Looking Back on 2012: Jan-Feb

I figured I would end 2012 by reviewing a selection of my posts from throughout the year chronologically, starting with 10 posts from January and February, which I have listed below with a brief description for each of them. These don’t necessarily have any ranking to them; they are just the ten that first jumped out at me for being either popular or important. Continue reading

Election Day Communion vs. Pulpit Freedom Sunday

A few weeks ago, I started getting spam from Jim Garlow, the pastor of the Skyline megachurch in Lemon Grove, California, about the Pulpit Freedom Sunday initiative that he has been spearheading with Glenn Beck. This past Sunday, about 1500 pastors across the country heeded Garlow’s call to preach about the presidential campaign in defiance of the IRS prohibition on public political endorsements for 501-C3 tax-deductible organizations. Around the same time that Garlow started spamming me, I accidentally stumbled across a different initiative started by two Mennonite pastors and an Episcopal layperson, who didn’t have nearly the resources of Garlow, called Election Day Communion, which has the modest goal of getting 100 churches in all 50 states to celebrate communion on Election Day in order to remember our unity as Christians in a season that has tried to redefine us according to our partisan affiliations. These two contrasting movements capture two radically different visions for how to be the church in a contentious political season. Continue reading

Obama’s big gamble and how Christians should respond

I was surprised to see President Obama take a public stand supporting gay marriage this week immediately after the North Carolina landslide referendum against it. I don’t question Obama’s sincerity, but politicians never make public pronouncements without a cost/benefit analysis, which leads me to wonder whether Obama’s campaign is taking a calculated risk to bait the culture warriors into unleashing an unprecedented fury that will alienate the independent voters they have already terrified by gobbling up Obama’s bait in the contraception battle. As an evangelical Christian, my focus in all circumstances is on building the kingdom of God and sharing the gospel with everyone I encounter. Any political stances I take are strategically driven by this primary focus. So I am very worried that my fellow evangelicals are going to lunge after Obama’s latest bait and cause tremendous collateral damage to our Christian witness. As Rachel Held Evans wrote on Wednesday, if Christians  get swept up again into culture wars leading up to this election, then we will continue to poison our witness and lose young Americans to the gospel. We cannot keep absolving ourselves of responsibility for our witness by blaming the “liberal media.” I’m not at all saying that we need to conform our values to whatever the secular consensus degenerates into, but the Bible is not silent about how we should conduct ourselves in the world in which our primary investment should always be our witness. And many Christians have failed to exude a Christlike spirit in our contributions to public discourse. Continue reading

We are not all Catholic now

I’m sitting in the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. For the past couple of weeks, I have gone to the Monday noon mass. It’s been a deep spiritual struggle each week to decide whether or not to go forward for Eucharist, but I think God wanted me to do it. Each time I have been terrified to get “caught” as a Protestant infiltrator. But that fear has been overridden by a longing to be part of Christ’s true body, the one true church. So now that mass is over, against this backdrop of feeling like a filthy Samaritan completely unworthy of God’s mercy, I just read Glenn Beck’s declaration, “We are all Catholics now.” I’m not sure that anything more sacrilegious could possibly be said. Continue reading