Thursday, November 20, 2008

Penal Substitutionary Atonement

In reading Gerald Hiestand's recent post at entitled "Saved from the Savior," I tried to pick a couple of parts to share. But I kept adding, and soon had each paragraph. So here's his post in full:
I’m finishing up The Nature of the Atonement (eds. Beilby and Eddy). The book presents four differing views of the atonement—the Christus Victor view (defended by Greg Boyd), the kaleidoscopic view (Joel Green), the healing view (Bruce Reichenbach), and the penal substitutionary view (Tom Schreiner). Each author is given a chapter to defend his position, followed by a response from the other three contributors.

While there is a significant amount of disagreement between the four contributors, what I found interesting is that Boyd, Green and Reichenbach are fairly united in their criticism of penal substitution (perhaps Reichenbach less so). With one voice, they call into question the very idea that humanity needs to be saved from God. This is seen perhaps most clearly in Boyd’s chapter and subsequent responses. In defending the Christus Victor view, Boyd argues that the cross of Christ is about being saved from Satan and the evil spiritual ‘powers,’ rather than from God. The idea that we need to be saved from God, Boyd argues, is a misread of Scripture. “The New Testament concept of salvation,” he writes, “is centered on our participation in Christ’s cosmic victory over the powers [Satan]. It does not first and foremost mean ‘salvation from God’s wrath’ or ‘salvation from hell’ as many Western Christians mistakenly assume” (p 35).

This seems to be a fairly common criticism of penal substitution. God is love, the argument goes, and he does not need to be paid off or placated. The cross is about God saving humanity from evil powers (Boyd), the effects of sin (Reichenbach), or a combination of both (Green). But it’s not about humanity being saved from God’s vengeance or wrath. After all, God is the Savior!

But such thinking misses a key element of God’s salvific activity. Let’s recount the Passover.

Moses, as the mediator of God’s wrath, has stretched out his hand over the land of Egypt and brought destruction upon Pharaoh’s kingdom. Yet Pharaoh will not yield. Not to worry, the Lord tells Moses. One last plague is coming, different from all the others, and with this plague Pharaoh will fold. But the difference with this plague will not merely be the degree of its severity; the difference will be in who delivers it. With the plague of the firstborn, God himself will come to visit the land, directly and without a mediator. This is a significant escalation in the conflict. Amidst the terrors of darkness, in the black of night, Yahweh will descend upon the land, a sword of judgment in his hand. Yet a problem presents itself. The Israelites have called in fire on their own position. The nearness of their God is both a blessing and a bane—the fire that will consume their enemies threatens to consume them as well.

God is for the Israelites, but they have not been properly for him. They have joined the opposition and sided with the enemy—an enemy God is determined to crush. But God is gracious in the midst of his vengeance. Another ark of salvation is prepared in the midst of a second flood of vengeance; the blood of a lamb is shed and God’s people are delivered once again…from God. We, like the Israelites in Egypt, need to be saved from our Savior.

And that’s a basic point of penal substitution—that God, in his willingness to save us from the power and dominion of sin—must also somehow save us from himself. Any view of the atonement that fails to grapple with this uncomfortable—yet distinctly biblical—reality, falls short.

Just another terrific post from the guys at Straight Up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fight FOCA

I'm not normally a fan of online petitions, but this is one I've signed. I'd encourage you to go to their website and read up on Fight FOCA, and watch the video on the right side of the screen. Then, if you so desire, scroll down and sign the petition.


I've been reading some of the bill. (The Senate version & House version are basically identical.) Wow. Here's just a little bit, with my responses:
(1) The United States was founded on core principles, such as liberty, personal privacy, and equality, which ensure that individuals are free to make their most intimate decisions without governmental interference and discrimination.
I thought the first "core principle" that the U.S. was founded on was life. Seems to me like without life, one cannot really experience liberty or personal privacy.
(6) In countries in which abortion remains illegal, the risk of maternal mortality is high. According to the World Health Organization, of the approximately 600,000 pregnancy-related deaths occurring annually around the world, 80,000 are associated with unsafe abortions.
So roughly 13% of women who die from pregnancy-related causes are associated with "unsafe" abortions. That pales in comparison to the 100% death rate of aborted babies.
(7) The Roe v. Wade decision also expanded the opportunities for women to participate equally in society. In 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (505 U.S. 833), the Supreme Court observed that, `[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.'.
I'm not a biologist, but I'm pretty sure that women have always been able to control their reproductive lives. As have men. It's called abstinence. It may not be easy, but it's 100% effective.
(10) Legal and practical barriers to the full range of reproductive services endanger women's health and lives. Incremental restrictions on the right to choose imposed by Congress and State legislatures have made access to reproductive care extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many women across the country. Currently, 87 percent of the counties in the United States have no abortion provider.
How does abortion fall under "reproductive care"? If it's not a baby, there was no reproduction. And if it is reproduction, and therefore a baby, then it's most certainly not caring for what has been reproduced. Did I miss Planned Parenthood's new motto, "We kill because we care"?
(11) While abortion should remain safe and legal, women should also have more meaningful access to family planning services that prevent unintended pregnancies, thereby reducing the need for abortion.
Again, let me point to the 100% death rate for aborted babies (not what I'd call "safe") and the much maligned "family planning service" known as abstinence.
(12) To guarantee the protections of Roe v. Wade, Federal legislation is necessary.
No it's not. Courts do not establish law. They merely decide how law is applied in individual cases. Legislatures and voters establish law. It's part of the separation of powers of the government.
(13) Although Congress may not create constitutional rights without amending the Constitution, Congress may, where authorized by its enumerated powers and not prohibited by the Constitution, enact legislation to create and secure statutory rights in areas of legitimate national concern.
What about "legitimate national concern" about the lives of babies?


    This Act applies to every Federal, State, and local statute, ordinance, regulation, administrative order, decision, policy, practice, or other action enacted, adopted, or implemented before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act.
There you go - there's the kicker. The Senate's version of the "no matter what" game I used to play with my brother when we were kids. Only back then we were usually talking about who was the better athlete or whose favorite team was better. Not quite the same seriousness as killing babies.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Serbian Abortionist Become Pro-Life Activist

The Spanish daily "La Razon" has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former "champion of abortion." Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after spending 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

"The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue," the newspaper reported. "Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares."

In describing his conversion, Adasevic said he "dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. 'My name is Thomas Aquinas,' the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn't recognize the name."

"Why don't you ask me who these children are?" St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

"They are the ones you killed with your abortions,” the Dominican saint told him.

"Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions," the article stated.
Read the whole thing here.

The Supremacy Of Christ

(HT: Vitamin Z)

Christ Alone

Some good words from David Block at Vincit Omnia Veritas:
Our society claims that tolerance or rather blind acceptance is the law of belief that all men must accept today. They say, “If your meaning of truth works for you great, just as long as it doesn't get in the way of my truth. After all, with so many religions and beliefs systems out there how can you know if there is a right or wrong one? In the end it doesn't really matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.

But the cry of Christians has always been what Peter says in Acts 4:12, that, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” and as Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Why do we Christians say these things? To the world this seems unfair, unjust, arrogant or even bigoted. Christians say these things because Jesus said theses things about himself. Jesus said that he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one gets to God except by him. Jesus also said that “unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”

Why do we need Jesus to be the only way? The Bible teaches that we are all separated from God due to our sin and the breaking of God's law. Because God is just he must see that every law breaker is justly punished which means the death penalty. We owe God a debt that we could only pay with our eternal deaths. But fortunately, for us God is also loving and so he sent Jesus to pay that debt. Jesus died and took upon himself the full penalty of his people's sin. He is the only way and the only truth because Jesus was the only one willing and able to do this for us. No other religious leader, like Buddha, Mohammed or Confucious even claimed to take the penalty of sin for us let alone rose from the dead to prove that what he said was true; but Jesus did.

There is a huge gap between the Christian view of Jesus and other religions. Atheism, deism or pantheism sees Jesus as just a man, if he existed at all, Christians call him God. Jews say that Jesus was not the Messiah, Christians say he was. Muslims say that Jesus didn't die on the cross but Christians do. Hindus claim that God has and is incarnate multiple times over, Christians believe that God has only been incarnate in Jesus. Buddhists believe that the world will be perfected when we do what is right. Christians know that apart from God, no one can do what is right. So there are really two options left. Choose your own system of belief or popular religious leader and pay for you sin by yourself for all eternity or Jesus can pay it for you. Looking at the price that Jesus paid how could anyone say that believing that he is the only way is unfair or arrogance? We rejoice that there has been a way made to God at all.

So the question is: Do you believe in Christ alone?

Washington's New Administration

This one's particularly for my brother, a Washington Redskins fan. This article speaks of the immense differences between former 'Skins coach, Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, and current rookie coach Jim Zorn. And then ...
Zorn and Gibbs do have this in common: They both love Jesus Christ.

“He is a biblicist,” said Seattle Seahawks chaplain Karl Payne, who has known Zorn for years. “In other words, if the book says it, you need to deal with it. He is far more concerned about being biblically correct than politically correct. He’s not ashamed of Christ.”

Zorn grew up in a family that thought Christianity consisted of doing good and attending church on Easter. As a high school junior, his perceptions were rattled when his girlfriend dumped him, citing the desire to date a Christian boy. Before long, Zorn started attending a Youth for Christ club.

“I realized I had no idea what Christianity was all about,” Zorn said. “I had a decision to make about the info I had. It wasn’t about saying it; it was about believing the info I had about Jesus and if he is the Messiah. I decided for Christ early in my senior year.”
Read the whole thing here.

Obama On Faith

Christianity Today has posted the full transcript of an interview that Cathleen Falsani did with then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, as he was running for U.S. Senate. I found these questions & answers to be most interesting:

I am a Christian.

So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.

On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences.

I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10.

My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim.

And I'd say, probably, intellectually I've drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith.

(A patron stops and says, "Congratulations," shakes his hand. "Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you.")

So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.

And so, part of my project in life was probably to spend the first 40 years of my life figuring out what I did believe - I'm 42 now - and it's not that I had it all completely worked out, but I'm spending a lot of time now trying to apply what I believe and trying to live up to those values.


Do you pray often?

Uh, yeah, I guess I do.

It's not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it.


Have you read the Bible?


I read it not as regularly as I would like. These days I don't have much time for reading or reflection, period.


The conversation stopper, when you say you're a Christian and leave it at that.

Where do you move forward with that?

This is something that I'm sure I'd have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.

You don't believe that?

I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.


Do you believe in sin?


What is sin?

Being out of alignment with my values.


What are you doing when you feel the most centered, the most aligned spiritually?

I think I already described it. It's when I'm being true to myself. And that can happen in me making a speech or it can happen in me playing with my kids, or it can happen in a small interaction with a security guard in a building when I'm recognizing them and exchanging a good word.

Read the whole thing here.

Who Would Have Thought?

For anybody who might have questioned my stance on never voting for any of the Congresspeople who voted for the $700 billion bailout bill (see here), here's one reason I took that stance:
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he plans to introduce a bill Monday that would effectively put the brakes on the $700 billion financial rescue plan signed into law last month.

Sanders, who voted against the bailout package, lambasted the Bush administration for the way it's implemented the program thus far.

"I have very serious concerns as to how the Bush administration is spending the first $350 billion they were provided," Sanders said in a statement Monday. "The second $350 billion tranche must not be spent in the same way."

It's unclear how many other lawmakers would go as far to back a plan to halt the rescue program.

At the same time, criticism of the rescue program has been sharp.

Disapproval on Capitol Hill only grew last week, when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that the department no longer plans to buy up banks' toxic mortgage-related debt - a key part of the plan when it was first pitched on Capitol Hill. Instead, Paulson said he plans to focus on actions that could boost the consumer finance sector, and thereby help consumers gain better access to student and auto loans.

Lawmakers have slammed Treasury for the about-face, saying it raises questions about whether Treasury has a clear roadmap for how to make best use of the funds. Meanwhile, leaders in the House and Senate have steadily called on Paulson to force banks receiving government funds to adhere to tougher executive pay limits and requirements on lending.

(read the rest here)
You mean it might not be a good idea to give one person a blank check with no oversight? You mean it might not be a good idea to just "do something" without actually taking time to think about and discuss what you want to do and the potential ramifications? Who knew? Funny how these Lawmakers who "slammed" the Treasury had no problem passing the bill that contained little oversight. Perhaps they should have read it before they voted on it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Savior Sibling Thoughts

Last week I posted part of an article reminding me of a concept I've heard termed "savior sibling." (If you haven't already, read my previous post here, or the full article here.) I still haven't had the time to fully develop my thoughts, but wanted to post some before I forget.

The thrust of my thoughts result from the following portion of the story:
... Twenty-six eggs were fertilized and began to develop. Ten were genetically compatible. Two of those were disease-free, and both were implanted in CeCe's uterus in case one of them didn't develop.
I hate to use the phrase "collateral damage" here, since no real "damage" is intended, but that's what comes to mind. In order to cure their son's sickle cell anemia, 26 embryos were created. Two were allowed to continue to develop. The article speaks of CeCe's "guilt" at being pregnant with the twins, whose purpose was to save Carmani (this guilt was said to fall away after their birth), but there was no further mention of the other 24 embryos.

If I may, let me take a moment to detach my comments from the Boozers. I know that a single article cannot tell the whole story, cannot tell all the Boozers thought, did, and felt. I cannot imagine the hurt and anguish that they must have gone through.

So instead, I want to focus on the telling of the story. I think this speaks to the flippant way we view the miracle of life. We now have medical advances such as in vitro fertilization and advanced in utero diagnostics, so that we can tell (to various levels of certainty) if an embryo is a genetic match for a sick sibling, or likely to have Down syndrome, or even what gender the baby is very early in development. With the results of these tests we can decide whether or not a developing baby is worthy of life or not. We can convince ourselves that creating 26 embryos to try to have one baby to save another child is worth it, even if it means all the other embryos are frozen indefinitely (with the possibility of further attempts at implanting by in vitro), thrown out, or destroyed in research.

Back to the Boozers - my heart breaks for Carmani. My heart breaks for Carlos & CeCe having to watch their son go through a life threatening ordeal. My heart breaks for them going through the uncertain process of in vitro. My heart rejoices that Carmani has been cured. I hope that the whole family will glorify their Creator for years to come and ultimately enter into His rest. But my heart breaks for those other 24 embryos.

In closing I have a question. What do the following words have in common?
  • Zygote
  • Embryo
  • Fetus
  • Newborn
  • Infant
  • Toddler
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
These are simply stages of development that we all have gone through (assuming a purely adult readership). Why should any particular stage(s) have any more or less "right to life" than any other? Why should it be okay that, in America, more than 80 percent of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted? Would we allow this with newborns/infants? Toddlers? Teenagers? Senior citizens? I really didn't intend to go on this much, but I'm reminded of a story that I heard from Glenn Beck and posted on my blog in November of 2006:
I want to share a story with you about a baby that was born -- baby Knauer -- born blind, missing an arm and a leg. The parents were just beside themselves.

The dad decided he's going to write and ask for some help because all the doctors weren't helping. They wrote somebody who is pretty powerful, and they trusted him. And they said, "Please, can you help us put our child into a better place? Please remove the burden on us."

Well, he saw the pictures. He read the letter, talked to the parents, flew out to meet with them, just filled with compassion, tears filling his eyes. He said, "I will personally give you my personal doctor to review the case." The doctor came back and said absolutely no justification for keeping this child alive. The baby was allowed to die.

Who was that compassionate, powerful man who so graciously put that baby boy to sleep? You probably guessed by now it was Adolf Hitler. Baby Knauer was the first victim of the Holocaust. Hitler later signed a decree permitting the euthanasia of disabled infants based on this case and creating a panel of expert referees which judged the infants and found out which ones were eligible for death.

Once he was through with the babies, the elderly were next. As it has been said over and over again with tragedies regarding the Holocaust: Never again.

NFL Power Rankings

I've been trying to have some fun with politics recently, but even laughing at politics is depressing sometimes. So how about some good old fashioned sports fun, courtesy of ESPN's Sports Guy? Here are a couple of samplings from his latest NFL Rankings:
26. St. Louis Rams
A.J. in St. Louis sent me this: "Jim Thomas is our Rams beat writer. In his weekly chat, someone asked, 'After the year, what position(s) do the Rams need to address via the draft and free agency?' Jim responded, 'Everything but punter and place-kicker.' Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 St. Louis Rams!"

25. Cleveland Browns
If you don't think this is the worst-coached half-decent team in the league, you didn't see the Browns blow a 10-point lead Thursday night to an atrocious defensive team that was down to a backup fullback as its only running back. (Actually, you probably didn't see it -- you could see the game only on the NFL Network. Great.) I remember this past Sunday when Fox's Rich Gannon said, "You can't second-guess Romeo Crennel here." I won't even tell you the context. Just know that, yes, at all times we are allowed to second-guess Romeo Crennel. Even if he's single-handedly disarming three gunmen during a bank robbery as I'm lying on the floor with my hands behind my head.

24. Houston Texans
I quit the Texans. Didn't think I could, but I did. They can't win on the road. Also, this quote from new starting QB Sage Rosenfels did me in: "I have been a backup for eight years. So if there's 32 teams in the league times eight years, that's 256 times that teams have said, 'This guy is not our starter.' So, yeah, I think there are some [naysayers] out there." I'd like to add myself to the list, Sage.

19. Chicago Bears
My West Coast fantasy team has something in common with the 2008 Bears: We both got finished off by Kyle Orton's ankle sprain. I ended up losing by three points last week because I started Orton over Donovan McNabb and got only one half out of him. Now, I'm 3-6 with four devastating losses: Brady going down eight minutes into Week 1; the DeSean Jackson premature espikeulation game; Kellen Clemens throwing a last-minute pick to San Diego's D to beat me; and last week, when I lost in the final minute of Monday night. At least I know I'm done, whereas Bears fans have to talk themselves into Rex Grossman for a few weeks.

My big epiphany: Really, the fantasy football season isn't fun. Winning is OK; losing is agonizing. You constantly feel awful about your choices and your bad luck; it's the only exercise that causes arguments with friends you normally never would argue with; and you spend roughly a kazillion hours managing your team for the 10 percent chance that you might win your league. There's just not a ton of upside. It's almost like smoking cigarettes -- it started out with good intentions, and it's something to do, and it can be fun in the right moments, but ultimately, there are an inordinate amount of moments when you find yourself leaning out a window in 20-degree weather to puff out a quick cig as your nose gets frostbitten, or bumming a cig from a group of horrible girls and then feeling obligated to talk to them, or waking up in the morning and coughing up your right lung. Really, it's more harm than fun. And yet, we continue to do it. And love it. This entire paragraph made me want to smoke.
(Side note: I had this epiphany after my first son was born. And I haven't looked back. Fantasy freedom feels pretty good to me.)
17. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is my runner-up for the 2008 Halfway MVP. Look at the Saints right now: They have below-average talent; they lost their two best skill-position guys for weeks at a time; they had to deal with the potential of another hurricane in Week 1; they lost a home game to play in London; they're in the toughest division in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE; and somehow, they're 4-4 and favored on the road this Sunday against an underrated Falcons team. It has been Brees and Sean Payton, and that's really it. Speaking of halfway points, let's take a commercial break before the second half of the column.
    Saaaaaaved byyyyyy zerrrrrr-ohhhhhhhhhh.

    "Now, for a limited time only, you can get amazing zero APR financing on your favorite Toyota."

    Saaaaaaved byyyyyy zerrrrrr-ohhhhhhhhhh.

    "That's 0 percent financing on 11 different models! Featuring Toyota's legendary quality. No other car brand can make this offer. So hurry in now, and see how much zero can save you on a brand new Toyota."

    Saved by zero! Saved by zero!

(By the way, I did that off the top of my head. We are reaching the point that I am two weeks away from stopping by my local Toyota dealership, buying a brand-new Toyota Tundra with zero APR financing, driving the car off the lot, doing a U-turn, then plowing it through the front window of the dealership at 60 mph while screaming, "SAVED BY ZERO," like the guys from "Red Dawn" screamed, "WOLVERINES!" Cut down on the ads, Toyota. We're not kidding. You know why you haven't see John Mellencamp in two years? He's trapped in the basement of some frustrated baseball fan who dressed him like the Gimp and keeps him in a trunk after hearing "Our Country" for the 700,000th time. Look, we're all ecstatic that the guys from the Fixx are getting royalties again. Just tone it down. We get it. Zero APR financing. Heard you loud and clear.)
(Another side note: Just to say I can't add anything to the Sports Guy's commentary on the most annoying currently running commercial.)
9. Washington Redskins
What a humiliation! Monday night, hours before the election, Steelers-Skins … and the place was packed with Steelers fans! How does that happen???? Redskins fans deserve a paragraph as short as their owner.

Myths About The Great Depression

Andrew Wilson shares "five interrelated and durable myths about the 1929-39 Depression":
  1. Herbert Hoover, elected president in 1928, was a doctrinaire, laissez-faire, look-the-other way Republican who clung to the idea that markets were basically self-correcting.
  2. The stock market crash in October 1929 precipitated the Great Depression.
  3. Where the market had failed, the government stepped in to protect ordinary people.
  4. Greed caused the stock market to overshoot and then crash.
  5. Enlightened government pulled the nation out of the worst downturn in its history and came to the rescue of capitalism through rigorous regulation and government oversight.
In light of the recent problems in the economy, and the rhetoric of the Presidential and Congressional races, I'd encourage you to read the whole thing. If you'd like to read more about the Great Depression, I'd recommend The Forgotten Man, by Amity Schlaes. I have yet to read the book myself, but have heard much about it and much from Ms. Schlaes herself, that I do not hesitate recommending it.

Election Aftermath

I know - I'm late. As a blogger, I failed to live up to my contractual obligation to write about the election either Tuesday night or Wednesday. Since I've already failed, I'll just rip off others. First, the lighter side, from the Onion:

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

And now, for something completely different. Thabiti Anyabwile posted the following as a guest post at Between Two Worlds. I've reproduced it here in full because I couldn't leave any of it out:
Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and blogs at Pure Church. He is the author of three books: The Faithful Preacher, The Decline of African American Theology, and What Is a Healthy Church Member? He lives with his wife and three children in Grand Cayman.
I remember as a middle-schooler watching the film, “The Day After.” It was, at the time (the height of the Cold War), a rather alarming film about the prospect of nuclear war. We watched with rapt attention as mushroom clouds, frantic citizens, traffic jams, blinding light, and nuclear fallout destroyed “life as we knew it.”

It strikes me that many Christians have been watching this election like middle-schoolers fearfully paralyzed at their first look at nuclear realities. Our fear of nuclear destruction was warranted. The Christian anxiety about this election is not.

So it’s the day after the election, and your candidate didn’t win. Aside from the natural nauseating post-game let-down feeling, what are you to think and feel? Here are a few quick thoughts:
1. Remember that President Barack Obama is not just the first African-American president, he is also the 44th white President. There will no doubt be many associations made between his skin color, assumptions about his race, and a host of successes or failures during his presidency. But let us Christians avoid such errors. Let us avoid saddling this one man with the responsibility of representing a “race” of people, or saddling the people with this one man’s failures or achievements. Let us be good theologians and attribute all that President Obama is to either his fallen nature or to the work of grace in his life. We may all celebrate in his achievement, and we may all recognize in him things fundamental to human nature—not to “race.” His presidency is as much a testament to the progress of all Americans as it is a proud moment for African Americans.

2. Keep working on the issues you care most passionately about. There is no reason to think that President Barack Obama can overthrow the will and work of God in the world. So what if he is the most pro-choice/pro-abortion candidate in history? Isn’t God still the most pro-life God in all creation? The man in the presidency has changed; our Lord has not. So we keep laboring in the cause of justice knowing that the Sovereign Lord is just as likely (maybe more likely!) for His glory to do with a President Obama—who so clearly opposes his will in many areas—greater things on the abortion front than He might do with a professing Christian president. God may yet bring to Himself more glory in prevailing on the abortion issue by making the most sizeable and godward progress during the administration of one who is so decidedly against His will! That would be just like Him: raise the opposition to demonstrate more His glory. Put your hope in the living God!

3. Pray for those in authority over you. No really; pray for him. Consider that when Paul instructs the church to pray for those in authority he then directly connects such prayer with the ability of the church to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). One wonders how much of the peace- and godliness- and holiness-destroying circumstances in our country stem from the absence of prayer for those in authority. Our prayer meetings are empty. Our pastoral and personal prayers are self-centered. We barely feel the urging emphasis of Paul when he assigns “first of all” importance to “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving” on behalf of our leaders. Can there be any wonder that our leaders so often serve themselves and not the people? And can any man stand against the will and power of God when the Lord’s people really pray for them? No they cannot. Really; they cannot. Pray for President Obama with the full assurance of faith.
So, it’s the day after the election. Things have changed, in some obvious and more subtle ways. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! God’s election of you, if you’re a Christian, has not changed. His purpose to conform you to Christ has not changed. You really have won all that matters for eternity. That’s not to downplay the importance of some issues discussed in this election. But really, if McCain had won, how would your day today be in reality any different than your day yesterday? The laws today would be the same laws yesterday. Your work would still be before you. You haven’t lost any ground yet. Perhaps you’ve been given greater incentive to pray, reminded of what matters eternally, and in those things shone a more fruitful path forward. The Lord omnipotent reigns. Rejoice in full assurance!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Rock Yo Mama!

Just a couple of videos to get in the mood for President Rock Yo Mama (at least that's how my nearly 2 year old son says it) and the United Socialist States of America:

The first video would be a lot funnier if it were a Saturday Night Live sketch instead of an actual United States Senator (Charlie Rangel of New York).