A Statement Trump Needs to Make

Somebody get this to Trump. It might stop the bloodshed, if he's sincere.

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If anyone has access to Trump or his campaign staff, I would like to offer the following statement to him. I submit that it would go further to getting him elected than anything he is currently saying. If it’s sincere.

My Fellow Citizens,

I come to you today with a genuine humility. I want you to know that in the past I have behaved very poorly. As a younger man I allowed my wealth and fame to go to my head resulting in me looking at women more as objects than people deserving of every respect. I said and did things in line with that way of thinking that I now deeply regret. I was prideful, cavalier, often mean and spiteful. The remnants of some of that behavior has followed me even till now. But here it stops. Some of these things you have already heard about and in all likelihood there will be more to come before this election. I find it all a sad reminder of a past I no longer want to be associated with. Many women have been offended by my words and actions. I want to say to you that I apologize – not “if” you are offended but because I know I was wrong. My dear wife and daughter are helping me to see just how painful many of my words and actions have been. Let me use a word from the Bible that I am learning. Repentance. To repent is to “turn around” and I am repenting. I’m turning away from my juvenile and vulgar attitudes regarding women. My friends, I want to be a champion for every American regardless of gender, race or creed. I know full well that not one of us is perfect and I have no desire to dwell in the gutter of personal attacks any longer. I will no longer bring up the indiscretions and sins of other men to defend my poor behavior. I will speak only of my ideas and goals as I believe they are better in the long run for this great land. This election is a crossroads. The Supreme Court is on the line, religious liberty is in danger, small businesses are being strangled by over regulation, jobs are fleeing our shores, our inner cities are suffering, and we face the cruel reality of those who want to bring terror and destruction to the world in the name of a radical ideology. We must act now or we risk losing so much. I offer you no excuses. I simply dedicate myself to being a different kind of man. A man you can be proud of. I ask you to pray for me, for this great land, and be sure to vote in this election. Thank you.

Peter J. Leithart: How God Fixes Things

"If God - the living God - were to get busy fixing things, they may not like the way He goes about fixing things."

Paradise Lost: Illustrations by Gustave Doré

Paradise Lost: Illustrations by Gustave Doré

This article by Peter J. Leithart appeared today on the First Things website. I thought it’s an excellent response to recent headlines. 

The cry has come up from our national journalogians at the NYT and the Post: “God isn’t fixing this. No more prayers. Let’s get some action.”

If God – the living God – were to get busy fixing things, they may not like the way He goes about fixing things.

He isn’t a safe and distant God. He doesn’t stay politely above the fray. He takes sides. For some, this is appalling. For believers, it’s the ground of our hope. Early or late, the Judge of all the earth will do right.

Sometimes, so the Apostle Paul says, He judges by turning people over to their passions and sins. He turns idolaters to their idolatry. He turns people over to unnatural sexual desires. He turns the violent to their violence, until they eat one another alive.

As Psalm 18 puts it, He is pure with the pure, just with the just; but with the perverse He is a God of twists and turns, a trickster to beat all tricksters.

And that raises the frightening prospect that what our elites see as evidence of God’s absence is precisely the opposite. Perhaps all the visible slaughter of the past few years is the result of God turning us over to the bloodsport we like so much. Those stats about gun deaths – they pale to nothing next to the stats for abortion.

Perhaps we are seeing the living God’s answer to our prayers. Because if believers are praying aright, we are praying for the Lord’s Advent: “For He comes, He comes to judge the earth. He comes to judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.”

And if that’s what is going on, then no legislation in the world can fix this. Only God can, the living God, the God who hears and answers prayer.

Written by Peter J. Leithart

The Joni Mitchell Interview

Joni Mitchell was part of my adolescence and young adult years. Her song Both Sides Now has remained one of my favorites through the years and her remake of it in 2003 for the movie Love Actually provided not only one of the most poignant moments I’ve ever seen in a film, but a complete revolution of that song into the lament of our later adult years. CBC Radio critic Jian, does an outstanding job of drawing out Joni’s remarkable insights as both a painter and a songwriter in this 2013 interview.

 

Emergent Madness

WildGoose2013Barton Gingerich, writing for the Institute on Religion & Democracy’s blog, reported on this year’s Wild Goose Festival held in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The story, Ex-Evangelicals & Chili Cornbread Eucharist, is a fascinating but disturbing look at the outer rings of the emergent theological spectrum.

The invitation page on their website offers the following:

“We dream of a movement where everyone is welcome to participate. We are intentionally building a space in which we invite everyone to value, respect, and fully affirm people of any ethnicity, age, gender, gender expression, sexual identity, education, bodily condition, religious affiliation, or economic background, particularly the marginalized. We are committed to fair trade, gift exchange, ecological sanity, and economic inclusion. We strive for high standards of mutual respect, non-hierarchical leadership, and participative planning.”

Doesn’t that feel good? All aboard! Love wins.

Some of my favorite quotes from Barton’s story:

Perhaps the perfect encapsulation of Wild Goose was its chili cornbread Eucharist. Touted as an example of “bioregional discipleship,” the service featured a “good old fashioned altar call tonight at communion,” where supplicants would repent of their “consumer lifestyle” and “petroleum-based investments.”

Apparently, the most important questions surrounding the sacrament aren’t about Christ’s presence and substance, but instead whether or not the ingredients are certified fair trade organic.

Wild Goose “elder” Vincent Harding addressed the opening invocation to “Mother-Father God, Benevolent Being,” “the spirits of those who came before,” and “the spirit of the earth.” Observers might not know where this flock is headed, but it’s definitely not north.

I was surprised to see IVP Press as one of the sponsors and Phillip Yancy as a speaker. Then again not much surprises me these days. I would like to think that those who are somewhat at the center of the Emergent Movement, Doug PagittTony Jones, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Rob Bell  would be reluctant to stand that far out on the edge but I’m being steadily liberated from that expectation . I know there’s a lot of talk about mutual respect and being a part of the “conversation” but this conversation is sadly leading many astray.

 

 

 

 

The Most Offensive Thing I Believe

genesis-1-1This is from the Pyromaniac blog and penned by the very erudite Dan Phillips. So concise. So clearly stated that I could not help but repost. You can view the original here. Thanks Dan.

When Piers or Larry or Tavis or Rosie or Ellen or The View or whoever tried probing me about homosexuality, or wifely submission, or any other area where God has spoken (to the world’s consternation), I think I’d decline the worm altogether. I think instead, I’d say something like,

“You know, TaPierRosEllRy, when you ask me about X, you’re obviously picking a topic that is deeply offensive to non-Christians — but it’s far from the most offensive thing I believe. You’re just nibbling at the edge of one of the relatively minor leaves on the Tree of Offense. Let me do you a favor, and just take you right down to the root. Let me take you to the most offensive thing I believe.

“The most offensive thing I believe is Genesis 1:1, and everything it implies.

“That is, I believe in a sovereign Creator who is Lord and Definer of all. Everything in the universe — the planet, the laws of physics, the laws of morality, you, me — everything was created by Another, was designed by Another, was given value and definition by Another. God is Creator and Lord, and so He is ultimate. That means we are created and subjects, and therefore derivative and dependent.

“Therefore, we are not free to create meaning or value. We have only two options. We can discover the true value assigned by the Creator and revealed in His Word, the Bible; or we can rebel against that meaning.

“Any time you bring up questions about any of these issues, you do so from one of two stances. You either do it as someone advocating and enabling rebellion against the Creator’s design, or as someone seeking submissive understanding of that design. You do it as servant or rebel. There is no third option.

“So yeah, insofar as I’m consistent with my core beliefs, everything I think about sexuality, relationships, morals, the whole nine yards, all of it is derived from what the Creator says. If I deviate from that, I’m wrong.

“To anyone involved in the doomed, damned you-shall-be-as-God project, that is the most offensive truth in the world, and it is the most offensive belief I hold.

“But if I can say one more thing, the first noun in that verse —beginning — immediately points us forward. It points to the end. And the end is all about Jesus Christ. That takes us to the topic of God’s world-tilting Gospel, and that’s what we really need to talk about.”

I mean, why quibble about minor offenses, when we know how to take them right to the mother lode of all offense — that God is God, and we are not?

The Myth of Inalienable Rights

9780830837830A quote I posted from Will Metzger’s book Telling the Truth, raised some questions. Here it is again:

“Grace uproots three myths – my inalienable rights, my human goodness, my free will – that act as barriers, shielding people from the full impact of the gospel. These barriers are penetrated by the scandal of grace. Only a grace-centered gospel saves and gives response-ability, which solves the nonbeliever’s main problem. This results in passionate worship, which is the goal of evangelism – not just decisions but fervent disciples.”

My good friend Mark Weaver commented on the quote here and over at his exceptionally good blog, The Famished Patriot, offering some concern over Metzger’s inclusion of our constitutional rights  I haven’t finished the book yet and tend to grab quotes as I go. I was pretty sure I knew what he was getting at and subsequent reading led to a fuller statement. So, to be fair to Metzger, I’m adding his thoughts about that particular “myth.”

 The Constitution of the United States has made famous the phrase “inalienable rights.” The existence of certain rights that all humans possess is a noble idea. It safeguards the value of human life and liberty from people who would take these away. Is it true that no one can revoke these and other human rights? What about the One who made us? Is it not inherent in the fact that we are not self made that therefore any rights are derived?

We are creatures. Does it not also follow that God has all rights over his creation? As our Creator, he has creation rights (ownership prerogatives) over everyone. We were made for his purposes. God does not exist for our benefit, remember? Our wills are not sovereign; an independent, high walled enclosure that God cannot enter. He alone is autonomous-a law unto himself. Whatever he does by definition is right and good; therefore, he can do anything to people that is his “good pleasure.” He is supreme. God is God. Various people in the Bible express this truth.

In this day of multiple human “rights,” most people wrongly assume that God owes us something – salvation, or at least a chance at salvation. He shows astonishing favor to many; but he does not have to (that is the essence of grace). 1f he were obliged to be gracious, grace would no longer be grace and salvation would be based on human merit rather than being sola gratia. This is why the doctrine of election is opposed by so many. It doesn’t seem fair to them. But as soon as we Introduce the doctrine of fairness, we introduce  standard of right by which God has to save all or at least give everyone an equal chance of being saved. And that is not grace! If God were motivated only by what is right, without any consideration of grace made possible by the work of Christ, all would be condemned, and all would spend eternity in hell. Humbled, we celebrate a “Declaration of Dependence,” agreeing that we are endowed with alienable (transferred to us from our Creator) rights.

Will Metzger

Metzger has been a campus minister at the University of Delaware since 1965, where he serves with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Christian InterAction (a church and campus connection). His evangelism ministry has taken him to every continent, and he has witnessed to people from varied nationalities both on campus and through a church that he pastored.

Laws Do Not Change People’s Hearts

” I am struck by the lack of biblical literacy from virtually every voice in this discussion. Let me start with Christians. It seems that we have little sense about what politics does and does not achieve. My brothers and sisters, “we won” is not an appropriate response. Patting ourselves on the back is silly. Moving forward with anything less than continual proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ with the somber realization of the lostness we face is simply missing the point. Politics does not bring victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave – Jesus does. Laws do not change people’s hearts – the Spirit of Christ does. Elections will not bring this country to be a picture of God’s Kingdom – God the Father and his electing purposes will do so when he sends his Son to restore all things at the end of the age. Don’t get me wrong, we ought to vote in a way that reflects God’s Kingdom, and in doing so perhaps some will be confronted with the reality of God and his created order. But please don’t act like temporal laws in a temporal government will ever bring about the true spiritual change that’s needed to redeem hearts, minds, souls, and bodies for Christ.”

 

An excellent article from the Secundum Scripturas blog.

NC Amendment One and President Obama   by 

 

The King of Instruments Goes to Waste

Phelps Organ in Christ's ChapelWhen it comes to a waste of beauty, I can think of many examples. One would be the dismantlement and disappearance of the The Phelps Organ in Christ Chapel,

At the time it was installed in 1978, the organ was the largest mechanical action organ in the United States.  It was a massive instrument that thundered and whispered with power and beauty.

In 1998 after water and neglect had damaged the organ, there was a move to repair it and then:

Phelps Organ at Oral Roberts University

“On December 2, 1998, twelve years of silence ended as the organ sounded once again during chapel amidst cheers from the student body. (Mr.) Tracy Russell, the new organist, accompanied the singing of the hymn that morning: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

“I’m very thrilled to see it and hear it being used again,” Celestino said. “From the beginning,” when plans to make repairs were announced, “the reaction from the students has been very positive,” he said. In talking with students, he added, “some thought (the organ) was for visual benefit only, because they’d never heard it. It never dawned on them that it made music.” (Story Link)

Never dawned on them that it made music?  University, right?

Nine years later in 2007, pictures showed the organ hidden behind banners and a massive video projection screen. When I was there last February it was no where to be seen. Blue curtains and bland panels covered the space and the grand organ was said to have been dismantled, put into storage and put on sale.

Bill McConnell was chapel organist for the 1999-2000 school year while he was full-time Minister of Music at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Tulsa and teaching part-time at ORU. He says:

I don’t know that the instrument has been dismantled (it might have been, I just don’t know for sure). It just makes me very sad that funds were spent to build this magnificent instrument, it was allowed to deteriorate once and then restored, and then was allowed to deteriorate again. It is an incredibly poor example of stewardship to use funds for a project of this size and complexity that you haven’t made any plans to sustain.

ORU Chapel

Shame.

Such a stunning work both visually and acoustically traded in for what? Bands playing the song of the week.

 

 

The video below is a nice piece on a young man who discovered what an organ could offer and plays regularly at his church.