In the News: Atlanta Spa Shootings, Beth Moore, Audrey Assad, and Evangelicals the Least Likely Group to Care for Others

Modern-Cloister-NEW

Today we are taking a break from our Community Series to kick off something we plan to post near the end of each month. In it we will discuss two or three major news stories as well as one other story from each of us. We aren’t just trying to report the news, but to discuss either why the story matters or how we should think/act in response to the events from a Christian viewpoint.  

In the first segment, we discuss the recent Asian Spa shooting that happened here in Atlanta, which now has its own Wikipedia page (which is actually quite good), in which eight people died, six of which were Asian. I should note that during the recording we wondered the ethnicity of the other two and assumed they were both women. However, it was actually a man and a woman, both of which were white. We also failed to note that there was another person shot, a hispanic man, who did survive. We try to touch on both the asian violence over the past year and the issues with ‘purity culture’, as well as our response to both issues as Christians. I mention Kevin DeYoung’s remarks, his podcast is called Life and Books and Everything does not appear to have a website, and our friend Steve Heimler, who’s video you can watch below the podcast feed. 

Our second segment is on Beth Moore leaving the Southern Baptist Convention, for whom she has authoring numerous books over the past few decades. She is likely the most famous in a long line of people who have left the SBC, including whole congregations of black churches. This is notable in that there seems to be no issue of hersey, but rather a lack of will to support Trump that is causing such deep divisions. You can read what Russell Moore (no relation) has to say about Beth here.

Mrs. MMT discusses the news that one of her favorite singers, Audrey Assad, abandons Christianity. 

We wrap up with an article from David French about white evangelicals being the least likely group to say they will get vaccinated, and if that isn’t enough, they are also the least likely to say that the effects on the community are important. This is, of course, a complete disregard for love your neighbor and they will know you by the love you show.

We went far longer than intended, so the format may change. I hope you enjoy the discussion, please feel free to comment below.

The Future of Community Modern Cloister

In this episode of the Modern Cloister, we discuss trends and projections for where the church is headed, along with our thoughts and commentary on the opportunity we have as Christians to influence the future of both the church and Christian community over the next decade. This is the 3rd episode in our series on community. The 1st covered the history of Christian community and the 2nd focused on the decline of community from the 1950s to present day. Resources mentioned in this episode:  Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer This is the book mentioned at the end of the podcast, for anyone interested in further reading.
  1. The Future of Community
  2. In The News: Atlanta Spa Shootings, Beth Moore, Audrey Assad, and Evangelicals Least Likely to Care for Others
  3. The Decline of Community
  4. A History of Christian Community
  5. Welcome to the Modern Cloister

Video Discussing the Attack on the Capital

I was sent this video yesterday. This is Steve Heimler, who has a YouTube channel (Called Heimler’s History) that teaches AP History. He is a history teacher with a Christian homeschool network and an adjunct teaching pastor at my church. I appreciate his focus on facts, as a historian, and the way the lays out what happens and what it means. Too many people in the broader evangelical camp do not believe in many of these facts. It is important that we, as Christians speak truth and not get caught up in political conspiracy theories. You can read my thoughts on what happen, here

Thoughts on the attack at the US Capitol

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Like many people, I couldn’t sleep last night. I laid in bed, honestly just confused. It is surreal. I thought of all the things I wanted to say. Wrote this post in my mind, you know? Kind of lack reenacting an argument in your head after you’ve had some time. I felt like I had a few good things going. Of course, today, after not sleeping and then an odd day at work, I feel as confused as ever. 

This was wild (which, to be fair, is what the president called for), shameful and embarrassing. You can go here for a pretty good group of pictures. Mrs. MMT and I wondered last night, which ones will end up in the history textbooks. 

I’m not typically an emotional person, but it was hard not feel that way watching this. Our capitol was under siege, lawmakers were being escorted at by secret service members while wearing dollar store gas masks, non-American flags were raised, including the Confederate Battle Flag (something that never even happened during the Civil War) and, perhaps more frightening, flags with Trump’s name on them. 

Cult of Personality

It was a sight to behold. People, with no sense of irony (or, apparently, logic, grammar, history) stormed the capitol building, broke windows/doors to stop a ceremonial democratic process (the definition of sedition), carried a treasonous flag, all while chanting ‘USA’. It was truly bewildering for everyone watching at home, and around the world. We weren’t the only ones confused, it seems, the insurrectionist didn’t seem to know what to do next. Like a dog that finally catches a car, they seemed lost as to what to do with it. I was watching TV live (while on a Zoom call) and you could see people just, milling about. Walking around, taking pictures, stealing things and engaging in general jackassery. 

Their dear leader had held a rally earlier in the day, told them to march to the capital and inhibit democracy and overturn the election. The did just that. Then, well, not much for bit. Then their leader tells them they are special and he is proud of them, and to go home peacefully. They do just that. They actually just walked away. Nothing else happened that night. I guess they are awaiting orders, and again unironically, et. al, posting online that people who wear masks are sheep. 

To their credit, I suppose, if you can say that about sedition, there was no more violence last night or so far today. I honestly don’t expect there to be. Not until Trump gives the order to attack again. If you can stomach the cesspool of Twitter, go look at the comments under hardcore Turmpers such as Pence and Cruz, when they call this a terrorist attack, the ask why they are backing down, they are asking what about the storm, and they are accusing them of turning on America. If you want even more unhinged, look at the replies to Trump telling them to go home. You get some of the same questioning, but no attacks, and then the most loyal try to decipher of the other, less informed, by pointing out that ‘they’ must be regrouping and encourage everyone to go back and wait. 

I don’t know how to describe this as anything other than a cult. This is pure cult of personality. The live and, now actually, die on his every word. They are not America First (while misguided, is at least arguable) they are Trump First. Even worse, they are Trump only. 

Rewriting the Narrative

As they had no plan, there is no coherent narrative coming out of the attack. Once the Capital Building was clearing, the Senate and Congress came back in and finalized the election. Again, this is a ceremonial display. They only count the votes toward the electoral college. The states have already certified. The people voted long ago. People can object, which rarely happens (one person attempted in ’16, but was gaveled down by none other than Biden). Ted Cruz had recently finished his long, rambling speech which said nothing at all and continued the lie of ‘stolen election’, which has been heard in over 60 court cases, in which the Trump team has won one case (election observers were allowed to move from 10 feet away to six, kraken indeed). 

Then the attack happened. Interestingly some of the of the lawmakers changed their mind and decided not to object. They were never willing to stated that they bought of the lies they had been spewing and were only doing it for political theater. Of course, they never explained why they changed their minds. Either you believe, whith no basis in facts whatsoever, that the election was stolen, or you don’t. I doubt we will hear from any. Cruz continues his QAnonsense attacks on democracy during the counting, but today called the attacks terrorist actions. That is some fine tight rope walking.

So, what is the narrative? Claim victory? Not quite. As nothing could happen regarding the election, nothing did happen, other than the counting of certified votes. However, they claim blue lives matter and to be for law and order, so the whole violent sedition, death and destruction thing is a bit problematic. Pretty quickly, these were the lines:

  1. It was a non-violent protest. Well, no. Right now it looks like dozens of officers were injured, 15 of which were hospitalized, one of which is in critical condition (curiously, many of the blue light houses were dark this morning on my way to work, not sure if they are ashamed Trumpers or no longer support the police). This should also dispel the myth that the police opened the doors and let everyone in. Though, there were clearly some shaking hands and taking pictures, but they are easily identifiable, and should be fire and arrested. Even worse, four people are dead. One lady, in her 30s with two kids, was shot by secret service for getting too close to Pence. Which I suppose it what happens when Service and police barricade a door with furniture, point guns at the door and then say if you break the door, they will shoot. She apparently tweeted that she can’t be stopped, before being killed. This is a tragic loss of life for an unbelievably stupid reason. Over night, there are reports for three other deaths, all from ‘medical issues’. Not many details out yet, but it seems like a fellow Georgian, in her 30s, was trampled in the attack, and another person was testing his taser, which he apparently didn’t know how to use, tased himself and had a heart attack.  I am actually skeptical of this one, because it just can’t be real. No word on the fourth death. All tragic and entirely unnecessary and directly caused by Trump. 
  2. So, clearly there was violence, what does that mean? Wasn’t us. It was obviously Antifa (it is always worth noting that according to Trump’s FBI director, all law enforcement, facts, and reason, Antifa is not a group), or Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t matter, apparently, that many of these people are social media famous maga and Q-Anon people, most of which recorded themselves. It doesn’t matter that there are videos of people stating they are taking the people’s house back (I hadn’t heard this term before, I could be wrong, but I feel like that should be the white house), all of which are easily identifiable (from prior posts, years worth in some cases) on social media. Most people have probably heard of Elizabeth from Knoxville. She seems absolutely incredulous that she would be maced while breaking into a federal building to, in her words, start a revolution. 
  3.  Alright, obviously violent and obviously Trumpers, so now what? Kind of a mix of random things, but mostly conspiracy theories and false equivalencies (all at once, even the ones that contradict each other, and why not, especially if 1 & 2 above are both out there at the same time). The former is vast, so I won’t go into them (some include lizard people), other than my favorite – the police let this happen. I literally saw some of my Trumper friends calling for an investigation. Not because of the absence of support that was requested, but because, apparently the absence of police made people violent. Essentially, the police made us violent by not stopping our violence. Poe’s law, y’all. I’ll hit false equivalencies below, since the new, dumber, unwieldy version of wordpress doesn’t let me have a second paragraph with my number. 
  4. Actual honesty? We did it, we caused the deaths, we were seditious, but it is because we are starting a revolution, saving America, stopping the steal, etc. I don’t have much else to saw for that.

False Equivalency

There are two false narratives within this, once is people have objected/not conceded before or, once violence has been admitted, what about Antifa/BLM. The former line might be a little more popular where I am, but I’ll get to that shortly. There were objects to Ohio electors being counted in the 2000 election and some unclear objection in 2016 (mentioned above). No president has even not conceded. Should also be noted that none of the people making the political stunt of objecting  believed the election was stolen or advocate sedition. I might have heard the conceded line more, because Stacey Abrams never conceded. It is beyond me that she is a national media star, but here in Georgia, no one thought much of her. Same as Trump, she telegraphed her play from the beginning, and did what most people expected her to do, ignore the middle, lose, claim fraud, leave Georgia (she isn’t from here) and get a tv show/book deal. That is largely what happened. Quick excruses on Georgia. I do not know how elections are handled in other states, but Kemp was the Sec of State when the election happened. Now, that is a bad look, he should have resigned, but he cannot impact polling locations. Elections are held by local county boards of elections. For the record, I think he won legitimately, even if it had a bad look for democracy to oversee your own election. Back to Abrams, it is true she never conceded, but, I feel like this should be obvious, she never attempted an overthrow of democracy. 

*For an additional side note on Georgia, Gabriel Sterling (the COO of Sec of State for Georgia) has right pointed out that if Republicans had spent less time attack him, Kemp, and Raffensperger (current SoS) and more time getting out the vote, Republicans would have won. The seems to be right, as turnout was down, relative to the main election, in rural areas and by white voters. Also, if many of them were in DC yesterday, they might not have actually been here two days ago to vote in the election, which is a wild thought. For the record, I think even without election fraud nonsense, Warnock still would have won. Georgia has never elected a yankee (Leoffer bought an appointment from Kemp). On a sadder note, Sterling pointed on almost six weeks ago that if the dangerous conspiracy theories continued, someone would die.

Back to Antifa/BLM. People point to their violence and destruction. These actions were condemned by the right (not sure why it changed, if it is wrong, it is wrong) and most of the left. I’ve seen different numbers, but it appears well over 10,000 people were arrested. Not sure if it is the case, but I don’t think law enforcement was forced to kill any of them. No one was trampled. Maybe by those points, they are equal, maybe not, it is debatable. Here is what isn’t, none of them were looking to overthrow democracy. None of them were driven by the president and Q Anon to attack and take over the government. There is a big difference between breaking a window at Target and stealing TV and breaking a window in the Capitol Building to overturn democracy. I don’t feel like I should have to write this.

Christian Response

Not that the basics are out of the way, what should any of this mean for Christians? It is one of the reasons I don’t care as much, am not as deeply hurt by, BLM (again, Antifa is not an organization) is not a Christian group. Other than calls for equality, which are based on general revelation, nothing about them is religious. Nothing, no one says you aren’t a real Christian if you don’t support BLM or that our only moral choice is BLM, most say quite the opposite, actually. Among other aspect of idolatry yesterday, there was a cross and gallows put up on the steps. Think about that. People with ‘Jesus Saves’ flags were violently opposing an election they lost. There were flags with stars and stripes crosses and ichthys overlaid with the American flag. This is the very definition of syncretism. The mob that attacked America yesterday, unfortunately, think they did it in God’s name. They certainly attempt to wrap the rhetoric in ‘Christian language’. There are myriad examples, most people are familiar by now. If you want to see some good reporting/responses, head over the Gospel Coalition. I’ve written about them before, and I’m tired. 

I’m tired, because we are part of this. We as conservative Christians follow these Court Evangelicals and celebrity pastors/political commentators, often uncritically. Albert Mohler, who was a never-Trumper, until his family members were hired by the administration, then he said Trump was the only moral choice for Christians. Then the terrorists attack of yesterday happens, and now he is opposed. Unsurprisingly, though he typically tweets all day, he only had one yesterday (none yet today, as I write this). As I’ve said, he is well known for lying in public, but he this actually shocked me, a report today (behind a paywall, unfortunately) he made the ridiculous claim no one could have seen this coming. As I mentioned above, Sterling predicted death, also there have been actual death threats to all the top Republican officials in Georgia. Even worse, Eric Metaxes held a rally and stated he was willing to give his last drop of blood to overturn the will of the American people.

Mohler will, of course, never repent and his rhetorical flourishes and debated skills are nearly unparalleled, no one will be able to hold him accountable. He should resign from Southern Seminary and if he is actually elected president of the SBC, it will be the end of them. I’m still waiting for CRT to place pipe bombs at both the RNC and DNC headquarters (something that has really been under reported). Which brings me to his buddy, fellow cower-er in fear, and Doctrine of the Trinity denier, Owen Strachan. He was also oddly quiet yesterday and today. He stated months ago that anyone who was ‘woke’, whatever that is, needed to be excommunicated. I wonder if he feels the same about QAnon or seditionist, terrorist or insurrectionist. My guess is no, but of course, I pray for these men, they are influential leaders and their repentance or admission of quilt would be incredible.

Speaking of denying orthodox Trinitarian beliefs, Wayne Grudem. What happened to this man? I’ve written much about him, because I am truly confounded. He has literally stated that he does not believe Trump has told a lie while in office. It is a good reminder that Trump once said he has never asked for forgiveness, because he has never done anything wrong. Technically, Trump said this while campaigning, so I guess Grudem gets to ignore it. Just like the ‘Christian Ethicist’ ignored the man that said you can grab women by the pussy (language!) if you are rich (so sexual assault, and different rules for the rich, if only there were a book that disagreed with this) or who paid off a pornstar to be quiet about their affair or the man who called sitting secretaries of state, threatened them, and told them ‘find votes’, a clear admission of disbelief in fraud (but Raffensperger is wrong for recording it), supported that man and said that morals/character don’t matter for the president (contra prior public statements, the Bible, common sense). 

Where do we go from here?

Am I hopeful for the future? No. Not really. Or, rather, only in the eschatological sense. We will have Trump apologist and enablers and Trump himself, for years to come. I fear the Christian language that goes with it may only get worse (there are Patriot Churches now, their trinity is Trump, guns, and dying from preventable diseases). One problem is that even non-Trumpers still support Trump Republicans. I was talking to a friend just yesterday, who state he had voted for a Trump supporting, election denying Republican in the runoff (one, but not the other). We didn’t get a chance to talk much, but I did find it curious. There are QAnon people at my church community. Who knows? Hopefully, I am wrong. Hopefully repentance comes to those in the church and we stop worshiping Trump. More likely, it will swept away. I full expect a lot of, ‘time to move on’, ‘heal’, ‘come together’, ‘stop the division’. Not talk about what brought us here. Ignore all the crazy conspiracy theories our brothers and sisters go into. No calls for change. If anything, we will go the other way, ignore the plank in our own eye, and spend much of the next four years attacking the nonsense left. 

Outside of the church, I do think there is a longshot hope in politics. Trumpers want to start their own party, to break away from conservatives in the Republican party. I say, let them keep it. The conservatives need to break away and take the middle. The need to reach across the aisle and get the moderate (often pro-life) Democrats, typically the middle of the country ones. If this group happened, I think it would dominate. Democrats don’t want the middle, they don’t want me, they’ve said so and I’m center right, at most. They think they need to keep going crazy, while the moderate Dems blame them for loses. Take the middle make a new party, be the most powerful influence in American politics. Both sides would need them to do anything, and the extremist would be cut off, because they wouldn’t have votes.  

Then I could be done with politics. I think Christians would find their home in this middle. More importantly, I want Christians to rediscover the Bible and read it with the intensity with which they read twitter. That is why, as I’ve said before, I’m dropping some of my current news/political writing to focus on another project. Hopefully, I’ll have more details soon. Unfortunately, a coup attempt warrants some thoughts. 

Thanks if you’ve made it this far. I hope you enjoyed, please feel free to share any thoughts. 

Edit – One of the capital police officers has died; over 40 injured. Also, apparently, the taser thing is real; the guy gave himself a heart attack trying to use it. 

Looks like many are sticking with Antifa (see above, if you skimmed to the bottom). Of course, much talk of moving on, buzz words seem to be – ‘no need to re-litigate’ and ‘healing’. On twitter today, I saw both Russell Moore and Tim Keller attacked (virtually, sadly, I have to note that now) for speaking against the violence. Marxist and Globalist are some of the terms I left off my bingo card. I have even more respect for these guys, because, of course, the left/non-church people who have no idea who they are, are hitting them with ‘too late’ and you are just ‘jumping off a sinking ship’. Y’all, they were never on it, praise God. 

I’ve said it before, but I should note here. Clearly there is nothing wrong with voting Republican. I think the moral issues and problems with Trump makes voting for him questionable, but obviously not sinful. What I completely disagree with, is the all Christians must vote Trump or that he is somehow the Christian candidate  mentality and statement put out by so many Christian leaders. Of course the idolatry of him is sinful, as is QAnon (Gospel Coalition has a great primer on them here). 

Here is the best part, though, some of them will be back in our churches on Sunday. I know some of them have refused because masks wearing is the sign of the beast or government control or some nonsense, but I do believe some will be back, maybe not this Sunday but soon. They are waking up to the realization of what QAnon and Trump are. They are realizing the lies Trump told about the election, that he never cared for them, and that he used them for political gains. We need to welcome them back with open arms. We need to avoid saying anything political, as much as we may want to. They followed a false prophet, and now are coming back to the Truth, knowing that the only true power comes from the risen Christ. We must pray for them. 

Edit 3 – Leaving edit 2 below this one, because of the pictures. Also, this will be the final edit. Another police officer has died, apparently by suicide. No reason know yet. Other officers are still hospitalized, hopefully no more die. It is important to remember that the one who died was beaten to death. I want to link two good articles, one from David French called Only the Church can truly defeat a Christian insurrection, and one from Ed Stetzer about the Evangelical reckoning. Both of these say better than I, what many are feeling now and what needs to happen for use to move forward.

On a lighter note, this post brought me my first troll. In my 6+ years of meandering ramblings, I’ve not had one. It accused me of not thinking and being destroyed by the propaganda machine. No idea if it was a bot or a person, but I deleted and marked as spam, because back in my formative years of the early internet, there was one thing on which everyone agreed – don’t feed the trolls. 

Edit 2 –  A few of these collections are floating around online. I think they are interesting from a historical perspective, especially the photos used. Just thought I’d share. 

 

 

Some Post Election Thoughts

Even though I shouldn’t, because I’m getting really burned out on politics. Some of your are lucky and political ad season is over, but for me, I can’t watch the weather without every add be about the two Senate run-off elections.

I don’t really have much in the way of politics, but there are some Biblical issues I want to get down, as well as a sprinkling of Covid thoughts, mostly because Covid has clearly affected the political climate. It seems to me that Trump would have won again (probably handly) were it not for his epic failure in leadership during this crisis. If you make it to the end, I have an update/tease on where this blog is going (if it continues) in the future).

I don’t typically listen to ‘Christian’ radio channels. Lazy pop rock isn’t really my style (and I get enough bad theology masquerading as ‘experiential worship’ from wannabe rock bands at church), and like old men in the generation before us that switch from music to talk radio or NPR, I mostly listen to podcasts when I drive. However, Mrs. MMT is a big Christmas music fan, on the local station here is only playing that right now, so on our way to church Sunday, that is what we were listening to. As I mentioned above, I’m still forced to hear political ads right now, but one stuck out to me. It was endorsing any candidate, just encouraging people to go vote (seriously it was pretty neutral, no save America/democracy hyperbole). However, the guy in the ad stated that we needed to exercise our ‘God given right to vote’. This is clearly unbiblical.

Now, I think Christians should vote. Just as I think everyone should vote. I wish we had mandatory voting and a national holiday to vote (check out Australia for example). Part of my job is to get people involved in local politics. However, there is literally nothing in the Bible about voting. There is nothing in the Bible about modern governmental or economic systems. We have no ‘God given right to vote’. In His blessing, I was born in a democracy (ish, conservatives are quick to point out right now that we don’t actually live in a democracy and seem to be doing everything they can to prove it) and have the right to vote for various leaders and policies. Yet to think God gave us this specific right is to conflate basic politics. I happen to see the other day, but I didn’t save it, and the guy just teased the data (hopefully a full survey/report) will come out later, but somewhere around 60% of Evangelicals (oddly, I don’t remember him narrowing it to the political category of ‘white’) believe the Constitution is divinely inspired. Think about that for a moment. That would mean that revelations did not end with the Bible, but instead ended with Deist to set up a new form of government. This is straight heresy, y’all, and even more concerning it is about the same percent of Evangelicals (according to Ligoner’s state of theology 2020) that believe Christ is the only way to the Father. Our Biblical literacy is dangerously poor.

A quick digression, radio related, before going back to bad theology and political idolatry. Dave Ramsey was in the news for his $10,000 a plate dinner reception at his estate. Apparently, he told the catering staff that they were not allowed to wear masks to protect themselves. He isn’t a pastor, but he is an influential figure in the Christian community. His Covid denial (we are over 300,000 deaths at this point) and political worship, as well as his disdain for neighbor/others is a sad, seemingly unending confluence right now. I guess a millionaire telling the working class to risk their health to serve them food is a pretty solid way to ‘act your wage’ in America currently.

To the election and idolatry. I’ve been torn on what I wanted to say, if anything, after Biden officially won the electoral college on Monday (the outcome was clear over a month ago, but the Kraken needed to go 1-58 in legal cases first, I guess). Biden in is the president elect of the US. More on what I think that means in a minute, but for now, the denialism that has been taken to a new level. Eric Metexas (famous for writing a poor historical biography of Bonhoeffer and I guess a radio host) state that he would die for Trump and overturning the election. Again, think about that for a minute. Who is he worshiping that he would die for a failed politician? I thought things couldn’t get worse than the FBC Dallas choir writing a song called ‘Make America Great Again’ and then signing during a Sunday service (which was broadcast on Fox News).

Of all people, Beth Moore called out Metexas for his idolatry. She was roundly attacked, including people ‘cursing her womb’ (she helpfully pointed out she previously had a hysterectomy, so people could save themselves some time). The lead person attacking her appears to be a self proclaimed atheist who thinks she is married to Dr. (according to some conservatives right now, he can’t say this) Russell Moore (president of the ERLC, the SBC lobbying/political arm) and Southern Seminary grad, whom he says is corrupt and liberal. This is who evangelicals are following right now. Again, think about this.

Metexas and others also held a bizarre rally blowing red, white, and blue shofars, calling themselves a Jericho March. As I was working on this Michael Horton wrote a piece in TGC which says better than I would, read it here, but these are a few highlights:

On Saturday, December 12, a bizarre rally was held on the Washington Mall. Shofars were blown. A flyover from Marine One was cheered by shouts of praise to the Messiah (evidently distinguished from Jesus). My Pillow founder Mike Lindell shared prophetic visions of Donald Trump.

Beth Moore sounded the alarm, and David French offered wise analysis. Rod Dreher, who just published a book decrying left-wing totalitarianism, wrote that he “began to think that all of this is the right-wing Christian version of Critical Race Theory, and various doctrines held by the woke Left.” Dreher was struck by how enthusiastically evangelicals seemed to participate in the inter-religious festivities. An American-born Israeli man received permission from his Orthodox rabbi to break Shabbat to blow his shofar and another, red-white-and-blue-decorated “Trump Shofar.” Roman Catholic representatives invoked the Virgin Mary and the saints.

He points out Moore, that link has a good summary of the issue, and French (who I believe is not Evangelical, but a conservative Christian who writes on conservative politics for a living) and Rod Dreher; both pieces are worth reading. Dreher is interesting, I think (and hopefully, I’m correct) that he is overblowing a concern of the coming Totalitarian from the left. Oddly, I first heard him promote his new book on the subject, Live Not By Lies, on Albert Mohler’s podcast (you can read my thoughts on Mohler’s turn here). At the time (as of yet, I don’t know if he has changed his opinion) Mohler was denying Biden won the election and supported Trump sending in troops to ‘swing’ states to overturn the election. The irony was apparently lost on him, which isn’t surprising considering his recent article on the cult of celebrity (which made good points, but was written by a man who supported a reality TV star for president).

Read Horton’s article, I think that is all I want to say on that. I do pray for those who worship Trump, that they will repent and turn back to the church. Their insularity is becoming worse and many are project. A popular talking point now is that if you attack a politician, you must be worshiping politics.

As I said above, we have no ‘God given right to vote’, but we do have a God given mandate to pray for our leaders, even if we don’t like them. So, I intend to pray for President Biden. Just as I prayed for Trump, that he would buffet the far end of his party (something God has chosen not to grant us), I will pray Biden hold the center and not give in to promoting some of the radical nonsense of the far end of the Democratic party and some of their supporters. I am interested to see how he will handle the pandemic and what he deems ‘essential’. It is somewhat moot, related to churches, as the Supreme Court has stated we cannot be closed down. I hope that he will take a more reasonable approach than other ‘blue’ state governors, those who nonsensically deemed bars, strips clubs, and casinos essential, but closed churches and elementary schools despite the latter two’s importance (I’m obviously biased for church) and ability to open safely (far more safely than the former three).

I suppose that is it for now. As always this was longer than I anticipated. I’ll try to do better next time. Though, to give you some insight on the future of this blog, there may be no next time. Almost certainly this is my last ‘political’ or current event post. I intend to post one more book review and then a reading challenge or year in review type post. Then it may be the end of MMT. I’ve spent over six years meandering through topics, listlessly posting with various frequency, I believe it may be coming to an end. I am working on another project that will likely launch early next year. With that, I don’t know what this may become. Perhaps just book reviews and long form thoughts on theological or Biblical studies, or perhaps shuttered entirely. Stay tuned for more, as I (as always) don’t even know what I’m doing yet. As always, thanks for playing along.

Lying In Public

I’ve tended to avoid politics recently on this site, especially after Trump’s take over of the Republican Party and a huge portion of American Protestantism. The posts tend to be some of the least read, but take the most time from me. What feedback I do receive is typically negative, people sending me stupid emails like ‘let me rebuke you in love’ then go on to not mention a single thing about what I wrote, or the challenge I received to list one part of the Democratic party’s platform that fits a Christian worldview (despite this person refusing to do the same for the Republican platform). I’m sure I will hear some of those this time (though all feedback is welcome), but I feel compelled to say something about the recent words of a very prominent theologian.

Al Mohler’s recent statement about his decision to vote for Trump in the coming election caught a lot of people by surprise. I was certainly shocked. You can read/watch Mohler’s own thoughts on Trump from 2016, in a piece called Evangelical Support of Trump Destroys Moral Credibility.  In it, he states that Trump is far worse a person than Bill Clinton and that character matters, going as far as saying he would have to pen an apology to Clinton for supporting his impeachment in the 90’s. Well, apparently now something has changed. Many have pointed his son in law now being part of the Trump administration, that would be disheartening, but ‘reasonable’ in some senses, at least. Jonathan Merritt says this is just what Mohler does, follow trends to stay in power. I remain a little skeptical of this, because it doesn’t sound like much that I’ve heard about him. Again, that would at least make a little sense. Mohler goes through a typical list of political items that he says come from his Biblical Worldview, I want to go through each of these, but again the question, has his worldview changed in four years? He says no, it is the Democratic Party platform that changed.  John Fea has some quick thoughts and David French probably has the best articles out there (read it over the rest of this, if you only have time for one).

I’ll give him credit for admitting that Trump is still a terrible person, he hasn’t changed. I do appreciate that honesty. I do find it somewhat ironic that he says he had no problem, no thought given to voting for Reagan in 1980. So, the guy that signed California’s no-fault divorce and legalized abortion. That guy, the first divorced president in U.S. history (Trump is only the second) was the ‘no-thought’ choice over a Sunday School teacher and member of Mohler’s own Southern Baptist Convention, so maybe this shouldn’t be surprising, but I digress. It is only surprising in so far as he was so staunchly against Trump four years ago and his stunning about face, with no real explanation. Except, again, vague notions against the DNC platform and then the infuriating statement that he doesn’t see how anyone with a Christian worldview wouldn’t vote for Trump. So, what are some of the issues.

Abortion 
I’ve written about this multiple times, so I won’t go much into it now, but for 40 years we’ve supposedly tried to overturn Roe, with no success, meanwhile abortions have fallen every year since the 80’s. While I do find it troubling when presidential candidates say that there is no place for pro-life in their party, or when a governor make a bizarre and painfully ironic declaration that elective abortions are ‘life-sustaining‘, I still do not believe Roe is going anywhere, nor do I believe overturning Roe is the most effective way to reduce abortions.

Transgender Revolution
This perhaps includes a few other LGBT issues, perhaps even a reference to gay marriage. I think the gay marriage issue is even more gone than abortion. Much like overturning Roe won’t end abortions, ending gay marriage won’t end, what, homosexual activity, I guess. As it is, less and less people are getting married and the divorce rate remains higher than other countries. I’d rather see us explain the importance and value of marriage than argue about who can or can’t. Lowering the cohabitation and divorce rates seem far more important. I haven’t written much about the Transgender issues, mostly because I struggle to understand them. Mohler talks about them somewhat frequently on his Podcast. I do think there are problems there, but I do not think this is as common or as supported as people seem to believe. I also think some of the ‘movement’ will collapse under the weight of their own logical inconsistency and/or fracture into other identity issues. Maybe, I’m too naive.

Religious Liberty
Granted, this one I do have some concern about, but I don’t actually believe it is split as nicely as ‘R’ for and ‘D’ against. Warren showed her ignorance of church membership make up and Beto took a last ditch effort as his campaign by supporting the end of tax benefits for Biblical based churches. Warren was quickly reminded that minorities, a huge constituency for Democrats, have higher church attendance or more Biblically based (conservative) views than whites. Even Buttigieg said Beto’s idea was dumb, and his campaign was over. It is essentially required that Democrats go to pander at black churches (just as Republicans are required to pander to white celebrity pastors). This alone makes me feel safe against any attacks on religious liberty (of actual religious institutions, I don’t care about bakeries).

Here’s the thing, even if I was scarred, is tying myself to Trump the answer? I don’t remember Paul or Peter ever giving money or using the pulpit to support the Roman emperor in hopes of ending persecution. To be clear, when you go all Karen on the kid at Target because he is required to say ‘Happy Holidays’ and no one supports you, it is because you are a dick, not because you are persecuted. Maybe I’ll write more on this later, but the Bible is filled verses about standing strong in the face of persecution, or rejoicing, or growing, but as far as I know, there is nothing about seeking political power through moral corruption to end your suffering. So, even if we end up with actual issues in my lifetime (which I do not believe will happen), our first call is to persevere, not worship the emperor.

Similarly to our focus on the importance of marriage, maybe if we were known for things like care for the sick, widowed, orphan, and those in prison, or maybe if we did a better job of loving our neighbor, our standing would be higher in society and we’d have the moral esteem to speak on issues. I’m not saying we should abandon the whole gospel for the truncated social gospel as the ‘mainline’ churches did 100 years ago, but it is important to remember that Roman emperors used to be annoyed because they wanted to get rid of us, but the people supported us due to our care for ‘even those not among them’.

Constitutional Interpretation 
He uses the seminary word, hermeneutics, but if you listen to his Podcast, you know he means ‘strict constructionist’ and is/was a big fan of Scalia. I would say this is an idiotic statement, but I believe Molher is quite intelligent, so he must just be disingenuous here. Strict interpretation is fine, tearing it up and starting again is fine, a more reasonable approach (say…amendments) is also fine. What none of them has is a singular Biblical basis. If anything, I’d say his view is the worst as it is dangerous for the president of the flagship seminary of America’s largest denomination to equate the Constitution with something that is perfect and immutable. It is almost blasphemous to me.

 

I think that is generally a summary of his main problems. I don’t really agree with him, as the past thousand words should show. I do think the DNC has a lot of problems, perhaps foremost is their staunch abortion support. It is unfortunate that this has become a litmus tests for their candidates and the main reason I’ll never be a Democrat. However, let’s not pretend the Republican platform is perfect.

I believe in fiscal discipline, something that has far more Biblical support than any of Mohler’s concerns for ‘liberty’ or constitutional issues. St. Ronnie gave us the first peacetime deficit, all so he could give the rich tax breaks (this also required new taxes on social security). Bush tried to tighten things and lost support because of it. Clinton gave us the only surplus in my lifetime. Bush pissed it away. Obama shrunk the deficit for seven years. Trump added a Trillion to it in just two years. (This was all before the very necessary spending to fight Covid that has added to the deficit). I’m alright with minor deficits, maybe 1% of GDP max, but that is outside the scope of this post. I think the reason for them matters as well. The reason for Trump’s Trillions was a tax cut for the rich, during a time of economic expansion, partly paid for through increases on families with children (don’t tell me you gave me a tax break by increasing the standard deduction, which I don’t use, by $12,000 and then removing $25,000 in personal exemptions). Unfortunately, most people struggle with math or are unaware of how taxes work. I tried not to be happy when lower middle and middle income Trump supporters ended up with a huge tax bill after the ‘cut’.

Likewise, the Republican platform just does not care about people or families. They oppose things like sick leave or maternity leave (we are one of about five countries depending on how you count it that does not have this), they have no interest in fixing the fact that we have the most expensive childcare, medical care, and education in the world. That is not a platform I support either. Senate leader McConnell recently fought for no oversight for 7/8 figure bonuses for CEOs of companies getting taxpayer money, but he is opposed to supporting states/cities getting money because some of that money may go to help retired firefighter, teachers, and nurses who worked their whole lives for it.

Finally, as a government employee, I am sick of the years and years I’ve seen Republicans attack, defund, undermine, and destroy public infrastructure, then turn around and say it doesn’t work. They are the proverbial kid on a bike that puts a stick through the spokes of the front wheel while riding, then complains the bike doesn’t work. That is also not a platform I support. I’m not even going to get started on Trump, the man who disbanded the Pandemic Response team, decided not to open enrollment in the ACA so that people who have lost their jobs can get healthcare, and who suggested maybe we could inject bleach (with our doctors) to fight Covid-19. Neither parties have platforms I can support, so I focus on people and if you were trying to make up someone, I’m not sure you could some up with someone as bad as Trump (who has also stated that he has never done anything wrong, so he’s never needed to ask God for forgiveness, and received 81% of the white Evangelical vote).

I could go on with his issues, but I won’t. I just want a competent president, one that understands basic math, science, history, or politics. I’d like one that was at least somewhat moral, a ‘decent’ person by society standards (as a Christian, I don’t believe anybody is ‘good’). We just could not be further than this with Trump. Mohler disagrees, I still don’t buy what he is saying. None of the issues have changed much recently. He is a smart man, so I do not believe he has been tricked, nor do I believe his views have changed. I fear he is more concerned with political power and to state that his view is the only Biblical worldview is him just lying in public.

Edit – I spent the majority of my Christian life in SBC churches, taking classes at SBC seminaries, and even had hopes of one day attending Mohler’s own Southern Seminary for PhD work. I do not currently attend an SBC church, but when the topic of our church joining a denomination comes up, I push for SBC. I am subscribed to Mohler’s podcast and have read many of his articles. However, this is just too much, and if he somehow becomes president of the SBC next year, I think it will permanently damage them. I certainly could not support them the same way.

 

Trump and the Supreme Court

Two years ago, during the lead-up to the election, I wrote two articles, one just some general thoughts on the election, and then a follow-up about why we shouldn’t be single issue voters. The follow up was necessary, as I was attacked but fellow Evangelicals for not supporting Trump. Mostly, I was accused of supporting abortion (I don’t). That is also a refrain I heard often during the election, ‘well, he’s a terrible person, but…something, something, Supreme Court.’ Of course, but Supreme Court, they meant abortion. I laid out all my reasons not to think this way in that post, so please check it out. I welcome any feedback or thoughts. I received a few after posting that, including a bizarre interaction with a former Sunday School teacher and mentor, before cut of all contact with us (after accusing us of being Godless).

So, I bring this up now as the confirmation hearings continue for Brett Kavanaugh (unrelated fun fact, his name means follower of Kevin). This is Trump’s second appointee; and he will be appointed, despite the Kabuki Theater of the hearings, he already has the votes and this just a time for politicians to grand stand. I guess it’s all worth it now, right? We’ll overturn Roe?

Maybe. Maybe not –

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said she would not vote for a nominee who threatens Roe. She said that in a meeting with Kavanaugh, he referred to Roe as “settled law.”

Feinstein specifically asked Kavanaugh about that Wednesday.

“Senator, I said that it’s settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court, entitled the respect under principles ‘stare decisis,’ ” referring to the legal principle of not overturning precedents. “And one of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v. Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years.”

One of two things are going on here. First, he is an unprincipled liar who want stand up for what he believes and when he gets on the court, he will vote to overturn Roe, once challenged. I have to assume this is alright with most Evangelicals, as 81% voted for Trump. Second, he actually believes what he is saying. I actually lean towards the latter, and still believe, as I did two years ago, that Roe will be not be overturned. It’s also important to remember, Roe did no legalize abortion – it made it illegal for state to ban abortion. Were it overturned, the issue would be relegated to the states, many of which will keep it legal.

Of course, you could be cynical and say that Trump doesn’t care at all about Roe, but rather likes Kavanaugh due to his devotion to presidential power. However, if we turn over Roe, would it be worth it? It is a serious question, considering the damage supporting him has done to what little reputation we may have had. The hyprocsy with our reaction to him paying off a porn actress and a playboy model for affairs he had with them, as compared to the reaction many of his supporters had during the Clinton issues in the 90’s. That is one reason why this quote from the now famous Op-Ed stuck out to me –

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Again, all this would be fine, I suppose, if he wasn’t considered the ‘Christian candidate’ or if Evangelicals hadn’t voted for him in record numbers. It is fine to vote for Trump, nothing wrong with it at all. If you are rich, or think Mexicans or Muslims are the greatest threat to the country, or you are a nationalist, then Trump was a great choice (the best, believe me). However, none of the makes him the ‘Christian’ choice and I think that distinct will bother me to no end, for as long as I live. I don’t believe that is the main reason for our support for him. I think the main reason is fear.

I’m not the only one either. Michael Horton recently wrote the same thing. Read anything from John Fea ( or check out my review of his book).  In a strange irony, we as conservatives are looking for power in the government now more than ever, we look there for a sense of right, or protection, to expand and enforce our will/influence. So, here we are, about to have another Justice. Maybe I’m wrong, and Roe will be challenged next year and overturned. What if is isn’t? What will we say then?

 

Biblical Studies Carnival 150

Welcome to the August 2018 Biblical Studies Carnival.

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Y’all ready to get weird? Or at least a little different, depending on your perspective; that’s the question we ask every Labor Day Weekend here in Atlanta. A smaller crowd than last year when Mrs. MMT and I were downtown in the center of it all, but around 700,000 will be in town this weekend, mostly for DragonCon and the Chic-fil-a Kick off GamRelated imagee (that’s how you get pictures like these), but also for things like another minor football game, a Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert, and LudaFamDay.

So it makes sense then, that it is the same weekend in which I host a Biblical Studies Carnival (my first hosting was Labor Day Weekend two years ago). Most of the people who are involved in the Carnivals are academics, pastors/theologians, and a few prolific writers with at least some education. I am none of those things. By day, I’m a City Planner, but by night, well…, actually, I sleep, but sometimes I try to write about Theology or the Bible, and mostly review books. I recently started a series on Thessalonians if you want to check it out. Especially since the nomination of Trump, I’ve become too caught up in the contrast between political christianity and those Christians who actually read the Bible. So, with the scholars being busy this month due to school being back in session, I’ve added a Politics section.

Well, that’s probably enough ado, let’s get to it.

Old Testament
Want to learn to sing the Hebrew Bible? Bob’s got you covered – check out Psalm 111.

Jim asks us to remember Calvin’s thoughts on Psalm 14:1.

Henry posts what he calls a slightly poetic version of Isaiah 10:1-4a.

New Testament
Phil started a series on Sermon on the Mount. I particularly enjoyed his thoughts on Jesus and the Law, which is something I’ve been interested in.

Jarrett shares some thoughts on the Mystery of the Gospel.

Scott starts a series on Revelation. I like the title of his intro ‘Not Your Father’s Book of Revelation’. My father doesn’t read the Bible, but his generation is certainly the one that emphasized Dispensationalism to my generation, which is moving away from this reading. Additionally, one of the things that moved me away from this reading was discussing with my grandfather, who likewise did not read Revelation this way.

Hal responds to Session’s use of Romans 13.

Rod has ‘Greek for a Week’ cover of Philemon 19, 20, 21, & 22.

Ian discusses why Jesus came to bring division and a sword.

Theology
Brandon asks whether Origen was Athanasian or Arian.

Bernard discusses the trouble with faith.

Tim asks how should we respond to the leading of the spirit.

Jeffery has thoughts on whether God has a plan for my life.

Other
Rob is trying to put together a survey on public domain commentaries. It is an interesting project, and if you’d like to help he is looking for volunteers.

William has a review of a Mesopotamian Prayer.

Nijay has a free open-textbook on Intermediate Biblical Greek.

Christoph has some thoughts on mastering Koine Greek.

Michael asks us if it is a waste of time for seminary students and pastors to learn languages.

David asks about sin in the church.

Book Review
Phil reviews Reading Mark in Context.

RJS finishes posting reviews of The Lost World of Scripture.

Micheal has a quick review of Jesus Followers in the Roman Empire. He also has a great quote regarding a rapture from Gene Green, writing in his commentary on Thessalonians (which was my favorite commentary to consult).

Jim reviews Approaching the Study of Theology.

Jason reviews the Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible.

Politics
Jim points out the irony of Evangelical idolatry.

In beautiful irony, Fox News once showed a pictured of NFL players protesting, except they weren’t, they were kneeling in prayer. Pro football will be back next week and we’ll once again be subjected to endless debate about kneeling during the Anthem. Of course, there is a long history of prayer in football, many people I know learned the Lord’s Prayer from sports. However, we’ll listen as many ‘Evangelicals’ get angry over people kneeling when they ‘aren’t supposed to.’

Check out John’s comments on the White House dinner with Evangelicals.

D.G. reminds us that once Evangelicals didn’t even support Giuliani.

Millennials might not follow the Moral Majority playbook. Anecdotally, I’ve seen this to be the case.

Roger Olsen responds to the question, ‘Is Trump Our Cyrus.’ Remember, when the title of an article ends in a question mark, the answer is almost always no.

George surveys Religion vs. Party.

Excurses
As an American, I thought this was posted in the future. Richard has an interesting look into what he calls a ‘dialogue between biblical scholarship and Religious Education.’

Phil’s book is on sale.

Kevin DeYoung shares a few things he’s learned while working on his PhD.

This book cover made me wonder if anyone has ever seen Karl Barth and Warren Buffet in the same room.

Image result for karl barthImage result for warren buffett

 

That’s it for this month. Hope you enjoyed, even if it was a little different than usual. As a pretend theologian (my occupational hazard is my occupation’s just not around), I’m somewhat like a medieval monk – I like to read, write, and drink beer. Now that I’m down reading and writing for the month, only one thing left to do. Thanks for playing along.

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If you are interested in hosting or know someone who might be interested please contact Phil. Contact info from his post last month –

I am borderline desperate for the rest of the year!  Please contact me via email (plong42@gmail.com), twitter direct message (@plong42) or comment here in this carnival. Whether you are a relatively new blogger or you have hosted a carnival in the past, do not hesitate to contact me. October, November and December are open as of July 1. It is not too early to volunteer for a 2019 carnival.

Borderline is clearly an understatement if I’m hosting again, but  it goes legit again the next month with Jim. Like I said earlier, the carnival is mostly hosted by scholars and students, but there are a few pastors and at least one completely pretend internet theologian that has hosted in the past. If you are interested, hit up Phil and get some more info.

*All pictures, except my beer, stolen from google image search/reddit. Please @ me if they are yours and you want attribution or removal.

Book Review: Believe Me

Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

When you receive an advanced reading copy to review, you are supposed to have the review out before the book is published, something I rarely do. However, today is one of the days I’ve done it correctly. This book will be available for purchase starting tomorrow, June 28.

My Rating – Must Read

Level – Short, easy read

Summary
The subtitle kind of says it all. How did Evangelicals so overwhelmingly support Trump (more than any other candidate in history)? He received 81% of self identified Evangelicals. There are people who dispute the support, due to the self identified label and have found that people who attend among those who attend church weekly, the support drops to 40’s. However, Fea is a historian, and clearly knows that we as Evangelicals are now tied to Trump, whether we like it or not.

The book isn’t necessarily a critique of Trump or his policies, but just an explorations as to why this man, of all people, would be considered the ‘Christian candidate.’ Excluding the intro and conclusion, the book is broken into five chapters: Evangelicals Politics of Fear, how people have used fear to drum up support; The Playbook, how Christians have used fear over the past 70 years or so to affect politics in certain ways; Short History of Evangelical fear, from the Puritans to today Christians; Court Evangelicals, those famous Christians today who seek power and influence the ways courtiers once did with kings; and Make American Great Again, what exactly does Trump mean by this, when was it great, and for whom?

My Thoughts
I’m pretty sure the first time I came across Fea’s blog The Way of Improvement Leads Home was during the 2016 elections. He very clearly, as was I, seemed confused as to how Trump had the Evangelical vote. Many Christians now, including some of the most vocals supporters, say they chose Trump because he was better than Clinton, but many of them were supporters in the Primary. Fea points out in the book, that prior to Trump jumping in the race, Carson lead the Evangelical vote, but shortly after, Trump took it over, lost it briefly a few months later, and after recovery always lead. To some people, this made sense, to others it is absolutely confounding.

A twice divorced billionaire, who brags about infidelity, believes if you are rich you can grab random women ‘by the pussy,’ doesn’t believe in asking for forgiveness (a pillar of Christian beliefs), and is so ostentatious that he seems to be the physical embodiment of avarice seems to be an odd choice for the so-called Evangelical vote. This book is essentially Fea trying to understand what happened.

If Court Evangelical is a new term to you, it will likely be the most interesting chapter. The most striking to me was chapter five, Make America Great Again. As Christians, we need to seriously consider the ‘great again’ part and it’s implications. It might be great for me, a Protestant white guy, but what about basically everyone else that exists? And how serious is he about getting back to the ‘good ol’ days’?

There’s a lot more I could write about this topic, and if you are interested, the book is a must read. It is a great intro into how to think about Evangelical support for Trump. Even if you are supporter, especially if you are a ‘supreme court’ supporter, you should really read this book. I do have two brief criticisms and then a final thought before this gets too long.

First, a theological issue. Fea must come from an Arminian branch of Protestantism, as he misunderstands a few things about Puritan thought as well as Calvinism. It doesn’t necessarily change anything in the book, but if you come from a Reformed or Lutheran background, you’ll see some theological and hermeneutical errors. Second, he is a little too quick to say someone in not a Christian. While I agree that Trump shows not a single ‘fruit of the Spirit’ nor any ‘good works’, I’m hesitant to ever doubt someone’s profession of faith.

Finally, I really appreciate the intro and concluding chapters in this book. I’m told some people do not read these, but you really should. I am sure Fea will be attached as a ‘liberal’ or people will say he is not a Christian for writing this book, but the intro makes it pretty clear what he is trying to do. Even more, the conclusion is a great piece of writing on the confusion about the support for Trump. He wrote so much of what I’ve felt or wondered. It’s not that voting for Trump is wrong, it’s that the fact he is viewed as the Evangelical leader just makes no sense. If you are rich, or think the most dangerous think in America is Mexicans picking our fruit, or if you want to ban Muslims, or if you are just a party line Republican, then Trump makes the most sense. And all of that is fine, but to tie him up in religious language and say he is the best candidate for Christians is just confounding.

This vote will follow Evangelicals for all of American history. If you are curious as to how we go her, this book is a must read.

 

*I received a free copy of this book from Eerdman’s Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This is my first review for Eerdman’s and the first time I’ve received a galley proof in hardcopy.

Stuff from last week

I haven’t been posting much recently, partly due to time and partly due to disinclination, but last week a came across a few things I found interesting, that I thought I’d share. The plan was for it to go up on Friday, but the Monday Morning Wife and I had our 10th Anniversary and I got distracted.

Russell Moore spoke on The Gospel Coalition Podcast about the obstacles of religious liberty. Depending on your perspective, it’s not what you think. I thought the points he makes about us looking too much for the government to help us and enforce our view of morality were really good; though he does fail to note the painful irony that some of the biggest pushers for ‘religious liberty’ and government enforced morality are often the most ardent anti-government.

Somewhat related, Theocast talks about losing a generation at church. I’m less concerned than most people, though probably not concerned enough, because I think it is inevitable. We were never a ‘Christian Nation’, whatever that means, but for the most of our history, we’ve been a solidly Christian culture, but we aren’t any more. This means we are shedding some of the cultural only hanger’s on. I guess I should care more, but I don’t.

The other thing that stuck out to me about this particular episode was the lack of political honesty. There is one quick mention/jab about not agree with ‘they younger people’ and their politics, but no real discussion about the impact politics has played on losing more and more young people. When I was growing up, Monica Lewinsky was the worst thing ever, a national moral tragedy. Many of the same people publicly deriding Clinton are now, 20 years later, some of the most vocal supporters of Trump. A democrat being immoral is cause for massive public outcry, but these people really don’t seem to give a shit how many hookers and pornstars a republican bangs. All these leaders have traded in the Gospel of Christ of the promise of power from Christian Nationalism, and we are the lost generation?

I could go on and on about this, because it pisses me off so, but if the ‘church’ keeps acting like questioning the Moral Majority or St. Ronnie is blasphemy, and cannot have adult conversations about political issues such as healthcare, minimum wage, income inequality, etc. without resorting to beating up tired old strawmen or just screaming ‘socialism’, we are going hemorrhage anyone under 65 faster than we can imagine.

Speaking of being somewhat bad with economics, I started a new book – Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give
It seems really good so far, except they seem to think per capita GDP is useful measure, confuse mean for median, don’t accurately represent inflation, and ignore income inequality. I guess this isn’t surprising, because those things tend to get political, and they state at the beginning, they don’t want to do that, for, you know…reasons. Anyway from a Biblical prospective, it is pretty interesting so far, especially the focus on community.

I haven’t written many reviews lately because I’m still trying to power through this – 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Guide to Understanding and Teaching Theology I’m a big fan of theology, and the part where he gets rolling are really good, but it is slow going as it is a bit repetitive, a little redundant, and well, over 400 pages.

Lastly for books, I read Notes From the Underground, which is really interesting, but I have this copy – Notes From Underground And The Grand Inquisitor. I recommend against this as the second half of the books is an excerpt from The Brothers Karamazov (Everyman’s Library), which I already own.

Finally, you may have seen that we moved our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There is plenty written out there about the political consequences of this, but I found this article from a Catholic viewpoint to be interesting. If you didn’t grow up in the dispensational work, or studied your way out, Christian Zionism can seem really odd, so I appreciate the view from someone else.

That’s all for now, hopefully, I’ll have some reviews up soon.

Book Review: Real Love in an Angry World

Real Love in an Angry World: How to Stick to Your Convictions without Alienating People

My Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Quick, easy read; short book

Summary
A good, quick summary of this book is somewhat hard to do. Bezet’s main idea is that there are unhappy people out there who are mad and/or judgmental towards Christianity. Additionally, these people come from both ends – those opposed to Christianity, and Christians (or at least those who would call themselves as such, like Westboro Baptist) themselves who think your Christianity isn’t good enough. He spends a little time on Christian who have drifted away from historic Christianity, i.e. denying the validity of the Scriptures, miracles, etc. However, most of the time is spent on the two more angry sides, the non-believers and judgmental believers (for instance, he relates a story of taking his wife to see a Celine Dion in Vegas, and losing a few church members once they found out he was in Vegas).

The book is broken into nine chapters that kind of bounce around on different topics. Everything from picking our battles to loving your neighbor (and just who is your neighbor) to then loving you enemy, to a little bit of history on the Bible. He touches on politics a number of times, but not necessarily specific topics or policy points, mainly just that Christians can disagree with each other while still be Christians, and Christians can disagree with non-Christians while still showing love and understanding. I don’t know how long he has been working on the book, but as it was published near the end of 2017, I assume it is at least partially motivated by the rise and election of Trump.

My Thoughts
Overall, it is a good book. Bezet is a good writer, very personal, and I thought, very humorous. I struggle with exactly who should read this book. For most Christians, it is probably worth your time to read, especially because it is so short. It reads quickly and is funny, his points on how to listen to people and how important it is to really listen, and his continual emphasis on the need to truly love others, are great reminders and points weakness for most of us. I especially like his point about loving others being the second great commandment. He points out that on the liberal Christian and non-Christian side, there is often the comment that we just need to love each other because that is what Jesus said and that is all we need. Bezet rightly points out, this is the second great command, this first is to love God. Part of that love means being faithful to God and His Word.

While all is helpful, I think the best use could be for those Christians on the extreme end of the non-loving judgmental side. Those who are the most angry and often express hate. The problem is, of course, I don’t think the people who need it the most would actually read it, and if they did they’d likely just disagree. I guess you never know how the Spirit will move some people, but I remain skeptical. Either way, it might be helpful for you to recognize some issues in your life, and if you see some of these issues in others, it might help you in reaching out to them and helping them to show the love of Christ, while retaining the love for God.

*I received a free copy of this book for an honest review