Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Higher Powers," Romans 13:1 and the United States

With regard to the Christian view of "government" in the United States, the key verse in my view is Romans 13:1 - "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."

When the Founding Fathers sought to design a Government for the new nation, they wanted it to be very different from what they'd experienced in England. European governments emphasized "The Divine Right of Kings," or tempered such concepts with a deliberative body such as the English Parliment. The problem was, these governments were composed of men -- fallible, flawed (and arrogant) men. In these governments, the "higher powers" of Romans 13:1 were always MEN.

In an attempt to remove as much of the "human element" as possible, the Founders composed the US Constitution. The Constitution, a body of LAWS, set forth the guidelines for our nation. Every public servant or soldier who took an oath from that time til this, pledged to defend THE CONSTITUION of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA. Not a king, or a president, or a government...The Constitution -- the body of LAWS.

Thus, in the USA, the "higher powers" of Romans 13:1 is the CONSTITUTION, NOT MEN.

If men defy the Constitution, the MEN are to be broken, not the Law. That's what made the failure of the Senate to convict Comrade Clinton in 1999 such a travesty. The Constitution is not written in "Lawyerese" (Er, sorry PL) its written in plain English, so that anyone can understand. Therefore, if a Judge, or a Legislator, or the President himself violates it, he may (should! MUST!) be held accountable, if by no one else, then by the PEOPLE.

THe Constitution declares we have certain inalienable rights from GOD. One of those rights is that of self government, and one of our responsibilities to keep those rights is voting. If we fail to vote, we fail to follow the clear injunction of the Constitution -- our "Higher Powers" in the USA -- in our duty both as a Christian, and as an American Citizen.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Atheist Evangelist: A Response to Sam Harris

It's not like atheism isn't preached to us here in America and across the entire Western world daily -- and often. Most of our News Media preach and practice it. Popular TV shows praise it. Pundits proclaim it. If not in direct language, then certainly by their lifestyles, their actions, and the social and political causes they support.

Sam Harris has become the premiere voice in the massive choir calling for a divorce of culture from religion. His first book, The End of Faith, was an award winning, bestselling promotional piece for the supremacy of the atheistic ideal. His thesis is neither novel nor complex: "Religion is the root of all evil." The Washington Post documented this thesis quite well (and somewhat happily) in an article on Thursday, October 26, 2006.

In the interest of full disclosure, I can't say I disagree with the entire case Harris puts forth. If you read my previous posts, you'll know that I have found just plenty of "evil" in the guise of "spirituality," hiding hypocrisy in the robes of religion. Harris points out in his second very popular book Letter to a Christian Nation, that he received tons of letters in reaction to his first book. Most were from self described "Christians," many professed hatred for Harris, and some even threatened his life.

Seriously, that's helpful. I'm sure Jesus is pleased with that. No, really -- "kill all the infidels." For this, Christians -- BIBLICAL Christians -- should be profoundly saddened. That kind of hatefulness does nothing to answer the arguments of Harris, and on the contrary affirms his claims. I can understand why ANYONE would reject the idea of religion -- especially Christianity -- who its principles are so often clearly contradicted by the lives of its supposed adherents. I always think of the words of Gandhi when he was asked, "why are you not a Christian?" Gandhi answered, "I would be a Christian, but for the Christians."

That said, I certainly do not endorse nor agree with the conclusions of Sam Harris. Harris not only believes that religious people are wrong, but that they are crazy, and their beliefs and practices are THE reason for dysfunctioning cultures and societies. By the way, he doesn't discriminate -- this applies to ALL religions. Well, he has a mild affinity for Jainism, but....

Once you've read Harris' books or heard him speak, however, you get the distinct impression that he's spent many of his 39 years buried in the works of Bertrand Russell. Many of his arguments are, well, OLD. The language has been updated. The specific targets of his writing are new. But, the attack on "religion" goes on. It was once Voltaire, then Bertrand Russell, now Sam Harris.

May I gently point out that Voltaire is dead? Russell -- dead. Harris -- not yet, but one day. After all, it is the way of all flesh, as the book of Ecclesiastes says -- and THAT is one truth Harris can't deny.

To answer Harris, let me mention several simple facts that must be considered. First, religion is the attempt of mankind to answer questions he cannot understand, to explain events and ideas that finite humans cannot grasp. Religion, then, of its very nature, is fallible -- because HUMANS are fallible. But that in itself does NOT make ALL religion evil.

Second, religion, as a human endeavor, can be co-opted and corrupted by those with personal and evil agendas who abuse and misuse their professed beliefs for their own ends. Case in point -- Islamofascism.

Third, Harris contends that it is "absolutely" TRUE that religion is "absolutely" evil. How so? If atheism is indeed "true," then there is NO "absolute truth," nor is there any God, entity or "Ultimate Reality" by which one can measure truth or error, right or wrong, value or worthlessness. His vehement argument for atheism, then, is self contradictory on its face.

Harris is right to this extent -- religion does not hold the answer. Though it may not be evil in itself, and though their are billions of adherents to multitudes of faiths and philosophies, no attempt of man will EVER bring him to full knowledge of the universe, or "Ultimate Reality," of Truth, or of God. Because man IS limited and finite in nature, he could never discover "Truth," whatever that might be. It would take this "Truth" revealing itself to humans to make it real, to answer our questions, to calm our angst.

In my view, from my own experience, I have found that Revelation in the person of Jesus Christ. I am hoping Sam Harris will consider his own "finiteness," and realize their are questions he cannot answer, mysteries his reason can't master. If he does -- if YOU do -- Truth can reveal Himself to you too.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

STILL MORE Observations - Christians and a Democratic Congressional Majority

If you ASSUME that we as Christians HAVE ANY credibility with Liberal Democrats, you clearly do NOT understand them. That would be breathtaking naivete with regard to those who would steal your rights.

Scandals have happened, and WILL happen, in BOTH parties. Washington is RIFE with such. The difference is that the MSM will help HIDE Democratic scandals, but will not cease "puffing" Republican scandals.

I've made CLEAR that we ought to insist on accountability for ALL in Washington -- for Foley and any accomplices, but also for those in the opposition party. We must face it, this scandal was not "about Foley," it was about power.

Christians have a responsibility as citizens to hold those who are dishonest and abuse their power to account. But that DOES NOT mean we should naively buy into the propaganda of a hypocritical party who -- when given the chance to take a moral stand on these SAME issues against their own myriad of offenders, failed to do so repeatedly.

Don't think for one minute that if the Democrats regain Congressional power that they would pay the first bit of attention to Christians -- unless they thought they could bargain for more votes, and more power, or deceive them as a means acheiving their goals. Acting in contrition when confronted with wrongdoing requires a conscience -- something the whole of the Democratic Party lacks.

MORE Observations - The Foley Scandal -- NO, I'm not Defending Him! Part 3

And NO, I'm NOT DEFENDING Foley! My earlier posts have clearly condemned his actions -- and those who may have known but said nothing. But ALSO for those who are BEYOND hypocrites in condemning Foley, but EXCUSING those on their side of the aisle for actions just as bad or worse.

Another case in point -- 1983, Congressman Gerry Studs, D-Mass (I know, who'd a thunk it, right?) was "censured" for ACTUALLY having SEX with a 17 yr old MALE House page!!!!!! After he was "censured," the House Democrats gave him a standing ovation as he made a speech accepting the censure, but NEVER apologizing. Not just ONE standing ovation, but THREE.

So far, Foley might have sent dirty emails and IM's, but there's no evidence that he ever physically acted on those disgusting thoughts. And furthermore, we now know that he NEVER contacted the pages with lewd IM's or emails WHILE they were in Washington, OR before they were of AGE. The IM's in question were sent to pages 18 and 21 years of age. Disgusting - YES, a crime...?

Sure, PUNISH Foley and any "accomplices" he might have had -- but DON'T give the Democrats any "high ground," that would be FAR worse than anything Foley did.

MORE Observations -- On the Foley Scandal and 'Nobility' in DC

Nobility?? (The very use of the word in the same sentence with Washington DC constitutes a joke). We are talking about Politicians...in Washington DC... Since when was "nobility" a consideration with the majority of this crowd?

Foley has resigned, he should be prosecuted IF what he did consitutes a violation of the law. I'm not sure that has been established yet.

We KNOW that Barney Frank's gay lover had an underage GAY sex ring running out of his basis a few years ago. We know the former occupant of the White House benefitted in a number of ways from his interaction with at least one 18-20 year old page, then committed perjury (that qualifies as 'high crimes and misdemeanors') to hide it. We know that ... You know what? Do we NEED more examples?!?

Democrats -- SHUT UP. Republicans -- if you knew and didn't tell, RESIGN. Will either happen? NO.

See predictions above...Dems 23+ in the House, 5+ in the Senate.

Anyone know Arabic? We might need to brush up if we are to mount an opposition movement.

MORE Observations - On the "Foley Scandal" Part 1

The apparent activities of former congressman Mark Foley are reprehensible. Lewd emails to pages or former pages (regardless of age or sex, actually) constitute and abuse of power. At least he had enough moral conviction to resign from Congress. And, Republican leaders roundly criticized and condemend foley, and began investigations to see if any other rules were broken (that's possible), if the page program needs reforming (it does), and how this information was leaked to the press at such an advantageous moment before the elections (Can you say DEMOCRATS?).

Now, of course, you don't think that's where the Dems or their siamese twins in the "MainStream Media" will let that die, do you? Oh no, not on your life. The 'do as I say not as I do' Democrats are off to the [election] races, pumping this for every possible political point they can make. Should the American people let them get away with it?

Democrats have absolutely ZERO credibility on this issue -- no matter WHAT Foley did. When they go back and try Kennedy for murder, and Clinton for high crimes and misdemeanors, then I'll listen to word ONE.

Regarding Republicans -- If they tried to play the Democrats game by overlooking such CLEARLY immoral behavior it is deplorable, and will only get DEMOCRATS elected. Their people already know most of them are degenerates.

If the Republicans lose the 2006 elections, it will be WHOLLY their fault, for this and many other reasons. You can't blame the Democrats for taking advantage of the circumstances! They don't care about decorum, or morals, or even those poor "innocent" pages -- they ONLY care about POWER.

My prediction: Dems gain 23 or 24 House seats, 5 or 6 Senate seats. This would give them a definite House majority, and in the Senate, 5 seats would be a tie, and 6 would give them total control of Congress...God help us.

On World War III -- AGAIN

I am one who firmly believes that we are IN WWIII -- and NK has been and IS a part of the so-called "Axis of Evil."

Consider that when NK tested their missles July 4th of this year, representatives of the IRANIAN government were present to observe. Consider that the little dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has been travelling around the world to ALL the members of the Axis of Evil -- and to many others who are not "decided" in this war -- attempting to persuade them to join the "Anti-American" effort.

The growth of neo-communist movements in recent years -- in Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, etc, plus their cooperation with "old" communist powers that NEVER actually died (China, Cuba...Russia perhaps?) AND the unequaled power and passion of Islamic Fascism have created a formidable alliance. It's not because they AGREE in their worldviews. It's because they BOTH know their most formidable enemy -- The United States.

After the Neo-Communist/Islamic Fascist alliance has toppled Europe, exterminated the Jews in Israel, and either destroyed America (or at least aided Americas "socialist/progressives" to overthrow the Republic), THEN there will be time to see who ultimately comes out on top -- the Commies or the Islamists..?

Alarmist? Perhaps...But the idea that NK has the bomb and that they are Allied with Iran, means that BOTH COULD BE nuclear powers within 12 hours -- however long it takes to fly a nuke from PyongYang to Tehran.

SOmething to consider....

Observations, Part 6 - Election Predictions for November 7, 2006

Some weeks ago, I predicted the Democrats would regain the house, gaining 22+ seats, and they had a good shot at gaining 5 or 6 Senate seats -- 6 would give them the Senate Majority. I'm sticking by my predictions (though I desparately hope I'm wrong).

I spent some time studying the latest polls (best place to do that is www.realclearpolitics.com ) in the various races yesterday. From what I've learned, I think the Dems have an absolute LOCK on at least 20 seats. They are within easy range of taking 8-10 more, and another 5-7 House seats are not out of the question. It is unlikely they would win EVERYONE of those seats, but it is LIKELY they will win at least SOME of them.

In the Senate, the Dems have a virtual LOCK on 5 seats. The only real question is the MO seat of Jim Talent. If the Dems get just a SMALL push, his seat will be lost too -- which would give the Dems a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Heaven help us...

WOuld love to hear if anyone in the toss up states (PA, OH, MO, etc.) have insights or particular takes on the races...


Observations, Part 5 - The Necessity and Limitations of Politics

We'll never be able to change our nation's moral decline via politics. That is not the reason for politics, government, etc. The Gospel is the ONLY means by which people can be truly changed from the inside out.

That being said, I believe part of our mandate as believers is to -- as much as is possible -- be engaged in the culture as SALT and LIGHT (Matthew 5:13-16). I think in our nation, that clearly includes our involvement in civic affairs -- voting at the very least! (cf. Romans 13:1-8; I Timothy 2:1-4; Proverbs 29:2) To do less actually invites and encourages evil and persecution -- and it is a SIN.

Observations, Part 4 - Why I am not a Libertarian

Some have asked why I'm not a Libertarian. These reasons are EXACTLY why I am NOT a Libertarian.

The Constitution - and if you want to believe Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence - BOTH declare the "inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness." Libertarians AS A PARTY will not affirm a position that gaurantees the basic right to life, even in the face of clear and overwhelming scientific evidence of "life" as we understand it beginning at conception or at least shortly thereafter.

Am I saying the Republicans have delivered on restoring that right to the unborn? Hardly. But they have managed to pass a ban of "Partial Birth Abortion," and they have done reasonably well in placing qualified Constitutionalists ("Originalists") on the Federal Courts. Libertarians WILL NOT do the same.

I am not affiliated with ANY party. BOTH of the major parties are too liberal and interested in power rather than issues. The Libertarians are more interested in promoting libertinism (by-and-large) than in protecting the Constitution and the principles which it emphasizes.

But of all the parties, the Republicans best represent and deliver on the promises they make -- and therefore give a slight hope that progress can be made. That being said, I'd vote for ANY candidate that I thought had "right ideas" and stayed true to the Constitution and the traditions that form the basis of the American Republic.

Observations, Part 3 - On Life, Marriage and the Constitution

I tend to be a Constitutionalist -- quite libertarian (small "l") in my view of government involvement in economics, but socially, I'm a conservative about most things.

I do not, for instance, believe that the states had a right to permit slavery when the founding documents gauranteed "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Now, a WAR was unnecessary to enforce that, but I digress.

Just the same -- and on the very same principle -- the right to LIFE is a gaurantee. Therefore, an allowance for the practice of abortion as a means of birth control or convenience is unconstitutional -- and also a violation of God's commandments.

One may be correct in this sense -- marriage OUGHT NOT TO BE an issue the government attempts to meddle in. But government -- in the form of the out of control liberal judiciary -- ALREADY HAS.

Also, the founders designed our system of government to keep separate the "church" from the "state." But they did permit one exception. The minister is not only a representative of God in the marriage ceremony, he is also -- in the USA -- an agent of the state. Thus, if the judiciary continues on its current path, they will by courthouse fiat declare that a ministers refusal to marry ANY couple in a church or elsewhere is a violation of anti-discrimination laws.

The implications just BEGIN with being stripped of tax exempt status -- how about arrest of the Pastor for violation of civil rights? Seizure of all church property? Civil Court Lawsuits? Hate crimes charges? That's just for starters.

No, although I do agree that government OUGHT NOT be involved in marriage, they already are, and the ONLY way to protect the institution is by constitutional amendment. Either that, or have the government DEMAND by law that we marry whosoever desires to be married, or face prosecution (or, perhaps persecution).

Regarding marriage, then, the issue has nothing to do with "forcing" anyone NOT to be married. To the contrary, it protects the institution and the majority who believe in it from being FORCED to accept "alternate lifestyles" AS marriage.

Observations, Part 2 - My Take on Moderates

Moderates?!? Moderates are fence sitters... Moisten the finger, poke it up in the air, and see which way the winds blowing... passionate about nothing but being "moderate"... There are no great "moderate" leaders in American history...

The "middle of the road" is where you get hit by the CARS. Mind your momma and don't play in the Street! Stay on the RIGHT side of the road, and things will GENERALLY turn out for the best.


Observations on Voting in the 2006 Election - Part 1

I haven't generally voted straight ticket in the last couple of elections (SOME will pass out with SHOCK) -- but this time I've found that I will vote straight Republican.

Even so, I've said consistently, I expect the Democrats to retake Congress. My perdiction: 22+ seats in the House; 5+ seats in the Senate.

NO ONE hopes I'm wrong MORE than ME. I'm not trying to be pessemistic, but when you combine the relentless drumbeat of hatred and left wing attacks from the media and the lack of attention span among most Americans today -- and the fact that Democrats can lie FAR more convincingly than Republicans...AND the pathetic job of the Republican Congress in the last few years....

Just my take.

A Note and Update - 10/22/2006

In recent days, I've been doing more posting on a forum I joined a while back. It is freebaptist.net , a website frequented by members -- and those who have some connections with -- Free Will Baptist denominations. I was an FWB minister for over 17 years, and while my view of ecclesiology ("the church") has changed, my theological convictions have remained quite stedfast.

In the next few weeks, I'm going to try to post some of my comments on that site, as well as some original insights and opinions. This is especially true as we approach what I consider to be a watershed election that may even decide the fate of our nation in very short order. Thanks for checking back, and for understanding how busy I can be. Teaching at two different colleges, a corporate job AND ministry in and beyond my local church is a challenge.

Blessings -- and there's STILL more to come.

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.