J Walking

J Walking


Steve Waldman, Evangelist

posted by David Kuo

Writing about, reviewing, and discussing a book written by a friend who is also your boss is a no-win proposition. If you are too kind to the book you will be accused of being a suck up. If you are too harsh a demotion must be feared. And since you know that your boss friend is going to be reading it you can’t get away with thinking, “Well, maybe he just won’t notice.”
That’s why I am going to do some posts on my friend Steve Waldman’s new book Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America.
First this note – buy the book. Please, please, please by the book. Buy it here. But it there. Buy it everywhere. The more copies that Steve sells from this post the more likely I am to keep my job. And today my nine-month-old son ate five jars of baby food for breakfast. That stuff is expensive. I need the work. BUY THE BOOK. Buy it for family members and the postman. Of course I am being objective. It is the greatest work of non fiction since… since… Steve Waldman’s last book, The Bill. I would not lie.
Ok, time to be serious.
It IS a great book. And, much to Steve’s surprise, one of the things that I like most about it is that it is a profoundly spiritual book… a profoundly Christian book.
I’ll write more about other parts of the book… and I actually hope to get John DiIulio here so that he and Steve can debate some of the historical and legal aspects of both of their books. But I want to focus on one particularly prophetic thing Steve notes towards the end of the book.

“One of the reasons that men such as Isaac Backus and John Leland, and ultimately, [James] Madison embraced separation of church and state was that they had supreme confidence that, in a free marketplace of ideas, their religion would win. …I can hear Backus shout: How tepid is your faith if you think it can be easily shaken without constant reinforcement by a government-run school! How ineffective must be the churches – and parents – if you rely on the public schools as the only way to keep your children away from depravity! Crutches are for the weak or ill. Backus and Leland would exhort: God does not need the support of government to triumph.
When Jefferson was preparing for a debate over the official church of Virginia, he made a simple notation about a common objection and the answer he would offer up in rebuttal:

Obj. Religion will decline if not supported
And. Gates of Hell shall not prevail…. [from Matthew 16:18]

“How is it,” Waldman asks, “that even Jefferson seemed to have more confidence in the power of Christianity to defeat the forces of evil than many modern Christians?”
Good question that. Particularly coming from a non-Christian.
The answer is that too many modern Christians do have a dim, dim view of the transformative power of their faith. Too many modern Christians – like me – do not really grasp the meaning of the resurrection, the meaning of the ascension, and the continuing power of Jesus to transform lives. We look to government and to politics and there, we are tempted to believe, we can usher in the kingdom by law rather than by love.
That is just one small, small takeaway from Waldman’s book… from Rev. Waldman’s book.
More to come.



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Doug

posted March 31, 2008 at 4:45 pm


It’s such a sublime difference, the idea that divine power works through each person among their neighbors instead of being invested in a government that speaks with authority. But it is interesting that that idea is less Christian than Protestant and, probably, there are similar schisms in other religions.
I suspect that in a Democracy, theocratic temptation is the product of laziness. It’s a lot easier to vote and advocate rectitude or compassion than to practice either.



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reddopto

posted March 31, 2008 at 5:08 pm


“How is it,” Waldman asks, “that even Jefferson seemed to have more confidence in the power of Christianity to defeat the forces of evil than many modern Christians.”
Jefferson didn’t live in a postmodern world where Christianity is in retreat on every front. Christian families have seen evil enter their own homes and lead their loved ones, in many cases, into lives of drug abuse and other losses of faith. We now address Satan as Mr. Satan because he has shown his abiding power. Christians may be running scared.



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Today is not yesterday.

posted March 31, 2008 at 6:27 pm


Our founders did not know about the rise of humanism and the perpetrators of this monstous indoctriantion agenda of godlessness. It is known as liberal or progressive ideology now. In schools, Christianity and belief in God is denounced by self-proclaimed “scholars” that have total control of young minds, and use that power to confuse and corrupt those minds. You now have an entire generation that will not question the tenured priests of our colleges and universities for fear of retribution. Seperation of Church and state, was never an idea of having the state sponsor an ungodly and atheistic indoctrination of life and lifestyle and having religions excluded by laws that have never existed. There is no marketplace of ideas in our school system, just a one-sided elitism of authoritarians that always seems to lead to perversion and hedonism. It seems that not only is Satan running scared to be challenged in academia, his legions must keep silent any dissent anywhere, and now its spreading into our workplaces, Churches, politics and homes.



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canucklehead

posted March 31, 2008 at 6:54 pm


“Buy it here. But it there.”
-David Kuo, Televangelist



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aquaman

posted March 31, 2008 at 7:07 pm


During Jefferson’s lifetime, roughly one-third of the population of the South (and a significant part of the North’s population also) was held in chains, treated as subhuman and denied the most basic human rights. Then there is the matter of this country’s indigenous population, whom Jefferson described as “savages whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions” (words which ironically described our own tactics better than theirs). If “Christianity is in retreat on every front” today, what could be said about the state of the Body of Christ in those times, when it countenanced (and took part in) such unspeakable evil?? How dispiriting it must have been to be a faithful Christian in those days!!
Of course, we know that in the end, Christianity was indispensible to the abolition of slavery in America. And today, we know as Christians that our faith holds the key to solving our modern problems. Because, at the end of the day, to be a Christian is to believe in God’s transcendent power to make things right in the end. It won’t happen on our timetable, or in the ways we might hope, but Almighty God will ensure that “the gates of hell will not prevail.”
Peace.



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Doug

posted March 31, 2008 at 7:13 pm


Today, it sure feels like yesterday.



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Jillian

posted March 31, 2008 at 9:06 pm


Our founders did not know about the rise of humanism and the perpetrators of this monstrous indoctrination agenda of godlessness. It is known as liberal or progressive ideology now.
Wasn’t the party line you took that humanism/Modernity/liberalism was just a contemporary recapitulation of paganism?
As for David’s question, I like Robert M. Price’s and Reinhold Niebuhr’s answers that many people cling to their Bibles as desperately as they do precisely because they are full of doubts. I.e. every earnest route they could take out of their dilemma requires that they accept some truth(s) they find emotionally easier to deny.



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Trish Ryan

posted March 31, 2008 at 9:39 pm


That’s the funniest recommendation I’ve ever read. I’m off to buy the book so that you can keep your kids in baby food :)



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Anonymous

posted April 1, 2008 at 11:15 am


Me too, but I’m taking it on retreat. With 40 high school girls! I need prayer just for the official taking away of the cell phones!!



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A framer channeled

posted April 1, 2008 at 7:18 pm


“Wasn’t the party line you took that humanism/Modernity/liberalism was just a contemporary recapitulation of paganism?”
Yes, 100%. No different in the behaviors and actions of “The Left” than that of Baal and Molech worshipers “back in the day.” Recapitulate, a very appropriate word for what we are seeing in those that truly worship at the alter of baby human-sacrifice and sexual perversions. Same ol’, same ol’. In fact, Barack’s view of ridding the parent of their child for the good of the parent is strikingly eery to what pagans did. Obama’s view is very much like Molech worship in his view of having a baby. The parents would benefit from its sacrifice. Study, it’s actually urged that Christians do it.



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And, today too.

posted April 1, 2008 at 7:21 pm


“Wasn’t the party line you took that humanism/Modernity/liberalism was just a contemporary recapitulation of paganism?”
Yes, 100%. No different in the behaviors and actions of “The Left” than that of Baal and Molech worshipers “back in the day.” Recapitulate, a very appropriate word for what we are seeing in those that truly worship at the alter of baby human-sacrifice and sexual perversions. Same ol’, same ol’. In fact, Barack’s view of ridding the parent of their child for the good of the parent is strikingly eery to what pagans did. Obama’s view is very much like Molech worship in his view of having a baby. The parents would benefit from its sacrifice. Study, it’s actually urged that Christians do it.



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canucklehead

posted April 2, 2008 at 12:49 am


Donny, you’re repeating yourself.



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Michael Heath

posted April 3, 2008 at 8:49 am


Does Waldman consider Dr. Gregg Frazer’s thesis that the primary founding framers were theistic rationalists? I agree with Frazer that his term better defines their beliefs than deism and correctly rejects the historical revisionism of the far right. While it’s beginning to gain traction, it’s a nice litmus test to understand how well versed current authors on this subject are on the best historical arguments we currently possess.
Chris Rodda’s reader review in Amazon also points out that Waldman makes a fallacy of balance error by framing false claims by some secularists as if they are equal in volume to the incredible effort by most Christianist media players to revise our founding history. Does Rodda’s argument ring true?
The reason I ask is that I’ve read a bunch of these types of books and have learned that one must be cautious in their selection criteria, there are so many inaccurately framed books out there regarding this topic. Everyone wants the framers on their side since making a current case for a policy position is easier to make if their positions are supportive of our founding ideals.



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