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, July 30, 2009

Environmentalism and More Government Control

Steve Milloy rightly dedicated an entire chapter in his book Green Hell to the fact that America has its first green president. Steve is also the founder and publisher of, which is a worthwhile web site to visit. He begins chapter 11 of his book by asking the following question: “So what does the election of Barack Obama as president mean for the green agenda?”[1] Many today would merely shrug their shoulders at such a question. Do we need to connect the dots between the president and environmentalism? Indeed, we do. We might also add political correctness to the dots that need to be connected.

Two green organizations that invested financially in Mr. O’Bama’s run at the presidency are the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters—not Conservative voters, but Conservation voters. Both of these organizations invested in O’Bama’s state Senate race as well. Thus, after two substantial donations to his “cause,” it’s payback time. Carl Pope, Sierra Club president stated what payback meant in no uncertain terms when he said, “We are not electing the Archbishop of Canterbury or a saint. We’re electing an American politician. Is he susceptible to pressure? He damn well should be. This is a democratic society. Do I worry that he’s going to cave massively in response to special interests? No, I don’t. We’re not going to go away when he’s elected. We and other forces that are supporting him are going to stay organized.”

Astute readers will recall that during the primary, Mr. O’Bama promised—that’s the best word here—that if his green policies passed that the American consumer would see a drastic hike in the costs of electricity and gasoline. They would be a necessary consequence of his programs. Few were paying close attention then, it seems. Of course, this is of a piece with Mr. O’Bama’s belief that human beings are causing global warming/climate change. Since man is part of the problem in Mr. O’Bama’s equation he needs to be punished. The Lieberman-Warner proposal was not stringent enough for the president. According to LW, tradable emissions permits to coal-fired electric utilities and carbon-emitting companies would be issued. “Seventy-five percent of the permits would have been given to emitters for no charge, while 25 percent would have been auctioned. This plan was described as a ‘financial disaster’ by the CEO of Duke Energy, Jim Rogers.”[2]

Mr. Rogers—no the other one—is a greenie himself, but he calculated that the 75-25 split in LW would require Duke to increase its electricity rates by 40% in the first year! Here’s the kicker: The current cap-and-trade bill favored by O’Bama and the Dems “is much more severe than the failed Lieberman-Warner proposal.”[3] This means that for the family that endures the long, cold winters in Minne-so-cold and has a heating bill of $300/month, they can expect a heating bill around $420 for the same service. In addition, Mr. O’Bama just doesn’t seem to get it that higher electricity prices “will stoke inflation and raise unemployment.” Again, this translates into Americans losing jobs—Ohio unemployment is now around 15%—and still having to pay higher electricity costs. No doubt, the O’Bama administration will find a welfare program, paid for by a couple of millionaires to help the unemployed. When in doubt, tax the rich.

This begs the question: Why would an evangelical church support such nonsense? Neither O’Bama nor evangelical leaders can reverse the curse that God placed on the created order because of sin. This is one of the areas that never gets mentioned in the current global warming debates.

Far as the Curse is Found

This summer, I’m preaching a summer series on the biblical doctrine of the covenant. We’ve had a number of visitors from broadly evangelical backgrounds visiting and they hear us talking about being a covenant community and a covenant family and they wanted a word of explanation. Therefore, I decided to give them a summer of explanation. As is prudent, I began in the book of Genesis. I introduced this summer series by laying out a couple of key texts that will guide us through the entire series: Isa. 46:8-10[4] and Luke 24:27,[5] 44[6].

The Isaiah text not only speaks about God declaring the end from the beginning, but also about God’s sovereignty in his counsel and purpose. In Luke, the emphasis is on the fact that Jesus is to be found throughout the Old Testament. Therefore, we are very imprudent to neglect finding God’s plan and his Messiah—not O’Bama—in Scripture. My point here is simply that rather than depending on “science” to show us the way on global warming, evangelicals might want to first do a thorough study of the Word of God and then to measure “science” by God’s infallible Word.

Dr. Roy Spencer issues an apt warning to us so that we don’t place science on a pedestal. He writes, “I will explain why the theory of manmade global warming will always remain just a theory, despite increasing numbers of people who are trying very hard to convince you it is a fact. The emotional attachment that these people have to catastrophic global warming can be traced to a variety of self-interests—careers, political and social policies, philosophies and religious beliefs—all masquerading as science.”[7]

Far too many of us today bow at the altar of science, as if it is the panacea for all of life’s questions. We believe that scientists are a separate breed and that scientists are neutral, somehow unaffected by the fall of man into sin. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Spencer shocks us, but puts matters into perspective when he writes, “In order to begin to understand why there is so much debate about manmade global warming in the science community, you need to first accept that science doesn’t provide us with truth. The practice of scientific investigation involves tools to help us explain how the physical world might work.”[8] He adds, “In our technologically driven age, people want to believe that all of life’s questions will eventually be answered through science.”[9] Many really do, don’t they?

Scientists are, therefore, human beings—fallen human beings. “They have religious, economic, and political biases and opinions—their own worldview.”[10] What this means is that a Neo-Pagan scientist will give you the “Roman” answer to the question of global warming and will leave God out of the picture. How can this be, in any way, acceptable to evangelical churches? Spencer further shocks the scientific world when he states, “Manmade global warming is simply assumed to be true because we have no reliable way of observationally separating natural sources of global warming from human sources. Maybe the ‘fact’ that the Earth has warmed can be considered to be ‘truth.’ Why the Earth has warmed, though, is another matter entirely. If you want possible physical explanations for what we observe in nature, go to science. I you want truth, go to church.”[11] While scientists may hypothesize about the earth’s “thermostatic control mechanism,” the Christian will speak of God. Moreover, many people live in areas where the weather changes rapidly. In Southern California, where I live, predicting the weather is a piece of cake: paradise. Hawaii is the same. Summers in Phoenix are calculable: You’re going to roast your backside off. 120 degrees of dry heat will eventually cook a twenty pound turkey.

But Boston and other places are more difficult to predict what the weather’s going to be. If our climatologists cannot predict more than ten days in advance what the weather is going to be, why do we trust them to go back hundreds of years to tell us what was not recorded? In our next installment, we’re going to investigate what Scripture says about creation, the Fall, and man’s total depravity; all unlikely candidates for discussion about global warming, but you’ll see that they have everything to do with the way we think about this issue. Here’s a hint: how many secular environmentalists take God’s curse upon the created order because of Adam’s sin seriously? For that matter, how many modern Christians do?

[1] Steve Milloy, Green Hell. How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You can Do to Stop Them, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2009), p. 195.

[2] Ibid., 197.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, your transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose…”

[5] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

[6] Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

[7] Roy Spencer, Climate Confusion. How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor, (NY: Encounter Books, 2008), p. 9.

[8] Ibid., 35. Emphasis in the original.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., 37.

[11] Ibid. 44.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

We’re All Going to Burn Up—or Freeze to Death!

In the last three issues of Ethos, we have been discussing Donald Miller’s love affair with the Democratic Party and President O’Bama. Miller, and others like him, has decided that it’s conscionable for a Christian to vote for a man who believes that partial birth abortion is acceptable and, in fact, voted for it twice while an Illinois state senator. Moreover, it was a well-known fact during the campaign that Mr. O’Bama had the most liberal voting record in Congress. That’s right, our president’s voting record was even more liberal than those of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Nancy Pelosi. I mentioned in previous editions that Emergent church tribe member Miller believes matters such as global warming and poverty are more important currently than abortion or same-sex marriage.

Many in what is still called the “evangelical” church believe that Miller might have a point. Therefore, they want to appear to be on the cutting edge of modern church life, so they have jumped on the bandwagon of global warming. There are a number of issues facing the evangelical church such as universal health care, deficit spending, bailouts, government takeovers of banks and GM, but these are rather dull, drab, and dry issues. For some pastors, we need to be concerned about global warming—Oh, wait! I forgot. The new phrase is “climate change.” I wanted to use it quickly before the pundits and “experts” change it on us. There are some, who call themselves evangelicals, that have joined the ranks of “hand wringers” about certain “hot-topic” items in the evangelical community, such as poverty and global warming. For example, both Brian McLaren and Rick Warren are signatories on “The Evangelical Climate Initiative,” which bears the subheading: “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” The only reason Jim Wallis didn’t sign it is because he was busy doing the “heavy lifting” exegesis on the issue and finding a way to blame Bush for killing Elvis and Michael Jackson.

Motivated by “consensus” and scientists who get big government grants to toe the party line, some evangelical leaders have been willing to get on board the junk science bandwagon. To hear these evangelicals talk, you’d think they were our elected officials, who believe that global warming is a “fact.” and that the debate is over. As Glenn Beck aptly points out, “‘The debate is over’ is a line that’s used only by those who realize they would never win a debate.”[1] But no one seems either to know or to care about what is really happening. For instance, in the January 19, 2009 issue of Human Events, Max Schulz wrote an article entitled, “Ignore Environmentalist Delusions About California.” He points out how President Obama has urged other states to follow California’s “green” policies. He continues, “Obama’s remarks naturally drew praise from environmental groups, which have long hailed California as a shining example of expanding the economy while protecting the environment.” (pp. 1 & 10.) Conveniently, environmentalists and “We the People” forget the rolling blackouts due to the fact that California cannot—or will not—produce its own energy. The dirty little secret about Green California is that it “imports lots of energy from neighboring states to make up for the shortfall caused by having too few power plants.” (p. 10.) The other dirty little secret is that when California imports its energy it does so from coal-burning plants in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Montana. (p. 10.) Businesses have fled California in droves due to the excessive and unreasonable taxes and restrictions placed on them and the high price of “green” endeavors.

But since Mr. O’Bama is our first truly green president, it is understandable that the certifiably insane measures of California would appeal both to him and to the Emergent church movement. Why, who wouldn’t want to live in the Golden State when we have a dam that is 95% complete, but work has been halted because the “greenies” have litigation pending because they fear that the smelt—a three inch fish!—would be endangered by this dam, even though they have been assured by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that smelt are adequately protected.[2] But why should such silly things as facts deter an ideologue?

What is most disconcerting is that the New Evangelical Left is enamored of the likes of President O’Bama, Al Gore, and Rick Warren. Dr. Roy Spencer is a former-climatologist with NASA and an atmospheric scientist. In other words, Dr. Spencer knows almost as much as Al Gore and Michael Moore about these matters. Nobody knows more than President O’Bama, Tim Geithner, and Rick Warren though. In Spencer’s book, Climate Confusion, he chronicles a great deal of what is bogus, wrong, and just outright lies in the current climate debate.[3] The subtitle of his book is to the point.

Spencer contends that “Fear is gradually replacing reason as a motivating force for societal change…”[4] If the proponents of global warming/climate change expect us to follow them then reason dictates that they follow this maxim: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”[5] We have some hypotheses, but to date no one has presented the evidence. The notion of “consensus” doesn’t cut it. Some gullible folks might buy into such a notion, but it is not scientific.

One of Mark Twain’s aphorisms stated that “everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” Which is precisely why the so-called environmental movement has led to billions of taxpayer dollars being invested in “studies” on climate. In addition, the media is complicit in the sordid arrangement—and so are our good friends at the United Nations. The U.N. issued a consensus statement about global warming signed by 2,000 scientists. That’s pretty impressive until you discover that there were actually 31,000 scientists who thought it was all bunk.[6] Oh, well, what’s a 29,000 scientist difference among ideologues? Do you ever get the impression you’re being lied to? To the modern environmentalists’ credit, this is not a new thing. Ideologues have been lying to us for years. And to make matters worse, these “experts” always deliver their junk with authority, and where possible, in a movie. For example, Art Bell wrote a book entitled The Coming Global Superstorm. Someone in Hollywood was impressed—you know, like Sean Penn or Barbra Streisand—and soon a movie was made: The Day After Tomorrow. Both the book and the movie capture modern man’s fascination with global climate catastrophes and give the distinct impression that Bell’s book was based solely on irrefutable facts.

Spencer is convinced that fears about the environment have come to two related ideas. Together they have served to convince us that we’re dealing with rock solid facts. What are those notions? First, Spencer explains, there is the belief “that the Earth is fragile and needs to be protected, even to the detriment of humans if necessary. Many people feel like the climate system is being pushed beyond its limits, past some imaginary tipping point from which there will be no return.”[7] My, how could anyone have ever gotten such an idea? We’ll examine this in subsequent installments.

Second, Spencer contends that many are convinced “that the increasing wealth of nations is bad for the environment. Since technology and our desire for more stuff are to blame for environmental problems, we should renounce our modern lifestyle.”[8] Does any of this sound remotely familiar? It could have been extracted from a speech delivered by President O’Bama!

Therefore, in the ensuing installments we will lay a biblical foundation of the environment, paying particular attention to the pre-Fall situation in the covenant of works and how sin impacted all of God’s creation. We’ll also take looks at two doom-and-gloom “experts” from the past Rachel Carson and Paul Ehrlich and how their premises and predictions proved false, but were still accepted by the early environmentalists, including former-President Carter, who are not above making some bogus predictions of their own.

The question that will guide us is whether the modern evangelical is acting wisely by asserting that global warming is a more important ethical issue than abortion and same-sex marriage.

[1] Beck, Common Sense, 17.

[2] See Steve Milloy, Green Hell, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2009), p. 70.

[3] Roy Spencer, Climate Confusion. How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor, (NY: Encounter Books, 2008).

[4] Ibid., viii.

[5] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[6] Milloy, GH, 5-6.

[7] Spencer, CC, 2.

[8] Ibid.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Arrival of the Evangelical Left (III)

Deeds Not Creeds: How to Be Missional without a Defined Mission

We are still examining the article Mark Tooley, of The Weekly Standard, wrote about Donald Miller of the Emergent church and, indirectly, the Emergent church movement itself. In his book A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren explained that he was “missional.” According to McLaren, “The term missional arose in the 1990s, thanks to the Gospel and Our Culture Network ( It was popularized by the Network’s important book called The Missional Church (Darrell L. Guder, et al., Eerdmans, 1998).”[1] McLaren goes on to explain that the term can also be traced to a number of missiologists, including Lesslie Newbigin of India.[2]

As I have pointed out a number of times, McLaren goes on in AGO to give us a blueprint of what has come to fruition in the development (or regress) in his “theology.” Part of that “theology” is contained in the Emergent church motto, “deeds, not creeds.” McLaren condescends to accept the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds (he never explains why those two, so the reader is left to guess why these at the exclusion of others), but he rejects most other creeds, thereby neglecting a preponderance of the rich tradition passed on through the history of the Church.

So what is the appeal of Miller? Like many of his “pomo” (postmodern for those in Rio Linda) counterparts, Miller exudes a comfort with same-sex marriages and is, at best, apathetic about pro-life causes, especially abortion. By the same token, one can only wonder where he would stand on euthanasia, geriatric euthanasia, and suicide. In addition, Miller makes casual, sometimes less than casual, references to profanity, liquor, sexuality, and marijuana, which are all considered part of his spiritual odyssey. For those of us who did not become Christians until later in life, they might be able to identify with Miller, but certainly once one becomes a Christian, sexuality outside of marriage is forbidden, as are marijuana and profanity. Miller, however, revels in pastors who “cuss.” They are seen as genuine, authentic, the real deal. He does not explain why.

Apparently, Miller had a checkered childhood without a father. To his credit, his book earnings have been used to create a foundation to mentor fatherless children. This is a highly commendable undertaking. In his books and speaking engagements, he seeks to displace traditional evangelical moralism with what he believes is a passionate search for Jesus, based on relationships and storytelling rather than creeds. In other words, deeds rather than creeds. Of course, there is nothing wrong with developing healthy relationships and using stories (parables, illustrations) to make spiritual points, but there must be more than that. I also applaud Miller’s desire to displace evangelical moralism, but what do you put in the place of it? If I examine Presbyterian and Reformed creeds, for example, many of them give rather complete expositions of the Ten Commandments. Is this what Miller has in mind? Is he, like the rest of his Emergent church movement counterparts going to talk to the fatherless children about “the ethics of Jesus,” as if that were different from the ethics of Paul, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Moses, Peter, John, or any other human author of Scripture?

One of the more humorous lines in Tooley’s article states that “It’s not clear how politically outspoken Miller will remain. He promised last year that he would not ‘blindly’ support Democrats as he believed conservative evangelicals had Republicans.” (p. 2.) He even went so far as to challenge the Democrat party to stop mocking people of faith and to “give us a voice and a face within your party.” (Ibid.) In the first place, it appears that no one has heeded that challenge, including the President. Second, “people of faith” is a very generic term and does not mean the same thing as “Christian,” although in secular definitions, it is usually included. Third, Miller “enthused that Democrats during the campaign were doing an ‘exceptionally good job’ outreaching to evangelicals.” (Ibid.)

Given the numbers of young “evangelicals” adhering to McLaren, Miller, and others, it might very well be argued that the politicians did a better job of getting younger evangelicals to vote for the Democratic Party than the evangelical church did of equipping them to deal with ethical and political matters. This truth is a serious indictment against what the so-called evangelical church has accomplished with its emphasis on entertainment while eschewing doctrine. What is to be thought now of the many pastors who derided and ridiculed doctrine openly and publicly from the pulpit? Where are their students now? Many of them, unfortunately, voted for a man who had the most liberal voting record on many essential political, ethical issues, including abortion and partial-birth abortion. How could anyone be so undiscerning; so untaught; so naïve? If the Democrats did an exceptionally good job, then the evangelical church did an exceptionally poor one. We are now reaping the results of the trivial pandering to the “unchurched” that typified and characterized the mega-church movement. The children of the mega-church parents are the emergents of today.

Don’t get me wrong: Miller disdains the mega-church, and I concur that there was and still is a great deal in that movement worthy of disdain. One of the aspects of his ecclesiastical background that particularly piqued Miller was that “His previous churches embraced ‘war metaphors’ that pitted Christians against ‘liberals and homosexuals,’ according the Blue Like Jazz.” (Ibid.) Jesus, he contends, taught love. Well, of course, Jesus did teach love, but he also taught a great deal more. People like Miller and McLaren, with, at best, a thin veneer of theology under their belts, have nothing to fall back on except the worn-out mantra, which is a remnant from evangelicalism, “My God, is only a God of love.” That phrase is a license to live like a neo-pagan. In fact, it can be argued that it is a thinly veiled excuse to live any way you desire or choose. After all, the God of love will forgive you no matter how you live or what you do.

And when you die, you go to “heaven,” where, of course, everyone goes, so that they can smile amiably and affably down on us for eternity. Did you notice that with Michael Jackson’s death? FOX News carried some socialite regaling his hearers with this silly, ridiculous, naïve, and poorly thought through aphorism. The “smiling down” thing is another way for neo-pagans to believe in universalism; that everyone is saved irrespective of whether they were a Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, or Christian. In Christian circles, it is equally disconcerting that at funerals, someone insists on eulogizing that the departed is now smiling down on us. Wouldn’t it make more sense to leave that out, since, if the loved one is with Christ, he or she is going to be so enthralled that he is not going to be all that concerned to cast a smile our way?

Miller is also convinced that the Bush administration and, by extension, Christianity, or at least the dolts on the Christian Right, are responsible for making the United States unpopular around the world. Tooley adds that most of the Evangelical Left thinks like Miller does. Of course it does. Just like Miller, the Evangelical Left has swilled down the secular leftist progressive’s talking points. Why on earth wouldn’t they think that? It’s America’s fault. It has nothing to do with their ideology and hatred of us for our rights and freedoms. Think left. Miller is also convinced that it is the “ugly American” syndrome that has caused a number of our compatriots to think that Christianity is pugilistic, hateful, bigoted, anti-intellectual, arrogant, and possessing an inability to listen to others.

I’ll close this off with one of the funniest and inconsequential statements Miller’s made to date. It is consistent with his Emergent church movement cronies, but few within the movement ever see this glaring fallacy. What is it? Let’s put the statement on the table and then analyze it. Miller states, “Toeing the party line for the church is not my job; telling the truth is my job.” (Ibid.) I find this an amazing, egregious statement, not least because virtually all the emergents embrace relativism, Miller included. How can he tell me the truth if he is a convinced, inveterate relativist? Rob Bell did the same thing in his book Velvet Elvis. After spending 176 pages droning on about how everything is relative and the conservatives are out to lunch because of their views on truth, here is the sum of Bell’s efforts” “But I can’t do it alone. I need you. We need you. We need you to rediscover wonder and awe. We need you to believe that it is really possible. We need you to join us. It’s better that way. It’s what Jesus had in mind.”[3]

For the moment and just for fun, I’ll pass over the question of how one knows one has really discovered wonder and awe. That’s tricky in a relativistic world, except with the caveat of discovering it for me. You see, my wonder and awe from a Christian perspective might be different than yours from, say, a Buddhist perspective. What is amazing—and inconsequential in the Emergent church system—is the word “better.” Better as compared to…? The last sentence of Bell’s book makes him a candidate for “King of the Non-Sequitur.” After he’s spent himself telling us that we really don’t know about many, many things in the Bible (and his wife is complicit as well) he ends with the apodictic statement: This is precisely what Jesus had in mind. Wow. How does Bell know?

Miller is even more aggressive and assertive: Telling the truth is my job. Really? What is the truth? You see, this is precisely where all the emergents land. Why do you think McLaren continues to write books and give speeches if he is not convinced that his message is the right one; the true one? The rest of us are simply honest about it. But we’re prejudiced and bigoted and the emergents are right. Right.

[1] Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), p. 105.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), p. 177.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Arrival of the Evangelical Left (II)

What’s Worse: Bush as Jesus or O’Bama as the Messiah?

We are examining the article Mark Tooley, of The Weekly Standard, wrote on the Emergent church movement in general and emergent guru Donald Miller in particular. The article is entitled “Post-Modern Prophet” and it touts Miller as the Evangelical Left’s poster-boy. You might not have heard too much about the Evangelical Left—it’s not highly publicized—sort of like “secret lobbyists,” but they do exist, they do have growing support, and they are adamant about “the cause.”

One of the pet peeves of the Evangelical Left is the Evangelical Right. Tooley writes that Miller decided to leave the “family” (the Evangelical Right), because, as he puts it, “I had to think George W. Bush was Jesus.” (p. 1.) This is an obvious exaggeration, but in his book, Blue Like Jazz, Miller complained that conservative churches he had attended “were ‘parrots’ for the GOP…” (Ibid.) So apparently, Mr. Miller has swapped being a parrot for the GOP for being a parrot for the Democratic Party. To my mind, that’s a very bad trade-off for a number of valid reasons. Before I give them to you, let me explain that I do not consider myself a “parrot” for anyone, except the Lord, but certainly not any political party. As Christians, it is my hope that we vote our consciences for the political party that most closely approximates what Scripture teaches.

Having said that, let me now explain where I believe the real problems are for Donald Poster-Boy and the so-called Evangelical Left. First, these folks pay just as much homage—if not more—to President O’Bama as they claim the Evangelical Right did to Bush, Reagan, or the GOP. If Bush were “Jesus,” then O’Bama is the “Messiah,” otherwise known as “the One” or “that One.” Miller also demonized John McCain as “religiously inarticulate.” I agree with him, but since our President has not found or made time to attend worship since his coronation, he might be a little religiously inept himself. He is most certainly lacking in religious discernment after sitting under Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “preaching” for twenty years and not knowing that the man entertains strong Marxist notions that he learned from James Cone’s theology.

The article goes on to state that not only is Miller disenchanted with the Republican Party, but so are a number of younger church-goers. (Ibid.) If Miller and the author of the article mean younger emergent church-goers, then it’s completely understandable. If he means the run of the mill, garden variety young person, I’m not so certain. I have quite a bit of contact with young church-goers—our congregation is full of them—and I don’t hear the same kinds of sounds. I do, however, hear them from Miller, McLaren, Wallis, some in academia, Bell, Chalke, Burke, and the emergent tribe, but not from others. Reading articles like this almost gives one the impression that every young person in Christianity has joined the Evangelical Left, but that is simply not the case—thankfully. Although admittedly, I believe Tooley is acting strictly as a journalist for The Weekly Standard. On the other hand, it is true that Miller and his ilk is garnering a following.

But when I talk to young people about various ethical issues, they are not as certain as Miller is that “the presidency ‘doesn’t have much power’ over abortion.” Really? We realize that the abortion issue is above Mr. O’Bama’s pay grade (is it still?), but the power part is up for grabs. Whether you and I agree or not, Miller is convinced that “The Republican ‘mindset’ of trying to restrict abortion has failed.” (Ibid.) This is yet another example of what I call “the pretence of knowledge” and the “silencing of dissent.” By walking in lockstep with the political left, Miller has fallen right into the leftwing machinery talking points. He’s a Kool-Aid drinker. But if it’s true that the GOP has failed on the abortion issue, what is the solution? According to Miller, the solution is the Democratic Party “with their concern for the ‘marginalized and the oppressed and the poor.’” (Ibid.) This sounds just like McLaren and Wallis—Yoder and Gushee as well.[1] Tooley reports that “In justifying support of Obama, the ‘emergents’ and others on the Evangelical Left minimize abortion and same-sex marriage as politically motivating issues for evangelicals.” (Ibid.) This begs the question: How can that be? That is to say, how can crucial ethical issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage not be politically motivating the Christians? If a believer is in possession of even a modicum of scriptural truth and discernment, abortion must be repugnant and unacceptable to him or her. Only an unbeliever (Neo-pagan) or incredibly ignorant or liberal Christian would find abortion acceptable. The same is true of the biblical teaching on same-sex marriage.

Let’s make it and keep it simple: In Genesis 1:26-28, God sovereignly creates man as male and female. He gives them dominion (thinking God’s thoughts after him) and teaches them about labor, the Sabbath, and marriage—and marriage. Then the Lord lovingly planted a garden and placed the man in it (cf. Gen. 2:8). God brought Eve to Adam, which is clear that God gives husband and wife to each other. Verse 24 clearly states, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (ESV) What is unclear about God’s words? If the Genesis account is so unclear for some, then Jesus cites Genesis 2:24 in his teaching about divorce in Matthew’s gospel (Matt. 19:3-6). And as if this were not enough, the apostle Paul cites it in Ephesians 5:31, stating in verse 32 that the verse not only applies to marriage, but also to Christ and his Church. What is unclear?

Miller, the article continues, used to be Southern Baptist, but now attends a “socially conscious church” in Seattle. This is tantamount to attending an “open and affirming” church. What does it matter if the church is “socially conscious” if it is not “biblically conscious”? If there is no Scripture to back up your stance, either in the Christian faith or in politics, what is the point? For example, if Scripture is clear on abortion and the sanctity of life—and it is—how can Christians then vote for anyone who is pro-choice? It is not as if God thought abortion was adiaphorous. The same holds for same-sex marriage. This approach sounds more like a huge accommodation to culture, since the Evangelical Left realizes how radically left modern culture actually is. And—and—the emergents also realize that if they do not give our Neo-pagan culture everything it wants, it will walk away from them. Just how naïve is the emergent church when it comes to social and cultural issues? Do they really think that the Neo-barbarians are going to concede any ground? In addition, this is the blueprint that McLaren laid out early on in A Generous Orthodoxy and has gradually put into practice as he’s moved forward. Why wasn’t anyone listening? The seeds of disdain for Scripture and our rich theological heritage are in that book, as is McLaren’s stance on homosexuality, and universalism. His later theological regressions have merely been outcroppings of his original theses. For the theological world not to have listened to what McLaren said in AGO, is just about the same thing that politicians did when O’Bama was campaigning for president. Few paid any attention and almost no one was willing to listen to him because they were enthralled with O’Bama’s facility with the teleprompter and not with the content of what he was saying. Now O’Bama’s implementing all he talked about and the political hacks and pundits act surprised.

Miller opines that the Democrats have a concern for “marginalized and the oppressed and the poor…” Really? Or is this “concern” only window dressing? Here is what I mean: I’ve addressed the poverty situation in previous Ethos issues and one of the points that I made then is that in the United States today, the real poverty level is at about 1%. In fact, it has hovered around 1% irrespective of whether Democrats or Republicans were in power. But Miller is not done yet. He further believes that the Democrat Party will create “better social conditions so that less women are put in situations where they feel like they need to have an abortion.”

Is Miller saying what I think he’s saying? Is he saying that abortion is a poverty or low-income problem? If he is, he’s wrong and, if the shoe were on the other foot, he might be accused of being a bigot and uncaring. Abortion is not dependent upon income status or education. Neo-pagan women and Christian women (how can this be?) who get abortions come from the super-wealthy to the homeless. If Miller wants to make his case, he’s going to have to do a lot better than this.

In our next installment, we’ll take a look at Miller’s background growing up, because as we all know, we’re all victims these days. As just a forewarning, you’re going to hear the type of whining that both McLaren and Wallis use as well.

[1] See David Gushee, The Future of Faith in American Politics, (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008); Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2007); Jim Wallis, God’s Politics, (San Francisco: Harper, 2005); & John Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 11942).