Christianity: Doctrine and Ethics

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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Government and Guns

Champagne in Michigan

There is so much to read and so little time for reading! I have a stack of about fifteen books on my desk right now I am reading and I’m not counting the theology books. American taxpayers are growing weary of every time they turn around a government agency has its hand out for more of our hard-earned money. At times, I think the colonists had it substantially better with the English than we have it now. Probably not, but it’s getting close!

Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, has written a real page-turner entitled Leave Us Alone, Getting the Government’s Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives.[1] Speaking of guns, it’s time I began to write something else to cheese McLaren and Wallis off—and all their spiritual progeny—which will be the matter of guns and gun control. Since there is a case pending before the Supreme Court regarding guns (District of Columbia v. Heller), it seems like an appropriate time to discuss some of the many misconceptions about guns, gun owners, and gun controls.

For starters, radio talk show host Larry Elder has produced an excellent DVD entitled Michael & Me available from his web site ( For those remotely interested in informed dialogue on the subject, let me suggest getting Elder’s DVD. For those of us who live in the United States, we have the protection of our Second Amendment regarding purchasing guns that reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” What is being debated by some is whether or not free citizens have the right to defend themselves, their families, and others against unprovoked attacks and assaults, or do we, as free men and women, need the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, and Hillary Clinton to tell us when, how, and where we may defend ourselves against personal attacks.

One of the greatest difficulties when you write or speak about guns and gun ownership is cutting through the deluge of disinformation we’ve been subjected to by those who are anti-gun. The propaganda machine has cranked out reams of paper and scare tactics designed to reduce—severely—the number of legal guns in the homes of free Americans. Occasionally, a lone voice of reason has been heard in the debate, but as often as not, it resolves itself around emotional responses and, at times, outright lies. One surprising voice was Harvard law professor, Laurence Tribe, who wrote an article for USA Today entitled, “Scholar’s Views on Arms Rights Anger Liberals” (August 27, 1999). Tribe, a liberal himself, opined that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees to every American the right to keep and bear arms.

A little bit of history might be helpful here. When the framers were composing our founding documents, they leaned heavily on English tradition, common law, and natural law. “One of those traditions held that every Englishman had both the right and the duty to bear arms, in self-defense and for defense of the realm.”[2] There is a document called The Militia Act (1792) that decreed that “every free able bodied white male citizen” was part of the United States militia. The word “white” was removed in 1867.[3] In 1939, the Supreme Court upheld this interpretation and defined the militia as “all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.” (cf. United States v. Miller.)

Today, political hacks, wonks, and pundits want to eradicate the Second Amendment. They’re all still for a full and robust First Amendment that allows them to say anything they want anytime they want, but they want to rid the world of the Second Amendment. Occasionally, their hypocrisy is noticed, but then quickly fades into the white noise of a media that grows quickly tired of yesterday’s news. One such instance is Bill Maher. Who quipped once, “I say if you really insist on keeping (the second) amendment in the Constitution, then we must keep to the spirit of it, which means you can still own a gun, but it must be a musket.”[4] What is more than hilarious is that when the riots broke out in Los Angeles in 1992, where Maher lives, he borrowed a handgun from a friend for self-defense. Had he been consistent, he would have rushed out to his local Turners Outdoorsman and applied to undergo a background check so he could purchase his blunderbuss. Liberals are a scream. All of his “bravado” and pacifism left the building the moment the riots got up close and personal for him.

The Second Amendment grants free U.S. citizens the right to bear arms—not the right of bare arms. Of course, the moment you begin suggesting that gun ownership is a “right” granted by the Constitution there is the typical cry about how the government needs to step in and control everything. Otherwise, so the emotional outpouring goes, we’ll be thrust back into the Wild West, which, upon investigation wasn’t quite as wild as we tend to think it was. It’s a tough sell—even though it’s true—that an armed society is a polite society. So at the outset, let me lay my cards on the table and state that as a free member of society, as a parent, grandparent, and pastor I believe it is the right of American citizens to bear arms. In fact, I am strongly in favor of every citizen who has passed the background check and has not, like most of my friends, been committed into an insane asylum at some point in their life, should, if they want, be issued a concealed carry permit.

But why the heading “Champagne in Michigan” for this issue? There is a good reason for this. Six years ago, the state of Michigan enacted a right-to-carry law. A large number of people and virtually all liberals held their breath waiting for Armageddon. Dispensationalists were convinced it would be the beginning of Gog and Magog. Brian McLaren fretted that his Birkenstocks would get scuffed in the mêlée. The “Dems” predicted rampant mayhem. It would be the “Wild West” all over again! How could Michigan be so foolish? Well, six years down the road even the most jaded has had to make some adjustments in his or her thinking, although the ideologues will continue to refuse to look at the facts while gently sipping—with their pinky raised—the left-wing Kool-Aid.

In the six-year span of time, the number of firearm-related fatalities actually dropped in Michigan. In addition, criminal activity dwindled (for Presbyterians, that means that the number got smaller) even though the number of residents in Michigan legally licensed to carry a concealed handgun increased 600% The expectation was the opposite; the expectation was that there would be bedlam in the streets, people killed on the freeways by handgun related road rage, club and barroom fights that ended in gunfights. Nope. Why was that? It’s simply because people who have to go through the process to get a concealed carry permit are—in general—kind, gentle, and law-abiding people. Many are former military personnel who carried weapons while they served the country. The background check is quite extensive and rules out previous felons.

With this staggering increase in concealed handgun carriers, Michigan noticed a very favorable side effect: the violent crime rate in that period decreased and, simultaneously, the number of firearm fatalities (suicide and accidents) also was less.

Why Not Call 911?

No doubt, someone is thinking: if I’m in a bad situation I’d just call 911. Well, maybe. It really depends on the “bad situation,” doesn’t it? What if you’re walking alone and are accosted or mugged on a deserted street? What if you’re broken down on the road and a carload of thugs pulls up to “help”? Or, what if you’re in the comfort of your own home and realize that an intruder has broken in? Still, for some disillusioned souls, the answer is to call 911. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not opposed to calling 911; I think you should. What is highly unrealistic, however, is to expect the police to arrive in time to save you from the “situation”. Where I live in Southern California, the fastest response from the police department is approximately ten minutes. When every second counts, ten minutes is a near eternity. The whole situation will have played itself out in substantially less than ten minutes.

According to one magazine, “Researchers believe that if holdout states had adopted conceal carry, it’s possible that they could have avoided annually as many as 1,570 murders, more than 4,000 rapes and some 60,000 aggravated assaults.”[5] While the vast majority of Americans has been indoctrinated and brainwashed by the liberals, real researchers (and not knee-jerkers) were not surprised at what unfolded in Michigan. Reliable scholars like John Lott states that about 67% of the studies he’s reviewed indicate that right-to-carry (concealed carry) laws reduce crime. The other 33% show very little effect on the status quo.[6]

But Just a Few States Allow This, Right?

Wrong. At present, there are 40 right-to-carry states, “with 36 now having ‘shall issue’ laws, or statutes requiring that carry permits be issued to those meeting uniform standards established by the state legislature. One of the landmark cases in the right-to-carry is what the state of Florida did in 1987. A number of nay-sayers and doomsday prophets predicted vigilante justice and a Wild West environment. If even a portion of what these people said proved to be true Florida would have to change its name to Tombstone. Here are the results of what really happened though: from 1987-1992 Florida’s murder rate decreased by a whopping 23%, while the nation’s rate continued to climb. From 1992 to the present, Florida has witnessed a continued downward trend in its murder rate.

Here’s what the Florida Licensing Division had to say about their legislation: “Florida’s concealed-carry law has been very successful. All major law enforcement groups supported the legislation. Now some of the opponents of the law admit that the program hasn’t created the problems many of them predicted.”[7]

There is truth to the adage that once guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. We will never be able to eradicate the black market sales of illegal firearms. For those who have ever purchased a handgun legally, they are aware of a thorough process. They are also aware that joining the more than 90 million gun owners in the United States, that they will have to allay a lot of unwarranted fears and clear up innumerable misconceptions about guns, gun owners, and gun control.

For example, they will have to point out that merely having a sign on campus that reads “Gun Free Zone” is no guarantee that your school is truly a gun free zone. It simply means you have a sign to that effect. The students at Virginia Tech know differently now. One can only wonder what would have happened that day if teachers and students began firing back in self-defense. So much propaganda has been spewed out by the left and gun-haters that the population needs to be re-educated. They fear guns and gun owners and so much of that fear is totally unwarranted. So the re-education process begins today with this fact: The odds of a child under the age of 10 being killed by an accident in a swimming pool are about a hundred times greater than the risk of a child being killed in a gun-related accident. When was the last time you read about a ban on private swimming pools or passing laws making it difficult—next to impossible—to own a swimming pool?

[1] Grover Norquist, Leave Us Alone, (NY: HarperCollins, 2008).

[2] Richard Poe, The Seven Myths of Gun Control, (Roseville, CA: Forum, 2001), p. 144.

[3] Ibid., 145.

[4] Ibid., 153.

[5] Gary Lantz, “Michigan Celebrates Sixcess!” America’s 1st Freedom, (April, 2008), p.35.

[6] Ibid., 34.

[7] Ibid., 35.


The Terribly Biased Left

The “Little Red Book”

Those of us old enough to remember might recall an issue of Life magazine that appeared in the 1960s that contained a double-spread photograph of a myriad of Chinese students, all dressed alike, chanting and waving their copies of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. As a young man I recall that photograph and how, in an adolescent manner, I thought it was very sad for masses of people to be indoctrinated in such freedom-robbing dogma to such a degree that you could see the zealous fervor in their faces. Today we call what I saw then “political correctness.”

I begin with this example because on March 13, 2008, two emeritus professors, Walter P. Coombs (Social Science) and Ralph E. Shaffer (History), from California State Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, CA submitted a “blowback” article entitled “Regulating home schoolers” to the Los Angeles Times.[1] This was not the first time these two professors submitted articles in favor of public schools, which is their prerogative since it is still a free country the last time I looked.

What I found particularly disconcerting about their blowback was their strident and unfounded bias against home schoolers. One can only hope that these two men did not manifest the same kind of bias when they taught their students, but it seems plausible that they did. They reference the CA Education Code, which contains the statute that those taught at home must be taught by a credentialed teacher. I called the CA Education Department in Sacramento and found that this is the case. When I asked why it had not been enforced until now, the answer was that it was within the purview of freedom to allow parents to choose among public school, private school, and home school. The representative also told me that Mr. Jack O’Connell, Superintendant of the CA Education Department had issued a press release on March 12, 2008 wherein he stated that in light of the case under scrutiny, CA would continue to allow uncredentialed parents to home school their children.

This is an important and essential fact because it rightly underlines a principle that our two professors want to ignore, namely that our children are our children. Unfortunately, parents have wrongly gotten the idea that their children belong to the state. Yours might, but mine do not! Moreover, you will scour the founding documents of the United States in vain to find anything requiring free men and women to send their children to public schools. There simply isn’t anything in those documents. Do we have any laws and statutes on the books now regarding public schools? Oh, yes. The CA Education Code alone contains over 100,000 sections. But if there is nothing in our Constitution or other founding documents about government funded schools—and there isn’t—then why do we continue to act like the state owns our children? As professors Coombs and Shaffer write their diatribe, they fail to mention that federal intervention in education is, in the very first place, unconstitutional. It might very well be that California’s Education Code contains different language, but they should not act and write as if it is a foregone conclusion that the secular humanists have a right to our children. They don’t.

These biased men make this assertion: “In fact, they (the parents in the case under investigation) were home schooled at home (where else would you home school? These men are geniuses) by parents not qualified to teach the kids in subjects appropriate to their age and grade level.” Really? Our two fair friends fail to point out that these same unqualified parents had already more than adequately home schooled their adult children. Why, all of a sudden, are they now disqualified, unqualified?

But there is more to the utter disdain that these two learned educators have for those who refuse to send their kids to government schools. They write, “The court’s decision means that home schoolers must be given some substantive instruction in social studies and not simply spend their time watching Fox with its strange assortment of oddballs pontificating on current events.” Take that quote and copy it and put it in a place where you can look at it often. Coombs and Shaffer make my case why Christians and thinking people should not be submitting themselves to this type of professor. Remember the Chinese students in Time magazine! What do Coombs and Shaffer think home schooling entails? Well, we all know that no one who is schooled at home ever could get “substantive instruction in social studies,” which explains why our founding fathers, all of whom were home schooled or privately tutored were such mental midgets and had such a poor grasp of social studies. It is statistically true that children schooled at home typically do better in a wide range of subjects when pitted against their public school counterparts.

But I want you to focus carefully on the bias (if a Christian said something similar they’d be excoriated) against Fox news. Get this: these two credential scholars are very, very prejudiced. They can’t stand it—in the name of freedom of speech, of course—if someone happens to watch Fox news. What they assert is in no way verified, but I contend that Coombs and Shaffer really don’t care. And it’s this type of Little Red Book that they want everyone to follow. Apparently, they’ve spent too much time listening to Air America with its assortments of oddballs, socialists, and feminists pontificating on current events.

Their prejudice rushes to the foreground again when they get their tenured shorts in a knot about the home school cottage industry. Listen to what they say: “On the other hand, there is a formidable cottage industry run by conservative evangelicals that provides ‘suitable’ materials for home schoolers.” Fox News takes a hit and now the witch hunt is unleashed against conservative evangelicals. Again, without a shred of evidence, the dynamic duo set forth their case. But what is the case? In the first place, not everyone who home schools their children are conservative evangelicals or even Christians. This sweeping is highly unscholarly.

Second, if by “formidable cottage industry” they mean that home schoolers network, then the label would be fitting of any group, even emeritus professors that network together for their cause.

Third, one is hard pressed to decipher what the quotation marks around the word “suitable” might signify. The clear implication is that they are not “suitable” at least by the professors’ standards. Therefore, Coombs and Shaffer have once again set themselves up as the pontificators, which ostensibly they reserve for themselves and disdain in others—especially those who disagree with them.

These social engineers, who are socialists, are incensed that your tax dollar is being used for “For-profit charter schools specializing in ‘home schooling,’” but have little trouble with your tax dollar funding public schools that have been broken—badly—for a long time. In Los Angeles, for example, the public high schools have a 50% failure rate for students graduating on time or graduating at all. Clearly, those students spent too much time watching Fox.

Coombs and Shaffer also bemoan the fact that the state has “limited education dollars being diverted from traditional schools.” I laughed myself silly when I read that. Sadly, they were serious, as serious as biased professors can be. Who are they trying to kid? When was the last time you didn’t hear about the educational system needing more money and smaller classes? Every year more and more money is poured into the system and every year they come back wanting more. It’s never enough. You’d think after decades of whining about insufficient funds and classroom size that we might be able to see some measurable results in terms of improvements in public education, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Core subjects are no longer taught with rigor and have been replaced by inflated grades, affirmative action, values clarification, multiculturalism, evolution, minors getting abortions with the aid of school counselors, lower and lower SAT scores, and a system founded on the atheistic pragmatism of John Dewey.

By the way, since when did public schools earn the moniker “traditional” schools. Public schools began in the 1830s. Why are they traditional and private schools and home schooling that have a longer history not traditional?

All of this does not deter Coombs and Shaffer of accusing the children of home schoolers of “getting an extremely warped lesson in civics.” In the first place, that simply is a lie; not just “not true”; it’s a lie. If you are going to make such a serious charge, it should be substantiated with facts. Throughout their diatribe, Coombs and Shaffer rant and vent, but they do not produce one shred of verifiable, actual data. It is all conjecture; it is all fabrication; and it is all politically correct claptrap.

A warped lesson in civics might very well mean that those who are home schooled might actually get to read a non-revisionist history or civics books written by someone other than Al Franken, Michael Moore, Code Pink, or any of the other “Hate America First” crowd. They might be able to tell you who the President, Vice-President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense are. They might be able to explain how our government is set up to run with its three branches. They might be able to name the Presidents of the United States and pinpoint the Civil War within one hundred years, which a number of public school graduates cannot do. I contend that children from private schools and home schools typically do better than public school students in virtually every subject.

Here’s the kicker. If you want a healthy dose of prejudice under the guise of scholarship take this in: “It’s evident that the vast majority who teach their offspring in front of the television do so because they don’t want their children to be subjected to such dangerous doctrines as evolution, abortion, global warming, equal rights and other ideas abhorrent to the evangelical mantra.” Apparently, the two scholars have done extensive research and polled numerous people to be able to aver that the “vast majority”—are we talking 75% or more?—of home schoolers teach their children in front of the television. This continues to be a most curious accusation. Where are they getting this information? How do they know that those who home school rely rather exclusively on the TV? I have known a number of parents who home school their children who don’t even have a TV! The ones who have TVs tend to limit the amount of time their children can watch it and they closely monitor what they watch. Clearly, Coombs and Shaffer are guilty of the “Television fallacy” in their article.

Further, it is an alarming contradiction to say that parents that home school their children do not want them exposed to the “infallible doctrines” that they mentioned. Why do I call evolution, abortion, global warming, equal rights, and other such ideas—these are the ones that Coombs and Shaffer mentioned—infallible doctrines? The answer is quite simple. Coombs and Shaffer accuse home schoolers of being in possession of attitudes that are precisely what is allowed and found in the public schools. For example, if you mention Intelligent Design in a public high school or on a university campus today as an alternative to the hypothesis of evolution, there is a huge outcry. Intelligent Design is not even allowed to be taught, let alone the doctrine of creation by God. So who is it that doesn’t want their children exposed to biblical creation? Does the sword only cut one way? Apparently, for Coombs and Shaffer it does—all in the name of academic freedom, of course.

Why would you want to expose your child to abortion? It was bad legislation and worse morality. Are we supposedly to believe that global warming is actually science and scientifically proven? It’s about as scientifically verifiable as evolution. Are equal rights abhorrent to evangelicals? Where is the evidence? In point of fact, poll after poll points out that evangelicals are more tolerant than their non-Christian counterparts. For two men with the credentials of Coombs and Shaffer to make such an outlandish accusation that they cannot back up is simply preposterous. And that is a very good word to describe their blowback. It’s a blowback from two blowhards who are prejudiced and are flaunting their credentials in the hope that no one will recognize that they have presented no evidence for their case whatsoever, but have shown themselves to be poster boys for what is wrong with a number of tenured professors today.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

How Do We Do Social Justice? (III)

What Constitutes Social Justice?

Over twenty-five years ago, David Chilton penned these words in the introduction of his response to Ron Sider: “…there are new voices in evangelicalism today, claiming that a truly biblical Christianity demands centralized economic planning and the ‘liberation’ of the downtrodden masses throughout the world. Faithfulness to Scripture is being equated with a redistribution of wealth. Notions of social reform once thought to be the province of aberrant liberals may now be heard down the street in the Baptist church.”[1]

Chilton proceeds to unmask what Sider (and I would also include Campolo, McLaren, and Wallis in this tribe) is really preaching: Revolution.[2] Of course, it is not blatant revolution for that would be far too obvious. No, this crowd is promoting “revolution by installments.”[3] In other words, it’s a kinder, gentler, more subtle form of Marxism under the guise of Christianity. Given the widespread and overarching ignorance of biblical truth in the modern Church, it’s an easy sell, especially among the younger generation. Moreover, “The ‘Christian’ who advocates theft in the name of social justice is in truth calling for the Revolution, whether or not he fully realizes what he’s doing.”[4] In the cases of Campolo, McLaren, Sider, and Wallis, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that all of them fully realize what they’re saying and where they want to go with their “revolutions.” All of these men advocate bigger and bigger government, more taxation of the wealthy (read: redistribution of money), and more welfare for the “destitute.” They have yet to define what these folks look like.

George Grant traces what he calls the “war on the poor” to Lyndon Johnson’s State of the Union message in 1964 when he declared an “unconditional war on poverty.” How can it be, you might ask, that a declaration of unconditional war on poverty has the unintended consequences of actually becoming instead a war on the poor, because that is precisely what happened? The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was to be the watchdog at the welfare trough in Johnson’s “Great Society,” which was his version of utopia. Initially, HEW had a budget of $2 billion to pour into the welfare trough. “Fifteen years later, however, its budget had soared to $180 billion, one-and-a-half times more than the total spent by the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. In fact, its budget had grown to be the third largest in the world, exceeded only by the entire budget of the United States government and that of the Soviet Union.”[5] This should have remedied the poverty problem in the United States, but it actually had the opposite affect. The liberals were forced to rewrite the playbook and it was called A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to Utopia.

As welfare programs increased exponentially and government spending (of our tax dollars) increased twentyfold, some amazing results were calculated and they weren’t encouraging. Before the war on poverty fired its first government subsidized bullet, approximately 13% of Americans were considered “poor.” Twenty years and billions of U.S. tax dollars later, approximately 15% of Americans were considered poor. They must have been taking lessons from our public schools. Here’s another interesting, yet from an economist’s perspective a highly predictable result: Prior to Johnson’s declaration of war on poverty the unemployment rate in the U.S. hovered somewhere around 3.6%. Twenty years later, it “was running at 11.6%.”[6] Hence the adage: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Clearly, the government had entered the welfare fray and the results were predictably devastating. In all the hoopla, Americans had forgotten that the only dependable route from poverty to economic self-sufficiency is always work, family, and faith. Unfortunately, some churches tend to pick up societal trends—knowingly or unwittingly. Interestingly, in the mid-1980s many denominations were in the throes of building mega-churches and didn’t have a lot of residual money to spend on true diaconal needs, since large sums of money were being tied up in erecting large, palatial-like edifices as monuments to the success of that particular church. The Church, therefore, abdicated its diaconal responsibilities to the state, which was all too happy to contribute significantly to the dependence of the poor upon the state for its well-being. The “womb to tomb” mentality produced wards of the state in great numbers, while the Church stood by and watched. Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that the Church did nothing at all during this time. Much good was done, but clearly a paradigm shift was underway.

Somewhere along the way, however, pastors turned into CEOs and their studies became known as their offices. A big church and a big staff were symbols of success. The campus was gorgeous and state-of-the-art, but the biblical requirement to be concerned about the neighbor’s soul got lost in the shuffle. There was still some vestigial remnant that Christians were to be concerned about the plight of the poor, social injustice, and the increasing urban blight, as well as other social issues, but the modern Church had loosed itself from its biblical moorings, even though Scripture was still used.

There was a paradigm shift in preaching as well. The new trajectory was to talk to the unchurched “seeker” in a manner that wouldn’t turn him or her off. Sermons, therefore, became increasingly topical in nature, using screens, Power Point presentations, praise bands, drama, and the like. Not only did the sermons become more topical, they tended to focus more and more on issues raised by Dr. Phil or Oprah than on Scripture. Increasingly smaller portions of Scripture were read in the gatherings and the topics were presented in easy anecdotal story form. My point is this: being unplugged from Scripture, the modern Christian Church has lost its tools of discernment and has wandered off mouthing vague, victo-cratic[7] platitudes that may or may not have anything to do with Scripture.

The economist Benjamin Rogge once wrote, “…the typical American who calls himself a Christian and who makes pronouncements…on economic policies or institutions, does so out of an almost complete ignorance of the simplest and most widely accepted tools of economic analysis.”[8] I would change Rogge’s quotation slightly to read that many today who call themselves Christians have neither a biblical nor economical view of life. This is one reason why people like Campolo, McLaren, Sider, and Wallis get such a wide reading. Ironically, it’s a kind of return to the Dark Ages, except this time the modern Church has various translations and paraphrases and still remains woefully ignorant of even the most fundamental biblical truths.

Robert Frykenberg, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin wrote in 1981 how insidious Sider’s theology was. Frykenberg penned these words: “But without showing us exactly how the world’s hungry are to be fed, nothing results except the mouthing of pious platitudes and highly emotional exhortations to act. Such well-meaning efforts to help are at best inefficient and wasteful, and, at worst, utterly self-defeating and demoralizing.”[9] This was precisely my point a couple of issues back when I challenged the admirers of and adherents to the social gospel Marxist policies of Campolo, McLaren, Sider, Wallis, and others to show where they had done anything close to serious biblical exegesis to back up their ostensible findings. No response. What they do is akin to the Rick Warren approach: find something you want to talk about and then torture and distort a translation or preferably something from The Message to somehow say something close to what you want to say and use it.

In 1980, Klaus Bockmuehl wrote these prophetic words: “Marxism in the West today has become a potent temptation for gifted, forward-looking young Christians, evangelicals among them. They are fascinated not so much by its radical secular humanism as by its socialism. Because evangelicals have little knowledge of Marxism, they identify Marxism with social reform and regard it as an energetic attempt to realize liberty, equality and fraternity or simply claim that Marxists are ‘for the poor.’”[10] Christian philosopher Ronald Nash observes, “Almost without exception the major evangelical books about social justice that have appeared since 1960 have been authored by writers who reject and condemn political conservatism as a cruel, heartless and uncaring movement totally out of step with an informed biblical view.”[11]

Therefore, “Basic to the theory of the evangelical Christian who finds liberalism or socialism or even Marxism attractive is an appeal to social justice.”[12] Add to this that the word “evangelical” or “evangelicalism” has morphed into anything from Open Theism, feminism, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, or anything else along the spectrum so it has lost any meaning it might have had a while back. Now we have homosensual[13] Christians, shack-up Christians, multiple adultery Christians, Christians with multiple abortions, multiple divorce for unbiblical reasons Christians, and rich Christians who no longer believe they need to obey God and attend Christ’s Church.

More than two decades ago Antonio Martino pointed out that the expression “social justice,” “…owes its immense popularity precisely to its ambiguity and meaninglessness. It can be used by different people, holding quite different views, to designate a wide variety of different things. Its obvious appeal stems from its persuasive strength, from its positive connotation, which allows the user to praise his own ideas and simultaneously express contempt for the ideas of those who don’t agree with him.”[14] Similar conclusions led Ronald Nash to say this: “Serious questions can be raised about the evangelical liberal’s grasp of the complex social, political and economic foundations of justice. The liberal evangelical is often inattentive to important distinction in the notion of justice; he fails to see how his claims draw him into an unavoidable and dangerous dependence upon a coercive state; he is blind to the fact that many of his preferred programs to help the poor end up being self-defeating; and he is unaware of the confusion that pervades his interpretation of the biblical teaching about justice.”[15]

It is clear and evident to any and all who have not fallen prey to the trappings of the mega-church and the mysticism of the Emergent church that serious distortions of Scripture and of the care of the poor are rampant in the modern evangelical Church. If you don’t believe me, just pick up Jim Wallis’ God’s Politics or Brian McLaren’s Everything Must Change and it will become crystal clear—that is, if you still possess a modicum of biblical truth in your Christian armamentarium.

[1] David Chilton, Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators, (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1981), p. 4.

[2] Ibid., 5.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] George Grant, Bringing in the Sheaves, (Atlanta: American Vision Press, 1985), pp. 39-40. Italics mine.

[6] Ibid., 45.

[7] A “victo-crat” is one who is convinced that nothing is his or her fault, but that they are victims of “the system.” Typically, victo-crats expect someone to come along and save them, like, for instance, the government, rather than working hard to relieve their own circumstances.

[8] Benjamin Rogge, “Christian Economics: Myth or Reality?” The Freeman, December 1965.

[9] Robert Frykenberg, “World Hunger: Food is not the Answer,” Christianity Today, December 11, 1981, p. 36.

[10] Klaus Bockmuehl, The Challenge of Marxism, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980).

[11] Ronald Nash, Social Justice and the Christian Church, (Mott Media, n.d.), p. 4.

[12] Ibid., 5.

[13] I owe this concept to Bill Gairdner, who, in his new book, Oh, Oh, Canada! A Voice from the Conservative Resistance, (Toronto, Canada: BPS Books, 2008), made the astute observation that there actually can be no sex in homosexual (pp. 62ff.), since in our biology textbooks words like “sex” or “sexual” have to do with reproduction, which clearly homosensuals cannot do. I highly recommend Bill’s book. Americans and Canadians alike need to read it. Just go to and order your copy today!

[14] Antonio Martino, “The Myth of Social Justice,” in Arnold Beichman, Antonio Martino, & Kenneth Minogue, Three Myths, (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 1982), p.23.

[15] Nash, SJCC, 6-7.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

How Do We Do Social Justice? (II)

Who is Truly Needy?

We are investigating what Scripture says about “doing” social justice. Our starting point is intentional and will continue to hearken back to what the Bible says, because today there are those like Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, Ron Sider, and Jim Wallis—just to mention a few—who are peddling their works as if what they are saying is what God says. For anyone with a modicum of biblical discernment, however, (and they are getting fewer and farther between) their works are little more than tendentious eisegesis, distorting the whole warp and woof of God’s redemptive-historical dealings with his people, wholesale distortion of biblical texts, and torturing translations and paraphrases to say what they don’t really say.

In one sense, this should come as no surprise as a number of pastors have been doing this for quite some time. Pretending to preach sermons, they have held topic “talks” on the latest, greatest secular self-help book. These sermonettes have produced a bevy of christianettes; people who cannot begin to tell you where to find the Ten Commandments in Scripture, let alone what they are; and those who cannot tell you the most fundamental, rudimentary truths contained in God’s Word. This—and myriad other reasons—is why less than 10% of those who call themselves “born again” are actually in possession of a biblical life and worldview.

I pointed out last time that writers like Campolo, McLaren, Sider, and Wallis often throw out a term as if everyone knows the precise definition of what they’re talking about. Moreover, they will not and do not take the time to define their terms because they know that if they do, someone will probably call out “Socialism!” Of the four men I’ve mentioned—and there are many more than can be added to the list—they are all strong proponents of the re-distribution of wealth and what is worse, they have the audacity to call the snake oil they’re peddling Christianity. Of course, they’re consummately concerned about the poor in all this—at least that is what they say.

Interestingly, in a number of recent surveys it was clear that those who call themselves biblical “conservatives” in fact gave more charitable donations than their liberal counterparts. Therefore, at the outset we are taking time to ask ourselves what poverty is, or better, what the Bible says constitutes real poverty and what it to be done about it. As (North) Americans we tend to have a rather stereotypic view of what constitutes poverty. For example, we might get our information from a newspaper article about what the “poverty line” is or how many people are living under that line. We might conclude that we need to throw (welfare) money at that problem.

But it ought to be patently clear to us that throwing money at a problem does not make it disappear. Some examples are in order. Two liberal U.S. Presidents, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, literally threw trillions of taxpayer dollars at “poverty.” What was the net result? Nothing changed. We continue to be vague when it comes to defining poverty, probably because we listen more to the “stats” than we do to Scripture. That is why in many of our “poorest” counties in the United States 52% of those under the poverty level own television sets, 46% own automobiles, and 37% own washing machines. This does not even take into account how many of these smoke heavily, drink heavily, and play the lottery.

In order to come to a biblical understanding of who is actually “poor,” (physically, not spiritually) there are two Greek words that are helpful. First, is the word pénēs (pe,nhj) that “may be identified with those today who must work for a living rather than living on the interest and dividends of savings and investment.”[1]

Second, there is a word that is reserved for those who are truly poor, destitute and that word is ptōchós (ptwco,j). This individual does not work for his daily bread but is reduced to begging. Whereas the pénēs has nothing left over, the ptōchós has nothing at all.[2]

Theologian R.C. Sproul delineates four causes of poverty: sloth, calamity, exploitation, and personal sacrifice.[3] These are helpful categories for us to employ to distinguish those who are truly in need and those who are out to scam churches or simply to give a sad story so that the undiscerning congregation will simply throw money at their problem. Every congregation has experienced the telephone call from someone in distress needing money or a reasonably healthy looking man shows up needing something to eat. Who wants to be the hard-hearted schlemiel that turns a hungry person away? We’re going to answer that as we progress because the Bible does give us clear boundaries that enable us to make an informed decision, all the while being compassionate.

When we discuss a topic such as poverty in relationship to social justice it is essential to determine whether the poverty about which we’re speaking is self-caused or imposed from outside. This is a distinction that Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren do not make and it is a serious omission leaving their words open to almost any and all interpretations. For example, in Wallis’ God’s Politics he recounts a story of how a bunch of first year seminary students found every text they could in the Old and New Testaments. Interesting—sort of. From there, however, Wallis launches into a litany of left-wing socialistic web sites and organizations and that is supposed to pass for biblical exegesis. Perhaps it does at Harvard.

Working, Eating, & Other Biblical Descriptions

The late Carl F.H. Henry once commented that “moral poverty often dooms its victims to ongoing material poverty.”[4] This means that if the modern Church will truly be an agent of change in our society she must recognize both the moral and material aspects to the problem of poverty. It means that she neither can expect the government to step in and solve all the ills of society nor can she copy secular government’s methodologies, especially those that tend towards Socialism, and expect to remain obedient to Scripture.

One of the major, predictable problems with the Social Gospel was that it ended up looking substantially more like Socialism than it did the Gospel. Why was that? The answer is quite simply because Socialism subordinates all other considerations to man’s material well-being. Scripture, however, takes the whole man into account in a serious manner. What do I mean by that? In light of our current topic of doing social justice and poverty we must be informed by what the Word of God tells us about the subject and then move into action from there.

So what does the Bible teach about “self-caused” poverty? From the moral perspective, each one of the categories I’m going to mention is actually a sub-set of man’s rebellion against God. Since our modern Christian social engineers have an aversion to the presence and reality of sin—unless it’s Bush, Rove, or Cheney, who we all know are huge sinners—they omit what Scripture says about man’s sinfulness. The sinfulness of sin is an unwanted intruder in McLaren’s and Wallis’ discussion of social justice. In McLaren’s new book it’s not until you’re past page 200 that he even mentions sin and then it’s only in passing. This is a serious, debilitating flaw in their approach. Claiming to be Christian they refuse to take Scripture seriously and opt rather for liberal, secular solutions to spiritual matters. In fact, it is safe to say that Campolo, McLaren, Sider, Wallis, and others like them are kinds of ecclesiastical Jacobins. They are “gentler collectivists” asking our permission or an allegiance to them playing God with the human race.

I like to think of the book of Proverbs as “bumper sticker ethics.” Unlike most bumper stickers, however, Proverbs actually makes sense and imparts wisdom, while the garden variety bumper sticker is superficial and inane. This book in the Old Testament wisdom literature has a great deal to say about poverty and its self-imposed causes. For the sake of argument, I’ll mention three sub-sets that fall under the category of rebellion against the Law of God: laziness, foolishness, and shortsightedness.

Proverbs 10:4 is clearly one of those texts that “Sojourner Jim” Wallis and his merry band of liberals at Fuller Seminary missed while discovering that America’s Bible is full of holes.[5] What does this text say? “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Laziness has severe consequences in one’s life. It is also noteworthy that the Old Testament wisdom literature does not condemn industrious, conscious work to earn income. Proverbs 19:15 speaks in a similar vein: “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.”

Foolishness is symptomatic of those who continually try to figure out things for themselves, but keep running into brick walls. The much-quoted Proverbs 11:14 is an apt verse in this context.[6] Of course, the modern Church has long since left off acting biblically. She’s been too concerned with entertaining the masses to spend time asking herself what the Word of God would have her do about specific ethical issues. How bad has it become? Let me give you a few illustrations. Precisely because of the “entertainment” factor in the modern Church modern Christians are blatantly ignorant about everything except the words of John 3:16. Less than 10% of those who call themselves “born again” Christians have a biblical life and worldview, around 80% do not believe in absolute truth, and 85% of “born agains” still have their children in public schools. I went to a meeting this week about California’s desire to make traditional marriage a thing of the past. In short, our social engineers want to redefine marriage to include male and female homosexuals—for now. (Since there are no ethical brakes on this train, one can only wonder where this law will take us.) This is a very serious matter and 1,100 invitations were sent out to local pastors. Ten of us showed up. Ten! And we wonder what is wrong with the evangelical church today! Whether it was because of apathy or fear, I’m sorely disappointed in my colleagues. But they’ll be the first ones to cry like rats eating onions (Sorry. It was a favorite expression of my Company First Sergeant) when it passes.

It was interesting to see how all of a sudden those present were concerned about what might happen even though for the longest time all they’ve pushed was easy believism and entertainment. Now, with our backs against the wall they want to plead to God for a revival—a revival! Who do they think their people will be worshiping in this revival? They’ve neglected teaching them about the nature and character of God for years, they’ve demeaned biblical doctrine, and now they want to be politically active. Unbelievable. It seems like revival is the modern Church’s answer to everything—or, the social gospel is. What is needed is not revival but reformation and certainly not what McLaren suggests: revolution. “Revolution” is the unacceptable by-product of the French Revolution; Reformation is something quite different. Do we remember sola Scriptura?

Shortsightedness—spiritually and physically—lands one in poverty (cf. Prov. 21:5; Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 14:28-30). Beisner correctly adds, “Each of these is a symptom of rebellion against the Law of God, which sets forth a pattern of life that is both naturally fruitful and supernaturally blessed by God (Deuteronomy 8:11-20; 11:18-32; 28:1-68; 30:1-20).[7] In other words, a poor man or woman has poor ways. Can there be a movement out of self-imposed poverty and towards biblical stewardship? Absolutely. And I might add that the Church of Jesus Christ should have a key role to play in that movement. Yet, this movement can only happen when the cause of self-imposed poverty is deliberately rejected and weakened. Before poor people with bad stewardship habits can begin to overcome their poverty, they must first overcome the causes of their poverty and here is where the Church can be an indispensable agent of change.

What has happened, as often as not, is that the Church has followed the likes of LBJ, Carter, Wallis, and McLaren and simply thrown money at the problem or became gentler collectivists sipping Starbucks while wearing their Birkenstocks presenting ostensibly Christian solutions to our “global crises” while in reality they were striving to play God with the human race.

In our next installment we will, Lord willing, delve more deeply into the biblical notions of poverty and some of the presuppositions of men like Campolo, McLaren, Sider, and Wallis.

[1] E. Calvin Beisner, Prosperity and Poverty, (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001), p. 193.

[2] R.C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 19767), p. 129.

[3] R.C. Sproul, Ethics and the Christian, 54-56.

[4] Carl F.H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol. 4, (Waco, TX: Word, 1976), p. 549.

[5] This is Wallis’ description, not mine.

[6] Where there is no guidance a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

[7] Beisner, PaP, 195.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

How Do We Do Social Justice?

Doing Social Justice

In the last installment I listed for you a number of those who line up on the left side of the theological and political aisle. These folks want us to believe that they have the answers to our nation’s as well as the world’s crises. Brian McLaren’s latest book has as its sub-title “Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope.”[1] He poses questions such as, “Have you heard debates about the causes of poverty? In your current understanding, what are the primary causes of poverty?” And “How do you think most Christians today respond to the issue of poverty?”[2]

The questions are left intentionally broad and open-ended and the last one would require, it would seem, some significant data before them before they could make a valid assessment of what “most Christians” think about the issue of poverty. The questions are designed to make us think, but also to help promote the agenda of taxing the wealthy so that there is more social justice in our country and in the world. “Most Christians”—I’m using Bri’s hidden survey—don’t have a lot of time to contemplate global injustice, although our consciences feel a twinge of sorrow from time to time when we see the commercials of Third World countries on TV after a nice dinner of pheasant under glass and a $300.00 bottle of wine. Jim Wallis hammers on the need to redistribute wealth, along with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama (he’s actually Irish and his name used to be O’Bama, but he changed it because there aren’t that many black Irishmen), Ron Sider, John Yoder, and old Bri. Bri devotes a whole section in his book to the subject of poverty as does Wallis in God’s Politics.

One of the egregious flaws in all these works is that they are all concerned about social justice (or injustice) and yet they don’t ever give a solid biblical definition of what exactly social justice is; they simply leave it up to “most Christians” to pool their ignorance. Since so many today are becoming enamored of social causes, we would do well to be precise—as precise as possible—when we speak about such important and broadly sweeping matters like social justice. Not to do so is to go off half-cocked like so many did with the impending Y2K crisis or as many are doing now with the current hoopla about global warming.

One of my favorite economists, Thomas Sowell, wrote an article that appeared in my local newspaper (The Orange County Register, Local, “More cold water on global warming, p. 9) that began this way: “It has almost become something of a joke when some ‘global warming’ conference has to be canceled because of a snowstorm or bitterly cold weather.” Indeed. Sowell goes on in the article to remind us that the task of old-fashioned journalists is to inform the public, rather than pushing an agenda. With the necessary changes in place, I would echo Sowell’s words and remind people like Wallis, McLaren, Sider, and others that the theologian/ethicists job is to inform God’s people on what the Word of God says and not to push an agenda. As I mentioned last time—and it is worthy of repetition—McLaren, Wallis, Sider, Campolo, and others have a definite agenda irrespective of what “most Christians” might think.

But can’t it be argued that to some extent we all have an agenda? Of course that is the case. I am a theological, economical, and political conservative. I’m more than willing to state that up front. The names listed above will not and have not done that. They present their agenda and leave “most Christians” on their own to figure out what their theological and political proclivities are. Given the state of biblical discernment in the modern Church, “most Christians” are pretty easy prey.

Does God Favor the Poor?

It’s a growing consensus that God favors the poor, which means that he’s a little displeased or ticked off with the wealthy. Again, without question Scripture has a great deal to say about greed and the accumulation of wealth for the sake of accumulating wealth. But it doesn’t condemn all wealthy people; Abraham is a case in point. Growing conventional wisdom among “some Christians” is that God favors the poor, but is that so? I’m not asking if we are moved when we see scenes of Third World poverty, but if God actually favors the poor.

If we are seeking to form a Christian view of social justice we should turn to Scripture. When we do that, we discover a treasure trove of biblical truth that enables us to begin to formulate a God-pleasing way of doing social justice. Before we proceed, however, I should inform you that I am a covenantal theologian/pastor/teacher who believes that God has given us an entire Bible that comprises the books of both the Old and New Testaments. You can agree or disagree, but for better or worse, that is my settled conviction.

That being the case, I’ll begin with Old Testament texts and then move on to the New Testament. As I proceed I want to express my indebtedness to Dr. Cal Beisner for laying such a solid foundation in his book Prosperity and Poverty.[3] In Jeremiah 21:12, God’s people are commanded to “execute justice” (ESV)[4] and to deliver those who have been wronged by the oppressor. Just one chapter further, Jeremiah repeats this instruction: “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed.”

At this point, it is imperative that we ask the logical question: What is “justice”? This is an essential question to ask since not any definition of justice will do if we are seeking to do social justice according to biblical principles. Beisner is correct when he writes, “For all its importance, justice is a virtue often misunderstood. The word is an ideological football cast to and fro by foes accusing each other of injustice. Few are eager to define it clearly—particularly not in light of Scripture.”[5] He gives us two of the chief images found in Scripture when it comes to justice: 1) conformity with a right standard and 2) rendering each his due.[6]

With this brief definition Beisner has already unmasked the likes of Wallis, McLaren, Campolo, and their ilk precisely because he has defined his terms. The RL (Religious Left—it’s the counterpart to the Religious Right, even though neither of these organizations has a fixed address) proceeds on the hope that their readers will not ask for a precise definition so that they can proceed in their intellectual pursuits. Their readers have, as often as not, imbibed of the Kool-Aid and know better than to ask for a definition, since they would show themselves to be among the uninitiated. Pretending to know the definition, they happily sip their white wine and eat their brie.

As real Christians, what is the standard to which we are to adhere? For Bible-thumpers the answer is clear: Scripture; for intellectuals like Bri, Wallis, and Campolo the answer is to get a refill on the Chardonnay.

In Psalm 106:3, we are told that those are blessed who “observe,” “keep,” or “maintain”[7] justice (judgment).[8] Therefore, in Scripture justice and truth are inseparably related. This truth is driven home in Leviticus 19:35-36: “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” The word translated “judgment” is the same word in Psalm 106:3 where it was translated “justice.” God’s children are to be honest in business dealings having just balances, weights, and measurements. The reason appended is that God saved them, therefore they are to be just and true in their practices.

Beisner correctly concludes, “But the standards of measurement God mentioned in connection with justice do not indicate that justice stops at truthfulness in economic transactions or even at economic relationships as a whole. They indicate that all behavior should be governed by the same unbending standards. This is the chief sense in which justice and equality are related: the same standards apply equally to all people and relationships.”[9]

Within historical Christianity, then, the biblical notion of justice means that each person is rendered his due according to God’s established righteous standards. Hold on to this truth for it will serve us well in developing a concept of social justice as Christians. It will also serve you well in unmasking the unbiblical nature of a great deal of Wallis’, McLaren’s, Campolo’s, and Sider’s writings, especially when it comes to the point about God being on the side of the poor. The reason these men tend in this direction is simply because they have an ideological agenda. It is also the reason why there is such scant use of Scripture or, when Scripture is ostensibly used, it is twisted, tortured, and distorted to meet their ideological purposes. This is also typical of what Rick Warren does in his books. He has something he wants to say so he fishes around trying to find some biblical text that is remotely close to what he wants to talk about (if he cannot find what he wants in a translation, there is always a handy text from The Message to aid him), giving the semblance of being biblical.

What will guide us well in our understanding of the issue at hand? Once again, we return to Scripture to aid us. I’ll begin with two Old Testament texts and from there move on to the New Testament. One of the clearest to begin with is found in Leviticus 19:15: “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” The clear message here is impartiality to either the poor or the great. Beisner states, “God is not ‘on the side of the poor,” despite protests to the contrary.”[10] Another key text that explains the same idea is Deuteronomy 1:17: “You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God’s.” Again, the main theme is impartiality. In the New Testament, Romans 2:11 (“For God shows no partiality.”) and Colossians 3:25 (“For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”) reinforce what the Old Testament taught on the concept of impartiality.

This is why books like McLaren’s, Campolo’s, Sider’s, and Wallis’ are so insidious in nature. They give you the impression that they are mainline, mainstream Christians who are “neutral” on the subject of politics, economics, and theology, but in point of fact they are not. As I mentioned, we all have presuppositions regarding these subjects. It is preferable and the better part of honesty simply to lay your cards on the table from the outset and say, “This is who I am and this is what I’m about.” That way, everyone is well served. But the emergents and others like them are not willing to tell either the young or older evangelicals what they really believe because if they did, a number in their current following would walk away.

What is Needed?

In my estimation, what is most needed at this point in the history of the Church is not a “purpose-driven” life, but rather one that is cross-centered and cross-driven. We do not need less Scripture, but more; we don’t need less exegesis, but more; and we don’t need less familiarity with the confessions of the Church after Nicaea, but more. Young and old alike are in desperate need of being more conversant with the Word of God and less with the world and its ways. We all need more discernment so that we can easily detect when a modern writer is attempting to lead us into Marxism or the worn-out Social Gospel. We need less Rob Bell videos and more solid biblical preaching and teaching.

To all who are enthralled with the works of the emergents and the men’s names I listed in this installment, let me ask you this: when was the last time you found any of these men giving you extensive biblical texts to back up what they were saying? Did you honestly find any deep explanation of the Word of God or was there just a mentioning of a text and then departing from it to go on to talk about what they wanted to discuss in the first place? Did they give you some in depth material from the Word of God or did they just give you some graphs and tell some stories? You need to answer these truthfully because nothing less than your eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

[1] Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007).

[2] Ibid., 17.

[3] E. Calvin Beisner, Prosperity and Poverty, (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001).

[4] The NASB & the NIV translate “administer justice.”

[5] Beisner, PaP, 43.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Hebrew: rm;v’; LXX: fula,ssw.

[8] Hebrew: jP’_v.mi; LXX: kri,sij.

[9] Beisner, PaP, 44.

[10] Ibid. Referring to Ron Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 19842), pp. 75ff.