The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “Concerns”

The Abuse of Power and the Power of Abuse: Dealing with an Inconvenient Truth

By Uri Brito

Republicans are the party of small government. Democrats are the party of big government. These distinctions no longer hold true. Reagan’s first term, perhaps, in recent history, is the last to come close to the type of small government Republicans say they envision. But for too long the scenery of the political landscape is replete with big government towers. We, the people, stare hopelessly at those babel-like towers wondering if any of them have read Genesis 11. We are Tolkien’s hobbits wanting to be left alone smoking our tobacco and drinking the finest beer, but alone they will not let us be.

David Shipler’s The Rights of the People: How our Search for Safety Invades our Privacy (2011) detailed some of these abuses. Shipler wrote that the Bill of Rights were “embedded in the first ten amendments to the Constitution…to climb and counter the might state, to keep their speech free, their confessions true, their trial fair, their homes and files sealed from cavalier invasion by police.” We are losing that right as speedily as the government (NSA) is tracking your e-mail or Verizon phone call right now.

What we are seeing today is more than the undermining of the Constitution; we are seeing the undermining of morality. And this implies that we need the objectivity of Christendom. We can no longer amen the actions of any party, because both major parties do not care about the shire. They will make deals with anyone. We need the boldness to assert the foolish actions of our party and then condemn them each election.

Obama’s promise to secrecy and the respecting of civil liberties in 2007 has quickly derailed into a Mordor-like crystal ball. They have looked and accessed every conceivable file. They have found what they wanted and used that information for their own purposes. “We cannot have 100% safety without inconvenience,” the president argues. Inconvenience? An absurdly burdensome tax system,  the waste of our taxpayer money, TSA, a destructive economic policy, reckless wars led by reckless leaders, the murder of the unborn? This is more than inconvenience; this is abuse; and all in the name of an agenda.

What we are witnessing is not the era of inconvenience; those days were relatively comfortable. At least we knew when the inconveniences would come. We are entering the era of abuse. We are in an era where the words “abuse of power” have become redundant. In an abusive society, led by abusive leaders, we do not know what to expect. Power corrupts, but absolute power in the hands of fools leads to abuse.

We are not claiming that this is a distinctly Obama problem. Bush’s Patriot Act opened the doors to this type of infringement. The tyranny of technology began long ago. And we are now recipients of a president who is continuing those policies.

The Economist observed in 2007, that in the past, information was gathered by drawing conclusions about citizens from fragmented reports by party loyalists. They would tap phones, send informers to workplaces, and follow people around. Today, “data about people’s whereabouts, purchases, behavior, and personal lives are gathered, stored, and shared on a scale that no dictator of the old school ever thought possible.”

We are living in a new era. This is an era where privacy is becoming extinct. The security of e-mail exchanges, counselor to counselee phone calls, and a host of other matters are sacrificed at the altar of safety. But are we safe? The answer to that is an inconvenient truth to our president.

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Double Vision Check

by Sean Johnson
eye test lenses double-vision anagogical vision
Recently, some comments from Peter Leithart got me thinking about the ways different folks interpret Revelation, which in turn got me thinking about the ways they interpret current events. It seemed, in my armchair musings, that our interpretations of the news have a lot to do with our eschatology, and I’m not just talking about the 666-handbasket-of-the-whore-of-Babylon-Five folks, either. Read more…

Boston Bomber’s Future Prospects

by Sean Johnson

Amidst the terribly tragic events of the last week, countless smaller news items were understandably forgotten, but at least one now bears remembering.

Earlier this month Kathy Boudin, former domestic terrorist who spent almost twenty years in prison on second-degree murder charges, was named to a position of scholar-in-residence at NYU Law School. Already a Columbia University professor since 2008, she spent the years between 1984 and 2003 behind bars for her involvement in the killing of two police officers and a security guard during an armored car robbery that she and her accomplices described as anti-imperialist activism.
weathermen most wanted 1970's Chicago

Boudin and her accomplices were also members of Weather Underground, a domestic terrorism group created to Read more…

Apples of Gold and Apples of Discord

Sean Johnson is a husband and father, graduate student and teacher, living in Texas and raised in the Northwest (the land of apples).proverbs 25:11 apples of gold settings of silver, golden apple

I am always miffed when fellow Christians misunderstand a certain apple in the Bible (if you’re thinking Garden of Eden, don’t; those weren’t apples). Before I explain exactly what I mean, let me tell a little story to give some background.

The “apple of discord” comes down to us from Greek mythology. As the story goes, there was a celebration up on Mount Olympus (the wedding feast of Achilles’ parents, in fact), and everyone was invited except for Eris, goddess of discord. Of course, no one would blame you for leaving someone with a title like that off of your guest list, but Eris was quite upset about the whole elitist business. To get even, Eris crept to the edge of the banquet and hurled a golden apple into the midst of the guests. It landed with a crash among the plates and goblets, rolling ominously along the length of the vast banquet table, Read more…

Bring Out Your Dead!

church graveyard, cemetery

How often do you see cemeteries? Do you know, off hand, where the closest one is? Do your children? It is a sad state of affairs when we can’t answer these questions with certainty and, if you’ll allow me to indulge in a few preliminary comments, I’ll tell you why.

One of the best ways to engage literature is to pick a work you want to be shaped by and to read it again and again. I was recently rereading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy with that end in mind, and the following passage struck me:

“But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational philosophical truth in the burial at the crossroads and the stake driven through the body…there is a meaning in burying the suicide apart.”
“….And then I remembered the stake and the crossroads, and the queer fact that Christianity had shown this weird harshness to the suicide. For Christianity had shown a wild encouragement of the martyr. Historic Christianity was accused, not entirely without reason, of carrying martyrdom and asceticism to a point, desolate and pessimistic. The early Christian martyrs talked of death with a horrible happiness. They blasphemed the beautiful duties of the body: they smelt the grave afar off like a field of flowers. All this has seemed to many the very poetry of pessimism. Yet there is the stake at the crossroads to show what Christianity thought of the pessimist.”

It struck me not because of the particular topic but of the more general implication. Regardless of your convictions about the burial of suicides, these remarks demonstrate something powerful, and something contemporary Protestantism (at least in my circles) has begun to forget—our treatment of the dead translates into a meaningful theological statement. Read more…

The Loss of Fear: Education of the Godless

Atheism has become increasingly bold in her declarations and actions over the years. The atheist star, Madylin O’ Hair, who thrived with her vicious condemnation of Biblical Christianity in the 70’s and 80’s has birthed a new generation of God-hating disciples. College professors in public universities have learned that the classroom is the best place for a non-religious experience. 

An example of this comes from Florida Atlantic University who contrived the following exercise:

‘The assignment called for students to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, put the paper on the ground, and stomp on it.”

A halfhearted apology was issued and now classes can continue with their daily scheduled de-christianization hour. The professor does not claim to be an atheist, but with friends like these. Former Governor Mike Huckabee “questioned if any program at FAU would have allowed “Muhammad” to be written on the paper and stomped instead.” When they reach that fearless pinnacle, I will write another piece.

My point here is not just that education cannot be neutral– that is too obvious– but that public education no longer masquerades her neutrality. There was a time when government curriculum attempted to deny their anti-theistic direction, but that time is past. This is the time when atheists can declare their loss of fear publicly and unashamedly.

Much like the homosexual community is becoming more and more comfortable coming out of the philosophical and theological closet, atheists today put on a robe and march to their pulpits with their well-scripted homilies. These pastors of the dead are not only situated in the comfortable chairs of the academic halls of well-funded state universities, they also sneak into the high-school curricula with a fancy diversity library card. For an example of this, here is the latest fearless atheistic move:

The California Department of Education has revised the statewide recommended reading list for its 6.3 million K-12 students, adding roughly 40 titles focused on homosexuality or gender confusion.

One example will suffice:

The Bermudez Triangle, by Maureen Johnson. “Since childhood, the Bermudez Triangle consisted of Nina, Avery, and Melanie. But when Nina leaves for a summer-school program, all three experience changes in the way they view each other. The three teenage girls explore the meaning of friendship and love while trying to keep long-distance relationships intact. Avery and Melanie begin to understand their homosexuality, and Nina feels left out. This novel illustrates the stresses, jealousy, and anxiety of teenage girls trying to understand themselves as they mature.”

If this is not sufficient to detail the loss of fear in the anti-Christian establishment, media, and the country’s education system, then nothing will convince the reader. “These are just isolated examples,” some may argue. If so, their PR team is performing a stupendous job.

I understand that Richard Dawkin’s atheist camp is not drawing the masses, but can we assert at the very least that atheism is losing its fear? As their platforms increase their hunger for converts becomes insatiable. They want our children, and they want them now. They want their minds and the ability to shape them accordingly.

As pietistic Christians become more and more fearful of the world around them, non-Christians continually gain intellectual ground. As the Easter Season approaches, we need to be reminded once again that the tomb is empty and the world is filled with the glory of the risen Christ. Let us not fear. Our faith is not in vain.

Uri Brito is a pastor in Pensacola, FL.

How Now Shall We Blog?

In a very refreshing and convicting piece by Ed Eubanks Jr. at ByFaithOnline, he walks through the ethics of blogging. He criticizes his own denomination (PCA) for being the genesis of many of these blogging wars. Eubanks observes that PCA pastors have through blogging caused great division and presbyterial chaos through their uncharitable posts.

In response, he considers Schaeffer’s question How Now Shall We Then Live and applies to it to the Christian blogging community. And then sets a Scriptural standard that is to be applied not only in our personal face-to-face encounters, but also in our faceless interactions on-line:

What should be the tone and approach of our blog posts and Twitter comments? Paul writes, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Do our blog posts demonstrate humility and gentleness? Are they a clear exercise of patience and bearing with one another in love? Are they constructed in such a way as to maintain unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?

My guess is many bloggers who followed this text– as it should be followed– would have to do a general clean-up of their blogs today. It is not that there is no room for healthy debate and discussion, but the tone of these debates and discussions is what is at stake.

As someone who has blogged for over a decade, I have done my share of damage and pugilistic posts. I have repented of them and I have erased many posts (the delete option is there for a reason). I have a process that I go through on my longer posts where I check not only grammar, but also tone. Would that wordpress provided that feature!

As we enter into the brightness of the Easter Season, we need to be reminded in this Lenten Season that our words are powerful ways of communicating who we are. Since the possibility of misunderstanding abounds, we need to be even more careful in how we write. The 9th commandments is not just for personal affairs, it is comprehensive for all affairs. We are what we write, and we write what we are.

Uri Brito is a blogging veteran and a lover of charitable discourse.

Could a New Pope Mean the End of a Celibate Priesthood?

new pope, Pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio, pontiff, sede vacante

Early in the week, Uri Brito briefly outlined the array of challenges that would face the next pope. Since that time, the white smoke has risen to signal the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the office of Pontiff.

Among the major challenges facing him are the still frequent occurrence or discovery of sexual scandal within the priesthood, and the rising tide of cultural consensus regarding homosexual marriages. For the Roman church as an organization, the sexual misconduct is arguably the more pressing. One solution proffered by a minority within the Roman church has been that priests be allowed to marry.
Read more…

Mahaney Steps Down

C.J. MahaneySovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) President C.J. Mahaney announced yesterday he will leave his position on April 12 to focus on pastoring his new church in Louisville, Ky. The announcement follows months of controversy related to the ministry, including a lawsuit against SGM that alleges cover-ups of child abuse in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mahaney’s announcement came after the resignation last month of SGM board chairman John Loftness and board member Craig Cabaniss.

Mahaney took a leave of absence as SGM president in 2011 but the SGM board reinstated him in early 2012. Following his reinstatement, Mahaney relocated SGM’s offices from Maryland to Louisville and started a church there.

In a blog post, Mahaney cited an imminent SGM transition to a “new polity” as the reason for the change and said plans for his resignation began in October 2012. Mahaney said he is “eager to once again devote my attention to pastoral ministry. Returning to the pulpit of a local church last September has only confirmed for me what I believe God has called and gifted me to do: pastor, preach, and fulfill a role in building the local church for the glory of God.”

In a November response to the lawsuit, SGM spokesman Tommy Hill noted that “the suit does not allege child abuse by any current or former pastor of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege child abuse by any employee or staff of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege any child abuse occurred on any SGM property or any church associated with SGM. SGM leaders provided biblical and spiritual direction to those who requested this guidance.”

Thomas Kidd is contributing scholar to The Kuyperian Commentary. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books.

This article was originally published at WORLD.

Arkansas’ Abortion Ban–Battles Won, Battles Ahead

tiny human feet

On Wednesday the Arkansas Senate overrode the veto of Gov. Mike Beebe (D) to pass a law which bans abortion after the 12th week of pregnancy.  Governor Beebe cited his gubernatorial oath to uphold the Constitution of Arkansas and the U.S. Constitution as the reason for his veto.  He also said that passage of the law would lead to an expensive legal battle that would cost the tax payers money.  In other words, Gov. Beebe invokes “truth-telling” and “penny-pinching” in order to resist the legislature’s efforts to lower the infanticide rate in the state of Arkansas.  How noble of him. Read more…

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