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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 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).



Blogger randy buist said...

FYI - Abortion rates have dropped during the presidency of democrats over the past two decades, and they have risen during the presidency of republicans.

While abortion isn't a rich or poor thing, a disproportionate number of the poor seek abortions as compared to those making over 100K a year.

10:14 PM  
Blogger randy buist said...

By the way, while you don't know who has more integrity... have you heard about the honesty of our former v.p.? Talking about a piece of work...

10:16 PM  
Blogger wordsmith said...

Obama's honesty leaves a lot to be desired. Anyone who believes what he says is naive at best.

Talk about a piece of work...

9:55 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Appreciate the statistics about abortion.
Here are some more. In the 86 years between 1882 and 1968,
3,446 Blacks were lynched in the U.S. That number is surpassed in less than 3 days by abortion.

1,452 African-American children are killed each day by abortion.

3 out of 5 pregnant African-American women will abort their child.

Since 1973 there have been over 13 million Black children killed and their mothers victimized by the U.S. abortion industry.

As for the dishonesty of politicians, with the exception of Dr. Ron Paul, I don't think there would be a lot of disagreement.

12:03 PM  
Blogger ScottO said...

Nice assertion that in and of itself is not relevant to the article but is as usual devoid of any facts.

1. The rate of abortions has both increased and decreased regardless of whom is in the White House. But the rate has decreased under Republican presidents as well as Bill Clinton which is the only Democratic president that you have included in your data set, which only started to occur when another significant event occurred during his presidency. The rate increased during the Nixon, Ford and Carter years. No big surprise there since the court decision was made in 1973. The rate stayed essentially flat through Reagan (1st term) and started to decrease during Reagan (2nd term) and Bush (41). During Clinton they stayed again essentially flat until the 1994 Republican changeover in the House and Senate. After which the abortion rate started to drop again through Bush (43). The large drop in reported numbers in 1998 is because 2-4 states stopped reporting the number of abortions particularly California, but I am sure you would be willing to accept that the decreasing trend continued. I have included the numbers from the CDC below. The ratio is the number of abortions per 1000 births.

2. Based on the numbers above/below then the Religious Right which came to being during the Carter Reagan years should be given the earthly credit for the reduction in numbers since it was their policies and work influencing pro-life/anti-abortion congressman and senators to enter the races that were elected in 1994. It is through God's efforts through them that the abortion rate decreased as minimally as it has. What this shows is that D. James Kennedy, Schaeffer, McIntire, and other Presbyterians on the RR were correct and able to influence the political landscape and the culture. The tactical error that they made was that they did not work hard enough to bring up the next generation of God fearing and civic minded Christians leaders to carry the mantle.

3. The CDC and the states do not keep or collect numbers on the finances of the women receiving abortions so any assertions on whether there are more getting abortions that are poor than those with some means is speculative. For instance a young 17 year old getting an abortion would technically be poor but living with parents that make $500,000 a year, she is certainly not poor. But we do know on an anecdotal basis that women of all levels of income can get and do receive abortions. One only needs to do a quick search of women writing of either regretting their abortion from the right or celebrating their abortion from the left and these women freely disclose that they were not of limited means by any stretch of the imagination.

4. So based on the facts I am sure you are now ready to get behind Dr. Gleason as he tries to raise and influence more God-fearing, Biblical, Doctrinal, Confessional Christians to influence culture and expand the sphere of Christ's influence.

Year Abortions Ratio Pres Sen Hs
1970 193,491 52 R D D
1971 485,816 137 R D D
1972 586,760 180 R D D
1973 615,831 196 R D D
1974 763,476 242 R D D
1975 854,853 272 R D D
1976 988,267 312 R D D
1977 1,079,430 325 D D D
1978 1,157,776 347 D D D
1979 1,251,921 358 D D D
1980 1,297,606 359 D D D
1981 1,300,760 358 R R D
1982 1,303,980 354 R R D
1983 1,268,987 349 R R D
1984 1,333,521 364 R R D
1985 1,328,570 354 R R D
1986 1,328,112 354 R D D
1987 1,353,671 356 R D D
1988 1,371,285 352 R D D
1989 1,396,658 346 R D D
1990 1,429,247 344 R D D
1991 1,368,937 338 R D D
1992 1,359,146 334 R D D
1993 1,330,414 333 D D D
1994 1,267,415 321 D R R
1995 1,210,683 311 D R R
1996 1,225,937 315 D R R
1997 1,186,039 306 D R R
1998 884,273 264 D R R
1999 861,789 256 D R R
2000 857,475 245 D R R
2001 853,485 246 R D R
2002 854,122 246 R D R
2003 848,163 241 R R R
2004 839,226 238 R R R
2005 820,151 233 R R R

1:12 PM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

I am beginning to think Randy should change his name to Non Sequitur.

4:28 PM  
Blogger ScottO said...


As far as your accusation about the lack of honesty of V.P. Cheney that is again an assertion without any argument. If you are going to make the claim provide some proof otherwise this displays a lack of intellectual rigor on your part. Also, I do not think you would appreciate if I turned the tables and used your exact same means of ad hominem assertions against you personally. For instance as illustrated below:

Ron have you heard about the honesty of Randy Buist? Talk about a piece of work...

Only in this case I actually proved above that your claim of abortion rates decreasing only under a Democrat president and rising during the Republican presidents was false. Therefore either you are intentionally lying or ignorant. The big difference is that I provided the proof which obviously you have not on either Ron's integrity or V.P Cheney's honesty.

6:12 PM  
Blogger sister said...

So that's how Geoff got his hairstyle in the 80's... I always thought it was pseudo-punk rock expressionism!

7:44 AM  
Blogger donsands said...

"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."

How about when a Christian says, "I'm pro-life, but we have to face it, we are fighting a cause that hasn't gained any ground. Maybe we need a new way to go. Obama could be that way"?

I heard Dennis Miller say something in this vein.

12:45 PM  
Blogger donsands said...

I mean Donald Miller. Boy!

12:46 PM  
Blogger randy buist said...

Hey ScottO,

Last week, in testimony to the U.S. Congress, our CIA Director revealed that our former V.P. intentionally misled the U.S. Congress.

You can decide if Mr. Cheney is a great follower of Jesus...

As for the abortion rates, I have different numbers that I could choose to publish here... no bother though.


10:50 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

You simply cannot get away from Bush and Cheney can you? How about moving on to Mr. O'Bama and what he's doing now. It's ridiculous to keep harping back to Bush & Cheney, when O'Bama is rushing us headlong into socialism. Any particular comment on that? Talk about a piece of work...

11:56 PM  
Blogger Jim W said...

Someday, Randy will engage an argument with actual facts and not tired rhetoric about his two most hated people (most hated regardless of the topic at hand; they will be mentioned just to ensure we're all well aware of his hatred, and that they're not "REAL CHRISTIANS", as opposed to Christ-follower, like Randy) and I will be able to die a happy (and verrrrry old) man. Anybody taking any odds on me dieing old and happy?

5:49 AM  
Blogger ScottO said...


Again you are producing an assertion with no proof. You automatically accept an accusation against someone that you disagree or dislike as proof because it fits your narrative and presuppositions. You have operated under the same modus operandi in comments on other articles on this blog. Let us take a moment and deal with the specifics of your assertion:

1. If one were to accept the Democrat line on Panetta's testimony it is that Cheney ordered that the CIA not disclose to Congress its secret development program "to kill or capture Al Quaida leaders". Where is the lie? Cheney did not lie or mislead Congress neither did the previous CIA directors.

2. If one were to accept the Republican line on his testimony it is that Cheney told the CIA that it was not necessary to disclose the program to Congress because of a legal finding that the research into and preparation for the program did not constitute a significant enough of a threshold to inform Congress. From their perspective Congress does not need to be informed until the program was ready to be active and the presidential orders against targeted assassinations are rescinded or waved. Again where is the lie? Cheney did not lie or mislead Congress neither did the previous CIA directors.

3. Congress themselves in a joint resolution resolved "That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons." Therefore Congress already by virtue of their resolution authorized the executive branch to not only investigate targeted attacks by the CIA and other agencies against Al Quaida but to perform the same.

4. I made no such claim that VP Cheney was a great follower of Jesus. The question is whether Cheney has been honest. Stay on topic.

5. If you have more accurate abortion rate numbers than the CDC and the states please publish otherwise we can and will assume that they are figment of your imagination to fit your narrative and presuppositions.

You seem to keep coming back to this "follower of Jesus" line whenever you get painted into a corner and throw it out. Let me ask you this, would a follower of Jesus make unsubstantiated accusations and assertions against anyone even those they disagree with? Did Jesus act in this manner? If so provide the proof.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Very good presentation, but substantially above Randy's pay and intelligence grade.

8:46 AM  
Blogger IceDawg said...

Hey! No need to bring up painful memories Sister! There's been a lot of money spent on counseling to get me past those dreadfully painful historical chapters of my life...


2:43 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Btw, thanks for making my point so clearly. You so-called evangelicals on the Left are just as much, if not more, rabid than the conservative Right you criticize.
How in the world you could read my article and come back with such a mindless, senseless retort as the one about Cheney would be laughable if it weren't so sad.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Solameanie said...

I have to add one other thing. Just what would have been Cheney's statutory authority to give such an order? The vice president's main Constitutional role is to serve as president of the Senate and to take over the presidency. That's it. He may also undertake certain functions and duties as directed by the president. Has anyone proven that President Bush gave Dick Cheney authority to issue such orders?

I am not necessarily saying that it didn't happen, but I have a hard time with this Darth Vader or Svengali image people have given Dick Cheney. Outside of the chattering media class, I'd like to see some hard proof that Cheney was really running the show. Influence, yes. Running things? No.

7:17 PM  
Blogger sister said...


I hope your response was intended to be facetious. Only good-natured ribbing was intended.

12:21 PM  

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