The Appearance of Partisanship

Many evangelicals are truly political partisans. There are many others who are not partisan, but nevertheless have the appearance of a partisanship because of their consistent support for Republican candidates. For those of us who fall in the latter category, the explanation is rather simple. The Democrats and Republicans couldn’t be more polarized when it comes to the most important human rights issue of our time–abortion.

I cannot improve upon Robert George’s analysis of this polarization and the effect that it has on conscientious, pro-life voters. George writes,

However much one might dislike Republican policies in other areas, it’s clear that the death toll under the Democrats would be so large as to make it unreasonable for Catholic citizens, or citizens of any faith who oppose the taking of innocent human life, to use their votes and influence to help bring the Democratic party into power.

I find no cause for joy in this. I wish that it were possible for pro-life citizens legitimately to support Democratic candidates. I wish that the party of my parents and grandparents had not placed itself on the wrong side of the most profound human rights issue of our contemporary domestic politics. I wish that the killing of embryonic and fetal human beings by abortion and in biomedical research were resolutely opposed by both parties so that we could cast our votes based on our assessments of the candidates’ and parties’ competing positions on taxation, immigration, education, welfare, health-care reform, national security, and foreign policy. It is hardly satisfactory that pro-life citizens—representing a variety of views on the range of issues in economic, social, and foreign policy—find themselves bound to the Republicans because the only viable alternative is a party that has abandoned its commitment to the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family by embracing abortion and embryo-destructive research (source).

Right on.

(HT: Justin Talyor)


The Brilliance of Carter Beauford

Carter BeaufordNot many people know this, but once upon a time I used to be a drummer. I’m afraid the only time my drums get played anymore is when the worship band takes the stage at the Criswell College where I teach, and the guy playing my drums is definitely not me. This is for the best, since even when I was at the peak of my drumming powers, I wasn’t all that good.

But when I see Carter Beauford play, it makes me wish I had practiced more. Carter Beauford is one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. Most people know him as the guy who plays with Dave Matthews, but my favorite pop album of his is the album “Running on Ice” that he recorded with Vertical Horizon.

That being said, when I came across this video today of Beauford playing, I just had to share. I don’t even think you have to be a drummer to see the brilliance of Carter Beauford. Nor do you have to be a drummer to know that virtuosity is a gift from the Maker whose image we all bear.

Where were you on September 16, 2001?

Worship Service at Clifton Baptist ChurchWhere were you on September 16, 2001? Yes, you read the date correctly. I didn’t mean September 11. I am asking if you remember where you were five days later, Sunday, September 16, 2001.

I remember where I was. I had just begun my Ph.D. studies at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, and my wife and I were still visiting churches in thearea. That Sunday, we attended Clifton Baptist Church. Dr. Tom Schreiner, my doctoral supervisor and the pastor at Clifton, delivered a message from Luke 13 and reminded us of the sobering warning from Jesus: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

I heard a word from the Lord that Sunday morning, but I wonder if other Americans heard the voice of God in the sermons they listened to on that day. People turned out in droves for church on September 16, 2001. So much so, that some evangelicals predicted 9-11 to be the catalyst to jar a godless nation into repentance and revival.

I think it’s safe to say now, however, that the spiritual awakening that many anticipated did not happen. Nevertheless, the preached word that I heard on that day is what has left an indelible and lasting mark on me.

The two most memorable September 16th sermons that I heard were preached by two men ministering in very different parts of the country. The first was from John Piper (audio, transcript), pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the second from Tommy Nelson (audio), pastor of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas.

In some ways, these sermons were very similar. They both built on the theological foundation of the sovereignty of God over all things, which includes His sovereignty over calamities like the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Both sermons also expressed the grief appropriate for the occasion.

Yet in many other ways, the sermons were very different. On the one hand, Tommy Nelson exuded patriotism, nationalism, and a sense that America would rise up in its righteous might to settle accounts with its terrorist enemies. Nelson offered the assurance that America would prevail in the coming military conflict because God supports nations that support Israel.

On the other hand, John Piper called his listeners to turn away from their implicit trust in American military might and national prosperity. Americans by and large had taken for granted their own security in the world. Piper said 9-11 proves what the Bible already teaches—that such security is an illusory fiction. Our hope is not in the military and its ability to protect from all danger. Our hope is in Christ, and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39).

As I remembered the tragedy of 9-11 this past week, I also remembered these messages. I am thankful for the reminder that I serve a God who is sovereign over all things, that I serve a Christ who once looked into the cold eyes of at a heartless Roman govenor and said, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.” I am thankful that while we have no basis for confidence in military might (Psalm 20:7), we have every reason to be confident in King Jesus who has promised to come again and to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). I am thankful for a Christ who loves sinners and who will one day banish evil from the new heavens and the new earth.

Calamaties will come, and calamities will go. But God’s word will never pass away. These sermons are a study in contrasts, but I encourage you to take some time to listen to both of them and to set your hope completely on Christ.

“A Service of Sorrow, Self-Humbling, and Steady Hope in Our Savior and King, Jesus Christ” – by John Piper

“9-11” – by Tommy Nelson

Rosie O’Donnell: Christianity Is More Dangerous Than Radical Islam

Rosie O'Donnell & Elisabeth Hasselbeck on 'The View'Maybe you missed it, but Rosie O’Donnell made some outrageous remarks on “The View” this week. In an exchange with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, O’Donnell said that “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have a separation of church and state.”

You can watch the video of O’Donnell’s remarks by clicking here.
Hasselbeck countered O’Donnell’s comments by saying that, “We are not bombing ourselves here in the country. We are being attacked.” Even cohost Joy Behar was compelled to respond to O’Donnell’s outlandish claims saying, “Christians are not threatening to kill us. This group (radical Islamists) is threatening to kill us.”

I think most people will recognize that Rosie O’Donnell is way off the mark on this one. But I was surprised at the audience’s reaction to what she said. When O’Donnell said that Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam, the studio audience erupted in applause.

That such a thing could be spoken in America today and that it could be met with such gushing approval prove that we are indeed living in the midst of a post-Christian culture.

Christians have been the objects of slanderous attacks throughout the history of the church. In the early centuries of the church’s history, pagans accused Christians of being cannibals and of committing incest. Neither of these charges were true. The pagans were simply distorting the Christian teaching on the Lord’s Supper and on the status of married Christians who called one another “brother” and “sister” in Christ.

We should not be surprised that Christianity has its detractors even today. The most important thing for Christians to do in response to slanderers like Rosie O’Donnell is not to insist that she be removed from “The View.” The most important thing that we can do is to testify to the glory of Christ in both word and deed. That testimony includes loving Rosie O’Donnell and praying for her. When the body of Christ bears faithful witness to its crucified and risen Head in this way, no amount of slanders will prevail against it.

“AFA calls on ABC, O’Donnell to apologize for comments” – Baptist Press
“Rosie O’Donnell’s Remarks on ‘Radical Christianity’ Draw Fire” – Christian Post Reporter

David Dockery Responds to NY Times on Baptist Colleges

David DockeryLast week, I commented on an article that appeared in the New York Times about the battle that’s going on for Baptist colleges in various states around the country. In a Baptist Press piece today, David Dockery also responds to the New York Times. The integrated vision of faith and learning that Dockery commends is the ideal that we all should be striving for. Therefore, I recommend his article to you: “Christian commitment & intellectual inquiry.”

Is Embryonic Stem-Cell Research Murder?

Tony SnowDoes the destruction of human embryos amount to murder? White House spokesman Tony Snow put this question on the front burner last week when he described President Bush’s position as follows:

The president believes strongly that for the purpose of research it’s inappropriate for the federal government to finance something that many people consider murder. He’s one of them. The simple answer is he thinks murder’s wrong (source). Continue reading Is Embryonic Stem-Cell Research Murder?

The New York Times on Southern Baptist Colleges

The New York Times reports today on the struggle between Baptist Colleges and the state Baptist conventions that run them. Many people are aware of the conservative resurgence that began in 1979 in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). That resurgence returned the convention’s institutions and seminaries to conservative evangelical principles. Continue reading The New York Times on Southern Baptist Colleges