Whose Fault Is It Really?

Leck and The Finger 1Who’s to blame for the current mess that is the US Presidential Race?  Why are we looking at a very real possibility of a race between a probable felon and confirmed serial liar and a blowhard egotist who hesitates when asked to condemn the KKK?

Well there is plenty of blame to go around, but when you boil it all down…

Is it Obama’s fault?

Well of course it is.  No seriously, it is.  No one has done more to divide the country and to put up walls between left and right than Obama.  He pretended from day one to want to hear and benefit from all sides in any debate. But in the end, what he meant was, please come over and agree with me so we can work together in my vision of a “fundamentally transform[ed]” America.

Is It the Democrats?

Sure.  Who has done more to block progress and bipartisan action than Harry Reid, who wouldn’t even allow a budget to come to a vote on the Senate floor?

What about Republican Obstructionism?

Of course, that has played a part too.  Republicans, who had every opportunity to put forward real proposals and solutions to a variety of problems, even if it was clear they would be struck down, often chose to simply spend their energy blocking the opposition, thus being tagged with the well-deserved moniker, The Party of No.

Conservative Purism?

There is a time to block and a time to resist, but when you can’t even work within your own party to come to agreements on action that could be productive if passed, you have failed.  The best has become the enemy of the good.

But The Real Culprit Is Not Often Mentioned

The Church. That’s right the followers of Jesus.  We are the real foundational reason things are falling apart around us.  “But wait, we are the victims.  We are the persecuted. Don’t you see how the world is forsaking our values and persecuting us for our beliefs, even forcing us to make cakes for gay weddings? (What a bunch of whiners!) Don’t you recognize the culture wars and how badly our side is doing?”

Yes, I certainly do.  Look at those footprints on your back.  Look at those bruises from being run roughshod over and remember the words of Jesus.  “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”  As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!”

Oh yeah!  The reason the earth is not salted is because the salt has not salted it.  The reason society is rotting is because the preservative that can restrict its natural tendency to degrade has neglected or altogether abandoned its responsibility of performing its preserving work in every aspect of culture and society. And it has substituted something other than Christlikeness, and called it salt.  Self-righteousness is not salt.  Isolationism is not salt.  Defensiveness is not salt.  Unkindness is not salt.  Compromise of principles in the conduct of our families and businesses is not salt.  Always looking to tear down rather than strengthening the things that remain, is not salt.

And the Greatest Blame of All Rests Squarely in One Place

The Pulpits of America.  Pastors and teachers who are more concerned about building their personal kingdoms or losing a few donors rather than feeding the sheep God has put under their care are False Shepherds, hirelings at best and idolaters at worst.  Those who do not equip and commission witnesses into the culture with real wisdom, grace, and lives invested into the world around them as servants to a needy world are a disgrace to the Gospel of Christ.

And that does not just mean that we are to testify against the pervasive rottenness.  It means we are to sanctify the society.  We are to join hands with it.  We are to come alongside it and help it in its struggle to produce a functioning society that is stable, productive, and peaceful.  We have no right to confront until we have served.  We have no right to rebuke until we have been kind.  We have no right to judge until we have thoroughly judged ourselves, and the pastors and preachers must lead by example and train by the solid uncompromising Word of God applied first to the House of God.

Some think they see God’s hand in raising up a Donald Trump to take a stand against the tide of insanity that is breaking down our culture.  To this I say, if that is the case, it is to our everlasting shame.  Indeed, God has raised up the ungodly before to accomplish his ends, but if we look into the scriptures, he usually raises them up to judge his own people, and then turns to judge the very instrument of judgment that he raised up.

This is all unnecessary, but may have become necessary to eventually bring us to our senses by God’s mercy.  In any case, there is only one reason the world around us is rotting away.  Only one reason Christians are the subject of increasing abuse.  The salt has lost its saltiness.  And the reason the salt has lost its saltiness is that the pulpit has lost its power.  And the reason the pulpit has lost its power is that the shepherds have forsaken their assignment.

Applicable Scriptures: Mat 5:13; Mat 13:33; Luk 6:356; Rev 3:2 Ezk 34:1-10; Joh 17:17; Mat 7:35; Joh 7:24; Mar 10:42-43; 1 Pe 4:17; Gen 1:28; Eph 3:10; Psa 96:3

One of Two Things Necessary for a Successful Revolution

Mubarak in PrisonHeadlines today are saying that deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak may soon be released from prison.  It is difficult to see how anything but disaster can ensue.

What we’re seeing unfold in Egypt is a bright and shinning testimony that it is not enough to desire to throw off a despotic government in order to produce an orderly and free society. Successful revolt requires one of two things:  1) Some overwhelming power or leverage that will harness or suppress the will of the people, or 2) A social consensus that can produce an orderly replacement to the displaced system.

The Bolshevik Revolution had option number one.  While it is true that there was consensus for the revolt itself, the revolution would never have held without the ability to crush descent afterward.  The poor and oppressed suffered the ravages of Communism, not because they continued to believe in the party and its rulers, or even its ideals, but because they chose to suffer rather than engage the monster they or their forbears had created.

The French Revolution collapsed into utter chaos, like so may of the revolts in the Arab world over the last few years, because there was no adequate social consensus on how the new society was to function.

The American Revolution produced a stable society that has continued through good times and bad because there was a sufficient consensus and core philosophy capable of holding it together.  The core philosophy has morphed over the years but were it to dissolve the U.S would be buried under the rubble of a forgotten dream.  What Abraham Lincoln called the “last best hope of earth” would be no more.

This is true, not only of violent uprisings but also of political transformations of any kind.   From the smallest adjustment, to the grandest renovation, to the violent revolution, the only way to insure successful change without oppression is to win in the public marketplace of ideas, to erect a common system of values which the people honestly hold in common. Those who drive radical change without that consensus only lay the foundations of despotism through the creation of chaos.  Political movements that are driven only by what they are against rather than what they offer in return will ultimately fail.

Please hear this clearly.  Consensus to revolt or even bare political victories are not sufficient to insure success.  There must be a design, or at least a foundational set of values in the minds of the populace from which they can bring forth a society capable of maintaining freedom in order or the revolution will fail.  When it fails, despotism will take its place because no society can long endure chaos.  Those who wish to redirect or transform any trend must first win the hearts and minds of the public.  Without that, they are only sowing seeds of destruction.



Thoughts on the Immigration Reform Debate

On June 28, 2013 I posted the following thought on the current immigration reform Border BostonGlobe.com.jpgdebate.  It prompted a question from a friend which led to the previous article, What Would Jesus Say About Borders?

Facebook Post:

The proposed immigration bill reportedly requires those desiring citizenship to get in the back of the line facing a 13 year process to the realization of their dreams. They must pay fines for their violation of the current immigration laws. They must pay their taxes. Some say they are not required to pay their back taxes, but that is absurd. We are all already required to pay our taxes, back taxes included. How is it that they would be an exception? If there are weaknesses in the proposal, Republicans should address those with real solutions that have a chance of addressing the problems, but, I am ashamed to say, many would rather simply obstruct any change other than for improved border security. The reality is, border security has greatly improved and, if handled rightly, immigration reform can improve the system in great need of repair. Obstructionism is the easy path. Any idiot can raise objections. It takes real work and courage to propose and develop real solutions.


What Would Jesus Say About Borders?

map-world 022A Facebook friend, troubled, I presume, by the ill treatment of those who are here in the U.S. without legal status, who have only come here to have a better life asked me this question, “What would Jesus say about borders?”

Here is my response.

“What would Jesus say about borders?” I suspect from other things that you have said that you wonder whether he might see borders as antithetical to the oneness of humanity and as an expression of selfishness and unloving isolationism and nationalistic arrogance.  In the present circumstances, I think that is a very reasonable question.   I believe that Jesus addresses all those issues in a variety of ways and that borders, rightly administered, are no hindrance to the righteousness that Jesus would call us to.  As a matter of fact, I believe that, particularly due to our present condition, borders are necessary to the fulfillment of God’s intention for mankind on the earth.

There are at least three main questions here.  What would Jesus say about the existence of borders at all?  What is the purpose of borders?  And, what would Jesus say about how we should conduct the business of borders?

As far as I know Jesus didn’t directly address the question of borders, but there are implications in his teachings that can guide us, and then there is the context of his life which points back to the Old Testament for his thought framework, which has quite a bit to say.  Additionally, there is the development of these ideas by his earliest followers, particularly his apostles.  I take all of this as information on what Jesus would think of borders.

Before beginning let me be clear, there is a huge distinction to be made between whether borders should exist and how the civil governments and people within those jurisdictions should conduct themselves with respect to those borders.  If, indeed they should exist, that does not mean that we yet understand their full and proper purpose, or that everything we do with respect to borders is right.

I would like to start at the end of the book, not with Jesus words per se but with a principle that I believe he certainly embraced.  Three times in the book of Revelation, reference is made to “every tribe and language and people and nation.”  In one scene (Rev 5:9) the redeemed are before the throne of God worshiping him for their salvation. There are those from every “tribe, language, people, and nation” expressing their gratefulness for the great deliverance they have received.  Then in the middle of the book (Rev 13:7) the story is told of the earth falling under a malevolent influence that makes war on the redeemed and oppresses all the peoples of the earth of every “tribe, people, language, and nation.”  Finally, there is the story of the power of the good news that goes out to, again, “every nation, tribe, language, and people” (Rev 14:6).  It seems that, not only in this life are the distinctions acknowledged, they continue into eternity.  The idea here is this:  God has designed people groups to fill unique rolls in the family of man.  There are certain divine purposes fulfilled better by one culture than another.  This should make us all humble in dealing with other peoples and respectful of them as peoples in the providence of God.  Though, biblically speaking, the gospel has universal application, that does not mean that westernized Christianity is to be superimposed over all cultures.  This has been a mistake by a significant portion of western mission work over the last few hundred years.

We see from this that the purpose of mankind is not entirely uniform but is a composite made up of unique contributions from each people group. The very fact that nations are mentioned is an indication that borders are in play.  Territories are designated as the places where these divine expressions will emerge which will uniquely give honor to the Creator and Redeemer, bless the others, and contribute to the overall purpose of mankind.

This is stated more explicitly in the writings of Paul.  He said, in Act 17:24-28,  “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.”

Here we see the oneness of humankind and its diversity.  This in itself is an expression of the very nature of the Creator who declares himself to be ONE (Deuteronomy 1:6), yet reveals that within himself there is diversity when he says to himself, “Let US make man in OUR image…” (Gen 1:26).

God has designed civil government to serve in the fulfillment of the first commandment to tend the earth which God has placed under man’s care (Romans 13:1-4; Genesis 1:26,27,28).  This involves a number of legitimate functions, some of which Jesus acknowledged directly, the most familiar being the payment of legitimate taxes in “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…”  He also recognized limits on civil authority in the remainder of that statement “… but unto God the things that are God’s.”  There are limits on Cesar’s power and there are human responsibilities that no civil authority can usurp.

One of the limits of power has to do with the geography of its jurisdiction, its civil borders.  The existence of civil governments implies boundaries, otherwise there would be no way to determine where one government’s power ends and another’s begins.  By acknowledging the legitimacy of civil government, Jesus is acknowledging the proper determination of boundaries.

Since Jesus often referred to the Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament, as his authoritative guide to truth by saying “it is written”.  A quick glance of the four Gospels in the New Testament reveals 21 occurrences.  In addition to that, he often references the Old Testament narrative in various ways and appeals to the scriptures to establish his teachings and to answer his opponents who have created a whole new set of laws which he rejects.  So if Jesus continually refers to the scriptures without ever contradicting them, we can safely say that the opinion we find in the Old Testament is his opinion as well.  Not to mention the fact that, as the “word of God,” they are from him as the expression of his own mind who is the original and uncreated “Word of God” (John 1).

What does the Old Testament say about borders?  It says, “Do not illegally move a property boundary marker” (Proverbs 22:28).  This shows not only the legitimacy of establishing boundaries but to the importance of protecting private property.  Jesus also directly affirmed his belief in private property on many occasions.  I won’t burden you with a list here, but his acknowledgement of the 8th Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” should be sufficient for these purposes.

In addition, when God gave the land we now know as Israel to Abraham for him and his descendants, he laid out the borders.  Jesus would have believed this was a divine appointment and so would have acknowledged the legitimacy of borders.  In addition, within Israel, each of the Twelve Israeli tribes had their own designated territory.

We can find other references where Jesus specifically recognized boundaries of cities and territories.  Lines that determine the boundaries of the authority and responsibility of governmental entities are a necessity in order to determine whether a government is properly fulfilling its responsibilities or whether it is meddling inappropriately in the affairs of others.

In closing, I’ll go back to where we began, the last book in the Bible in the very last chapter.   The scripture speaks, in a number of places (Isaiah 65 and 66, as well as in I Peter 3), of a future where the Heavens and Earth will be remade and will be inhabited by the righteous, those who are righteous by virtue of their creation, the angels, and those who are righteous by virtue of redemption through Christ, redeemed humanity.  In that future perfected world, there will be nations.  I say this because, in Revelation 22 we read about a kind of tree that will be planted there whose leaves are “for the healing of the nations.”  Then we will understand what fully healed nations are like and how they should relate to one another to the blessing of all.  I’m looking forward to that day.  There will be no border disputes but there will be borders, even if not physical ones.  There will be certain functions that some nations will fill that others will not.  Until that time comes, in this present fallen world, physical boundaries are needed.

L. H.

The Mistake That Cost Republicans the Election – And Which Can be Corrected

There are many things the Republicans should have done differently over the last several years that would likely have yielded a different result on November 6th. Knowing when, where, and how to take a stand is an admirable trait, but it is not one the Republicans have yet mastered. Too many times an all or nothing approach to critical issues has put them so far on the outs with the American public that they (we) are alienated from the majority of the electorate, and the trend seems to point to a continued lessening of influence rather than to any reversal of a weakened position.

That the Republicans could have lost the Presidential election against Barack Obama, with his colossal failure in the first four years to accomplish much of anything of a productive nature and in light of the continuing incredibly weak economy, is almost inconceivable. The narrowness of the popular vote margin (currently at 50.5% to 48.0%) means that every faction of society alienated by the Republicans is an element that made a significant contribution to this loss. There is one in particular, however, that may stand out above the rest as a colossal failure on the part of the Republican Party specifically, and conservatives in general. That is the failure to embrace and adopt George Bush’s immigration proposal of 2007. Failure to adopt, or to propose a viable alternative, and even more than that, the tone taken in arguing against it, served to alienate a large and growing segment of the populace and to frame the perception of the Republican Party as anti-Hispanic.

George Bush had greatly advanced the relationship with the Hispanic community during his Presidency, receiving the support of 44% of the Latino vote in 2004 according to CNN, significantly more than any of his Republican predecessors. This election, the Latino vote exceeded 10% of the total vote for the first time, and that number will surely be increasing in future elections.

George Bush’s Immigration Reform proposal was both responsible and compassionate. Hardheads shot it down by claiming it was “AMNESTY.” The effect on the electorate was to strengthen the idea that the Republicans don’t care about people. That is a lie, but it is a very real perception and I must say that sometimes it sounds true in some quarters. The stance taken on immigration that made no accommodation for people whom we had welcomed for decades, even against our own laws, seemed uncaring, and it was indeed unjust.

We had an agreement with the immigrants. I tried to raise this point to no avail when I subbed for a friend as a talk show guest on a Christian college radio station where the apparently rabidly anti-illegal immigration host was in high gear against any “amnesty” for illegals. For decades we had laws that espoused one thing and a culture that practiced something else. We had selective enforcement of our immigration laws that said loudly and clearly, “Come on over. We could use your help.” This in effect became a covenant with the people whom we welcomed. Over time, this practice established a kind of relationship and an understanding with them that should not have been taken lightly and which could not be justly reversed at once by new policies forbidding their presence and participation in our society.

There’s a biblical example that is instructive along these lines. The Lord forbad Israel to enter into covenant with the inhabitants of the land he had promised them through Abraham and which they were about to repossess under the leadership of Joshua. After their second battle with and the overwhelming defeat of Ai, the other kingdoms were forced of necessity to gather themselves together for battle against the new tribe. One group, however, the people of Gibeon, recognized another possibility that could insure them peace and avoid the necessity of doing battle with Israel. They conducted a ruse by which a small party of Gibeonites, pretending to be emissaries of a distant kingdom, had come to request a treaty with Israel because of the great exploits of which they had heard by Israel and Israel’s God. Israel’s leaders were fooled and they entered into a covenant which they were then obligated to honor, insuring Gibeon’s safety.  The lesson is that covenants made improperly may be no less binding than any other.

By our actions, we had an implied covenant with the illegal immigrants who had been lead to believe that, though we had laws prohibiting their presence, they were actually welcome and that the chances of them being able to make a new life in this land of opportunity was well worth any risk that they would take in becoming established here. For us to, all of a sudden, change our practice and pivot on a dime was unjust and revealed that we could not be trusted. For this to have been led by Republicans, meant that Republicans couldn’t be trusted. That Republicans can’t be trusted has resulted in the loss of one of the greatest opportunities we have ever had to re-establish our principles at the heart of government in the U.S., and this was a major factor in that loss.

To properly transition from what has been to what should be requires that a path be set to revise the previous pattern, and to give opportunity for those we had welcomed to either leave freely or obtain a rightful presence. Whether or not this is exactly George Bush’s reasoning, this is in effect what his proposal would have done.
Here are the essentials of George Bush’s Immigration Reform:

  •  Make the borders more secure.
  • Allow those who wish to return home to do so.
  • Allow those who wish to remain to apply for a work permit or residency.
  • Require those who remain to pay any back taxes owed.
  • Require those who remain to pay a reasonable penalty for having broken the laws that were on the books.
  • Create a reliable verification system whereby employers could confirm the legitimacy of any residency or citizenship claims of their employees and prospective hires.
  • Strictly enforce all immigration laws going forward, including and especially those related to hiring of illegal workers, with heavy fines and penalties for employers who violated them.

This was and is a reasonable and responsible proposal. It shows respect both for our laws, our borders, our system of justice, and for the value we place on humanity, especially the less fortunate.

At a time when illegal immigration is at a low ebb, due to the economic downturn which makes immigration less attractive, the Republican party should not wait on President Obama to introduce Immigration Reform, a promise he has failed on so far, and should not wait for a new crisis or new tensions to arise over immigration but should take the lead in establishing a system of reform that will convey both our respect for the law and that will reaffirm our love for our fellow man. Republicans should acknowledge our failure on this front and re-propose the Bush Immigration Reform.


8 Recommendations for Governor Romney’s Monday Night Foreign Policy Debate

Here are 8 things the Governor should do and not do Monday night to demonstrate both President Obama’s incompetency and his own readiness to conduct Foreign Policy.



1)  Romney should not put all his eggs in the Benghazi basket.  Over focus can leave him looking weak on the broad scale.

2)  On Benghazi, it’s hard to hit a moving target, stick with the known facts – What actually happened? List conflicting reports given, and incompetencies exhibited by the Obama Administration.  Don’t be side-tracked by Obama’s next deflection; just say, “Well there’s another one.”

3)  Be ready with an answer on Syria that doesn’t send our troops or put our weapons in the hands of Al Qaeda.

4)  To demonstrate prudence, qualify answers with, “Based on the information I have at this time…”

5)  Chastise the President for his practice of shunning Netanyahu and stiff-arming Israel.  Emphasize lasting US commitment to Israel.

6)  Draw a parallel on the destabilization of the Middle East in Carter’s and Obama’s mishandling of Iran.  Lay out the path that prevents Iran from obtaining nukes.

7)  Tie Foreign Policy to Economic Recovery:  Promise to reestablish US leadership and dignity in the world, in part by unleashing the power of Free Enterprise, setting an example for the reduction of crushing debt and poverty.

8)  And last but not least, promise never to give a Head of State an iPod as a gift.


The Todd Akin Stupidity

The question of whether the rate of conception is low in rape cases, which is also true with most consensual sexual incidents by the way, has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether abortion should be allowed in the case of rape.  Congressman Todd Akins’ argument was, at best, an incredibly stupid one.  He may have single-handedly set the pro-life cause back ten years by giving the other side all they need to make us all look like idiots.  In the future, all they will have to do to discredit us with the public, is to apply the Todd Akin moniker to the rest of us.  We must formulate our arguments on their real base, the conviction that human life begins at conception and that one innocent should not be made to suffer because another has suffered.

But then, there is the continued suffering of the mother.  How can it be justified to force her to suffer even more?  This question often assumes that abortion reduces her suffering, which may not always be the case.  It is a debatable point and not one that cannot be answered except on an individual basis.  If that is the question, the decision must rest with the mother.  The pro-life community must provide sound information, compassion, and assistance where needed to minimize the suffering of mother and child.  It should caringly present the argument that could be embraced by many, that there may be more healing in giving and nurturing life than in the loss of the child.  Abortion is, for many women, a compounding of the pain of pregnancy, and, in this case, a compounding of the bitter tragedy of rape.  The same is true, of course, of incest, which accounts for a significant number of the incidents of rape.

Should this be a matter of law or a matter of conscience?  I believe that in so difficult and delicate an area it should be left to conscience.  This is especially true when the removal of the legal abortion provision leads us to an all or nothing scenario, and in that position, the present culture has opted for unlimited access to abortion.  Failure to make such a compromise in the 80s has likely cost millions of lives.  Here’s where the statistics enter for an argument, the argument for the exceptions of rape and incest.  The small percentage of pregnancies that result from rape means that this is one area we can, by allowing for the exception, save millions of lives.  The all or nothing position, even if right, is wrong because of this fact.  If we really love life, we must choose the most available route to limit/reduce the number of abortions.  Todd Akins’ position is not that route.


Some Good Things Are Happening In the Current Politico-Economic Debate

FIRST, Believers in freedom in the area of enterprise are being given the opportunity to better formulate their arguments and to present a side of free market capitalism through a moral lens that reveals its innate “compassionate” side, to show the side of free market dynamics that naturally tends to work to the benefit of everyone who participates in, and is affected by, a given market.

SECOND, The complaints against free market capitalism have been so strong, so loud, and so predominant in the public discussion that it has forced the free marketeers, who might have brushed aside the concerns in the absence of such pressure, to begin to evaluate and address actual abuses of the capitalistic ideal with real and responsible policy analysis that can result in a freer and more compassionate planet.

Continue reading “Some Good Things Are Happening In the Current Politico-Economic Debate”

A Note to My Conservative Friends

Just because an article criticizes Barack Obama doesn’t mean it’s true.  And, just the fact that the Democrats have done poorly or taken us the wrong direction doesn’t convince anyone we can do a better job.  Just stick with the stuff that can be clearly demonstrated and present solutions not just complaints.  Let our solutions take into account the liberals legitimate concerns.  Its not all their concerns that are wrong, just their solutions.  If we can’t win the argument with real and well communicated solutions we will loose and the decline of our great nation will be OUR FAULT.