Monday, February 29, 2016


Part One
(Part Two here)
(Part Three here) 

Christian pacifism, as sincere as it is, stems from a fragmentary theology. At various points in the history of the church there has been elevated debate on this issue, debates which I believe, by majority, sprung from unrefined theological development by its proponents. This is not to say, however, that all those objecting and affirming personal and national militancy, at some level, were always with well-formulated rebuttals in hand.

Recently, the ever imprecise, sometimes contradictory, regularly ambiguous and oft novel Charismatic/Neo-Calvinist/Neo-Evangelical Bible teacher, John Piper, stated about a Christian owning guns, as widely reported (in response to Liberty University’s, Jerry Falwell Jr., who advocated that his student’s possess firearms for protection,
and here I quote - The Calvinist International blog):
“My main concern in this article is with the appeal to students that stirs them up to have the mindset: Let’s all get guns and teach them a lesson if they come here. The concern is the forging of a disposition in Christians to use lethal force, not as policemen or soldiers, but as ordinary Christians in relation to harmful adversaries.

The issue is not primarily about when and if a Christian may ever use force in self-defense, or the defense of one’s family or friends. There are significant situational ambiguities in the answer to that question. The issue is about the whole tenor and focus and demeanor and heart-attitude of the Christian life. Does it accord with the New Testament to encourage the attitude that says, “I have the power to kill you in my pocket, so don’t mess with me”? My answer is, No.”
My aim here is not to rebut Piper’s statements directly but to provide a theological construct for my readers in order to enhance their understanding and arguments for the basis of the Biblical right and duty to self-defense for all humans - Christian and non-Christian - which God incorporated into his founding of his divine institutions for mankind as the means for our perpetuity which has in view our protection and prosperity.

Two Observations:
1. John Piper, in my view and that of others as I have observed, has repeatedly demonstrated a very poor hermeneutic which is evident in his theological products. While he is sincere he is very misguided in a number of critical ways. His ministry will be judged by Christ, that is not my objective nor attempt rather, it is to evaluate his products and their ingredients, not formalize a judgment on that for which he will account to Christ, alone. And as to my assessment, it rests extensively on his theology which appears to be borrowed from a number of sources but ultimately takes the form of a Charismatic approving, Neo-Calvinist and Neo-Evangelical one in its articulation, substantially enabled by his handicapped hermeneutic, while attempting to jump back and forth from this location to the side of historical or traditional Evangelicalism.

2. In the quoted material below (taken from the previous larger quoted text), Piper’s construction of a straw man is rather revealing. When referencing something Jerry Falwell asserted in his position of students owning fire arms, Piper interprets then reformulates Falwell’s words and retorts:
“Does it accord with the New Testament to encourage the attitude that says, “I have the power to kill you in my pocket, so don’t mess with me”? My answer is, No.”
Why is this so revealing? It tells us of John Piper’s unwillingness to view, in its proper context, the statement by Falwell or any of the theology behind Falwell’s position (I am not arguing for Falwell’s theology, per se, but for fairness in representing others in theological tussles). It simply lowers Falwell and anyone sharing Falwell’s view, to a person guilty of suspicious motives, uncharitable attitudes and an undeveloped personal theology never mind a deliberately hostile and aggressive attitude toward the world. Unfortunately, the occasion is not rare where John Piper creates convenient savages by misinterpreting and restating in a grotesque form, the words of others, for his rebuttals from which he might profit by giving such phantoms a theological beat down. It is lazy, at best, and gravely immodest from a man of his alleged spiritual and theological stature.
These two observations, in my view, weigh in greatly with respect to what regulates John Piper’s theological approach both in what he attempts to originate and how he reacts to views foreign to his. So with this out of the way I want to begin my treatment of the issue at hand by examining what Luther identified as the two kingdoms which I believe has stood the test of time with regard to its validity as a sound theological construct (this does not mean I agree with all of Luther’s theology, by any means).

The Left and Right Kingdoms

Coming with man’s inauguration, God provided protocols for his existence. These protocols can be viewed as being divided into two realms:

  • One is for all mankind, believer and non-believer, with respect to his civil relationship to one another. This is what Luther identified as the Kingdom on the Left which are the governments of the world.
  • The other is for those who believe God’s gospel of salvation and engage in a subsequent relationship with God (though it also involves a context of believer to believer but that sub-text is not germane to the formation of the two categories on the whole). For this realm God provided distinct and specific protocols for man to relate to God in what Luther refers to as the Kingdom on the Right which is the spiritual kingdom or as Luther qualifies it, the church (a little more on their possible distinction, later).
The Book of Concord in Article XVI: Of Political Order (originally published in 1580 and the doctrinal standard for the Lutheran Church) essentially states in paraphrased form:
On the left is/are the government(s) of the world and on the right, the government of God’s Kingdom/the spiritual kingdom, i.e. the church, which is guarded, governed and advanced through the church, herself.
Luther was aware that protocols for one kingdom did not transfer nor could be imposed upon the other (if we could only master that concept with so many social justice Gospel Coalition types today!). Though civil/establishment codes from God for human civilization were, indeed, from God, they were not as a means for establishing nor perpetuating a relationship with God. They were for man’s welfare with and among himself, his earthly perpetuity.

Philipp Melanchthon further elaborated on this theological view in stating that not only are there two kingdoms but the church should not rule civic/worldly governments and civic/worldly governments should not rule the church, specifically saying they (governments of the world) should “not have anything to do with the salvation of souls.” Of course this was in challenge to Rome’s view and practice that a Christian theocracy was justifiable and righteous.

They understood the Biblical divide.
This is not to assert that Luther or The Book of Concord viewed government as emancipated from Scripture. They made it clear that governments of this world are obliged to reign with the moral guardianship of its citizens in view and that the ultimate source of just rule stemmed from the Scripture, whether Sovereigns were aware of this or not so long as they established justice, they were righteous in their civil administration (i.e., they acted as clients of the divine). But even at that, Luther and company understood, much of civil justice was deliberately relative to those communities and with broad liberty regarding what forms of government may exist and how nations may formulate their citizenship per the Scriptures. What these theologians forwarded was that while governments policed their constituency and should seek its welfare, it was not to be ruled by the church and vice versa. And this is because each had separate and distinct protocols based on their unique context.

Monday, February 15, 2016


(Days before penning this article, I formulated its headline while Supreme Court Justice Anthonin Scalia was still with us. Obviously he has since died of a heart attack (?) which will no doubt affect the psyche and considerations of many GOP voters and those leaning that way. I may refer to this development in the article but am not sure yet since it has not been formulated and will let this prologue stand as it is, even after writing the piece.) 

*I modified the title from yesterday which may have been an overreach with my use of the word "destroying".

This is a comment I recently read at a website regarding an Evangelical commenting on voting for GOP candidate Donald Trump, were he to become the Republican nominee:
I will never vote for Donald Trump. I am a Republican and have voted straight Republican as long as I can remember. I had some reservations about Romney the RINO but held my nose and voted for him. I will not vote for Donald Trump under any circumstances and either will write someone in or just not vote.
Refusing To Vote GOP, Either By Way Of A Third Party, Write-in Or Non-Vote Is To Aid The Democrat Nominee

Understand my Christians friends, presidential elections are a two-party system. And to refuse to support the nominee of one of those parties is to deny added strength to one party thus, aiding the strength of the other party. That is a fundamental truth all politicians know which is why discouraging opposition voters is one of the tools of campaigning.

Please do not think I am ignorant of your reasons for hesitating or possibly refusing to vote for either Donald Trump or another GOP candidate. Some of your reasons are unique with regard to Mr. Trump, himself, and some transcend Donald Trump and have been applied to others in the past. But what overrides so many reasons for so many of you, unfortunately,
is a sense of entitlement and egotism you hold with regard to your voting privilege, as if it should revolve around you and not as a tool of what is real and responsible.

Many of you are the same people who, in 2008, utilized your vote as self-aggrandizing toy to prove to yourself and the world that you are part of the evolved and initiated class of racially sensitive citizens and voted for Barack Obama,. You followed the foolish lead of Evangelicals who saw this as a grand opportunity to exercise the demons of the past and ultimately rewarded one another with a collective pat on the back for your impressive, racial broad-mindedness. Your vote wasn't about what was best for the nation but for a very selfish cause - you.

Since then, of course, you have been disappointed over and over again by your choice. But alas, none of this was or is your fault. You voted for Obama for all the right, honorable and principled reasons (at least this is what you tell yourself to comfort yourself, but you and I know better)

Romney In 2012

By 2012, President Obama had had sufficient time to demonstrate his gross incompetence as President. Thus, the fight between the Republicans and Democrats in the election of 2012 should have come down to a very simple choice for Republican voters in the general election. It didn’t. Many GOP and non-Democrats were still fighting the primary fight at the voting booth on November 6, 2012.

Part of that had to do with what many claim were matters of “principle”. Romney’s achilles’ heel was two-fold:

Romney was a RINO proven by Massachusetts's Health Care Legislation
Romney was a Mormon, part of what was once called a Cult by Christians
I am not going to, nor wish to, debate the merits of the healthcare legislation in Mass. but suffice it to say that accusations that this proved Romney had socialistic sympathies because it was a broad reaching social program, were not true. Ironically, the very people making these claims fully expect to (or already do) receive social security and Medicare in the future, for the most part, because most of them are upper-middle class and below and cannot, nor never will be able to, function fully independent of any government social program.

As I said, the other factor was Romney’s Mormonism, a concern I laughed at but sadly, many did not. Evangelical after Evangelical expressed concern that Mitt's proprietary Mormon beliefs would affect his politics resulting in strange and incompatible doctrines and endeavors which would be hoisted upon American citizens.

The protesters all seemed to share the same problem in their objections. They never bothered to study his leadership, either in business nor as Governor. In both cases no political historian has uncovered any significant imposition of Mormonism onto or into Romney’s administrations. Yes, he was personally guided by his religious ethics but outside of that, his leadership style and doctrine, apart from its impeccability again, which stemmed from Mormon ethics, could not be distinguished from that of non-Mormons. But none of that mattered. A narrative had taken hold and self-righteous crusaders rarely let go of such things.


I get the abortion objection to Trump, the same objection many had to Bush 41 and even Reagan in his early years who was statutorily pro-choice but personally against abortion until he was involved in the elections of 1980 and Bush 41, in the '88 election for President (as Reagan's VP in '80 and '84 Bush remained coy on his position). Both men changed their public position to being against the statutory right to an abortion.

Maybe you believe, on this issue alone, you must take a stand and your conscience before God would be violated were you to vote for Donald Trump because of this. I get that and even more so because that is a Biblical principle. However, your conscience is also required to be informed by knowledge (epignosis). So here is some additional knowledge.

Suppose you refuse to vote for Trump because he will not commit to remedying the federal ruling which permits abortion on demand. You do know that Mr. Trump is personally against abortion, himself, right? Wait, I’m not finished.

By refusing to vote for Mr. Trump, if he becomes the GOP nominee, you do realize that you will be aiding and strengthening the Democrat party and specifically their nominee, whether it be Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, both of whom support abortion on demand, not just statutorily but from a personal morality meaning, not just lawfully or statutorily do they support it, but morally approve of it.

How does your conscience before God resolve itself by strengthening such people?

Consider This

Seeing that Donald Trump has been publicly aligned with the Republican Party, at least since 1988 (in which he formed a great friendship with conservative Christian VP Dan Quayle whom he admired greatly and with whom he has had many a conversation since), and has evolved toward a more conservative political philosophy, could it not be possible that his own moral conviction may grow further on the matter of abortion and other issues, especially in the grave context of the office of President? Maybe it will not but he certainly has a record of flexibility and growth toward conservative values and their expression.

Compare this with Clinton and Sanders who not only have not emerged in any conservative direction but have accelerated in their leftist/progressive/socialist views. They certainly are not going to provide any hope on the singular issue of abortion for those who are single-issue voters.

Conclusion – Do Not Fall Victim To Self-righteous Christian Utopianism

I cannot fathom any honest traditional Christian (I say honest because I believe those professing to be traditional Evangelical Christians such as Thabiti Anyabwile who supports Sanders but claims to be conservatively orthodox in his Evangelical beliefs, are not honest with themselves. He tells himself he is one thing but has fully and zealously embraced another thing in practice. His actions betray the claim of his theological positioning) assisting the Democrat party platform. Not only is it anti-theistic in its sentiments but is aggressively and unapologetically steamrolling in the direction of socialism, fascism and the persecution of constitutional rights which include Christian expression on many fronts.

I understand your reluctance to support GOP candidates who do not fit your ideal. And I agree that there have been times in which a GOP candidate was less qualified than either a Democrat, third-party or write-in candidate but this is not one of those times and further, even if it were, your chances of putting that man or woman in office is remote.

The truth is, your protest vote would only aid the worst and most damning party. And you, Mr. and Mrs. Christian, would be responsible for lending such aid.

Christian Utopians – Often I’ve asked myself where this posturing by Christian voters comes from in their refusal - already - to vote for Donald Trump were he to become the GOP nominee. I have one answer which I believe covers much of the territory of this question.

It comes from what I call Self-righteous Christian Utopianism (SCU). I know, some of you are already offended but hear me out because we all, you, me and every Christian, falls victim to a self-righteous crusader mentality at least once in our Christian life.

SCU is the product, primarily, of Christians formulating their ideal principles as to how left kingdom (civil governments) or the right kingdom (ecclesiastical governments) should operate. This is not only noble but a righteous theological exercise. Understand though, such formulation is not foreign outside of Christian thinking. In fact, socialism is one big long idealized theory which sounds great on paper.

The problem?

People and reality do not exist off paper so neatly. I would love a godly President, maybe. Why maybe? Because one man’s Godliness can be another man’s tyranny.

What a nation needs is a man or woman who understands principles of freedom. Our constitution is a document which codifies social and political freedoms mixed with the demands and responsibilities of that freedom. Our constitution protects the liberty of both the sinner and saint that they may be a good and free citizen and that he or she may practice their faith, pursue their dreams, enjoy liberty granted by God and contribute to their nation and in this case the greatest nation on earth.

However, theologically speaking, while some things are clear some things are not. Who would make a better ruler and who would not can become precarious. David and Solomon, two great men of God not only had multiple wives but mistresses, i.e., sexual play-toys. Worse, David had one of his greatest military men murdered so he could hide his sin. This does not justify weakness but it ought to temper some of your demands of sainthood and pristine morality. 

Don't Blind Yourself   

Mr. Trump understands the exceptionalism of the United States and confesses its unique blessings from God. He is no atheist or agnostic. Indeed, he may not be a man of faith or if he is, one of immature faith, but he is a man of understanding with regard to freedom and its necessary principles/elements.

I suggest that to many of you refusing to vote for Donald Trump, were he to become the GOP nominee, you are guilty of demanding the impossible in insisting on someone who reflects an idealized Christian Utopia.

Further, in your complaints against Trump you have stated that you will either stay home and not vote or will vote for an unnamed third party or a write-in. I am willing to wager, Christian voter, that this “other” candidate cannot and will not measure up to your idealistic demands either but in spite, shameful spite, you will cast your vote for him or her.

The fact is, you are a self-righteous Christian Utopian who blames everyone else for the misery of your choices and will ultimately blame the rotten list of candidates for your final selection of an "other" in your self-centered refusal to involve yourself in the realistic two-party process. And the inevitable result of your choice will be aiding the worst of the choices, the Democrat candidate.

If you wish to aid the Democrat party and accelerate the demise of this nation, so be it but don't hand me or anyone else your self-righteous excuse that you couldn't vote for Donald Trump. We now have bigger stakes, not just a President but the balance of the Supreme Court. Time to learn how to play on a team and quit taking your ball and going home every time things don't go your way. That isn't how nations are built nor maintain their strength.

Monday, February 8, 2016


Today we have in Christianity a major emphasis on importing the sights and sounds of the culture around us into the church and integrating it into Christ's society so as to affirm the people in whose midst the church exists thereby, somehow, attracting them to Christianity. Part of this collective, in my view, is The Gospel Coalition who go as far as suggesting there is something racist or bigoted about not emphasizing, affirming and importing human culture into the church, as I have read them, repeatedly.

Let me suggest to you the view of Justin Martyr, an early church leader and prolific writer of whom we have many of his works. This is not to propose that Martyr wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as did the writers of Scripture but in reading his works, there is yet to be a Christian man or woman walking away from such an endeavor and not confess this was a man of great wisdom and doctrinal thinking.

In his “Discourse to the Greeks” Martyr stated:

Do not suppose, ye Greeks, that my separation from your customs is unreasonable and unthinking; for I found in them nothing that is holy or acceptable to God.
As well: 
And your public assemblies I have come to hate. For there are excessive banquetings, and subtle flutes which provoke to lustful movements, and useless and luxurious anointing, and crowning with garlands.
I encourage you to read the entirety of the translated document found here along with other early works of church leaders. 

Imagine Martyr Saying This Today

Of course my point is clear and Justin Martyr, I believe, serves us all well as an antidote to those who love their human identity with its culture more than that of Christ and his culture which stems from his Word and Spirit.

So imagine what Martyr would face from the likes of The Gospel Coalition, Russell Moore and beyond, in making these statements about a people, today, at least as I envision. He would be castigated and thrown out of any circle of self-proclaiming gospel loving, Christ honoring group. He would become the enemy, the bad man while this collective wags its righteous finger and rebukes Martyr for his intolerance, bigotry, racism and ungodly social phobias.

The truth is, sometimes whole cultures offer little, if nothing, that honors God. This is politically incorrect but then Justin Martyr wasn’t pledged to Cosmic Diabolicus, he was pledged to Christ and his views showed this.

Music Which Provokes Lustful Movements

Some, maybe many, Christians have argued that music is morally neutral and these arguments are based on the fallacious idea that morality only has to do with the volitional agent and all tools are simply based in context and in and of themselves, are nothing. Apparently someone forgot to inform the rather wise and holy Justin Martyr.

Like a fool, he recognized music which provokes sinful desires but even more precisely, "lustful movements" or gyrations. Whether he was attaching a label of immorality or not, he knew it was sinful, sensual and inappropriate. But of course we know better, now don’t we, and nothing is off limits for the church. 

God forgive us in our ignorance, arrogance and defiance of wisdom.