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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Politics in the Pulpit

Do politics and religion mix? They already have.

On numerous occasions, Sen. Danforth has expressed concern that the “Republican Party has been taken over by something that it’s not” . Who does Danforth suggest has taken over? Bible believing Christians. But Danforth wagers that the alliance between Christians and “traditional” Republicans will not last: “The more people think about it, the more people will resist it. People do not want a sectarian political party…” Danforth feels comfortable preaching his religious view—that Christianity is not tolerant enough to guide public policy—but has plenty of faith in his own “traditional” ideals.

History itself consists of moral agendas contending for the hearts and minds of the people. One such example is the many abolitionists who were unwilling to compromise the rights of slaves. With Christian convictions, these heroes advocated a moral agenda unaccepted by many. But Danforth is not suggesting that people with conviction do not promote their beliefs, he is suggesting he does not want to belong to a party that promotes Christian ideals when they conflict with his agenda. Danforth worked with Christians during his ambassadorship to Sudan and the fight to get Clarence Thomas confirmed to the Supreme Court. He knows that politics and religion mix, because in the past Christians have gone the extra mile for Republican candidates. What Danforth does not want is Christian ethics to mixing with a vaguely defined, middle-of-the-road politics as usual position if produces less fundraising dollars, less party seats, less raw political power in the hands of the political elites.

The notion that politics and religion should not mix results in legal positivism. Talent’s decision to support the use of human life for research is an example of legal positivism. Legal positivism is a philosophy of law in which there is no connection between law and justice; a law is just because the public supports it. Both Gov. Blunt and Sen. Talent have come out in favor embryonic stem cell research for fear of losing the cherished “moderate” voters and special interest groups support. Talent's decision to remove his support for a Federal ban on human cloning should make us ponder not whether a Christian ethic should guide public policy, but why Missouri lawmakers are compromising the moral convictions of Missourians.

It is not a question of whether politics and religion should mix, but which religious ideals should and are being promoted. A Christian definition of life is that life begins at fertilization. The protection of life is not a sectarian ideal; it is in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Those who define life based upon convenience or profitability of research and patents are mixing their own personal beliefs with politics as much as anyone. Danforth wants Christian values out of the Republican party. I'm just wondering if Christians will put up a fight, give in and vote Republican anyway, or find candidates that truely represent biblical values across the board--even if those ideals fail to represent the majority.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

My “Personal” Salvation

Can I receive salvation apart from other people? I often find myself caught up in my own spiritual wellbeing without a great effort to aid or real concern for others' spiritual wellbeing.

Often the notion of our one-on-one relationship with Christ over shadows the greater purpose of God’s communion with us. Christ is taking his people somewhere, and we can’t get there by ourselves.

Hebrews 11

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provide something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect” (11:40).

Who are “all these”?

They are the men and women of faith: “By faith Abel...By faith Abraham….By faith Sarah…” and others (11:4,8,11).

Who is God providing something better for? The Church, which of course includes me, but certainly not only me.

Can those who are recognized as great men and women of faith recieve the fullness of God's promises without believers living today and in the future? No.

Abraham’s obedience was credited to him as righteousness. He obeyed God and left his home “looking forward to the city” that God was building (11:10). Today, those who have faith Jesus, forsake the rules of the world, and become foreigners to postmodern culture and strangers to commercialism like Abraham became an exile in his own land. Believers “make it clear that they are seeking a homeland” (11:14). But like Abraham, we must not look back at our former way of living: "[i]f they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return” (11:15).

Why is it they didn’t look back? “But as it is, they desire a better country that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (11:15-16) .

In Hebrews 13, we get another glimpse of the City. Jesus was crucified outside of the city of Jerusalem. Why? The Jewish leaders emphasized their rejection of Christ by crucifying him “outside the camp” (11:11). Also, by tradition, the high priest preformed the atonement sacrifices outside of the camp, and since Jesus is our atoning sacrifice, he was crucified outside of the city. “Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (11:13-14).

WE, all believers, live in a city, but we also seeking a city that is to come, who’s builder and designer is God. And that city cannot—by definition—be just God and one person.

Our faith, like that of our forefathers, is shaped by those who came before and are around us now. We have an individual responsibility to seek God, but love for God, includes loving all those in communion with him. A lesson I’m still learning.

(These thoughts came from prompts and a class discussion led by Doug Hon.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Love for Doctrine

Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; it is not apprehended by the intellect and memory merely, like other branches of learning; but it is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recess of the heart.

~ John Calvin

In today's culture, Calvin's statement is quite relevant. Not because of intellectualism in the Church, but because of a lack of doctrine itself. Calvin underscores doctrines true function, but as I look around, I see little doctrine being taught at all. Sometimes, I even detect a negative conotation attached to word "doctrine." Osmosis of biblical doctrine into the uttermost regions of the spirit will only occur when there is doctrine to absorb.

Oh, there is much work for the Chruch ahead. God is sovreign, and I am excited to see how God will use America for his purposes. It is times like these that we see God's power and strength.

I pray that Christians today would fall in love with God’s Word, that they would seek the Word when they arise and when they retire at night. I pray that more books on God’s Word than personal growth and personal success will be published in 2006. Lord God, put your law on our hearts and our minds. Raise up leaders that will warn the nation that You are serious about your law.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
Hosea 4:6

Friday, February 17, 2006

Stem Cell Research and the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures Petition

Too Many Fine Lines

There are several pints that seem to be fading into the background as various groups and leaders draw fine lines between acceptable and unacceptable types of stem cell research.

First, there is clear difference between adult and embryonic stem cell research. The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures ballot initiative makes no distinction between different types of stem cell research. Thus accepting initiative would forever seal in the Missouri Constitution a shelter for any type of stem cell research regardless of the ethical differences.

Second, SCNT is human cloning; it does not matter whether sperm is involved if the result is human. Dr. James Thompson, the first researcher to cultivate human embryonic cells, states that it is “disingenuous” to define away that SCNT results in a human embryo. The MCLC’s initiative does not help Missourians understand the connection between SCNT and human cloning.

Thirdly, the ability of the scientist to genetically alter embryos to make it impossible for the embryo to implant in a uterus for further development does not make the embryo less human or less alive—just disabled.

Most importantly, the major evidence backing the impetuousness for embryonic stem cell research is speculative. What has been confirmed is the constant tendency for embryonic stem cells to form tumors and to display chromosomal abnormalities. The alleged great advance by South Korean scientist Hwang Woo Suk’s study is fraudulent.

The amalgamation of fine nuances of these complex scientific research techniques and ethical concerns should stir Missourians to do some crucial research of their own before they sign the MCLC’s petition. A constitutional amendment will end a debate that few Missourians thoroughly understand. All sides agree lives are at stake. Don’t’ sign the petition!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006