very weak segment from George there.

  • Joel Chamberlin

    Hello Denny,
    I check your site fairly often and enjoy a lot of the posts. While I may not always agree with you all the time I do think it is evident that you try to keep things grounded biblically and that your heart is in the right place. I went to Great Lakes Christian College and one of my favorite professors was John Nugent (he taught O.T. and Hebrew at Great Lakes). He wrote a three part blog series on voting and the elections that I found to be very well written and well thought out. I thought you might like to check them out and let us know your thoughts. The link to the first is

    the rest of the posts can be found on that same site (part 1, 2, 3 and the afterword).

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