Category: Christianity

Merry Christmas!

Nativity in stained glassLuke 2:1-20
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luther's rose in stained glassAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Don’t cheer the “end” of the recession yet

Want a scare? I know it’s Halloween, but this is genuinely frightening.
Private investment is falling sharply
Not good. Not good at all.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released third-quarter gross domestic product numbers yesterday, and overall real growth at 3.5 percent was pretty good.
But examining the components of GDP reveals a more disturbing picture. While consumption, exports, and the government sector were up, private investment has fallen through the floor.

The third quarter GDP numbers show that the economy is only starting to “recover” because of growing government and expanding consumption, which has been artificially inflated by large government transfers.
Business investment continues to be in a deep recession. Companies are simply not building factories or buying new machines and equipment.
Why not? I suspect that many firms are scared to death of higher taxes, inflation, health care mandates, increased labor regulation, and other profit-killers coming down the road from Washington. That is speculation, but I haven’t heard a better explanation of the death of private investment in America.

The freefall began in 2006. What was significant about that year? It marked the beginning of what Bizzyblog proprietor Tom Blumer calls the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy.
I think we were both reading Memeorandum a moment ago.

Pro-life arguments against killing abortionists

The murder of Dr. George Tiller was an evil act that saved no lives. Here are ten reasons to oppose the supposed “justifiable homicide” of abortionists, as explained by pro-life Christian David P. Gushee in 1995:

  1. The use of intentional premeditated lethal force by private citizens to defend the innocent from harm is morally unjustifiable.
  2. However one describes the innocent, it is clearly unjustifiable to use lethal force in their defense when such defense could have been achieved through nonlethal means–means which are unambiguously available today through the moral, legal and nonviolent forms of pro-life activities. The absence of nonlethal means, moreover, does not in itself provide sufficient warrant for using lethal force to protect the innocent.
  3. The killing of abortion doctors does not constitute a meaningful defense of unborn life, because the woman seeking the abortion drives the process, not the doctor. Thus if we really seek to prevent abortion, we will lovingly provide the pregnant woman with appropriate support and viable alternatives to abortion.
  4. The use of lethal force is not justifiable as a form of privately initiated capital punishment, as some have claimed.
  5. The killing of abortion doctors is not morally legitimate as an act of civil disobedience.
  6. The use of lethal force cannot be viewed as an act of resistance to a government which has lost its legitimacy by permitting abortion. The U.S. government retains its legitimacy, and Christians should continue to seek redress through the political system.
  7. The transition from nonviolent to violent forms of action for social/legal change is a perilous and almost always morally unjustifiable step, particularly in a functioning democracy.
  8. The resort to violence as a means leads to a morally disastrous shift of ends, the focus of the activist becoming the destruction of wrongdoers rather than the prevention of wrongs.
  9. A social movement’s resort to violence tends to escalate rapidly. The strict limits imposed by just war type thinking are supplanted by crusade-like approaches leading to ever more indiscriminate violence.
  10. The resort to violence is indisputably hurting the cause of the pro-life movement.

Read the whole article for a more in-depth treatment.

On the murder of George Tiller

In response to today’s murder of abortionist George Tiller, I’ll quote (with my complete approval) the abortion violence statement put forth by the long-time pro-life advocates at Stand To Reason:

It’s always wrong to take a human life without proper justification. Abortion is such a wrong because it takes the life of a valuable, innocent, human being without good reason. Therefore, it is morally obligatory for civilized people to campaign vigorously against such a wrong and use appropriate means to end it.
In opposing this evil, one is justified in using only the degree of force necessary to stop any harm that it is within his power to prevent. Therefore, one is never justified in using lethal force when other measures are available.
Since there are no imaginable circumstances in which lethal force is the only means available to end the harm of abortion, then lethal means are never justified.
Killing abortionists is, therefore, also an example of taking human life without proper justification. To do so would be to violate the basic principle of life that pro-lifers are committed to defending.
Therefore, Stand to Reason does not condone violence to end the harm of abortion and does not knowingly associate with those who do.

I hope the murderer is brought to justice swiftly.

Merry Christmas!

Nativity in stained glass
Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luther's rose in stained glassAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Video: Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright

Remember Jeremiah Wright? This is the man who Barack Obama chose to be his mentor, chose to be his friend, chose to conduct his marriage, chose to baptize his daughters, chose to guide him in his faith, chose to support financially, chose to listen to for 20+ years …

… and only when it became politically expedient did Obama distance himself. Obama hopes you’ll swallow the lie that he was surprised and shocked at Jeremiah Wright’s hateful anti-American beliefs, and that you’ll believe him when he says he doesn’t share Jeremiah Wright’s views.
Don’t you believe it. Even Jeremiah Wright knows better.

BILL MOYERS:
Here is a man who came to see you 20 years ago. Wanted to know about the neighborhood. Barack Obama was a skeptic when it came to religion. He sought you out because he knew you knew about the community. You led him to the faith.
You performed his wedding ceremony. You baptized his two children. You were, for 20 years, his spiritual counsel. He has said that. And, yet, he, in that speech at Philadelphia, had to say some hard things about you. How did those words…how did it go down with you when you heard Barack Obama say those things?
REVEREND WRIGHT:
It went down very simply. He’s a politician, I’m a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. But they’re two different worlds.
I do what I do. He does what politicians do. So that what happened in Philadelphia where he had to respond to the sound bytes, he responded as a politician.

The emphasis is mine, but the plain message is Wright’s: Obama only abandoned him to keep his political career alive.
And when Obama protests any mention of Jeremiah Wright, just remember that Obama himself declared it “fair game.”

A thought experiment for Obama cultists

Imagine that I’m a leading Republican candidate for President, and I’ve been a member of the Westboro Baptist Church for 20 years, and donated tens of thousands of dollars to the ministry. I’ve also called the Reverend Fred Phelps my friend and spiritual mentor for years. Furthermore, he presided over my marriage and baptized my two daughters.
Now when embarrassing video clips of Fred Phelps’ sermons surface during my campaign, I start distancing myself from the specific offensive statements in the specific videos. I also play down my association with Phelps by likening him to a crazy uncle and claiming “Gosh, he never said stuff like that when I was in the pews; the few times I attended it was all about Jesus and love and faith and family.”
My supporters claim the media cherry-picked quotes to serve their own agenda, that people are afraid of me, and that my accusers don’t understand the “context” of the rhetoric used in churches that focus primarily on homosexuals.
Would anybody believe a single word I said? Of course not. They’d all call B.S.
So why in the world do the Obamassiah’s followers expect me to swallow his line of bull?

Update: Spin, baby, spin.

Barack Obama’s core beliefs

Are you ready for an eye-opening look at the kind of racist bilge that’s taught by the church that Obama chose to support and attend for the last twenty years? Make sure you’re sitting down first, because this is black liberation theology in its unvarnished ugliness.
10/01/2008 Update: There’s much more to learn about Barack Obama’s beliefs here.

Newsmax: Obama sat through Jeremiah Wright’s hate sermons

Whoopsie:

Contrary to Senator Barack Obama’s claim that he never heard his pastor Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. preach hatred of America, Obama was in the pews last July 22 when the minister blamed the “white arrogance” of America’s Caucasian majority for the world’s suffering, especially the oppression of blacks.

In fact, Obama was present in the South Side Chicago church on July 22 last year when Jim Davis, a freelance correspondent for Newsmax, attended services along with Obama. [See: “Obama’s Church: Cauldron of Division.”]

How many of these sermons did Obama attend? More importantly, if he lied about his supposed ignorance of Wright’s hateful rhetoric, why should we believe Obama when he “condemns” those sermons?
More analysis at Hot Air.

What Gospel does Barack Obama believe in?

From Barack Obama’s initial stab at damage control over his anti-American racist pastor, Jeremiah Wright:

Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.

Pray tell, what is the Gospel that forms the basis of Obama’s life and beliefs? Not being one to stick to what’s actually in the Bible, Pastor Wright apparently teaches another gospel:

Concerning his pastor, Obama said last week that Wright “has said some things that are considered controversial because he’s considered that part of his social gospel.”

When Obama says “social gospel” he means Black Liberation Theology (as Pastor Wright confirmed on March 1st, 2007). Does Obama share his pastor’s belief in the Marxist principles of Kawaida? A candidate’s worldview is fair game for detailed examination; Americans deserve to have enough information to make an educated decision in the voting booth. It would be nice to know if this potential President is a devotee of a kooky anti-American pseudo-religion, or whether he’ll base his decisions on something resembling actual Christianity. Heck, I’d prefer a pro-American atheist as President to Jeremiah Wright’s brand of wild eyed nutcase.

So far, there hasn’t been much in the way of a coherent explanation from the Obamassiah.

Huckabee, Christians, and identity politics

Greg Alterton examines Mike Huckabee’s “vote-for-me-because-I’m-a-Christian” strategy at Race42008.com:

Despite what Huckabee has suggested, I don’t think we evangelicals are welcomed in the party as long as we keep our place. I think we’re welcomed in the party as long as we add something of substance to the conservative foundation of the Republican Party, and as long as we approach politics pragmatically, maturely, and are determined to be part of a diverse coalition aimed at winning elections, which is required for political success and the advancement of our principles in the politics and policies of the nation.

A number of years ago, I was asked to speak to a group of students from a number of private Christian high schools who had come to Sacramento for a week-long Model Legislature. I was asked to talk about the role of Christians in politics and government. What I told them is that the role of Christians in government is the same as the role of Christians who are lawyers, teachers, doctors, engineers, or greeters at WalMart – to reflect the fruit of the Spirit and the character of Christ; to treat people with respect and deference; to conduct oneself with civility, honesty, and integrity; to approach one’s profession with the spirit and attitude of a servant; to bless one’s enemies and not curse them. If Christians do that, they will have a far greater impact for good in this country, and for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, than they will in pushing any particular political agenda.
My observation is that many of my socially conservative brethren, particularly those who love being pandered to by candidates for the presidency, have lost sight of this.

One reason for my frequent criticism of Huckabee’s positions is that I’m a committed evangelical Christian and a serious conservative. If people like me don’t criticize Huckabee, his supporters could very easily misinterpret all criticism from non-evangelicals as nothing more than thinly-veiled bias against evangelicals.

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:1-20

Nativity in stained glassIn those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luther's rose in stained glassAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Secular conservatives’ circular firing squad

Dave at NixGuy.com tipped me to a timely post by Erick Erickson at RedState.
The gist of it is a lament over secular conservatives’ increasingly harsh criticism of Mike Huckabee apparently for his faith rather than for his muddled thinking on policy matters. Some quotes:

You know the most damnably aggravating thing about this campaign season for me? I continue to feel compelled to defend Mike Huckabee and I’m still convinced he’d hurt the party were he the nominee. And as I continue to defend Huckabee, some have decided I’m an anti-Mormon bigot, some have decided I must be a Huckabee supporter, and some have decided I’ve just lost my mind.
Here I go again defending the guy who I have no intention of voting for.

I tend to think it is this class of people [“Metropolitan Conservatives”] who should let the rest of us go after Huckabee. They should go silent. The more they speak in their condescending manner toward those who are, in reality, the bulk of the GOP base, the more they give away the game that they want us in the party — they just wish we’d all shut the hell up and take orders instead.

The New York-Washington Corridor of Conservative Intelligentsia™ bristles at the idea that a back water social conservative from Arkansas has excited the base in a way the others haven’t. We were, after all, suppose to go for Romney or Rudy. They told us so.
I don’t want to defend Mike Huckabee. He’s not my candidate. I don’t yet see any major reasons to trust him on fiscal issues (though he did say he wants to kill the corporate income tax). But it’s a sad day in the conservative movement when the conservative intelligentsia has sustained harsher words for a socially conservative Governor than a serial adulterer who has said this year that the government should provide assistance to poor women wanting abortions.
There are attacks to be made on Huckabee. But I think most of those who are making them are only helping Huckabee because the snideness of their tone overshadows the accuracy of their attacks.

Erick’s post captures my own misgivings. Since I’m one of those “Jesus freaks from flyover country”, I bristle at the condescension from our supposed betters among metropolitan conservatives.
Shooting yourself in the footHuck’s not my choice by any stretch, but he’s a fellow Christian. In a sense, when the upper-crusters dump on him for his beliefs, they’re dumping on me too. Now I expect to catch flak from the secular leftists, but it’s harder to take from fellow Republicans.
We socially conservative Christians tend to be fiscally conservative too, and we’re foreign policy hawks more often than not. We’re not anti-science; we see the universe as an amazing creation that runs under scientific principles put in place by a rational God. We simply refuse to ignore the evidence of God’s work out of some misguided and mechanistic worldview that rigs the philosophical debate against the possibility of the supernatural. The secular conservatives disagree, which is fine. I can tolerate that, in the truly classical sense of the term.
But let’s be blunt: there are a lot more of us conservative “Jesus freaks” than there are metropolitan secular conservatives. If they persist in flinging poo at their own allies, we’ll politely take the hint and leave them to their lonely fits of pique atop their ivory towers. Of course, they’ll have no luck with advancing our shared values of smaller government and a strong national defense. Ronald Reagan understood this. Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney seem to get it. But for some reason far too many Rudy McRomney backers have either forgotten that lesson or perhaps never learned it to begin with.
We conservative Christians have much more in common with secular conservatives than we do with any other major group. We don’t make a habit of insisting that they become exactly like us, and we’ve dutifully pulled our share of the load since the 1980s. We can tolerate a lot of quiet disdain and open disagreement, but thumping on a prominent Christian simply because he’s a Christian is beyond the pale.
If they’ve got two brain cells between them, the leaders of secular conservatism ought to re-evaluate who their natural allies are, and refrain from unnecessarily antagonizing them.
Sheesh. And they call us narrow-minded?

Mormonism, Christianity, and bigotry

Since Hugh Hewitt’s gotten into the habit of calling people “bigots” when they raise objections to Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs, and since Governor Romney will soon deliver a speech about his Mormon faith and its relevance to his candidacy, it’s time to look a little more closely at Mormonism, Christianity, and how they relate to presidential politics.
Mitt RomneyPlenty can be said about Mormons. They tend to be friendly, hard-working, honest, sober, thrifty, and kind. You’d be hard pressed to find better neighbors. Most Mormons I’ve met do a better job of living an upright life than I do.
What can’t be said about Mormonism, unfortunately, is that it is essentially a Christian belief system. It’s not. The two faiths overlap to some extent, but they differ on far too many essential points to mistake either one for a variety of the other.
Take a moment to read a side-by-side comparison of Christianity and Mormonism.
With so many mutually exclusive doctrines to differentiate the two faiths, Mormonism cannot logically be a form of Christianity. Christianity might be correct. Mormonism might be correct. Maybe they’re both wrong. But let’s not have any more silly claims that “Mormons are Christians.” That claim ranks right up there with “squares are circles.”
I’m a theologically conservative Christian, and I’m convinced that Mormonism is a cult, albeit a non-violent one. That said, I still trust Mitt Romney to faithfully and effectively serve as President if he wins the election. I have more confidence in him than I do in Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister whose theology closely parallels my own. I don’t for one nanosecond extend any such trust to my (allegedly) Christian co-believer Hillary Clinton or any of her fellow Democratic candidates.
Examining a presidential candidate’s core beliefs makes good sense. At the same time, we must exercise caution lest we Christians find ourselves in the hot seat:

If Romney is targeted for his Mormon theology, you can bet Christian candidates will become the regular victims of such interrogation. This is where theology and politics should not mix. Christianity, as we all know, is being pushed from the public square by secularists. Prominent voices claim Christianity actually poisons the political process (Hitchens, Harris, Sullivan) and more intimate examination of Christian candidate’s theology will only marginalize them.
If Christians don’t object strongly to the way this Mormon is treated now, we’ll find next time around the political climate has changed. And next time there won’t be a cultist in the race; Christians will be on the theology hot seat. Defending the Mormon now means defending the ligitimacy of Christian candidates to run in the future without a theological examination.

Hugh Hewitt means well when he defends Mitt Romney. I share the same outlook. All I ask is that Hugh cool it down a bit. In his zeal to prevent secularists from shoving both Mormons and Christians out of politics, he’s attacking friendly forces by slapping the “bigot” label on any Christian who voices honest doubts about Romney’s Mormonism and its influence on his thinking.
Save the ammo for the real opposition, Hugh.