The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: July 7, 2018

The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: July 7, 2018

From AOL: Who says this isn’t a great country? What could be better than a 104 year-old WWII veteran throwing out the first pitch for the Memphis Redbirds, triple-A affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals.

From the New York Times: For many reasons we’ve been hearing a lot about China lately. But how about some pictures displaying a happy USA/China partnership? Here are some photos of Shanghai Disneyland by Reagan Louie. The park opened in 2016.


A dispute in North Providence led to a man hiring an artist to paint a less-than-flattering portrait of the mayor on a big building wall.

“I think it’s funny,” said Paul Morse, the artist commissioned to do the mural.

But it’s raising questions about whether the drawing is free speech, civil disobedience, or simply disrespectful.

Regardless of the split opinion from people passing by, it still is a depiction of North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi as a king on the porcelain throne.

“That’s how politics have turned into in this town,” said a driver who asked to speak anonymously, saying it was too small of a town for him to be known.

Morse said Dr. Anthony Farina, who owns the property, and was also told by the city to tear the building down, hired and paid him to paint the wall.

From USA Today: Yet another great rock band name: The Parachuting Spiders.

Research published Thursday ended the long running debate if spiders can use the silk they weave as a parachute to fly through the wind or if flight is powered by static electricity reacting with silk.

A study by University of Bristol sensory biophysicist Erica Morley confirmed what Charles Darwin notably observed watching hundred of spiders fly 60 miles across the ocean and land on his ship, the HMS Beagle.

Darwin thought electrostatic force was somehow involved. Morley and researchers backed this up by demonstrating for the first time in a lab how spiders use electrostatic forces to balloon.

When spiders launch off from the ground and float through the sky, sometimes for thousands of miles, it’s due to a “ballooning process” where spiders raise their abdomen to the sky, spin 7- to 13-foot-long silk parachutes and fly away. A previous study confirmed that spiders fly by checking the wind and throwing out their silk parachutes at the right time. The study, however, could not account for why the multiple silk threads spiders use to balloon don’t tangle in the wind.

Morley’s research accounts for the lack of tangles and explains why spiders can fly thousands of miles even when it’s not windy outside. The strands don’t tangle because each strand is repelling off another in an electrostatic force. Their study also concluded that the weather conditions are not the primary driver of when a spider balloons, but rather if an electric field is present in the atmosphere.

Why I no longer read scripture the evangelical way.

Wayne Grudem taught at the seminary I attended when I was there. He wrote a systematic theology that has become a standard in many evangelical circles. This is a bright guy who is training tomorrow’s pastors and church leaders. But let me show you why I think he exemplifies a way of reading the Bible that is suspect at best, and frankly, a little crazy when you actually stop to think about it. Yet it is as common as grass in many churches.

Here is an article in which Grudem argues that President Donald Trump’s plan to build a border wall is not only a good idea but a biblical one that is moral and legitimate because the teaching of the Bible supports it. He says:

My conclusion from this overview is that the Bible views border walls as a morally good thing, something for which to thank God. Walls on a border are a major deterrent to evil and they provide clear visible evidence that a city or nation has control over who enters it, something absolutely essential if a government is going to prevent a nation from devolving into more and more anarchy.

So in other words, here is how we reason from the Bible:

  1. The Bible describes cities in the ancient world.
  2. Cities in the ancient world had walls.
  3. Some Bible passages speak favorably about those city walls.
  4. Therefore, it would be a morally good thing for the US to build a wall between us and Mexico.

Warren Throckmorton summarizes the rationale in his critique of Grudem: We should build a wall because the Bible has walls. This is what I call “Bible-for-brains” reasoning. I used to practice it all the time. Here’s how you “develop a biblical conviction” about an issue:

  1. Identify the issue: in this case, building a wall.
  2. Get out your Strong’s Concordance and look up every instance of the word “wall” in the Bible.
  3. Do an in-depth word study on the word “wall.” When you are done, you will find out that in Hebrew and Greek, the word means “wall.”
  4. From collating and analyzing the verses, come up with a systematic statement of what the Bible says about walls.
  5. Conclusion: this is the Bible’s teaching about walls.
  6. Apply your “biblical” position to a contemporary question such as “Should we build a border wall on our southern border?”


I can’t end this brunch without bragging about one of my best friend’s sons. Jeff Mercer, who coached Wright State into this year’s NCAA baseball tournament, has been named the head coach of Indiana University’s baseball team.

Jeffrey is only 32 years old. He played and coached when my son played ball at our local high school and his dad, who used to be an assistant at IU, was the head coach. I have written about his brother Daniel here at the blog, and the book their dad wrote about Daniel’s battle with a brain tumor and death in 2006. Young Jeff showed himself to be one amazing older brother through that ordeal, wise and faithful far beyond his age. I had the privilege of officiating his wedding, and I’m looking forward to meeting his first little baby boy, who will born this summer.

Since Jeff left town, we all have been watching his career with interest, knowing that the sky is the limit. In fact, in the article about his hiring, Fred Glass, the athletic director at IU, called him “the Brad Stevens of collegiate baseball.” If you know anything about Coach Stevens, now with the Boston Celtics, your mouth would drop at a compliment like that.

Jeff takes over the Big Ten’s premier baseball program. Since 2008, Indiana leads the Big Ten in total wins, conference wins and NCAA tournament appearances. The Hoosiers have appeared in the tournament in five of the last six seasons.

Here’s what he said about the opportunity:

“I have loved baseball and the state of Indiana my whole life and it is an honor to be the head baseball coach of the state’s flagship institution. With the talent that the Midwest is producing, top notch facilities, the commitment of the school, and our ability to recruit and develop players at the highest level, the sky is the limit for IU baseball. I cannot wait to get to work.”

Jeffrey, you are the best. God bless you in your new endeavor. You will have a wonderful impact on many, many young people. And you will bring a lot of us great joy as we watch your teams on the ball field.

152 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: July 7, 2018

  1. And the Trump-Putin thing is coming up.

    The latest issue of New York magazine says on the cover “Will he be meeting with his counterpart… Or his Handler?”


  2. And this song’s been on heavy rotation on London radio stations:

    Brit sense of humor….


  3. I used to say that with some of these guys, if God Himself appeared before them they would turn their backs on Him so they could use the Shekinah only as a reading lamp for their Bible studies.


  4. So it wasn’t too much of a stretch to transfer from Principles to a Prince.

    In many ways, Trump embodies Evangelical Attitudes but More So — obviously He Must Be More Anointed by God. (i.e. he shows or mimics all the tribal recognition markers.) Over the years since Carter & Reagan, Evangelical Culture War culture “groomed” Evangelicals to cleave to him.


  5. Congrats to Jeff Mercer.

    Congrats also to Matt Bragga and Tennessee Tech University. They made it by Ole Miss and almost beat Texas. Bragga has accepted a coaching position at Rice University.


  6. The Rev. Mr. Mitchell here is taking the older position, but the older argument (that time spent on sports was a frivolous waste) was already lost.

    The Rev Mr Mitchell obviously wrote in an age before Smartphones and 24/7 Social Media.


  7. Some of that is due to the RCC’s long historical trace and institutional memory.

    After 20 centuries of “Been There, Done That, Faceplanted Hard”, you learn from your mistakes.

    Not so if you’re a new startup returning to “Started by Jesus Christ in 33 AD” and constantly reinventing the wheel. “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”


  8. “to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its Creator”.

    Unfortunately that has to compete with “It’s All Gonna Burn(TM)” in an era of echo-chamber bubbles and “anything that doesn’t agree completely with ME is Fake News”.


  9. Peter:

    I have come to believe that Evangelical FUNDAMENTALIST are more liberal than liberals. They twist the Bible to meet their agendas IMO. Trump is a classical case of them doing this.


  10. Radagast,
    According to City Crime Rankings by CQ Press, El Paso has been in the study’s top three large cities with lowest crime rates since 1997, almost a decade before the barrier/wall went up, and more than half a decade into Juarez’s crime escalation. That definitely had to do with border security and police work, but it couldn’t have been because of the wall.


  11. Robert,

    I think the guy is policking. my guys say that Juarez is and has been pretty dangerous, made safer by a wall that pre-dates Trump. Additionally – back in 1985 I lived in VA Beach VA, next to a Navy guy and his wife, both from El Paso. They would tell me some crazy stories about the crime that came over from Juarez… and also that the Navy guy had seen his mother murdered there when he was younger. Conclusive evidence… maybe not, but enough that idf that wall came down I would worry. If you lok into Juarez from El Paso it looks like a bunch of run down shacks… I don’t even think those close to the border are inhabited…. just my experience…


  12. JB: I hope my paraphrase was on the mark. You and others are wrong about Trump and need to be told so.

    That you and other “christians” can justify his actions astounds me.


  13. I seem to recall that God helped tear down the wall around Jericho so that anyone who wished could enter it… So obviously the Bible advocates open borders.


  14. For what it’s worth, during the Yeltsin years between the Second Russian Revolution and the rise of Putin, I heard Christian Culture Warriors on the radio praising Russia and saying future American Christians might have to emigrate to Russia to escape Secular Humanist Persecution (#Abortion, #Evolution, #HOMOSEXUALITY). So some of that has always been there.

    In many ways, it’s a 180 flip on the late Cold War editorials in Guns & Ammo and Soldier of Fortune comparing Spoiled Rotten Baby-Fat Americans with the Rugged Communist Supermen (and guess who won?). In both cases, the other guy had The Superior System where it counted — WINNING.


  15. It also is built on an entirely false foundation — believing that the Bible has “answers” for questions like these, that the Bible “takes positions” on questions like these, indeed that the Bible even “speaks” to questions like these in the silly way that Grudem says it does.

    I got vaccinated against that by a couple years in the Plain Meaning of Scripture according to Hal Lindsay. (Type Example #BookOfRevelationDemonLocustPlague.)

    Or was that a case of “infection bestows immunity” like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? If you survive the disease, you can’t catch it again?


  16. I think what’s really going on is that Trump so perfectly exemplifies all the faults of evangelicalism that if you talk about those faults, it always sounds like you’re talking about Trump.

    Eagle & I have gone back-and-forth on that exact subject.

    In many ways, Trump acts like a CELEBRITY MegaPastor — the ones constantly getting exposed on Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board, et al. He even has the sex scandals and Mark Driscoll belligerent hypermasculinity. Near-perfect fit into Culture War Evangelical culture.

    Our theory that’s emerging is that Trump’s Evangelical Base were “groomed” to see that sort of behavior by God’s Anointed Head Apostle/Lead Pastor as The Mark of God’s Anointing. And here comes Trump who behaves in those ways — except MORE SO. More larger-than-life, more over-the-top, more in-your-face. (As Eagle put it, “If you like Mark Driscoll, you’ll LOVE Donald Trump”.) So Trump must be More Godly, More Anointed.

    Like the story of the kid raised in a Holiness church culture who as an adult went Mormon because “Mormons don’t drink or smoke”, i,e. they showed all the tribal markings his Holiness culture associated with Godliness only more so — obviously, they must be more Christian.

    And the Culture Warriros smell VICTORY.
    The Oh-so-Delicious Taste of POWER.
    Supreme Court Pack, Overturn Roe v Wade, Put Prayer and Young Earth Creationism back in all schools, Barton and Ken Ham in all schools and on all media — like the story-within-a-story of the satirical novel A Pagan’s Nightmare (which at the end is revealed as The Devil, deceiving the very elect by giving them a Christian Nation on the surface — all hat, no cattle).


  17. Training someone how to fight, and then treating them as a second class citizen… that, historically, is a fantastic way to get yourself into very deep trouble. ?

    Of such things are Military Coups made.


  18. Some other tropes of Cyberpunk:

    1) Extreme Income Inequality — .01% Super-Rich with 99.999999% of the wealth.
    2) Everyone in the 99.99% with a broadband link stays plugged into Cyberspace 24/7, whether by implant jacks or staring at screens like Narcissus at his reflection. Bread, Circuses, and Social Media.
    3) Computer geeks split off into a Gnostic cult of Cyberspace Good! Meatspace Baaaaaaad! Computers! Computers! Computers! Computers! Computers!…
    4) Rampant Cyberpsychosis — plugged into Cyberspace so long that Meatspace utterly ceases to exist. Like some sort of Pneumatic Gnosticism.
    5) Resources depleted for Cyberspace Bread and Circuses.
    6) The whole unstable system slowly breaking down/melting down, and those with the knowledge, position, and power to stop the meltdown are those who personally benefit from the System as it is –All Together Now: “I Got Mine… I Got Mine… I Don’t Want a Thing To Change Now That I Got Mine…”


  19. And the “God’s Gonna Get You on J-Day!” (cue Jack Chick Great White Throne scene) is now officially in play. Eternal Hellfire is quite a motivator to stay in line.


  20. But, Radagast, here’s another articlecontradicting the wall–as-protection narrative. And there are more than a few others like the two I’ve linked, written by and sourced in people living in El Paso. What to believe?


  21. Headless,
    check British media out: the MAYOR of London gave permission for Baby-Trump-In-Diaper blimp to fly over London . . . .

    The Brits think we’ve gone crazy over here. They may be right.


  22. Mot,
    could be that the very fine evangelical people who have and still support Trump are getting their info about him from only very restricted sources (Fox News, the Russian news channel, Limbaugh, etc.)

    But after a time, when what T does to the country filters down to his ‘base’, I think we will see some departure of evangelicals from the T.

    N. Korea just turned on Trump. And the Trump-Putin thing is coming up. So we will see what Putin gets from Trump and IF evangelical people can stomach it.

    Economically, eventually SOMETHING not so great will ‘trickle down’ from all the tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, and from the tariff war . . . . but it won’t be a ‘good’ trickle, no. Storm clouds are forecast.

    For SOME evangelicals already the pain Trump placed on innocent children was a tipping point. I am also confused why more evangelical people were not ‘moved’ to speak out . . . other than to say that their faith was ‘separate’ from their politics (?) And I think, ‘NOW, they decide to separate the two?’ NOW that they are in both the Church and deep into Trumpworld. Sounds like a problem with ‘integrity’ to me. I have to sort out what they are saying because I also don’t understand.

    HEADS UP: the new talk is that ‘Russia’ is ‘good’ for a Christian nation like ours because they are anti many of the same targets in the culture wars . . . . Soooooo . . . . hold on for the ride . . . . some of our evangelical people may abandon their rich heritage of democracy for an embrace of a whole-nother-country: Mother Russia. (sigh) Imagine Putin as a darling of the Christian far-right! Strange days.


  23. Sounds like something that should be on the old “News of the Weird” website.


  24. Grudem is attempting to give entirely unwarranted Biblical authority to what is really his personal view…

    Isn’t that the original meaning (and current Jewish interpretation) of the “Taking God’s Name in Vain” commandment? Claiming God’s sanction for what is not of God?


  25. Maybe they Took the Mark, just like in cheezy Christianese Apocalyptic fiction.


  26. You can keep your Doctor if you want to. You can keep your present health care plan.

    There is nuclear weapon production capability in Iraq. We are not there to nation build.

    mot, thanks for paraphrasing me , I thought Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world but perhaps he was being paraphrased .


  27. Robert,

    If there is lower crime now in Juarez its only because its mostly uninhabitable now…. especially close to the border. The folks that work with me would disagree with that article.

    Also I was there last year visiting the site… still looks pretty bad across the border looking into Juarez….


  28. I had Dr. Grudem for a New Testament class. I recall him being one of the most humble professors I had up to that point. I don’t recall anyone viewing him as controversial in any way. Scot McKnight, on the other hand, made a few waves (for being non-reformed).


  29. Amen, Christiane.

    I have two friends who are fervent Trump supporters. They are intelligent professionals whom I have respected greatly over the years. I just don’t understand.


  30. I’m not saying that Trump and his toadies are not doing a lot of damage. Of course. The Supreme Court pick is a disaster. Nevertheless he can’t stop the growth of the Hispanic portion of our population, the fastest growing demographic. He can’t put the mask back on the racist right. The ugly is there for everyone to see. Trump is destroying the Republican Party slowly but surely. They would have been much better off with President Hillary to function as Satan in their pantheon. Now they own it. Sure, bad for us. But bad for them in the long run too. They’re just too short sighted and stupid to see it. I know some non-Trump Republicans who see it plainly.


  31. Ted, Dr. Grudem was a pretty young guy when I was at Trinity, and it was before the Sovereign Grace movement, where he found a fit for his (at that time) rather novel combination of neo-Calvinism and Third Wave charismatic beliefs. He did not write Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood until 1991, which was 3 years after I graduated. I don’t remember him making a lot of waves at Trinity, whose NT department was dominated by Don Carson, Grant Osborne, and Doug Moo. A young Scot McKnight was there too; if I get to see him I’ll have to ask what he thought of Grudem at that time.


  32. Gives new meaning to the phrase “block head” a la Charlie Brown!

    Good comment Stephen!


  33. “Please, please Christian Trump supporters wake up and realize what your support of Trump is doing to the Kingdom of God.”

    My take; when people stand before God in judgment and have to answer for their rejection of their creator; blaming your rejection of God because you knew Christians who supported Trump –

    I don’t think that excuse will not fly with the Holy God.


  34. Interesting. Although I don’t think starting with scripture will “always” lead one astray. That’s a little bit absolute.

    Interpreting the bible to suit one’s own beliefs, as John Barry and Eeyore mentioned, is why Sola Scripture doesn’t work. It’s no longer scripture by the time we get done with it, so maybe we need something else. I’ve been thinking more along the lines of Prima Scriptura, but now you’ve shot an arrow into that.

    I do think that evangelicals are mistaken to throw out reason, tradition, and inspiration along with scripture. We do need a balance, especially with all the goons out there interpreting that sola scriptura for us.


  35. Ah, the Berlin Wall… that wonderful beacon of God and Jesus!!!

    “Mister Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN that wonderful beacon of God and Jesus!!!”

    And he did. The godless commie.


  36. Clay:

    Clay, Let me paraphrase JB-the sins of the other presidents are not as bad as Trumps because Trump is not as polished as them. Once again this is What about ism for these people.

    Trump supporters support a serial liar-there is no other way to call it. A lie is a lie-seems like there is something about lying being a sin in the Bible.

    If I was not already a believer these “christian supporters” of Trump would never ever be able to move me to be a Christian.

    Please, please Christian Trump supporters wake up and realize what your support of Trump is doing to the Kingdom of God.


  37. Agreed. Of course I don’t have a stake in the debate, being atheist, but I am concerned about the outcomes.


  38. I think it is interesting that Grudem et al can draw a straight line from the Old Testament “wall” references to Trump’s proposed wall, but not see any line between OT laws on the treatment of aliens and our treatment of illegals now. Or am I missing something here?


  39. Dana, I think I just lost a reply to your comment, but the gist of it was that modern evangelicalism was a phenomenon of the 1940s to the 1980s, and that it may have already merged back into the fundamentalism that it tried to escape from. The bookend figures were Billy Graham et al in the 40s and the rise of the Religious Right in the 70s-80s. But we’re still calling it evangelicalism.


  40. I was talking with a pastor friend last week and he said that evangelicalism has already passed. I think we agreed that the modern form began in the 1940s with Billy Graham, Harold Ockenga, Carl Henry et al, in an effort to distinguish itself from an ever-narrowing fundamentalism—and that it probably ended with the rise of the Religious Right, Jerry Falwell Sr et al, and the politicizing of the faith. I think we’ve seen it morph back into fundamentalism, with a strange twist of new-calvinism in one very vocal strain.

    When I fill out a form for a yearly medical mission trip, I’m asked a brief description of my faith. The past few years I’ve put “Still calling myself evangelical for lack of a better term. I call Jesus Lord whatever I call myself.” They keep letting me back on the team.


  41. You mention the most under-reported and under-discussed topic of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the rise of the Chinese model blending capitalism and government control. Everything I was ever taught in school was proved wrong.


  42. Wayne Grudem. How did he get so FAR with his ‘doctrine’ of ESS?

    I mean, he had an enormous following along with some other guy that spouted the same kind of drivel that Our Lord was ‘lesser’ than the Father. And all to shore up their teaching of wives being subordinate to their husbands, instead of marriage as mutual support.

    So, the balloon popped and deflated and Grudem et al. got a put down. But isn’t there still a great remnant who cling to the un-biblical teaching that makes mockery of who we ALL are ‘in Christ’?

    It’s a shame Grudem was allowed to go so far without push-back. But finally, someone had the courage to say ‘the emperor has no clothes’. Finally. (Lot of foolish-looking supporters now wished they hadn’t jumped on his wagon)


  43. Mike, both Jean-Luc Picard and I understood that you weren’t talking about the wall itself, or politics, but rather the bubble-for-brains bible-for brains theology that justifies the wall.

    It’s the same problem I had with the “elders are the only biblical form of church government” conclusion (“oh, and by the way—elders are always male…”) that was largely supported by Wayne Grudem’s bubble-headed bible-headed bone-headed theology of “Eternal Submission of the Son.” Something like this:
    — The bible mentions elders as leaders in the church.
    — Elders must be “husband of one wife (1Timothy3).
    — Therefore, elders are the only biblical form of church government. And women can’t have wives, so elders must be male.

    I never got a good answer when I pointed out that deacons also are to be “husband of one wife” and yet Romans 16 calls Phoebe a deacon.

    “Eternal Subordination of the Son” has been the justification for the submission of women, following the “conclusion” that Christ has always been subordinate to God the Father. Let’s remember that it was Wayne Grudem along with John Piper who wrote Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

    Question: how seriously was Dr. Grudem taken while you were at Trinity? Did nobody call him out on this as another form of Arianism? I think the Evangelical Theological Society has finally done that.


  44. Clay:
    You said to JB–“Does it bother you at all? I’m just trying to understand at what point you say, “Okay, enough is enough.” I do not think IMO there is an enough is enough for Trump supporters. Trump said he has never asked God for forgiveness so how is he a born again Christian??

    Clay, IMO Trump is a serial liar and if an Evangelical Christian can support him I am very much confused.


  45. J.B. great fun writing, even if I disagree about Francis

    BTW, what ‘faith based’ references to do with social justice are touted by your tribe? And how do you understand ‘social justice’? I have a feeling the Christian far-right and the Catholic all-over-the-place groups see ‘social justice’ in vastly different ways.

    Take a look at what Francis holds to:

    and compare it to the corresponding faith-filled Doctrine of Trump, et al

    strange days we live in

    keep up your sense of humor, we need it J.B.


  46. To be fair, most people, fundamentalist Christians or not, have trouble wrapping their heads around postmodern ways of understanding things. I know I do. The most I have been able to tell for certain is that those ways of understanding seem like ways of side-stepping or denying the validity of the logical law of noncontradiction; after that, I’m lost.


  47. Yes, people forget about how primary elections work. The only real way out is to *SWELL* party participation so that primary elections can work – selecting sane, informed, qualified candidates. As long as America eschews party politics [which is is not the same as partisanship] I do not see any hope.

    It seems the far-right are the only ones who remember how America works.


  48. @Klasie, For my part I wish that progressive Christians would also stop buttressing their political and social agendas in cherry-picked Scriptures. Instead, I would prefer arguments based in common human traits, such as empathy, and in the common goal of supporting a humane world for us all to live together in, one where people are treated with respect and dignity based on their inherent value as human beings. Stop with the bias confirmation Scripture proof-texting already, people!


  49. you see this on a lot of blogs where the ‘easily offended’ want to shut people up who disagree with them

    they can’t enter into normal dialogue, so they bully and gather their forces to get people banned

    It backfired over on one blog, where the administrator coddled them and began to TWEET in a similar manner as the bullies . . . . but he over did it . . . . and the organization threw him off as an administrator and he attempted to apologize to those he had attacked

    I blame the core group of bullies there on that blog for having influenced that man in a NEGATIVE way

    the thing about the ‘easily offended’ is that, in their lack of humility, they decide who gets to speak and who is to be banned

    like I said, it can backfire on those who call them ‘worthy’ . . . but people know that you reap what you sow and water and nourish, and if it is hatred and bullying, then somethin is gonna give eventually


  50. This story and others I found suggest that walls are not considered a good idea in El Paso, and that the current prosperity and security of the city are not attributed to the building of any wall by the leaders or population there.


  51. Bread and circuses. (The old way of ‘satisfying’ the plebes in ancient Rome . . . the emperors gave out free ‘bread’ and provided ‘entertainment’ in the Arena) It works for a while


  52. And yet, those posing as ‘we don’t want politics spoken here’ will tell you to be SILENT about the Trump. Why?

    Could it be that those who don’t want the truth to be known about the lies, the inhumanity, the cruelty to innocents;
    that these ‘christians’ have found another ‘god’ to worship . . . a ‘god\ who doesn’t walk with those who are on the road to safety and refuge ???


  53. We are hearing desperate cries from the youngest refuge victims of the State.
    And from those who say ‘don’t bother about them, they aren’t American children’,
    we are asked to be silent, to look away, it’s just politics as usual

    But still,from our inner-most conscience, we hear the age-old echo, come down through the centuries:


  54. Thanks, JB. That’s all I needed to know. Truth built on lies is a house built on sand.


  55. Thank you, That Other Jean

    I don’t view the present crisis with the little refugee children as ‘political’, no. I see it as a crisis that is immoral and inhumane.

    That puts it squarely on my conscience to speak up about it.

    I don’t think I’m the ONLY one who feels this crisis as one that involves far more than anything ‘political’, but I know that some want people ‘like me’ to be silenced. But when it is a matter of conscience and you cannot ‘look away’ and live in silence as the tragedy continues, then . . . .

    “As much as the Christian would like to remain distant from political struggle, nonetheless, even here the commandment of love urges the Christian to stand up for his neighbor.”
    (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)


  56. I’m inclined to agree with you, Adam, and I’m not sanguine about the reveal effect that Klasie and Stephen think is operating to defuse the crisis ahead of us. Trump’s constituency is already a minority, it was a minority when he was elected, but that hasn’t stopped it from solidifying and wielding tremendous political power for Trump. Look how the Congressional Republicans are afraid to oppose him? The fact is, he’s more popular than any Republican member in Congress or Congress as a whole, and he knows how to use that popularity as power.


  57. You and Grudem ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.
    Here’s something from Professor John Fea’s blog:

    (CM, you really should have Prof Fea on your blog list. He’s head of the History Department at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and takes a historian’s view on the Evangelical Bubble and Trumpism. Eagle (remember him?) first brought his blog to my attention.)


  58. It’s the Christianese version of “Tyranny of the Most Easily Offended”.


  59. Clay , Trump basically is a big picture guy .who is at his core a salesman , not into details and goes with emotion and hype to get his point across.
    Trump’s lies , claims and “facts” are to convey a thought or concern in a broad brush way to impart his message. His claims, his lies are easily challenged and they arr quickly by the press. Trump Wisconsin claim was to
    Remind his base he carried states Republicsns usually lose. Border message, democrats weak on border security. It is Trump “shorthand” to bring attention to subject, He is trying to take on the establishment
    With few real allies but his supporters. Trump plays fast and loose with facts to project action and make the press cover the issue.

    Trump is raw and unskilled in his public speaking but it works as long as he delivers and is not lying to his base about his stated agenda on immigration, economy trade and national security.

    To sum I look to what Trump does not what he says.

    Clinton Bush Obama all lied to the voters but much more skilled than Trump. And their lies had major consquences
    Trump talks off the top of his head and has no speech discipline


  60. Yes, the underlying agenda is certainly an issue and I’m not unaware of that. But many Christians will ignore that if someone seems to advance a good “biblical” argument.

    “I Know I’m Right —

    “Show me SCRIPTURE!”
    — Raul Rees, CalvaryChapelWestCovina, whenever anyone tried to reason with him.


  61. Yeah, until they find out what the Soylent Green that is their sole food is composed of — Yikes!


  62. I was floored by the stories in the news this week about the flying spiders. I never even knew that spiders can fly, but the idea that they are able to use earth’s electrical field, that they can sense it and ride it to propel themselves fast and far — Wow!! Creation is indeed a marvel!


  63. Because Evangelical Culture Warriors have glommed onto Trump as The Great White Hope, conjoining themselves to him like conjoined twins.


  64. At the time, he was just a bombastic real-estate tycoon from New York getting in the news now and then. And getting parodied on Sesame Street.


  65. Who has been demonized more in American political culture for the last 20 years than Hillary Clinton? And who did that demonizing? I say this as someone who is no fan of Hillary Clinton — I voted for her as the lesser of two evils in 2016, but I did not vote for her hubby either time he ran, and still believe he should’ve been removed from office.


  66. What he, and I for that matter, missed is how violent the death throes will be. ?

    We still haven’t gotten to Jump-Starting Armageddon through nuclear war.


  67. Hello ADAM,

    I’m referring to the times when our young men had no choice but to register for the draft.

    I lost a wonderful cousin in Viet Nam.
    I am sure there were many who protested our presence there, as I did, but I refer to those who never served in those times but avoided the draft falsely when they WERE called to duty, who now decide to disrespect our service men who have been promised a route to citizenship through their military service.

    Is the ‘word’ of our nation now worth nothing as the whim of one person destroys its value in the homeland and internationally????


  68. Sen,

    I have only my own experience to tell – and this is exactly why I left Evangelicalism. I found that the ancient Church (neither RCC or EO at that time, but simply Christianity) had doctrine and worship practice in some major areas that were not what I experienced in any of the churches I had ever been in. The closest was RCC, but as it exists now it also strayed in some significant ways from what was affirmed by all Christians in the first 600 – 800 years. There was remarkable consistency in every source I found from that era. I reasoned that, being so close to the original form of the Church, I ought to pay much more attention to them than to what developed later. So yes, I left because the doctrine changed.

    I also left because, prior to that, after much prayer and Scripture reading, I came to a different interpretation of some important things touching on doctrine and worship, and found that what I had come to was much closer to what I later found had been taught by the early Church This was a great surprise to me – and also gave me much joy and the sense that I was “on the right track” with what God wanted for me and from me as a human being.



  69. –> “…the life, words and work of Jesus Christ are the ultimate and final authority; where anything elsewhere in Scripture contradicts it, He wins…”

    YES! Case in point…

    We were looking at Luke 5:17-26 today in men’s fellowship, where the paralytic’s friends lower him into a room where Jesus is teaching in order for him to get healed. Scriptures at the time would suggest that this paralytic’s issues stemmed from his sins, and that the only way to get cleansed of sins would be to bring some sort of sacrifice to the temple, and even then it would be unlikely he’d get healed since he was still a sinner. Scripture, then, left him hanging, with no relief.

    Enter Jesus. Counter to Scripture requirements at the time, he heals the guy WITHOUT ANY SORT OF SACRIFICIAL REQUIREMENT on the paralytic’s part, and Jesus also FORGIVES HIS SINS, which only God could do.

    Pharisees and scribes at the time held onto the scriptures too closely, missing the God and the grace that was in their midst. Christians clearly do the same.


  70. Hello J.B.

    I do think the Pope has expressed concern about the threat of climate change to our Earth. And as far as it being ‘biblical’, I would say that the concern is based on the Catholic belief that God is the God of the Natural World (‘All that is visible’, as well as the God of the Supernatural ‘all that is invisible’.

    The Pope seems to reflect his namesake in his concern: Francis . . . who found in nature something ‘more’ than the people around him that took the natural world ‘for granted’ . . . .

    I think both Pope Francis and St. Francis would agree with an old Indian chief named ‘Seattle’ who spoke this:
    “to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its Creator”.

    Two opposing philosophies: the one respects Creation and the other sees Creation as something to be exploited.
    And there seems to way to reconcile the two, so people ‘choose’ which way to view the gift of the natural world placed in human hands. My Coast Guard son says that you can cruise far out to the center of the Pacific Ocean and find even there enormous piles of floating trash and refuse. . . . .

    from another land, an anthem that respects the natural world


  71. The best authoritarian policy is to keep our people in fear.

    op cit a LOT of churches and preachers and sermons and Christianese best-sellers.


  72. Not just “directly divinely inspired”, but Verbal Plenary Inspired, i.e. dictated word-for-word by God in Kynge Jaymes Englyshe and written down EXACTLY word-for-word like the Koran or Oahspe or Seth Speaks.
    “Just like Automatic Writing, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    And this Grudem guy (AKA “WAYNE GRUDEM GO WAYNE GRUDEM!”) has shown up a lot on Wartburg Watch (and not in a way he’d like).


  73. It may collapse, or it may shrink to a fundamentalist core+orbiting groups who don’t want to be known as Fundamentalists but really hold “kinder, gentler” versions of the same doctrines, like E’ism used to be – sort of like a star that has passed supernova (E’ism’s ascendancy in the ’70s and ’80s) and has collapsed in on itself. It’s still there, but it is not what it used to be.

    I have mixed emotions about either outcome.

    I think Tolkien was right about the long defeat, but that’s no comfort, esp as I’ve been observing it around me lately. Having a hard time hoping right now.



  74. And all the Christians chorus “AAAAAAA-MENNNNNN! WHO IS LIKE UNTO THE TRUMP?”


  75. So hung up on the wall. Do folks here know that there have been walls in border towns going back as far as 100 years? The first walls were actually constructed to regulate people crossing into Mexico. Later the Mexico/US cooperative used them to help control border crossings. For a long time our border was porous and still to this day people cross back and forth. This began to change in 1994 under the Clinton Administration due to threats on our security (first World Trade Center bombing).

    I have a number of folks who work on my team in El Paso. They’ve had a wall for a long time. Members on my team cross to visit family, go to the dentist and the like. And there was much support for the wall as Juarez crime was dumping over the border especially at night.


  76. Yep. The old meme about economic-freedom == personal-freedom has been laid in its coffin and buried.


  77. i don’t consider many people to be overly infatuated with civil liberties. Most would probably be quite satisfied with a secure supply of food, shelter, and sex. Perhaps a reliable 5g broadband rather than sex.


  78. > He certainly can’t stop it.

    Due to the deeply undemocratic nature of our constitution I wouldn’t count on that.

    America is effectively **designed** to be controllable by a well-organized and motivated minority. That’s why be have the Senate, that’s why we have the Electoral College, that is why we use district rather than proportional representation, that is why we use [almost universally] winner take all voting.


  79. “Corporate Capitalism can thrive in the absence of meaningful civil liberties”

    One of the core conepts of Cyberpunk is corporate autocracy.


  80. > No draft dodger understands ‘duty, honor, country’

    Sorry, no. Many proud Draft Dodgers in my family. The US Military is not a defensive force – it is an aggressive occupation force, at the service of a nation with a foreign policy which has been one of empire for the better part of a century.

    Those in the military volunteer, they get paid, they get healthcare, and a laundry list of other benefits [many for life]. And that is all that they “deserve”. I, nor any other non-serving American, owe them nothing more than what their contract stipulates.


  81. That may be because this blog often tackles the harm done by the Evangelical ways of reading the Bible and doing “church.” In supporting Trump and his policies, Evangelicals, ministers and congregants, are doing harm to the rest of the country. While Jesus is known for a great many things, most of them don’t involve harm–so it’s unlikely that His name would appear as often as Trump’s.


  82. For many American Christians are more defined by their politics than their theology. Their politics are define their theology then is defined by their theology. One sees this on both the “right” and the “left”.

    When you read the words of Christ and you see his action towards others, you cannot easily define Christ as a “liberal” or a “conservative” based on our political definitions but each side. When many read the bible, they view it through their politcal bias.


  83. JB – how do you personally deal with Mr. Trump’s blatantly lying at his campaign rallies? If a man will lie about being the first Republican to win Wisconsin since Eisenhower, what else will he lie about? His tax cuts being the largest in history? Wages are rising for the first time in 18 years? Democrats want open borders? The US is exporting energy for the first time? These are just five from this week’s Montana rally.

    Does it bother you at all? I’m just trying to understand at what point you say, “Okay, enough is enough.”


  84. John Barry:

    Trump IMO will not MAGA–he is quickly destroying it. Just my 2 cents for all those that support Trump.


  85. I have a new prayer that I think I’ll begin to pray every day. My prayer will be that Trump reverses his position on the Wall, and then that an esteemed Democrat will reverse HIS/HER position on the Wall. It would be fun to watch Grudem attempt to reverse his position that the Wall is Biblically-supported, and it would be fun to watch liberals figure out how to reverse themselves, too.

    It’s unlikely this prayer will be answered, but I can have this fantasy, can’t I?


  86. Robert F,

    I have heard of this disrespect for people who have put on the uniform of our country’s military who stand to protect us.

    If they are going to disenfranchise people of their right to citizenship, let them examine those chicken-hawks who have never worn their country’s uniform and find those old ones who dodged the draft . . . . THEY are the ones I would worry about. Why?

    Because THEY make the decisions to disrespect those who wear the uniform.
    Because THEY were too cowardly to put it on in the first place.
    Because THEY are the worst of us; as those in uniform as the best of us.

    When you get a draft dodger ordering how to treat our military, we will see things like this happen.
    No draft dodger understands ‘duty, honor, country’, so they have no compass that can point true north.


  87. The truly ominous thing about the rise of China is that it demonstrates that Corporate Capitalism can thrive in the absence of meaningful civil liberties, just the opposite of what we’ve always been assured by conservatives. Here’s hoping it doesn’t give our homegrown corporatists ideas.


  88. Klasie, this is a good point. You can make the case that Trump is bringing to the fore social and political forces that would have developed anyway but at a slower pace perhaps. The demographic and cultural handwriting is on the wall (excuse the unintended pun here). Trump’s constituency is rapidly becoming a minority in this country. The next generational shift will be profound. Trump can probably not really even slow it down. He certainly can’t stop it.


  89. Don’t forget that walls like East Germany were built to keep people in. Propaganda doesn’t work if peole leave what they are told to believe is their comfort zone. Walls are a way to control how those inside think. Like in fairytales about the big bad wolf in the woods, it’s scary out side the boundaries we are told exist for our protection and benefit. The best authoritarian policy is to keep our people in fear.


  90. I think Grudem is aware of that he is preaching to the choir that may look to him for guidance . I watch many a TV news show that I may not agree with but want a different perspective. I know when the “progressives” start the what is the Christian thing to do when it is not a part of their usual dialogue, I am in trouble. So if the Pope is right about climate change is he also right about abortion or does it depend on the issue not faith beliefs.

    Eeyore, So I am in favor of the wall for economic , security, ;philosophical , demographic , political and think the nation state with defined borders is necessary . I do not look to the Bible to give me a thumbs us or down, that is part of the decision for me on a personal level if I want to have it enter into my decision. My faith or yours may factor into your decision to have a certain viewpoint the free marketplace of ideas should prevail with faith being a part of it is found valid by the voter. I do not think building the wall or not building the wall is something the Bible is going to tell us, but if someone things it is or is not relevant join the debate.

    Of course my “tribe” has not a tribal meeting at the loge in several moons. Can I be in more than one tribe? So I support the wall but oppose getting into Syria or anywhere were USA direct national interest is not at stake, do I transfer over to a new tribe from my wall tribe or am I in a sect of my wall tribe.

    CM, I understand and you express well your well reasoned and coherent explanation of why you disagree with Grudem citing the Bible on the wall. If a Mormon, a Catholic or an non believer wrote Grudem article and I disallowed all their religious or faith base references but in the end found that they wisely agreed with me on the wall based on the other issues cited above to Eeyore, I would say welcome ally .

    I think Grudem was responding to the you may lost or never had or going to lose your Christian values undercurrent flowing if you vote for Trump because “we ” do not think he is a Christian and is secular and so on.

    I think Pope Francis is using the Bible and the traditions of his faith to push a social justice agenda that is more political and cultural in nature than faith based, just as many feel Grudem and his fellow believers are taking the Bible too literally and really do not want to follow Jesus but the Bible . That is why we have at least 5 different denominations.

    My tribe has just informed me my tribal name is Bull Sitter but they are still voting on the translation of the letter “H”. I am confused as I have never sat with the bull. My own choice was Leaky Bladder but that is common in my tribe as we are aging. I learned this from my elder advisor, Foot In Grave.


  91. Mike, I agree with you and am not talking about a lot of the people who post on here. But when you hear the name Trump posted on every day and all day by some and never hear the name Jesus in proportion it gives me pause.


  92. Grudem’s article is split into two parts. The first is his exegesis of the use of the word “wall” in the Bible to produce his strange argument that the Bible considers walls “morally good”, the second half actually dealing with why he personally thinks the wall a good idea. Chaplain Mike’s quarrel is with the first half, which he considers a complete misuse of the Bible, which indeed it is. Grudem is attempting to give entirely unwarranted Biblical authority to what is really his personal view on purely practical grounds as to why this wall should be built.


  93. One can almost thank Trump for this – he has given licences to those who have these views to exhibit their beliefs. He has lifted carpet to show the nastiness underneath.

    The long term affect of this is going to be profound. The last time a strong xenophobe was in power in the US, 1850, his party was destroyed and a political tribe had its demise. Fillmore hated German and Irish immigration, musing about a papist takeover and an end of sovereignty.


  94. Indeed, dear Dr Grudem himself may be so convinced of “biblical authority” and so fully persuaded that he is reasoning “biblically” that he is unaware of his own tribal biases.


  95. Yes, the underlying agenda is certainly an issue and I’m not unaware of that. But many Christians will ignore that if someone seems to advance a good “biblical” argument. Sometimes one must tear down the outer shell to grasp the extent of the rot within.


  96. That was clear in your post, but I think people recognize that in many cases like this, the primary driver of the argument is political tribal loyalty. He uses bad arguments to get to a desired, “predestined” result. I am sure if he was of a tribe opposed to the wall, he could have used similar arguments (ie, arguments in the same style) to oppose it. The “Biblical arguments” are just a means to an already defined end.

    And he is by no means alone in this – this happens across the political spectrum.

    I could almost say “Bless your heart, Chaplain, did you really think this was about the Bible?”


  97. We are on pretty much the same page here. I would only add that I am against using Scripture FIRST in any circumstance. The first step, in any situation or issue, must be determining what is True [data/facts[, then and only then can Wisdom [Scripture] be brought to bear on it. Starting with Scripture will always lead one astray, as it results in us applying Wisdom to what we Imagine, rather than what is Real.

    Leave the Scriptures on the shelf for Step#1.

    The failing of Fundamentalists is they cannot see the world, or other people, around them, because they never put the book down.


  98. I fortunately lost many of my books in a fire. Then it seemed expensive to replace them.


  99. > evangelicalism had all those characteristics before Trump’s candidacy



  100. I stand by my No-Collapse prediction; while hoping that Mr. Spencer was right, and that I am wrong.


  101. Historical and textual criticism has its share of failings but at least it provided an escape hatch for those of us who love the scriptures to continue to find beauty, guidance, and succor in its inspired pages. I was finally able to beat my bible into a plowshare.


  102. I think what’s really going on is that Trump so perfectly exemplifies all the faults of evangelicalism that if you talk about those faults, it always sounds like you’re talking about Trump.

    For example, if I said that American evangelicalism is struggling with misogyny, racism, association with white supremacists, complicity with cultural conservatism, a “culture war” mentality, abdication of the moral high ground, lack of critical thinking, broken and unhealthy marriages, a reputation for offending people, and ignorance of Scripture, plenty of people would think I was just listing Trump’s character traits. But evangelicalism had all those characteristics before Trump’s candidacy – all Trump has done is make the truth more evident.


  103. John, my point is not about whether Grudem is right or wrong about this stupid wall, but about how he uses the Bible. You all seem to care more about the politics he’s referencing, and fine. I don’t. My emphasis is on a bad approach to the Bible. I’ve been a pastor and in ministry for 40 years now. These things matter to me. I think they make or break the church.

    In this case, it is a spectacularly silly way to read Scripture and use it to justify one’s political views. It also is built on an entirely false foundation — believing that the Bible has “answers” for questions like these, that the Bible “takes positions” on questions like these, indeed that the Bible even “speaks” to questions like these in the silly way that Grudem says it does.

    God did not make us to be “Bible-for-brains” people. He made us to be wise, shaped by Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection, nourished by the scriptures, led by the Holy Spirit, informed by tradition, and in community with the people of God.

    Grudem’s article does not, in my view, fit any of those qualifications.


  104. I don’t understand the nature of your complaint. I would appreciate any further comments on the more God-honoring solutions you would like to see. Also. what change(s) must you make in your heart to facilitate those solutions?

    I agree that demonizing one’s opponents is not only counter productive but wrong. To that point I can’t begin to tell you the great lengths many of my evangelical friends (yes I have many evangelical friends) have gone in justifying, and at times taking great joy in, Trump’s demonization of his opponents, real and imaginary. These are the same friends who also took many opportunities to disparage Obama’s policies and character (I did not vote for Obama). All of this they have done under the banner of “WE LOVE HIS POLICIES”. Please counsel me as to how you would respond to my evangelical brothers.


  105. Exactly. In the act of taking it for granted that the fundamentalists are right about what the Bible is *supposed* to be, they’re propping up the very system of thought that they’re trying to discredit.

    What conservative fundamentalists and old-school liberal “textual critics” (Borg, Crossan, Spong, etc.) have in common is that they’re completely locked into a modern world-view. That means that they have trouble even wrapping their heads around the post-modern ways of understanding the inspiration of Scripture (e.g. reading Scripture is about joining a conversation that teaches us wisdom, or immersing ourselves in a story that becomes our own, or encountering God on a personal and emotional level).


  106. “What religious leader or teacher does not interpret the Bible in way that is defined by their beliefs.”

    Exactly. I try to make my beliefs explicit – that the life, words and work of Jesus Christ are the ultimate and final authority; where anything elsewhere in Scripture contradicts it, He wins; that the primary implication of the Gospel is radical love of neighbor, friend and enemy; and that national and ethnic identity takes a far back seat to all of the above. Based on those beliefs – not to mention historical, economic, philosophical and demographic reasons – I am against building a wall and criminalizing migrants.

    Your turn. What are *your* religious beliefs and how do they justify a wall?


  107. Robert, you know the Berlin Wall wasn’t mentioned in Scripture, that is modern history, stop bringing in extraneous details! Men are evil, and will always corrupt the good God intents… blah blah woof woof


  108. And slicing numerous towns and a couple cities right down the middle, sure, won’t matter.

    And it means we would have spent $20-50B on something that accomplishes nothing, rather than spending $20-50B on things having a positive ROI. Oh, sad America, I remember when Conservatives used to care about arguments like that.


  109. I read the article by Grudem and I think he made most valid points, mainly because I agree with him. Are not many a public person reference the Bible to bolster their position? What religious leader or teacher does not interpret the Bible in way that is defined by their beliefs. So many here do not agree with Grudem but the Pope, just using the Pope for example as a major leader, finds support in the Bible for being an advocate of many social and current issues not specific in the Scriptures such as support action on climate change.

    If you take away the Bible related context Grudem wrote a good article on what he believes as a voting citizen and is explaining why he does not feel it violates his faith. You may not agree with him, you may think he is cruel, mean, stupid, nuts and wrong but that is the market place of ideas.

    Communism built the Berlin Wall to keep people in, China built the great wall to keep people out and Trump will build the wall to MAGA like my hat says, very profound and deep


  110. I would add, you quote Scot saying that “we fail to recognize and acknowledge our own part we’ve played in the breakdown.”

    I think in using Grudem as an example I’m doing just that. After all, as I say in the post, this was how I read the Bible for decades. Mea culpa.


  111. Which is another facet of Michael Spencer’s witness and thought. Yes, he was brutally honest about his struggles, and a deeply spiritual man – I probably couldn’t be near to his honesty and insight even if I lived to 200. But that honesty also extended to the roots of his struggles. Yes, many of those roots were personal and familial, but a lot arose from the dysfunction of American Christianity. He called it as he saw it, and made a LOT of enemies as a consequence.


  112. StB, this is a Post-evangelical blog. My point today had nothing to do with politics, other than to show one of the silly ways evangelicals use the Bible to “take stands” on public issues. In my view, the post-evangelical must continue to speak prophetically against the dominant culture of silliness in the American church. It is having real effects in people’s lives as we speak.


  113. I’d still say he was right about that, and will be eventually proven so. What he, and I for that matter, missed is how violent the death throes will be. 😦


  114. Are your referring to the same Michael Spencer who predicted the collapse of American Evangelicalism?


  115. Historical-critical is old news too, and led to many dead and uninteresting ends. Best, in my view, to read people like Brueggemann and Fretheim and a host of others who use the insights of historical-critical studies only to understand the human background of the Bible but then mine its pages as a sacred text which speaks through powerful literary genres that nourish our spirits and form us as the people of God.


  116. I can count the number of times I have heard “the weaker brother” argument used well (IOW by someone who wasn’t using it as a cloak for pharisaical legalism) on one hand. Without the thumb. With a digit or two to spare.


  117. Rhymes, I can feel your pain. Sometimes it seems to me that this is a political blog with the same comments day after day after day. Most are the never ending nasty tirades. Scott McKnight had some good insight this morning when he said:
    We must confess where we’ve been part of the problem. And there is a time to speak up, don’t get me wrong. But how we do it makes all the difference in the world. If we demonize our opponents, and make it a good versus evil contest, then we fail to recognize and acknowledge our own part we’ve played in the breakdown, both in what we’ve done and left undone.

    The gospel in and through Jesus is cross-centered, and we’re all included in the sin that Jesus took on himself there. We’re no better than anyone else; we’re all in need of God’s grace. Before there can be better solutions to problems, which are more God-honoring, there has to be a change in our hearts. And it must begin with us. We are the ones that must lead the way.


  118. Because they *are* the same coin – the coin being “Bible as Rulebook/Manual To Life” instead of “Bible as witness of Jesus and the Gospel”.


  119. Since leaving the fundamentalist world, I have listened to the “historical critical” folks, but I don’t find their approach any better than your 6 points, just another side of the same coin.


  120. On the subject of “Weird Tricks Evangelicals Use,” I just came across this, from a sermon preached June 30, 1889 and published in the Indianapolis Journal the following day. The preacher is George G. Mitchell, preaching at the Fifth Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis:

    “A man of years can often safely live and act where a young man would be ruined. This is especially true concerning the popular amusements to-day. Take, for instance, the game of base-ball. I know that ministers attend these games; indeed, I am told that some of our city pastors go almost every day. i have asked myself ‘Why don’t you go!’ But I cannot conscientiously go; for while I know it would do me no harm, some little boy is there who should save his money, and probably he has learned to smoke and swear and waste his time at the park. He sees me and says: ‘There is Rev. Mr. Mitchell; he is here, and I am safe.’ I do not feel that the question with me is whether or not I am safe, but whether the boy is safe.”

    This is a classic argument. I have no doubt but that the Rev. Mr. Mitchell would tell us we are saved by faith and not works. But like many who tell us this, he really wants a book of laws: preferably, one he wrote. He gets his foot in that door by playing the “our weaker brethren” card. It turns out that once you go there, you can justify anything.

    His particular argument here is part of a discussion that had been going on for decades: the rise of “Muscular Christianity.” What are suitable activities for a good Christian? The older position had been essentially from the Rule of St. Benedict, though they didn’t call it that: Work and Pray. There arose around mid-century a contrary position, that a good Christian needed to be physically vigorous in order to effectively go make disciples of all nations. This was the ideological justification for the rise of organized sports of all sorts. In America, this especially meant baseball. The Rev. Mr. Mitchell here is taking the older position, but the older argument (that time spent on sports was a frivolous waste) was already lost. Mitchell is using a fallback argument: Sports might be fine for you and me, but if there is anyone anywhere who could conceivably be harmed by sports, our duty is clearly to avoid them.

    This particular argument is a historical oddity. Nowadays, churches often are enthusiastic sponsors of sports. It would never occur to even those churches not involved in sports to argue against them in any general sense. But while this particular argument is no longer made, many arguments are made following the same endlessly flexible template.


  121. And, don’t forget for your 6 points, have a large library of books to work through the 6 points. I have been getting rid of my entire collection of books. It has been a emotional but necessary step for me.


  122. And when I say there was not Trump around, I mean that no one like Trump was or has ever been president. Of course, he was around in the sense of being alive, but we didn’t have to think about him. I know I never did.


  123. CM is using the example of Grudem to illustrate ways that post-evangelicals should avoid interpreting and using the Bible in the culture wars — did Michael Spencer really never post articles on similar themes?

    As for Trump — there was no Trump around during Spencer’s life, and who knows how he would’ve reacted if there had been. It’s no longer politics as usual, as bad as that might’ve been — we’ve moved way beyond that.


  124. I do not come to IM to learn that evangelicals use the Bible wrongly or that President Trump is an old, rich man who is used to getting his way. Sometimes I wonder why I come here at all. Then I remember — Michael Spencer.

    Hope springs eternal in the human breast.


  125. Ignorance of and scorn for the lessons of history are resources in plentiful supply in the current administration.


  126. Training someone how to fight, and then treating them as a second class citizen… that, historically, is a fantastic way to get yourself into very deep trouble. 😦


  127. If Grudem is right, then God must’ve really loved the Berlin Wall, and been pissed off when it was brought down.

    Heck, viewing the scary political developments in eastern Europe among some of the former Soviet block countries, I’m beginning to think it might’ve been a big mistake for the West to be so elated by the removal of that wall.


  128. Among the other obnoxious things its doing, here are two more I learned of by listening to an NPR program yesterday: quietly but aggressively seeking to denaturalize naturalized citizens on any pretext possible, on a scale unmatched since the McCarthy era; discharging with little or no given reason documented resident immigrants who serve in our military, which up until this administration has been considered a fast track to citizenship — if you are a documented resident immigrant and are considering serving in the U.S. military, be aware that you would now be viewed by the government as nothing more than a mercenary, and not as a prospective valued citizen, even after having put your life on the line in service of this country.


  129. I think part of it is explained by the evangelical view of Scripture – it is all directly divinely inspired, and therefore *all of equal importance*. The bit about Jesus saying to love our neighbors? That’s inspired and important. But so is the bit about Nehemiah building that wall. So, naturally, it’s up to us to decide which passage is most relevant to the situation. :-/

    The idea that Jesus’s life and teachings should be the center of how we read *everything else* in the Bible is just not taught. And Grudem, as a seminary professor, ought to be ashamed of himself.


  130. “how would life be different for any groups involved… if there was a wall?”

    Other than the construction contractors being richer and the rest of the country deeper in debt? :-/

    Besides, you’re from the UK right? Its probably nice living under Roman administration, since Hadrian’s Wall kept all those nasty barbarians out.. oh, wait.. 😉


  131. I think the fundamental problem with the reasoning above is that it is really intended to avoid listening to what the Bible (and God) say about the issue concerned.
    We already know what the Bible tells us God commands us to do: “love God; love your neighbour as yourself”. We don’t want to do this, so we mine the Bible for proof-texts about walls instead.
    The wall is an irrelevance: it is not our neighbour or God, so we are not called to be concerned about it at all.
    The question being avoided is what the Bible tells us about how we love our neighbour when that neighbour is a refugee or other immigrant. And we know this, because it says over and over again that we should welcome the stranger. That is the “Biblical” thing to do. Wayne Grudem knows this perfectly well, which is why instead he is blathering about walls.
    The question is really whether practically the US can afford to live up to the Biblical ideal, or to what extent, and whether building the wall is necessary or useful for implementing whatever policy the US feels able to adopt.


  132. I think you are probably right, of all the stuff Trump has done, is doing or is proposing, the wall is probably one of the less obnoxious in practice, being merely expensive and almost completely useless, rather than actively harmful.


  133. My thoughts on the wall – would it cause any suffering that is not there already, on account of the invisible wall – the border?
    To put it another way, how would life be different for any groups involved – families/individuals coming to the US, border force operatives, (at a remove) the US population in general, if there was a wall?

    Also… First! But I’m writing from the UK, so y’all haven’t got a chance 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: