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Archive for October, 2016

 

Wittenberg-1536.jpg

Wittenberg as seen from the Elbe, 1536.

October 31 is known to much of the world as the pagan holiday of Halloween. But for Christians, October 31 represents something quite different. It’s what we call Reformation Day.

 

For it was on that date in 1517 that Martin Luther’s nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door and forever changed the world for the better.

The Gospel of Justification By Faith Alone – the idea that sinful men are saved, not by doing good works, but solely by faith in Christ Jesus – once again shone forth in all its brilliance after a millennium of suppression by the Roman Church-State and millions were saved as a result.

But Luther’s rejection of church tradition in favor of the objective, written Word of God did not revolutionize the church only. It resulted in a whole new civilization, what we now call the West, coming into existence.

Ideas such as the sanctity of private property, honesty in exchange, the rule of law, capitalism, written constitutions, secular work as pleasing to God all found their origin in the Protestant Reformation that began with Luther.

Though it is not commonly understood by Americans, our nation owes its very existence to the Biblical ideas recovered at the time of the Reformation.

Most of us are taught to trace the foundations of our republic to Greece and Rome. But limited, constitutional government did not begin with Greco-Roman civilization. It began with the Hebrew Republic as recorded for us in the Old Testament. Thus the Bible is foundational to our political system.

In like manner, our economic system of capitalism or free enterprise finds its origins, not in the writings of pagan philosophers, nor in the thought of medieval scholastics, nor in the principles of the Renaissance, but in the propositions of the Word of God, the 66 books of the Bible.

To put it another way: No Protestant Reformation, no United States of America. To quote John Robbins,

One of Luther’s most brilliant followers, John Calvin, systematized the theology of the Reformation. The seventeenth-century Calvinists laid the foundations for both English and American civil rights and liberties: freedom of speech, pres, and religion, the privilege against self-incrimination, the independence of juries, and right of habeas corpus, the right not to be imprisoned without cause. The nineteenth-century German historian Leopold von Ranke referred to Calvin as the “virtual founder of America” (Civilization and the Protestant Reformation).

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It’s ten days to go until the big election, but to me it feels a bit like fourth and goal with the clock ticking down.

On the one side you have the establishment interests desperate to shove Hillary across the goal line.

On the other side of the ball, you have the American people, at least the ones who have enough sense not to support a criminal for president, seeking to push back against the onslaught of lies and fraud to make the big defensive stop.

It’s do or dies time.

So how’s this going to play out? Do the American people make the big stop, or does the Evil Empire win the day.

My Scripturalist convictions prevent me from making knowledge claims apart from Scripture and for that reason I tend to shy away from predictions. There’s that, plus I really just don’t like setting myself up to look foolish.

That said, I’m going to take a baby step out on a limb on offer an opinion, not a knowledge claim, but an opinion, and say that come Friday January 20, 2017 we’re going to bear witness to the inauguration of President Trump.

Why do I say this? Well for starters…

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trump_clinton_2

In last week’s post, I set forth a framework for helping Evangelicals think through the issue of whether then can support Donald Trump for President. I suggested we ask ourselves the following questions when considering whether we can vote for Trump: What is more important, What is less important, What is not important at all.

Today, I would like to apply that analysis specifically to the issue of the vulgar Donald Trump/billy Bush video that was released a few weeks ago.

That video, showing both men engaged in what has been euphemistically termed “locker room talk”, has threatened to undermine Trump’s support among Evangelicals, who, with good reason, are offended by what was said on the recording.

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I know, I know. I’m a little late with the post this week. But just to prove to you I’m not a complete choke artist, I thought I jot down a few thoughts on the news this past week, even if I come in a little short.

Election Rigging, Say It Ain’t So

The biggest story this week has to be the fallout from Donald Trump’s debate comments. His suggestion that the presidential election might be subject to, shall we say, a certain amount of skullduggery by his esteemed opponents was bad enough.

But his refusal to promise to accept the results of an election that has yet to take place? Well, that was enough to send the entire political establishment into a fit of apoplectic rage.

Sounding the part of the good socialist schoolmarm she is, the Evil Pantsuit (EP) immediately took to scolding Trump for his stance on the election results, saying, “Well Chris, let me respond to that because that’s horrifying. You know, every time Donald thinks things aren’t going in his direction, he claims whatever it is, is rigged against him.”

The mainstream media was quick to pick up where the EP left off. The AP reported Trump was, “Threatening to upend a basic pillar of American democracy.”

President Obama commented there’s, “no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections.”

The local rag (aka The Cincinnati Enquirer) ran an editorial Friday denouncing Trump’s comments. The paper opines, ” Donald Trump’s claims of a rigged presidential election aren’t only unprecedented and irresponsible. They are dangerous.” Trump, it is claimed, is doing his utmost to “undermine our democracy (sic)” and “Faith in the election system is one of it’s cornerstones.”

To all the above I say nonsense.

Given the massive dishonesty surrounding nearly every aspect of the EP’s campaign, it is entirely reasonable to think the fix is in when it comes to the 2016 election.

What are we to think when the former Secretary of State obviously committed multiple felonies in her mishandling of classified information is not charged but that the fix is in? What are we to think when the husband of said former Secretary of State meets in secret with the Attorney General days before the FBI refuses to recommend charges but that the fix is in?

Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign from her post as head of the DNC due to Wikileaks reports that she had been complicit in rigging the primaries for the EP against Bernie Sanders. Is this not rigging? And if the powers that be will rig the primaries, is it unreasonable to assume they will attempt to rig the general election?

And for what it’s worth, the EP’s campaign hired Debbie Wasserman-Schultz right after her resignation. Nothing suspicious here. Move along, folks.

Wikileaks also has revealed that current DNC chair Donna Brazil obtained the exact wording of a proposed town hall question “and possibly shared it with the Clinton campaign.” But why would anyone be so foolish as to think the presidential election might be rigged.

In this writer’s opinion, given the circumstances surrounding this campaign Trump is absolutely right to raise the specter of a rigged election. Doing so puts the riggers on notice and energizes his base.

And just for good measure, we can’t let the EP off the hook without pointing out her own hypocrisy when it comes to questioning election results. For in 2002, Hillary told a fund-raiser crowd in Lost Angeles that George W. Bush was “selected, not elected” president.

When it comes to refusing to accept election results, apparently it’s all a matter of whose ox is being gored.


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trump_clinton_2

The Bible distinguishes knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the ideas taught in Scripture either by direct statement or by implication. Wisdom, on the other hand, is the correct application of knowledge to the particular men and circumstances that we encounter in our lives.

As a way of getting them to apply their knowledge, John Robbins sometimes would tell people they needed to decide what is more important, what is less important, and what is not important at all. This approach can be a helpful way for Christians to think through a host of different issues, including the decision how to vote in elections.

And given the stakes inherent in any presidential election, maybe especially this election, it is important for Christians to have a Biblical framework for evaluating the candidates.

For my part, I have struggled with the election more than any other. There are numerous reason why I would never consider voting for Hillary Clinton. Some of them I have outlined below.

On the other hand, the thought of voting for Trump presents challenges as well.

One Christian writer, put off as he is by the release of a video with Trump making lewd sexual remarks, has equated support for Trump with idolatry and a decision that harms our witness for Christ, “Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord” (Andy Crouch, Speak Truth to Trump).

Over at World, Marvin Olasky penned Unfit for power, an editorial calling for Trump to step aside as Republican nominee.

One suspects that the arguments put forth by both these writers reflect the thoughts of many Christians. And it is not hard to understand their agreement with Crouch and Olasky.

My view is different. As I shall argue, I believe both these gentlemen miss the mark with their commentaries. Given the circumstances, In my opinion a vote for Trump, rather than being idolatry, may very well be an act of good judgment.

Concerning the call for Trump to step down, it’s worth asking whether there have been any calls from World for Mrs. Clinton to step aside for her many, blatant and serious crimes, not to mention several other significant problems that make her unfit for office.

Before presenting my argument, there are a few points I would like to make.

First, what I say in this post is an opinion. I do not offer it up as a necessary deduction from Scripture. I do not claim it as knowledge. As one who’s spent more than a year struggling with what to think about Trump, and to some extent avoiding commentary on the subject, I can appreciate Crouch’s and Olasky’s concerns and do not doubt their good intentions.

Further, there are many good brothers and sisters in Christ who, as a matter of conscience believe they cannot vote for Trump. This post is not aimed at them. If someone believes voting for Trump is wrong, he should by no means go against his conscious. To do so would be sin.

Third, I acknowledge my own biases, sinfulness and ignorance and realize that all of these shortcomings color any analysis that I do. A Hillary Clinton administration will be, in my view, a heavy burden upon the American people. Perhaps my own intense dislike for her has unfairly colored by assessment of Trump. In light of this, it is possible that I am wrong and those who oppose a Trump presidency are right. That I will leave for others to decide.

Fourth, I write what I do in good faith in the hope that the body of Christ may find it edifying. It is not my intention to castigate those who come to conclusions that are at odds with mine. And if I’ve made errors in my reasoning, perhaps at least some of what I’ve set forth will stimulate thought concerning the election choice facing the nation.

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