Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cur Deus What?

I’m Anselm, who are you? There’s a fun little quiz I found out there in cyberspace. It asks some questions and then tells you which figure from church history you are most like. Goodness, I hadn’t heard of Anselm for a long time. According to the quiz:

Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period. He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?

After shaking some cobwebs out of my brain, I remembered (vaguely) my theological training. Anselm’s famous phrase, aliquid quod maius non cogitari potest, came to mind ("that than which nothing greater can be conceived"). And if you think I remembered it in Latin, well…well…let’s just leave you to your thoughts. Anselm’s ontological argument always seemed way too philosophical for my liking; but I did appreciate his passion apologetic streak. Anselm of Canterbury was no lightweight. His brilliant shredding of arguments opposed to God’s existence and his understanding of other theological matters helped from the church out of the church ages and set the stage for the Reformation.

For what it’s worth, I scored “Jonathon Edwards” as my runner up. Hey, now there’s a guy I wouldn’t mind being labeled with. He’s regarded by many historians as America’s greatest theologian, you know.

You can take the quiz here and here is my complete scorecard.

Anselm 87%
Jonathan Edwards 73%
Martin Luther 67%
Karl Barth 67%
John Calvin 67%
J. Moltmann 53%
Charles Finney 47%
Paul Tillich 33%
Friedrich Schleiermacher 33%
Augustine 20%

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Who Would’ve Thunk It?

The Missouri Court of Appeals Western District just sent out their ruling regarding the proposed human cloning initiative petition. We expected this ruling…even along with the dissenting vote (it was a 2-1 decision—Judges Howard and Holliger with the majority). Judge Smart (what a name for someone who sides with you) wrote a great dissenting opinion that is worth reading. The entire ruling can be read here. Here’s his conclusion:

There is evidence that a significant number of people will be uncertain about what is meant by "human cloning" when they see the ballot title. Of course, newspaper articles and other information sources will help inform some. The Secretary's "fair ballot language summaries" prepared pursuant to section 116.025 (and posted in polling places) should also help,(FN3) but there is no evidence that very many people will see them. Although judicial intervention in the initiative process must be cautiously exercised, I cannot ignore an ambiguity that is easily curable, with minimal intervention, so that it will give voters a summary less likely to prejudice the vote.

The record shows that the ambiguity could be sufficiently cured for voting purposes simply by the addition of a word. I would suggest the word that usually comes up in this context -- the modifier "reproductive," a word used by the MCLC itself in its brochure. I believe the modifier "reproductive" would help alleviate the ambiguity because it would allow the inference that "stem cell research" would include the use of cloning to produce stem cells for research purposes, but not for purposes of trying to create a human version of Dolly, the sheep.

The use of the adjective "reproductive" would allow it to be said that all voters -- whether favoring the viewpoint of the MCLC or the MAHC or having some other viewpoint -- are more likely to cast a free, intelligent, and informed vote -- one not prejudiced by misunderstanding. In my view, the change would achieve a proper balance between constitutional objectives by protecting a citizen's valuable right to place initiatives on the ballot without undue interference, and the right of the voting citizens of this state to have a relatively clear idea as to what they are voting on. Accordingly, while I would not de-certify the summary for petition purposes, I would require the addition of a clarifying adjective to the ballot so that the vote on this important measure better captures the actual desires of the electorate.
So, it’s on to the Supreme Court where we’ll be asking yet once again for some common sense in judicial interpretations. Hopefully, the Supremes (leaning liberal) will surprise us with some good ole’ Missouri legal acumen. Better yet, maybe God will surprise us. We must have His intervention or all is lost.

Baylor Squashes Conservative Professor

Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university, has denied tenure to one of its ablest professors, Francis Beckwith, seemingly because he’s too conservative for the liberal school. Rod Dreher, writing for the Dallas Morning News, states:

Dr. Beckwith, a distinguished philosopher, has what academic insiders tell me is a stellar publication record. He is nationally renown. He is also -- and I suspect this is what did him in at Baylor -- openly conservative. The fact that a Baptist university cannot bring itself to award tenure to a scholar of Dr. Beckwith's stature is scandalous -- and will cause shock waves beyond Waco.

Joseph Bottom, over at First Things writes a bit more eloquently and exhaustively on what is really going on at Baylor. You can read that here.

Beckwith’s pro-life views, coupled with his respect for Intelligent Design, have no doubt been too much for Baylor’s PC advocates. Despite what you hear from liberals about “openness” and “academic freedom” they are zealous about squashing dissent from liberalism. Dr. Beckwith is the latest casualty from their crusade against truth.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Official Responses Miss the Mark… “Unresolved” Says It All

The story of Abdul Rahman’s arrest in Afghanistan for conversion to Christianity is all over the news. Thankfully! America still gets the freakiness of prosecuting someone for their religion, much less threatening the death penalty. Unfortunately, America does not understand the inherent differences between Islam (which will kill you for converting to another faith) and Christianity (which will tolerate you practicing another faith).

The Afghanistan Embassy, sensing public pressure, has issued a press release. Of course, it dances all around the fundamental issue and misses the point altogether.

But that’s more than our government has done. I’m still waiting for my reply from the State Department to my Tuesday letter.

Thank you for your question to the U.S. Department of State web site. Your question has been received and we are working on an answer for you. Question Reference #060321-000440
Summary: Afghan prosecution of Abdul Rahman
Category Level 1: Foreign Policy
Category Level 2: Expressing Foreign Policy Opinions
Date Created: 03/21/2006 04:00 PM
Last Updated: 03/21/2006 04:00 PM
Status: Unresolved

Discussion Thread

American diplomacy is at work. We want to be sure we don’t advocate our values too loudly or too boldly. After liberating Afghanistan will billions of our tax dollars and hundreds of American soldier’s lives, we wouldn’t want to offend a country that despises our values.

Here’s an excerpt from Tuesday’s daily briefing by State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack.
QUESTION: On Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Probably you’ve seen an Afghan citizen faces prosecution, possibly the death penalty --
QUESTION: -- for converting to Christianity. Do you have any observation?
MR. MCCORMACK: I talked a little bit about this yesterday, Barry, but thank you for bringing it up.
QUESTION: I'm sorry.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, no. Thank you for bringing it up because we did raise this particular case with Foreign Minister Abdullah. We are watching this case closely and we urge the Afghani Government to conduct any legal proceedings in a transparent and a fair manner. Certainly we underscored -- we have underscored many times and we underscored also to Foreign Minister Abdullah that we believe that tolerance and freedom of worship are important elements of any democracy. And certainly as Afghanistan continues down the pathway to democracy these are issues that they are going to have to deal with. These are not things that they have had to deal with in the past. Previously under the Taliban, anybody considered an apostate was subject to torture and death. Right now you have a legal proceeding that's underway in Afghanistan and we urge that that legal proceeding take place in a transparent matter and we're going to watch the case closely.
QUESTION: Well, I don't want to quibble but it sounds like you're asking for fair play and good procedure. Why don't you simply ask that it be cancelled? I mean, what possible justification is there for putting someone on trial for changing his religion?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, Barry, this is a question of the Afghan constitution and its laws. There are differing interpretations of it and I think that that's the issue with which they're trying to grapple with. That's the allusion that I made to -- of Afghanistan being a new democracy and coming to terms and dealing with these issues.
So it is, in the eyes of Afghanistan, the Afghan Government now, a legal issue that we are going to watch very closely.
QUESTION: I mean, it does seem a little lukewarm to just say you hope that they treat him fairly in this court case when it's questionable whether that is even a moral grounds to hold a proceeding. Is that something that the U.S. Government has pressed the Afghan Government to do is just to allow people to convert their religion?
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, in the sort of -- within the Afghan -- confines of the Afghan constitution, this becomes a legal question. We have underscored the importance of freedom of worship, tolerance and freedom to express oneself as a core element of democracy. Like I said, we raised this issue with Foreign Minister Abdullah and I think that he and the Afghan Government understand very clearly where we stand on this issue. But as I said, this is, at the moment, a legal issue for the Afghan Government and that we would urge the Afghan Government to proceed in a fair and transparent manner.
QUESTION: Do you feel that that's all it's appropriate for the U.S. Government to do is just to hope the court case goes --
MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, we have raised it with the Foreign Minister and we're going to continue to watch the case very closely.
QUESTION: But I guess my question is: Are you raising the fact that you want the court case to go transparently or raise the fact that there should even be a legal question?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that the concerns that I have expressed in public are the ones that we have expressed to the Foreign Minister.
QUESTION: Isn't there something wrong with the constitution of Afghanistan if it's -- I mean, the Secretary of State goes around, you know, telling countries which have, you know, bad human rights records to respect the freedom to worship, and here's a country where America has gone in and tried to help, has been praised by the President, praised by the Secretary of State for its democratic progress, and here it is persecuting somebody because they've converted to another faith.
MR. MCCORMACK: Jonathan, as I said, this is right now -- it's a constitutional matter so it's a legal question. So what that tells you is that there are two sides to this. There are those that believe that this is absolutely this person's right within Afghanistan, Afghans who believe that. So right now this is -- I believe certainly this is the first case that I have heard of of this type. So it is a test of the Afghan constitution. It's a test of Afghanistan's democracy. And so as I said, we will watch the case very closely. We have raised it with the Foreign Minister.
QUESTION: Is there anything at stake if they choose to prosecute -- choose to actually take -- persecute, perhaps, this man for his faith?
MR. MCCORMACK: Let's deal with the situation as we have it right now. This is the -- it is at an initial stage and, like I said, we're going to watch it closely.
QUESTION: But by waiting until the results of the trial come out, you're not casting judgment on whether there should be one in the first place.
MR. MCCORMACK: Teri, I've provided the answer that I'm going to provide to you on it.
QUESTION: Let me try it a slightly different way, though the answer may be the same. Are you troubled in any way by the case?
MR. MCCORMACK: Charlie, again, I've answered the question.

Maybe it’s just me, but when an American reporter gets the point, you know it’s pretty clear. Our government’s response to this affair is pathetic.

Of course, our President (or Theologian-in-Chief on this issue..."the religion of peace" mantra, remember?) chimed in with his poignant insights. You can see his "fury" here.

Sadly, the case against Mr. Rahman is only one of many abuses. Check this out for a bigger picture on what is happening in Afghanistan. Also, you might want to monitor columnist Michelle Malkin. She’s a brilliant writer and seems to have taken a keen interest in writing on this matter.

Liberty and Islam are simply incompatible. We are fools to think freedom will endure in the countries we’ve liberated without a foundational change in those countries. There is a reason the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution deals with the freedom of religion. Without it, all other freedoms we cherish cannot flourish. And since we have it, we should aggressively denounce all governments that attack it, especially those who owe their very existence to us.

Jesus--Our First Allegiance

Some of you are much more trendy than me, so don't snort that cynical laugh too loudly on what you're about to read (hey, loan me your music once in a while!). In doing some surfing this morning, I came across these lyrics from Derek Webb and his album "Mockingbird."

I know it's old news to some of you on the cutting edge of contemporary music (or is that contemptible music?). But guys like me don't get away from Bach very often. I thought they tied in well to yesterday's post.

A King & A Kingdom
(vs. 1)
who's your brother, who's your sister
you just walked passed him
i think you missed her
as we're all migrating to the place where our father lives
'cause we married in to a family of immigrants
my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom

(vs. 2)
there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him


That Jesus was a white, middle-class republican seems less and less plausible every day.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Republican Rift Keeps Growing

Allan Carlson has written a great piece in the Weekly Standard entitled: “Social conservatives and the GOP: Can this marriage be saved?” Many evangelical Christians should read this article. It is a wake up call that our values aren’t really as esteemed by the Republican party as we would like to believe.

Carlson rightly assesses a divide between business republicans and social issue republicans, tracing the rift all the way back to President Theodore Roosevelt.
Between 1900 and about 1912, he wrote and spoke often, and eloquently, about the dangers of a rising divorce rate and a falling birth rate. He celebrated motherhood and fatherhood as the most important human tasks, and described the true marriage as "a partnership of the soul, the spirit and the mind, no less than of the body." He blasted as "foes of our household" the birth control movement, equity feminism, eugenics, and liberal Christianity. However, the Rough Rider was the only prominent Republican of his time to think and talk this way. The dominant wing of the GOP tilted in favor of the banks, the great industries, and--perhaps more surprisingly--the feminist movement.

Carlson points out that the Republican party was the first to endorse the ERA amendment and asserts that the Democratic party was, for the most part, America’s pro-family party. This all changed with Ronald Reagan, when the Republican Party “now saw pro-family social conservatives in political alliance with the interests of the banks and the large corporations. Main Street and Wall Street were under the same tent, which was a very new development.”

In Missouri, I’ve observed this first hand. The most prominent example is the stem-cell issue which has clearly divided business/social Republicans. Most surprising is the lack of angst the pro-business Republicans have shown in their betrayal of social conservative’s agenda. They don’t even fake remorse. Former Missouri Senator John Danforth, a leading proponent of Missouri’s clone-to-kill amendment, even openly blasted social conservatives last June and sounded more like a Democrat making a moral case for homosexual marriage than a Republican indebted to the grassroots involvement of social conservatives.

Jim Talent, in his reversal over prohibiting human cloning, at least went into a 30 minute diatribe on the Senate floor, even if it was soaked with incomplete logic and convoluted reasoning. He did a good job, though, of making his divorce from social conservatives look pained. But in the end it was that, a divorce from social conservatives and a re-embracing of those campaign-contributing, Rockefeller-rich, business Republicans. Carlson warns:

Moreover, when push comes to shove, social conservatives remain second class citizens under the Republican tent. During the 2004 Republican convention, they were virtually confined to the party's attic, kept off the main stage, treated like slightly lunatic children. Republican lobbyist Michael Scanlon's infamous candid comment--"The wackos get their information [from] the Christian right [and] Christian radio"--suggests a common opinion among the dominant "K Street" Republicans toward their coalition allies.

Maybe it’s time to rethink our allegiances. I decided mine a long time ago. In the words of hymn-writer George Bennard, “I will cling to the old rugged cross.” It’s probably too soon to say goodbye to the Republican party just yet, but I am dusting off my suitcase…just in case.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Afghan Christian to be Proscecuted

It feels rather uncanny to be criticizing President Bush again. He has many truly remarkable characteristics and is enduring so many unjust criticisms. However, his glaring deficiency of a proper theological understanding regarding Islam is jeopardizing America’s successes overseas and will continue to do so.

The most recent example is in Afghanistan. Abdul Rahman, a 41 year old man, was arrested over the weekend and is being tried for converting to Christianity.

Perhaps our administration is quietly working behind the scenes to change this situation. But such a flagrant human rights violation deserves a harsh, public reprimand. When we remember Afghanistan liberation was bought by American taxpayers and American blood, we cannot be silent in the face of such blatant disregard for American values (in this case, freedom of religion).

But this is just the point. We are trying to import American values into Afghanistan and Iraq without the proper foundation from which those values spring—Christianity. Our President (I think he is a Christian) seems to equate the religions. Yet, from Islam springeth no good thing (or at least no good government).

I am no prophet, nor son of a prophet, but I doubt we’ll see democracy thrive in these countries. The Afghan situation offers but one example of many to come of Islam’s inherent acrimony of human liberty.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Oh How Good is Christ the Lord!

There’s a neat little song tucked away in our Baptist Hymnal I remember singing a couple of times throughout my ministry. Because it lacked the quality of the church’s great hymns, it never endured as one of the church’s great statements of faith. And because it was pretty much a chorus song, it got washed away in the flood of praise and chorus music that hit the church in the late 90s. But its simple truths and simple melody grab my mind every now and then. Its melody has a Puerto Rican flair to it and says:

Oh how good is Christ the Lord
On the cross He died for me.
He has pardoned all my sin,
Glory be to Jesus!

Glory be to Jesus!
Glory be to Jesus!
In three days He rose again!
Glory be to Jesus!

He pardoned my sins because He died on the cross.
Pardon was exactly what King Saul was begging from Samuel (1 Sam. 15:25). But he was begging it from the wrong one which showed the true condition of his unrepentant heart. Saul wanted pardon without repentance and he saw his sin more as an offense against Samuel than as an offense against God. This is what is so remarkable about God. The very one who has been offended is the very one who pays the price of forgiveness. Christ’s death bought our forgiveness… “we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14) and we have “peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20).

He died on the cross because He is good.
This goes to His motive. David said to give thanks to the Lord “for He is good” (Psa 107:1). It is God’s goodness, not man’s that is to be praised. There is no one who seeks after God (Rom 3:10); we have all gone astray and pursuing our own pleasures (Isa. 53:6). Still, while we were sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Is it any wonder I was taught to sing in my preschool Sunday School class: “God is so good! God is so good! God is so good! He’s so good to me!”

Glory be to Jesus!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Patrick of Ireland: A Christian not a Drunkard

Thomas Cahill’s masterful little history, How the Irish Saved Civilization, is an incredible piece of literature. Like the brilliant history writer David McCullough, Cahill has mastered the balance between history and readability. His book has been out for over a decade. I got a copy a couple of years ago when an elderly saint was cleaning out his library in a move and bequeathed me his copy.

SO…in honor of St. Patrick’s day, I wanted to revisit one of Cahill’s remarkable chapters. It is entitled “Good News from Far Off: The First Missionary.”

He never chased snakes out of Ireland or guzzled beer. In fact, Patrick wasn’t even Irish. Patricius was born in Roman Britain around A.D. 390. When he was a teenager, marauding Irish raiders attacked his home, took him to Ireland, and sold him to an Irish king who put him to work as a shepherd.

Cahill writes:
“The life of a shepherd-slave could not have been a happy one. Ripped out of civilization, Patricius had for his only protector a man who did not hold his own life highly, let alone anyone else’s…We know that he did have two constant companions, hunger and nakedness.”
Through a miracle of God, Patrick was able to escape and sail back to Britain. And within a few years, Patrick did the unthinkable. He returned to the people who had been so cruel to him to share the gospel of Jesus with them.

We have some admiration for such an act. But the remarkableness of Patrick’s decision gets lost on us because we are so evangelistically focused. But Patrick went to Ireland in an age when the thing to do was go to Rome. His church culture viewed pagans with prejudice. They were people to be avoided, not evangelized. So Patrick helped rescue the church from cold and irrelevant faith and fanned the flames of evangelistic fervor.

In protest of our culture’s obsession with revelry on this day, let us honor one of the church’s heroes. Patrick was a selfless Christian, consumed and driven with a love for a people in darkness.

Patrick’s love was a wholistic love. It wasn’t just their eternal souls he loved. He loved them. That’s why he didn’t only witness and teach and show the glories of Christ, but fought against slavery, hunger and oppression. Cahill writes:

He worries constantly for his people, not just for their spiritual but for their physical welfare. The horror of slavery was never lost in him: ‘But it is the women kept in slavery who suffer the most—and who keep their sprits up despite the menacing and terrorizing they must endure. The Lord gives grace to his many handmaids; and though they are forbidden to do so, they follow him with backbone.’
I have this passion that the purest expression of our Christian faith will be a wholistic expression of love. That is, we don’t just transform people’s souls, we transform their cultures. In an age when so many evangelicals (Southern Baptists in particular) focus only on baptisms and witnessing, it would do us well to revisit the saints of the past and Patrick of Ireland is one of the best to consider.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rick Warren: Self Promoter?

Having read the most recent article from Rick Warren in his Ministry Toolbox, I’m really confused.

I know I’m not the most tech-savvy guy in the universe, but I’ve learned to navigate around a bit, especially in search of free stuff. So, either I’ve still got a lot to learn about web stuff or the article is a bit fantastical.

Warren’s article is unusually rambled. It has a tinge of his personal insights and encounters (which are usually quite helpful); a dash of a philosophical discussion over using other pastor’s sermons; and a generous heaping of self-promotion.

Warren tells the story of encountering a pastor in Johannesburg, South Africa. This pastor journeys down to the local post office every week (the only place internet service is available) to download free (that’s FREE) sermons from Rick Warren. "Pastor Rick, you are the only training I’ve ever had” the pastor says.

Hey, while I can afford a few books and commentaries, I’m not opposed to “FREE” at all. Especially when I’m not overly fond of the sermonic approach of a certain pastor, in this case Rick Warren. But when I clicked on the link for sermons, I was directed to a page where I had to do some more clicking. The #1 sermon (of the top 10) was entitled “How to Tell God You Love Him.” I clicked it and was directed to another page that showed the message was a part of a series entitled “Essentials for 21st Century Living” and showed I could download the PowerPoint slides and transcripts for $72.00.

Recoiling from sticker shock, my bargain hunting eye caught the “free sermons” tab on the left-hand menu bar and my mouse moved faster than Jerry ever did when evading Tom. When my browser opened the page I found them. Five free sermons in all. Two were from America’s 9/11 terrorist attack (that was in 2001); two were from Mel Gibson’s Passion movie (that was Spring 2004) and one was from Hurricane Katrina.

And that’s why I’m wondering whether my internet surfing skills have become bereft of adequacy. Did I miss the mother load of the “free sermons” posting somewhere else on the site? Is the “free” page updated every week and I’m just not catching it? The page states “we’ll update periodically with new sermons…” That usually means it doesn’t happen too often. So is this Johannesburg pastor preaching the same sermons over and over? Is he satisfied with such a low level of “training”?

I’m sorry, but I’m skeptical. I can't imagine a pastor walking an hour and a half away to download 5 free sermons. The article seems like a pretty blathered story to me, constructed to promote a site that is more about selling sermons than providing them for free. I hope I'm missing a key part in understanding this story.

I get some benefit from Rick Warren and his resource. He’s a creative thinker and offers many great perspectives on leadership and church life. I know there’s a swirl about several issues involving him. I just pray about it. That always seems so orthodoxally trite, but I want this guy to succeed not fail. That’s why I’m so bothered by this article. It seems to reinforce the assertion that Pastor Rick is heading down the wrong path.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Lion Still Has a Roar

Billy Graham stated in his New Orleans crusade this past weekend that he has preached his last sermon. [reported in CitizenLink]

With frail and failing health, this 87 year old spiritual giant mounted the platform and stood behind a pulpit for the first time in nine months to declare the saving gospel of Jesus Christ one last time. Graham noted: “Jesus is no security against storms, but He is a perfect security in the storm.”

Dr. Graham went on to say that the lesson of Katrina is "that there is more to life than material things. There's a moral and spiritual strength that's needed not only in New Orleans and the 9th Ward, but everywhere," he said. "We're living in a very tumultuous time," marked by the violence of hurricanes and war in Iraq, he said. "If ever a country needed to turn to God, it's now."

Dr. Graham had held a month long crusade in the old Pelican Stadium in New Orleans in 1954. His son, Franklin, signed the same pulpit his father and other team members had signed over a half century ago.

Prior to the preaching weekend, Billy and Franklin Graham had toured Katrina ravaged areas in New Orleans and had stopped in the devastated Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, which was flooded by up to 10 feet of water after Hurricane Katrina.

Spokesman Larry Ross said while the veteran evangelist is not planning any more appearances, the details of Graham's future are up to God. "I think he felt invigorated to be back in the pulpit," he said. "Obviously, he needs to be assisted to get up to the pulpit, but once he's in the pulpit, it's obvious the lion still has a roar."

I thank God the way he has used Dr. Graham and hope another lion will rise in American evangelicalism to roar the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ with as much dignity, authority and appeal that Dr. Graham has mustered in these past decades.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Senator Crowell attacks Roe

I wasn’t too sure of Senator Jason Crowell when I testified last year before Missouri’s Senate Judiciary Committee on the issue of human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. He had been identified by the Missouri Baptist Christian Life Commission’s lobbyist as a “swing vote” on a key piece of legislation. We were trying hard to get a “do pass” vote from the committee to move the legislation on to the full Senate. I knew he was a lawyer which earned my immediate distrust. His “apprenticeships” under Judge Ronnie White and Attorney General Jay Nixon gave me further cause to wonder whether this 34 year old Republican was truly conservative. He asked me a question which I interpreted as a bit disingenuous which caused me to be further guarded. I’m pretty sure of him now.

There are no perfect men, and even less so in the political field. Good men and women who walk legislative halls and occupy government offices become twisted and jaded and perhaps even corrupted to some degree. But this Senator from Cape Girardeau (Missouri’s 27th Senate District) is demonstrating remarkable courage and personal conviction by proposing unpopular legislation that could annihilate the most loathsome Supreme Court decision in our nation’s history and help bring America’s evil practice of abortion to a remarkable and much-prayed-for end.

South Dakota has fired the opening salvo. Missouri must aid in the demise of the one court decision that surpasses Dred Scott in its evil. Roe v. Wade has always been frail. It has lacked any modicum of morality, has never enjoyed much support from the people of America, and has only hung by a line string of contrived constitutionality. It is time for a frontal assault on Roe v. Wade.

Certainly, the shrill voices of feminism continue to cry for personal freedom; even when that freedom is at the cost of the innocent and valuable human life of precious babies. Tepid politicians also question whether this legislation should be given any consideration.

But the group I am most surprised by is my group—pro-life leaders and conservative Christians. Many of them wonder aloud whether the timing is right and whether Roe v. Wade will become further entrenched in American law. I can’t help wondering whether the church has become as political as those leaders walking legislative halls. We’ve become inflicted with a philosophy of what we can do, rather than what we should do. This strategy of accommodation has led the church to be comfortable with sin. Christians are now a part of a climate of acceptance of an evil, a horror that warrants our spite, not our tolerance.

We should overturn Roe v. Wade. It is immoral and it should be challenged at every possible juncture. That’s why I support Senator Crowell’s proposal and urge you to do the same.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Letters Make a Difference

The Southeast Missourian printed my letter to the editor in their March 2 edition. Here is how it appeared:

Value of life outweighs health issues
Thursday, March 2, 2006

To the editor:
I couldn't believe my eyes when I read former U.S. senator Thomas F. Eagleton's op-ed piece in Sunday's edition. There wasn't much with which I agreed, but then I read: "When the right to life of the fertilized egg is invoked in this debate, a counter right must also be recognized, and that is the right to health of persons who suffer from such diseases as mentioned above." That is the essence of this debate, and Eagleton's honesty was a refreshing alternative to his coalition's propaganda.

While the right to health is a "counter right," it is not an equal right. While I hope for cures to the serious diseases afflicting Missourians, those cures must come from ethical research. No just and moral society can subjugate the right to life to lesser causes, even if the research is for a noble cause. Life is always more valuable than health.

Eagleton's vision and that of the proposed amendment is that some Missourians are entitled to health, even if that right deprives cloned human embryos of life. That morality is chilling and has no place in the Missouri Constitution.

RODNEY ALBERT, Hallsville, Mo.

Pro-life Missourians must be more involved in the public square and take advantage of these opportunities to get our message out. We cannot afford the millions for slick ad campaigns. News coverage in this state is largely slanted in favor of the clone-and-kill measure. But we must take advantage of the forums given to us such as "Letters to the Editor".

The paper won't be printing any letters from me for awhile, but other pro-life voices can articulate the issues addressed by this ballot initiative. Keep scanning the papers and be ready to write!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

IMB Trustees’ PR Campaign Long Overdue

Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) Chairman Tom Hatley has posted some materials on the IMB website.

These materials are long overdue. I applaud Chairman Hatley’s decision. It shows some degree of deference to the larger Southern Baptist constituency. I still hope for a little humble pie on his part. To my knowledge, neither he nor any trustee who voted to remove Wade Burleson has apologized and this remains disconcerting and a continued cloud of suspicion over this entire affair.

The open letters to pastors and church leaders as well as the position papers are the result of Wade Burleson’s openness and frankness with Southern Baptists. Burleson has tenaciously blogged on this subject and has a post on this very issue.

Chairman Hatley begins his open letter to SBC pastors with:

“You are due a report from me concerning recent actions by your International Mission Board trustees concerning the qualifications for new missionaries.”

I don’t imagine I would ever read those words were it not for Oklahoma trustee Burleson and the tidal wave of support he has received from throughout our convention. Chairman Hatley felt no need to inform us of the direction IMB trustees were going and in the early days of the controversy, he gave every indication that no information would be coming. I think today’s posting on the IMB webpage is a fulfillment of an old adage by President Reagan: “Politicians see the light when they feel the heat.” Regardless of how we got to this point, I believe we are moving in the right direction. Forthcoming and honest information is essential from the IMB trustee leadership.

Still, a several things are concerning, one of which has occupied my thoughts today.

In the webpage disclaimer before the content of both position papers (baptism and private prayer language) we read:

This paper has not been adopted by the board of trustees and is primarily the work of several experienced trustees with the final edit being made by the chairman of the board. It contains many of the points considered by many trustees as they worked through this issue over the last several years.

I’m not sure if it’s my fascination with parliamentary procedure, my theological views as a conservative, my preaching preference as an expositor, my love as an amateur historian and constitutional scholar, or my background with drafting denominational resolutions, but those words became very enlightening to me. I know not everyone is always deliberate in their writing (I get pretty sloppy about it myself most of the time) but I have to believe that a preamble or disclaimer had several people sign off on it.

The word that caught my eye most in the entire document is the word found in the disclaimer… “PRIMARILY”

That word leaves room for others who aren’t trustees to contribute to the rationale of these policy changes. That word leaves the door open for a previous charge that other denominational persons are influencing IMB trustee decisions. That word strikes at the heart of this controversy. If these papers and letters are about damage control, and the timing suggests that could be a real possibility, then we aren’t much past where we started a couple of months ago. If in fact, non-IMB trustees contributed to the position papers, we aren’t dealing with documents that explain certain trustee’s rationale for making the policy changes and that should be stated.

I have emailed Chairman Hatley asking for clarification regarding this matter and have asked him to consider posting the names of all those who contributed to the document. I was sorry to add to my brother’s load, but I do desire clarification and look forward to his response.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Terrorist strikes UNC

Over the weekend I heard about the injuries of 9 University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill students. A driver of an SUV intentionally plowed into these students in an attempt to kill them. It wasn’t until I sat at my desk today that I learned the driver was Mohammed Reza Taheriazar, a 23 year-old UNC graduate, who has reportedly informed authorities that he committed this savage act "to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world." It looks like the mainstream press is once again underplaying Muslim violence. While it appears this was a single, isolated act, it underscores the violent stream of this religion and how susceptible our citizens are, even in our own country.

The 27 year-old the former deputy foreign secretary of the murderous Taliban regime in Afghanistan, Rahmatullah Hashemi continues his education at Ivy League Yale University, getting further entrenched in American culture and liberal elitism. The ROTC is banned from Yale, but a Taliban spokesman is welcomed. Yes, we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore…neither are we in the Founder’s America.