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A Fresh Approach to Political Involvement

It is Independence Day in these United States. Many are questioning the way forward in light of recent political upheaval. The following is a guest post by Matthew Barnes charting at least one part of the way forward for Christians. He is a good friend and fellow servant of Christ. He minsters with Capital Commission Indiana and Public Servants’ Prayer. Though he writes for an Indiana audience, the principles can be applied across these United States.

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I have been ministering in the Indiana Statehouse for more than 10 years. God has opened more doors than I would have ever imagined, and it all started with God impressing on my heart to pray for leaders. I found that it is impossible to hate someone for whom you earnestly pray. I can honestly say that I love politicians! Politicians are simply people who hurt, feel and bleed the same as you and I.  Some of them know Christ, others do not. The political arena has a vacuum of pastoral care.

Many people want to influence politics and politicians. Every time there is a perceived political loss for people of faith, there are passionate calls for pastors and churches to engage. This is true of churches […]

A Lament for Sally (and the rest of us)

There is a difference between freedom and autonomy (literally, self-law).  Freedom allows flourishing within a defined context conducive to life.  To bloom bright and beautiful, flowers are “constrained” by their need for water, good soil, and sun.  Autonomy demands the right to redefine terms and refuse any restraint.  Pop culture and political activists in black robes have made it clear:  We demand autonomy.  No fixed definitions for social institutions and therefore none for us as individuals.  We demand the right to self-define, no matter whose freedom gets trampled in the process and no matter who gets hurt, including ourselves. As we will increasingly see, but will likely keep refusing to learn, self-definition is self-destruction.

The following satire is barely hyperbolic.  As these recent articles show – doctors in Belgium to kill healthy 24 year old  and  Aggressive pursuit of the right to die – this scenario is now nightmarishly close to materializing.    

Where Faith Goes to Die

It’s an old joke among Christian leaders to “accidentally” refer to seminary as cemetery.  “Back when I was in cemetery…er, seminary…” Or to a young prospect for the pastorate:  “So, you’re heading to cemetery…er, seminary, eh?  Well, hang in there.  You’ll be involved in real ministry eventually.”  The joker’s purposeful subliminal slip assumes that theological education and vital, faith-filled ministry are in tension with one another, if they’re not outright enemies.  Well, if seminary is where an aspiring minister’s faith goes to die, then Presbytery meetings must be purgatory.

For Presbyterian denominations within Christ’s church, Presbytery is the deliberative assembly of elders from a particular geographical region that gathers to make decisions which will guide the local congregations within that region.  The Synod (or General Assembly) is the Presbytery meeting of all Presbyteries in the denomination.  All the stereotypes, the alleged faith-killing aspects of seminary – dry discussions of dust-accumulating documents written by dead theologians who were barely interesting in their own day – are made to live again in debates among seminary graduates and other church leaders.  Any vitality from fresh ideas in these debates is short-lived; soon those sparks of life are laid to rest in the coffins of […]

Indiana’s Opportunity

Those of us living in Indiana live at a rare juncture in history. We made big news a month ago with our Religious Freedom and Restoration Act in the statehouse. The waters have calmed for now, and many people wish the whole episode would just disappear. Maybe the whole attempt to pass the RFRA was unwise on the part of the Christians who authored the bill. Whether it was or was not, proponents of LBGT rights have promised to press for more comprehensive protections in next year’s general assembly. Rare is the occasion when a people have the promise of a spotlight and the opportunity to prepare for eight months before taking the stage.

Fellow Hoosiers of various persuasions should take time to serious think through the possibilities and implications that are before us. Whether you are convinced that your side will win or lose the political contest, you will have many open doors for discussion if you live here that could powerfully impact our lives and the lives of those around us. Rather than run from the discussion, let’s embrace the opportunity set before us.

Marvin Olasky has long argued that Bible-believing Christians today are less like the ancient Jews in […]

The Inevitable End of Abortion as We Know It

Though it is difficult even to report or give a link to it, last week a mother in New Jersey set her newborn child on fire and left her in the middle of a road.  A neighbor who witnessed it rightly called it a “nightmare.”  Those who are reporting on it are calling it “disturbing” and “shaking the community.”  Residents have begun to assemble a makeshift memorial to the baby girl.

Sadly, so few see that this very scene is happening 4000 times a day in communities all across our land.  Mothers, with either the support of or acting out of the neglect from the fathers, are burning or cutting their little boys and girls to death.  Yet because it happens in the womb instead of a few minutes after birth, far too many people in our land do not recognize the nightmare all around us.

So it is vital as we enter this week of the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that we continue to erect a memorial to this tragedy so that this disturbing practice will be brought to an end.  I believe that one day it inevitably will be.

A number of years ago, I heard Dr. Rich […]

Praying for Your Leaders?

It is easy to become frustrated with politics and government. It is easy for us to throw up our hands as Christians and say, “Well, politics is not the essence of Christ’s kingdom, so I’m just not going to invest much (if any) energy there.” Some find it discouraging because it seems that we are often “losing” political battles. But friends, we are only really losing when we are unfaithful to Jesus. Even the martyrs know that they won even though they lost in the face of persecution from earthly authorities as they stood for truth (Revelation 6:9-10). If we are being faithful in Christ, then we are always winning. So, it might be a good time to ask if you are being faithful to God’s call on your life with respect to your leaders, especially as lawmakers take up their work afresh across our land in the month of January.

There will always be considerable debate about what God requires of us as we relate to government. But we are all to pray for our leaders; that is one indisputable truth. Paul urges in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and […]

The Hatred of Adam’s Hatefilled Race

Watching the news and hearing conversations over the last several weeks has been very hard. The media circus and endless commentaries surrounding Michael Brown and Eric Garner should cause Christians to pause. There’s been so much vitriolic hatred. I must admit, I feel a deep sympathy with the Psalmist, “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.” Jesus is serious about loving your neighbor. In fact, the only thing more important than loving your neighbor is loving the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. But second to that, and like that, is loving your neighbor as yourself.

That’s radical command. Why? Because the heart of man is exceedingly hateful. To not love another is hate. And, if I can insist on it, the true tragedy of hatred is not the victimization, marginalization, or oppression of another. The ultimate tragedy, the ultimate outrage of hate is that hatred is sin. This is serious! If you hate your neighbor you’re in danger of the fires of hell. And it’s become clear to me that I don’t hate hatred near enough.

Now, I want to be clear. Hatred isn’t a respecter […]

Immigration and the Law of God

Toward the end of his speech last week on immigration, President Obama quoted from the Bible when he said:

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal — that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

The outcry about the president using Scripture has been loud.  Some debated which Scripture he was quoting.  Conservatives appeared to be angry he used a Scripture quote, noting his failure to apply it in other situations such as same-sex marriages.  Predictably, liberals laughed more at the conservative reaction than questioning […]

Russell Moore Interview of Rosaria Butterfield

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church held their national conference at the end of October on the topic of “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.”  Russell Moore interviewed Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.  You can watch this fascinating interview below.

The Kingdom of Donkeys and Pachyderms

This week the United States saw a major shift in the political landscape of the nation. The Democratic blue has faded to Republican red as Republicans celebrate victories in the House, the Senate, and in gubernatorial mansions across the nation.

Does this mean that the nation is becoming more conservative? Maybe. Does it mean that people are tired of the liberal rhetoric of the past six years? It could be. Does it mean that our nation is on its way to seeing hope and change? That may be the case. Does it mean that we find ourselves under the gracious blessings of Jesus Christ?

In that last question stands the warning.

The Reformed Presbyterian Testimony wisely warns: “We deny that simply having a democratic or republican form of government insures God’s approval and blessing (RPT 23.10).”

There is great wisdom in this statement.

Over the past decade the United States of America has moved the furthest away from biblical ethics that it has ever been. Although the pendulum swung right again on Tuesday, the Church of Jesus Christ must not allow that to be seen as a victory for biblical Christianity.

It […]