Monthly Archives: November 2008


The Blood of the Martyrs

There were more martyrs for the Christian faith in the last century than in any previous century. I am not totally sure about this fact but I think there were possibly more martyrs in the 20th century than in all the previous 19 centuries total. This fact is clear: martyrdom is still a major trial for the church and there is little or no evidence that it is declining in the 21st century.

My good friend Dr. Timothy George is the Dean of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. TG
Beeson Divinity School is one of my top-five schools for training ministers in America. It is evangelical, ecumenical and outward looking in an unusual way. It has a superb faculty and is a great place to get into a smallish community of learners and worshipers. I have frequently recommended Beeson and not one student I have urged to enroll there has

By |November 30th, 2008|Categories: The Persecuted Church|

Does Christianity Foster Hate?

There can be no doubt that certain kinds of Christianity have fostered hate. This has been true historically and it is still true in some places today. I am not speaking of "hate crimes" as defined by secular legal minds in our own time but rather of the type of hatred that makes people see Christians and Christianity as mean-spirited.

I am convinced that the good news of Jesus, properly understood, never breeds a hateful faith, only a gracious faith. The reason for this is that Jesus himself is at the center of real faith and Jesus never modeled hate speech or mean actions. He was firm, especially with religious conservatives who failed to keep the spirit of the law, but he was never mean. He exemplified love and grace and always displayed the virtues of love, patience, meekness and humility in his dealings with people. Since he is our model we should do the same, in so far as we follow him.

What I am really saying is that faith is primarily relational. This

By |November 29th, 2008|Categories: Christ/Christology|

Benedict XVI Gets It Right

Yesterday I wrote about how the abortion issue has shifted within our culture. I suggested that we needed to take a new approach to creating a culture of life and to the end of saving as many of the unborn as possible.

First some history. Evangelicals came to the pro-life issue several years after Roman Catholics. They initially even showed a willingness to accept it until people like C. Everett Koop, Francis Schaeffer and Harold O. J. Brown began to inform them of their mistakes. Then evangelicals responded the way they often respond. They got emotionally and passionately involved. Some even made this the "single most important issue" of our time. The rhetoric employed made it sound like a Nazi-like holocaust was unfolding in the United States. This approach, in my view, made things worse. Even if you believe that a real human life is taken in an abortion, and I strongly do, serious ethical consideration will force you to approach this issue

By |November 28th, 2008|Categories: Abortion|

Coerced Consensus

Sociologist James Davison Hunter has coined a term that very effectively describes what is going on in our culture in terms of how people are taught to define reality. Hunter writes that there is a "coerced consensus" that comes about through the imposition of a particular viewpoint on a people at large. The ultimate goal of this consensus, adds Bishop Michael Sheridan (Colorado Springs), is "unconscious acceptance." When this happens reality is then defined through the multitude of messages that are fed to us continually through a media saturated culture. Bishop Sheridan believes that this "unconscious acceptance' makes dissent an act of "virtual treason." Through the clever use of media the enemy of our souls has accomplished, in less than one generation, a complete reordering of the moral life of most people, even most Christians. Bishop Sheridan calls this the "principal tool of the culture of death."

This "coerced consensus" permeates our society through television and film stereotypes and an anti-religious social system. When a Christian challenges these messages they are made to feel as if they are

By |November 27th, 2008|Categories: Culture|

Where Did John McCain Go Wrong?

Smiling Mc
After a general election it is common to ask the question: "How did the losing candidate go wrong?" We often see a myriad of studies and opinions given. I find all of this more than curious since someone always loses an election when there is more than one candidate. The person who loses may have really done very well but the pundits insist there had to be some blame to place on the loser's campaign and party. In the case of John McCain he actually did not do badly in a very hard year for Republican candidates.

For starters we should be very clear about this much. There was no Republican candidate who could have won this election, period. Second, the economic collapse blew up every real chance McCain had to win. He was leading in all the polls in late September and then the crisis hit big time. He never led again. Never has an election taken place

By |November 26th, 2008|Categories: Politics|

The Same-Sex Marriage Debate Continues

The ballot initiatives on November 4 demonstrated that Americans are still not ready to embrace same-sex marriage as law. They clearly favor legal protection and recognition, but not marriage. The most surprising vote of all was Proposition 8 in California. And perhaps the most surprising fact of the entire California issue was who voted for and against the measure. White, educated voters supported gay marriage heavily. African-Americans and Hispanics overwhelmingly opposed it. The same voters who supported Barack Obama in large numbers voted against same-sex marriage in very large numbers. Now the radical proponents are attacking groups like the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church, which remains a continual target of such groups.

Arizona and Florida also voted to approve an amendment to ban same-sex marriage, as have more than thirty states now. The simple fact is that most Americans still do not want same-sex marriage as law. For those who agree I would caution you to think that this somehow ends the debate. The

By |November 25th, 2008|Categories: Abortion|

Maxed Out

Maxed Out
is a documentary that every reader of this blog should take time to watch. It takes you on a journey deep inside the American style of debt. Given our present problems we all need to face this crisis honestly. How has the credit crisis impacted you, me and almost everyone else that we know unless they earn $200,000 plus annually. (In one sense even the wealthy are often misusing credit but they can recover in most cases since their income is so large.)

The villains are to be found everywhere. First, the consumer is often clueless. Some of this is clearly their fault. They were never taught to save or to live within their means. They have been taught to spend now and pay later. An entire generation is hooked. Our president has actually encouraged it and Congress tried to stimulate it with checks this year.

Students are hooked in their first year in college and

By |November 24th, 2008|Categories: Economy/Economics|

What's Happened to the Campus Greek System?

I was never a big fan of the campus Greek system while I was at the University of Alabama (1967-69). There was just too much silliness and nonsense for my tastes. And when I saw how the Greeks partied and how they "cheated" on exams I became less than impressed.

I was thus surprised to read in a recent AP report that a new fraternity and sorority exists at my old campus in Tuscaloosa. The Lambda Sigma Phi house, right in the middle of fraternity row, is a Christian Greek house. Here Bible study and mission projects trump booze and late night orgies. Lambda Sigma Phi is part of a wave of Christian fraternities and sororities that have gained a foothold on college campuses in America. There are 210 fraternities in this group nationwide. Some of these exist where schools have made it very difficult for them to be accepted. Members of these houses focus on prayer, Bible study and service projects as

By |November 23rd, 2008|Categories: Evangelism|

Obama and the BCS

For those of you who are not fans of college football, and you do have my sincere sympathy, you may not have taken notice that our president-elect has a strong opinion regarding the question of how to determine the number one college football team in America. Obama, speaking on CBS' "60 Minutes," recently said, "If you've got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there's no clear, decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system."

As one who thinks the playoff system is not needed I find it interesting that one of the first places Barack Obama decided to use his "bully pulpit" was related to the question of determining the number one college football team in America. The Bowl Championship Series (BCS), which is the current system that uses rankings and computers to determine who plays who in the bowls and who plays for number one at the end of the season,

By |November 22nd, 2008|Categories: College Football|

Conduct and Prayer

The relationship between right conduct and prayer is extremely important. I find a lot of people treat prayer as a kind of talisman that helps them when they need it. Their conduct is virtually irrelevant to their prayer(s). The famous English archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple (1881-1944), wrote: "Right relation between conduct and prayer is not that prayer is supremely important and conduct tests it."

Every moment of our life is a moment of crisis, at least in one simple but profound sense. Every decision that we make has an impact upon every other decision and every other action we will take. We must choose constantly between life and death, at least spiritually. We must choose between our purely temporal interests or the eternal order of things in our life. The enemy wants to put God-eclipsing objects between us and the Father. He wants us to understand reality in purely temporal and momentary terms. Live for now! Deal with later only when it comes. Christian conduct and prayer removes the barriers and lives for both now and the

By |November 21st, 2008|Categories: Spirituality|

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