Wall Street Journal Analysis

“The truth is that, more than we like to admit, polls consistently show a correlation between race and ideology in American society. White voters, as a group, are more likely to favor a limited role for government here at home and a more aggressive posture overseas. In general, polls show Democrats — and a disproportionate share of black voters — favor a smaller, less adventurous military and a larger role for government on the domestic front.


Jesus People Phase II


They are neither left nor right but only deeper. They bang drums and drive a “Jesus For President” bus that burns vegetable oil. They care about abortion, and homosexual marriage but they also care about poverty, the environment and social justice. They are the next generation of evangelicals. Experts are prognosticating that their influence will diversify the evangelical vote in the 2008 election cycle.

I think they are the grandchildren of the original Jesus people.

The Doctor Makes A Housecall — Chatting w/ Dr. R. Scott Clark

The esteemed Dr. R. Scott has decided to visit IronInk and leave commentary. It should be immediately noted how thrilled I am with the venerable Doctor’s visitation. It is not often that a gentleman of such stature visits humble environs such as IronInk and so we are pleased to welcome him to our domicile and hope that he will think himself free to come again with his friends for future visits. We all have a great opportunity to learn in this exchange.

Below I interact with some of his gracious comments. We still do not agree but I trust that the readers will find our disagreements anything but disagreeable.

”There’s no incipient dualism in the two-kingdoms ethic, it’s full-blooded, self-conscious dualism! It’s the same sort of dualism one finds in the apostle Paul and our Lord Jesus who distinguished between “this age” and “the age to come” and the “the kingdoms of this world” and “the kingdom of God.” Not all dualisms are of the Platonic/Ontic sort. There is a proper, Christian body/soul dualism. That’s the same thing as a spirit-matter dualism — which is sub-Christian because it denies the goodness of created matter.”

First, in order to clear things up I think Dr. R. Scott Clark meant to have a negation between the word “That’s” and the word “the” in the last sentence. I think it is supposed to read, “That’s not the same thing as a spirit-matter dualism…” Still, it is possible that it was some kind of Freudian slip and that Dr. R. Scott Clark spoke the truth that what he is advocating is indeed “the same thing as a spirit-matter dualism – which is sub-Christian because it denies the goodness of created matter.”

Second, I find no full blooded self-conscious dualism at all in the Apostle Paul or in our mutual Lord Jesus. When Jesus distinguished between “this age” and “the age to come” he wasn’t positing two realities that were hermetically sealed off from one another. Dr. R. Scott Clark seems to be positing the Reformed anti-thesis between “This age” and “The age to come” as if the transforming of this “present wicked age” by the “age to come” is impossible. The evidence that the “age to come” is present in this present wicked age is found in passages like Colossian 1:13-14 where the Colossians are told that “they have been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the Kingdom of the Son of God’s Love.” Here is a passage that reveals that even now believers are living in the “age to come.”

With the Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Session of Jesus the “age to come” has arrived. Now, to be sure, there remains a “not yet” component to the “nowness” of the “age to come,” but certainly there can be no thinking that the “age to come” is hermetically sealed off from believers to some future point and I see no reasoning in the Scriptures that lead us to believe that the “age to come” is only located in the Church. Such thinking would reveal a under-realized eschatology.

Christ has brought the “age to come” and has placed us in it. By the proclamation of the Gospel by Christ’s “age to come” people the Gospel goes triumphantly forward with the result that the present “age to come” continues to overcome “this present evil age.” With the death of Jesus the strong man who is the king of “this present evil age” as been bound and Jesus is now, through the obedience of His people, pillaging the belongings of the strong man so that eventually the Kingdoms of this world which already belong to Christ shall become the Kingdoms of our Christ. We know this will happen because all authority has been given to King Christ in heaven and earth and He has instructed us to pray that “His Kingdom come and His (“age to come”) will be done on earth (not just in the Church) as it is in heaven.”

Look, God’s people have been saved with an “age to come” salvation. That “age to come” salvation affects all of our living in this present wicked age. This is why we can be told to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. “Age to come” people think different thoughts then people who belong to this “present wicked age,” because they begin and end all of their thinking in all areas of life with the God of the Bible. Scripture teaches God’s “age to come” people are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. Are we to believe that the call to be transformed is somehow limited to being transformed every place except the public square which is to remain part of “this present wicked age” until the hermetically sealed off “age to come” arrives?

Second, I can’t agree with Dr. R. Scott Clark about the body-soul dualism. Certainly, I agree that we have to make a important and necessary distinction between body-soul but to say that a dualism exists between body and soul is a bridge to far. I prefer to speak of the body-soul being part of a modified uni-chotomy. This is an important disagreement to note for the difference between insisting that a body-soul dualism exists and insisting that man is a modified unichotomy is a difference that finds itself expressing itself in our differences between the relations of “this present evil age” and “the age to come.” That can be seen in what has been already advanced. I am arguing for a distinction between “this present age” and “age to come” seeing that we need to speak of a modified unity here that allows for clear distinctions without involving ourselves in the error of collapsing the two into one another. Dr. R. Scott Clark seems to be arguing for a hard and fast dualism between “this present age” and “the age to come,” thus not allowing for any eschatological perichoresis between the two.

”As to individuals v the church and social transformation. As far as I am concerned Christians as private persons may form non-ecclesiastical societies to achieve any number of admirable ends. The church as the visible, institutional society, however, instituted by Christ has three marks: the pure preaching of the gospel, the pure administration of the sacraments, and the administration of church discipline.”

First, I quite agree with the three marks. I would say that under the first mark is included the preaching of God’s whole counsel which would include speaking to cultural issues where God’s work speaks to those cultural issues. So, we have agreement here.

Second, I also agree about non-ecclesiastical societies. What I don’t agree on is that the Church has no role to speak when non-ecclesiastical societies war with one another. Let us say that there is a non-ecclesiastical society formed to advance the cause of “Christian” socialism in our country. Another non-ecclesiastical society organizes to advance the cause of some form of “Christian” Fascism in our country. Now the Church ought to be able to be a voice that authoritatively shows, from the Scriptures, why both are wrong, going on to speak to what God’s word has declared about Biblical economics and Biblical government.

Christ came to save all of man – body and soul – and to think that preaching only applies to man’s soul or to his personal ethic misses the wholeness of the salvation that Christ came to bring.

”There’s no reason why the church as such must be engaged in social transformation any more than may result in the preaching of the holy gospel. The outcome of the preaching of the gospel and the administration of sacraments and discipline belongs to the Spirit and to most a-millennialists there is no promise of massive social/cultural transformation. We may be wrong. If so, praise God. The major issue is to see that the church as such is focused on those three things for which she has a explicit commission.”

Again, I quite agree. Our difference lies in what we understand to be “explicitly commissioned.” Jesus commissioned his royal courtiers to teach the peoples to “observe all things wherein I have commanded you.” I take the “all things” to be far broader than you take the “all things.” This is especially so when you consider that Jesus said that he did not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets. As you know these were men who were consumed with what justice looked like in the public square. These were men who longed to see social / cultural transformation. It is my conviction that Scriptures teach that Jesus came to bring an “age to come” salvation that works like leaven to bring about social and cultural transformation in this present evil age.

”One more time: Christians as private persons, not necessarily only as individuals, may form societies to achieve desirable ends. They ought, however, not to enlist the visible church as an entity to accomplish anything other than that required by the Lord.”

I offer my thanks to Dr. R. Scott Clark for re-articulating his basic convictions. As I am a person who is kind of slow, it is important for smart people to repeat themselves to me so I can catch what they are saying. Still, even after hearing this basic commitment re-articulated I can not agree with it.

Even if you put people into non-ecclesiastical societies it does not solve the problem of creating an ‘each man (or non-ecclesiastical society) doing what is right in their own eyes. In your arrangement there remains no “Thus Saith The Lord” in order to adjudicate between competing non-ecclesiastical societies. All we are left with is opinions. Should homosexual marriage be allowed? The non-ecclesiastical society formed by soon to be Dr. Lee Irons and his lovely wife Misty say’s “yes.” The non-ecclesiastical society formed by Mark Chambers says “no.” Who is to decide? By your reasoning there is no answer that can be considered absolute. By your reasoning the Church is forbidden to speak to that issue and a host of others. By your reasoning we are left adrift on the sea of Natural law subjectivism.

And the really ironic thing Bob is the more the Church refuses to speak to what God’s word clearly speaks to the more the culture insists that we should keep our mouths shut about everything. The political conversation today, as seen again in the latest dust-up between B. Hussein Obama and Dr. James Dobson reduces to the ability to be able to authoritatively say whether or not there is a right and wrong that all people must adhere to and your advice is that the Church can’t speak to that question because it is political.

That may sell in Escondido Dr. R. Scott Clark, but it isn’t going to get off the ground in these parts.

Fisking Obama On Religion — Helping Dobson

In 2006 B. Hussein Obama decided to display his brilliant knowledge of Biblical hermeneutics in the public square. Recently, James Dobson, took issue with Obama.

Here I interact a little with the speech that Obama gave that Dobson criticized.

“While I’ve already laid out some of the work that progressive leaders need to do, I want to talk a little bit about what conservative leaders need to do – some truths they need to acknowledge.

For one, they need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn’t want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves. It was the forbearers of the evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they did not want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.”

First off B. Hussein Obama fails to tell us how he understands “the separation of church and state.” He seems to imply the understanding that the 1st amendment guaranteed that none of the States could have an established church. Quite to the contrary the 1st amendment only held that the Federal government could not impose a established church on the States. The phrase “Separation of Church and State” is nowhere found in America’s founding documents. It was a phrase lifted from a letter by Thomas Jefferson that was largely forgotten until the mid 19th century, only being appealed to as having some kind of nebulous force of law in a Supreme court decision in the 20th century.

Second, B. Hussein Obama is correct in identifying the Baptists as the ones who introduced the heresy of putative religious neutrality into the American framework. Now we must admit that this putative religious neutrality had a sanguine effect in America for it allowed Protestant Christians (and a few Roman Catholics) to build a civilization and a culture in America without internecine religious warfare. What this 18th century thinking allowed was for a Nation to be theologically Christian without being denominationally prescriptive. This innovative thinking worked for as long as it did in these United States in part due to the reason that there was so much room to spread out. Plenty of space goes a long way towards tolerating your wacky Methodist or Congregationalist or Presbyterian neighbors.

However, admitting that a Christian Nation could work in the context of denominational pluralism is a far cry from admitting that a Multi-Cultural Nation can work in the context of religious pluralism. It is one thing to build a Christian culture that is elastic and flexible enough to include Campbellites, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Quakers, Dunkers, Congregationalists and other assorted denominational nuts and bolts, it is quite another thing to build a culture that can contain and survive Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and God only knows what else. The former arrangement allowed for a “sweet spot” where all of the different Christian faith traditions could find common ground and stand together. The latter arrangement will not and can not yield the same kind of “sweet spot,” because there is such an inherent anti-thesis in the varied religious expressions.

So B. Hussein Obama is right in his Baptist bit analysis but he is wrong for suggesting that the application still applies.

Third, note how B. Hussein Obama injects slavery into this argument. Is Obama subtly suggesting that those who disagree with him on this issue have a slave master mentality?

“Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”

Unfortunately this is probably true. The implications of this, in my estimation, is that the nation will only be able to be held together by force. A multi-religious, multi-cultural nation can only be ruled in a strong arm fashion since no natural bonds of commonality can be achieved. Where there is a multi-religious and multi-cultural nation there can be no common literature to bind people, no common music to bind people, no common worship to bind people, no common traditions to bind people, and no common worldview to bind people. All that is left is force of arms with the State becoming god.

The dangers of sectarianism are far greater than even B. Hussein Obama realizes and his solution to fix sectarianism by feeding and coddling it will only increase the dangers.

“And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.”

Answer to the questions in order that they are asked above.

1.) The Bibles
2.) Neither
3.) All of them (I think Obama is implying the Bible contradicts itself here)
4.) We could go with Ephesians or Philemon that teaches that slavery is ok. Obama hasn’t been reading his bible.
5.) The dietary laws were eclipsed in Acts 10. Obama hasn’t been reading his Bible.
6.) Was God being cruel and unreasonable in requiring this?
7.) Matthew 5-7 must be read against Romans 13. Obama hasn’t been reading his Bible.

Look, the obvious problem is that B. Hussein Obama hasn’t spent any time reading the Bible. All of these objections could have come from a bunch of high school Sophomores. And all of them are reasonably answered with just a little work. But Obama doesn’t want answers. All he wants to do is throw dust in the air and try to confuse the issue. Confusion serves the Obama agenda by allowing him to suggest that since the Bible is unclear good Christian people can vote for him and support his interpretation of Scriptures since his interpretation is as good as anybody else’s.

“This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.”

1.) Why do the demands of Democracy over-rule the demands of God? Who voted to make Democracy God so that its demands trumps all other demands?

2.) For Biblical Christians all of their religion-specific values, are, by definition, universal values. Obama seems to assume that the gods have only parochial concerns that are constrained and limited to the faithful. When the God of the Bible communicates a value it is communicated as universal.

3.) I quite agree that Christian arguments should be amenable to reason, but the question that infidel like Obama and McCain have to answer is, “what standard will be used to adjudicate ‘reason’.” The Christian is glad to subject his convictions to argument and to make them amenable to reason. The question really is whether or not the infidel will submit to arguments that are universal and reason that is accessible to all.

4.) Christians must beware being snookered into accepting standards for reason that are amenable to pagans. The pagan will insist every time that his autonomous standards for what constitutes “reason” must be accepted unilaterally. We must remember that if we start with the infidel’s presuppositions we will end with their conclusions.

5.) Obama is correct that we cannot simply “evoke God’s will,” as if that will settle an argument in a pagan culture. We must indeed show why abortion (to use his example) is a universal evil. But in the end we need to realize that it is precisely because God’s will is what it is that we argue the way that we argue, just as it is the case that when people like Obama argue that abortion is a universal good they are arguing the way they are arguing because their god’s will is what it is. All argumentation begins and ends with some will of some god.

6.) The last sentence in the blockquote above is pure nonsense. In a multi-religious and multi-cultural society the ability to find a least common denominator consensus evaporates. Dobson was spot on to bludgeon Obama on this score.

Secondly, on this score, if Christians “have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all,” then why don’t infidel have to have to explain why abortion doesn’t violate some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all,” before it is implemented?

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.

Again, Obama assumes that the standards of a pluralistic democracy trump the standards of the God of the Bible. What not R2Kt infected Christian would say this?

Second, it is clear from the quote above that Democracy, or some form of it is Obama’s God. Democracy does not allow for compromise on his principle that traditional believers must compromise. When Democracy speaks then followers are expected to live up to its edicts regardless of the consequences.

Dobson was right to attack Obama. If B. Hussein Obama’s interpretation of the constitution partakes of a fruitcake quality it is only because Obama himself is fruitcakey. Though Dobson was right to say that Obama is dragging Biblical understanding through the gutter he should be more concerned that this kind of ignorance actually convinces people.

Why Conspiracy Theories Should Exist

In what is already old news last week in Michigan two Muslim women at Barack Obama’s rally were barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent the women’s head scarves from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.

We already know how all of political theater manages the ‘news.’ Images are arranged to communicate a particular spin. Language is chosen to leave just the right impression. The point that I want to develop here is that given how all of what we see and hear is micro-managed in order to produce a particular (I almost and perhaps should have said “theatrical) effect it should not be any surprised that people believe in conspiracy theories nor is there any reason not to believe in conspiracy theories.

Look, when you are forced to ask how it is that the handlers are trying to manipulate you in everything you see and hear in the media a person would be a fool to not believe that there always exists a real reality behind the psuedo reality that is being produced and manufactured on stage. If John Q. Public is cynical about what he is told its only because John Q. Media and John Q. Public Official has worked in such a way to make him so. After Lyndon “Gulf of Tonkin” Johnson, after Richard “I’m not a crook” Nixon, after Gerald “I didn’t promise Nixon a pardon in order to be president” Ford, after Ronald “You mean we were trading arms for hostages” Reagan, after Bill “I never had sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky” Clinton and after George “You mean there weren’t weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” Bush we would be fools to not believe in conspiracy theories. We would be fools to not believe that things are other then what we see and what we are told. Barack Obama’s manufacturing and creating an alternate reality by manipulating the photo op image is just one small example why a wise person is always looking for the conspiracy.

So, no more lectures from the elites on the weakness of the American character for readily believing conspiracy theories. When people begin giving us the unvarnished truth I suppose people will quit looking for “the real truth.” If we are going to continued to be lied to then we should have the privilege of trying to discern the real reason why we are being told what we are being told.

For those who desire to see a film representation of what I am talking about I encourage you to go rent “Wag the Dog.” Certainly, it is fictitious and it is exaggerated but if anybody doubts the existence of the spinning and the spin-masters (i.e. — lying and liars) in Washington and in all Media that is represented in that movie you really need to lose your virginity on this issue. We are lied to, and we are spun so often by the chattering class and by everybody in the game one would have to believe in conspiracy theories in order to believe we were being told the truth.

Still, we must not get hung up on or consumed by conspiracy theories for in the end God is sovereign and His truth will win out. Men can spin all they want but they will never be able to spin God and they will never be able to frustrate the truth He desires advanced. So, in the end we believe in conspiracies because we have good evidence that we are being manipulated but we don’t act as if God is being frustrated by the spin or the manipulation behind the conspiracy. We must remember that God is in heaven holding the spinners and conspirators in derision and is laughing at them (Psalm 2).