Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Purple Politics in the Press

posted by xscot mcknight

From the AP wires, and posted at AOL.com, there is clear evidence of purple politics. And blurring lines often creates tension. Rick Warren has a summit on AIDS and has invited both Barack Obama (Democrat) and Sam Brownback (Republican), but Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, asks his folks to protest the event because Obama supports abortion.
My own comment, however brief, is this: Evangelical Christians must cooperate with anyone and everyone on the AIDS issue; cooperation on AIDS does not mean agreement with the moral and theological and political stances with everyone with whom we cooperate; refusing to cooperate with someone like Obama to stamp out AIDS indicates, not careful theology, but infective ideology.
Pastor Defends Invitation to Obama Some Object to Democrat’s Support for Abortion Rights By NEDRA PICKLER, AP WASHINGTON (Nov. 30) -
Famed pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren on Wednesday defended his invitation to Sen. Barack Obama to speak at his church despite objections from some evangelicals who oppose the Democrat’s support for abortion rights. Obama is one of nearly 60 speakers scheduled to address the second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church beginning Thursday at Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
Obama, who is mulling a run for president, plans to take an HIV test during his appearance Friday and encourage others to do the same. The Illinois Democrat will be joined by a potential 2008 White House rival – Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas – and is urging unity to fight AIDS despite differences on other issues.
Conservative evangelical Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, e-mailed reporters Tuesday to protest the visit because of Obama’s support of abortion rights. “Senator Obama’s policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality, not to mention supreme American values,” Schenck wrote. Saddleback responded with a statement acknowledging “strong opposition” to Obama’s participation. The church said participants were invited because of their knowledge of HIV/AIDS and that Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” opposes Obama’s position on abortion and other issues.
“Our goal has been to put people together who normally won’t even speak to each other,” the Saddleback statement said. “We do not expect all participants in the summit discussion to agree with all of our evangelical beliefs. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by evangelicals alone. It will take the cooperation of all – government, business, NGOs and the church.”
Obama did not respond to interview requests. But he issued a written statement saying while he respects differing views on abortion, he hopes for unity “to honor the entirety of Christ’s teachings by working to eradicate the scourge of AIDS, poverty and other challenges we all can agree must be met. It is that spirit which has allowed me to work together – and pray together – with some of my conservative colleagues in the Senate to make progress on a range of key issues facing America,” Obama’s said.
Brownback, who has close ties to conservative Christians, did not respond to requests for comment on the dispute. Though still in his first term in the Senate, Obama has attracted national attention for his fresh face, commanding speaking style and compelling personal story. He also has encouraged liberals to engage in religious discourse and not leave the topic to conservatives to claim as their own.
While in California, Obama also plans a Friday night appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” to promote his best-selling book, “The Audacity of Hope.” As part of his consideration for a presidential run, Obama will make his first political visit to New Hampshire on Dec. 10 for a celebration of the state Democratic Party’s victories in the congressional, gubernatorial and legislative races. Obama has traveled to Iowa, site of the leadoff presidential caucuses, but New Hampshire hasn’t been on his itinerary. The race for the 2008 Democratic nomination is considered wide open, and at least a dozen potential contenders are weighing formal bids, including front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.



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alice shirey

posted November 30, 2006 at 8:48 am


I applaud Rick Warren on this one.



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Robin Rhea

posted November 30, 2006 at 8:59 am


My thoughts on this – I see both sides. Yes, the AIDS epidemic is probably the most pressing issue facing the church, but should this doctrine of cobelligerence actually be applied within the church. Are there any positions that other people could hold that we could find so abhorrent that we refuse to participate with them for fear of it being seen as support for their other positions. This is not getting off topic, but imagine that the current lot of people protesting Driscoll decided to put on an evangelism conference, would we expect them to include him as a speaker since his church is apparently very good at it, or exclude him because they abbhor the views they are protesting him about. I think the problem conservatives have with this speaking engagement is tha Obama has publicly stated that Democrats need to learn to engage the faith community so it can get their vote and they (and I) see this mainly as an attempt to rub elbows with some Christians and make himself a better candidate, but you cannot simply gloss over the rest of his politics. Judging by his voting record he will do everything he can to expand abortion which is pretty sad when 25% of pregnancies already end in abortion (40% for African-Americans)
I guess the question I would like people to think about is this – How abhorrent do someone’s positions have to be for you to stop cooperating with them on areas where you do agree? How far do we take this idea of cobelligerence?



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Dana

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:20 am


Scot: These are the sorts of things I’m seriously not comfortable with answering – first off, Rick is a huge figure in evangelical circles, so, there is this thing about until you’ve done it, don’t criticize it; but I’m gonna- and then there is this other thing about the speck in my neighbors eye and the log in my own that Jesus made plain, that being said: Why is Warren hosting a forum? Why politician’s- they aren’t doctors, scientists etc.? Schenck surfaces in protest against this – are there not enough other issues out there? Is this timely – or- crass on Warren’s part? It seems to me that HIV is disease- which, while it is curable by miracle, is apprarently not going to be- so, Warren chooses now to go this way- whereas, Darfur which is certainly “right now” and “evil” beyond a shadow of a doubt, isn’t being addressed. Really don’t like to be in the cynics chair but c’mon – what’s the expected outcome from such an event on Warren’s behalf? I just don’t get the now portion of this, and also the protest aspect of this? Jesus didn’t run around making signs and raising rabble’s – he just changed things from inside- and prayed to His Father- who He says is our Father- Darfur on the other hand, well, it’s not a buzz word but there are people trying to do something about it.



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Robin Rhea

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:23 am


I thought of two examples, maybe a little out there, but I think relevant to the current discussion.
Could you imagine Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson ever being invited to speak at an “Emergent” conference, even if the topic was something they were highly knowledgeable in, or would their past hateful comments be too much to justify inviting them to speak on a present topic? (I do believe Pat Robertson has an extensive ministry to AIDS patients through his Operation Blessing, but I noticed he is not one of the speakers at the conference)



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adam

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:25 am


I’m with Alice. I think Warren is doing a good thing. (How could we conceive of any effort to fight AIDS as bad?)
It’s no wonder that so many outside of Christian cirlces have a hard time warming up to us when they see us bickering in this manner.



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Cheryl

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:27 am


I am all for cooperation, and am greatful that at least the attempt is being made. The problem with attempting to cooperate in this situation is that the two groups will approach the “answer” very differently.
Conservatives/evangelicals will most likely approach the AIDS education issue with the end being abstinence. Liberals will mostly likely approach it with the end being protected sex and follow-up testing. And so as long as the end of the education aspect is so radically different, a “successful” joint venture is not likely.
Unfortunately, both sides are like ostriches on this issue…
Conservatives say that abstinence is the answer, and they are correct in as far as prevention goes. However, the other fact is that people ARE going to have sex… in marriage, out of marriage, before marriage, etc. and especially in countries where people do not share American views on sex and marriage. In those cases, prevention is no longer the aim, but protection is. So conservatives need to take their head out of the sand and be willing to work with those who push for protection and testing, even at the risk of those actions “appearing” to condone the behavior they are against.
Liberals are reluctant to teach abstinence because they fear that it will reek of pushing a religious agenda… attaching a particular morality to the need for abstinence. They need to take their head out of the sand and admit that, yes, abstinence (morality-based or not) IS the first and best answer to the problem. They need to educate the people on why it is the best answer and the dire consequences of not pursuing it. Protection and testing are fallback defensive positions, not offensive positions.
Until this kind of cooperation happens, both camps will pursue their own agendas and will be only effective by half.



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Robin Rhea

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:45 am


Cheryl,
I know that is what President Bush has pushed for, but I do not by any means think that conservatives wil hold to that position. Here is a link to an article where Pat Robertson, one of the most conservative people I can think of, has said that his ministries will absolutely provide condoms in an attempt to deal with the AIDS issue.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/06/opinion/06vowell.html?ex=1278302400&en=857ca15c70316c85&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss



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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:49 am


I think those in the comment section who are comparing this with inviting Driscoll, Falwell, etc. to events are missing the point. I wouldn’t invite a Muslim to come teach on Christiology , but I would welcome him or join in him in the effort to save our neighbours from a burning fire. I wouldn’t want him leading my children’s Sunday school, but I would happily sit at his side at a neighbourhood meeting where we worked together to make it a safer place. Just a thought.
Peace,
Jamie



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Robin Rhea

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:52 am


Jamie,
what if “Emergent” held a conference on dealing with AIDS? Would Falwell or Robertson be on the list of speakers?



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Robin Rhea

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:57 am


I also think there is a difference between cooperating with others to put out a fire or do a neighborhood watch and asking them to speak from your pulpit. In 2 years the news clip coming from this won’t be that Obama is against AIDS, but that he and Rick Warren are big buddies, Hey Rick Warren is the most influential Christian in America, so hey, if you are a Christian you should vote for Obama. (He did let him speak from his pulpit didn’t he)
I know it may sound like I am beating a drum on this issue, and I know it may not be nearly as bad as I think, I just have this feeling that people may ust gloss over the whole issue without considering that there *might* be something here we need to take pause at.



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kent

posted November 30, 2006 at 10:12 am


I have people in my church who have a different stance on abortion than I do in my congregation. Do I ask them to leave? Do I not allow them to read scripture in the service or participate in leading worship. Are we now defined by one issue? Yes Abortion is a big issue but it is the defining issue? Are there other issues which may trump it in terms of important?
How many people are speaking at this event – 60? How long is Obama going to be speak? 30 minutes? The issue is AIDS not Obama, let’s keep our eyes on the ball. People are dying and we are fussing about who get be with whom.



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Cheryl

posted November 30, 2006 at 10:12 am


Robin,
I have no idea what Warren’s nor Obama’s motivations are in this case. This blog post is the first I’ve even heard of it, so obviously, I don’t follow either man too closely.
That being said, so okay, “what if” in two years Obama has clips showing him with Warren? Is it not possible that some people who support a woman’s legal right to have an abortion at this juncture in history might have some good, workable ideas on how to deal with other pressing issues of the day?
For some people of faith, abortion is THE issue. For other people of faith, it is ONE issue among many that need to be addressed. I honestly don’t understand why a person’s position on what is currently a legal option for women (morally right or wrong notwithstanding) is taken as the arbiter on whether that person can be effective on other issues affecting us all.
I don’t want to get off topic, and honestly, I’m too busy today to respond much, but I sense some hinting that Warren may be about to “get into bed with a viper” just because of Obama’s view on abortion. I just don’t get the fear of the alliance.



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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted November 30, 2006 at 10:13 am


Robin,
Again, that is a flawed question. Falwell & Robertson are to very known for being active advocates on this issue. I think you have to give people more credit. Should we evaluate this? Of course, but it doesn’t, in my opinion, deserve this degree of controversy.
Peace,
Jamie



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Robby

posted November 30, 2006 at 10:24 am


I have read through the majority of Obama’s new book. While I do not agree with everything he has to say, he does come out “more Christian” than some conservatives on other issues.
I agree with Scot that Evangelicals should be willing to work with anyone that is willing to on issues as such as this. Maybe if we are able to work with an attitude of humility towards others with differing views, we might see more things accomplished.



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Robin Rhea

posted November 30, 2006 at 10:31 am


Good comments, I appreciate the discussion, and I would just like to add a few things.
1. Everyone is a single issue voter on some level. I know people find it odd that some Christians would vote on a single issue, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t, it just means that the right issue hasn’t come up yet. This, in my opinion Kent, would also determine how deep a split it caused within the church. I can imagine several issues that if a person held and publicly supported, some churches would kindly ask that person to leave, such as a fundie member trying to teach other members that all homosexuals go to hell in an emergent context.
That said, I do not think this is as bad as those who are protesting it, I am actually quite conflicted about it; however, I do feel that people opposed to abortion have a legitimate point and it needs to be respected. I think I posted on this issue because as I have followed this issue on other blogs it quickyl devolves into a “stupid fundies” conversation and I was just pointing out there needs to be some evaluation, not just quick condemnation. I probably spoke too quickly since the comments here have been civil and measured.
2. Legality has nothing to do with morality, or what position the church should take. Southern senators in 1860 were simply supporting slave-owners rights to LEGALLY own property, you could make the same argument about any atrocity in the history of the world. Does that make abortion wrong – NO, I am just pointing out that the legal standing of a situation has nothing to do with what the church’s position should be.
Finally, sometimes when I type my tone seems harsh. If you perceive anything I have said in that manner please do not take offense, or if you do, forgive me. I have genuinely just been trying to defend a side that I feel has been underrepresented on other blogs.



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Phil

posted November 30, 2006 at 10:33 am


A number of questions came to mind when I first read of Warren’s summit, and Obama’s invitation to it inspite of his support for abortion and his campaign against ending the practice commonly known as partial-birth abortion.
Has Obama (or the other politicians invited to speak) sponsored any major legislation seeking to “cure” the Aids problem in America? Has any such legislation proposed or created by Obama proven successful?
What kind of success has Warren had in eradicating the scourge of Aids from the greater San Diego area? Since the primary transmission vectors of Aids are through shared needles and unprotected sex, has any study been done to demonstrate that illicit drug use and unprotected, mutiple-partner sex is dramatically lower among the members of Saddleback than it is in the general population — and if so, over a ten-year period is the success of Warren’s program seen through Saddleback’s members also being seen now as applied within the community at large?
If the answers to these questions are largely negative, then the whole enterprise, however well-intentioned, seems more than a little hubristic. If Warren and Saddleback have not had measurable success in this area locally, then a summit to discuss solving the problem globally is a bit premature. And if Obama has not been at the forefront of sponsoring and creating legislation proven effective in this area … well then his invitation gives at least the appearance of political oportunism on both sides.



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Scott Eaton

posted November 30, 2006 at 10:39 am


I think Rick Warren is just doing his best to help solve a very difficult issue. I’d ask Mr. Schenck of the National Clergy Council, “So you don’t like Warren’s approach to this world wide crisis, but what are you doing?” I think Rick Warren’s approach is better than no approach.
It sure is easy to throw stones at glass houses.



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Karen Spears Zacharias

posted November 30, 2006 at 10:50 am


Hearkens back to the Reagan era, when pastors were telling congregations that a vote for Reagan was the Christian thing to do because Reagan had pushed for reinstating prayer in schools and had taken a stand against abortion on demand. Meanwhile, these same pastors were ignoring the fact that Reagan was involved in “constructive engagement” with the white regime in South Africa, subjugating the black majority and keeping national leaders like Mandela in jail. Not to mention the thousands of peasants killed in South America by Reagan-funded freedom-figthing guerillas.
No one is better at lying to themselves and manipulating public opinion than a group of pharisees. Shame on anyone who isn’t supporting Warren’s efforts in this mission. What will all those prolife zealots answer when Jesus asks them what they did on behalf of the orphans?



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Phil

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:01 am


Karen, I don’t think the tone of your rhetoric is particularly constructive — it’s clearly ad hominem. Nevertheless, what are we to make of your analogy?
According to your analogy, pharisaical pastors, in self-denial and manipulating public opinion, made common cause with politicians promoting disastrous public and foreign policy, to the ruination of many lives. So then, the parallel would be that Rick Warren is a pharisaical pastor in self-denial and manipulating public opinion is making common cause with politicians …
I’m sure that wasn’t the point you intended to make, but that’s the inevitable conclusion of the analogy you are drawing here (at least as you have constructed it). I appreciate your passion, but you might be more effective were you to dial back the polemics a notch or two.



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Matthew

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:03 am


Phil #16,
I agree with the question of how useful it all is. On the one hand, I think any attention to a problem is good – sort of a “no publicity is bad publicity” thing. On the other, is Bono really changing anything? I know – this isn’t about Bono; I am making the comparison because it seems like the same sort of activity to me.
Perhaps actions like Buffet giving Gates his money and Gates investing in poor countries is a result of Bono-type publicity. In that case, I would consider it a success. At least a move in the right direction.
Just thinking out loud, I guess (which I know from earlier posts that Scot doesn’t appreciate, at least in board meetings :-) )



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Phil

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:14 am


Hello Matthew (20),
I’m at least in partial agreement with you. The answers to the questions I asked myself when reading about this topic might all have very positive answers. Obama may be a leader in promoting effective legislation addressing the Aids crisis. Warren and Saddleback may have incredible effective programs from which everyone can learn. It’s just that so far I see a lot of hype and not of anything else.
And, these things are always such a mixed-bag. Buffet’s and Gate’s philanthropic giving is mindboggling. I’ve no doubt the good done with the money they’ve given will be, already is, significant. But going along with that one must stomach that both the Gates and Buffet are tremendous supporters of abortion in third world countries — something I find distasteful.
These are difficult issues needing grace and wisdom on both sides.



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Andrew

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:33 am


This is all very interesting … I tend to think that Rob Schenk is encouraging something of an overreaction. Since when does partnering with anyone on anything rubber stamp all that they stand for? I listen to Scot talking about his alliances with people within emergent (and elsewhere), and his substantial agreement with them on certain matters, and then watch him openly, publicly, and forthrigthly disagree with them on things he sees as troubling. So Rick Warren makes a public statement saying that he has downright disagreements with Obama on abortion and other issues, and still we have a hard time with his alliance with Obama (and others) on this one burning moral crisis. That seems more like polarizing red/blue political fear and suspicion to me than it does like Jesus’ charge to “use wordly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone you may be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Doesn’t God use Israel’s prostitution to bring life to the world? Doesn’t he ask us to harness all the strength we can, even if some of it is tainted by sin (“wordly wealth”), to bring his gracious purposes to bear in the world? What if Senator Obama’s political and intellectual prowess were taken up by the triune God and used for healing? It seems to me that this is the intuition Warren is working with.



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alice shirey

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:37 am


Karen (#18) I appreciated your comments.
My biggest take away from what you wrote is … How long are we going to use abortion as THE litmus test for whether politicians are “good” or “bad?”
With that in place the outcome has tended to be something like, “We’ll look the other way on all kinds of other issues (foreign policy, decisions about invading other countries, aid for the poor, taxation issues, public education funding, etc.) if you’ll just agree to try to turn back the law on abortion.”
I know I’m simplifying … but that is how it has appeared to me over the last years as the “Religious Right” crawled into bed with the Republican party, simply because the Republicans agreed to be pro-life.
The issues are so much bigger and more complex than a one-issue litmus test can wrap its arms around.
Are we simply going to decide we’ll never vote for Barak Obama because he is not going to push to overturn Roe? Will we refuse to learn anything more about the man and his policies?
Before I get blasted, let me just say that I personally believe abortion is wrong; the worst choice out of many tough choices a pregnant woman will face when she doesn’t want to be pregnant. But, do I believe that outlawing abortion is the answer? To be honest, I’m just not sure about that.
I’m just saying, we’ve got to be people who can think hard about multiple complex issues all at one time. Because when we don’t, when we focus on just one issue, we tend to give politicians carte blanche in every other arena. Not good.



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Julie Clawson

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:38 am


Why are we so tied to worship at the alter of a political party that we freak out at stuff like this? Are we really so convinced that the dichotomous two party system is such a great thing? Why are our political divisions more important than doing whatever we can to help people?
I voted to help put Obama in office – and before anyone can dismiss me be labeling me a baby killer – I think abortion is wrong. But I also think that fathers selling their 12 year old daughters into a marriage to a man with AIDS because common folklore believes that sex with a virgin will cure AIDS is wrong as well. And that a 6 year old raising her baby brother because her father died of AIDS and the community then blamed the wife for being a witch who killed her husbad with the “disease” and took away her home, her possessions, and her job so the only means she has of getting food for them is prostitution is wrong as well.
And I am willing to partner with anyone, even republicans, in order to stop stuff like that.



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Karen Spears Zacharias

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:43 am


Phil: Sorry for the tone, confusion. Writing on the fly. But it appears that Alice put it much more clearly. How long will abortion be the litmus test? Those who stand against Warren’s effort better be prepared to give an answer about what they’ve done on behalf of the orphans. I support Warren on this effort.



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Andrew

posted November 30, 2006 at 11:55 am


Alice (#23), I appreciate your comments. Part of the reason that the religious right “crawled into bed with the republican party” as you state is that it was addressing a burning moral issue of the time … and it was willing to harness that strength for good … the problem comes in where we forget that even when we partner with certain people for certain things, we ALWAYS have a responsibility as God’s people to maintain a prophetic critique, even if our critique is against those whom we for a time partner with … this, I think, will help us not make the same mistake of “crawling into bed” with Obama or anyone else who is addressing issues we feel MUST be addressed … Harness strength, but never assimilate. The Jews of exile may seek the shalom of Babylon, but they must never buy into her total value system or worship her gods … if we can keep that perspective, I think it’ll give us strength for partnering without compromising.



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alice shirey

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:01 pm


Andrew (#27) Thank you. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Very much. Great points.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:02 pm


Andrew,
You stated, “we can keep that perspective, I think it’ll give us strength for partnering without compromising.”
Can you partner with somone without agreeing with them?
How can two walk together lest they be agreed?
Politicians, even conservative ones, are constantly reminding the public that politics is all about compromise. Yet God’s people are constantly being lured by the political strip tease of power offered to them.



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:23 pm


I appreciate many of the comments here, as well as this posting.
I’ve been there, done that, when it comes to my own political stance in the past. I can’t possibly see how people should take our witness very seriously when we turn a blind eye to any injustice in the name of standing against one wrong. I mean if we cry out vehemently in oppostion to abortion (and I don’t agree with most of how that’s done), yet say legislation for the poor is beside the point, and doesn’t matter- then I think the world will rightfully question the Jesus we say we’re following.



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:26 pm


Also Christians should not be so compliant in some of their alliances with politicians who in the end show that they have plenty of flaws. And as someone here so aptly said (wish I could pull up the name, but am short on time)- regardless of who I might choose to vote for- let’s not get on any one politician’s bandwagon. We need to be those who can help, and bring some prophetic insight into the picture. I don’t think either the religious right or the religious left can do very well in that.



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alice shirey

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:27 pm


Thank you, Ted. (#30)
Unfortunately, we Christians are now doing damage control regarding who we are and Who we follow because of what has happened over the last few years. I think many currently question “the Jesus we say we are following” because of how many Christians have handled their foray into the political arena.



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Tim Gombis

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:40 pm


Amen, Ted and Alice!
One of the worst things about evangelicals being so addicted to political power and cultural status is that they are so “aware” of “how this will look” if we participate with this or that person in doing good.
Three cheers for Rick Warren for doing good deeds with someone who isn’t perfect!!



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gymbrall

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:44 pm


For me the real issue comes down to the Scriptural role of government, and the Scriptural role of the church. My understanding of God’s word is that the role of government is to wield the sword. I don’t see scriptural justification for the government to tax people to go and help other people. And just so no one gets the wrong idea, this is not about socialism vs. capitalism. Anyway, that’s my two cents.
Charles Churchill



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Rick L in Tx

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:45 pm


Julie wrote: “And I am willing to partner with anyone, even republicans, in order to stop stuff like that.”
C’mon Julie… you can do better than those kinds of cheap shots…



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 12:51 pm


Jesus may have left a clue about involvement in politics by His people, specifically holding public office.
In order to demonstrate worthiness to hold public office, everyone must disobey a direct command of Jesus Christ prior to taking office.



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Phil

posted November 30, 2006 at 1:04 pm


I’ve pretty much said my piece on this issue, but did want to address a canard which seems to be thrown around a lot here: that religious conservatives are not working to help alleviate societal ills (such as Aids, “orphans,” etc.). The trouble with that contention is that it is false.
Religious conservatives could be doing more; there is always room for improvement. But the evidence suggests that the most compassionate people in America are, generally speaking, the religious conservatives, not the progressives or liberals. Most recently, Arthur Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, did a study on giving in America (time, resources, money, even blood!) and found that on the whole religious conservatives were by any measure far more giving than were their secular progressive counterparts.
Aids in America, in Africa and Asia, and around the world is a significant problem. Perhaps a megachurch pastor in San Diego holding a summit where politicians and speakers make speeches can have a positive effect. I don’t know that it will, but I can hope so. I would be more confident that good would come of the summit if I knew of some evidence that Warren and Obama (since these two are the ones who are getting all the press in this) had a proven track record in this area.
Julie (24) has mentioned some truly horrific practices which are part of the Aids problem. I don’t know what country these take place in, but I’m willing to take Julie’s word that they occur. What are Obama and Warren doing about it now that would lend credibility to their qualifications to advise others on a global plan to solve Aids? I’m just curious because some seem to be treating this summit as an unqualified good, while others are treating Obama and Warren working together as an unqualified wrong. I don’t know that it’s either; I just wonder if it will be effective, or if in the final analysis it’s just a lot of talk and gladhanding for the press.
Lastly, I don’t think impugning those who question whether Warren’s summit, and his invitation to Obama to speak at it, as being culpable in societal ills is warranted. Reasonable people ought to be able to disagree over the best methods for alleviating societal problems without questioning the motives of those in disagreement.



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Cheryl

posted November 30, 2006 at 1:37 pm


In response to Phil (#37), I don’t know that anyone is saying that religious conservatives as individuals (or even as a religious group) don’t care about societal ills. I think that stereotype emerges when religious conservatives align themselves with political parties who generally support big business, who in turn, often create issues of environmental distress, profit on the backs of the poor, etc. It’s the political bedfellows of any religious group which tend to define how the other side views them.
Because as much as we Christians hate to admit it, it’s politics (power) and business (money) which define the direction our society moves.
Is that God’s plan? I don’t know.
Is God in control? Absolutely.
My response? Obedience to the commands of Jesus.
Effective in regards to these larger issues? Don’t know yet.
And as to anyone’s track record on AIDS…. I don’t think anyone has one! If they did, people would be flocking to them for the answer. Summits are not about anyone proclaiming “we have the solution and want to share it.” It’s about sitting down and brainstorming and saying “how can we find a way to work together to solve this common problem.”
As I said back in post #6, until both sides figure out how they are going to attack the problem with a united front, each side will pursue their separate agendas and be only effective by half.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 30, 2006 at 1:48 pm


Cheryl,
Good comment. We’re breathing the same air. Rick Warren’s track record on efforts to rid the world of AIDS is a noble one; Barack, I’m assuming, has supported such efforts.
All of us should support anything that allows us to find solutions to such. Cooperating on such is a noble venture.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 1:50 pm


Obedience to the commands of Christ?
Please specify which commands are to be obeyed. All or just certain ones which fit our political agenda?
And does it matter that when you vote, you are casting a vote for those who are required by law to break at least one of those same commands you are committed to obeying. What do we refer to this type of politics as…..the politics of sin?
Is the activity of voting, then, nothing more than choosing the person who appears the most competent in breaking a command of Christ?



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Matthew

posted November 30, 2006 at 1:51 pm


Cheryl (38),
To be fair, the big-business-loving little-guy-squishing big fat white male republican is a caricature used by non-Republicans. The tax-and-spend bleeding-heart liberal Democrat weenie is a caricature used by non-Democrats. They are both caricatures used for political purposes.
There are plenty of conservatives who work very hard for the downtrodden. In fact, I think Phil’s concern here is partly related to efficiency in that very area. If it is all light and noise but no heat, then what’s the point?
So I don’t think the caricature is entirely fair.
Not trying to be mean. I am just trying to push back a little. In a coffee-shop sort of way. If it were a coffee shop, I would be having an cappuccino, no flavor. mmm, sounds good :-)



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Scot McKnight

posted November 30, 2006 at 1:55 pm


Benjamin,
You are being a real crank today — and sabotaging the direction. We are talking about cooperating for the end of AIDS and you want to accuse Warren of being a government agent. Now you want to pull entirely out of voting … fine views, but (again) nothing to do with the post.
This is my last request today to you: please stick to the topic. I sense, and maybe I’m wrong, that you think you are on a soapbox and you want to use it to your own advantage.
My policy: we are to imagine ourselves at a table for coffee; let’s have a conversation.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 30, 2006 at 1:57 pm


I agree, Matthew, but I do think Obama, Brownback, and Warren can make a genuine difference in the step toward ridding the world of AIDS.



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Cheryl

posted November 30, 2006 at 1:59 pm


#40 Matthew,
Please read my first paragraph in post #37 again very carefully. I stated very clearly that the STEREOTYPE emerges for/against any religious group with their political alignment of either party. And that both view the other according to the very caricatures you mentioned. I didn’t mention the stereotype of liberal bleeding hearts because Phil did not address them in his post, which was what I was posting in response to.
So as you can see, there was no caricature on my part at all.
And I’ll have the mocha latte, please. :)



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Robin Rhea

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:32 pm


I’m having a starbucks verona right now, lots of cream and sugar. As a conservative I must say that while I am leery of handing over the pulpit to someone who completely opposes some of what I consider to be the causes of Christ, I do completely agree with Scot that his could do a lot to address the problem of AIDS and for that I am thankful. I always appreciate it when those on this blog advocating a more “liberal” idea bring scripture to bear in a thoughtful way, so props to Andrew for bringing up the “Worldly Wealth” quote. Concerning the “You have to prove it works before it will be valid” argument. Some have suggested that Obama/Warren should be dismissed because they do not have effective solutions. There are several responses to this.
1. We don’t have to prove it works, we may even know it may fail, but that does not mean we should not give. Jesus explicitly taught that we would always have the poor with us, yet he still gave to the poor. So we may always have AIDS epidemics but I don’t think that means we ignore the issue to look for a problem we can easily solve.
2. Clearly, we know how to do some things that work, otherwise we would have just as bad of an outbreak as they do in Africa. Even if American solutions only slow the epidemic that will be a massive acomplishment.
3. There are clear and affordable solutions already. If anyone is interested please read Sachs in THE END OF POVERTY. (No, he is not a socialist, he is a free market economist that advocates small things like vaccinations) AIDS cocktails already exist that can be provided for less than $1 per day in Africa, but they do not have the money or government organization to provide them. The American church has the money, and our mission agencies are far more efficient that African governments. This will not end AIDS but it will vastly improve their quality of life, allow them to continue working, regain productive economies, and eventually begin to work their way out of poverty as a continent.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:35 pm


Scot,
You’re right. I’ll stick to the topic in the post.
First, I didn’t accuse Rick Warren of anything. I simply stated the legal reality. Every incorporated organization is required by law to have someone who acts as the government’s agent, to represent the interests of the government. Ususally, in most churches, this is the Pastor. I’m simply stating what the legal reality more than likely is. This is a legal fact that is easily verifiable.
Second, the likelihood of compromise when creating political alliances has been mentioned already. My earlier statement had to do with the fact that politicans from every political persuasion allude to the reality of politics being nothing but compromise.
I prefer to take the words of many politicians at face value. If we, as God’s people, would listen to them, they will tell us that, as much as we would like to believe that we can join up without compromising, we are wrong. They have told us so. How long will we, as God’s people, continue to believe our own lies when the world is telling us how they truly operate?
Is this nothing but infective ideology? No! In fact, it is just the opposite. I figure that when the world tells me something and Jesus agrees with them, I’d better listen rather than try to convince myself otherwise.
Add to that the fact, that in spite of the many political alliances formed over the last 30-40 years, almost nothing has been accomplished except the reputation of Jesus and His followers being damaged in the eyes of the world. Political capital has been amassed and spent with nothing in return on behalf of the religious left or religious right. Why does anyone thinks AIDS will be any different than any of the other major causes.
I take my coffee Black and strong enough to float a horse shoe! It promotes cranky conversation in any location!



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:37 pm


I want to add to my comments, in echoing what has been well said here already, I KNOW there are conservatives and republicans who care about the poor and about AIDS. In no way do my remarks mean to indicate otherwise.



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:40 pm


It is a part of our witness as Christ followers to do what we can against AIDS, Benjamin. That’s my view. Not that we sell ourselves down the river on one issue.



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:41 pm


Oh….And I drink too much coffee already. But mine’s black too. And strong.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:48 pm


Ted,
Truth isn’t about your view or my view. When politicians tell me one thing and Jesus agrees with it, does my view trump a double witness, all for a good cause?
How many Christians have proceeded on the same basis only to find out down the road that they must compromise in order to receive any political benefit?
My question is this. What makes us think that the People of God must have the government involved in order to accomplish anything against AIDS. Aren’t God’s people capable of working against the scourge without aligning ourselves with, at best, questionable policies and beliefs?
Is our God that impotent?
Aaaaaahhhhhhh……….that last gulp was good!



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John Frye

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:49 pm


Just an observation about our “conversation” here regarding Rick Warren, Obama, and the AIDS conference. It is evident that we evangelicals have been trained and become proficient in adversarial speech–liberal versus conservative; Republican versus Democrat; right versus wrong; pure versus less pure (orthodoxy). We are good at debate. Meanwhile people die of AIDS leaving countless orphans behind, but we can feel good for “defending” our viewpoint. Scot has worked hard on this blog to introduce us to respectful dialogue; the mission to truly hear each other before we do our verbal slam dunks. Who cares if “we win” and yet 1000s die?



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kent

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:51 pm


What will we be remembered for? How will our words and actions be measured? I do want to be faithful to the words and heart of Jesus, to commands and passion of my God, but does that excluded me working arm in arm with others who may not have a appreciation for my faith? How does that work in food bank or Habitat project? How did that work in New Orleans? May be worship services are different, but you have to wonder.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 2:57 pm


Kent,
I think that depends upon what is more valuable to you, the words of Jesus or the maintenance of a cause.



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Tim Gombis

posted November 30, 2006 at 3:04 pm


A huge AMEN, John (#49), and hey Cheryl (#43), please pass the scones!



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Cheryl

posted November 30, 2006 at 3:12 pm


#52 Tim,
Sorry. We did have some scones here earlier…three of them, actually. But since “scones” has six letters in it, and we had three of them, someone said they must be part of the liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican, emergent/fundamentalist movement to establish the anti-Christ. So I ate them all…to the glory of God, of course.
Will a biscotti do? ;)



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 3:15 pm


John,
The implication is that we must choose one or the other.
Why can’t we choose to follow Jesus and His words and still fight the scorge of AIDS?
And if we were to wipe out AIDS while we turned our back on the words of Jesus, what have we accomplished?
Scones and Biscotti? Un-American! Pass the Bearsign!



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Christopher Hastings

posted November 30, 2006 at 3:24 pm


Ben,
Macro economics is all about the larger environment. In this issue, governments create boundries and rules that affect how we can treat and prevent AIDS in their borders. Can we accomplish a lot? Yes. Individual action counts for something, but honoring the organization we are trying to serve needs to be included. Adam Smith was brilliant but he forgot the government plays a role. We need to remember that for every individual action we are operating within a society – and that great changes take place at that level. So let’s start with individual, be mindful of the large scale and change in the right direction – as fast as possible.
Christopher



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 3:43 pm


Christopher,
Macro, Micro….Government regulations, organizational honor, societal strata. These are facts which are not being denied by me. In order to proceed in the fight against AIDS within these organizations, are we required to disobey Christ? That is the question. Is our participation dependent upon our disobedience to our Lord?
Or do we compromise His Word and proceed anyway? If we do, at what point to we consider going too far in our disobedience? How much of His Word do we discard in order to participate in some broadbased cause?
And if we discard a portion of the Word of God, whose Kingdom are we then serving?
I find Christ rejecting the larger environment of political authority because it required him to break one of the ten commandments. Do we maintain the same standard in our political alliances?



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Cheryl

posted November 30, 2006 at 3:57 pm


Benjamin,
I’m hesitant to engage you and don’t want to go off-topic, as Scot gently warned us about doing, but I have no idea what kind of disobedience you are talking about. I’m trying to understand what you are saying, but I just can’t get my mind around it.
Can you succinctly sum up how you see our working against AIDS with the government and/or its agents, is being disobedient to Jesus’s commands?
(And just to clarify, if there are non-government, Christian agencies effectively fighting AIDS, I’m sure most of us would prefer to expend out energies in that direction. However, are you telling me that if government finds an effective way to combat the spread of AIDS—or any other societal issue—that it is disobedient for a Christian to engage in participation with them? Is that what I hear you saying? And if so, how?)
And if Scot doesn’t want you to answer here, feel free to visit my blog. I tried to get to yours, but it doesn’t seem to be online.



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Anonymous

posted November 30, 2006 at 4:10 pm


Jesus, Bombs, Warren, AIDS, Boyd, Pariotism, Knu, and Politics « re-dreaming the dream

[...] Famed pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren on Wednesday defended his invitation to Sen. Barack Obama to speak at his church despite objections from some evangelicals who oppose the Democrat’s support for abortion rights. Obama is one of nearly 60 speakers scheduled to address the second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church beginning Thursday at Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. more from Scot McKnight [...]



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Henry Frueh

posted November 30, 2006 at 4:35 pm


If a house was on fire would it be alright for a Christian to cooperate with unbelievers to carry water to it? Sure.
The concern many have is that the church compromises its purpose by having a conference on a humanitarian effort and letting unbelievers speak while diminishing the eternal aspect of the gospel. Well meaning but Biblically unsound.



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alice shirey

posted November 30, 2006 at 4:42 pm


Whew! I’m glad I went to work and skipped out on some of this!
Interestingly enough, a group from our church is gathering this evening to learn more about Warren’s P.E.A.C.E plan (an acronym, of course!) having to do with Christians mobilizing to fight poverty, government corruption, lack of education, food and medical care for people across the globe … in the name of Christ! And I’d go to this meeting tonight even if Barak Obama was going to sit right next to me!
No coffee for me today. :)



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alice shirey

posted November 30, 2006 at 4:44 pm


Henry (#59) I like your thoughts. However, I would not call Obama an “unbeliever.” Have you read his testimony? Sounds like a conversion to me!



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 4:58 pm


Benjamin,
I really don’t care, personally, about gaining any political advantage. I believe obeying Scripture, and Jesus involves doing what we can in loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. I don’t see our helping unbelievers in a work, as not being the light we’re to shine before people. (And your comment seems to miss some of what I said.)
I empathize with your concern about us depending on the government. And surely agree with you on some matters. But it is surely a mistake to think that we as God’s servants are not called upon to speak into the political world, and even vote in it. We need to call leaders to account, and we also need to express support for good that leaders do. I believe this is part of what it means for us to be God’s people in this world. I also believe that good works can include doing our part in society, even if it is government sanctioned.
All I believe I seek to base on Scripture. I don’t think it is wise for someone to claim that they simply follow Scripture. We all come to Scripture dependent on God. And while Scripture remains the same, to think we have a handle on it so that we simply obey Scripture is to lose out on the dynamic, I’m afraid, of our ongoing dependence on God, interdependence on each other, and awareness of our need for more understanding from God in reference to Scripture.



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 4:59 pm


I will add that I think it perfectly fine for a Christian to choose not to vote.



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Henry Frueh

posted November 30, 2006 at 5:08 pm


I wasn’t referring to Obama, but even by Warren’s own admission some of the sixty are not Christians. Warren believes the “man of peace” reference in Matthew allows us to cooperate with unbelievers in humanitarian efforts. The most dangerous aspect is bring it into the church which gives the impression that Jesus came to cure the world’s ills.



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Cheryl

posted November 30, 2006 at 5:12 pm


I agree with Ted that anyone is free to choose to not engage in governmental efforts to do good for others.
I have to wonder, however, if those same people have no such issues when it comes to collecting Social Security, using MediCare or Medicaid, traveling on highways, attending public schools, enjoying national parks, and so on.
Many of us sometimes have trouble “rendering to Caesar,” but feel okay about it when benefitting Caesar rendering to us.
Obviously, I’m not saying people shouldn’t have convictions, but consistency in those convictions is sometimes a hard thing to maintain.
Enjoyed the imaginary coffee with all of you! Thanks to Scot for providing us such a great coffee house!



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 5:20 pm


Cheryl,
As in your other comments, excellent point (#55). I’m aware of Mennonites whose faith can be lived out pretty consistently even as they choose not to vote (I believe). And perhaps more so for some other Anabaptist groups.
But it is true. We all do benefit. And so should not be reticent to give back. In fact I think this should be a part of our unique witness in the world.



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 5:22 pm


addition to #52:
…and awareness of our need for more understanding from God in reference to Scripture and the unique place and time we are in- so as to know what we, as God’s people, should do.



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señor jefe

posted November 30, 2006 at 6:09 pm


I believe this is right.
Barack Obama may well be the undoing of the “evangelical right”… and I welcome that day.



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Ted Gossard

posted November 30, 2006 at 6:37 pm


Alice (#31),
You’re so right. I’m confident you’d agree that we simply have to be and do -according to our seeking to follow God’s leading. As we do, hopefully in God and his grace, we can be a breath of fresh air and more, into this atmosphere. (just like we see Scot, and others doing)



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 6:41 pm


Cheryl,
In no way have I said or implied that Christians cannot help or assist the government in a particular program or cause. What I have said is that, when that assistance can only be rendered by our disobedience to Scripture, we are bound to obey God and His Word. If that means we don’t participate in the program, so be it.
The issue here is about creating political alliances in order to supposedly facilitate cooperation in addressing a common concern. The common concern is not the issue. It’s how that concern is addressed. Caesar has his agenda. So does God. If the two separate agendas happen to coincide on a particular issue, I see no Scriptural preclusion of our participation as long as that participation doesn’t require us to violate Scripture. If it does require such disobedience, we are bound to follow our Lord. I think His kingdom can withstand such decisions.
The concern is in combining the politics of this world with the politics of the Body of Christ. Obviously, the two political bodies are separate and distinct. Each has their particular function on this earth. Each is ordained by God. At their core, they are diametrically opposed to one another. One is based on a rejection of Jesus Christ as Savior. The other is based on an acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior.
So, questions must be asked about this alliance between Warren and Government, especially on the scale that Warren is proposing. Questions such as:
Is this alliance necessary in order to further the Kingdom of God on earth? Are God;s people , in some way, precluded from doing so on their own, without political compromises?



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forestwalker

posted November 30, 2006 at 6:56 pm


Benjamin,
Warren’s conference is providing input on the crisis we face by giving the lectern to 60 speakers, a handful of whom serve in our government. How does that represent an alliance between Government and Church? Read the conference description and it will (hopefully) be clear that you’re charging at windmills here and taking the whole conversation way off track.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 7:15 pm


I believe if you will read the original comment by Scot, you will find that my comments are entirely within the scope of this post.
As far as Warren and this conference constituting an alliance between Church and government, I suggest that you read this article by Joseph Farah at
http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53030
You might view this conference in a different light.



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Dana

posted November 30, 2006 at 8:37 pm


Hi Folks: What a wonderful set of diverse discussion- so- still wondering, why Rick Warren- why now? HIV ain’ new- love John Frye’s point- defending stuff while reality flys in the face of distance from the hurting. Does anyone here find it hard to believe that a politician in America lives a distant life from the one you do? Let me focus my comment like this- if I had HIV it wouldn’t be any of these people that I’d need, would it? Prayer comes much more sincerely when you know it’s real, you are at deaths door, at that moment, it doesn’t matter what summit has been conducted- and the person that gets the call at two in the A.M either has a medical degree( Dr.) or a calling (pastor or Christian brother, sister or family member)- and again I wonder at the timing of this summit. Scot it has been said in this discussion is doing an excellent job of surfacing tough stuff for us to “gris mill” on, and I respect him to the nines for doing so. We don’t always agree but at least I know where you stand.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:01 pm


Dana,
You mentioned the timing of this conference twice. What is there about the timing that has you wondering?



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Scot McKnight

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:06 pm


Dana,
Rick Warren and his wife (I don’t know her name off hand) have been working against AIDS for several years, and his new program (P.E.A.C.E.) is in full swing. So, I’m not so sure the timing means anything — just the next event for Warren. But, I don’t know for sure.



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alice shirey

posted November 30, 2006 at 9:14 pm


Just FYI – I’m pretty sure his wife’s name is Kay, and I think that she was a huge push behind his relatively new sense of social justice. Could be wrong, but that’s the story I’ve read.



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Danny

posted December 1, 2006 at 1:02 am


First, let me say that I am thrilled to have found this conversation. I am a Christian and political admirer of Obama, so I have been quite interested in the online discussions regarding this event, but I am usually dismayed at the tone. Thanks to everyone for having an actual civil debate!
One fact that has been mentioned but is often overlooked is the faith that Obama confesses to have and the effect that it has on his life. In his latest book, he talks about his struggle with the abortion issue – he regrets the moments where he falls into what he calls the typical liberal responses to those who adamantly oppose abortion. Some may dismiss it as rationalization, but he defends his pro-choice stance based on the fear that women will subject themselves to dangerous illegal abortions without legal protection for abortion. I believe that most Americans and many Christians have at least some conflicts or see some gray areas when it comes to this issue. Some believe that abortion should be illegal at all times and in all cases, but that is likely a small minority. The question is then how to “regulate” the practice, and there are so many problems with trying to do so. Several Latin American countries limit abortion to certain circumstances, for example, but this simply results in doctors certifying the legitimacy of the circumstances to allow a woman to have an abortion that is merely an abortion of an inconvenient pregnancy (recently discussed in a Washington Post article, I believe). Taking a position that advocates the government placing a limit to what is a permissable abortion may be personally satisfying, but it doesn’t necessarily address the real problem. So while we rightly hate the casual abortion (and realize that abortion is never truly “casual” or without emotional effect), if one believes abortion may be a necessary option under extreme circumstances, that places us in a gray area in terms of how to practically address the issue.
Whoa… I didn’t plan on writing all that when I began this message.
But Obama’s faith appears to be a driving factor in many of his political views. It may not be the kind of faith that conservative-leaning Christians easily identify with, but so much of his political discourse reflects a true desire to follow the teachings of Christ to their fullest, while also adhering to the principles of this country. Not an easy task. And any honest attempt by Obama, Warren, or anyone else to work toward that end receives my applause!
Sorry for the long post!!



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Bryan Riley

posted December 1, 2006 at 3:21 am


Here is how this is being like Jesus: It is showing the world what we are for. It isn’t a statement by Rick Warren that he is for Obama or Brownback. This isn’t a statement that he is for abortion. It is simply a statement that he is for fighting the AIDS pandemic. And, as Christians we should be all about that. We simply don’t spread the gospel of Christ (of love, peace, and repentance) by telling the world that we are against them, or against a particular politician, or against a particular political position. We are against sin, yes, but that is a battle against things not of this world but beyond this world, through prayer and God’s word. I think Rick’s doing what God has called him to do here.



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Bryan Riley

posted December 1, 2006 at 3:24 am


Benjamin, I just read up the comments and saw yours to Cheryl. I agree that if participation in any way violates God’s principles then it fails to be Christian. I just don’t know enough to say that this conference does that. I do think we have to ask ourselves everytime we consider participating in the Caesar realm whether it can be done without compromising our call to God’s Kingdom. You are putting forward a wise concern in my opinion.



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Bryan Riley

posted December 1, 2006 at 3:32 am


Having read further up, is this conference about working with anyone or, again, simply being a part of the battle against illness, poverty, lack of education, etc.? Why don’t we want to be a part of that? I agree that we cannot participate if doing so is to do something against God’s character or nature, but, without knowing more, i’m not sure that this does that. Ugh, this is what i get for just writing a comment without reading where the previous 75 comments have been or reading more about the conference. :)



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Robin Rhea

posted December 1, 2006 at 8:57 am


Danny,
I hear what you are saying, but I find it hard to believe that if he was really only concerned about the possibility of dangerous abortions for women that he would attempt to overthrow prohibitions on partial birth abortions even in the last days of a pregnancy that have nothing to do with the health of the mother. The back alley scenario is politically useful, but I seriously doubt its reality in this case. Many doctors have come out and said that partial birth abortions are never medically necessary and are even more dangerous than delivery or c-section.



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VanSkaamper

posted December 1, 2006 at 9:44 am


I wish Pastor Warren the best of luck in this endeavor. I hope that God blesses his efforts in combating AIDS and that he can rally support within both government and, more importantly, IMHO, non-government organizations in a position to make a real difference.
I am troubled, however, any time a prominent Christian leader gets into bed with equally or more prominent politicians, particularly those who are running for President, irrespective of party affiliation. I think that Rick needs to be very circumspect in order to prevent himself and his organization from being used and exploited.
I confess up front that I’m rather cynical about Mr Obama, primarily because he’s now the media’s ‘annointed one.’ I think he’s young, fresh, attractive face being actively packaged by PR people as a candidate with crossover appeal to the so-called values voters…hence the description of his ‘struggle’ in his latest book. It’s difficult for me to take this portrayal seriously, however, because of his explicit support for (choose your term) ‘late term,’ ‘partial birth’ or ‘D & X’ abortion. For me his on-the-record statements and votes in favor of this cruel and barbaric (I’m not using those terms casually) practice stretch his description of a personal ‘struggle’ beyond the breaking point. Are those votes and comments just momentary lapses when he succombs reflexively into ‘typical liberal response mode’ and isn’t thinking about what he’s doing, or are they rather a conscious obedience to the orthodoxy of his political party, in which opposition to any abortion procedure whatsoever will reap one the strident opposition of those with an extreme, activist agenda?
It seems to me that one can, if one tries, find a credible position on abortion that protects the legality of the procedure in extreme and medically warranted situations without sanctioning what is essentially elective infanticide in the way it’s being advocated by its defenders. Because of this, I question Mr Obama’s sincerity.
When we try to go purple, we are asking all the players in question to leave their partisan politics at the door and do the right thing on a particular issue. It’s a noble goal, and I support the effort. I just question whether Mr Obama is in a position to do that at this point in time given what’s entailed by his public ambitions. I think that Rick has to be sure to leave his rose colored glasses at home…because he’s swimming with sharks in something this high profile and with the players in question.
And, for the sake of Rick and people with AIDS, I sincerely hope I’m wrong about Mr Obama.



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Robin Rhea

posted December 1, 2006 at 12:11 pm


Vanskamper said what I meant much better than I did



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Ryan O

posted December 1, 2006 at 1:10 pm


VanSkaamper,
In regards to Aids: your opinion is wrong. As a missionary in East Africa I was enheartened to hear that Senator Obama was comming to Kenya for a visit.
To the general thread:
The point that nobody want to address in this post is the fact of Senator Obama’s legitimate position as a politician, and consequently a policy maker, in adressing the issue of Aids in Africa. He is half Kenyan, his father is a Kenyan immagrant. He has visited Africa and has tried to make people aware, both in Africa and in America, of the far reaching effects of the Aids pandemic in Africa and on the world. I am sure that Mr Warren’s work in Africa made him aware of Mr. Obamas efforts in a similar vein. We may disagree about the mechanism for addressing the Aids pandemic, but we can not politicize it. The original post pointed out that is exactly what is happening, and it is occurring in this thread. View Mr. Obama, like every politician in my mind, with a healthy sense of skepticism. However, you must at least be informed of the person in this role. Will Obama most likely advocate for more Aids education and condoms, as a liberal, yes. I have actually heard his addresses to people in Kenya, and his later adress about his experiences during his visit. Do I agree with all of his positions on how to fight Aids, no. Do I appluad the fact that he actually goes to Africa and gets an Aids test to destigmatize it, yes. Do I appreciate that he actually witnessed first hand, though too briefly, the effects of Aids on Africans, yes.
To adress Cheryl’s argument: If emergents were having a conference on the Christian presence in the media they probably would invite people from the 400 club because that is something they are involved in.
Please, if you oppose Mr. Obama being in any place because of his stance on abortion or any of his politics, then just say it. Don’t judge falsely either the intentions of Mr. Warren or both mens commitment to addressing the Aids pandemic in Africa.



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Cheryl

posted December 1, 2006 at 1:18 pm


#83 Ryan,
Correction: The “argument” about Emergents having Robertson or Falwell at a conference was Robin’s (#4), not mine.
I’m sure it was just an oversight, but I don’t want credit/blame for other people’s posts. :)



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gymbrall

posted December 1, 2006 at 1:30 pm


Ryan O said:
Please, if you oppose Mr. Obama being in any place because of his stance on abortion or any of his politics, then just say it. Don’t judge falsely either the intentions of Mr. Warren or both mens commitment to addressing the Aids pandemic in Africa.
I think one of the reasons why discussions like this get very difficult is due to the meta-nature of statements of belief. And let me give an example of what I mean: When I hear someone argue for the right to free and convenient abortions and the evils of spanking a child, I think to myself, “this person hates children”. And I think that because that is what I read scripture to say on the matter. But I do not mean that they think they hate children. Does that make sense.
I believe Senator Obama believes in the political process and the humanitarian efforts of government and I believe that his processes are unscriptural and so I don’t want to see the church cooperating/encouraging/condoning his efforts, but the focus often degenerates to how I said what I believe instead of what or why I believe what I believe.
For me, this describes a lot of what is going on here in this discussion and in a sense this is also what Scot is talking about in the thread on labelling. Belief shapes the words we choose, but it also shapes the words. What is love to one, is hate to another, what is good motives to one, is evil motives to another and the fact that both perceive it differently just gets in the way.
I’ll close this ramble out by saying that if you’ve read much of what I’ve written in other threads you’ll know that I’m not advocating the censoring of belief in any way. I think that what God has revealed should be proclaimed, and let the chips fall where they may. But Scripture is the source of that revelation. (And no, I’m not dismissing extra-biblical knowledge of God, but I am saying that it will not be contrary or even additive to it)
Charles Churchill



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Ryan O

posted December 1, 2006 at 1:35 pm


Thanks for the correction Cheryl, it was indeed an oversight.
My fault for rushing through the comments.



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VanSkaamper

posted December 1, 2006 at 1:48 pm


Ryan (#83)
I made no comment regarding Mr Obama’s sincerity regarding the AIDS problem. I am not at all surprised to read about his work in that area. The desire to stamp out AIDS through education and condom distribution isn’t nearly as controversial as is support partial birth abortion (and for good reason). Having a high profile in that effort enables him to take a stand while ahieve some good things for humanity without the risk of sustaining political damage of the kind he’d sustain if he came out in opposition to certain cruel and inhuman abortion procedures.
My concern about Mr Obama in the context of Rick Warren’s efforts is centered around his ability to be sincerely purple, based on the fact that everything he says and does these days is shaped by the fact that he is laying the groundwork for a national presidential campaign. I am saying that Rick Warren would be foolish to trust that the goals of his AIDS summit is more important to Mr Obama than party politics at this point.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 1:54 pm


Charles,
You stated, “I believe that his processes are unscriptural and so I don’t want to see the church cooperating/encouraging/condoning his efforts”
Could you provide a little detail about how Obama’s processes are unscriptural? Thanks!



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gymbrall

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:04 pm


Ben,
I don’t see the Bible giving authority to the government to run humanitarian efforts. I see that being a task of the church. The government wields a sword and as such, when they decide to heal people, the people they take the money from to do the “good work” are threatened with the sword. And that’s how I see Senator Obama’s process is that he would look to government to do a good deal of the work. Someone else may be able to provide me with Scripture where God charges government to do these sorts of things, but I don’t see it. As such, the government is increasingly begin viewed as a sort of Savior, a burgeoning God, eager for worshippers, eager to show benevolence, and wrath. I’ll say this as an off the cuff analogy that I haven’t put too much thought into, but the government as God makes sense if you think about all the Total Information Awareness programs that have been coming down the pike of late. A God must be omniscient if it’s going to be responsible for all things.
Anyway, just a few thoughts mixed with a great deal of ramble. I hope it answered the question.
Charles Churchill



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:08 pm


Scot,
Do you have any thoughts on what Charles has stated?



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Scot McKnight

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:18 pm


Ben,
Charles is advocating what is usually called a radical anabaptist ecclesiology along with a rather libertarian theory of government. What is clear to me is that I think he is assuming that the Bible says everything we need to know about government; while I affirm what it says, I’m not sure it is appropriate to say “if the Bible doesn’t says government should support humanitarian efforts, then we shouldn’t support such.” To begin with, humanitarian stuff emerges from Israel’s Law book, the Torah, which was in essence a national law book, so I think there is stuff there. And I think humans have ceded to government many things in order to facilitiate goodness.
Having said that, I do think the Church should be doing more as Church, and not simply trusting in government. I do think cooperating with government by Church can serve noble ends.



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gymbrall

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:35 pm


Scot,
Is this labelling? :) I don’t think I would agree with the libertarian aspect of the label. “Wielding the sword” doesn’t fit into a lot of libertarian views of government. As far as the rest of it goes, the word humanitarian is sufficiently imprecise and perhaps I shouldn’t have used it, but as the designer and creator of all things, God places boundaries upon his creations, and just because God says a certain action is good does not mean that it’s good if anyone performs it. Case in point, I think it’s good when a man comes together with his wife, not so much if the church or the government wanted to get cut in. I believe God has defined roles, and I believe the last 100 or so years has seen government play a larger and larger role in things that the church used to do. I don’t think that’s just part the times changing, I think it’s part of man’s rebellion against God’s designs.
Regarding the Torah, I do think “humanitarian” is a fairly godless word (meaning it doesn’t take Him into account) and as such would certainly not suggest that what God has commanded and what he has said is good is anything but that.
Thanks for the reply,
Charles Churchill



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gymbrall

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:39 pm


Scot,
I meant to also mention this: you said, I think he is assuming that the Bible says everything we need to know about government
Can you tell me where the role of government and the scope of it’s authority is defined if not wholly in Scripture?
Thanks,
Charles



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alice shirey

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:40 pm


I wonder if God is simply waiting for His people to step up; to feed the hungry, to comfort the sick, to clothe the naked, to take in the orphan and the widow. Instead, we(and I’m talking to the American church) seem to suffer from a sort of self-centered inertia.
I wonder, too, if some of our arguing about how to go about tackling an issue like AIDS, is simply an excuse to do nothing and to remain comfortably entrenched in our comfortable little faith.
I wonder if God scoffs at all our pontificating over who is “worthy” to fight this kind of evil, because as we pontificate, more innocent people die, more communities are devastated, more children are left orphans.
I applaud Warren for moving out of a state of inertia, moving out of his comfort zone, and moving past pontification … toward action; the kind of action that is advocated over and over and over in Scripture. God help us all if we don’t follow his lead.



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gymbrall

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:43 pm


alice shirey said:
I wonder if God scoffs at all our pontificating over who is “worthy” to fight this kind of evil, because as we pontificate, more innocent people die, more communities are devastated, more children are left orphans.
alice, who is doing this?



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Cheryl

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:47 pm


#94 Alice,
I was thinking the same thing. And I admit, I sometimes am so overwhelmed by the magnitude of issues that need addressing that I become apathetic and just want to watch Andy Griffith marathons on TV Land!
But reluctance to help because of religious implications makes me keep thinking of the good Samaritan. The leaders of the church passed by the man in need of help, and they felt they were well within their religious reasons for not touching him. And who helped? The sinner/Samaritan. And who received the approval of Jesus? Well, you know.
Makes me wonder.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 2:54 pm


Scot,
You stated, “Having said that, I do think the Church should be doing more as Church, and not simply trusting in government. I do think cooperating with government by Church can serve noble ends.”
My questions are these:
In this conference dealing with AIDS at the church Rick Warren is the pastor of, does it matter if the church is proceeding and cooperating with government as an entity of Christ or as an entity of Government?
And why does it matter or not matter?



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Scot McKnight

posted December 1, 2006 at 3:14 pm


Charles,
We all label; there is good labeling that is descriptive and I was trying to put together what you were saying.



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gymbrall

posted December 1, 2006 at 3:17 pm


Scot,
I really wasn’t in the slightest offended. I think the anabaptists were more of a one body for all roles than what I’m trying to articulate, but I definitely thought I understood your intent. That was why I dropped in the “;)”.
I try not to be thin-skinned.
Thanks,
Charles



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 3:54 pm


Scot,
You stated in you original post, “refusing to cooperate with someone like Obama to stamp out AIDS indicates, not careful theology, but infective ideology.”
Could you explain how refusing to cooperate with Obama is indicative of “infective ideology?” What exactly is “infective ideology?”
Are you implying that the Body of Christ has a duty or obligation to cooperate with Obama. If so, where does this duty or obligation originate? And what are the parameters of these duties and obligations?



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alice shirey

posted December 1, 2006 at 4:06 pm


sigh …



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 5:17 pm


Scot’s original post stated,
“My own comment, however brief, is this: Evangelical Christians must cooperate with anyone and everyone on the AIDS issue; cooperation on AIDS does not mean agreement with the moral and theological and political stances with everyone with whom we cooperate; refusing to cooperate with someone like Obama to stamp out AIDS indicates, not careful theology, but infective ideology.
If this were an issue of treating the diseased, the point about cooperation would stand. Treatment has well defined and narrow parameters and no one will stand and say we shouldn’t treat the sick.
But this conference is about far more than treatment for the sick. It is about implementing a program, a world wide program, which deals with much more than treatment. It’s about convincing churches to engage in the promotion of moral, political and theological ideology which many Christians find offensive and unscriptural.
I am concerned that those churches and individuals which choose to not cooperate will be publicly marginalized. For those which think that my concern is a bit ridiculous, you only need to refer to the recent political activities which have done the same while including the name of God or Jesus. Add to that the entire scenario of aberrant lifestyles about to be made legal and the AIDS issue fits in nicely.
Jesus would never be against treating the sick. But he would never condone activity which would disagree with His Word. And he would never force His people to.
And that’s exactly how this program of eradicating aids is viewed politically, as evidenced by this quote of Rick Warren from their web site at;
http://www.purposedriven.com/en-US/HIVAIDSCommunity/GlobalConference/2006Conference/Rick_Warren_invites_church_leaders_to_Summit.htm
“Most government and health leaders now realize the pandemic cannot be stopped without engaging and mobilizing the Church into action.”
Rick Warren
I have already informed Scot that I don’t have an agenda against Rich Warren. His crusade against Aids, specifically the aspect of treatment, can be thought of as noble and should be, but to deem the implementation of that crusade as a necessity of the Church is extra biblical.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 5:22 pm


The comment of Scot’s ends with the first paragraph. I forgot to end with quotation marks. Sorry!



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Bryan Riley

posted December 1, 2006 at 6:07 pm


How is it extrabiblical to heal the sick? How is it extrabiblical to have compassion on those who need compassion? How is it extrabiblical to carry the gospel of Christ to those who are dying? I’m confused; call me simple.
I think the exciting thing about Rick’s quote is that perhaps government leaders are realizing that the answers they can provide (scientific, medical, money, education) will not solve the problem and that the real answer to the epidemic relies in changing people’s hearts, which can and will only be effected by the church.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 6:56 pm


Bryan,
You have no argument from me on healing, compassion and the gospel.
What is extra biblical is the church having to engage in activities which cause them to violate their beliefs while healing the sick.
If you read the thoughts of Rick Warren on the issue, this is not as much about science, medicine, money or education as it is personel. “Boots on the ground” are needed in order to implement government programs of science, medicine, money and education.
Can you imagine the church being asked to implement government programs surrounding other diseases?



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Robin Rhea

posted December 1, 2006 at 6:57 pm


Bryan,
I do not know if this gets at what Ben has been saying, but it is extra-biblical to require anything of Christians that the bible does not. For example, the Southern Baptist has recently condemned the drinking of alcohol even though the bible only condemns drunkenness, this, in my mind, is clearly an extrabiblical condemnation. It seems to me that Benjamin believes that what emerges from Rick’s conference will be some massive collaboration between churches and governments with either the churches acting as the government’s agent, or vice-versa. Since cooperation would be optional this would not be an extra-biblical requirement, but he said that he was afraid churches would be marginalized (I interpret that to mean shamed) for not participating, thus requiring extrabiblical (necessary) participation or public humiliation.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 7:43 pm


Scot,
There is one circumstance in which I would agree with you completely in this issue. Under that circumstance, I believe that complete church cooperation with government programs of any type is completely warranted. In fact, under this particular circumstance, government can demand cooperation to whatever extent it desires and the church would have the duty before God to cooperate.



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Scot McKnight

posted December 1, 2006 at 8:01 pm


Benjamin,
And your point is? I have no idea what you are saying.



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Bryan Riley

posted December 1, 2006 at 8:19 pm


I’m glad to know i’m not the only one who reads BBJr.’s post and thinks… did he make his point or is he trying to use the pregnant pause in a blogging comment?



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Bryan Riley

posted December 1, 2006 at 8:21 pm


Ok, so I couldn’t let this go… perhaps he just Beats (around the) Bush too much… :)



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 1, 2006 at 10:12 pm


I blame it on all that strong black coffee provided by Scot! BTW, I still have not received the bearsign I requested, Scot. You DO know what bearsign is, don’t you?
Is using a pregnant pause in a blogging comment taboo?
You must take into account that my last name is Bush. And as you know, we in the Bush family are not known for going along with conventional wisdom.
OK seriously.
Scot, you have started this post recognizing the attendance of Barack Obama and Sam Brownback, lawmakers,
at the AIDS conference. In spite of what anyone thinks of the politics of these two, there is a more foundational significance for us than their attendance. Primarily, and personal apsirations aside, they represent the US Federal Government and its interests. Throw into the mix Rick Warren, a pastor of a large Church, who hosts the conference. His significance lies in the fact that He represents Jesus Christ and His interests.
The issue raised in this scenario is one that has been around since the founding of this country, the separation of Church and State. The thought is that the interests of the church have always been different and separate from the interests of Government. So church actions and State actions should remain separate.
This conference and their stated goals have many worried that the interests and goals of at least one will be severely compromised if not altogether usurped.
Fortunately, Jesus left us plenty of insight and wisdom to guide us through this scenario, specifically, His memorable words, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” These words were uttered as a result of a legal challenge and trap by the Pharisees. In evading the trap Jesus informs us of the significant legal reality that certain things legally belong to Caesar and certain things legally belong to God.
Pursuant to the strict legal doctrine of separation of Church and State mentioned above, as well as the historical understanding of Scripture, the affairs of Government, State or Federal, belong to the realm of “Caesar.” The affairs of the Church, the Body of Christ, belong to the realm of God. This legal fact has a long legal history within the body of American law and remains to this day.
So, if this distinction is so clear, why are we having the obvious mixture of the two realms at the Saddleback conference? As I said, there’s only one reason for the apparent mixture of what has, heretofore, been two separate jurisdictions. There’s has to have been a merger of the two jurisdictions!
Preposterous, you say?
Has the Church taken over Caesar’s realm? I haven’t noticed Christ’s visible return to rule the kingdoms of this earth as of yet. And anyone thinking that the Church has overtaken civil government in this country, much less the world, would have to be operating under some type of deluson after watching the past election cycle.
That leaves Caesar ruling over the Church, God’s realm. How? Well, actually it’s very easy. It’s all accomplished according to law. And the law says that, “everyone is presumed to know the law.” So ignorance of the law is no excuse. Here’s what you may not have known.
By law, the creator of an organization or entity rules that creation. What Caesar creates, Caesar rules by virtue of that creation. What God creates, God also rules. We all have been taught that Christ formed the Church. That is true. But what if what you thought was a church was legally recognized as a creation of Government?
The legal reality in this country is that most churches are actually nothing more than corporate creations of Government, whereas very few were 100 years ago. Without having seen any corporate documents of Saddleback, my educated guess would be that Saddleback is legally recognized as a corporate religious organization, therefore, the government has full jurisdiction to regulate its activites.
Since the Aids conference is being held in order to facilitate the cooperation of Churches in the implementation of government programs, it is completely understandable for Government officials to attend the function of one of its organizations, Saddleback Church. In fact, the representative of Saddleback, Rick Warren, faciltitated the entire scenario on behalf of the government whose authority he wields as Pastor.
So, under this legal reality, all cooperation between government, its officials and organizations is completely understandable, especially from a legal standpoint. And what we thought was legally God’s is under the jurisdiction of Caesar. So there’s nothing to be upset about as long as all parties have full disclosure.



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Bryan Riley

posted December 2, 2006 at 12:10 am


Wow, what is amazing is that I actually follow some of your comment Benjamin. Perhaps I can fill in a few gaps, because what you’ve raised would actually be a great new post for discussion.
The 501(c)(3) exemption under the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) provides for tax exempt status for a number of different types of nonprofit organizations, including, of course, religious organizations. Consequently, since created by the Johnson administration, churches all over America have flocked to its “protective” regulations. The real question is why.
As far as I know this is not something the Catholic Church has ever done. And, as far as I understand the Constitution, churches would be exempt anyway and donations thereto would even potentially still be deductible. In effect, churches voluntarily take themselves from being an unregulated entity into being a regulated entity, and, the IRC says, for example, that to retain one’s 501(c)(3) status, one must not push politics or propaganda. Propaganda is largely undefined, and it could be that certain church teachings might one day be deemed “propaganda.”
Now, having said all that, I don’t really see that being the issue with this conference. I still think that we can, as Christians, stand up with non-Christians (no, i’m not saying that anyone involved in the conference isn’t a Christian–i have no clue) and say let’s do what we can to fight AIDS. If to participate we first had to sign a creed that said I will not teach the Word of God, then I would say we should find an alternative way to join the battle against AIDS, but I haven’t heard that such mandates are being made an issue here.
It would be interesting to see a post and comments on the church and 501(c)(3).



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John

posted December 2, 2006 at 3:08 am


RE: the abortion issue -
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5502785
In particular -

Indeed, even before the Roe decision, the messengers (delegates) to the 1971 Southern Baptist Convention gathering in St. Louis, Missouri, adopted a resolution that stated, “we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”


In the course of one of the sessions, Weyrich tried to make a point to his Religious Right brethren (no women attended the conference, as I recall). Let’s remember, he said animatedly, that the Religious Right did not come together in response to the Roe decision. No, Weyrich insisted, what got us going as a political movement was the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of its racially discriminatory policies.

Yes, it’s relevant. Because if it WAS about money, it’s probably STILL about money.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…



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Robin Rhea

posted December 2, 2006 at 11:19 am


I came across this today. If it is true then it would be strong evidence for why Christians should avoid Obama altogether. It is one thing to abort a child in his first, second, or third trimester, or even right before they pass through the birth canal. It is another thing altogether to deliver them and then kill them, which is what Jill Stanek brought attention to and what Obama (allegedly) opposed her for. I cut and pasted this from: http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51121, she was a nurse that observed this actually occurring and stood against Obama on the issue.
As a nurse at an Illinois hospital in 1999, I discovered babies were being aborted alive and shelved to die in soiled utility rooms. I discovered infanticide.
Legislation was presented on the federal level and in various states called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. It stated all live-born babies were guaranteed the same constitutional right to equal protection, whether or not they were wanted.
BAIPA sailed through the U.S. Senate by unanimous vote. Even Sens. Clinton, Kennedy and Kerry agreed a mother’s right to “choose” stopped at her baby’s delivery.
The bill also passed overwhelmingly in the House. NARAL went neutral on it. Abortion enthusiasts publicly agreed that fighting BAIPA would appear extreme. President Bush signed BAIPA into law in 2002.
But in Illinois, the state version of BAIPA repeatedly failed, thanks in large part to then-state Sen. Barack Obama. It only passed in 2005, after Obama left.
I testified in 2001 and 2002 before a committee of which Obama was a member.
Obama articulately worried that legislation protecting live aborted babies might infringe on women’s rights or abortionists’ rights. Obama’s clinical discourse, his lack of mercy, shocked me. I was naive back then. Obama voted against the measure, twice. It ultimately failed.
In 2003, as chairman of the next Senate committee to which BAIPA was sent, Obama stopped it from even getting a hearing, shelving it to die much like babies were still being shelved to die in Illinois hospitals and abortion clinics.



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Benjamin Bush Jr.

posted December 2, 2006 at 2:24 pm


Bryan,
WOW! Maybe the most amazing thing is that you are publicly stating that you are following a portion of my comments. Makes me think that Scot might have slipped something into your coffee! Irish coffee does have a slight Kick to it!
You stated….
“Now, having said all that, I don’t really see that being the issue with this conference. ……. If to participate we first had to sign a creed that said I will not teach the Word of God, then I would say we should find an alternative way to join the battle against AIDS, but I haven’t heard that such mandates are being made an issue here.”
You are right. The reason it is not an issue is that this issue is already settled. Upon being granted status or recognition as a corporate entity or organization, the issue of full cooperation and/or compliance with government regulations is presumed. There’s no need for anyone, Obama, Brownback or Warren, to come in and make a point of cooperation or compliance, when compliance with the government’s creed is a given.
The problem arises when their is resistance, if any, to such cooperation. Many churches have failed on various issues when it comes to fighting in court because they are not aware of their legal status and duty before the courts.
Scot is also right when he states that “refusing to cooperate with someone like Obama to stamp out AIDS indicates, not careful theology, but infective ideology.”
Scot is right because careful theology would lead us, as God’s people, to understand who we are in relation to the World and its institutions. A lack of careful theology is truly “infective ideology” because, in this particular case, it would put us at odds with the law of the government, causing God’s people to “suffer as evildoers,” and not for righteousness. When we fail to understand such foundational truths, we should not be surprised when we reap what we sow.
So, as you hear of the fallout from this conference and opposition expressed against it, realize that a certain number of people, especially from the side of the church, probably have no clue about what is taking place.
And give Rick Warren credit for understanding much more than most leaders do. After all, it is his duty.



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Scott Watson

posted December 5, 2006 at 1:21 pm


I think there is a disconnect somewhere between the role of Scripture and how we read it,and what “we actually do on the ground.” This is more complex than we think,biblically. I’m always drawn to Jesus parables,which called his audience to think in terms of real,visceral,issues things from real life to embody to them how YHWH’s kingaom was about and how YHWH worked. WHen Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan,it must have deeply troubles (and infuriated!) many of Jesus disciples:he chose the the perfectly wrong people to embody the right thing.The Jewish levite and priest,to uphold their purity, pass by the victim,while the Pharisee becomes the merciful helper.Then Jesus asks the perfect question:Which of the three was the neighbor(ie,part if the covenant people of YHWH who fulfilled his obligations to his brother) to the Israelite who was mugged? The Pharisee discovered that the heretic,hated Samaritan was the “neighbor.” The boundaries that we often set up to demarcate who’s “in” with God and therefore who’s acceptable to be considered a part of our working,were ripped apart by this parable. Jesus doesn’t go on to elucidate some doctrinal criteria to redraw this line to make conversation partner feel more comfortable,he tells him to do likewise.Proper praxis(being a neighbor,walking the walk)is the key here.The Samaritan was still a Samaritan,hw worshipped a different temple and was still a “heretic” but by his actions proved who he was.What’s more alarming is the implication that those thought they were in the “in” group(ie,those like the Pharisee who into boundary setting to judge who’s a part of the people of God and those outside) may not be in God’s sight because of their actions,not their so called doctrine.On some level I think Rick Warren understands this,and that’s why he invited Sen. Obama to make a presentation at the AIDS Conference.Get ready!There are going to be some real shockers at the Last Judgement!



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Scott Watson

posted December 5, 2006 at 1:29 pm


Sorry for the typos in the previous post!It was a quick and dirty.It should have been “Samaraitan” instead of “Pharisee”in a crucial sentence.Thanks!



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VanSkaamper

posted December 5, 2006 at 2:19 pm


Scott (#118),
Speaking for myself only, I don’t see this parable as particularly relevant to my concerns about Rick’s summit and its involvement with politicians (not limited to Sen. Obama)…or at least not in the way you seem to be making the connection. The samaritan took action, not in concert with the local establishment, but on his own, and in defiance of the social and politcal norms of the day.
You seem to be comparing Sen. Obama to the Samaritan…that Rick Warren can see past ‘doctrinal’ boundaries, and recognizes that Sen. Obama (and, presumably, also Sen. Brownback) are Samaritans eager to get their hands dirty in God’s work.
Well, perhaps…but I don’t share that view. Personally, I see Rick Warren as a guy with a Samaritan’s heart, but playing with fire by mixing his compassion with the perpetually shifting and fickle winds mainstream political power. I see this matter less through the lens of the samaritan passage, and more through that of the passage of sheep and wolves in Matt. 10.
My problems with Mr Obama aren’t his ‘doctrines’…I don’t know what they are. They’re with his actions…his statements and his votes on the abortion issue. These lead me to believe he’s trying to play both sides of the compassion street for the sake of political expediency. I applaud Sen. Obama’s activism on AIDS…and perhaps Rick Warren can leverage that for good. I think, on the other hand, that Sen. Obama’s position on partial birth abortion is appalling, and transparently political.
The problem with mixing compassion with politics is that the compassion will always get politicized, it’s values and goals subverted for the sake of political goals and values. We can neither wait for nor trust governments and legislators to do the right thing…it’s great if and when they do, but we can’t depend on them to do so.
Whether it’s Rwanda, Sudan, New Orleans or wherever…I don’t bank on the notion that my taxes will ever achieve anything good in those kinds of places. I give money to NGO’s that work, sometimes under the cover of darkness, often risking their lives to do things that governments passively or actively oppose with laws and/or bullets. I do work to send supplies to orphans in Honduras where the local government really doesn’t give a rat’s backside about what happens to them.
We are admonished over and over again to be discerning.So, in keeping with Matt 10:16, my prayer is that Rick is as wise as a serpent, because Sen. Obama is playing a high stakes games now. Sen. Brownback, I’ve heard, is considering dealing himself in as well.



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Bryan Riley

posted December 5, 2006 at 2:51 pm


Benjamin, the only compliance one must have when a 501(c)(3) corporate entity is with the IRS regulations; it isn’t a carte blanche submission to every government authority or to a single politician. I still don’t see why it is bad to discuss issues in a forum with all interested parties, whether their interest arises from reasons different than our own. And, it would be my prayer that the distictives of a true Jesus follower will be noted by any who may be in attendance who aren’t and seeds of faith will be planted.



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