Ben Carson’s irresponsible rhetoric is not conservative

ben carson1 Peter 1:22 says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” To me, this verse captures the ethos of true conservatism: obedience to the truth. Sincere love means truthful love that doesn’t sugarcoat or sell out to political correctness. I don’t always agree with conservatives about what constitutes obedience to the truth, but I very much respect this basic posture of integrity. Having said that, it would be disobedient to the truth not to name Ben Carson’s rhetoric at the Value Voters Summit this week as tremendously irresponsible and dangerous to genuine conservatism. Continue reading

The God of no compromise and the government shutdown

vader cross ver 2For many of us who grew up evangelical, the word “compromise” has always been a bad word. It means to allow non-Christian values and influences to corrupt your devotion to Biblical truth. Frank Schaeffer, the son of the evangelical leader who started the modern Religious Right, claims that our government shutdown and its Tea Party architects cannot be understood apart from this fundamental characteristic of the evangelical ethos. Insofar as the Tea Party is an evangelical phenomenon, I think he may be right. Evangelicals are raised to be a people of no compromise. And it all starts with an understanding of Jesus’ cross that makes God into Darth Vader and turns us into cookie-cutter stormtroopers devoted to His imperial cause. Continue reading

Would you refuse to negotiate if…?

donkeyselephants-300x300Whatever your opinion about whose fault it is, our government has gotten beyond ridiculous. Many people from my church are out of work because of the government shutdown. So I thought for the sake of some absurdist comic relief, I would start a game of “Would you refuse to negotiate if…?” The way you play the game is to think of the most ridiculous expectations that neighbors, husbands, wives, or kids could have for someone else to “negotiate” with them. Please add your own in the comment section. Continue reading

I’m glad my church pays for my birth control

Well it’s not a line item on our church budget called “Pastor family planning fund” or anything like that. So you can breathe now. But my health insurance through the United Methodist Church is what pays for my wife and me to have our IUD that keeps us from having more babies. And I think it’s time someone named the fact that family planning is a legitimate part of the equation of Christian sexual ethics rather than always being a demonic conspiracy against God’s will for humanity. Birth control is part of how my wife and I try to be faithful stewards of our bodies and our relationship for the sake of both our family and the ministry to which God has called each of us. Continue reading

Why I’m not offended by so-called “socialism”

In a recent interview with George Stephanopoulos, Congressman Paul Ryan said that he had a basic philosophical difference with the Democrats: he believes that rights come from God while they think rights come from the government. Setting aside the question of whether this distinction is fair, I think it captures the source of the visceral rage of Teavangelicals who have made Paul Ryan their hero. They have defined their battlefield as a contest between Christianity and secular humanism, God vs. government. If government support programs for the poor are not wasteful, enabling, and unfair, then God might lose His relevance. Continue reading

Opportunistic “persecution”

Normally on Fridays I don’t write anything on my blog because I’m hard at work on my sermon. But the whole contraception quagmire has gotten me too churned up to focus. There are countries in our world right now where Christians are actually being murdered for their religious beliefs. This is particularly the case in Egypt, where the Coptic Christians are being brutally attacked by Muslim lynch-mobs. It is profoundly disrespectful to the genuine martyrdom that these Christians suffer when American evangelical celebrities like Rick Warren try to fan the flames of our government’s contraception debate for politically opportunistic reasons. And it’s abominable for recent Dietrich Bonhoeffer biographer Eric Metaxas to try to make an analogy between contraception and the Holocaust. Continue reading