SBC Leader Land Handicapping Politicos

In the Weekend Wall Street Journal, Richard Land–the President of Ethics and Religious Liberty for the Southern Baptist Convention–was the feature interviewee of the week on the editorial page. Naomi Schaefer Riley was the interviewer.

I was neither surprised nor stunned at Land’s appearance in the WSJ–discussing political candidates–but rather put off by the sheer brazenness with which Land, a Southern Baptist Convention leader, has fashioned himself as the SBCs political representative.

For the record: unlike most of his would-be critics, I probably agree with most of Land’s assessments.

His political viewpoints are not far-removed from mine. I have voted Republican most of the time, although I have been known to support Democrats on occasion. I won’t vote for Hillary, Obama, Edwards, or Biden. I’m moderate-conservative on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage (they ought to be resolved at the state level), and libertarian on matters of monetary and fiscal policy.

While I generally support our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, I strongly oppose the nation-building exercise into which Bush has turned these endeavors. I also oppose the Leninist brand of conservatism known as neoconservatism.

Like Dr. Land, I don’t trust Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich, and for the same reasons he doesn’t trust them. I also foresee a large sector of evangelical conservatives sitting out the 2008 election–or, like me, possibly voting libertarian–which would shatter the GOP, if the GOP doesn’t nominate a good candidate.

So what is my gripe with Land?

Let’s call him what he is: he is nothing more than a corporate lobbyist and political consultant. In this case, the corporation happens to be the largest Protestant denomination in America.

Some might ask what the difference is between Land and myself–who happens to bloviate on political matters quite extensively. Fact is, I don’t hold any high office in a religious establishment, nor do my opinions have any chance of being taken as the official stance of any religious establishment. While I have several reverends–and fellow laypersons–who take me seriously, I’m not a reverend, nor do my words carry any veiled threat, expressed or implied, to those would otherwise be inclined to tell me that I’m full of it.

Unfortunately, Land cannot say the same thing. He is among the inner-circle of the Sothern Baptist Convention; that is hardly news to anyone who follows such matters.

If he is endorsing a political candidate or speaking on an issue, you can bet serious money that almost every SBC leader at his level feels the same way, with dissent–if any–coming only with respect to details. You can also bet serious money that there is considerable pressure on local SBC preachers to avoid dissenting with Land, as there is considerable risk of significant repercussions within the denomination.

In fact, Land’s ruminations come very close to an official SBC endorsement of political candidates. That Land is only commenting on GOP candidates reflects that he–and the SBC–have become lackeys of a political party. In fact, some could say that, under the current SBC leadership, the SBC has become a wing of the GOP.

That is regrettable, as the ever-expanding reach of the State will one day make the SBC a group of useful idiots: they will become the vehicle toward the implementation of a State agenda.

Don’t believe me? Totalitarian governments do this all the time with the Church. Just go to Red China, or–if you want a kinder, gentler example–Sweden.

While I am extremely patriotic myself–if not for my back problems, I’d be in Iraq or Afghanistan right now–I also find it notable that China has “patriotic churches” which are just arms of the state.

Is the SBC marriage with the GOP compatible with the Biblical Jesus? I’d answer in the negative.

Jesus was not into political movements, and that is not for lack of efforts to recruit him. Some wanted him to lead a revolution to overthrow Rome; others tried to recruit him for their anti-tax agenda; others tried to get him to intervene as a judge to divide inheritances; others sought to get him on their side with respect to religious controversies such as divorce; others sought to get him to conform to their traditions.

And therein lies the problem: politico-religious movements–from far left to far right–are inclined to present Jesus in a way that conforms to their politico-religious bent. Ergo, the far left will present Jesus as Che Guevara on a cross where the far right will present him as the first coming of Bob Jones.

They all miss the point: Jesus doesn’t conform to our models; He intends to conform us to His expectations.

When Jesus spoke on issues, he did in such a way that he never left anyone happy. Those who present him as a liberal activist would be hard-pressed with his teachings on divorce and remarriage (which even get conservatives in fistfights). Hardshell baptists, on the other hand, would have a hard time reconciling his willingness to fellowship with “sinners” with their separatism.

While much can be said for the pro-life position in opposition to abortion, euthanasia, and genocide–and I support such causes–Jesus didn’t expend any energy on those matters.

Nor did he provide any great commission with respect to ecological matters. He provided no governmental redistributionist commands, no commands with respect to sex education. In fact, the Bible has no specific command toward any economic framework: Capitalist, Socialist, Communist, or anything in between. (In spite of my support for free markets, Biblical libertopia died when Israel insisted on having a king “like everyone else had”. Sadly, from a collective standpoint, people are not generally inclined toward personal liberties.)

Unfortunately, marrying the Church with a political movement does little or nothing to improve politics while sullying the Church and running the risk of one day making the Church an arm of the State.

The United Methodists, Presbyterian Church (USA), Episcopalians, and United Church of Christ have been politically-involved for most of the last century. Today, few people take mainline denominations seriously, as parishioners are bailing out of them like passengers on the Titanic. (The reasons for this go far beyond the political, but suffice it to say that this political involvement is a key dimension of those bodies losing their real focus.)

That same dynamic–or worse–could become the future of the SBC, and for much of the same reasons.

The Telos of Feminism in the Church

04/27/2007: Today, Southern Seminary President Al Mohler highlights exactly what The Church is facing. What is happening among mainline denominations awaits evangelicals unless they repudiate feminism and make a more concerted return to Biblical Christianity.

Where Mohler is absolutely correct, he doesn’t go far enough. He does a fine job of highlighting the absurdities in Episcopalian and Presbyterrorist ranks, but fails to address the tacit acceptance of feminist theology among evangelical conservatives. While many will point to women ministers as evidence of this–and much of that criticism has merit–there are other elements even more insidious that evangelicals have accepted.

You want examples?

  • Gender-neutralizing the Scriptures (especially with references to God)
  • Promotion of feminized worship. (Music is high on love–in the touchy-feely sense–but rarely addresses God’s creation, sovreignty, power, righteousness)
  • Taking very soft lines with respect to the marital covenant and the gender roles within that covenant. Divorce and remarriage are as rampant among evangelicals as among non-believers. Under the guise of “empowering women”, many ministers are helping undermine the Biblical design for marriage by fomenting feminist rebellion in Christian homes.

Conservative denominations–such as the Southern Baptist Convention–are in grave danger of falling into these traps unless the false doctrine of feminist theology is nipped in the bud.

Toward that end, I suggest the following (note: this is a high-level list, and not an exhaustive one):

  1. Emphasize the soveregnty of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. This can be done by emphasizing the continuity between the Old Testament (which emphasizes the Lord of Hosts, King of Kings, and Sovereign Lord) with the New. While the left will emphasize the genderless God–by pointing out that God is Spirit–they also forget that, from a relational standpoint, God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This does not mean, as some on the left ask rhetorically, that God has a penis. It means, however, that God relates to us as an ideal father ought to relate to his children. This also means that–as a the ideal father has authority in the home, God has all authority over our lives. It is impossible to call God father without calling Him Lord. The two go hand-in-hand.
  2. That should serve as a springboard for a revisitation of the Church approach to marriage. That has become way too lax, as unequal yokes–with believers KNOWINGLY marrying non-believers–is an epidemic, as is the dynamic of equally-yoked Christians getting divorces. Worse yet, the number of such divorcees getting remarried–all with the blessing of the Church–is enough to make one sick. Any pastor who knowingly marries a believer with a non-believer should be defrocked. Similarly, pastors ought to take a harder line against divorce, strongly discouraging it 99% of the time, and providing sobering–blistering–counsel with respect to remarriage.
  3. For those who are getting married, pastors should be very brutal in counseling, emphasizing the Biblical responsibilities for husband and wife, and pointing out that each one’s responsibility does not rest on the other fulfilling theirs. (In other words, it is the husband’s job to “love his wife as Christ loves the church” irrespective of whether she “submits to her husband as to the Lord.” Similarly, the wife must understand that her call to submission is not contingent on his providing perfect love. We are all fallen, and embracing the marriage covenant means for better or worse.

Some will call this misogynistic, but I’m too old to care what anyone says.

I do know this, however: the Bible is on my side on this matter.

Coulterpalooza of the Day

04/27/2007: This, from my dear sweetie Ann Coulter:

Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed the public expressions of shame and contrition from the Korean-American community after the Virginia Tech shooting? Of course, no one blames this exemplary community for the actions of one nut. The Koreans are manifestly law-abiding and decent — nipping at the heels of Italians as the greatest Americans and tied for second with the Cubans.

Indeed, I believe this marks the first time a Korean has killed anyone in the United States, not involving an automobile. Nonetheless, Korean congregations, community groups and the family members themselves are issuing statements of sorrow. Not “pleas for tolerance.” But sorrow. Remorse. Remember those? They were big back in the day.

If the Koreans can do it, why can’t the Muslims? What explains the lack of a Muslim guilt impulse — so normal, as seen in the case of the saddened Koreans — after dozens of terrorist attacks on Americans?

How about a Muslim exception to the Second Amendment? That would have prevented the Virginia snipers from killing 10 people within three weeks in 2002. But most important: It would help us achieve “diversity” in our gun law prohibitions.

I’ve given proposing marriage to her. :(

She and I probably are not a good match anyway: I’d have to stand on a stepladder to kiss the bride! ;)

U.S. Economy Becoming More Irrelevant

04/23/2007: In today’s Wall Street Journal, Craig Karmin and Joanna Slater report that the correlation between the U.S.and foreign stock markets is disappearing. On one hand, that is good news, as it offers investors a more reliable diversification of risks.

On the other hand, it signifies the increasing irrelevance of the U.S. economy. As India, China, and Eastern Europe grow by leaps and bounds, they will become the centers of capital for the global economy.

As the United States, in turn, continues to slouch toward national bankruptcy, our dollars will become less relevant. At some point, we will wake up and realize that we are no longer the E.F. Hutton of the global economy.

78-Year-Old Grandma Lands Plane After Engine Quits

04/21/2007: I like Emma Hanner’s one-liner about her situation:

When the propeller on the front of the plane goes around, it keeps the pilot cool. But when it stops, that’s when the pilot starts to sweat.

In cases like that, pilot temperature is inversely proportional to altitude. This also reminds me of a sign that I had in my dorm room during my college days: Lose not thine airspeed, lest the ground rise up to smite thee.

Reflection on the Duke Lacrosse Non-Case

04/11/2007: I’ve got several rants with respect to the Duke lacrosse non-case. Here goes. WARNING: this post contains obscenities.

(1) WTF were the lacrosse players smoking? Bringing a stripper into the same company with a large number of testosterone-crazed men–with no independent chapparone or witness–was extremely risky. While I agree that they were innocent of crime, their stupidity caused them many months–perhaps a lifetime–of needless grief and accusation.

(2) District Attorney Mike Nifong should be impeached and disbarred. He makes Darryl Isaacs–the shyster of Kentucky–look honorable. That piece of pig crap savagely attacked the Duke players, so he could suck up to the black community in an election season.

(3) Jesse Jackson isn’t worthy to clean the floors at a peep show with his tongue. By throwing his unconditional support for the accuser–who was clearly lying–he has exposed himself for the race-baiting pimp that he is. My theory: he wanted to roll in the hay with the accuser.

(4) The accuser should be jailed for the very crimes of which she falsely accused those lacrosse players. She is an opportunistic, lying bitch who needs a lesson in reality. Three lacrosse players faced many years in jail because of her lies. It would be only fair to subject her to the punishment she sought against them.

(5) Duke administrators–who rushed to judgement against the lacrosse players, as they suspended two of them–should be fired. No parent who has a brain should let his or her children go to Duke. They are just a campus full of rim-jobbers for the radical feminist establishment. Piss on the whole lot of those scum-suckers, who hung their students out to dry while there was not ONE SHRED OF PROOF that they committed a crime.