Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fighting the T-Rex

Drawn with UPAD

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A comic : Martin Luther's explanation to the fifth commandment

Also touches on some differences between a Theology of the Cross and a Theology of Glory

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A comic: "Be Perfect"

Drawn with Upad.

A discourse on Jesus' command to "be perfect" from Matthew 5:48.

In a legalistic point of view, we reduce the demands of God's law to that which is doable. Or worse yet, through open cynicism or self-blinded naïveté, we reduce the demand to that which we ourselves have been doing. The standard becomes, "Be like me". Instead of God's standard becoming so high that it cost him his Son, it becomes so low that you only have to mimic the rites and morality of your local fundamentalist. In contrast, I believe that if you believe God really expects us to be perfect, you have no place to run but to the Cross. In contrast, your enemies' complaints engender apology and acts of reconciliation, not exasperation. That is the point of the comic.

Others have chimed in similarly. Tullian Tchividjian wrote,
"In Matthew 5-7, Jesus wants us to see that regardless of how well we think we’re doing or how much better we’re becoming, when “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” becomes the requirement and not “look how much I’ve grown over the years”, we begin to realize that we don’t have a leg to lean on when it comes to answering the question, “How can I stand righteous before God”? Our transformation, our purity, our growth in godliness, our moral advances and spiritual successes–Spirit-animated as it all may be–simply falls short of the sinlessness God demands. And since a “not guilty verdict” depends on sinlessness, assurance is ultimately contingent on perfection, not progress."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dr. Benjamin Carson's Speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast

The speaker at this year's National Prayer Breakfast was Dr. Benjamin Carson, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins.   His remarks are getting a lot of attention in the conservative twitterverse, so I thought I'd chip in my own comments.

Here's the text of the speech, and I've embedded a video:

First of all, I've seen a few folks express delight that he takes a stand against political correctness, and its chilling effect on spreading the gospel. Can't argue with that.

I did have a few objections to his comments on tax policy, at least the claim that he was drawing from scriptural principles.  Here's the section from his speech:
When I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the Universe, God, and he’s given us a system. It’s called tithe. Now we don’t necessarily have to do it 10% but it’s principle. He didn’t say, if your crops fail, don’t give me any tithes. He didn’t say, if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithes. So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 Billion dollars you put in a Billion. You make $10 you put in $1 – of course, you gotta get rid of the loopholes, but now now some people say, that’s not fair because it doesn’t hurt the guy who made $10 Billion dollars as much as the guy who made $10. Where does it say you have to hurt the guy. He’s just put in a billion in the pot. We don’t need to hurt him.

A number of objections:
  1. Who's out to hurt the billionaire?
    It would be interesting to take, say the top three liberal pundits on the topic (John Stewart, Elizabeth Warren, and Warren Buffet), and see if they are out to get the rich.  I believe the tone I've heard from these folks is the opposite: "the system" helped them more, they should pay more.  Best construction??
  2. Just What is the biblical policy on wealth redistribution?
    The bible did advocate a tithe to the Levites, orphans, and widows.  But only 6% of the federal budget goes to poverty programs.    And exactly what is the scriptural witness on giving to the poor? "Open wide", "Sell all your possessions", "Gave half", "Give to him who asks", "Give your cloak," etc.   Are these to be the bases for federal tax policy? Ask the guy who's starving what's fair, which interpretation would make the Creator the fairest person in the universe.
  3. Are we to end emergency room requirements to take anyone
    Carson expresses delight later in the speech that poor man with diabetes would be put in a financial situation where he would know it would ruin him to go to the emergency room.   The way this would be workable is if emergency rooms were no longer required to just take anyone who shows up. Good Samaritans no more?  Is that a bible principle?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The media won't report on persecution of Christians in Iraq

Today I heard, in a Christian context, someone say that the media won't report on persecution of Christians in Iraq because that might reduce sympathy for Muslims in their fight against Israel.

What was so sad was how ridiculously easy it was to find multiple cases of reporting on such persecution.  
  • Here's a CNN video from 2010:
  • The conservative "Red State" blog had this article urged us to go look at a NY Times article on the topic.  
  • TIME showed up with an article from 2004.
  • There's the liberal Huffington Post chiming in in 2010.
  • And to top if off, here's an 2010 article from Bloomberg about how Hillary Clinton and the United Nations Human Rights Council. Aren't all three of these supposed to hate Christians?

That's all I got because I got disgusted with the exercise.

I'm not saying that persecution of Christians is not a very serious problem. I have taken efforts to get Christian youth involved in the topic. I would strongly encourage readers to be involved in any of several advocacy organizations on the topic, such as Voice of the Martyrs.   But I do think it's also very serious when Christians state the easily disprovable as a given.  When they say things that take two minutes of Googling to prove wrong.  Another word for this is lie.  This is wrong for several reasons:
  1. It raises the question, "What else is demonstrably untrue in your witness?"
  2. It fails at a "best construction", even if it is against journalists! ;) Such professions can be allies in the campaign to get the truth out, as our "Red State" friends above have seen.
  3. It is just one more way that some evangelicals force nonbelievers (and believers!) to check their brains at the door.

Here's my final sentiment:
Follow Christ. Be an evangelical.  Don't follow the evangelical herd.